Monday, April 30, 2012

While I'm being honest

The Athlete got married this weekend.

It might be the source of all of my crazy. (see: earlier post, every tweet I sent today, all of the feelings I am feeling)

Okay, maybe not all of it. But 32%. At least. For sure.

I knew that he was getting married – overseas, to a girl he had dated before he ever met me – but I didn’t know that I would squeeze my eyes shut and scroll maniacally when pictures of his wedding popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. (The Athlete and I are not F’book friends anymore, but we have mutual friends. One of whom made the trip to Europe to see him get hitched.)

I don’t want to see the pictures. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to care.

I didn’t care so much about him getting married so much that I dreamed about it last night.

Bizarre.
 
I know that he's gone from my life. I'm fine with him being gone from my life. I learned things about him that make me glad that he's gone from my life.
 
And there my brain goes, dreaming about him.
 
At least my subconscious made The Athlete of last night's dream look positively hideous.
 
Maybe that's how I'll remember him. Instead of remembering him all decked out in a tuxedo on his wedding day. In pictures that I could not stand to see.

Honestly

While surfing the waves of the mighty internet, I discovered that today is National Honesty Day. I don't know the origin, I don't know the details. I'm assuming that it's a day to encourage people to be more honest. That's cool. Honesty is the best policy.

Here is the part of the day where I am being honest. Alexander wants to see me this week and I can't even see a reason why I shouldn't hang out with him.

Hang out with clothes on.

Hang out while not kissing.

I don't even know if that is possible and I don't even know why I want to try. I just do. I just want to. Maybe I like torturing myself. Maybe I'm being self destructive.

Here is another part of the day where I am being honest. I want all of The Coach's time and I'm not getting all of The Coach's time and tomorrow I will probably be kind and understanding about it (I am not being fair right now and I know this) but right now I just want to burn it all down.

Today is National Honesty Day and, honestly, I may be losing my mind.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A perpetual student


Meg graduated this weekend.

Sort of. Meg graduated but she goes back to school tomorrow. And she keeps going to school through August, when she'll have (hopefully) passed her boards and jumped through all of the appropriate hoops and then she will have one last celebration with her very small class and then? Really, really officially honestly totally done.

Maybe.

Or maybe she'll be like me. She'll have the feelings that I had, sitting through her commencement. Feeling like she isn't done. That this isn't it. That she hasn't put on a cap and gown for the last time.

For Meg, it was a weekend of celebration. For me, it was a reminder of that little whisper in the back of my head that I try to ignore.

I don't know what I am doing or where I am going. But I know that school is still in the picture. School is still very much in the picture.

As is one day working for my successful, genius sister. I'm not too proud to ride on her velvet coattails.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Seriously so gross

I am not crazy about Heather’s husband.

I haven’t been, ever. But I try not to make a big deal out of it. He’s not my husband. I don’t have to spend time with him often. It’s not worth caring about.

(Until he hurts Heather. And then? War, buddy.)

I went to Heather’s house after work yesterday. I would watch her baby for an hour while she ran an errand and, when she got home, we would have the dinner I brought along.

I didn’t know that Heather’s husband would be there. Sleeping.

(Not my business on how they divide the work around the house, but the baby is definitely two months old and he hasn’t yet fed her or changed a diaper or been alone with her. W-w-w-w-what?)

Anyway. Heather runs the errand. I snuggle with the baby. I bake up the macaroni and cheese. Heather comes home. And we’re sitting at the kitchen table, eating and gossiping and being girls.

Heather’s husband stumbles out of the bedroom. In his army green boxer briefs. And only his army green boxer briefs.

Which was disgusting enough.

He parades into the kitchen. He roots around in the cupboards. He parades out of the kitchen. He barely says a word to me, but he’s clearly just woken up and I’m not all that interested in talking to him anyway.

He comes back a few minutes later.

“I’m really glad that you didn’t park on my grass,” he says to me. I parked in front of the house, but I could see that he had put grass seed down, so I made sure to keep my tires on the street. “Heather’s mom parks on the grass. Her sister parks on the grass...”

I interrupt him with a smart ass comment about how I would hate to ruin his perfect lawn.

“If you parked on the grass, I would have had to punch you in the face,” he says, smirking. “Or I would have charged you a hand job.”

Seriously. That’s what he said. In front of his wife and his baby. Wearing nothing but a pair of boxer briefs. That he would have charged me a hand job.

And then he pinched my cheek.

He is fucking disgusting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

To do: everything

I'm in the midst of one of those weeks where I don't have enough time and I won't have enough time but, damnit, I'm fighting it and I am just going to try to squeeze every damn second out of every minute of every day. (Conveniently, The Coach is traveling for work this week.)

Things are going a little like this: get home from work last night at 9:30 pm (after leaving the house early to babysit Lucy's little guy), bake a pan of brownies and make a batch of homemade macaroni and cheese because I'm going straight from work to my friend Heather's house and I said that I would bring dinner. Pack lunch. Set alarm early so that I have time to package up the brownies and throw a change of clothes into the car in the morning. Fall into bed.  

Every item I check off my to do list is replaced by three new tasks. I am swimming against a current and I am okay with it. No complaints. Just a really long list.
  • Pick out a really adorable outfit to wear to Meg's commencement.
  • Pick out an equally adorable outfit to wear to dinner with Lucy.
  • Order my soccer team’s jerseys.
  • Snuggle Heather’s baby.
  • Go book shopping with Lucy.
  • Have The Talk with The Coach, even though I’m scared to.
  • Read Mockingjay and therefore finish off the Hunger Games trilogy.
  • Upload photos, have them printed.
  • Prep for next Friday’s Potentially Important Meeting-Type Event.
  • Determine if I have a suit that fits that I can wear to next Friday’s Potentially Important Meeting-Type Event. 
  • Repaint my nails.
  • Find Lucy the absolute perfect 30th birthday present: a gift that is a magical combination of meaningful, practical, decadent, beautiful and otherwise very, very Lucy.
  • Conspire with Chet to create an equally perfect 30th birthday celebration for Lucy. (Party? Surprise party? Snazzy dinner? Spa day?)
  • Strong arm my cousins into committing to dishes for our Mother’s Day brunch.
  • Learn how to make meals that boys like.
  • Teach Aunt Annette how to use her Nook.
  • Come up with really great idea for a birthday gift for The Coach, just in case I need it.
  • Come up with a really great birthday celebration for The Coach, just in case I need it.
  • Mail Baby A an adorable thank you card for the very generous gift.
  • Take Grandma to see The Hunger Games.
  • Get over being annoyed at Ashley for not calling me back the last time I called her, suck up my pride and call her to catch up.
  • Purchase Meg the perfect graduation gift.
  • Have a snack.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I have been replaced

Bad news, you guys.



I might look happy in this picture, but I am not happy.

I am very, very sad.

Baby A dumped me.

Our Wednesday mornings together will soon be nothing but a fond memory.

I have been replaced.

By his very own mother. Who is going to try her hand at being a stay at home mom.

(Three cheers for Lucy!)

If I'm going to be booted from this prestigious babysitting position, I suppose it's okay that I'm getting replaced by Baby A's very own, very great, very awesome mother. She did give birth to him and all that.

It is bittersweet. I will miss our Wednesday mornings together.

Lucy handed me a gift bag as I was leaving their house today. "Little A picked out a present for you, Auntie!"

I told her, 27 different ways, that she didn't have to buy me a present. (She and Chet have already taken me out to dinner as a thank you at least three times.) But she insisted. "We appreciate you!"
The kid has great taste.

And I am totally taking Lucy to dinner at the nicest restaurant in town to celebrate her new job.

Two can play this game!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I can't help it (he plays along)

The Coach cleared off his passenger seat. Papers that he brushed into a neat pile. He turned around, dumping the stack unceremoniously onto the floor.

The back seat of his car was filled with other odds and ends.

Including posters. Posters of his team.

He grabbed one while he was twisted around, turning to meet me with a mischievous look in his eyes.

“Do you want a poster? Your very own poster?”

I laughed and grabbed at it. “I want a poster!”

“Oh, look,” he was obviously trying to sell me on the merits of the poster that he had handed to me, but he couldn’t keep the laughter from his voice. Laughing at himself. “I even signed it.”

“I LOVE THIS POSTER.” I set it on the floor, careful to keep it crisp, careful to keep my feet off of it. My very own poster of The Coach’s team.

The smiling faces of his players. They all look so young. He, handsome, in the middle.

The focal point.

The head coach.

It’s a part of his life that I know about but that I am not included in and it’s weird. I know what he does – he’s The Coach after all – but I do hate thinking about his life when he’s coaching. He’s treated like sort of a big deal. People recognize him at Starbucks. After games, teenage girls ask for him to pose for pictures with them.

Do you know where I am recognized? At the grocery store closest to the library. Do you know who asks to take pictures with me? My friends. My family.

It is so foreign to me.

When The Coach dropped me off later in the evening, I almost forgot the poster. We had said our goodbyes, I turned to close the door and oh. The poster. “I ALMOST FORGOT MY POSTER!” I grabbed it from the floor, I clutched it to my chest. I laughed. He laughed at me. “I’m going to hang this over my bed,” I sang, batting my eyes at him. “I’m going to hang this over my bed and I am going to stare at it every night.”

He pretended to be disappointed that I remembered the poster. I pretended to be overjoyed that I didn’t.

While he was driving home, I tacked it to the back of my bedroom door. I took a picture. Because I can’t help but indulge in silly things when they are presented to me. I sent it to him.


And he called me, laughing.

The next morning, I packed up the poster. Because I can’t drop a silly thing if it is still silly. And because he had just asked for a picture of my office a few days before.


And because I love the sound of his laugh.

And because I just couldn’t help myself.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday, get out

Wasted day at annoying fucking conference. Drove two hours to annoying fucking conference. Got up early to drive to hours to annoying fucking conference. Drove two hours home from annoying fucking conference.

Cannot fathom how I am going to put a positive spin on annoying fucking conference for my boss. Completely unproductive. I might even be stupider.

Sunglasses felt too tight on my throbbing head.

Nap thwarted by Liz's incessantly barking dog. Frustrated with The Coach. Frustrated with The Coach's job. Premenstrual. Need to grocery shop. Need to run off all of this nervous energy. Need to blow off all responsibilities and spend evening with cute boy. Need cute boy to call.

Cute boy is not calling.

Cried. More than once.

Really need a nap. Dog never shuts the fuck up.

Highlights of the day: call from Grandma to tell me that she read The Hunger Games in one sitting and loved it. Making plans to babysit Heather's newborn on Thursday night. Hair looks cute. Sun is out.

Other than that, today can suck it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

All of the nights

I got the first night that The Coach was home.

And now I want every night.

And I want Thursday ten times over. Couldn't we? Shouldn't we? It was a night worth reliving. Ten times would be enough. Ten more times of The Coach slinging his arm around my shoulders as we waited for our coffee. Ten more opportunities to watch his face as I tell him a particularly amusing story about my particularly insane family. Ten more walks. Ten more phone calls just as he's getting home, both of us laughing at a stupid prank that I pulled because something about being around him keeps me from being anything but my silly self. Just ten times. Ten times would be enough.

I got the first night that The Coach was home.

And now I want every night.

I don't get every night -- that isn't how this works and I know that isn't how this works. He has a family. He has friends. He's been gone four months and back four days and I don't get every single one of them.

But I still want every single one of them.

And every single one going forward.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Daddy/Daughter Road Trip

I was running errands yesterday – getting the oil changed in my car and whatnot – and I stopped by my dad’s office. Just to visit.

I used to love visiting my dad at work. I would park myself in his office and watch him interact with all of the characters who work for him. My dad would harass them. They’d tell me that I was far too pretty and far too smart and far too nice to be my dad’s child.

One summer, I worked for my dad. That summer was like an extended visit to his office. Watching him interact with his employees. Having everyone tell me that I was far too charming and far too brilliant to be related to him. And picking up lunch. That was pretty much my only function: picking up lunch wherever my dad and his coworkers decided upon. The lunch vote was made as soon as they got in every morning. Priorities.

Their favorite, favorite, special, favorite place to get lunch is a Detroit institution: Lafayette Coney Island.
Not from Detroit? You probably don’t know about the coney dog: a hot dog topped with a beanless, meat chili, diced white onions and yellow mustard.

It is equal parts disgusting and awesome.

And my father had no qualms about sending his teenage daughter into Detroit – a good half-hour from his office – to buy two dozen coney dogs.

Yesterday, we relived the experience.

I walk into his office and he says “we’re going on a road trip!” He ushers me out the door, into his car and straight to Lafayette Coney Island. Where, for $63, we bought 24 Coney Dogs and one loose burger.
Packed in a box.

And into the car.

Which smelled of onions really, really strongly by the time that we got back to his office.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yay and hurray

The Coach is home.

I am happy.

Not worrying.

Not worrying about the conversation that we need to have. Not worrying about when I'll see him again. Not worrying about how far away he is and when he'll be home next and if and how and why we're going to make this work. Not worrying about if he even wants to try.

Not worrying.

The Coach is home.

I am happy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oh, Gramps

Anna was in town this weekend. She snapped this picture of Grandpa and posted it to Facebook:



The caption is what killed me.

"Dan? Wouldn't you like a glass?"

"I don't give a damn if I have a glass or not."


Typical.

My grandpa has always been a little difficult and crotchety and ornery. Lately, he's taken it up a notch.

Lately, he's also had a few minor health problems. Which makes him even more of a prick. Which makes my mother get involved.

She's ready to kill him.

When his health problem first popped up, she encouraged him to make an appointment with a new general practitioner so that they could draw labs and refer him to a specialist.

So what does my grandpa do?

He drives around the corner to the nearest doctor's office, walks in the door and says "want to make some money?"

Who needs an appointment? If the doctor wants to make money (and what doctor doesn't?), the doctor will see me!

That is exactly what's going through his head. Guarantee it.

Needless to say, my mother has now stepped in to make his doctor's appointments and make sure he goes to them.

Today, my mother dragged him to an ultrasound. He didn't want to go. "I have things to do!" he announced.

Apparently my mother won that battle of wills, because she's reporting to me from the office.



I don't ever want to get old.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Progress

Perhaps this feeling just comes with adulthood. After years and years of setting a goal and accomplishing it, setting a goal and accomplishing it, setting a goal and accomplishment – adulthood is just stretching out ahead of me and, um, now what?

I’m missing the milestones. The diplomas and the graduation parties and the planning for the next phase. Unless I go back to school, I’m kind of done with this part of my life where I decide I want to do something (get another master’s degree, for example), work my ass off and get it in some easy, prescribed, set amount of time.

Getting married and buying a house and having a baby are not goals accomplished in neat 4 year increments.

I often feel as though I am spinning my wheels.

Accomplishing nothing but the everyday and the commonplace and the boring.

What am I doing? Where am I going? How am I improving?

I was bored and restless this afternoon and I looked up my time from last weekend’s 10k. I was still bored and restless and I looked up my time from the 10k I ran in November. I was still bored and restless and I looked up my time for the 10k before that. And the 10k before that. And the 10k before that.

1:01 to :55 back up to :57 (I was injured) to :53 to :49.

I’m getting faster. It doesn’t come with a diploma or a raise or confetti or a diamond or much of anything other than a race t-shirt and a short-lived sense of accomplishment.

It’s just running.

But it’s still something.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Living on set

I’ve been living here for five months, but I still haven’t decided how I feel about Liz’s neighborhood.

I go back and forth.

Sometimes, I think it’s really cute and adorable and the perfect place to raise a family. Sometimes, it makes me a little sick.

It’s one of those neighborhoods that is pure, corny, manufactured Americana. Built to be this perfect little slice of American life. Front porches with rocking chairs, a neighborhood social committee, meticulously manicured parks, streets lined with trees that are perfectly spaced apart – and not an inch of the place was created in any organic, genuine way. It was planned. It was designed.

Right down to the mailboxes.

I get why you would like it. If you crave a stifling strong sense of community, you would want to live in Liz’s neighborhood. If you wanted a picture perfect neighborhood – regardless of how disingenuous it might appear from the outside – you would want to be Liz’s neighbor. If white picket fences make your heart soar, buy a house in Liz’s neighborhood.

Thanks to the magic of Google, here are some images – not of Liz’s neighborhood but of neighborhoods that remind of her neighborhood – to give you an idea of what it is like.



The Coach and I call the neighborhood The Truman Show.

It's just -- it is really nice, yes, but it's just really perfect. And I'm beginning to think that I don't really like perfect. Give me a little dirt and a little grit and a little character. Give me something real.

I like the paths and sidewalks for running. I appreciate the parks. I think that it's nice that there's a strong sense of community. I do like sitting on the front porch.

It just isn't me. This neighborhood is filled with seemingly perfect families living their seemingly perfect lives in their seemingly perfect homes in their seemingly perfect neighborhood.



Cars have been vandalized. And couples get divorced. And the best way to get a house in this neighborhood - if you're not building - is to snatch up a foreclosure.

Nothing is perfect. Nothing is ever perfect.

I think that's what turns me off of this place (because I can appreciate the cute porches and the friendly neighbors and the way everyone decorates for the holidays): this endless attempt at manufacturing the perfect and the ideal.

Nothing will ever be perfect. Someone will always have an ugly lawn ornament. Somebody will always have an asshole teenage son who loiters around with his sketchy friends. Somebody will always be driving too fast in a residential zone.

That's life. That's a neighborhood. That's real.

Why pretend otherwise?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Check out my foolish teenage behavior

Who made out with Alexander on Saturday night? Who is clearly the dumbest person alive? That would be me, friends: The Girl Who Never Learns.

OMG. Seriously. I am so stupid.

Team party. End of the season bash. Alexander hosts it because Alexander just bought a house and Alexander’s mom wants her baaaaaaaaaaby (he's an only child) to show it off to her friends. (That’s how I read the situation, anyway.)

The whole team was at his house. The whole team and lots of spouses. We were watching NHL playoffs and eating tons of food and Alexander was taking people on tours of his house and I was successfully avoiding him and it was jolly.

Alexander’s mom says to me at one point “oh, you’ve probably seen the whole house, right?”

His mother. His mother knew that I had been in his house and did I mention that it was his mom?

I WANTED TO DIE.

But she (and the rest of the team) knew that I drove him home a couple of weeks ago so, yeah. I still died a little on the inside because I've been in that house without my pants on. Guilt. Whore guilt.

At some point, Alexander looks at me and his eyes lit up and he says “have I shown you the breezeway? Let me show you the breezeway.” And I follow him like a dumb robot. Then he’s like “the master bedroom is the only room upstairs. That’s how they built these old bungalows” and I follow him up the stairs because – because – because I have no idea why I did it.

I didn’t think that he’d be facetiously showing me his closet before grabbing me and kissing me, but that’s what he did and it takes my brain a second to click in and realize what was happening and I pulled away and was like “woah, wait a second. Inappropriate!” And I’m laughing and I’m shaking my head and Alexander is commenting about how it’s sort of hot that there’s a team party going on downstairs while we’re making out upstairs.

And then he kissed me again and then I pull away again and I’m just standing there looking at him. And he’s clearly so pleased with himself and then HIS MOM COMES UP THE STAIRS.

Telling him to come downstairs. The team wants to give you your present!

He tells his mom/my teammate that he’ll be down in a second. While I stand there. Thankfully nowhere near where Alexander was standing. But still clearly alone with him in his bedroom. Probably looking guilty as hell. Because I was.

Alexander caught me alone in a room once more that night. Same thing. Minus his mom.

The rest of the night, he stayed close by, talking just quietly enough so that only I could hear him. Telling me exactly why I should date him, not this other guy I had told him about (that other guy would be, of course, The Coach). Why he’s better. How long he’s had a thing for me. That the reason he hosted the team party was to get me back to his house and only to get me back to his house. How convenient it was that I had already met – and liked – his mother. How he decided to initiate our Canadian weekend together just for an excuse to be alone with me. How sexy and smart and awesome I am and how generally fantastic he is and how great we would be together.

Relentless. He was relentless.

I don’t know if I even believe him. I’m not sure if I have a reason to – he’s sort of been all talk up to this point – but being told you’re phenomenal isn’t the worst thing in the world.

When I left, I left with my arms full – my purse, my Crockpot, my cupcake carrier – Alexander’s dad (spouses were at the party, remember?) (so awkward) sees me and says to Alexander “help her carry that stuff” and REALLY? Now your dad is trying to get us alone together? Don’t even pretend like that wasn’t what was happening.

“He likes to live vicariously through me.”

So, if his dad picked up on what was going on, everybody at the party knew exactly what was happening between the young'uns, too. Fabulous.

To rectify the situation - or maybe to thank him for carrying my things? I obviously was not thinking at all at this point - I made out with him again before getting in my car.

Have I mentioned that I’m the dumbest person alive?

Here’s a mistake that I didn’t make, however: I didn’t go back to his house when he called me 20 minutes later and reported that all of the guests had left and so that I should definitely return. And I didn’t rearrange my entire Sunday so that I could hang out with him even though that’s what he wanted. For me to drop my plans for the whole day – my race, time with my cousins – and spend it with him.

That’s what I don’t get about him. He wants to see me. Supposedly. He tells me on Saturday night. He tells me early on Sunday morning when he wishes me good luck in my race. He makes it clear that his feelings are hurt when I won’t clear my Sunday to spend time with him. And then he doesn’t bother to respond to the text message I send him later. So, apparently this has to be all on his terms, convenient to his schedule and to his whims or not at all.

I swear that he doesn’t even remember that I exist until I’m standing in front of him. Or maybe he’s just fucking with me. Maybe this is just a game.

If it’s a game: fine. I played. It was fun. Harmlessly making out with someone you shouldn’t be making out with in a setting where you shouldn’t be making out with him? That’s fun. It was. I have no problem admitting that.

But now it's time to fold my hand. Game over.

The Coach comes home this week.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Apologies, Wolverine Nation

Meg and I ran a 10k this weekend.

Right on our beloved campus, finishing at the 50 yard line of The Most Wonderful Place on Earth.



I was really excited about the race outfit I selected. I found the perfect top for the weather and, lo and behold, I had a pair of capris that matched perfectly. I showed Meg the night before. "Look how snazzy I am!" She was polite enough to pretend like she cared.

Halfway through the race, I hear a man make a good-natured jab at someone's Spartan shirt. I find this mildly amusing until I look down at my outfit.

Which is scarlet and gray.

Buckeyes colors.

I am running a race on campus - on MY campus - a race that ends at the bloody football stadium and I am wearing Buckeyes colors.

Oh how I hate Ohio State.

I feel dirty.

Friday, April 13, 2012

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: it continues

On Tuesday, I left off with Caprese bites and soft pretzels and a promise that I would wrap this all up.

Here I am, kids: wrapping it up.

Check. Out. This. Cheesecake.

I made it for Easter after spying chocolate dessert scrawled on my mom's list of food to bring to Grandma's house for Easter dinner. I don't mind helping. Especially when it involves dark chocolate.

My mom pointed out that the recipe was actually for a smaller cheesecake - one made in a 7" springform pan - so I ended up doubling it. It gave me enough innards to fill a 9" pan. There was enough extra to dump the remaining filling into a large soufflé dish. Nothing wrong with a little bit of crustless cheesecake on Easter morning!

I used chocolate Teddy Grahams for the crust instead of Oreos. And, other than that, I followed the recipe. Which my grandma asked me for. Big compliment.

When I'm tackling a new recipe that is especially intimidating, I generally sucker someone else (primarily Meg or Lucy) into taking on the project with me. But not last Friday. No, last Friday was Brave Kitchen Princess Day and I made tortillas all by myself.

Fact: homemade tortillas are gooooooooood. And with a little bit of practice, I can see actually becoming competent at making them. I didn't do a horrible job, but they could have been thinner and slightly more awesome.

I started on the tortillas with absolutely no plan for them. I stumbled across this recipe for Baked Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos during the tortilla creation process, realized that I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand and decided to go for it.

I didn't make the tortillas very big, so they ended up being delicious little mini burritos. That I've had in my lunch practically every day this week. They magically heat up perfectly in the toaster oven at work. I'll totally make them again. But probably not with homemade tortillas. Not for a weekday lunch. Homemade tortillas are better saved for, like, the worlds best quesadilla. Or soft tacos that are enjoyed in the company of a hot guy.

While not a recipe for humans, I can't leave out the dog treats that Lucy and I made last month. We decided to make dog treats for no apparent reason. They turned out okay. I mean, the dogs ate them.

That's not to say that they won't eat everything because, well, they will.

The cornstarch frosting was a gigantic failure. But, it was frosting for dog treats so? Carry on! Embrace the ugly!

The best part about the dog treats was giving them to the dogs. Specifically, Lucy and Chet's dog Wolf -- who didn't eat his. He trotted around the house, looking just so darn proud of himself and his fancy new dog treat.

And then, while Lucy and I were sitting on the couch, chatting away, Wolf walked up and gave his fancy new dog treat to his fancy little brother.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Winner: Dumbest Male Ever

My friend Aviva was in town for Passover. She just took a new position in Los Angeles. She lives in New York now so, in addition to moving all of her stuff and finding somewhere to live, she needs a car.

My dad works for one of the Big Three (oh, hell, who in Detroit doesn’t?) so I arranged for her to meet with him on Monday afternoon so that she could talk with him, take a few cars out for a drive: all of that fun stuff.

When I left work, I called my parents. I chitchatted with my mom. She passed the phone to my dad, who gave me his thoughts on the NHL playoffs, detailed where he went to lunch and what he had before reporting about his visit with Aviva.

He hangs up with me, turns to my mother and says “you’re not like me and Aly.”

And she says “um, okay?”

Then he says “you don’t like helping people.”

HE SAYS THAT TO MY MOTHER.

You don’t like helping people. TO MY MOTHER.

My mother who has built an entire career around helping people.

My mother who took her father to a doctor’s appointment on Thursday. Who spent the entire day at the hospital with his sister on Friday. Who baked cinnamon rolls with Emma on Saturday (because Emma wanted to make the cinnamon rolls her mom always made for Easter). Who filled Easter baskets on Sunday morning. Who cooked a meal for 15 on Sunday afternoon.

You don’t like helping people.

When I imagine this all unfolding (my mother, still laughing at his stupidity, told me the whole story last night), I imagine my mother giving him The Stare of Death.
Because he backpedaled.

“Um, you know, about car stuff.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: I can't stop

Lately, I can't get enough kitchen time. There's never enough time or enough ingredients to try all of the recipes that I want to try.

The kitchen is soothing and quiet and my hands are so dirty that I can't obsessively check email/text messages/Facebook/Twitter every 17 seconds like I do every other waking minute of the day. And, when I’m done, I have something to show for myself. “Look!” I say to myself, because there’s usually nobody around, “Look at what I made!”

Then I take a picture – when I remember to, anyway – and then I wait a little while and then I blog much the same statement.

Look, you guys! Look at what I made!

I’ve actually been relying a lot on old favorites. After Aunt Annette was released from the hospital, I brought over a pan of spinach manicotti. Last Friday, a few very, very, very ripe bananas found their way into Banana Crumb Muffins – which are crazy easy to make and, oh, YUM. I love them. It’s the dusting of magical crumble on the top. I used the thick, soft sugar cookies recipe to make the cookies that Lucy and I decorated for St. Patrick’s Day; and then I emailed the recipe out to my hockey teammates who couldn’t stop raving about them. I made mini quinoa cups because they are so easy and delightful and perfect for lunch; I also made a few quinoa salads based on a few that have been posted at Iowa Girl Eats. (I am quinoa’s number one fangirl.)

And I took pictures of none of it because I am lazy.

Also because Liz has the worst lighting in her kitchen. It is seriously awful. Her light fixtures are gorgeous but the room is so dim. It drives me insane.

On the topic of bad pictures: don’t judge this recipe for Artichoke, Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta by this shitty-ass picture. Just make it, okay? It seriously might be the perfect pasta. It is so easy. And it tastes like it is complicated and fancy. Plus it has goat cheese. Like I said: the perfect pasta. I’ve already made it twice.

I had high hopes for this Tomato and Feta Quinoa recipe that I found via Pinterest. It’s such an easy recipe, filled with pantry staples. I thought it would be one of those recipes that I could make late on a Sunday night when I have no fresh groceries and I’m totally unprepared for the week ahead. I wanted it to be delicious. It was not delicious.

I still like the idea of it, though, so I might play around with the recipe to make it more palatable. Maybe fresh roasted tomatoes would make the difference. Or a few more vegetables. Or making it during a week when my aunt isn't hospitalized and I have an appetite.

Meg and I tackled a recipe that I’ve have wanted to try for months and months: soft pretzels! We made cinnamon pretzels and we made salt pretzels and they were totally tasty and a little bit fussy to make but sort of fun, too. I can see myself bringing them to a Super Bowl party or something of the like.

Just as we were finishing up the pretzels, Emma came over and she was like “you guys, where is the cheese dip?” and so we made cheese dip to go along with it. Typical Faturday afternoon with my sister and my cousin.












During the week that Aunt Annette was in the hospital, I needed to bring a snack to a hockey team gathering. I visited her in the hospital that afternoon. As I drove home from the hospital, I tried to talk myself out of bringing anything. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t show up without something – legitimate excuse or not. I ran to the grocery store and picked up cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar. Called it a day. Caprese salad on a toothpick, bitches: easiest appetizer ever. Most tasty appetizer ever. And it totally makes you look fancier and more put together than you already are.

My teammates were like “ooooh! What is this?” and “this is actually quite good,” which makes me think that they’ve never had caprese salad before which makes me think that they were born in a barn.

If I let this post get any longer, you all will think that I was born in a barn. Wipe the drool off of your chin, girls and boys. More food blabber tomorrow.

Maybe if you're really lucky I'll throw in some mindless rambling about boys, too.

I really don't thank you enough for reading, do I? Thank you for reading. And for your patience.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Spoiled Brat Moment

My mom spent Friday at the hospital with Aunt Annette.

She had a few tests. They met with a second team of doctors, discussed a treatment plan and decided to go for it. Aunt Annette received her first round of chemotherapy while they were there.

My mom called me when she got back to Aunt Annette’s house – Aunt Annette only lives a few miles away from me – to give me an update on the day.

I asked my mom earlier in the week if she would help me hang a few pictures in my bedroom. I have a couple of things I’ve been meaning to hang since I moved in but never quite knew how and where to hang them. In addition to being brilliant and compassionate, my mom has a great eye for things like that.

Since she would be at Aunt Annette's a few times during the week – and, since it wouldn’t take too long, I asked for her help.

At the end of her update about Aunt Annette, she slips in that she’s going to head straight home. “I’m not going to come over to help you hang up pictures, okay?”

That was fine, I told her. Perfectly fine. And then I proceeded to hang up the phone and throw a fit. All I wanted was my mom’s help with one thing. One quick, simple, tiny little thing and she can’t give me 20 minutes of her time because she is too busy helping everyone else.

It wasn’t my finest moment. I am not proud of myself. I knew that I was being irrational but I still had to bite my lip to keep myself from crying because she is my mom and I want her help and I want her input and she doesn’t have any time for me and that feels crappy even at the age of 29.

Sometimes sharing your mom is hard.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

An entire year

April 8, 2011 was a Friday.

I interviewed for a new position – a new position that is now my job – on April 8, 2011. I felt good about the interview but I did not feel great. It wasn’t a home run. It wasn’t a slam dunk. It was far from a sure thing. I left the interview, stepping out into a cold and heavy rain, feeling cautiously optimistic and characteristically unsure.

I worked late that day. I worked late because I went in late and because it was a busy, busy time of the year. My brain was fried when I left the office. So I went shopping. I didn’t shop long and I wasn’t shopping for anything in particular; I needed that time to mindlessly wander. I needed to be alone in a crowded store with my focus trained on nothing other than the dress that I held at arm’s length or the shoes that I had slipped on my feet.

I was wandering through the housewares department when The Coach sent me a text message. I just stood there, in the middle of the store, staring at my phone. Completely oblivious to everything but The Coach’s suggestion that maybe he would stop by later in the evening.

Even then, I still thought he was all talk. I still thought he was completely full of shit.

I left the store without buying anything.

I went to dinner with Lucy and Chet and Chet’s best friend on April 8, 2011. I was wearing a black boatneck tee with 3/4-length sleeves and my favorite pair of jeans and the most fabulous and perfect pair of black heels that I have ever owned.
I still have that black shirt. I still wear those heels. The jeans are still hanging in my closet and they’re still my favorite jeans. They just don’t fit; I’m sad about that.

I can’t remember what I had for dinner that night, but I bet that I could look at the restaurant’s menu and figure it out. I don’t recall what I ordered to drink, though I would wager it included a shot of vodka. We sat at a table in a corner. There was a band. Lucy and I were a little giggly and a little silly, as we are known to be.

We didn’t stay out late. We didn’t drink much. I went home early. Sober.

I was surprised. When The Coach called – he might have texted first, then called – I was surprised.

The Coach was words. The Coach was not action. The Coach was fantasy. The Coach was not reality.

The Coach was on his way to my house. Action. Reality. My favorite jeans. His shoes by the front door. It was real. It was April 8, 2011. He made the first visit of what would turn to many.

One year ago. An entire year.

It was only supposed to be fun. I was never supposed to care. It wasn't supposed to last a year. But somehow it has. A year. An entire year.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 3

Fiction
The Master's Muse
by Varley O'Connor


From the publisher: “We set our sights on each other almost from the beginning.”

So begins The Masters Muse, an exquisite, deeply affecting novel about the true love affair between two artistic legends: George Balanchine, the Russian émigré to America who is widely considered the Shakespeare of dance, and his wife and muse, Tanaquil Le Clercq.

Copenhagen, 1956: Tanaquil Le Clercq, known as Tanny, is a gorgeous, talented, and spirited young ballerina whose dreams are coming true. She is married to the love of her life, George Balanchine; the famous mercurial director of New York City Ballet. She dances the best roles in his newest creations, has been featured in fashion magazines and television dramas, socializes with the countrys most renowned artists and intellectuals, and has become a star around the world. But one fateful evening, only hours after performing, Tanny falls suddenly and gravely ill; she awakens from a feverous sleep to find that she can no longer move her legs.

Tanny is diagnosed with polio and Balanchine quits the ballet to devote himself to caring for his wife. He crafts exercises to help her regain her strength, deepening their partnership and love for each other. But in the ensuing years, after Tanny discovers she will never walk again, their relationship is challenged as she endeavors to create a new identity for herself and George returns to the company, choreographing ballets inspired by the ever-younger, more beautiful and talented dancers. Their marriage is put to the ultimate test as Tanny battles to redefine her dreams and George throws himself into his art.

The Masters Muse is an evocative imagining of the deep yet complicated love between a smart, beautiful woman and her charismatic, ambitious husband; it is the story of an extraordinary collaboration in art and in life.

Why it caught my eye: Um, hello. Drama and ballet. Does that not say it all?

Non-Fiction
How to Love an American Man: A True Story
by Kristine Gasbarre


From the publisher: An endearing and unforgettable memoir of love, self-discovery, and enduring, old-fashioned values.

Kristine Gasbarre made a New York career of dating driven, inaccessible men. When she realizes her love life will never result in happiness if she continues on the same path, she makes a big decision—relocating to Italy to discover her roots and find out what defines her adoring grandpa. But upon receiving the news of his sudden passing, she is lured away.

With nowhere left to go, Krissy returns to her small hometown for the first time in a decade to help care for her grandmother—a refined, private matriarch suffering from early dementia along with the loss of her husband. In her reluctant agreement to share the nearly lost love stories and transformative lessons from her rich sixty-year marriage, Krissy’s grandma becomes the one offering comfort as she coaches her granddaughter through the fear of loving. Grandma’s unapologetic femininity and secret giving spirit opens Krissy’s eyes about relationships, teaching her the single most important requisite for loving a man: first a woman has to learn the power of her own inner beauty.

Why it caught my eye: This book has been on my 'brary's new book display for a while now, and I just keep going back to it. I pick it up. I put it down. I pick it up. My hunch is that this book will either be really, really good or really, really bad and sappy and otherwise lame. I read a review that compared it to Eat, Pray, Love -- a book that I strongly disliked and am glad that I read. I'm going to give this book a try at some point. If I don't like it, I'll probably still finish it. And if it turns out that it isn't enjoyable but has some sort of magical message that changes my entire outlook on life? Stellar. Not counting on it, but stellar nonetheless.

On being the third wheel

My grandmother has stated, on more than one occasion, how highly she thinks of Lucy's husband, Chet.

My grandmother has never met Chet. But "he must be a very nice man."

I have taken this bait twice now. Grandma tells me that she's sure Chet is a very nice man and I ask her why.

"He must be a very nice man to allow you and Lucy to have such a close friendship and to spend so much time together."

Allow? Come on, Grandma.

Her thinking might be a little old fashioned, but I do get what she is saying. And it is very true: Chet is completely wonderful and accepting me as Lucy's best friend. His support has made a close friendship closer.

To be fair, I also consider him to be one of my best friends. Most of the time that I spend with Lucy, I spend with him, too.

It should probably be awkward -- the married couple, the infant and the eternally single best friend -- but it isn't and it never was. Chet accepted me. Chet accepted my friendship with Lucy. Chet accepted our kitchen experiments and our concert road trips and our restaurant preferences.

So, it might be a little weird. It probably looks a slightly strange. And people likely find it somewhat odd.

But it works.

If friends are the family that you choose, I picked a really great one.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Stranger Shout Out

Dear Stranger:

I’ve never seen you at the ‘brary before. (Or maybe I have. I really see a lot of people here.)

You seemed really nice when you came up to the reference desk. You did!

And I’m sorry I was a little distracted when you approached my desk the second time. I was checking over a book order. My head was a little bit up my ass. It happens.

I’m also sorry that I didn’t hear what you said.

Asking “are you single?” is probably not something that you wanted to do twice.

Or maybe it’s just something that I wouldn’t want to do twice. You’re obviously a little less shy than me, being that you added on “I just think you’re extremely beautiful” the second time. And told me that you were sorry for making me blush.

I totally blushed.

I am such a blusher.

(Do you not grow out of blushing?)

Thank you for the flattery. That sort of thing never happens to me. Guys don't march up to me and tell me that I am beautiful; strangers don't ask me on dates.

I can't go out with a patron. But you absolutely made my day.

May the next girl you approach be The One.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Winner, winner

You know those secret rewards card that VSecret uses as a promo?

You buy something and they give you this gift card and it isn't active until a month later. So you keep it in your purse for a whole month like the Lemming that you are - because it could be worth $10, $100 or $500! - wondering how much it is worth even though the last thing you need is another pair of lacy underthings or a not-all-that-awesome bra.

Well, I had one of those cards. Because I had to buy these:

Obviously.

But I forgot about the secret reward thingie and that was fine. It was happy in the bottom of my purse, with the receipts and the Luna bar and the loose change and the candy wrappers.

Meg had a secret reward card, too. She did not forget about it. She is more responsible than I am. She marched into the store and handed it to the associate and the girl was like "um, okay. Wow. This is...$500."

And then the people in the store clapped for her.

Meg's a nice kid and maybe she was having a hard time dropping $500 or she felt bad because my card was only worth $10 (I checked after her big win) so she channeled her inner Oprah and was like "pick out a new bathing suit!"

And I don't love VSecret but they do make a pretty decent swimsuit. As a lake girl, I do appreciate a bathing suit that will hold up.

I didn't want to turn down Meg's offer, so of course I hopped right on the suggestion and I picked one out and sent her the color and the size and...

...she emailed me back a few hours later. She picked out the same suit.

Just like I knew that she would.

I was tempted to get mad but, you know, she was buying me a gift.

Well, VSecret's marketing budget was, technically. But, whatever. I picked out an alternate.

So please feel free to invite me to your pool parties.

Futbol? Fantastic.

I only worked until 12:30 this afternoon. When I was through at the 'brary, I went over to Lucy and Chet's to watch the baby for a bit.

There was Champion's League soccer on TV, conveniently.

Baby A is a big soccer fan.

(As of this afternoon.)



I had a soccer game of my own this evening.

On my drive to the game I worked myself into a stupid frenzy about The Coach. We're in single digits until he's home for the summer, you guys, and the reality of what I have to do and how it could turn out is hitting me. It is hitting me very hard.

I get worked up more often than I would like to admit.

(But, based only on how often I've blogged about him the last couple of weeks, you can probably imagine.)

When I got to soccer, I tucked all of that anxiety away. I stored it as energy. I vowed to run it off.

And run it off I did.

I scored two goals -- two pretty, pretty goals -- and when I left the field I was sweaty and gross and completely spent. Nothing left. Not even the anxiety.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Aunt Annette Update

It’s only been 8 days since Aunt Annette got her preliminary Multiple Myeloma diagnosis. It feels like it has been weeks. It strikes me as funny how, in a situation such as this, you just jump in. You do what you have to do. You don’t look around and bemoan your fate. You get shit done.

That’s what the last week has been about: getting shit done.

Aunt Annette was in excruciating pain because she had a fractured vertebrae in her back. The reason for the fracture was the cancer. She had surgery on Wednesday and, since then, she has felt remarkably better. She was discharged from the hospital on Friday. But she still has cancer. We still have to deal with the cancer.

On Friday, she has an appointment for a second opinion. My mom is going with her. They will look at her options and compare and contrast and choose a care team. And then it will be full steam ahead with her first treatments. All systems go. Operation: fuck cancer.

The last 8 days have been exhausting for all of us. I can’t complain. I am not spending the night in the hospital. I am not spending every free moment on the phone with doctors and insurance companies. What I am doing are the limited tasks that I can actually do. (I hate, right now, that I did not choose a career in health care.) I set up a blog so that Aunt Annette’s friends and family can follow her progress. I researched doctors under my mother’s direction. I sat in Aunt Annette’s hospital room on Friday and helped carry flowers to the car when she was finally released. And I took her to her doctor today – to establish care with a new primary care physician, since her old one made such enormous mistakes in the last couple of months.

Oh, and I made dinner. Of course I made dinner.

And I’m just trying to help my mom out as much as possible. Because she’s the saint in this situation. She was already stretched so, so thin (she recently took on a big role in her professors union, in addition to teaching a full class load) – I worry about how much more she can take.

And I worry about Aunt Annette.

Oh! That’s something else you can add to my list of tasks: worrying.

I totally have the monopoly on worrying.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 2

Another week, more books to think about.

Fiction
Carry the One
by Carol Anshaw


From the publisher: Carry the One begins in the hours following Carmen’s wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidently hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road. For the next twenty-five years, those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, connect and disconnect and reconnect with each other and their victim. As one character says, “When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.”

Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest tragedies and joys of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect. Deceptively short and simple in its premise, this novel derives its power and appeal from the author’s beautifully precise use of language; her sympathy for her very recognizable, flawed characters; and her persuasive belief in the transforming forces of time and love.

Why it caught my eye: I pinned this book a few months ago, but it was featured in the New York Times Book Review just last weekend and it fed my desire to read this book, like, yesterday.

I hope that this doesn't sound too gruesome, but I am interested in tragedy. I'm interested in how different people cope with the tragedies that scar their lives. I guess it’s because I have plenty of my own scars that creep into my present life as seemingly random intervals. Striking when I don’t expect them to strike.

Just this week, The Coach told me one of his tragedies. It’s a big one. And I can’t stop thinking about it. About how that experienced must have changed him, must have shaped the person who he is. He insists that it didn’t traumatize him; I think he’s full of shit.


Non-Fiction
After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa
by Douglas Foster


From the publisher: A brutally honest exposé, After Mandela provides a sobering portrait of a country caught between a democratic future and a political meltdown. Recent works have focused primarily on Nelson Mandela's transcendent story. But Douglas Foster, a leading South Africa authority with early, unprecedented access to President Zuma and to the next generation in the Mandela family, traces the nation's entire post-apartheid arc, from its celebrated beginnings under "Madiba" to Thabo Mbeki's tumultuous rule to the ferocious battle between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Foster tells this story not only from the point of view of the emerging black elite but also, drawing on hundreds of rare interviews over a six-year period, from the perspectives of ordinary citizens, including an HIV-infected teenager living outside Johannesburg and a homeless orphan in Cape Town. This is the long-awaited, revisionist account of a country whose recent history has been not just neglected but largely ignored by the West.

Why it caught my eye: It's no secret that - after traveling to South Africa in 2010 - I am fascinated by all things South African. I've been meaning to get my hands on a book about the current political and social climate in South Africa, and I think this is my winner. I read a review on this book and it gave me the impression that this book has a good narrative quality to it, too, which is always a big selling point for me. I have really come to appreciate non-fiction books, but I appreciate a non-fiction title so much more if it reads smoothly and chronologically, instead of just fact! fact! fact!
 
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