Saturday, June 30, 2012

Want/Have/Need

I am not grateful enough.

It’s so much easier for me to focus on what I don’t have. On the boy who doesn’t care. On the money that isn’t in my bank account. On the success that feels unattainable. 

I am not grateful enough for what I have.

Like, yesterday, for example. Yesterday was perfect. I know that yesterday was perfect but I am having the hardest time expressing that. Because it was perfect in a way that my life has almost always been. Perfect in a way that I tend to overlook.

I was surrounded by everything that I love. Everything that I take for granted because it is all so steady and consistent and safe.

It was all of the things that I need. It felt regular and right but it didn’t feel perfect even though that was exactly what it was. It just felt like my life.

It was the ideal summer afternoon. Lucy. Chet. The baby. The lake. An easy lunch. A dip in the lake. Happy, wet dogs. A sweet, fat baby sleeping wedged between us on the double chaise lounge. I wore sunscreen and a swimsuit and I left my phone inside. I wasn’t worrying about the boys who were calling. I wasn’t worrying about the boys who weren’t. I wasn’t worrying. I was chipping my nail polish. My hair was dirty. I didn’t care. I was cooing over a baby and laughing at swimming dogs and I was eating popcorn and I was happy. 

Maybe I already have everything that I need.

Maybe I have everything that I’m going to get.

Maybe this is it. Maybe this is my life.

Maybe I just need to stop looking. Stop trying. Stop wanting. All that reaching seems to accomplish is to make me sad. I shouldn't be. I am lucky. And I am going to work on being more grateful.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I...

...keep trying to find the words to write about what's going on with The Coach.
...keep failing at finding the words to write about what's going on with The Coach.
...am not very happy with what's going on with The Coach.
...am pretty relieved that this will all be over soon.

...went to a concert with Lucy last night.

...didn't work yesterday.
...did not work today.
...have to work Saturday and Sunday.

...invited Lucy, Chet and Baby A to the lake for the afternoon.
...told them to come at 1.
...managed to leave Trader Joe's at 12:15 pm, drive to the lake, take a shower, make a salad, put out snacks and have lunch ready by the time they arrived.
...was kind of proud of myself, even though my success is mostly due to my mother, who always has her house party ready in the summertime.

...am randomly not receiving certain text messages.
...am assuming I am missing many important text messages from cute boys.
...will not text any cute boys to tell them about my phone problem.
...am on the verge of losing two toenails.
...bought my Kentucky Derby hat.
...worry. About mostly everything.
...really love food.
...need new sunglasses.
...don't want to do much of anything these days.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 8

Fiction
We Only Know So Much
by Elizabeth Crane

From the publisher: Jean Copeland, an emotionally withdrawn wife and mother of two, has taken a secret lover—only to lose him in a moment of tragedy that leaves her reeling. Her husband, Gordon, is oblivious, distracted by the fear that he's losing his most prized asset: his memory. Daughter Priscilla (a pill since birth—don't get us started) is talking about clothes, or TV, or whatever, and hatching a plan to extend her maddening reach to all of America. Nine-year-old Otis is torn between his two greatest loves: crossword puzzles and his new girlfriend.

At the back of the house, grandfather Theodore is in the early throes of Parkinson's disease. (And he's fine with it—as long as they continue to let him walk the damn dog alone.) And Vivian, the family's ninety-eight-year-old matriarch, is a razor-sharp grande dame who suffers no fools...and still harbors secret dreams of her own.

With empathy, humor, and an unforgettable voice, Elizabeth Crane reveals what one family finds when everyone goes looking for meaning in all the wrong places.

Why it caught my eye: I like humor and dysfunction and meaty characters. We Only Know So Much appears to be very contemporary and very real and maybe just a little bit reminicant of my own crazy family.


Non-Fiction
The Scientists: A Family Romance
by Marco Roth

From the publisher: With the precociousness expected of the only child of a doctor and a classical musician -- from the time he could get his toddler tongue to a pronounce a word like De-oxy ribonucleic acid, or recite a French poem -- Marco Roth was able to share his parents' New York, a world centered around house concerts, a private library of literary classics, and dinner discussions of the latest advances in medicine. That world ended when his father started to suffer the worst effects of the AIDS virus that had infected him in the early 1980s.

What this family could not talk about for years came to dominate the lives of its surviving members, often in unexpected ways. The Scientists is a story of how we first learn from our parents and how we then learn to see them as separate individuals; it's a story of how precociousness can slow us down when it comes to knowing about our desires and other people's. A memoir of parents and children in the tradition of Edmund Gosse, Henry Adams, and J.R. Ackerley, The Scientists grapples with a troubled intellectual and emotional inheritance, in a style that is both elegiac and defiant.

Why it caught my eye: The story is unbelieveable. Powerful. I get the feeling that this is one that would stick with me for a long, long while. I like that quality in a book: its ability to haunt me long after I have finished.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weekend, Part 3

And then on Sunday morning I woke up at Alexander’s house.


He had to go to work. I had to go. Anywhere else. I wasn’t regretting the decisions that had brought me to waking up at Alexander’s house on Sunday morning, but it was still – I don’t know. It was something.

We left his house at the same time. I had a soccer game fairly close by, so I killed an hour at Starbucks with a (tall, nonfat, no whip, extra hot) mocha and a book. It was convenient.

And then I went to my first soccer game with my new team. They’re a likeable group. I wasn’t with them long enough to truly evaluate any of the guys for more-than-teammate status. But a girl can hope, right?

I met Meg at Mom and Dad’s for more soccer watching in the sunshine. I made us quesadillas. I fielded text messages from Alexander and from the guy who I met at the bar on Friday night.

We had a soccer game. I played somewhat poorly. I’m sure it had nothing to do with my marathon weekend of busyness. Following my game, I had tentative plans to see the guys from the bar on Friday night. It fell through. (I haven’t heard from them since. I’m not terribly heartbroken.)

When I was driving home from my game, The Coach started sending me text messages. I must have been incredibly terse with him, because it was blatant enough for him to pick up on it. (I never said he wasn’t dense.) I got an “um, are you okay? You seem not okay” text message, followed by a phone call I ignored, followed by a second phone call – which I picked up and told him that I would call him back.

Because I needed a little time to collect myself. And I needed to take a shower.

I got back to him maybe an hour later. And I told him that I wasn’t okay. That I wasn’t okay with how he was treating me because, even if I only qualify as a friend, I was not being treated in a way that friends should be treated. I got my apology. I got a promise that we would do something together – something more substantial – this week. And I got an invitation to his house.

So I went.

Because Monday was his birthday and it was technically Monday when I arrived.

We had a good few hours together. Pancakes and coffee at a diner in the middle of the night: I love things like that. I love being around him. It’s a shame that he doesn’t deserve me. It’s a shame that it will never work out.

He leaves soon. Just a couple of weeks.

And then I'm shutting the door. Then it's over.

Weekend, Part 2

Friday was a late night. Saturday was an early morning. It wasn’t a shock, really, that Baby A was up and ready to take on the world at 5:58 am. I knew it was coming.

Fact: advance knowledge of lack of sleep doesn’t actually make up for lack of sleep.

The baby was fed and coffee was made and then coffee was complained about and then bagels were consumed and then we sat around and admired the baby and enjoyed the weather and acted lazy until we finally put on our swimsuits and headed to the lake.

As I am spoiled and grew up on a lake, I’m a little unaccustomed to the whole pack-a-towel-and-some-snacks-and-spend-a-few-hours-on-the-beach routine. But it was lovely. Baby A is such an easygoing guy, happy to cuddle, happy to go in the water, happy to have a snack on the beach, happy to smile at every stranger who walks by.

I decided to head home after our beach trip. I was craving a long shower. And some soccer on TV.

Logistically, it made more sense to go back to Mom and Dad’s house instead of all the way back home. Also, Meg was there. Also, my dad recently installed a television on the deck. Mostly because, a few weeks ago, I planted the idea in his head. “It would be the perfect addition to your outdoor entertaining space, Daddy!” He came home a few days later with the television. And the cable company was out on Saturday morning to run the cable out to the deck.

It still has to be mounted, but Meg and I made do with the current setup.

We were very happy soccer fans.


When soccer was over, I rushed to get ready and make a cup of coffee and head over to my friend Heather’s pool party.

You might remember Heather from the awkward and awful interaction I had with her husband this spring.

I wasn’t exactly excited to go over – for the singular reason that I wasn’t very excited to interact with her husband – but it was actually okay. Her husband was busy with his friends. I got to catch up with a few high school friends I rarely see. I got to hold the baby for a deliciously long length of time. Everyone loved the cookies I made. I was glad that I went.

When I left: I went to Alexander’s house.

Three days later, I am unable to justify why I decided to do this. Three days later, it seems like even worse of an idea than it seemed like on Saturday night when I was driving to his house (and it didn’t seem like a great idea then, either). When I saw him on Wednesday night, it was fun. He is fun. So I went for it, having made the clear explanation that there would be no naked time and, miracle of all miracles, there was not.

I did stay the night. I do not know why.

I am clearly setting myself up for disaster.

Or, at the very least – if he doesn’t move in August as he is telling me that he plans to do – a lot of awkwardness once hockey season begins.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekend, Part 1

I don’t know whether to label this weekend as epic or as destructive. But it was something. It was definitely something.

There was a lot. A lot of everything but sleep. A lot of feelings. A lot of boys. A lot of soccer. A lot of food. A lot of fun.

I'm going to have to break this up into a few posts.

We'll start with Friday: I worked a half day. I dropped a batch of cookies off at Heather’s house. I watched soccer. I met Lucy and Chet at their house and we left on our miraculous journey. They were camping for two days, I was only staying for one; I followed behind them in my family sedan. We were only staying an hour or so north of their house. I drank coffee and listened to the radio and thought about calling people who I never called.

We arrived and set up camp and visited a bit with Lucy’s brother, sister-in-law and nephews, who were also staying at the same campground. We drank two bottles of moscato – one was delicious and one was sort of disgusting – and we missed our dinner reservations.

Eventually, we made it to dinner. Our meal was excellent. We’ve been making really great restaurant choices lately. Well, actually, I’ve been making really great restaurant choices on our behalf. Whatever. It works. And Chet can be picky and difficult when it comes to restaurants (partially because he keeps somewhat kosher, partially because he likes to be a pain in the ass), so I consider this a life victory.

Lucy and I went to the bar after dinner; Chet and the baby went back to the campground.

We didn’t get ridiculously drunk. We got drunk enough. We talked a little about Colleen’s wedding and how we were feeling so strange and so sad about it. We found a shelf in the corner of the bar that had cards and board games and we indulged ourselves for a while. That is so perfectly us, playing a game in a bar. When we were younger, we used to regularly bring a deck of UNO cards to our favorite dive bar.

And then a couple of guys came into the bar and took a liking to us and we pushed our games aside to indulge in another long-forgotten favorite activity: harassing random dudes in a bar. Talking them into texting photos of their nipples to their friend who was in the bar down the street. Giving them ridiculous nicknames. Leaving them notes on the napkins under their drinks as we snuck outside to wait for our ride back to the campground. And other shenanigans. Somehow, one of them ended up with my phone number. (By somehow, I meant that I wrote it on the napkin that I left under his drink.) The cute one. The cute one who texted me all weekend.

The cute one who lives in Texas, obviously. Is it just me or this becoming a pattern? The only guys who are interested in me either live in different states or are actively pursuing moving to a different state.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekend of Adventure

Last week, Lucy turned 30.

Later in the week, Lucy and Chet went out and bought an RV (or maybe it’s a camper? I don’t know the difference) and I found that to be hilarious. Turning 30 and buying an RV in the same week. Embrace your advancing age, friends! I’ll tag along.

As I previously mentioned, Colleen gets married this weekend. Lucy and I wanted to go out to drink away the weirdness of the situation.

But Chet wanted to go camping.

Which is how I found myself packing a bag in preparation of one of the weirder activities in recent memory: going camping with my best friend, her husband and her baby in their newly-acquired RV/Camper in celebration of the wedding of our former friend and also to distract me from a heart that is battered from a long term never-quite-a-boyfriend and to keep me away from a young and eager wants-to-be-a-boyfriend.

Also, because we like a good juxtaposition: we’re going to fancy dinner on our way to our camping adventure.

And Lucy and I went on a special grocery shopping trip yesterday in order to purchase all of the essential junk food for our epic journey.

Essential junk food for epic journey:
Doritios
Combos
Pineapple
Goat cheese
Our favorite candy cocktail (heavenly mixture of Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids)
Moscato
Gatorade
Bagels

Maybe it’s going slightly overboard, but I totally made a small cake. Wedding cake, you know? And some banana muffins.

It’s going to be good, yes? We’re only going for a night. We’ll go for a little hike and take the baby swimming. We’ll have our good dinner. We’ll put our drinking pants on. We’ll take stupid pictures and do something unusual and sleep somewhere different and maybe this is what I need to get out of my funk. For everything to change for just one day. A different location. No desire to check my phone for communications from The Coach. To take everything at face value for one bloody day and not have to worry about the bigger picture or a stupid boy or anything, really, other than to apply my sunscreen at regular intervals.

And I’ll be back in time to go to my friend Heather’s pool party on Saturday night and maybe see Alexander even though I probably shouldn’t see Alexander.

Sunday? Sunday means two soccer games – one of which is with my new team (which is hopefully full of cute boys with minimal issues who aren’t going to move thousands of miles away within the next few months).

I’m kind of in love with this weekend and it doesn’t technically start for another hour.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On not caring

I met Alexander for drinks last night.

I don't care. I just don't care anymore.

I met Alexander for drinks last night because I was wearing a cute dress and I looked adorable and because I wanted to and because I was feeling so sad about The Coach that I nearly started crying at my desk. And those reasons are enough for me.

Because I don't care anymore. I do not care. About how old he is or that he's moving or about The Coach or how much sleep I will/will not get. I don't care about why I'm doing it or if it's a good idea or whether or not I will regret it later. I do not care. I cannot care.

All I have been doing since The Coach returned home is maintain a white-knuckled hold on to the idea of him. The idea of him isn't the reality and it also isn't the slightest bit of fun. I'm sick of being sad.

When I was with Alexander last night, I wasn't sad. And I didn't feel like an obligation.

That's enough for now. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Odds, Ends

Chet's best friend, who moved to the east coast early this spring, hasn't had the address on his Starbucks rewards card changed from Lucy and Chet's house.

Every so often, his free coffee coupon comes and he tells Lucy or Chet to use it. But, the last time they spoke, he gave Chet specific directions to give it to me. Love it.

We jokingly refer to him as my fiancé because he asked me to marry him once. Also jokingly.

I miss him quite a bit. The four of us – me, him, Lucy and Chet – used to go out together all the time. Now we're a threesome with a baby. It confuses the hell out of people. Watching them try to figure out who is Baby A's mom and who is with Chet is rather amusing. But I do miss the balance. Two boys. Two girls. ...two adult boys and two adult girls, that is. Baby A is the bonus bundle of awesome.

Sometimes, I think that I should just do a guy a favor and marry my fiancé. He needs this special item that rhymes with bean yard. And it isn't like I'm going to be getting married for real, true, legitimate love anytime soon.

Admitting that is kind of sad.

* * *

At some point during my 8 mile run last night (I had a lot of energy to burn off), I must have pulled a muscle in my chest. Either that or I am having a heart attack.

It's a very pleasant feeling.   

* * *


We celebrated Father's Day with brunch on Sunday morning.

As much as I love to have our entire extended family around, we do the loud, overwhelming, 20 person get-togethers a lot. It gets exhausting.

It was nice to celebrate with just the four of us. And I'm pretty sure that my dad was totally pumped to have brunch, collect his gifts and make his way over to the country club so that he could spend Father's Day doing exactly what he wanted to be doing: golfing.

* * *

I don't really have anything to say about the situation with The Coach. I'm sorry.

* * *

I gave Lucy a little Mother's Day present - a magazine subscription, some body lotion, candy, nothing too special - and it occurred to me on Saturday evening that I should probably buy something for Chet, too. I spend a lot of time with Lucy. 75% of that time is with Chet, too. He's one of my best friends. And he's a hell of a dad.

I bought him a card. And I bought him several jars of pickles. A gift that is both strange and appropriate.


And, considering that Lucy sent me picture of him caressing one of the jars, a gift that was also appreciated.

* * *


I start soccer with a new coed team on Sunday morning.


The circumstances are not great: I already play on Sunday evenings, but it is time to put myself out there a little bit. An environment where I'm comfortable (I am not sure there is anywhere else in the world where I feel more myself than on the soccer field) but with an entirely new group of people (minus the girl who invited me to play) seems like easiest way to do it.

It's far from brave, but at least it is something. I need to start with something.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Colleen Getting Married

Colleen gets married on Saturday.

Lucy and I knew that she was planning a June wedding, but we weren’t quite sure the date. So I pulled up her name on the Target wedding registry. Voilà! The beauty of the internet. Her wedding is this weekend.

Lucy and I don’t discuss our friendship breakup endlessly anymore. We’re over that, mostly. It’s kind of impossible for her name to not creep into conversations occasionally. She was our third musketeer for a lot of years. A lot of our shared memories feature Colleen.

It still makes me sad.

I kind of expected her to call Lucy on her birthday. I kind of expected her to reach out in the weeks before her wedding.

She did neither. That’s okay. I mean, we’re not friends anymore. I suppose that’s what I should expect. And it makes things easier. I have no moral dilemma – to attend or not to attend. Colleen is taking care of that for me and, for that, I’m grateful.

And I’m grateful – as much as I would like to insulate Lucy from any pain or misfortune – that Lucy is in this boat with me. That she can agree when I admit that, gosh, this feels weird. And it feels wrong and it feels sad. Colleen is getting married and we won’t be there.

So, on the night of her wedding, we’re going to go to a trashy bar and we’re going to get really drunk.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 7

Fiction

Triburbia
by Karl Taro Greenfeld

From the publisher: Thrown together by circumstance, a group of fathers—a sound engineer, a sculptor, a film producer, a chef, a memoirist, a gangster—meets each morning at a local Tribeca coffee shop after walking their children to their exclusive school.

The sound engineer looks uncomfortably like the guy on the sex offender posters strewn around the neighborhood; the memoirist is on the verge of being outed for fabricating his experiences; and the narcissistic chef puts his quest for the perfect quail-egg frittata before his children's well-being. Over the course of a single school year, we are privy to their secrets, passions, and hopes, and learn of their dreams deferred as they confront harsh realities about ambition, wealth, and sex. And we meet their wives and children, who together with these men are discovering the hard truths and welcome surprises that accompany family, marriage, and real estate at midlife.

Fascinatingly layered and multidimensional, these linked stories, arranged like puzzle pieces, create a powerful portrait of unlikely friends and their neighborhood in transition.

Why it caught my eye: I always enjoy a piece of fiction that reads somewhat differently from a traditional piece of fiction – this one is told from the point of view of multiple characters, which I often enjoy. I don’t mind a bit of scandal and intrigue, either, and the book garnered enough good reviews to make me want to give it a try.

Non-Fiction
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship
by Ann Patchett

From the publisher: Ann Patchett and the late Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In Grealy’s critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined . . . and what happens when one is left behind.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty, and being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

Why it caught my eye: Ann Patchett is an exquisite writer. Considering how talented I find the author, considering how close my closest friendship is, I am certain that this book will break my heart. But I want it to break my heart, as silly as that sounds. I want to read a book that will make me cry, and not just because the boy didn’t choose the girl. I want to read about real loss. I want it to hurt.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I will

It's good that it got worse.

Because if it hadn't gotten worse, I wouldn't have the courage to make it better. And better is what I need, even if the only means to better is removing The Coach from my life.

I will miss him.

It isn't what I want to do, but it is what I need to do.

It is what I will do.

I will polish my nails.

I will smile at boys.

I will join a new soccer team.

I will plan a road trip. Maybe two.

I will look at August in a whole new way.

I will go for long runs around the lake and I will take in the view and absorb the quiet and I will let myself think and think and think more. I'll run until my legs ache and until my brain stops the endless cycle of blame and worry and shame and hate and frustration.

I'm just going to run. I'm going to run a lot. And hopefully somewhere out there, somewhere on the trail that wraps around the lake, I'll find a bit of solace.

This sucks now. But it won't suck forever.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Come with me

The last time I wrote about The Coach, it was mostly good and I hesitated before I posted it because it seemed risky. It seemed like I was tempting fate. But maybe what I was really doing wasn't tempting fate, but living in a fantasy. Because, since I last wrote about The Coach, we have disintegrated into what is essentially nothing. If we were anything more than that to begin with.

Which I doubt.

I can't blame that on tempting fate. I can only blame that on myself.

I am so stupid. I am so stupid, I am so stupid, I am so stupid.

And sad. And dumb. And also stupid.

I was talking to Alexander yesterday – he was inviting me for dinner, I was telling him no (this happens approximately once per week) – and he blurts out “I’m moving to LA.” I have no idea where it came from. No idea how serious this potential move may be: he could have a job lined up, he might just like the idea. “Come with me,” he said.

Come with me.

Of course.

Exactly what I wanted to hear.

From the entirely wrong guy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

1994

I have a soccer game tonight. And I went to all of this trouble so that I could go to my soccer game: changing around my work schedule so that I could attend. Our team usually plays on the weekend and, for our rare weeknight games, attendance always sucks.

One of my teammates and I share the managerial responsibilities for our team. I order jerseys. She collects money to pay the league. I make the lineup for every game. We've been running our team for a few years now without any major issues. It works for us.

This morning, as I do before every game, I logged on to our league's website and printed out a copy of our roster and a copy of our game sheet.

The lineup usually takes me just a couple of minutes. I try to balance out who I have start the game on the field and who I have start the game on the bench. I try to spread out our weaker players. I try to put players on defense who won't piss Meg, our goalie, off. I've been playing with the same group of girls for a long time now: the effort it takes me is minimal.

I complete the lineup and I'm folding up the roster and the game sheet to toss them into my purse and as I'm doing so, the other team's roster catches my eye.

That couldn't be...?

I look again.

Yes.
 
The other team consists entirely of children.
 
I mean, legally, they are not children. But they were also BORN IN 1994.
 
I am not thrilled about this.
 
A fact that I made that clear when I emailed our lineup to my team.
 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Celebrating

She'll only turn 30 once, which seemed reason enough to make Lucy’s birthday an especially special birthday.

I would have been happy to organize a big party, but that has always been Chet’s domain and I didn’t want to step on his toes. (Strangely, he didn't organize anything.) Instead, I asked Lucy if she would join me for lunch on her birthday. And I took her to high tea because we're fancy ladies.

There’s a sweet little tea room that isn’t far from us. It’s so very old fashioned and frou-frou and dainty and girlie. I have been wanting a reason to drag Lucy there since I was treated to high tea a few years ago: her 30th birthday seemed like the perfect excuse.

As is the case for every time we've been in public together in the last five months, Baby A was the big star of the show. The staff (all three of 'em) passed along the cute baby memo and everyone stopped by our table to see the little guy smile.

We ordered all of the components of our high tea finger sandwiches, scones, tortes and, of course, tea. They bring everything out at a very leisurely pace, so we had plenty of time to sip our tea and admire the baby and talk and talk and talk.

And open presents, of course.

I wrapped Lucy four small presents. Which was a clue to her one big present not a gift, but an experience.

First, she opened a bottle of bourbon. At that moment, with a big bottle of booze on the table, I am sure that the other ladies at the restaurant were very impressed by our class.

Next, Lucy opened a potted spearmint plant. We got a little bit of dirt on the tablecloth. Again, likely impressing the other ladies at tea.

I gave her the biggest gift next. When she opened it, her eyes got big. "No," she said. I just laughed at her, staring at the wide brim summer hat that sat in her box. "Do we...have plans...next May?"

I handed her the final gift. A travel guide to Louisville.

We're going to the Kentucky Derby.

Lucy has always, always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby. When better to knock an item off of your bucket list than in celebration of your 30th birthday?

Kentucky is a reasonable drive from the D. I snagged us a few hotel rooms. Why not? With a friendship that was cemented on road trips, it is only appropriate.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Note to self:

Give birth to awesome little kid who reacts like this when his team scores:


Adopting an awesome little kid who reacts like this when his team scores is also acceptable. The key is to have a little kid who loses his shit over soccer.

Holy hell, I love the Euro Cup.

A friend like Lucy is the best kind

Everyone needs a friend like Lucy.

A friend who is honest and genuine and fun and weird and hilarious and smart and brave and adventurous. A friend who loves unconditionally. A friend who laughs easily. A friend who will drop everything to help, who will move mountains for her friends. A friend who will talk you through your bad ideas, a friend who will support your dreams, a friend who will spend an afternoon making crème brûlée because that is what you’re craving. A friend to share books and inside jokes with. A friend to grow up with.

Lucy turns 30 today.

30! I have known Lucy for more than half of our lives. This does not seem possible. But, at the same time, I can barely remember my life without Lucy in it. I can hardly recall a time when I did not have my redheaded sidekick. And I can barely stand to think about a living a minute of my life going forward without having Lucy on my side.

Happy birthday to Lucy, who isn’t my sister but who, every single year, feels a little bit more like one.

I won the best friend lottery.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 6

Fiction
Dare Me
Megan Abbott

From the publisher: Since both girls were small, Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and right-hand lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls - until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach's golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as top girl - both with the team and with Addy herself.

And then a suspicious suicide hits close to home, and the police investigation focuses on Coach and her squad. As Addy begins to suspect what really happened, the line between right and wrong grows blurrier, and she must decide where her loyalties truly lie-and how far is too far to go for someone you love.
The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power.

Why it caught my eye: this book has a lot of good reviews. "A sure bet," one of them called it. While my reading choices usually stray from mystery/crime/scandal (I would categorize myself as more of a literary/quirky character sort of a girl), I think I might like this. And summertime is the right time for juicy scandal books, is it not?

Non-Fiction
12 Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital
Eric Manheimer   

From the publisher: Dr. Eric Manheimer's 12 Patients is a memoir from the Medical Director of Bellevue Hospital that uses the plights of twelve very different patients-from dignitaries at the nearby UN, to supermax prisoners from Riker's Island, to illegal immigrants, and Wall Street tycoons-to illustrate larger societal issues. Manheimer is not only the medical director of the country's oldest public hospital, but he is also a patient. As the book unfolds, the narrator is diagnosed with cancer, and he is forced to wrestle with the end of his own life even as he struggles to save the lives of others.
Why it caught my eye: Healthcare - especially healthcare in the United States - fascinates me. It also infuriates me. I have a feeling that this book will do both.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Excellent timing

In a few hours, Euro 2012 begins.

For those of you who aren't soccer junkies, Euro 2012 is the European championship for the European national teams. And it is awesome.

Honestly, the timing of this tournament which, in some ways, is better than my beloved World Cup could not be better.

Things that I currently need in my life: a distraction, cute boys, a distraction, a sporting event to bet on, a distraction, futbol and a distraction.

Things that I currently need in my life that can be provided by Euro 2012: a distraction, cute boys, a distraction, a sporting event to bet on, a distraction, futbol and a distraction.

Lately, I haven't been on my game. I just feel very off. Not unhappy. Not sad. Just a general feeling of blah that I can't shake. It seems like, the more aware I am of how blah I feel, the harder it is to crawl out of this pity party and I just need something else to focus on.

What better to focus on than futbol?

Nothing, obviously.

So, Meg and I filled out brackets. (Winner gets dinner.) I joined a pool with some cool kids on Twitter. I placed my bets with the local soccer hooligans.

I am going to park my ass in front of the TV and I am going to watch match after match after match and I am going to love every second of it, damnit. Soccer is blissfully without commercial breaks so maybe during halftimes I will attempt to figure out my life but maybe not.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Jelly and other imperfections

One of the many things I love about Lucy is that she isn’t exactly like me.

She compliments me. That’s important in a best friend. (I suspect this is also good in a husband. If I ever find one, I will definitely report back.)

Where I am careful and deliberate, Lucy is calm and easy-going.

It’s a good balance.

When we would go on road trips in high school, I would create these elaborate folders that contained pages of directions, hotel confirmations, emergency phone numbers, local tourist attractions and documentation of our medication allergies, blood types and favorite colors.

And, at our scheduled departure time, I would arrive at her mom and dad’s house and Lucy would just getting out of bed and having not packed a thing or withdrawn any money from the bank or generally have her shit even the slightest bit together.

Inside, I would be all “THE SCHEDULE, THE SCHEDULE! WE NEED TO LEAVE!” but I would be outwardly calm and, eventually, after many trips where there were dozens of things that happened in ways that I hadn't expected (or, gasp, planned) to happen, I would come to learn that everything would work out.

Somehow, they would work out.

And, usually, they would work out with minimal effort or interruption or hassle. They would work out so easily that they weren't worth worrying about in the first place.

Can you believe that? Not worth worrying about!

Lucy helps tone down my crazy. Whether it’s because she left her cell phone at work and is running late or because she didn’t bother to put gas in her car or the dog ran away or whatever – eventually I learned that Lucy was Lucy and she was more scatterbrained than me and also a little bit happier.

I could learn a lot from her.

I think that she would say the same for me.

Yesterday, she called me for advice on making jelly. She had invited me and her mom and her sister-in-law over to make jelly. Lucy has never made jelly. I have never made jelly on my own. But Lucy thought that maybe I would have some sort of sage advice on how to establish the perfect assembly line for jelly making.

(No doubt due to the many kitchen assembly lines that I have supervised: Easter eggs and sugar cookies and donuts.)

I was totally clueless. And I told her as much.

But Lucy pressed on.

Where I would maybe be brave enough to make one jelly when attempting it for the first time, Lucy decided on three. Why not try three jelly recipes working in a kitchen with four women who aren’t jelly experts plus two babies and a dog and a husband?

This is where Lucy is crazy. And where I would have planned this out a little better.

So that one jelly doesn’t boil over and cover her entire stovetop in melted sugary mess.

So that her sister-in-law doesn’t put the wrong jelly into the wrong jars.

So that one jelly would turn out right, instead of having three jelly recipes that are sort of right.

But that’s the difference between Lucy and me. Lucy goes for it. I plan it.

I love that about her.

And who needs perfect jelly, anyway?

It tasted totally delicious.

When I was scraping it off of her stovetop.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Opposite of Crabby

I have felt like such a crab lately.

I’ve done a good job of putting on a happy face and hiding it. I think. Nobody has called me out for being unbearably miserable. Yet. I manage to be pleasant to be around, despite the crabby cloud that is hovering over my head. And I manage to take off my crabby pants and have a little fun. But the prevailing mood? Crabby.

I do not like being this way. It is time to shake off this funk. And because there are only so many hours in the day that I can run and because running while I am at work is not exactly feasible, here is a list of things that have been making me feel the opposite of crabby which is more for me than for any of you but, sorry, it must be done.

1. I bought Meg the perfect graduation present. I cannot wait to give it to her. I cannot believe I have to wait until the end of August to give it to her. Torture.

2. Grilled cheese sandwiches.

3. Euro 2012: the European Football Championship. Kind of like the World Cup, just only for Europe and, yes, I am so fired up to watch hours and hours of soccer that I can’t breathe.

4. Running. Running is keeping me sane.

5. Lucy’s upcoming birthday. I’m excited to celebrate with her. I’m excited about her present. I’m excited about the lunch we have planned on her birthday and the dinner we have planned for the following Friday. And hopefully Chet takes me up on the offer to babysit for Baby A so that they can go out alone, because I would be damn excited about that, too.

6. My boss graciously changing my work schedule next week so that I can make my Wednesday night soccer game.

7. Summer season soccer. The best soccer I play all year. In the cutest jerseys. With my sister and one of my oldest friends.

8. Lucy’s chubby, funny, sweet Baby A.

9. Doing nice things for other people, like babysitting Heather’s little lady so that she can cash in the massage gift certificate she got for her baby shower.

10. Sundresses.

11. Wednesday morning coffee dates.

12. Random, awesome projects with Lucy. This week, we’re making jelly.

13. Being told that my outfit is stylish and classic librarian.

14. When the books that I order – especially the cookbooks – come in and I get to look through them before they’re put out for the public.

15. Making plans. For Father’s Day. For a quick road trip. For dinner.

Monday, June 04, 2012

I'll be the poor sister

Liz spared no expense when building and furnishing her new house.

I had lived with her for quite some time before I finally stopped being shocked by what she had purchased. Or, actually, by what she hadn't purchased.

I'm not judging. It's her money to spend. Liz has a good job. Liz works really, really hard. She's also paid really, really well. (Judging from the W-2 form that I accidentally saw.) And she doesn't have 106 hobbies that she must also finance, like other people* you may know.

On Sunday afternoon, we had the extended family over for Liz's dad's birthday. It's the first family party that Liz has hosted at her house. It was a really nice party and a good opportunity for my family to poke around where I live.

My mother, being my mother, had to check out the kitchen especially closely. And my mother, being my mother, had to give me her opinion on it, too.

Mom: "Oh, this refrigerator! It is so fancy! ...don't get used to this, honey."

Meg: "She'll use a fancy refrigerator when she moves in with me to take care of my illegitimate children."

Yep.

I'm a poor public servant and everybody knows it.



*Like perhaps this girl who writes this blog who really likes knitting with nice yarn and running in expensive sports bras.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Sunday Night Slug

I forgot what I feel like after summer soccer. Our first game was this evening. I am exhausted. My legs are aching. I'm drinking water like it is going out of style.

It feels good. My summer soccer league is, by far, the best soccer I play all year. It is the perfect level of competition. My team consists of a really sweet, fun group of girls who are all amazing soccer players. And summer soccer is the only time all year that I get to play with Meg. Soccer with my little sister on the field with me is so much more awesome than soccer without her.

Summer soccer is always played on Sunday nights. It's a good way to cap off the weekend, to run that last bit of energy into the ground. Limping into the house on Sunday nights is good for me. I have nothing left. And I can start fresh on Monday morning.

I started out the weekend pretty pissed at The Coach. And it was raining and nasty and I needed to clean the house. Sometimes, when I have Fridays off, they are amazing and productive days. Sometimes they were like this Friday. Not so great.

I worked on Saturday. And then I got a coffee at Tim Horton's. And then I met Lucy at the salon and we got manicures just for the sake of getting manicures. (OPI Cajun Shrimp, if you were curious.) We headed back to her house to collect the boys: the plan was to go to dinner with Chet and Baby A.

Chet claimed he had work to do. Chet claimed he was hungry. We hung around the house a little bit, gave the baby a bottle and decided to give up on our original plans. Instead, we packed up Baby A and headed off in search of dim sum and, once we found it, ate ourselves silly.

Like we need the company of any stinkin' boys!

You see, I had wanted The Coach to come to dinner with us. I was mad when he said that he couldn't. And then Chet bailed on us and, gosh, sometimes things just don't seem meant to be.

That dim sum was meant to be, however. It was really meant to be.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Framing bad news (via text message)

Before Liz left for South America, I asked her what she needed help with while she was gone.

"Oh, nothing," she said. "Just take care of the dog, that's enough. And water the flowers."
Liz went out and bought a ton of flowers for the yard a few weekends ago. She's pretty obsessed with them. Like, posts-pictures-on-Facebook-of-her-flowers obsessed.

(I suppose it isn't all that unusual. Sometimes I forget that some people will put anything on Facebook because I don't use it that way.)

While Liz was gone, we had hot weather. Record breaking hot. And, while I watered the flowers per instructions and we got a little bit of rain, too: one pot of flowers didn't make it. They fried in the sun.

I felt bad.

I still feel bad.

Liz only bought the damn flowers a few weeks ago, had barely had time to enjoy them, and I killed them. Kind of makes you feel like a shithead. I don't like messing up.

But then I looked at the tag inside the pot of dead flowers and they were a partial shade plant that was kept in full sun and I felt a little less bad.

But still wanted to keep Liz in the loop.

So, first, I texted her a picture of the dog.


Alive! I texted her.

Then I sent her the picture of the flowers.


Not alive! I texted.

She's obsessed with the flowers, but she is OBSESSED with the dog.

And that's how I tricked her into not being pissed off about the flowers. Let this be a lesson for you, friends.
 
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