Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Go, Blue, Go!

Last Sunday, Blue went to the vet and we got bad, scary news.

Last Tuesday, Blue went back to the vet: her red blood cell count had dropped lower.

Last Thursday, Blue went back to the vet: her red blood cell count dropped. Again. Slower, but it had still dropped. Her count was 14.2. The low end of normal is in the 30s. I went with my mom to that appointment and I heard my mom's long, sad sigh as the vet gave us bad news again. It broke my heart.

But Blue is a trooper. Through all of this, Blue continues to eat. Blue continues to jump on the couch. Blue barks at ducks and wanders down to the lake and tries to steal whatever toy has Ellie's attention. Blue gives kisses. Blue begs for food.

She certainly doesn't have her usual energy and endurance, but she's hanging in there. "You're not acting like a dog in Hospice," my mom said to her over the weekend. Which is absolutely true. And why we've all been cautiously optimistic.

Maybe she has a little more energy today. Maybe her gums have a little more pink coloring to them. We try to be optimistic and we try not to be too optimistic. My mom was sure that she seemed better before Thursday's appointment and all we got was news of another drop. I liked being optimistic, but I wondered if we were all just convincing each other for the sake of comfort. So we didn't have to sit around all weekend, watching the dog who wouldn't be with us much longer.

My mom took her to the vet again yesterday. She had her blood drawn again yesterday. She's at a 15. Up, just a little, but up nonetheless. It's a good sign. She's a tough girl.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Someone has a new ride

I got a new car on Friday.

Randomly.

It was not an anticipated change.

It was an I-talked-to-a-salesman-and-you-should-do-this-before-the-end-of-the-month change that was orchestrated by my father. Which is fine by me. Dad works in the auto industry (crazy common in Detroit) (it’s why I will likely never drive anything other than a Ford or Lincoln product) and I let him handle my automotive affairs.

I was getting towards the end of my lease. Ford was offering an early lease turn-in promotion to Mercury leasees. My dad is of the belief that my family sedan (a Mercury Milan, which is exactly the same as a Ford Fusion) is the perfect vehicle for me but wanted to get me into a 2012 model year because the 2013 models are going to be different and more expensive and I’ve been quite adamant that I wanted a smaller car payment.

Dad had the rebates tallied and employee plan discount added in and the numbers crunched and a new Ford Fusion would be $50 or so less per month than my current Mercury Milan.

That $50/month basically covers the amount that I feel I’m overpaying on my stupidly overpriced gym membership. Payment reduction. Guilt reduction. I like it. I like it a lot.

I signed a lease on a new car and this is what I got: heated seats and less gym membership guilt.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2000

Hello from my three day weekend!

I took an extra day off this weekend. Pretty glad that I did. I have been feeling like I am on the verge of losing my mind (I'm sure you haven't been able to tell) and I hope that the extra day away from the 'brary will help me find my will to do something other than sleep and pout. Seriously. I'm no fun and I am sick of it.

I am spending the weekend hanging out with Meg. We aren't doing much other than watching the Olympics and eating. Yesterday, I consumed the following healthy snacks: pancakes with Nutella, chocolate milk, a dark chocolate brownie, a chocolate bar and a cookie. Theme of the weekend -- chocolate.

The reason I took the extra day off this weekend was so that I could play in my high school soccer program's alumni soccer game.

Which was lovely, minus this unfortunate fact.

I WAS THE OLDEST PLAYER THERE.

Like, our damn coach made us go around and introduce ourselves and say what year we graduated and when I was like "class of 2000" one of the girls almost fell over.

And I was like "child, I know." I wanted to tell her how fast it happens. How you're 22 and moving into your first apartment and working your first job and then you get out of bed one day and you're 29 and all of your friends have kids and IT IS SHOCKING but I didn't want to ruin the surprise. So I just shrugged and laughed and hoped that they all thought I looked too young to be so old.

There were actually two games: one for the women's team and one for the guys. I wasn't the oldest overall, but I was the oldest chick and that felt, um, alarming. It felt very alarming.

What didn't feel quite so alarming was the post-game party that one of my former coaches had at his house last night. He was young when he coached me -- he's just 5 years older than me -- so it was certainly more like hanging out with my peers when I was hanging out with him and my other coach and Meg and their wives.

It was nice to catch up. High school soccer was definitely a bittersweet experience for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself and, as a result, didn't have a ton of fun. It was nice to chill out and remember that I was coached by good guys who certainly cared about me more than as a player. In the 12 years since I last played for them, I think that I had convinced myself otherwise. All I remembered was the pressure.

The alumni game was the first of three games on the weekend: I had another one this morning and one last game tonight.

I was not the oldest player in my game this morning.

I will not be the oldest player in my game tonight.

At least I have that going for me.

So, you guys. Spill. Anyone else have such a clear cut "I'm really old now" revelation?

I am totally going to see that girl's eyes bulging out at the mention of my graduation year in my nightmares.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Get me off: The Roller Coaster of Career Frustration

I’m jealous of Meg.

Which is really nothing new. I live in an endless cycle of Meg jealousy. And I have since she was born. Or at least since she had to stop wearing that eye patch to correct her lazy eye.

Meg is more outgoing than me. Meg has an adorable boyfriend. Meg is smarter than me. Meg is a better athlete than me. Meg is taller than me. Meg’s hair curls nicer than mine. Meg is better at knitting than me. Meg got better grades than me.

And now: Meg has six job offers and she hasn’t even passed her licensure exam. Or graduated.

She’s choosing between a bunch of diverse and equally awesome offers. Whatever job she ends up taking, she’s going to get great benefits and a really respectable entry-level salary. She’s going to make tons more than me right from the start and she’s going to have a hell of a lot more upward mobility.

Do you know when I will ever have six job offers on the table? Never. If I stay in this line of work, I would be surprised to ever be in the situation where I am choosing between two job offers. Because this field is shrinking, it is not growing and WHY DID LIBRARY SCHOOL EVER SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA?

Last week, my boss at my old library resigned. When the posting for her job landed in my inbox, I obviously checked it out a little more closely than I check out the other job postings that are emailed to me.

When I saw how much experience they’re requiring and how much money they’re paying (next to nothing) and knowing all of the bullshit that she puts up with (tons), I felt like Dorothy walking behind that damn curtain and seeing that The Great and Powerful Oz was just a normal dude.

It hurt.

Her job posting didn’t contain anything that I didn’t already know, but seeing it straight from HR was a punch to the gut.

It’s not going to get a lot better.

I can’t believe that I did this again. I can’t believe that I made another awful, awful career choice. Painted myself into a corner. Again.

And I’m thrilled for Meg. I really am. She’s worked incredibly hard to get here and I’m glad that she’s being rewarded. But I am still jealous. And frustrated.

Any of you guys riding this roller coaster of career frustration? How are you coping?

And who has career suggestions for me? I’m serious. I don’t even know where to go from here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I hate everything

Blue went back to the vet yesterday and her immunosuppressant medications aren’t working. She goes back for another blood test later this week. If the drugs are going to work, they’ll be working by then. My fingers are crossed for a miracle. It hasn’t even been four years since we adopted her from the shelter and that just isn’t enough time.

I am not feeling this week but that’s far from breaking news. I haven’t been feelin’ it in a few weeks. Why start now? Activities I am interested in are limited to the following: eating cereal (I had cereal three times on Sunday: a bowl of Cheerios, a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats and a bowl of Wheat Chex.), sleeping and crying over everything (Blue, The Coach, anything on television, the streak of pink left in my hair from The Color Run).

Work is a particularly sore subject. I am still working up the energy to write about it.

Remind me to write about Meg's job search, too.

I am excited to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, but I can't stop thinking about how I watched the Opening Ceremonies for the Bejing games four years ago. With Darren. And he's dead now.

I met Lucy and Baby A for coffee this morning. It qualifies, by far, as the best hour of my week up until this point. I do suspect that coffee time will be usurped by our dinner plans on Saturday night: it is Chet's birthday and we have reservations at a really fantastic restaurant. My mom is going to watch Baby A while we stuff our faces. Originally, I was going to watch the baby while Lucy and Chet went out but they said "no, no! We want you to come with us!" which is exceptionally silly, of course. But they wouldn't let it go and my mother was all too excited to watch the baby. So, I'll join them for dinner. And wonder if people suspect that we're polygamists. Our friendship cannot appear normal from the outside. Which does not bother me in the slightest.

I've consumed too much coffee today. Not so much that I have coffee anxiety (I don't know if coffee anxiety is a true condition, but sometimes when I have a lot of coffee I feel like the anxiety that is bubbling under my skin is on the verge of making me explode) but my stomach is totally pissed at me. Why, body? Why do you do this to me? Why do you dislike coffee?

Anybody else have adverse reactions to the coffee? Are you as pissed off about it as I am?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Race Recap: The Color Run

Meg and I ran The Color Run this weekend.

If you’re not familiar with The Color Run, here’s the gist of it: you start out wearing all white and, with each kilometer you run (it’s a 5k), you get pelted with color and at the end of it you’re all rainbow swirled and happy.

It was okay. It was fun to do once. I’m not sure that I would do it again. It was an experience much like the Warrior Dash. I’m glad that I did it and I’ll be perfectly fine if it’s the only time in my life that I have the opportunity.

I’m afraid that this might mean that I’m a snobby, serious runner.

I don’t know how this happened to me.

I don’t even like running. (I only crave it.)


Anyway.

I guess I found it just a little bit off-putting that the race wasn’t timed. And the color was fun, but I was not wild about breathing it in. (It’s apparently corn starch based and non-toxic and natural.) Maybe it would have been enjoyable with a bigger group of friends who were a little more wildly enthusiastic about the whole thing, instead of just me (cynical) and Meggie (also cynical).

Keep in mind that I’m pretty bummed out about Blue. I’m just not in a mood to view anything through rose colored glasses. I would recap a night with David Beckham in a disappointed tone.


It was fun. It just wasn’t The Most Fun Ever.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sweet baby Blue

My parents traveled the last two weekends. I've stayed with the dogs.

Blue has been acting strange. Just a little off. She kept trying to eat dirt out of my mom's garden. She wasn't terribly interested in her food. But she was mostly herself. Just off. I told my mom that last weekend. I told her again this weekend.

The brought her to the vet last Monday for a scheduled blood draw. The results came back and she has a low red blood cell count. She went back to the vet yesterday. Red blood cell count even lower. Diagnosis: an autoimmune disease that's attacking her red blood cells. They're going to pump her full of steroids and an immunosuppressive drug and they're going to see what happens. She goes back on Tuesday. Apparently they'll have a pretty good idea if that therapy is working or if it is not. According to the vet, it works about half of the time. The other half of the time, it doesn't work. And then the dog dies.

It's pretty brutal news. She's such a sweet dog. She's still so young. And she's so very much alive. She jumped on the bed every day at 6:00 am and woke me up for breakfast. She went swimming every day. She barked at ducks and boats that got too close to our beach. She seemed off but she didn't seem this sick. Not like she could die.

With the same odds as a coin flip, I think that we could use a few good vibes. If you have any to send to sweet Blue, she would like that. She likes all attention. And I think that she likes being alive. It would be awfully nice if we could keep her that way for a good deal longer.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Calendar of Events

Let’s talk about events. Let’s talk about the events filling my calendar because I like events. Events crowd up my calendar and I am much more at ease with a full calendar.

Having a packed schedule calms me. If I don’t have any free time, I can’t possibly be missing anything. You can’t miss anything if you don’t have time for it in the first place, right?

July: Fun race with Meg. High school soccer alumni game. Chet’s birthday: Lucy and I are taking him out (people probably think we’re polygamists) and my mom is awesome and is going to watch the baby.

August: Meg graduates. Mom's birthday. Meg and I are going to watch a nice young gentleman named David Beckham play a bit of soccer (and maybe make a side trip to meet her best friend’s new baby while we’re at it). Chet’s best friend will be here from Israel and we’re going to take a little trip. And, weather permitting, we’re going to go sailing while he’s here, too. Lucy and Chet leave for Israel at the very end of the month: I’m watching their dog, Wolf, while they’re gone.

September: I want to go to Dallas to see my fine alma mater play in the Cowboys Kickoff Classic; I’m not sure I can swing it but, damn, I like the idea. Hockey season starts. I better get to the Big House for a football game because I didn’t get to the Big House for a football game last year and that’s embarrassing. There’s a 10 mile run I am considering. Meg, a friend and I are driving to Columbus to see the USA soccer team play a World Cup qualifying match.

October: I turn 30. I’m running my third half-marathon. If I don’t get to a UM football game in September, I would like to get to one in October. Maybe a Lions game, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a Lions game.

November: Trip to Chicago for my cousin’s baby’s first birthday. Plus a 15k while I’m there. Our traditional Thanksgiving Day run.

December: Nothing. Nothing other than the holidays. That kind of makes me nervous. Is it weird that it makes me nervous? Someone please invite me to something. Quick.

Things I would like to do but don’t have scheduled:
-Take a trip: maybe to Dallas, maybe somewhere else.
-Update my hair: what do we think about bangs?
-Make a change: living arrangement? Job? School? Relationship status? All of the above?
-Volunteer somewhere: this might be insane but it also might be really good for me.

Okay, darlings, your turn: what am I missing? What are you guys looking forward to in the next few months? Do you pack your schedule as tightly as I do?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So Midwestern, So in the Kitchen: they can't all be winners

Great news: I've quit the antihistamines that put me into a groggy, miserable coma for the last few days. And my eyes have stopped watering. I almost feel like a real human again. It's awesome. And now that I'm off of controlled substances, we can talk about food. Which, as you know, is my favorite thing in the world next to David Beckham. Hurray for retreating allergy symptoms! Hurray for writing about stuff other than how I am falling apart in my march to 30!

Anyway. To the important stuff.

At a family party earlier this summer, I made Marinated Veggie Salad. Massive amounts of Marinated Veggie Salad. It was okay. Not the most awesome thing I have ever concocted in the kitchen. I was really paranoid about it tasting like raw, greasy vegetables and probably went too light on the marinade. I don't know. It's a fine balance. Anyway: I saved the leftovers by tossing them with whole wheat pasta and a little bit of salad dressing. Lunch for the week. Can't complain about that.

I made Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Sauce to bring to Lucy and Chet's house on Tuesday night. Seriously good, you guys. Lucy and Chet could not stop raving about it. I didn't take a picture because fruit salad is fruit salad, so you're just going to have to try this out on your own. Go crazy on the fruit: I made my fruit salad with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and mangoes. Whatever sounds good. The honey lime sauce is easy and magical and it gives the fruit salad a delightful little kick. It's just different enough to be interesting and just traditional enough to please everyone.

At the same family party, my cousin Emma made these Rolo Cookies that kick all sorts of ass. I've since made them twice: once to bring to a pool party at my friend Heather's house, once to bring to Meg's birthday bar night as a post-bar sweet treat. They're a seriously delicious cookie. Super easy. Definitely worth keeping a bag of Rolos in the cupboard. In some sort of a magical hidden corner where I can't see them on a regular basis.

On the subject of Rolos: when I was in high school, I would go to the school store nearly every day during our morning break and buy a package of Rolos. And I would eat the entire thing. I saw no problem with this. That's crazy to me now. And that is how I know that I'm getting old.

While I failed to take a picture (and it wasn't exactly beautiful food anyway), this Martha Stewart recipe for Chicken, Rice, and Black-Bean Salad was a winner. It just works really well as something that I can make on Monday and bring for lunch for a few more days. I hardly eat any meat and I cook with it even less, but poaching a couple of frozen chicken breasts isn't exactly difficult or time consuming. It's an easy meal and it has a lot of protein. I need lunches with a lot of protein. Brain food.   

It's been a while since I made Coconut Lime Tofu with Spinach, Tomatoes and Quinoa. I can't remember all of the gory details. It was okay. It didn't blow my mind, but I enjoyed it. I probably won't make it again because there are so many things that I've made that I totally, totally love and can't wait to eat that it's sort of silly to make something that I feel so-so about.

Last but not least, Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter is the easiest recipe that I have ever made and one of the most delicious. I am not even kidding. Maybe when you combine the tomatoes and the onion and the butter it makes some sort of special, addictive, legal kitchen meth? I can't explain it. I honestly wanted to bathe in this tomato sauce. Although, putting it on top of traditional pasta instead of whole wheat pasta was bound to help my opinion of the dish. I very, very rarely eat regular pasta and every time I do I want to eat it by the fistfuls. Plain. It just tastes so naughty and delicious. It's like candy. Candy with tasty meth tomato sauce. Yum.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hard, blah, uninspiring

Lucy sent me a text message this morning that read something along the lines of “you were quiet yesterday. Everything okay?”

I was quiet yesterday while hanging out with Lucy and Lacey after work.

Not intentionally. I just didn’t feel like myself. I feel bad that I was so off – I thought that maybe only I noticed – because I was happy to see Lacey and it was great that we all had a chance to hang out.

It was just the allergies and the antihistamine that I had taken. That’s what I blamed it on when I responded to Lucy. And that’s what it mostly was.

Although, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been feeling a little off for a little longer than I’ve been riding the Allergy Express. Not bad, just not good.

I don’t particularly like it.

I don’t think it is stress. I don’t think it is sadness. I don’t think I’m getting legitimately sick. I just feel a little off balance. Not quite like myself. Like I am stuck in quicksand. Like everything takes so much effort.

It’s been like this for a few weeks. Everything feeling hard and blah and uninspiring.

I thought I was hiding it well. I didn’t know that it could be seen in addition to being felt. That's too bad. It's one thing to feel like you have a rain cloud hanging over you. It's quite another thing when others can see it, too.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

...the fuck?

Seriously, you guys. I need you to be honest with me. Is this what this aging bullshit is all about?

I turn 30 in 77 days and if my downfall continues at this rapid pace, I'm going to have to invest in a freezer and have myself cryogenically frozen until science can stop this nonsense.

I am falling apart at a rapid pace.

Last week, it was headaches. Awful sinus headaches. And I lost two toenails. Then I completely forgot about a soccer game.

Now I have bruises on each of my legs that are the size of small kittens. (These bruises came from soccer, no doubt, but I've been playing soccer for a long time without the kitten bruising. It's not like my legs are not used to being kicked.) And my skin seems to have forgotten that I graduated from middle school 14 years ago.

On Sunday, my right eye became emo and started dripping one pathetic, lonely tear that would dramatically roll down my cheek every few minutes.

Yesterday, it morphed into a full-blown watery eye. Just one. If you stand on the right side of me, you might think that I'm having a nervous breakdown.

And today we're adding sneezing to the mix. Plus the sniffles. And a sore throat. So, I have allergies now? When you're 79 days from 30 you develop allergies?

I don't want allergies. What I want is all of my toenails. And for my legs to not look like I was in a battle with a baseball bat.    

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flake

I completely flaked out on my soccer game yesterday. Just didn’t show up. It wasn’t even on my radar. I looked at the clock at 10:30 am and remembered that I had a game at 10:00 am.

That’s so irritating. I’m already missing too many games with this team. And now I’m missing another.

I never do that. I’m not flaky. I don’t just forget. The only other time I can recall just completely missing a game was when I was in grad school and working full time and completely stressed out. My complete lack of awareness of the game actually freaks me out a little bit. Where is my head? What the hell is wrong with me?

When I should have been getting ready for soccer, I was in bed having the weirdest dream. I rarely remember my dreams. When I do, they’re usually not terribly significant and half of the time they’re about work and that just pisses me off. But this dream so strange that I wrote it down when I woke up.

Any dream interpreters in the audience?

I keep thinking about it, so I might as well share.

I’m with The Coach and we're eating at outside at Panera. There was a little boy – maybe 5 years old – at our table. We didn’t know him. We start making out a little bit (classy!) and then I look up and the kid is sitting across from us, with his mom.

While we’re eating, I text from Lucy, reminding me about our dinner plans. We’re supposed to go for Indian. I had forgotten the plans.

Then we're at Lucy and Chet’s house. Except it isn’t Lucy and Chet’s house. It’s a house that I associate as being in my late grandmother’s neighborhood. Apparently this is where they live.

I am holding Baby A. And Lucy and Chet are leaving for dinner. As they’re leaving, so is this girl who we went to high school with is leaving (who I haven’t seen or thought about in 12 years) is leaving Lucy and Chet’s house as they are. She's dressed in a purple, flowy outfit.

As Lucy and Chet are leaving, it occurs to me to ask if they want me to watch the babies. Babies. As in more than one. As in they’ve had another boy. I hand Baby A to The Coach. I take the newborn. We're watching the babies for a few minutes, then the newborn slides off of the couch and onto the floor and he doesn’t cry or get hurt or anything so I just pick him up without The Coach even noticing that I messed up.

Then, the dogs get out. By dogs I mean Lucy and Chet’s dog, Wolf, my mom’s dogs and one of Lucy’s friend’s dogs. Wolf is up in this rotted tree, chewing on something. He looks just like a legitimate wolf. He looks like he could be a wolf on a souvenir t-shirt that you get in some southwestern state. I race down the street and I get Lucy’s friend’s dog. A man stopped to grab her and put her on a leash. We're at some soccer field, standing between the fields. He asks how I'm doing with the new baby (I'm still holding the infant boy and I'm distressed that I can't remember his name and I remind myself to look up his name in my old text messages). I pretend that the kid is mine and I take the dog back to the house.

Somehow, all of the dogs end up at the house. April – who was one of Lucy’s bridesmaids and turned out to be a frienemy – is holding one of the babies. She's in a chair next to someone else, who is holding the other baby.

The Coach helps himself to some food. Sausage and cream. I tell him that Jews who keep kosher (such as Lucy’s husband, Chet) can't eat sausage and cream, he tells me that he knows.

I apologize. He says he wants to buy me all of the things for the spring and the summer and the winter and the fall. I apologize for being disorganized.

We go outside, onto the front porch. There's a big party going on down the street. We are a couple of houses down from my grandma’s house, I realize. The party isn't at her house (my uncle and his kids live there now). There is some '80s music playing by a cover band that is on the front porch at the party house. And there's a patrol guy – not a cop, but in the dream I seem to think he has some authority – insisting that we take in all of the Christmas lights. They have to be on the house (he's picking them up off of the lawn and putting them on the porch) and not in the yard. I suggest that I just turn off the lights and he's sort of pissed at that suggestion, like it's a smart ass thing for me to say. I tell him that I'm only trying to save him a little bit of work (although I am annoyed and maybe a little snotty).

And then I woke up.

And missed my soccer game.

And kept thinking about that fucked up, random dream.

I have no idea where my head is, but I would like for it to return to normal very, very soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 9

Fiction
Love's Winning Plays

by Inman Majors

From the publisher: Though the Southeastern Conference football season is still months away, the fans' obsession is year-round. So head coach Von Driver will take his motivational magic and his Isosceles Triangle of Success on a Pigskin Cavalcade to the small towns in the state. Raymond Love, a young coach unfamiliar with the banquet circuit of big-shot boosters and chat-room gurus, will go along as his wide-eyed errand boy.


Also on the trip is the athletic director's daughter, whom Love has tried to win by joining her book club--a dubious strategy at best. The football aspects of the Cavalcade will prove child's play compared to the literary hazards he faces.

Will Love master the art of coach-speak? Will he win the affection of the girl? Find out in this fist-bumping, high-fiving, all-out comedic blitz about the sublimely ridiculous world of college football.

Why it caught my eye: I've been reading a lot of books about coaches lately, right? Yeah. I know.
 
Non-Fiction
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

by Katherine Boo

From the publisher: From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century's great, unequal cities.


In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees "a fortune beyond counting" in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter — Annawadi's "most-everything girl" — will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call "the full enjoy."

But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.

With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century's hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

Why it caught my eye: I have been told that Behind the Beautiful Forevers is an amazing book. Amazing and amazingly sad. I feel, sometimes, like I am so isolated from what is real tragedy and what is real poverty and what is real sadness. I don't expect this book to uplift me, but I do expect it to change -- maybe in just a small way -- how I see the world.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy List (because I woke up unhappy)

Ashley is in town.

I'm not working today. Lucy and Baby A are joining me at the lake (I'm dog sitting this weekend for my 'rents, who are in Chicago) and we're going to chill, splash around in the water, eat brie and otherwise relax.

I checked Say Nice Things About Detroit out from my home library (as opposed to my work library) (yes, I go to libraries that aren't the one that I work at) and, if all goes as planned, I'm going to read the whole thing this weekend.

On Wednesday morning, I purchased three tickets to the USA/Jamaica soccer game that will be held in Columbus, Ohio in September. Meg and I are dragging along a mutual friend. (By dragging along, I actually mean that he's pretty fired up to go.) Yay, soccer road trip!

This very sweet note left on Lucy's F'book wall by one of her former coworkers who saw pictures of us (not the hideous one) on the interwebs. She's a little old lady with a little old lady's name. And she is obviously very wise.

Lacey is visiting from NYC for a few weeks. You guys might not remember Lacey. She's another one of Lucy's bridesmaids who was a great friend when we all actually still liked one another. She's also this crazy hippie and she's just so herself all the time that I can't help but fiercely admire her. Lacey's newest thing is that she has some special skills -- psychic, empathic, intuitive, channeling, angel therapy, whatever you like to call them -- and believes that she read situations in people's lives and give guidance. So, I am obviously all about Lacey giving me a reading or guidance or whatever. Even if she's completely insane, it's going to be great fun. As is the rest of the evening: dinner, dessert, prosecco, awesomeness.

ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue is out. It features one of my very favorite players for the American team, the talented and - OMG just look at him - Carlos Bocanegra.

I have three majorly ripe bananas in the kitchen. I'm going to make muffins.

Next week is the Ann Arbor Art Fairs (yes, fairs as in plural - it's a quirky Ann Arbor thing) and Lucy and I have plans to spend an evening checking out the art, eating something delicious, wandering around town and people watching. Weather permitting. Art Fairs week is usually the hottest of the summer and I would rather not drop dead or slowly cook the baby in the heat.

Blogging has come pretty painlessly lately. I love that. For me, blogging is generally effortless or legitimately tough. Anyone else feel that way? I still blog when the words are harder to find (I think that's why I've been able to keep up my blog for as long as I have) but I still appreciate turning on the faucet and having the words pour out. As random or nonsensical as they sometimes are. Okay, always are. Whatever. I'll never quite know why anything I write is worth reading about, but I'm pretty sure you all aren't coming back because of my exquisite sentence structure.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Want to read something gross?

Both of my big toenails just fell off.

I know. As though the picture of me at 17 wasn't disgusting enough.

I have a problem, and the problem is this: I bruise my toenails, they fall off and it's really gross.

Typically, my toenails are painted a very dark color and that is because of this problem. When at least on of your toenails is a sickly purple color, you can't really paint it pale pink.

The whole thing is disgusting.

Running doesn't break my toenails. It's soccer. Running probably doesn't help. Running is charged with manslaughter. But soccer is charged with first degree murder.

Sometimes (it might be all the time, I'm not exactly sure), when I play soccer, my toes slam up against the front of my cleats. I usually don't notice it during the game. I'll notice it later, when my toes are sore and I know I'm in for a treat. And then my toenail is bruised and it is nasty.

After a game sometime this spring, I was taking off my stuff and I noticed that my big toes - both of them - were actually bleeding. That's how bad I was slamming my toes up against the front of my cleats. I had blood on my socks. And then I waddled around in pain for days, wondering if my toes were broken because they hurt so badly.

But they weren't broken. Just sore and on their way to becoming fully hideous. And gross. And then falling off. On the same day.

It is now the beginning of July I am left with are the pathetic beginnings of toenails that are underneath. They are not fit to be seen by the human eye.

(I was tempted to post a picture here. Just for laughs.)

On Monday, my summer fling left.

Today, I have been forced to put my flip flops away for the year.

Summer is basically over.

And my feet are disgusting.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Before & After

Yesterday, as I was getting increasingly excited about my reunion with the imaginary boyfriend that my best friend and I share, I had a really great idea. To express my excitement, I would post a vintage picture of Lucy and me at a Dave Matthews Band show on her Facebook wall.

I set my sights on finding a picture of us from the summer of 2000. We were 17. We had just graduated from high school. We were at a show somewhere in Ohio and we were upgraded to front row seats and we were peeing ourselves. That's the picture I would put on Facebook. We would laugh. All of our friends who know of our longstanding relationship with David J. Matthews would laugh. It would be awesome.

Or so it seemed. Until I found the picture.

You guys.

YOU GUYS.   


Look at this monstrocity!

Because there was no way I was throwing that up on The Facebook, I texted it to Lucy. Who was amused as I was.


We couldn't get over how truly awful that picture was. Lucy pulled it up on her phone at least 10 times during our drive to the venue. We laughed just as hard every time we looked at it.

Did we really look like that? Lucy insisted that she looked like Lurch. I focused on my mouth. What the hell was going on with my mouth? It appeared that my major hobby back in the summer of 2000 was chewing on bones.

While stuck in traffic, we attempted to take a picture as equally horrible. We did not succeed. (I actually kind of love it.)


Once we got to the venue, we attempted to take a check-out-how-much-better-we-look picture. Not our best shot, truthfully.

But when you compare it to the picture from when we were 17, I am suddenly a lot less afraid of my 30s.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's good, it's all good

It's good that Liz was on vacation at the end of last week. It's good that she's travelling for work at the beginning of this week. I needed a minute to be alone and cry like a maniac and walk around wearing weird outfits such as a pair of soccer shorts and the blouse I had worn at work.

It's good that I received an impromptu invitation to the Tigers/Royals game on Saturday afternoon. It's good that I was smart enough to say yes. An afternoon in the shade at Comerica Park with a few former coworkers. A quiet solo drive downtown. Something different. Something fun.

It's good that I started watching HBO's Girls on Saturday. And finished watching HBO's Girls on last night. It is a fantastic show and I needed the distraction.

It's good that I cancelled my Sunday plans with Alexander. I couldn't do it. I couldn't add that pressure on top of the clock ticking down to The Coach's departure. I couldn't.

It's good that I had a soccer game on Sunday night. It's good that we had hardly any players. It's good that I ran and ran and ran and scored a goal. It's good that I returned home so exhausted that I barely had any energy left to be anxious. While I expected to be a sobbing mess on Sunday night, I had a clear head and felt a surprising amount of peace.

It's good that I work in the afternoons on Mondays. I needed yesterday morning to recover, to come to terms with what happened, to mope a little and pout a little and watch Sunday night's episode of The Newsroom.

It's good that Lucy and I have tickets (fantastic tickets!) to tonight's Dave Matthews Band concert. I need to dance it out with my best friend. I need to pretend like I'm 17. I need to squeal over Dave Matthews even though he's bald and old because he's my original imaginary boyfriend and I will love him forever.

It's good that the remainder of my summer should be busy and fun. It's good that my schedule is booked into September. It's good to have races planned in October and November. It's good to have things to look forward to.

It's good that this all happened. It hurts. I don't like being sad. But it's good that it happened. It's good that it's done.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sequel

Here I am. One year later.

Not technically, exactly one year later. One year ago today, The Coach hadn't been named to his job yet. And today: today is his last day in town and I am doing everything that I can to hold it together.

I cancelled plans to see Alexander because I couldn't do it. Not today.

And so here I am.

Sitting in the same chair on the deck at Mom and Dad's house. Feeling the same feelings for the same guy. Exceptionally sad and remarkably confused. It is exactly the same. Nothing has changed.

A whole year and nothing has changed. I have not learned. I have not improved. I have not grown. I am sitting in the same chair, looking out on the same lake, feeling the same feelings, crying the same tears of regret with the same knot in my stomach.

And tonight will end just like it ended a year ago. With less of a goodbye than I deserve. With less of everything that I deserve. Because it has been a year and I am still settling.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Deep breath

Here we go.

The last weekend The Coach is home.

The last weekend of The Coach.

This has to end and I'm just so sad that it has to end.

This has to end and I'm just terribly angry that it's ending like this.

This has to end and, fuck, it hurts.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Meg and 'Merica

I am not excited about being at work today. I am not excited at all. I am sleepy. I feel a little sick. I have exactly zero motivation, my office is a little cold and my hair is fluffy.

Working the day after a holiday is the worst torture.

I spent Independence Day as I have spent every Independence Day for the last 20 years: at the lake, celebrating the birth of my sister and the birth of America.

It is usually a pretty big fiesta and this year was no different. Despite a severe shortage of our closest cousins (Emma is studying abroad, Anna didn’t come in from New York, Liz and her boyfriend took a trip), we had a good crowd.

We had the usual. Family and family friends. And we had guests who aren’t at Meg’s party every year. And that was especially fun. New blood. New people for my grandpa to tell his same old stories.

Drew, Meg’s boyfriend, flew in for the weekend. He’s a really nice kid, you guys. I like him. Up until Drew, I have liked exactly zero of the guys Meg has brought around. He seems like a keeper.

Lucy, Chet and Baby A came over – it was the first time my grandma had met Baby A and she totally lost her shit.

Meg’s former teammate/college roommate/friend visited with her twin daughters (they’re two) and her newborn baby (2 weeks). Twins and a newborn at 26. OMG. I could barely do laundry when I was 26.

Another one of Meg’s college roommates stopped by with her husband.

And this is how I discovered a great way to distract your family from your lack of a husband/boyfriend/baby: surround yourself with the husbands/boyfriends/babies of others. Seriously. Amazing distraction. Not only did nobody say a word about my lack of husband/boyfriend/baby, nobody even told me that I looked too skinny.

I wasn’t just distracted. With how things are currently, simple distraction makes for a decent day. But I wasn’t just distracted. I had a great time.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I am Emma Morley

The timing was off. I read it too early.

I read One Day late in the spring of 2011. Before The Coach left. Before The Coach knew where he was going. When it was complicated but not crazy complicated. When he was a lot of things -- including nearby.

Recently, I was looking up a quote from One Day. Trying to find a passage that has stuck in my head for more than a year.

I love the internet. I found the quote. I found a whole list of quotes from the book. I read through each one. And nearly every one bashed me in the head. Repeatedly.

One Day is my life. Dex is The Coach. Emma is me. One Day is my life. I read it and I didn't see what was so obvious. I read the book and I didn't make the connection.

I don't want to give away too much. (You should read it.) (Don't bother with the movie.) It follows the main characters -- Emma and Dexter -- checking in on them every year. Always on the same day. For years.

So much of it feels familiar. So much of it reminds me of the last 15 months.

Forgive me if it's a little lame/sappy/unoriginal/corny. Forgive me for using quotes as a crutch to tell the story of me and The Coach because I have never been able to find the right words to tell the whole tale.

Don't read too much into them. Don't assume too much. They're just words. It's just a book. He's just a guy. A guy to reluctantly file in my past.

This won't be entirely like One Day. This won't last years. 


“Just kidding' was exactly what people wrote when they meant every word.”

“If you have to keep a secret it's because you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.”

“As soon as she'd met him at the arrivals gate on his return from Thailand, lithe and brown and shaven-headed, she knew that there was no chance of a relationship between them. Too much had happened to him, too little had happened to her.”

“I'm not the consolation prize, Dex. I'm not something you resort to. I happen to think I'm worth more than that.”

“Dexter, I love you so much. So, so much, and I probably always will. I just don't like you anymore. I'm sorry.”

“...Emma Morley wasn't such a paragon either: pretentious, petulant, lazy, speechifying, judgmental. Self-pitying, self righteous, self-important, all the selfs except self-confident, the quality that she had always needed the most.”

“People change, no use getting sentimental about it. Move on, find someone else.”

“The future rose up ahead of her, a succession of empty days, each more daunting and unknowable than the one before her.”

“Whatever happens tomorrow, we had today; and I'll always remember it.”

“He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph. Things should look right. Fun; there should be a lot of fun and no more sadness than absolutely necessary.”

“'I'm just not prepared to be treated like this anymore.'
'Treated like what?'
She sighed, and it was a moment before she spoke. 'Like you always want to be somewhere else, with someone else.'”

“She wondered if she was doomed to be one of those people who spend their lives trying things.”

“You can't expect people to build their lives around you.”


“In rare moments of self-doubt, Dexter had once worried that a lack of intellect might hold him back in life, but here was a job where confidence, energy, perhaps even a certain arrogance were all that mattered, all qualities that lay within his grasp.”

 “Occasionally, very occasionally, say at four o'clock in the afternoon on a wet Sunday, she feels panic-stricken and almost breathless with loneliness. Once or twice she has been known to pick up the phone to check that it isn't broken. Sometimes she thinks how nice it would be to be woken up by a call in the night: 'get in a taxi now' or 'I need to see you, we need to talk.'”

“We're not ourselves, are we? I'm certainly not myself, not anymore. And you're not either. You don't seem yourself. Not as I remember you.” 

Monday, July 02, 2012

Happy birthday to my favorite

I don’t remember when Meg was born.

But I am awfully glad that she was.

I cannot picture my life with any other sister. I cannot picture my family with any other dynamics. I cannot imagine a world without her huge blue eyes and her boisterous laugh and her strawberry blonde hair that has always curled nicer than mine. I cannot picture my childhood without Meg – difficult, stubborn Meg. The kid who I always wanted to protect and who I occasionally wanted to strangle. The sister who was only mine. My partner in crime. My nemesis. My big little sister.

My big little sister who turns 26 today.

26 is going to be a huge year for Meg.

She finishes her doctorate in a few weeks.

And then she will pass her licensing exam and she will make a selection from a handful of great job offers that are currently on the table.

Her boyfriend, Drew, is moving back to Michigan.

This year – this year when she is 26 – will be epic. And epic is exactly what Meg deserves.

People often remark that Meg has it all and, yes, she might. She might have it all or something really close to it. But she also works her ass off.

She deserves is all this year. She deserves for it to be that one year that you always look back on as being one of the best, one of the most defining, one of the most special.

If I could give it to her, I absolutely would.

Instead, I will just wish it for her.

The best year ever. For the best little sister ever.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Winning

I was just trolling on Meg's Pinterest account and proved my own brilliance so I needed to share.

Necklace Meg pinned:


Necklace I bought Meg one month ago and will be giving to her at her birthday dinner tonight:


Like I said: brilliant.

Cliché

I'm handling everything that's going down with The Coach fairly well.
What it is and who he is has become so apparent that I can no longer excuse it as anything else. The situation is very clear. There are no more questions. There are no more dreams. I accept it as what it is: a shitty situation.

Mostly, I roll my eyes. I laugh it off. It is genuinely comedic, how this ended up. How truly pathetic this is.

I still get sad, but I don't get sad like I did when I was unsure of his intentions. Now I am no longer sad because I feel like I'm losing him. I never had him to begin with. When I am sad, I am sad because of how poorly he treated me. My feelings are hurt.

Last night was a sad night. I had worked all day and I didn't have any plans. I didn't really want to do anything but I sort of wanted plans and also wanted to be alone. I turned down an invitation from Alexander. I ate pie. I still felt sad.

I was in my car just after 10:00 pm and the tears wouldn't stop rolling down my cheeks. I just kept wiping them away and wiping them away, trying to keep my focus on the road but the tears kept coming and ahead on the horizon was a specacular fireworks display.

I didn't realize how close I was to the fireworks until they were right beside me on the expressway.

I love fireworks. I pulled off at the next exit. I parked my car facing the fireworks.

I sat in my car for the next 25 minutes. By myself.
Listening to John Mayer.
Sobbing.
Watching fireworks.
And not wearing a bra.

I do not know that I have ever fit the pathetic single girl cliché quite as well as I fit it last night.

I am a little disappointed that I wasn't crying directly into a pint of Ben and Jerry's.
 
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