Saturday, September 29, 2012

Suuuuuuuuprise!

It felt a little like something was happening that I wasn't being told about, but it didn't feel like I was going to show up to Lucy and Chet's house and have a surprise party waiting there for me.

But that's what happened last night.

I arrived at 9:17 -- two minutes late (apparently Lucy was stressing the entire two minutes -- and I walked into their house and

my grandpa was there
and my hockey team
and Meg
and my mom and my dad and my grandma
and Lucy
and Chet
and Baby A
and Heather (and her baby) (and thankfully not her husband)
and a few former coworkers
and some soccer teammates

and they were all wearing wigs.

I stood there like a complete fool. It's really hard to identity people when they're wearing wigs and you're not expecting to see them, let alone see them wearing wigs.

We were wigging out, you see, because I'm turning 30. On Tuesday. I am not 30 yet.

I must admit that, at first glance, I thought that practically everyone was Colleen. (The friend who Lucy and I had to break up with earlier this year.)

At one point, my grandma turned to my mom, all weepy, and said "this is just so great. I am so lucky to be here at this party. At this party with all of these contemporary women!"

Contemporary women. My friends are contemporary women. hahahahaha. My grandma is adorable.

Grandma also gave me an obnoxiously large pink plastic faux diamond ring. And my parents got me an iPad.

Lucy and Meg conspired to make the party happen. There was way too much food. Lots of love. Tons of fun. I'm a lucky girl.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Non-wedding wedding slash engagement party slash hippiefest

Lucy and I have embarked on our latest project.

Our friend Lacey’s not-quite-wedding-not-quite-engagement party. Which will be held in 16 days at her mom and dad’s house.

Here are things you should know:
1. Lacey was going to get married last September. To a different guy who she had known for a very short period of time. I am not sure how long this current guy – Emmanuel – has been around but obviously it hasn’t been a year.
2. Emmanuel proposed by giving her some necklace with a shell or some creature’s claw on it. I can’t quite remember.
3. Lacey was supposed to have a not-quite-wedding-not-quite-engagement party in NYC (where she lived up until a few months ago) last weekend but she cancelled it. Three days before the party.
4. Lacey and Emmanuel are huge hippies.
5. So are Lacey’s parents.
6. This whole party is going to be utter insanity, not like anything that I would ever want for myself, and probably pretty great.

Last Sunday, Lucy met with Lacey’s mom about this wedding. Or engagement party. Whatever. Honestly, we’re not sure what it is because they’re not having a wedding and this is sort of the only time to celebrate their relationship but it isn’t really an engagement party either and the invitations are not clear and I think that other people will be confused because so am I.

Anyway. Lucy met with Lacey’s mom because Lucy is great.

Lacey’s mom was legitimately high and spouted ideas for nearly four hours. Lucy is really, really great.

I’m very glad that I didn’t have to sit through that.

(Do I need to mention that Lacey's mom smells strongly of patchouli?)

Pulling off this party in the period of time in which we have to pull off this party will require a miracle. I just have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t my party, that this party will be exactly how Lacey wants it to be and it’s just my job to make some damn cupcakes.

So, Lacey want this undefined party to be “sustainable” and I think that is great because it is very, very her. But her parents have an average number of place settings and no real plan to get any more and Lucy’s suggestion that she pick up some paper plates and bowls “just in case” was not received well. All I can picture is people eating with their hands.

Also there’s soup on the menu, so that should be extra challenging.

I’m sure that we’ll find a way to make it work (my current idea: thrift store and/or IKEA plates and bowls and silverware that we can turn around and donate when the party is over) (other current idea: party rentals, which I’m sure that the hippies will turn their noses up at). And I just need to make sure that I don’t allow myself to worry about it too much because if Lacey doesn’t care and Lacey’s mom doesn’t care, then I shouldn’t care.

It’s just that they have no idea how many people will be at this party so HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU HAVE ENOUGH SILVERWARE?

SILVERWARE IS IMPORTANT.

(Breathe, Alyson!)

Lacey’s mom asked for two dozen cupcakes. And this sends off alarms in my head. 24 cupcakes? Unless you’re expecting 10 people at this party (they’re renting a tent, so I suspect they’re expecting more than 10), you’re insane.

I am very worried about the amount of food at this party that might be an engagement party, might be a wedding reception, might be a hippie celebration of a relationship, might be a total gong show. In addition to being worried about the silverware.

Not so much worried about what Lucy and I agreed to do: Jello shots (easy), applesauce (easy), cupcakes (easy), wine (that must be local) (still easy), bales of decorative hay (totally making Lucy put that in her car), chicken noodle soup (easy) and possibly some trays of apple crisp because I’m concerned about the cupcake situation. Even though I’m totally making more than 24.

Thankfully, almost everything that Lucy suggested that we do are things that we can do ahead of time. And thankfully we only have two weeks to get it all done.

Also I should add that Lacey’s mom is planning on decorating the yard with hanging quilts and afghans. She is very artistic and I am sure that it will look great but I can’t visualize it.

That’s not true. I can totally visualize it. I can picture people standing around a bush with a quilt hanging from it, eating from their hands because we only have 10 place settings. That’s what I can imagine.

I’m just freaking out because that’s what I do. It’s going to be a great party. I honestly can’t wait.

(And I can’t wait to blog about it, either.)

What does one wear to an October non-wedding wedding/engagement party/hippie lovefest when there's a strong possibility that she'll end up doing dishes?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

30 for 30: #4

Wheeee! I'm still answering 30 questions for my 30th birthday. But I'll post something that isn't the answer to a question soon, too. Like, as soon as I can come up with something. ...it's been a quiet week. Although potentially not. Depending on how some things shake out. Vague? Yeah. Sorry. Let's get to the question, eh?

4/30 -- from HappyInside

Omgosh! Just who is the coach????? (ps I understand if you can't answer:)

Oh, just a regular ol’ guy! He has kind of a fun and fancy job (coaching, obvs) but you wouldn’t know his name or recognize his face or have heard of the team that he coaches, but I’m not going to post his name or his picture – trust me, I totally would if we were inside a magical cone of blogging privacy – but I can and will offer additional details on The Coach via email.

somidwestern at yahoo

Don’t be shy because it seriously isn’t weird at all. The Coach has been a major component of my life and my blog for almost two years now! (Scary.) Don’t take this as me thinking my blog/life is more interesting than it really is, but if I were reading my blog, I would be curious about him, too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

30 for 30: #3

I'm answering 30 questions for my 30th birthday. Which is in just one week. OMG. You should ask me a question so that I don't feel so bad about turning 30.

3/30 -- from Susan

Actually, I've been dying to know what you did at your previous job. It was clearly something sports related? Or something? I realize you probably don't want to talk about your job on the internet, but is there anyway you could give a more clear picture without giving it all away?

I worked in college sports administration doing marketing/communications/PR. I focused a lot on engaging those involved in the youth game (players/coaches/families) -- getting them out to games, making fans out of 'em. In the summers, I spent far too much time, effort and energy coordinating the organization's summer camps. Great for building relationships with the groups that I was targeting. Also great for driving me absolutely insane.

There were times that I absolutely love my job and there were times that I absolutely hated it. No matter how much I loved it, it was impossible to ignore the writing on the wall: I was paid pennies and there was little or no room for growth in my position or advancement in the organization. That's when I decided it was time to go to library school. My bosses were flexible enough to make my schedule work with my classes and again when I started working part time at a library; I am eternally grateful for that flexibility.

There are aspects of that job that I truly miss. I had a rapport with my coworkers that I don't expect will ever be matched. You know what you get when you put a bunch of jocks in an office building? Fun. And a lot of really great nicknames. It was so much easier to have a conversation with a stranger about my job -- being that it was generally viewed as being somewhat cool -- than it is now. (Telling someone I'm a librarian is often met with crickets.) Also I miss the parade of handsome athletes and former athletes who were forever parading through my building. Like, I really, really miss it. Like if I think about that any more I might cry.

I really like books but, I'm sorry: books aren't a hot, cocky jock all dressed up for a business meeting.

Of course, books also don't break my heart. (See: The Athlete, The Coach -- both of whom I knew from my previous job.)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Victory is Mine!

Yesterday was...well, yesterday was very me. Very hectic. I played in a soccer game at 11:00 am, another soccer game at 2:00 pm and I skated with my hockey team at 8:00 pm.

I will admit that the level of activity might border on ridiculous, but I had so much fun. The weather was perfect for soccer. And I hadn't seen my hockey team since the springtime and it was a fond reunion.

On my way home from hockey, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few cartons of berries.

Because I had a cake to master and a goal to achieve.

I was working off of pure adrenaline. Baking to regain my pride.

Here's how it went.

9:54 pm: I finally get home.
9:56 pm: I turn on the oven.
9:56 pm: I remember that I need to find my Bundt pan. I get nervous. I go down to the basement.
10:03 pm: OMG I FOUND MY BUNDT PAN.
10:06 pm: Give Bundt pan a Crisco lube job.
10:10 pm: Remember that I hate Liz's Pampered Chef measuring spoons.
10:12 pm: Oh, bloody hell. I have to zest a lemon. I hate zesting lemons. Especially without the proper tools.
10:15 pm: Oven is preheated.
10:18 pm: I taste one raspberry and one blackberry. And then I taste another blackberry because the first one was alarmingly tart.
10:19 pm: Dig in purse for cell phone. Realize that my cell phone is missing. Commence frantic search.
10:21 pm: Find cell phone. In purse.
10:25 pm: Successfully resist trying another raspberry.
10:26 pm: Decide that I hate Liz's professional-grade Kitchen Aid mixer.
10:27 pm: Open dishwasher, expecting to find it full of clean dishes. But it's empty! Feel joy.
10:28 pm: Mindlessly lick batter from spatula. Get out a new spatula.
10:31 pm: Fold berries into batter.
10:35 pm: Cake is in the oven!
10:39 pm: Begin waiting game. Entertain self with Gossip Girl and cleanup.
10:52 pm: Cleaning is complete. Collapse on couch. Contemplate what it would be like to be Blake Lively.
11:05 pm: Rotate the cake!
11:31 pm: Cautious, cautious. Careful, careful. Pull cake from the oven.
11:54 pm: Work up the nerve to flip the cake out of the pan. And it. looks. freaking. perfect.
11:56 pm: Celebratory handful of Goldfish crackers.


And it's a damn fine cake, you guys.

Almost worth the hassle.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

30 for 30: #2

In case you missed it, I'm answering 30 questions for my 30th birthday. And it isn't too late to pick my brain. Leave me one in the comments. Ask away.


2/30 -- from Elliott

Just curious as why you decided on goalie when you started hockey after figuring skating for years? I've coached girls hockey from the time the girls were 9 and saw them through to their graduation from minor hockey. Over the years a few girls came to hockey from figure skating. They were all really strong skaters, especially backward skating. We turned two of them into excellent defense. And with you being a fan and actually watching hockey (my girls certainly did not) you understand the game, the strategies, positioning, etc. I would have thought defense would have been a better fit...


It happened entirely by accident.

The first season I played hockey, I did it on a whim. A bunch of people I coached skating with decided to give hockey a try. It was, as you might guess, a complete gong show.

As you probably know, Meg plays hockey. Like, real hockey. She is a forward, so I had player equipment at my disposal. And we had a goalie, anyway. Not that I gave even a thought to goaltending. I didn’t. So I played forward and I was bad.

The second season I played hockey, I played in a league with a bunch of other adult women who had no idea what they were doing. But, unlike many of them, I could skate. I played defense. And I was bad.

In the third season I played, I was again in the league with the other beginner women. But my team didn’t have a goalie. To be a team player, I volunteered to be our goalie in our first game – with the intention of not playing in net ever, ever again. But I was actually kind of good at it. And it was actually kind of fun.

I never skated out again.

In soccer I play offense and Meg plays goalie. And in hockey, Meg plays offense and I play goalie. Funny, right?

Friday, September 21, 2012

30 for 30: #1

In case you missed it, I'm answering 30 questions for my 30th birthday. And it isn't too late to pick my brain. Leave me one in the comments. Ask away.

1/30 -- from Accidentally Me

Please identify three specific goals...one that you would like to accomplish in the month before you turn 30, one you would like to accomplish in the year that you are 30, and one that you would like to accomplish in your 30's.

In the month before I turn 30: Well, we're going to have to tighten up the timeline here since I'm just starting my questions now. (Always the slacker, am I not?) In the 11 days before I turn 30, I have two specific goals that I want to accomplish. The first being that I want to buy a new white cardigan. Preferably The Perfect White Cardigan but, due to the short timeline, I would gladly purchase one that is nearly perfect. I wear cardigans quite frequently (likely more often than I should) and my current go-to white cardigan has seen better days. The second goal that I would like to accomplish before I turn 30 is that I want to successfully bake that damn cake that got the best of me yesterday. Almost 30 or not, this baker will not be intimidated.

In the year that I am 30: This was the hardest goal for me to pin down. The length of time intimidates me: long enough that the goal should be substantial, short enough that I'll have to work to accomplish it. In the year that I am 30, I would like to add one good friend to my life. A good friend being one who isn't activity specific (I have lots of soccer friends, hockey friends, work friends - who exist only in those environments), who adds something positive to my life, who I trust and who knows exactly how crazy I am and still likes me. Lately, it has seemed much easier to lose my good friends than it has been to find new ones. It's time to make an effort to turn that around.

In my 30s: Is it too cliché to say babies? I think I'm going to say it anyway. BABIES. Actually, I don't want to be too greedy. Baby. Singular. The baby does not have to be biologically mine. I have no specific goals in terms of how I will have this baby or the type of home that I will raise him or her in or anything, really. I just know that I will be disappointed if I leave my 30s without having a kid in some way, shape or form. Maybe I'll be a foster mom. Maybe I'll be one of those women who has a seven month old and is four months pregnant. Dreaming this dream and putting a timeline on it is big enough and scary enough* without the specifics. And I think the details usually work themselves out.

*Just typing this freaks me out, to be honest. Not accomplishing something is hard enough without the whole world knowing that you didn't do what you dreamed of doing. In my offline life, I never mention how I want to get married or have babies or write a book. Maybe I shouldn't be so scared to put it out there, but I am.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Great Baking Disaster of 2012

I worked a half-day yesterday.

I had grand plans.

Grand plans for scones and a Bundt cake. I even remembered to soften the butter.

I couldn’t find Lucy’s mixer. And I always like baking in my mom’s kitchen the very best, so I went over there to tackle my baking conquests.

First up: scones.

Scones that would have been magical if there hadn’t been remnants of the cheese/egg casserole that we made for brunch on Sunday on the bottom of the stove. There was a small fire. A small, smoky fire. While the scones were in the oven.

Which left half of my scones looking like a chimney sweep.

Seriously. I made scones with smoke inhalation.


The ones that weren’t ruined by the smoke were really delicious, though.

Next up was the Bundt cake that I was going to make for my boss’s birthday. Her birthday was earlier this month, actually, but today was one of the rare days that my whole department was going to be in the office. And cake should be reserved for a day when everyone is in attendance.

My boss is really picky and she's also quite the baker. I sent her the recipe to this cake and was like "just tell me if you'd like this because I don't want to make a cake that you won't like."

She confirmed that she would like it. And the told me not to glaze it but to maybe dust it with confectioners sugar and to use regular salt and not sea salt.

Okay, then! I was just looking for a yes or a no. But that's lovely.

I make the cake. And I put it in the Bundt pan and I am about to put it in the oven and I scroll down the recipe just a tiiiiiiny bit and there's a comment about how some people are having problems with the cake sticking to the pan.

But I've already greased up the pan and the batter is already in there so I have no choice but to put it in the oven and pray for 60 minutes.

If I had realized that the cake was a high stick risk, I would have been militant about greasing up that Bundt pan. And if I had really planned ahead, I would have made a special trip to my house to pick up mine - which is made of magical silicone.

But I didn't. And yesterday wasn't my day as far as baking days go.

When I flipped the cake out of than pan, I got this ugly lump of sweetness and berries.


Hideous. Awful.

I left it on the counter when I left. "Tell Dad to bring it in to work," I sighed.

Those fools will eat anything.

Even the ugliest cake ever.

(I think I'll try again this weekend.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Single/Not, Complete/Incomplete

My cousin Anna was home from NYC this weekend. And she brought along her new boyfriend, Carlos, to meet the extended family and go to a UM football game and experience all of the fun that southeastern Michigan has to offer.

Strangely, Carlos – who is Guatemalan – has already lived in metro Detroit. He was placed at a hospital here when he was in medical school. The hospital where Anna was born. Crazy small world.

Anna started dating Carlos at the very, very end of last year. And it’s serious. Anna is slightly insane. Anna is on the hunt. Anna is ready for a ring. Anna is frothing at the mouth for a ring.

Meg visited Anna last month and all Anna could talk about was getting engaged. Meg’s “um, isn’t that a little bit fast?” was met with “I AM NOT 22 ANYMORE!” Anna is 27. And all she has ever wanted was to be married.

She has this all planned out. She’s going to marry Carlos. And when he is done with residency, they’re moving back to Michigan. (She even brought him to the hospital he worked at during their trip for a bit of networking.) I don’t know if Carlos knows any of this – but that’s definitely Anna’s master plan.

There’s nothing wrong with having a plan, I suppose. It’s a little intense for me but, hey! I’m the most single person in the world. What do I know about these things?

Being single, for Anna, was torture. (You guys might remember that I lived with Anna for a year. She moved to be with her boyfriend who lived in NYC. He dumped her within a few weeks of her move.) When Meg started dating Drew, the first thing she had to say about it was “she better not get married before me.”

What?

Anna is a person who defines herself by her relationship. Or lack thereof. And I am certainly not. To me, it’s a very foreign way of thinking. That you’re not anything unless you’re with someone else. I don’t get it.

Maybe that’s my problem. That I think that it would be nice, certainly, but it isn’t the most important thing.

I am who I am if I’m in a relationship or if I’m not. Maybe that makes me too independent.

But I swear that I’m still a complete person. I’m not walking around with a hole in my heart. I can even sleep at night. Honestly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Texting is dangerous

I really, really love my phone. It is my favorite thing. And that is unhealthy. I am aware. But it does so many nifty things! And it’s always there for me! And it’s really great for holding down the pages of my book when I’m trying to get it to lay flat on a table!

On Friday afternoon, I happened to be caressing my phone (read: texting) while walking down the stairs at Lucy’s house.

I know better. The stairs at Lucy’s house are a death trap. Lucy has fallen down the stairs. Chet has fallen down the stairs. As a matter of fact, I once witnessed Chet fall down the stairs from their front door when he came to answer it. They have an old house and the stairs seem too narrow for the big, clunky modern foot that is attached to the big, clunky modern gal who is holding her world (read: iPhone) in her hand while attempting a safe decent.

This story is going exactly where you think that this story is going.

I was engrossed in a text or a Tweet or an email or a Facebook post about yet another high school classmate’s newest baby. I was walking down the stairs. I totally missed a step. Landed on the outside of my right foot. Twisted my ankle. Fell on my ass. Immediately assumed that I was dying. Because it felt like that. It felt like I was dying. Dying of a broken ankle.

I was whimpering on the stairs. Wolf was sticking his snout in my face. All I could think about was the half marathon that I’m running in a month. The hockey season that starts in a week. The soccer team that I’m on with that boy who I decided – just last week – that I needed to start flirting with.

And here I am with a broken ankle.

Or a sprained ankle, which is seriously just as bad. Long time readers might remember the last time I tore up my ankle and sported a sexy robot boot and was generally miserable. That shit takes a long time to heal.

I do not have a long time. I have to run a half marathon. In five weeks. And I will, assuming that I don’t suffer any other texting injuries. The rolled ankle was just a stinger – a lot of pain and a little actual injury. I limped around on Friday and Saturday and I labored through a 9 mile run yesterday.

I'm fine.

Yes, I wrote an entire post about how I twisted my ankle and am actually fine.

I imagine you all feel as Meg felt this weekend. I offered her hourly updates on the status of my ankle. She didn't care. She wouldn't even look at it. Not even on Friday, when it was still stinging and I still thought it was maybe a little broken. My personal physical therapist didn't care.

But the Internet will! I will write about it in great detail!

Have I mentioned, dear readers, that I think that you're all saints? Reading about my ankle and my favorite color. Saints, indeed.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Apologize in Advance

Lucy and Chet and Baby A arrive home in one week.

This is great news. I am missing my best friend. I am missing my baby. I am running out of ideas on how to pose their dog, Wolf, for the picture that I email to them daily.

Oh, and also I WANT TO MURDER MY FOREIGN EXCHANGE STUDENT.

Or buy him some wireless headphones.

Because he has led me to believe that I am turning into my mother.

My mom has always been sensitive to noise. She was always telling us to turn down the television. It made me crazy, how my mom hated loud noises and was unwilling to realize that Clarissa Explains It All should be watched at full volume or really damn near it.

Last Sunday, I was sitting on the couch and trying to blog while Foreign Exchange Student was watching television. I wanted to blog from bed. But I am quite aware that Foreign Exchange Student is very lonely. That makes me sad for him so I sucked it up to passively hang out in his presence.

It literally took me two hours to blog because the television was so. damn. loud.

And it isn’t like blogging is equivalent to writing a term paper. (I’m sure you’ve noticed the incomplete sentences and misspellings and grammar errors and overuse of parenthesis.) I can blog in most any situation. Except when the television volume is turned up to 140 decibels and, listen, it isn’t like he was watching The Cutting Edge or an episode of Girls. No. He favors Bar Rescue and truly awful sitcoms.

Foreign Exchange Student is weird about food, which makes me weird about him. He’s picky: fine. But the kind of picky that comes with ragging on with what someone else is eating drives me absolutely insane. It’s totally my #1 pet peeve. He’s also doing this weird thing where he’s randomly throwing away food out of the refrigerator. Food that is not spoiled. Food that I bought for me to eat and then I go into the refrigerator and it is no longer there. It is in the garbage. What the hell?

On the topic of garbage. Foreign Exchange Student is good about taking out the garbage. But bad about putting the lid on the garbage can so that the friendly neighborhood raccoons don’t get in the garbage. Like, how many times do we have to clean up that mess? Seriously. How many times? Because we’re at 6+ and I am over it.

Also he has not once taken the garbage out to the curb on garbage day. Man fail.

And he doesn’t recycle. That makes my green heart hurt.

And there are the crumbs. And the dishes. And the TV left on in his bedroom every hour of every day.

This is what happens, isn’t it? When you are single and you develop a strong sense of right and wrong about house things? You want to murder stupid boys simply because they don’t know any better.

This is why getting married at 19 – like my mom and dad did – is the smartest thing ever.

My dad is so trained. My mom had him scrubbing the floors before he knew better.

Foreign Exchange Student is so not trained.

I should just apologize to my future husband right now. I’m sorry for being a crazy person. I’m sorry I was single for so long and found exactly the right way to do everything and expect you to do it all that way, too. I am sorry that I’m insane.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I'm just going to put this out there

It pains me a little bit to write this, you guys.

But this is my blog. What is a blog for but a place to deposit your deepest and darkest thoughts and hopes and fears?

I just need to get this off of my chest because it is crushing my maize and blue heart.

I quite like Columbus, Ohio.

If you’re not aware, Michigan (where I went to college - Go Blue!) and Ohio State are not friends. Michigan and Ohio State are enemies. It is a fierce football rivalry that has bled over into other sports and academics and, oh, mostly everything. Intense.

Ohio State is in Columbus.

I’ve been in Columbus twice in the past month and, when I’m there I find that I am either:
a. vomiting at the mere sight of scarlet and grey
b. thinking that Columbus would be a rather nice city to live in.

I KNOW, RIGHT?

But if I am being objective and looking at the city through not-maize-and-blue colored glasses, it’s a pretty nice place. Midwestern. A very manageable four hours from home. Big but not huge. Has a professional soccer team and a professional hockey team. Has Tim Horton’s. I could live there.

And be harassed about by friends and coworkers for one week every year.

Which doesn’t seem all that bad. Taking into consideration that I would be able to gloat at the conclusion of the big game. All of the big games. Football. Hockey. Basketball. Tennis. Lacrosse.


So many opportunities to be the arrogant jerk who went to the rival school.

And, when it comes to my school, I’m good at being cocky.

Maybe I should consider this more seriously.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

She was an American girl

I took the day off of work yesterday to make a quick trip down to Columbus to see a little more soccer.

Meg and I were just in Columbus seeing a Columbus Crew game. This game was a U.S. National Team World Cup qualifying match. Kind of a big deal and, as the U.S. National Team doesn't play nearby all that often, we couldn't pass up the opportunity.

We brought our friend Ryan with us. 

I have known Ryan for 11 years. He worked at the rink that I taught skating at when I was in college! ...which was also the rink that Meg taught skating at when she was in college. Also with Ryan. 

As I told him today as we were driving home: he passed all of my tests for a good road trip companion. He wasn't overly picky about food. He wasn't difficult about where he sat or where we went or what we did. He didn't criticize anyone's driving. He wasn't hung over and whining and/or vomiting in the back seat. He didn't snore. Basically, he wasn't annoying and I feel like trips bring out the most annoying in people. Ryan passed the test. Yay, Ryan!

We checked in to our hotel, went to lunch, put on our most patriotic and headed over to the stadium.

Where we proceeded to do a bit of tailgating and a lot of jello shots. 

Patriotic jello shots, I should add. Meg is spectacular and layered red and blue jello because we're classy like that.   


We went into the stadium early because we wanted to catch the team warmups. And then we found out that Meg's very, very favorite U.S. National Team player from when we were kids was signing autographs. So, we stopped by to snap a quick picture.


As I couldn't decide between my red and white striped shirts and I was afraid that I would be too cold in a tank top, I changed my shirt before we went into the stadium. Costume changes are essential to a great night, are they not?


After filling Meg's childhood dream (she loved him so much that she would pretend that she was him when we played soccer), we headed over to our seats and settled in.


This isn't a soccer blog, so I won't get much into the match. But, let me just say that it was fantastic. The stadium was sold out. The fans were crazy awesome intense: we stood the whole time! And, being that it was September 11, the patriotism was turned up just a little bit more. So many American flags. So much national pride. It was fun to be a part of it. It was fun to see the American team pull off a victory.

In exchange for taking yesterday off, I get to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

Brutal.

And totally worth it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Identity Crisis

Yesterday's soccer game marked the beginning of a new season. A new season usually brings a few new players, as others drop off of our team for one reason or another.

"You must be Aly!" A smiling, unfamiliar girl exclaimed as I dropped my bag onto the grass at the sidelines.

It always strikes me as odd to me when a stranger calls me Aly.

Before I arrived, one of my teammates referred to me as Aly to another friend/teammate of mine. She is new to this team, but we have played together before. And apparently not on a team where my name was shortened. "I was like Aly...Alyson?" she reported to me when I arrived, laughing.

I can understand the confusion.

I always introduce myself as Alyson. I think of myself as Alyson. I am Alyson at work. (No silly nicknames at this job like I had at my last.) I am Alyson at the dentist. I am Alyson when I join a new soccer team.

I have absolutely no problem with the shortened versions of my name. I'm fond of them, as a matter of fact. But they do catch my ear. I notice. Because mostly, largely, usually: I'm Alyson.

Except to my family.

Which makes tracing the origin of my soccer-shortened name so very easy.

My sister plays on my summer soccer team. She calls me Aly. My friend Heather, who I grew up with and who spent hours and hours with my family, plays on my summer soccer team. She calls me Aly.

And so my teammate who is on both my summer team and the team that I am currently on talks about me? She calls me Aly.

Unless she's calling me Al.

Which is what a few of my summer soccer girls call me.

And now a few of my current teammates, too.

During our game yesterday, I was called Alyson. I was called Aly. I was called Al.

I answered to all of it.

Call me whatever you like, you guys.

And tell me about your name, too.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Let's do this again

If this weekend is a preview of what this fall is going to be like, fall is absolutely going to be my favorite season of 2012. 

And the most exhausting.

Friday set the tone for the weekend. Friday kicked my ass.

I worked a full day. I went straight from work to the funeral home -- my coworker's dad died this week and I wanted to stop by the visitation to show my support. From the funeral home, I drove to Lucy's house and took Wolf for a quick walk. I wasn't even there 10 minutes and then it was off to my favorite soccer bar.

Meg and I met at the soccer bar. The U.S. Men's National Team was playing against Jamaica in a World Cup qualifier. And they lost.

Disappointing. We regrouped. We hopped in Meg's car and drove to another bar to meet up with our soccer team. I'll admit: I didn't have high hopes for our soccer team outing. I didn't even think that it was going to happen. But it happened. It so, so happened.

My soccer team doesn't spend much time socializing. Friday night was a gong show in the best possible way. All of those nice girls who also happen to be good footballers? Turns out they're a little wild, too.

I loved every second of it.

Until my alarm clock went off on Saturday morning.

Ouch.

I had to get up and dressed and ready to go to my coworker's father's funeral.

From there, I changed out of my dress, stopped by one of the local cupcake bakeries and drove downtown to meet one of my very favorite bloggers. Like, in real life. Like, I gave Teagan and big hug and it wasn't even awkward. Because she was already a friend. Blogging is awesome. (Who is coming to Detroit to hang out with me next?)

The reason I was crashing her tailgate is because Teagan has friends who are equivalent in awesomeness to her. Teagan's pal Will had an extra pair of tickets to the UM football game and offered them up to me. Crazy generous. I couldn't resist taking him up on the offer.

I didn't stay long because I had to go home to change, let out Wolf and meet Meg. It was, much like Friday evening, such a rush that I made Meg bring me lunch to eat in the car. Such a rush that I was seriously considering my pants in the car. While driving.

We made it to the Big House with time to spare. And a fun time was subsequently had. 


When it comes to sporting events, it is hard to top a UM football game. A football game at the Big House would inspire awe in almost anyone. When you're a graduate, the football games feel a little bit like Christmas. Drunken Christmas.   

Keeping with tradition, Meg and I went to our favorite post-football restaurant. I had intended to meet up with Teagan and her friends when we were through, but I hit a wall. And that wall, my friends, was called 3 hours of sleep.

I'm so lame.

But I would rather go home than go out and be zombie girl.

I had soccer this morning.



It was the big debut of my new soccer cleats and here is the thing, you guys: they're magic. I played so well. That's when I really, really love soccer. When it comes effortlessly. And when I can flirt with my teammates at halftime.

After soccer -- continuing with the theme of the weekend -- I rushed home. Quick shower. Attempt at making myself presentable. And off to see my blogger buddy once more before she went home.

Teagan is too fun and smart and funny and gorgeous and great. I tried talking her into coming down here every single weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

And then I went home. To see this cute little dude.


And my foreign exchange student. Who drives me a little bit more crazy every day.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Little things

Lucy’s microwave was so dirty.

That’s a very Lucy thing, to have a dirty microwave. She doesn’t fuss about most small details. Especially when it comes to housekeeping. We’re very different like that.

Her microwave was filthy and I had a few extra minutes. I cleaned it because I like when things are clean and I like to do nice things for other people.

(Also because I’m staying at her house for another two weeks and, come on. If I’m going to microwave something is better be under the best possible conditions.)

(I did that thing where you microwave a bowl of lemon juice and water and just steam off all of the gunk. Easy.)

Lucy might barely notice that I cleaned it, but that doesn’t matter so much to me. She’ll be reheating her food in an improved environment. I have improved her quality of life, even if she doesn’t know it. Even if she doesn't care. Clean microwaves forever!

***

I was driving to work this morning, thinking about what I could cook up for my coworker. An easy meal or two that I could bring to work and send home with her. Her dad just died – the funeral is this weekend – and I want to do something to make her life a little bit easier.

Food is always the answer.

***

I loved mailing The Coach cookies.

It always made my week. Those cookies probably made me happier than they ever made him.

***

Lately, I have had great fun checking books out of the library for my mom. She had a busy summer. She hasn’t had much time to seek out books, but she’ll read if there is a book waiting for her on the coffee table.

I regularly replenish her supply. I like that I can do that.

***

Those little things – giving an unexcited gift or doing a tiny favor – it’s what makes me happy.

I like sending the perfect card. I like picking up a coffee for my coworker on my way to work. I like cleaning up the kitchen after supper. I like helping. I crave being that person. Being useful. Being helpful. I like taking care of the people close to me. I like making their life easier. Even if it’s only folding a load of laundry. Even if it’s only a bottle of nail polish in just the right color.

Sometimes it makes me feels old fashioned. Like maybe I would have been better suited to be a housewife in the 1950s.

I’ve always been this way. The girls on my soccer team used to tease me, because I always had just what they needed stashed away in my soccer bag. My high school friends would call me Mom right before tearing in to the granola bars that I brought for them. I have always been the one who bakes cupcakes for a birthday. Just because I can. Just because it makes me happy.

I can’t think of anything that makes me happier. Besides shirtless pictures of David Beckham. And, I assume, winning the lottery.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Foreign Exchange Student

I have neglected to share with you some important news, dear friends. I have a foreign exchange student! And I’m living in Lucy and Chet’s house!

Let me explain.

Last Monday, Lucy and Chet and Baby A left for a four week trip to visit with Chet’s family Israel. They asked me – months and months ago – to watch their dog, Wolf, and the house while they were gone. I would never refuse Lucy’s request for a favor.

I am not sure if I have mentioned it before, but Chet is self employed. One of his really good friends worked for him for four or five years – until he moved out east just after Baby A was born. Instead of letting the business sit for a month, Chet recruited his friend to run the show for the month that he's away.

And that is how I ended up with my foreign exchange student.

Foreign Exchange Student - who, like Chet, is Israeli - is staying at Lucy and Chet's house. With me. With the dog. It is absolutely the weirdest living arrangement that I have ever consented to. I live in a constant state of amusement. The whole thing is completely bizarre and hilarious. And, oddly enough, it is working out pretty well.

Now here is where you ask why Lucy and Chet didn't just ask Foreign Exchange Student to watch the dog and the house. It's a valid question. Because that would be a very logical arrangement. He lost Wolf the one and only time he watched him. Therefore, he is trusted to watch the business but not the fur baby.

Like I said: weird.

But I'm not sharing a house with a complete stranger. Before he moved, I saw Foreign Exchange Student almost every weekend. We spent a lot of time together. I certainly consider him a friend.   A friend with whom I have a slight language barrier.   A friend who I constantly have the urge to clean up after.

A friend who wears Axe body spray (like, a lot) and sort of looks like he could be on Jersey Shore. A friend who is lonely and therefore wants to hang out all of the time even though I do not have hours and hours of time to watch television or get dinner or whatever because I have this book I need to finish for work and YOU MUST STOP TALKING SO I CAN READ THE BOOK.

A friend with the most twisted, random, confused views on American politics and who, therefore, has been quite a trip to watch the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with.

A friend who keeps kosher. I find his diet oddly challenging. Odd because I hardly eat any meat but I also don't eat manly vegetarian fare. Not that I need to cook for him but, if I'm making dinner for me I might as well make dinner for us but I spent so much time and effort and energy trying to determine a meal that I can make that he can eat and want to eat that I usually end up eating cereal. Or a grilled cheese. He turned down my offer for a grilled cheese sandwich yesterday. (Who turns down a grilled cheese? I'm not sure that I can trust him.)

A friend who isn't anything more and won't be anything more, so don't even go there because various members of my family already did (he came with me to my mom's birthday party on Saturday) and, honestly, this is not Lucy and Chet tricking us into falling in love. (Although it would make a good plot to a romantic comedy, right?) We are horribly suited for each other.

But he's fun to have around.

I've never had a foreign exchange student before.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A perfect party, except:

Last week, I was busy, busy, busy helping my dad plan a birthday party for Mom.

It's really amazing what you can do with just a few emails and a bossy attitude. This included: dictating who would be invited to the party and who would do the inviting (this was delegated to Meg), the menu (Mexican, as selected by yours truly), the cake (baked by me, flavor suggested by Mom) and various other party responsibilities.

We planned the party around Saturday's big sporting event: the UM/Alabama football game. The circumstances were perfect: it was a night game so my work schedule didn't keep me from the festivities, the weather was ideal for lounging on the deck and watching football on the new outdoor television, the entire family was in town, three of Mom's good friends (all UM grads) and their husbands could make it. It was just a really, really nice party.

Minus the actual football game.

I had really, really wanted to make it to Dallas for that game.


Knowing the result, I am 75% less sad that I could not attend.

(The other 25% of sadness remains because missing out on the trip meant that I missed out on the opportunity to hang out with a couple of very awesome blogging friends. I'll never get over that.)

The game was, to put in plainly, a disaster. My Wolverines were so ridiculously outplayed and humiliated and otherwise embarrassed. I didn't expect a win, but I had been hoping for something close. Something respectable. A game that didn't end so badly that a man remarked "how can you be wearing that shirt?" to me when I was getting coffee, and wearing a UM shirt, yesterday morning.

(For the record, I answered: "It's still where I went to college. I'm still a fan." ...and forever, Go Blue.)

Spending the whole first half of the game getting dinner cleaned up and getting ready to serve dessert instead of watching the game was not the chore that it could have been. I wasn't so upset about missing the rout. And the groans of our guests were a good, regular indication about how well the game was going. Or, to be more accurate, wasn't going.

But at least we had cake and ice cream. That's almost as good as a win.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

30 for 30

This is a very difficult time for me, friends.

One month from today is a very, very big day. One month from today, I turn 30.

I thought that we should do something on the blog to commemorate the occasion.

What better than a game of 20...er, 30 Questions?

Hit me with your best shot. Have you been reading for five years and been wondering about my shoe size that entire time? Did you want to know my favorite member of 'N Sync? Let me know. Even if you've only ever lurked and you're kind of internet shy. You have a month to brainstorm and, based on your excellent taste in blogs, you are clearly very intelligent. Step right up.

I doubt I'll get 30 questions but, if I do, I'll select and answer 30.

We're going to feel so much closer after this, you guys. This is the blogging equivalent of one of those irritatingly effective and motivating team building ropes courses. At the end of the day, we're all going to be holding hands and singing show tunes.

And I'll still be 30. But at least we will have had a little fun. 

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Frantic Friday

Yesterday was my day off. Yesterday was insanity.


I sort of like days like yesterday and I sort of wonder why I do it to myself. Last week was such a busy week and then I go and cram my one day off so bloody full that I barely had time to sit down. Why? Why must I do this to myself?

This is just a rhetorical question. It’s obviously how I like to live because I keep doing it.

I was up late because I was baking a cake for my ex-boss’s birthday. Which, admittedly, is strange. But I was invited to lunch at my old office. My former work nemesis is moving on to a new job and what better way to send him off than to bring me in as a special guest? There is no better way. Plus it was my ex-boss’s birthday and I always made him a German chocolate cake for his birthday.

I like traditions.

So, in the morning I went for a jog. I ate yogurt, I drank coffee, I drove to the mall. I had an itch for a red and white striped shirt – I want to wear it to the U.S. Soccer game I’m attending later this month – and my girl Stacey pointed me in the right direction.

And then I ended up with a bunch of other stuff. Including a few birthday presents for my mom. Her birthday was Monday, but we’re throwing her a big party today.

After spending too much cash money at the mall, I went by my old office to make an appearance. Meg met me there (she’s worked closely with my ex-boss and with my former work nemesis and they both adore her) and we ate calzones and caught up and stuffed ourselves with my cake. All of my former coworkers were so excited about the cake.

Obviously.

Then I went to Mom and Dad’s house. To make another cake.

My mom requested Hummingbird Cake for her birthday party. I made the cake: Meg will frost it before her party.

And then I helped Mom and Meg move around some furniture.

And then I went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for dinner and to visit with my cousin Evan.

And then I went home and read 5 pages of a book that I absolutely must finish by next Thursday morning. I am 20some pages into the 400-page book and I am not all that interested in reading it and I am basically screwed.

Also I’m working today. And I’m working on Sunday. Tough break for the holiday weekend.

But at least I can sit down while I’m here. That’s one thing I can’t manage to do on my day off.
 
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