Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here we go again

I'm ringing in 2014 the same way I rang in 2013: wearing yoga pants. In Lucy's living room.

There's one more page to finish off in the story of my 2013, so I will hold off on the Cliff's Notes rewind of the year until it is officially over.

I will say this: I feel like I am in a far better place this New Year's Eve than I was last New Year's Eve. And it's not just because I am wearing a new pair of yoga pants.

Thank you for spending 2013 with me, you guys. I appreciate our friendships. I appreciate all of you.

Happy New Year!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Departure

The Coach left today.

I have all sorts of feelings about his visit that I want to write about and, at the same time, that I don't want to write about.

It seems like I do a disservice to him or to us or to you guys every time I write about anything involving me and The Coach. That I can never get the words just right and so it is painted too perfect or too woefully pathetic or otherwise inaccurate and disingenuous. I can't ever get it right. I can't ever explain how it is imperfect or frustrating or critical or rewarding. I can't explain him: the decisions that he makes that annoy me and that I trust, the devious twinkle he gets in his eyes, his awful habit of interrupting, the way he loves his job and the way that he loves where he's from.

I can't get it right so, this time, I am not going to try. I am not going to dissect it. I will continue to go with my gut.

I knew that this Christmas visit would be unlike his other Christmas visits. And it was. It was short. The time that I spent with him was perfect. And when he left I cried.   

Friday, December 27, 2013

Party Animal

My cousin/roommate, Liz, is having a party tonight and the party that my cousin/roommate Liz is having tonight is basically the last event that I feel like attending.

As the party is in the house where I live, as it's the nice thing to do, as I don't really have any legitimate excuses, as I wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings: I will be attending Liz's party. Such is life.

Thankfully, Meg will be there, as well as the few friends of Liz who I actually like. In addition to a great number of her friends who are perfectly fine just not exactly my type for one reason or another. It will be fine. I would prefer to spend the evening with The Coach but The Coach is hanging out with his two siblings, their spouses and his six nieces and nephews. A guy who wants to spend time with his family is the kind of guy who I want to have in my life so I can't really fault him for being unable to whisk me away from this party or dutifully stand by my side throughout its duration.

Due to an overwhelming desire to dress up, Liz engineered this to be a fancier post-holiday soirée. I expect that there will be sequined dresses. I will be wearing plaid.


Because I meant for it to be my Christmas dress and I didn't get a chance to wear it for Christmas. Also because I don't care very much.

Rest assured that I do care enough to iron the dress and put on a more, um, voluminous bra. I'm not that lazy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas and beyond

I had a delightful Christmas, starting with a holiday wake up call from The Coach. It came far, far earlier than he would typically be awake over vacation. I couldn't help but be charmed: 35 and still giddy about Christmas. I find it so endearing.

The holiday was lovely. So much family time and everyone was on good behavior. So much food and it was all delicious. So many presents and they were all thoughtful. It was a Christmas abundant in love and health and generosity. I am incredibly fortunate.

Then I cried my whole drive home. It was the end of Christmas: the end of three truly wonderful days. The end of a merry distraction. No longer in the shadow of Santa Claus, the end of The Coach's short trip home glared at me. I want more time. I want more time than I can possibly have.

I didn't have a Christmas list this year but, next year, I won't make the same mistake.

More time, please. More Christmas lights. More holiday movies. More cookies and hot chocolate. More Christmas carols. More time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas with The Coach

It all fell into place.

The Coach missed his connection to Detroit. When he called to tell me (I was supposed to pick him up at 10:30 on Sunday night), he told me about how he was just dying to go to this Christmas festival at one of the local museums but that tickets for yesterday were sold out.

I promised that I would work on it.

10 hours, a little Craigslist trolling and some good luck later: I had tickets lined up. He was thrilled.

The Coach is the biggest nerd about Christmas and I find it incredibly endearing. While he was overseas, he was lamenting the fact that this great coaching opportunity meant that he was missing out on all of his "favorite Christmas activities." Such as seeing The Christmas Carol and the like. He was more than a little bit grateful that we could squeeze in the holiday celebration at the museum, even though it meant three hours outside in very bitter weather. We drank a lot of hot chocolate. We spent a lot of time defrosting by the fire pits that were staggered about the grounds.

We saw Santa. Santa stands on the balcony of one of the old buildings and he yells down to all of the kids. "I see Mitchell from Florida! Hello, Sophie and Evelyn!" Parents whisper their names to a trio of women dressed as carolers and they radio up to Santa. It's clever. And the kids lose their shit.

I am a thoughtless and childless bitch and said something to The Coach about finding out who we needed to talk to in order to get a shout out from Santa and a mom almost killed me dead with her stare. I'm pretty sure her kid didn't hear me (we were well away from Santa at that point anyway) so I will maintain the belief that I did not ruin Christmas for that innocent child. But I still feel like an idiot.

The museum is a bunch of old, historic buildings so we got to duck inside them and see and hear about all of the history -- they always included what Christmas in that year would be like -- which was both interesting and a good opportunity to warm up. There was music everywhere and The Coach would always stop for a second to see. He insisted on roasted chestnuts. He had to look closer at every Christmas tree. He held open doors, told the museum goers who came in costume that they looked good, tried on a women's hat in the old fashioned hat store and thanked the older woman who insisted that he looked quite fine before the hat.  

We talked about his future coaching plans and what he bought his nieces and nephew for Christmas. He told me about his tournament overseas; I filled him in on all of the random things that I never think to mention to him while he's gone. We complained about the cold and I would press my gloved hands over his very cold ears.

He crashed when we got back to the car. We defrosted and he looked exhausted all of a sudden, his two days of travel and three weeks overseas seemingly catching up with him at once. I had been so happy to see him that it barely registered that he had just arrived that morning, spending the afternoon shopping before coming over to my house. I got him all to myself on his first night home and it was such a treat. A cold treat. A cold treat that required I show up at a stranger's house with $40 and the hope that she wasn't a murderer. (She wasn't. She was actually quite nice and I'm glad that I brought along a box of chocolates to thank her, too, because scoring those tickets was clutch.) 

His trip home is so short this year. I won't see him nearly enough. Spending every minute with him over the next week wouldn't be nearly enough. And it won't be anywhere near that much. He has a lot of family to see. A lot of catching up to do. He feels like he misses a lot when he's away. He says he's ready to come back home. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy, happy

The Coach was supposed to get in late last night but he didn't arrive this morning.

It doesn't matter. He's here now. I saw him with my own eyes. It was so, so good to see him with my own eyes.

I will blink and he will be gone, this trip cut dreadfully short by responsibilities on either end.

No sense in worrying about that tonight.

He's here now.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jinx

Writing about this is complex.

Not because I don't want to jinx it.

Well, somewhat because I don't want to jinx it. Also because I don't want to get my hopes up. And because it's complicated and I just really want what's best to happen even though maybe what's best isn't what will make me the happiest the fastest.

I am currently writing about The Coach's job.

I'm giving him a really great Christmas present: a present that would be terribly awesome for someone who was living far from home. Which, one week after purchasing it, is now a little bit ironic. Or it has the potential to be. Or the timing is just interesting. I'm not quite sure what to think.

Last week, a posting for a job that piqued my interest and was located quite close to where he coaches landed in my inbox and I didn't delete it.

This week, he threw me for a loop.


Ultimately, I want him to do what makes him happy. I want him to chase his dreams as far as his heart and his ambition will carry him. I am not in the business of molding, modifying, validating, cancelling or otherwise meddling with his dreams.

And if I could without consequence, I still don't know that I would. It plays such a big role in who he is; I don't know if The Coach would be The Coach if he wasn't actively coaching a team he wanted to coach at a skill level that he wanted to coach. 

Forgive me for being vague. Writing even this much makes me nervous. It makes me want to cross my fingers and light a few dozen candles. I haven't told Lucy. I haven't even said it aloud.

The words on the screen make my skin crawl. I want to delete this and pretend that I never wrote it and never wished it and never thought about what it would be like. 

It's just too much to hope for.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Loving

Beyoncé. Leave it to Queen B to drop a secret album and kill us all with her awesomeness, right?

KIND Bars and cottage cheese. Not together. Cottage cheese has been a breakfast staple for the past few months and it is kind of disgusting and I love it. I am totally weird about my granola/protein/whatever bars and KIND Bars totally fit the bill because they're basically a handful of nuts in bar form and I should probably learn how to make an equivalent before I eat myself out of house and home.

Gift giving. Either I am getting better at buying presents or I am completely delusional. Whatever it is, I am very pleased with every present I bought and anxiously awaiting giving each of them out. I will write about the gifts I gave after the holiday; I have a strange paranoia that somebody is secretly reading my blog and that I'm going to ruin their holiday.

Masters of Sex. Lucy talked me into trying this Showtime drama and I am hooked. It's a little bit of everything and I love it.

"A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote. Because I read it every year. Because it's a sweet story. Because everyone should have a short story that never fails to make him or her cry.

The rapid advance of the month of December. The Coach comes home at the end of the weekend. His trip will be short and no matter how much I see him it won't be nearly enough. And then he will go and then I will cry but I'm not worrying about that just yet. I'm too busy being anxious for him to go home. I am just SO BEYOND READY for this wait to be over.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A little less vague this time

What happened was that I wanted to be a crazy girl because The Coach is far, far, far away (as opposed to the majority of the year, when he is just far way) and I thought that it was only logical that he fill my inbox with the details of his overseas trip/tournament even though I TOLD HIM NOT TO DO THAT.

I was like "hey, go on your trip and coach your heart out and don't worry about updating me. It's okay. I know you'll be busy. And I will see you when you're home and you can tell me about it in person and that will be the beeeeeeeeeeest."

And then I go and have a few freaky anxiety dreams and immediately turn into the crazy girl who I do not want to be.

But when you're in Crazy Girl Spiral Mode it's really hard to get out of that crazy girl spiral.

I don't feel like I go Crazy Girl too often, but when I do, these things help: food, distracting work crises, friends, reading the perfect sentence at the perfect time, David Beckham, vague blogging and perspective.

So, my apologies for the vague blogging but trust that it played a large role in finding my sanity before I hacked into his email, tattooed his name on my forearm and called his mother to tell her that her oldest son was breaking my heart.  

...because he wasn't. Breaking my heart, I mean. He was following directions.

My directions.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Waking up smiling

If I hadn't had work to distract me yesterday, I would have burst into flames before noon.

And last night, mercifully, I had dinner plans with Lucy and Chet. We had macarons for dessert.

My subconscious was cooperative. Instead of a night filled with anxiety dreams, I work up this morning laughing. I can't recall the dream, but the feeling of waking up smiling isn't one that I will soon forget.

I wanted to pout this morning away but I woke up smiling and there was Premier League soccer on the television and the prettiest blanket of snow on the ground. I sipped away my frustration with my coffee. I was still but I was not overcome.

Better but not gone. It continued to simmer.

In the afternoon, my eyes stumbled over a small piece of advice. I was skimming and suddenly I was stopped. Stalled right at that sentence. Three words. In the order I needed to see them. On the snowy Sunday afternoon I needed to read them.

Loosen your grip.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pictures, Lately

I am busy. Busy at work. Busy making broccoli cheese soup. Busy getting my hair cut and colored. Busy having incredible awful anxiety dreams about The Coach. Busy inventorying all of the Christmas presents I ordered online as they show up at my doorstep.



I had a meeting just around the corner from Lucy's house on Thursday morning. When I was done, I picked us up Thai from her favorite restaurant and stopped by for lunch and snuggles with Baby L.

Yesterday, I saw my grandma and she was telling me all about how the water in her Christmas tree froze around the trunk. The tree was hanging out in her garage until she could get around to decorating and the weather happened and she was left with a treecicle.

Don't worry, my cousin Emma captured a picture of my grandma chiseling the tree to freedom. She's very resourceful.



While we're on the topic of my Grandma: I've been plugging away at the photo book that my cousins and I give Grandma every year. Our theme this year is Christmases past and, oh my goodness, my family and I have unearthed some gems.

I am particularly fond of this one of my mom and her sisters with Santa. My mom is the middle sister, on the far right. This picture always makes me smile.



I found all sorts of pictures of me as a kid and it's always sort of weird to look at them because: I was really that little? I believe I was just a few months past my fourth birthday in the picture on the left; I was 15 months old in the picture to the right. 

Of course, they aren't all cute.


That was one immensely awkward Christmas.

Unfortunately, I have no disbelief that I was the awkward creature in this picture. I remember this period of my life all too well. The braces seared the hideous years right into my memory. As though living through it wasn't enough.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gym Snobs

I'm taking group fitness classes for the first time in years.

On a whim, I bought a Groupon for two weeks of bag classes at the local boxing gym. I didn't really think about where it is (the snotty side of town) or the clientele. I just thought it might be fun to mix it up for a few weeks.

I always intended on using it these two weeks. I figured it would be a good distraction up until The Coach comes home and it has proved to be such.

It has also proved to bring out my worst side.

Mainly: how intolerant I am with certain girls at the gym.

As I said, this gym is in an area that brings out all sorts of girls in a full face of makeup and fully coordinated workout gear and pink boxing gloves. And they walk into the gym like LOOK AT ME, I AM HERE AND I AM FIERCE.

So then they go into this elaborate routine leading up to the start of class. Look at me jump roping! Look at me wrapping my hands! Look at me stretching!

It's intimidating. When I went to my first class, I was holding my breath and watching these girls and thinking about how poorly I was going to do and I've taken hundreds of kickboxing classes. Plus I'm in really respectable shape.

What pisses me off about these girls is that, if you weren't particularly fit or confident and it took all it had for you to get in the door to that gym, they are nothing but discouraging. They are the reason women are afraid to join a gym.

Class starts and the snobs keep up fine but they are not anything special. They are not far superior than anyone else even though they obviously take plenty of classes and have no shortage of confidence or lululemon yoga pants.

Then the instructor has us do pushups and THEY DO GIRL PUSHUPS.

I'm sorry, but if you can't do a real pushup (and I'm a firm believer that anyone of any gender can learn to do a real pushup and girl-style pushups are just some horrible holdover from the 1950s), you have no business intimidating other women at the gym. Get over yourself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Smart shopper

You guys, I have an announcement.

If you've been reading for some time, you're probably eternally annoyed at all of the quirks and the faults that I know I have but cannot and/or will not abandon even if it's for my own good.

But here is the thing: THERE IS HOPE.

If my Christmas is any indication, there is legitimate hope for me. 

You know how I am basically the worst Christmas shopper ever? How I wander around the mall looking for The Most Perfect Gift and then I don't find it so I go home to regroup instead of buying the second best thing and getting on with my life?

Yeah. So, somehow I broke the habit.

Today is December 10 and I am all but done with my Christmas shopping.

It is a miracle.

My success can be credited to a few early victories: I bought chocolates for my staff the week before Thanksgiving and, while shopping online just before the start of Pie Night, I snagged a really good present for our family exchange game.

My mom is easy to shop for. My father is getting hockey tickets because he is not easy to shop for. I toned down the bitch and bought Meg an actual present even though I insisted that I would not. Friends, cousins, cute boys without proper titles, random gifts to keep on hand at work just in case I get a gift from someone I'm not expecting to get a gift from: done.  

I am on fire. While shopping with my mom last weekend, I was picking out gifts for her to give with such uncharacteristic confidence that, at one point, she turned to me and said "who ARE you?"

Awesome at Christmas. That's who I am, Mother.

I am so pleased with myself. I am also very anxious for Christmas to finally get here because I am not used to having to keep these secrets for so long! 

I would turn my attention to cookies but I am absolutely certain that any batch of cookies that I bake now will not make it to Christmas. So, I think I'll read A Christmas Memory once or four times in the meantime. It's my absolute favorite. And maybe get a pedicure. I think I've earned it.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Risk, Reward

Last Sunday, I was a controlled wreck. I joined my family for our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm and I held it together. I skipped lunch because I knew that I couldn't much longer. I went home and finished reading a book that made me cry. ...or let me cry. Thank heavens for that book, because I needed to.

The book and the subsequent tears made me think a lot of things through, which I also desperately needed.

I spent the next day sorting it all out in my head. When I finally blogged that night, I explained myself -- to myself, as much as to you guys -- and, the next day, I explained myself a little bit more.

And once I got that out, once I cleared that up, once I felt like I had picked the path that I needed to take: I was rewarded with a lovely week.

It was just a really, really nice week. A week where things fell into place and work was decent and Christmas felt fun again. There was the coffee incident and we got great news about our World Cup tickets. The running tights Meg wanted for Christmas sold out before I could but them buy then they magically reappeared online. I made risotto for the first time and didn't ruin it. I got a massage. I took a new class at a new gym and it was awesome. I was a simple, uneventful happy. I can barely remember last Sunday, that sad Sunday. It seems like it was weeks ago.

I am not much for signs or superstition, but it feels like something or someone was telling me that I got this one right.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Hobbies

From just before Baby A was born, my mother has found many hours of entertainment in shopping for Lucy's babies.

Among her numerous skills and her various degrees and the plethora of people who depend on her mothering (myself included), my mom is also a very talented shopper. She loves scoring a good deal.

After many years of absence from the children's department, my mom has a few very adorable reasons to browse the selection for the tiny set and, oh, does she ever take advantage. I don't think she leaves GAP or Macy's without a tiny outfit or two that cost less than a cup of coffee.

She gives it all to me to give to Lucy. Eventually. "Put this away for _____." A birthday. Hanukkah. Valentine's Day. When he's grown to twice his current size.

Half of my extra closet is filled with outfits for the boys. Organized in size order. I'm always a little afraid that I will miss an outfit and they won't get a chance to wear it. (Thank goodness Baby L came along to fill in any potential gaps.)

My mom definitely buys the boys more than their own grandparents do and the whole thing is a little bit weird. But so is my friendship with Lucy so who am I to judge? Lucy is always very appreciative. The boys get a lot of wear out of what my mom has bought and I think it only makes her want to buy more. Which, I mean, I guess that's okay. Children need to be clothed. And my mom needs to shop.

Everybody needs a hobby.

Considering my mother's, I should be more grateful that she doesn't also dabble in nagging about her lack of grandbabies.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mandela

I am thankful to have witnessed a small fraction of Mandela's legacy during my trip to South Africa in the summer of 2010.

His beautiful country changed me.


Nelson Mandela is omnipresent in Johannesburg. We learned about Madiba at every turn.  

Of all of the attributes of that remarkable man, what stuck me was Nelson Mandela's magnificent capacity for forgiveness. If a man who is imprisoned for 27 years can forgive his captors, I could become a more forgiving person, too. I could hold less grudges. I could be a better person.

He inspired me. He inspired countless others. 

We are so lucky, to have lived in the world with Nelson Mandela.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

On being decent

This morning, I stopped at Tim Horton's on my way to work.

It was especially busy at dear ol' THo's. The line of cars for the drive through wound out onto the street. As I got in line, I saw a man in a Subaru who had pulled in through the parking lot. There was no way he was getting his car into the line unless someone let him in. So I let him in.

What's an extra two minutes, you know?

When I got up to the window, the girl working smiled and told me that he had bought me my coffee. And that the woman in the SUV behind me had offered to buy it, too.

It's the little things.

The same thing happened when Meg and I were getting to our race on Thanksgiving morning. I was in the line to get into the parking structure and another car -- another Subaru, actually -- was coming in from a different direction and somebody had to let them in so I just did it.

The driver paid for my parking.

Such kind gestures for what is, essentially, nothing. A minute of my time. A second to be considerate.

But each act of reciprocity served as a timely reminder that people notice.

I try very hard to err on the side of love and kindness and goodness. I would rather be too generous. I would rather be too nice. There are times when I feel like my (generally) good nature is overlooked. Like I am throwing my heart and my good intentions into a black hole. As though I am setting myself up to be taken advantage of.

How wonderful of those strangers to show me that it isn't the case.

It makes me want to buy them each a coffee.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

And the other thing

Is that I trust myself to know when I am done.

My heart loves stronger than maybe it should. But, historically, I have known when it was time. I knew when it hurt too much. I knew when I had to let go. And I did.

I don't have a hundred breakup stories to cite as examples as I don't have a hundred breakups in my past. The best example I have wasn't even a romantic relationship. It was with my other best friend, Colleen. I knew when she exhausted her chances. I knew when I had to stop trying. I knew when it was time. I made the decision. I did not waiver.

I trust myself to know when it's time.

I trust that I will know when I need to be completely done with The Coach.

I trust that I will know when it is time to dial it back so that making a regular, concerted effort to date other people doesn't feel so awful.

It's funny to say it because I overthink everything but it's true: I have a pretty decent gut instinct.

And I'm going to continue to go with it.

You don't have to agree with me on this one. (I'm not sure that I agree with me on this one.)   

Sometimes a girl just needs to make her own mistakes.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Sharing a heart with Ann Patchett

Over the weekend, I sat in bed and finished Ann Patchett's newest book, This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage. And then I cried. And cried and cried.

This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of her nonfiction work that I zipped through in just a few days.

I was stupid and took for granted all of the excerpts that gripped my heart. I should have written them down. My punishment for my stupidity is not punishment: one day I will have to read it again.

What I love about Ann Patchett, other than her writing, is her capacity to love ferociously. I envy Patchett's ability to write about her ferocious love in such a way that the reader can grasp what it means to love as hard as she loves. You can feel how big her heart is. And maybe recognize your own big heart in the description of hers.

She wrote an exquisite memoir (Truth & Beauty: a Friendship, which also made me sob my face off) about a deep friendship she shared. This friendship is touched upon again in This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage. She writes a piece about the years she spent devoted to her grandmother's care. The book closes with a piece about a nun who was her schoolteacher and, later in life, becomes a treasured friend.

The way she writes about these relationships is so familiar to me that it feels like she's taken up residence in my own heart. I don't have the capacity to write as she does, but I think that I love in much the same way. It's overwhelming. It's all encompassing. It cannot be halfway.

I finished that last essay and I cried and I cried and I cursed this trait, this stupid heart that insists on being all in.

It is my best trait. It is my worst trait.

It's why joining Match isn't as easy as filling out a questionnaire and picking out a few cute pictures and plugging in my credit card number.

I'm not saying that it isn't a fault.

But I'm saying that it's me.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Donut Brigade

I ended up spending the night at my mom and dad's house on Thanksgiving because I was too exhausted to drive home.

I guess a 6.2 mile run and a 5:15 am wake up call will do that to a girl.

Friday morning was spent drinking coffee and cleaning up from the Thanksgiving tornado that hit the house. Mom and I cleaned from 8:30 am until probably 1:00 pm. Amazing how thoroughly 25 adults can trash a house. Truly amazing.

I took a break from cleaning to mix up the dough for the Pioneer Woman's donuts, which I had promised to bring to Lucy and Chet's house for our Hanukkah celebration.

Any recipe that requires yeast makes me extremely nervous.

After the first rising of the dough, I brought it over to Lucy's house to finish off the recipe with the help of Lucy and Baby A.

Baby A was all about making donuts. I thought my heart was going to explode.

We would put flour down on the table and swirl it around. He thought that was great.

And pat a little flour on the top of the dough. He thought that was great.

Then we'd flip the dough and pat some more. Also great.

Then we would roll. That was great fun.

And punch out holes. Terribly entertaining.

And punch more holes in the holes. More!  

Baby A was very much into the process. Somehow the task managed to hold his attention right through the last donut. (Auntie may have made it a fairly speedy assembly line.)

He was also very much into the eating process. The kid obviously knows a delicacy when he tastes one. I would like to think that it is due to my influence on him -- introducing him to the finer things -- but the kid hasn't met a food that he doesn't like.

Lucy said he woke up the next morning babbling about "dough, dough, dough, roll, roll, roll" and patting imaginary flour on his imaginary dough. I could not be prouder.

Heavens, that child is fun.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Running Together

Pie Night featured a lot of girls and a lot of pies. 


Thursday morning featured a 5:15 alarm and frigid temperatures.

We had no problems getting downtown. I was feeling the spirit of the holiday while waiting to pull into a parking garage and let a car cut in front of me and was quickly rewarded with the driver of that car paying for our parking. Considerate, right?

Here is a picture of me at the start line wearing three shirts and three pairs of pants and no makeup.


When we were driving downtown, I said to Meg "how about we run together this year?" We've run a lot of the same races but we always split up at the start and run at our own pace.

But Meg's heart issues still haven't been figured out. She's still having a lot of episodes and going to a lot of appointments and getting very few answers and, while she doesn't say much about it, I know she's nervous and scared and frustrated.

Meg didn't refuse my suggestion that we run together and then I started second guessing myself. Maybe I wanted to run on my own. What if someone looks up my time and it's slower than it usually is?

Seriously. Seriously I thought that.

And then I got over myself and made the right choice on Thanksgiving.

To do what was best for me. Not what would look best. Not what I assumed others would tell me what to do.


We had a good run. Minus the cold and the snow and the increasingly slippery conditions.

I enjoyed running with my sister. It's a little embarrassing that I needed to have a revelation in order to do it. It's a little stupid that I think that anyone is looking up my 10k times.


It's a little strange that we started off our Thanksgiving with a few post-run coney dogs.

A little strange, a little awesome, a lot Detroit.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

We made it

I am thankful for so much.

Tonight, I am particularly thankful for a relatively drama-free day.

I enjoyed my family. My cousins especially. Emma included.

I ran and I ate and I washed a lot of dishes. I drank too much coffee. I was not idle. I was not overtaken with rage and I didn't have a reason to be.

I made a few choices based entirely on those choices feeling like the right ones.

I will explain it all later.

Until then, dear readers: happy Thanksgiving. (Or a happy random Thursday evening, if American Thanksgiving isn't your thing.)

I hope your day featured more pie than drama, too.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let's play interior decorator

I have this big empty expanse of wall over the credenza in my office that is driving me mad.

While I have been here for four months, I've just recently tackled the mess of my office. "Just put it in my office," I would say, over and over again, when my staff would ask me about this or that. You've worked here for 30 years and I've been here for 6 weeks and you're asking me? Dump it in my office. I'll figure it out eventually.

Eventually is here and now my credenza isn't piled high with boxes and binders, photos from when they hired a magician for storytime in 1979 and random computer equipment.

The clutter made me nuts. And now the blank wall is doing the same.

I feel that this whole operation is complicated by the wallpaper, which isn't exactly wallpaper but this textured, indestructible wall covering stuff that is obviously meant for high-traffic buildings. It's not going anywhere.

The clock is hideous and it needs to go. I had envisioned hanging my diplomas on another wall just above a bookcase. I could be convinced otherwise.

It's just such a big space. The credenza itself is at least six feet long.

I feel like anything small is just going to be swallowed up by the wall and I need something huge to fill it up. Or I need to get all Pinterest-y and hang a bunch of stuff up gallery style. I can't decide if that would be too busy for being adjacent to the wallpaper.

As you can see, there's an outlet up there. I could invest in a fun lamp. Maybe that would break up whatever is hanging on the wall from the whimsical, headache-inducing swirls of the wallpaper. Or a plant? Or both?

Years ago, I framed the poster Peter Max made for the 1994 World Cup.

I had intended to give it to Colin as a gift and he turned sour and I never gave it to him and it has spent the last six years living in assorted basements.

I love that poster, actually. The same one hung in my bedroom when I was a kid, when I was still dreaming about playing in a (women's) World Cup instead of planning trips to be a spectator at one.

I have never hung it up because I always assumed that it would just remind me of how young and stupid I was about Colin. But it's been six years and maybe I should just stick that damn poster in my face and use a little big of exposure therapy so I can stop feeling silly and guilty about all of the money I paid to have that poster framed for a guy who wasn't worth the cost of four thumbtacks. 


I could buy a print from Etsy. I've been coveting one Etsy print or another since the beginning of Etsy and I haven't had a good reason to buy one or a good place to hang it so I've resisted. (And purchased them for other people.)

I am total a sucker for a gorgeous letterpress print with a clever phrase or an inspirational quote. Or maybe something with a library or a book theme. That would be appropriate.

Slightly more appropriate than a shirtless David Beckham poster, which I also think would really liven up the atmosphere in my office.

As would turning the credenza into a proper bar and hanging shelves for the liquor above it. But, again, we're striving for appropriate because I am not yet independently wealthy.  

This is a lot of thought to put into decorating an office for a job that I expect to grow out of in just a few years.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy (?) Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday.

My Aunt Marie died right before Thanksgiving four years ago. It's been awful ever since. The Thanksgiving we celebrated just after her funeral was understandable awful.  We had just spent a week together, mourning and inside of a stuffy funeral home and in various states of shock.

Every year since, my cousin Emma -- her youngest daughter -- has been such a holy terror that it's basically ruined the holiday. I'm still pissed about how she behaved last year.

To say that I am approaching this Thanksgiving with trepidation would be an enormous understatement. We're still doing our annual Pie Night. (Which I used to think was the best night of the year.) Meg and I are still doing our usual Thanksgiving morning run. Mom is still hosting for 25+ and most of those 25+ won't even blink if Emma starts screaming and ranting.

It's just expected now.

That's why Thanksgiving isn't what it used to be.

I am hoping for a good holiday. Just a quiet holiday. And a trough of cranberry sauce. And a slice of pumpkin pie and a bite of pecan pie and enough stuffing to feed a softball team.

And a personal record in the 10k.

And for David Beckham to show up and carve our turkey. Shirtless. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A weekend, a project

I am not a particularly crafty lady. But I was with my mom at a thrift store around Halloween (we were picking up a shirt to go with her cowgirl costumed) and we stumbled across a kid's rocking chair. It was $7 and had the promise of a good project. My mom talked me into refinishing it for Lucy's oldest son, Baby A.

The timing is right: his second birthday is soon and Hanukkah is even sooner. My mom has refinished enough furniture over the years that that she could keep me from botching the entire operation. It's practical and old and a little bit sentimental. I could picture Lucy loaning that rocking chair to me -- to a baby of mine, if I am ever so fortunate -- just like my childhood rocking chair went to my cousin Emma. ...and eventually back to my mom and dad's house.
 
I sanded and I varnished this weekend. I also drank coffee and played hockey and read (This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, the newest by Ann Patchett) and watched football. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch on Saturday. I went shopping. Late this afternoon, I dragged myself to the gym for a decent run. When I was finished, I decided to treat myself to 15 minutes in the steam room.
 
I am always in too much of a hurry for the steam room and that must change. The steam room is great. I want to kiss the steam room on the mouth.

I ran a dozen errands. I helped Meg with a few things. I ate dinner and watched Orange is the New Black with Lucy and Chet.

I packed so much in and it still felt like a relaxing weekend. It was a relaxing weekend.

And the first in a few weeks that wasn't just one day. Apparently I didn't need to be any less busy in order to recharge. I just needed to be busy with things that weren't work.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No patience

We're now at the point in The Coach's season that I am. so. totally. over it.

This comes up during the same week every single year. It's far enough along that I have lost my patience and he has planted his head firmly up his all-coaching-all-the-time ass. It's frustrating. And I get his side. I understand what is happening. I can comprehend it. But I am annoyed. I want to scream. Which seems unproductive. Which also annoys me.

To his credit, every other year there have been other stretches throughout the fall season when I have wanted to bash out his teeth and, generally, this year has been good and I have not felt any violence towards his teeth or any other body part.

Until this week, anyway.

It does not help that either he or I should be on the verge of embarking on a Thanksgiving trip and he is not and I am not and that makes him an idiot and it makes me a bigger idiot.

It does not help that he'll soon be embarking on a coaching trip overseas. He'll be living and breathing sport and I'll be here.

I am always here.

If I play his absence right, if I am smart, I'll use his coaching trip as a couple of weeks with the distance to figure things out. To make sure this is what I want. To figure out what I'm doing going forward. (And, if AM gets her way, sign up for Match.)

I am just over this week.

I am just ready for him to be home for Christmas.

So I can punch him. Right in his handsome face.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

One at a Time

My new job takes up significantly more mental real estate than my last job did.

It is not a problem. I had my years of a job with little responsibility other than to make my contribution to the whole. And now I'm the one holding the whole together. While trying to figure out how the whole should look.

I like it a little more every day.

But I definitely have less in me for other things.

In some ways -- in most ways -- it's good. I'm not bored. I feel challenged. I don't have the time or the mental space to worry about pointless shit.

In other ways, I'm frustrated. Because I've always filled my life up to the very top and my job takes up more volume and things are spilling over and I can only attend to one at a time. I can only do so much. I can only be in one place.

But I want to run my soccer team. And I want to be a good blogger. And I want to be the boss who brings in muffins on a random Tuesday. I want to take yoga. I want to read more. I want time to myself.

Recognizing my own limitations has been one of the hardest parts of the transition to this new job. I have not enjoyed revising my expectations. I liked doing it all. I wanted to do it all.

I still want to do it all.

I just can't do it all at once.

For example: my trip to Brazil. It was one big, nagging decision that had been simmering for months. I didn't want to deal with it. So I did not. When the timeline dictated that I absolutely had to, I booked the trip. And felt immediately lighter. One less place for me to be. One less decision taking up space in my head.

With the Brazil trip out of my mind, it cleared up space to think about other stuff that was taking up headspace, unproductively, because I couldn't address it all simultaneously. Namely the mortgage pre-approval that I need to get so that I can go shopping for the house that I need to buy so that I can make that move that I need to prioritize and just get done with already.

I also need to decide what I want to buy and where I want to buy it.

See? There I go. Getting ahead of myself. Again.

One thing at a time.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weighty

Maybe you have a mean grandpa. Or a sensitive grandpa. Or a perverted joke telling grandpa. Or a normal grandpa. Or a forgetful grandpa. 

I have an inappropriate weight commentator grandpa. It is not his finest quality.

He is also not shy. Which makes it even better.

It's just a normal topic of conversation for him. You look like you aren't eating. You don't miss many meals, do you? You're solid.  Where do you keep that food, do you have a hollow leg?

And on. And on and on.  

He's 80 years old. Everybody knows that this is just who he is and just what he does and you get to be quirky and rude when you're old. He isn't making anyone cry at family parties. (I am not saying that there aren't tears once you've arrived home.)

But he's still making everyone roll their eyes.

His finest weight commentary came after Aunt Annette's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. Aunt Annette has always been very overweight. When she was being treated for cancer, the weight fell off. My grandpa (not her own dad -- her brother's father-in-law) would exclaim about how wonderful she looked every time he saw her. That cancer has you nearly dead but you look so svelte! (Okay, not his exact words. That's just how they sounded.)

It is so bad. He is so bad. Weight is such a sensitive subject and he has absolutely no idea. (Not that we haven't told him. We've told him.)

Nobody needs to hear it from him.

And everybody does.

At dinner on Sunday, he poked me in the side and I know that I don't need to lose a single pound and I still cannot stop thinking about it.

Not helpful, Grandpa.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Around the Corner

I was stopped at the light a block away from work yesterday -- yesterday, which was an epic and hard-fought win at the office for reasons that I will not bore you with listing -- and I watched the cars turning left in front of me.

And there was Colin.

My first reaction was to be a little bit shocked that Colin, pathetic Colin, was up and functioning at 8:30 am on a Monday.

My second reaction was to laugh.

Colin. What a loser.

I don't believe I've mentioned this: Colin's house is just around the corner from my building. If he wanted to walk here, he could walk here. If I went on a very easy jog, I would cruise past his house after a few minutes.

And yet I don't have to worry about running into him, as this place of knowledge and learning is not a place he would ever turn up.

It would be more likely to have a chance encounter at a bar in Orlando. (And I haven't been to Orlando in 15 years.)

Working just around the corner from Colin's house does not bother me.

But it does amuse me.

His tax dollars pay a portion of my salary.

Assuming he pays his taxes.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nine

I remember exactly where I was when I started this blog. I remember exactly where I was sitting. I remember the weather. I remember how I felt.

There isn't another moment of my 22nd year that I recall better than I can that memory. And there is little else that occurred during that year that changed me as what I started on that day.

A whole year of my life and the most defining event was an hour that I spent on the Internet.

But it changed me. Becoming a blogger and being a part of this informal and imperfect community has changed me.

I would have grown up either way. I would have navigated new jobs and disappointed by boys and frustrated by my limitations and angry at the world.

I do believe that my life is better as a result of that hour I spent on the Internet nine years ago. I believe that I am better because I have this space where I can write freely and poorly about a few things that matter to everyone and an endless number of topics that only matter to me.

At 22, I was clueless.

Yet somehow I managed to get this one right.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Settling In

I am finally getting my office in order.

Maybe this means that I'm finally getting my work life in order, too.

Taking a job over from someone who held it for over 40 years, from someone who didn't plan to leave when she did, has been challenging. I wasn't trained. I figured it out. I am figuring it out. It isn't fast, but I am getting there.

Every time I turn around, I hit a roadblock. Every decision I make is met with resistance. I am forever battling what has "always" been done, forever putting a positive spin on change, forever campaigning for growth.

But I am finally getting my office in order. And I think that may mean that I'm learning. I am taking it as a sign that I know what I need and I'll know where I should put it so that I can find it.

My desk, since July, has been stacks and piles and chaos. Much like my mind. But now I have folders and files and a method.

(Though I am still lacking in space. 40 years of paperwork is a lot of paperwork. I took over an office that was already full.)  

I am getting there.

Slowly. Shoving papers into drawers.

And maybe one day I won't even feel like I'm drowning.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Compromise

I have been struggling since the summertime with what I should do about this summer's World Cup trip.

After expressing my doubts to her one afternoon early this fall, my mom said to me "well, Meg would have to go on an organized tour if you didn't go with her," implying that my sister couldn't/wouldn't plan this trip on her own.

Thanks. The guilt, mother. Very useful.

I didn't want Meg to not go because I wasn't going.

But I also didn't want to go. No, that's not entirely true. I didn't want to go enough. And feeling so-so about a trip of that length and that expense seemed moronic.

Meg's friend/college roommate signed on to join us and it only left me feeling more uncertain. She's fine. She's a nice girl. She also erased all of the ease of traveling with a predictable entity. I know Meg better than I know myself. But Meg's friend is essentially a stranger. A stranger who I know can sometimes be a brat.

I still didn't know what to do on the eve of the early October deadline to request tickets in the lottery. So I entered the lottery. We won tickets to three of the five games we had hoped to attend. I felt cautiously excited.

Then I passed along the responsibility of booking our hotel.

Then I passed along the responsibility of booking our flights.

I felt a little more cautiously excited and significantly less crushed by the burden of planning an entire trip.

Yesterday, I bought tickets to our fourth World Cup game.

After completing the sale, I looked at the calendar and saw a gap. The first four games -- the four games we've bought tickets before -- are clustered close together. And then, after a few more days, is the fifth game.

I decided that I would go home early. I decided without hesitation. I decided without blogging about it or asking Lucy her opinion or debating it with Meg or writing a 3,000 word blog post.

I decided on ten days instead of the full two weeks. It feels like less of everything. Less hassle. Less expensive. Less overwhelming. Less time off of work.

Less soccer to watch and less vacation to enjoy, too. That isn't ideal. But it's a compromise. And now I'm more than cautiously excited. I'm just excited. Which is exactly how I wanted to feel all along.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thinkin' about

For a Monday -- a Monday where I felt like I was the only person who had to work -- the day went by quickly. Blissfully quickly.

I suppose it was because I had a lot to think about.

I've had more than a few things on my mind.


Headaches: I've been feeling a lot better except on bloody Sundays which should be the best day and instead have been hampered by headaches. When did I last not have a Sunday headache? September?

Brazil: I could not be more on the fence about this summer's trip to Brazil to see World Cup soccer. Last Monday, I was ready to pull the plug on the trip. This morning, I got up at 5:45 am and bought more game tickets and updated our travel blog. 

The Coach: I understand him better than I used to understand him which makes me understand him even less.

The Coach's Job: It's going well and I am happy for him. I am also selfish and scared that his job is going too well and that he will never want to leave. Or well but not quite well enough so that he won't feel like he's accomplished enough and won't want to leave. Mostly I am scared that this job isn't as temporary as it felt even four months ago.  

The Coach's Holiday Plans: Aren't the same luxuriously lengthy visit home as they have been in the past and I am resigned to this fact. (I've known for over a year that this would be the case but it still sucks.) Thanksgiving is a possibility but not a strong possibility. 

The Coach Sucks At Planning: This is nothing new. 

The Coach's Job Is His Life: This is also nothing new. 

Ashley: My disappearing friend Ashley has been on my mind a lot lately. I guess I just miss her. We had so much fun when we worked for the same company and our lives were so similar. And then she left her job and moved to North Carolina and we kept in touch. But then she got the boyfriend and the boyfriend moved in with her and now we're Facebook friends. I know that this is what happens with friendships -- they aren't all for life (especially, it seems, ones that start at work) -- but I had always thought that ours had more to it.

Aunt Marie: Or, rather, Aunt Marie's ashes (to me, it doesn't feel like her ashes are truly representative of her) are back at her house. My uncle picked her up yesterday.

My grandma called my mother last week and said "so, I hear Marie is visiting."

Laughing at the absurdity of this situation is permitted and encouraged.

Running: 22 days ago I ran 13.1 miles. Today I ran 3 and that was plenty.

Control: Turns out that my job more than fills my control quota. I used to like doing everything for everyone. I told myself that I was being generous but I was being controlling. If you do it all, you do it all exactly how you want to do it.

Not so much anymore. When I am away from work, I am done. Done. I don't want to make dinner reservations. I don't want to coordinate the family Christmas gift exchange. And I sure as hell don't want to run my soccer team. (Although I am.) I will show up when you tell me to show up, but I would really like you to tell me when to show up. I'm getting my fill of being the boss, thankyouverymuch.

Blogging: I've been better, haven't I? Nothing is turning out quite how I want it. I am glad that I am still writing but I am not enamored with what I am writing. My stories feel forced. My thoughts are scattered. I have been a better blogger. But blogging, for me, is very cyclical. It will get easier. And way less bad.  

Friday, November 08, 2013

Try a little makeup

I alluded to it a few weeks ago, but I never told you the story about the woman at work giving me the business about my appearance.

It was my birthday. I had enough time in the morning to throw a few curls in my hair with my flat iron, as I do periodically.

The woman comes in, as she does frequently, and she says to me "your hair is different! It looks good!"

I thanked her. "I had a little more time to get ready this morning, so I thought I would try to make myself look like less of a slob," I added. I know better. I should have left it alone.

She saw the opening and she took it.

"Then maybe try a little makeup next time," she replies to me. Completely serious. "Like some mascara or a little bit of lip gloss."

For the record: I was wearing makeup. And far less offended than truly amused. (Which I assured the patron who subsequently whispered "well, I think you look really nice today.")  

That is the thing about working with the general public. There's always someone.

Someone who likes your hair but not your makeup.

Somebody with an opinion on the color of your scarf.

Or someone who tells you that you're beautiful.

Which is what happened yesterday.

Although, truthfully, the flattery doesn't stick nearly as well.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Staggered

I met Lucy and her babies for lunch this afternoon.

I arrived just before they did, narrowly beating out the lunch rush and getting us a table in the corner.

And it occurred to me, as Baby A barreled through the restaurant and right at my lap (where he sat until our phở arrived), that perhaps this situation is the best situation.

That as much as my jealousy stings at times, watching Lucy and her sweet boys, this may be ideal.

I get to love and spoil Lucy's little guys without distraction. Because Lucy and I aren't on the same track -- or, perhaps, we're just traveling at rapidly different speeds -- her boys don't have to share my lap with one or two of my own. They get me all to themselves. I get them all to myself.

How fortunate that they were both born when I wasn't too busy and too bogged down with my own life. When, frankly, I didn't have a lot going on in my own life so that I could be a big part of theirs. 

Sometimes, too often, I look at those two and all I can see is what I don't have.

But what I do have is really very special.   

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Cure

I don't want to jinx it, but the last two days seem to be indicating that I am finally growing out of the bad mood that has plagued me since...?

My half-marathon two weeks ago?

The week before that?

Basically I can't recall when I last wasn't an unpleasant old shrew.

Earlier this week, I decided to blame this on mercury's retrograde. I am ignorant to astrology so I don't actually know what happens when mercury is in retrograde but it seems as good a reason as any. A girl can't be premenstrual for a straight month.

The only other logical explanation is that my foul mood was a side effect of an acute cider mill donut deficiency.

On Monday, I might have told my staff that I was running to the bank. And I might have just blew off the errand at the bank and headed straight to the cider mill for a dozen donuts instead.

And things might have started looking up after one donut.

Okay, three donuts.

And hot cider.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

More than a sweater

It's been almost four years since Aunt Marie died.

Her daughter, Emma, still has the hardest time with that. Not that it's particularly easy for anyone, but Emma is just so pissed off. So, so angry. She takes it out on everyone, but on her father and her sister the most. My mom is a close third; Emma likes to lash out on my mother because my mom won't engage her. She's calm, where Emma's father and sister meet her venom with venom.

Emma is 23. She isn't a kid but she still takes a tremendous amount of my mother's energy. My mom is as close to a mother as she has. She leans very heavily on my mom. She did long before Aunt Marie died.

She takes a lot of my energy, too. That's why I practically started to cry when I saw her overnight bag at Mom and Dad's house on Saturday night. Because I knew that I would have to entertain her. And I understand that it's part of the deal, that it comes with being a part of my family. But I just don't feel like I have a whole lot of fight in me right now.

With such a limited supply of energy, it's hard to want to spend it on Emma.

"I stopped by my dad's house but he wasn't home," she told me when she arrived at the house on Saturday night. Emma's been living with my grandparents because it's closer to her job. Also because she can't get along with her dad. "There is this sweater of my mom's that I've been meaning to take for a long time."

It was a sweater that my aunt bought in Norway when she went there with her mother and her sisters.

"I went in the closet and all of her clothes were gone. Everything! I called my dad about it. He said it gave it all away two weeks ago."

If that's true -- I have a hard time determining what is true and what is not when it comes to their family -- it's pretty shitty. My aunt owned a lot of really beautiful things. I know there were a few things that had been earmarked for me.

Emma wasn't raging when she told me this. She was actually pretty calm. (She saved the fit for when she told my mother.)

"So I took her ashes. They're in my car."

She was pissed at her father so she hijacked her mother's remains.

SHE STOLE HER OWN MOTHER'S ASHES.

How do you respond to that? What do you say?

"At least bring her inside, Em."

Aunt Marie is currently sitting on a table at my mom's house.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Gift cards from here on out

I have two stories to tell you in follow-up to Saturday's rambling post.

One, the story that I will tackle today, is simple and annoying. The other, which I'll attempt later this week, is complex and annoying.

Lately I have been easily annoyed.

On Saturday, I wrote all about how excited I was to have bought a few Christmas presents because I'm a bad Christmas shopper and I never want to buy a present unless I'm certain that it's the prefect present and then I get myself all stressed out until I obtain that perfect present. I don't have the energy or the time to be all stressed out this year, so it was just so nice to have two presents out of the way.

And then I saw Meg yesterday and she was like "oh, and I bought a blow dryer this week."

My (over)reaction: "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?"

According to my cousin Liz, Meg asked for a blow dryer for Christmas at least five times over the course of their trip to Mexico. She told Liz she wanted one. She told my aunt that she wanted one.

And in true Meg style, she just went out and bought it herself.

She always does this.

Seriously. Don't ask for a gift and and then buy it for yourself a week later. And, while you're at it, maybe don't ask, like, four different people for the very same specific gift.

She always does this.

It is so annoying.

She's getting a gift card.

I do not care.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Saturday So Far

What I didn't wake up to: a text from The Coach. He usually wakes me up to update me on how his team does but he doesn't always update me on how his team does. (Especially if it's bad and he's pissed about it.) (It was bad.)

What was waiting in my inbox when I woke up: an email from Starbucks. Free holiday drink promotion. Not upset about it.

What I did this morning: while sitting in the living room drinking coffee, I suggested to Liz that we go to Ann Arbor, get breakfast and do a little shopping. She was heading upstairs to get ready before I had finished the suggestion.

We ate: at Angelo's. Best breakfast in Ann Arbor. End of story.


We laughed: at this picture from Halloween. Our friend's daughter and I became fast friends. (She fell hard for my red patent leather ballet flats.)



We shopped: at my favorite gift/stationery store in town.


I bought: a Christmas present! For my mom. I'm excited about it.

 
 
I headed to Mom and Dad's house: because I'm watching the dog tonight. They're in Chicago; Meg's at a wedding.
 
On the way: I stopped to pick up a Christmas present for Meg, too. All the credit to Liz, who mentioned that Meg had been coveting her hair dryer in Mexico, and Ulta for having a coupon that made it a steal.
 
 
I felt the most proud: for having two Christmas presents purchased as of November 2. I am the worst Christmas shopper. This is a huge accomplishment.
 
And then I walked in the door at Mom and Dad's house: and saw my cousin Emma's overnight bag sitting at the bar. I almost cried. I love Emma, I do, but I wasn't planning on babysitting her in addition to the dogs.
 
 
 
Pulling myself together: I have a big football game to watch.
 

 

Go Blue!

Friday, November 01, 2013

The Best Trick-or-Treater

I took a shift handing out candy last night.

It was rainy but the temperature was mild. I wasn't uncomfortable sitting out on the front porch in my dress and my tights. The scariest part of my look was, without question, my rapidly frizzing hair.

I could almost tell what some of the kids were, as they marched up the steps wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas. Face paint was smeared and masks were soaked, but everyone was smiling. Liz lives in a great neighborhood for Halloween. The houses are close together and the subdivision is huge. We went through at least 15 bags of candy.

My favorite trick-or-treater was a boy. He was about 4 and I have no idea what he was dressed up as because he was all bundled up against the weather. His mom ushered him up the stairs and I dropped two pieces in his bag.

And then I noticed him eying the peanut butter cup sitting on top of our bowl of candy and I dumped that into his bag, too.

He thanked me and he retreated back down the steps to where his mom was waiting under her umbrella.

"SHE'S PRETTY, MA."

And then I gave him all of the rest of our candy.

Or so I was tempted.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Candy and American icons

Happy Halloween, you guys!

I am an old, unmotivated grouch so I didn't dress up today.

My Halloween excitement was limited to Lucy's mother's party on Saturday night.

I was, as you can plainly see, the natural beauty and American television icon Vanna White.

It's generally my goal for my costumes to be:
a. a little bit random
b. mildly weird
c. not sexy
d. more recycled from the depths of my closet and less a full ready-to-wear costume that I bought from a store. 

Lucy's mom is a retired schoolteacher and she goes all out for her Halloween party every year. It invariably includes a rousing game of cakewalk in the garage and some bingo in the kitchen and a costume contest, of course. It is absolutely her excuse to act like a teacher for a night and it is adorable.  

Baby A was a stinker and refused to wear the assortment of costumes that Lucy presented him with on the night of the party. These costumes included: a Lego block, Batman and bear.

I also suggested that Lucy frizz out his hair a little bit, give him a paintbrush and call him Bob Ross but that dream, sadly, did not come to fruition.

(Is it bad that I want children mostly so I can dress them up in funny outfits for holidays and other occasions?)

That stubborn child was not too cool to sit out cakewalk, however. He even took his (incredibly crazy-eyed) auntie on a few spins 'round the game.

I'll have you all know that I won a picture frame.

Yet no prize for having the biggest hair at the party. (Even though I clearly had the biggest hair at the party.)

Whatever you are or whatever you aren't -- though I will always advocate for the wisdom of big hair and an American television icon -- have a lovely holiday.

It's an excuse to eat candy. Embrace it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A legitimate reason

Aware that I was the last person in the blogosphere who had not read The Fault in Our Stars, I finally started it on Monday night.

I had just finished Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink, which I had started reading a few weeks earlier on a bit of a whim. Five Days at Memorial is excellent and dense and a remarkably well-done work of narrative non-fiction. If you like books of that nature -- and, as someone who generally gravitates towards fiction, I don't always -- I highly recommend it.

As long as you're not looking for something uplifting.

I plucked The Fault in Our Stars out of the stack of books that sits on my nightstand because it is a young adult novel and I wanted my next read to be something a little bit easier. A book that I could plow through in a few days. I wanted a book that I could toss into my giant purse and read on my lunch hour. Which is precisely what I needed yesterday.

While I haven't quite come out and said it, the general nature of my posts lately have probably made it pretty obvious that I've had a rough time of it lately. It's nothing in particular. I just don't have a lot of energy or enthusiasm for much of anything. It's awfully nice to get lost in a book.

By the time I got around to having a lunch, it was so late (and I had snacked and snacked and snacked) that I nearly skipped it entirely. But I'm trying to find balance and Starbucks is just a few blocks away. I finished off a latte and made it about halfway through The Fault in Our Stars by the conclusion of lunchtime.

I was supposed to go to hockey last night but I just wasn't feeling it. We didn't have a game, so it was a skippable event. I called in sick and went home instead of to the rink. I made a grilled peanut butter and Nutella sandwich and exchanged a very telling series of tweets with longtime reader/generally cool customer Heather.


That's when I knew that I would be finishing The Fault In Our Stars last night.

Sometimes a girl just needs to recognize the legitimate reason to cry her face off and commit to it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Grand Book Dress Debut

In hindsight, the best time to debut a dress that feels ever so slightly too costume-y probably isn't the week of Halloween.


But yesterday was the day that I finally found the guts to wear the book dress that Mom bought me for my birthday so I just went with it.

The first compliment I got on my dress was when I was at the gym for my lunchtime workout. I probably would have kissed the lady had I not been halfway through changing and all twisted up in the dress and a pair of running tights. The dress passed someone's test outside of my building!

I took this to mean that, even if I looked a little ridiculous wearing my book dress at work (where, you know, my business is books) (where I also don't really care about how I look, to be perfectly honest), my appearance was not ridiculous in general public. Or at least half-dressed in the gym locker room. Whatever. Technicality.

My gym friend seemed to have opened the floodgates because, when I got back to work, everybody had something to say about it. Well, not everybody. Every woman who I was already somewhat friendly with. Oh, it's just so cute. Oh, I just love your dress. What a fun dress!

And then one of my employees, a very sweet older woman, stuck her face way too close to my backside in an attempt to "read the titles."

Which is the same thing my 80-year-old grandfather did at dinner that night.

While my mother and grandmother just cooed about how adorable it was and how sweet I looked and isn't she just darling?

So I suppose I'm not afraid of the dress anymore. It's fun. I'm going with it.

And, bonus: after years of feeling like they do absolutely nothing for my shape, I've learned that I can get away with a shirt dress.

It's a whole new world.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Observation

(Hey! Guess what? I'm alive! And feeling a lot better today.)

My parents made an appearance at Lucy's mom's Halloween party. They get invited every year and never go. Generally it's because there is some sort of family drama that my mother is attending to. But this year was quiet (basically because Emma was in Chicago) and we got my mom all dressed up as a cute little cowgirl and they joined in on the fun.

Mom called yesterday and, on account of my head being on the verge of exploding, I wasn't feeling very talkative. At the end of our brief chat, she throws in "so...Lucy and Chet. They're not doing well?"

WHAT.

I rewound through the night and couldn't remember anything remarkable about how Lucy and Chet were interacting so I asked for clarification. "Lucy didn't seem like her usual bubbly self."

They're not having the easiest time adjusting to having two kids, I told her, but I think they're okay other than that.

Or am I completely missing something?

My mom is ridiculously intuitive so her observation makes me nervous. It wouldn't be something that Lucy would bring up -- not if the problems were real, real and not just a silly annoyance -- so now I am going to be paranoid and worried and volunteering to babysit and awkwardly asking probing questions out of the blue.

Mom doesn't generally interact with Lucy when she's a little drunk (and herding two kids). I'm hoping it's that. Less unhappy. More buzzed. Which is the way things should be. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The worst

I took it easy this weekend. That isn't exactly simple for me.

But I've just been feeling so awful lately. I had the week of headaches, then I ran a half-marathon and limped my way into last week, where I felt vaguely off every single day.

I have found all of this to be very annoying, so I decided to give myself the weekend off. A bye weekend, just like my beloved UM football team.

I didn't spend the last two days running from obligation to obligation. I didn't go to work. I spent a lot of time finishing up a book, I watched an episode of Catfish, I sat around and drank coffee and caught up with Liz, I took a leisurely stroll around Target, I baked cookies, I went to Lucy's mom's annual Halloween party.

I wrapped up a lot of little projects that I never made a priority and therefore never got done. I slept in. I painted my nails. I ate French toast.

I took it easy.

AND THEN MY HEADACHE CAME BACK.

It is so bad.

This is just the worst. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Flying Tastebuds

If anything that I've ever blogged has given you the impression that I subsist on quinoa, kale and coconut water, I apologize. I enjoy more than enough of the Whole Foods fare but my true heart beats for melted cheese in enormous quantities and the heavenly coupledom of peanut butter and chocolate.

Junk food tastes good, you guys.

When I finished my half-marathon last Sunday, my stomach turned on me. Nothing tastes quite right. I am impatiently waiting for it to pass and, in the meantime, I'm just eating whatever I feel like eating. Which, half of the time, isn't anything. And the other half of the time is a random combination of junk.

Don't take this the wrong way. I am not a preachy eater.

But if I've learned anything this week, it's that eating junk food just makes you want to eat more junk food.

And since I'm granting myself a pass (a pass that should probably expire after a week), the food situation around here has gotten really weird. Like, one post-hockey trip to Taco Bell weird. More apple dumplings than I care to admit weird. Boxed macaroni and cheese (which I don't even like) weird. Realization that Trader Joe's did have anything junky enough to satisfy me weird. A dinner of buttered popcorn and sushi weird.*

I gave myself the go-ahead to eat whatever sounds good because it is better than starving. I have been diligent in quickly obtaining whatever random crap I am craving. And none of it even tastes good. (Not even my go-to Liz-is-traveling Indian cuisine). Nothing tastes good.

I think that maybe I was running so quickly that my taste buds flew right out of me. It's the only logical solution.






*I would like to make it known that sushi was my attempt at pushing myself back towards my normal eating habits. I'm pretty sure it didn't work. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Secret Single Behavior

I live with my cousin (slash very good friend), Liz. 

Liz is on vacation this week in Mexico with her mom, her dad and her sister (who just got back from three weeks in Greece and is unemployed and where do I sign up for that life?).

Also my sister, who they invited along.

I wasn't invited.

I am a little bitter. And a little conflicted about being bitter. Because I'm 31 and I could be investing my energy into many more important things than caring about an invitation that I did not receive.

But that isn't what this post is about. This post is about all of the weird and random things I do when Liz is traveling.

When Liz is gone, I binge on Indian food. Liz is totally that person who always has 19 scented candles lit and some sort of scent-generating mechanism plugged into every outlet and I never eat Indian food when she's around because I don't want to hear her bitch about how the smell is interfering with her coconut margarita candles. Curry party!

If she's gone, I always watch more TV. Liz is sort of the queen of television. She watches so many shows. Most of them really bad. I rarely join her in front of the television (I don't have a TV in my bedroom by choice -- odd?) but when she's gone I'll flop down on the couch and see what's on that isn't a Real Housewives episode.

Liz is a very tidy person, as am I, but I let tidiness fall by the wayside when Liz is gone. Yes, I will take a seven day vacation from hanging my coat in the closet and, yes, I will like it. 

If Liz is traveling, I make it a priority to bake something messy and half-ass the cleanup. Sure, eventually, I'll get up all of those sprinkles. But it feels so good to leave them on the counter for an extended period of time just because I can without feeling the slightest bit guilty about it.

When Liz is gone, I always sleep with my bedroom door open. Do normal people who live alone close their bedroom doors when they go to sleep? I never have. It's mostly because I am lazy.

When Liz is gone, I am forever chasing her dog around the house like a lunatic because I feel like the dog doesn't get enough exercise and I feel like it's my responsibility to get her more exercise if I'm the one taking care of her. Liz's dog is sort of an asshole so I don't walk her that much.

Liz is gone. I've worn the same enormous sweatshirt that doesn't even belong to me and is not even a little flattering every night since Sunday.

It's probably good that Liz travels so much so that I can regularly be reminded of why I don't live alone. I would be dirty and always faintly smell like curry. And you know that, at some point, I would completely stop wearing pants.  
 
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