Friday, May 30, 2014

Hometown Glory

When I took this job, almost a year ago, it was scary and exciting and it was also weird. It was weird to be coming back to my hometown. All of growing up feels like a process separating yourself from where you're from and then I go and take a job -- a good job, a job that has given me more experience than I think I even wanted -- right back where I started.

And now I am buying a condo that's just a few miles from where I work and just a few miles from my high school and where I grew up and everything that I've always known and it feels right, I know it's a good choice, but it also feels weird.

Like maybe I'm not as grown up as I pretend to be.

I'm okay with all of it. These are choices that I've made and they are choices that I am happy with. In all of my dreams and at all of my expensive schools, I just never quite pictured that I would be here. Back at home.

But, for as weird as it sometimes feels, there are moments when it also feels so incredibly right that I can't quite fathom how I got so lucky. Like last week, when my grandma stopped by the library to bring me peanut butter cookies. Like last Friday, when I met my mom for lunch because she had a free hour and I had a free hour. Like last night.

Yesterday, toward the end of the workday, Lucy texted me. She's bringing the boys to the beach. Would I like to join them?

I was in a dress and heels. I had no change of clothes.

Absolutely I would like to join them.

We got pizza at the restaurant that's right on the water. We were seated on the deck and Baby A climbed all over me to look out onto the lake. Auntie Pie! Auntie Pie! Ducks! Geese! Boat! Fish! Rocks!

When we were finished with dinner, we walked over to the beach. The boys got filthy and wet and happy. It was my job to fish Baby A's rocks out of the water after he threw them in. "More'gain!" he yells. (That's more and again, of course.) We dug a few holes and got sand between our toes and Lucy filled me in on her latest family drama and I filled her in on mine.

I carried Baby A back to Lucy's car (36 pounds. Ooof!) and got my work dress drenched and dirty in the process and it is going to have to go to the dry cleaner and I could not care less.

Living and working in my hometown is weird.

Weird and oftentimes incredibly awesome.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

On shorts

I don't love shorts.

Exception: soccer shorts. I love soccer shorts. I was born to wear soccer shorts. Soccer shorts are the perfect shorts and that's probably why I don't like other shorts: because all shorts pale in comparison to soccer shorts. This is a fact.

It is also why I don't really own any other shorts.

Here's how I see it: now that I am an adult and I don't have the luxury of wearing shorts all day because I am at work, not in class or spending the summer as a camp counselor or a nanny, there is really no need for me to own any. In the summertime, if I am compelled to wear shorts, I will wear soccer shorts. If I'm going to dinner or a movie or to a party or somewhere else where I will look like a slob in my soccer shorts (there are many places), I'll put on a dress. Or a pair of jeans.

And this is normally fine, this lack of in between. My life is quite full without a robust stock of shorts. I do not feel that my wardrobe is lacking.

Except for now, when I am (mentally*) packing for Brazil. Probably I don't want to spend 10 days slobbing around in soccer shorts. Definitely I don't want to spend 10 days sweating to death in jeans. Quite certainly wearing a dress every day (including to a handful soccer matches) is ridiculous and impractical. (Yet adorable. Team Dress 4Ever.)

I do not love shorts but I do love being appropriately dressed. So shorts it is! Even if I feel like they make my legs look chunky! Even if shopping for them is torture because most don't fit right! I've sucked it up and purchased one pair. I will get a few others. Meg, who has a harder time finding shorts that fit in the waist and the legs, is doing the same.

Meg's friend and the third wheel to our Brazil trip tricycle refuses. She hates shorts. Which, okay, I understand but I also don't understand because I hate slowly sweating to death in the Brazilian sunshine even more. Well, I hate the idea of it. I've never actually sweat to death in the Brazilian sunshine so I can't be positive. Maybe it will be a great experience for her.

Probably not.

That's why I'm packing shorts.

*We don't leave for three weeks. I will be honest: no real packing will take place until the morning before we leave. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Best New Toy

Over the weekend, Meg and I joined Mom on a trip to Costco. We had descended on the house for an afternoon of sunshine and naps out on the deck and it had reached the point in the day where we had both soaked up plenty of sun.

Meg found this inflatable miracle and instantly knew that this was The One. She needed this floating couch in her life and, look, Mom, it is only $99 and it has cup holders! 

As she does, Meg got her way and the inflatable was loaded into the cart after Meg promised my mother that she would be in charge of blowing it up and patching holes and all general maintenance of the floating couch.

You would have thought we were more like 7 and 11, not 27 and 31, the way we got home and instantly had to set it up and try it out but maturity is overrated. What is not overrated is the incredible floating couch.

This sucker has seating for five and it's all mesh in the middle so you can soak your feet. There is a ladder for swimming and an "anchor" which is basically a bag in which you can keep your cans cool using the water beneath you.

What the incredible floating couch does not have is a motor, which we didn't realize was a major inconvenience until yesterday. Meg, our cousin Liz and I floated out to the middle of the lake. And drank margaritas. And then realized that we weren't getting back unless we dragged it in behind us.

Which is really hard to do if you've had a lot of sun and plenty of margaritas and you're laughing so hard that you can barely breathe.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Other Family

My Aunt Marie died in 2009 from complications of diabetes. She was 50. My grandma found her dead in her house. 

Her youngest daughter, Emma, had started college two months earlier. Emma has always been difficult, well before her mother died: she has anxiety and depression and a temper and a mean streak. And my mom loves her. Oh, my mom loves her. Emma is her youngest sister's youngest daughter and my mother played a very large role in raising her. Emma is cruelest to those she loves and my mother is not an exception. I hate, sometimes, how she treats my mother (when Emma is good, you would never know that she can turn into such a monster) and I know that my mom flatly refuses to let Emma push her away. Emma is lucky to have my mom.

It's been hard for Emma -- it's been hard for all of us! -- to see Emma's dad dating again, even though it's healthy and normal and inevitable. He proposed to his current girlfriend at Christmastime; they plan on getting married at the end of the year.

Yesterday, the girlfriend -- Sue -- invited us all to his birthday party. Nobody really wanted to go. It's hard to be at that house. It's hard to see Sue cooking in Aunt Marie's kitchen. But we did. 

Sue is a widow herself. She has three grown children and eight sweet grandchildren. They're fine. It's just weird that they're there. They aren't supposed to be there. Aunt Marie is supposed to still be alive.

We're around the table, singing happy birthday. And these eight grandchildren turn into the von Trapp family, seriously. They sing, like, a 13 verse happy birthday song. What is this? We don't sing a 13 verse happy birthday song. I look at Emma. She flies out the door and onto the front lawn. By the time I catch up with her, she's sobbing. 

I'm hugging her and telling her that it's okay, it's okay to be sad and this situation sucks but we're going to make it through it. I'm crying and I'm holding her and I'm promising that it's going to be okay. And I look up and one of Sue's daughters is standing there. It was her oldest daughter, Cassie, who is in her late 30s and had expressed wanting to have a deep conversation with Emma earlier in the afternoon. (My mom tried to talk her out of it.)

Cassie's intentions are good but Emma is a bomb that I am trying to diffuse. What am I supposed to do? Initiate a group hug? At least she was smart enough to stand off to the side. At least she was smart enough to be quiet. She didn't interrupt. She was just there. Eventually, she spoke.

I tried to let Cassie say what she was going to say without Emma flying off the handle. Cassie's message was: I know. I'm going through the same thing. My dad is dead and he shouldn't be dead. My siblings and I are all still devastated. We're glad that our mom is moving on and that she has your father and that she's happy. Our mom is a huge pain in the ass. It's good that they have each other. But your mom is supposed to be here just like our dad is supposed to be here.

Emma ran off as soon as she calmed down. She only told Cassie "I know, I know. I'm okay." She didn't give her much. And I think Cassie was disappointed. She wanted a connection. And I tried to explain to her that Emma's difficult. That they probably aren't going to have a big, beautiful bonding moment. That it takes her a long time.

But the things that Cassie said to me, oh my goodness. I wish that Emma and Anna, her sister, would hear them. Sue's kids feel the exact same way that they feel. The things that Cassie said are identical to what Anna and Emma say and feel.

Sue's kids hated that they got engaged two days after Christmas. They think that it's ridiculous that they insist on getting married this year (as the youngest in their family and Anna are both getting married in the next few months). They acknowledge that their mom is a little nuts. That, sometimes, they see my uncle pick up one of the grandbabies and they cringe because it isn't their dad playing the role of grandpa. They would rather my uncle and Sue go off and get married on their own; the kids want no part in it. (My uncle and Sue are, of course, planning a wedding. Nobody wants to go.)

And either my uncle pretends that the situation with Sue's family is more placid than it really is or her kids are just more mature about handling the situation. Perhaps they just don't throw public fits. 

Either way: I wish that I could get Emma (and Anna) to understand that Sue's kids are on her team. Really. Really it sounds like they are. Emma and Anna like to vilify Sue but it isn't Sue. It's the situation. The situation sucks. They don't have to like it. But wouldn't it be nice to see Cassie at a party and be able to roll your eyes?

I wish I could explain that to Emma. I wish that I could make her understand. I will try, because that's all I can do and because I do think that it would be good for her to see that she isn't as alone as she perceives to be. 

She will only hear me if she wants to. She probably won't want to.

But I will try.       

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And then she complained

I thought that this week was going to be a big week. An exciting week! A week that passes quickly!


This is a week where it took all of my willpower to talk myself into baking a batch of cookies. A batch of cookies, I'll add, that turned out, fittingly, flat.

This is a week where every one of my responsibilities, including my responsibility to take a shower so that I don't offend those I interact with, seems like a monumental task.

And the real problem is that I'm not busy enough. Only one evening meeting. No soccer. No dinner plans. No errands I absolutely have to run.

I can't believe it's only Wednesday.

Not because I'm looking forward to the weekend.* Just because I'm so bloody bored with the week. And unmotivated. And not interested in going to the gym or reading a book or watching television or taking many naps or baking subpar cookies.

It feels like my skin is too tight. And my patience is too small. And the week is far too long.

*What are you guys doing over the holiday weekend? I'm marching in the town Memorial Day parade, I shit you not.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 14

When I last left off, my offer was accepted on the exact type of home that I was certain I wouldn't like: a condo. And I was waiting, waiting, waiting.

Well, here I am: still waiting, waiting, waiting.

The inspection was two weeks ago and there were a few small snags but nothing bad enough to kill the deal. The appraisal was shortly thereafter and it appraised quite a bit higher than what I paid for it, which makes me feel like the ultimate bargain shopper. I pretty much bought the place with a coupon.
I am still (impatiently) waiting for a closing date but I was told that it will be before the end of the month which, by my calculations, means that it will be sometime in the next 10 days.

Which also means that someone should set a damn date and time so that I can kick my neuroses into high gear and make 43 lists, buy a ton of things I don't actually need, schedule movers and generally get excited.

I am trying, with some amount of success, to not get overly excited.

But I am excited and I also just want to get this move over and done with as soon as possible because I don't want it to hang over my head any longer. And I want to be in and settled, like, today and not after Anna's wedding shower or my trip to Brazil or Independence Day. I don't want to spend the summer with this move looming. I want to move. And then I want to enjoy summertime.

And I want to blog before and after pictures. Like, right now.  

Monday, May 19, 2014


I nearly always join Lucy and Chet for our traditional Friday night dinner but, this week, we bucked tradition and went out to eat just like we did in the olden days!

The 20 minutes I spent wedged in the back seat between Baby A and Baby L's car seats was unquestionably the best 20 minutes of my weekend.

I feel a little like Baby L, as the second child, is shorted his due doting because his brother is crawling all over me the minute I arrive at their house. So let me just say that he is the sweetest, most easygoing little guy. All smiles and crawling like a maniac.

We dropped Lucy off at the restaurant to get us a table and Chet, the boys and I got the car parked and walked over to join her. It occurred to me, after the second or third couple smiled at me (carrying Baby L) and Chet (carrying Baby A) that they all assumed that we were a family.

I suppose that we are.

Just not in that way.

The rest of the weekend was spent in unremarkable but pleasing fashion -- laundry and soccer and paying bills and kickin' ass -- busy with a lot of the usual.

I keep mourning each weekend as my last quiet weekend for months and months. But this one might actually be it. There's a holiday (and my debut walk in the town's parade!) next weekend and, after, I fully expect to blink and for summertime to be over.

Any tips on how to bottle it up?     

Friday, May 16, 2014

Forward Momentum

I shouldn't have had that second cup of coffee.

Or watched last night's Grey's Anatomy, maybe. Or left work early. Or had that bowl of macaroni and cheese that wasn't really very good.

I don't know where I went wrong.

For the last month, I have had all of this forward momentum. To the Derby. To finalizing for Brazil and signing paperwork for the condo and packing and Mother's Day and board meetings. Dog sitting. Haircuts. Shopping. Planning. Preparing.

And, I swear, it just stopped. It all just screeched to a halt -- maybe it was when I changed into my hoodie -- and now all I can think about is how four weeks ago today The Coach told me he likely wasn't taking that job.

And how, four weeks ago tomorrow, he officially turned down the offer.

Maybe it's the weather. The weather feels like it did four weeks ago today. There's that same bite in the air. It's cool. It isn't cold. It feels like that day.

I don't know what to blame it on.

So I think that I will shop online for a bit. Mix up the ingredients so that Baby A and I can whip up an apple crisp for dessert tonight. Acknowledge all that was shitty about that Friday four weeks ago. Paint my nails. Move forward.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

This is not a riddle

Is there a bridal shower game or activity that exists in this world that doesn't completely suck?

My cousin Anna's shower is coming up very, very quickly. There are certain members of our (somewhat reluctant) planning committee who believe that we should do something of the game, craft or other wholesome activity nature with our fair bride and her gaggle of guests.

I am not convinced.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Youngest

Accidentally Me and I were discussing this via email a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to write on the subject ever since.

It came up around the time that I was lamenting that it had been 10 years since I graduated from college. She's clever and good at math and figured out that I had finished high school when I was 17.

Not because I was a truly advanced genius child or anything. My birthday is in the early fall and an early fall birthday results in a weird should-we-or-shouldn't-we decision when it comes to choosing when your kid starts school. Or at least it did in Michigan back in the '80s.

Maybe educators have fine-tuned this process in the last 30 years. I am not an expert on this subject.  

All I know is that my parents elected to start me in school a little bit early.

The story that my mother tells me is that I was tested to see if I was ready for kindergarten. Whoever evaluated me had me hop on one foot and recite my address and whatever. Their professional recommendation was that I was good to go. And so I went.

School was always fine for me. I struggled in some respects and I thrived in others and, when I was in school, I didn't give a second thought to my age in relation to the age of my classmates. Now that I'm 15 years out, however, and I have seen the huge difference that a year can make for a kid and I reflect back on my own experiences: I am not sure I would put my own kid in the same situation.

I would never, never say as much to my parents. I don't doubt that they made the decision that they thought was best for me. That's the thing about being a parent, right? Just doing the best you can?  

Academically, I was fine but socially, I probably would've benefited from being held back another year. I always felt a little overwhelmed and behind. Maybe I am just a person who is prone to feeling overwhelmed and behind I am but maybe it's because I wasn't as mature as most of my classmates.

I feel like, in some ways, being that kid who was always younger and always behind and always less mature set me up to be the adult that I am. The adult who feels a little like she's always running to catch up.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

It is our family tradition to celebrate Mother's Day with our extended family. All of the "kids," as we are still known even though we range in age from 23 to 35, throw our moms out of the kitchen and handle the party on our own.

Meg has hosted at her house the last two years, which proves to be an extra bonus for my mom. Mom and Dad's house is Party Central. My mother both loves and is exhausted by always playing the gracious hostess. It's good to give her a break. (And it's lucky that Mother's Day is just before we really get into lake season, when Mom and Dad's house is where everyone wants to be and nobody even bothers to pretend otherwise.)

Meg and I went a little overboard on Mom's gift this year but I am not above splurging every once and again.

A few weeks ago, she was gushing over how gorgeous these watches were and, at the time, I didn't even consciously file it away in that part of my head that's always concerned with buying The Best Gift Ever. But I must have tucked that idea away anyway because, when I started thinking about Mother's Day, I loved the idea of making a quick trip into the D to pick out a new watch for Mom.

Her eyes nearly shot from her head when she saw the box. She put it on immediately and spent the rest of the day showing it off; her reaction made it totally worth it. 

Our Mother's Day party was Mexican fiesta because that seemed easy and a good excuse for margaritas. 

It was fun to shuttle all of our moms out to the patio to have their dinner. And, for me, it was fun to make my sit-on-their-butts-at-all-of-the-family-parties cousins do dishes and help clean up for once in their damn lives.

Everyone was on good behavior. The weather was perfect. There was guacamole. It couldn't have been any better. 

Well, I could have done without the car drama but that had nothing to do with Mother's Day so I'll suck it up just this once.

Did any of you host Mother's Day? Was it also a Mexican fiesta?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Best Laid Plans

I killed it yesterday.

It was a rare Saturday where I had no plans and no desire to make any. Looking ahead, it is the last commitment-free day I have for months. I spent it wisely.

Much of the day was dedicated to getting ready for a sometime-in-the-near-future move. Most of my belongings, fortunately, are boxed up and stored away in Liz's basement. I packed up the few things I had in the kitchen, I decluttered everything in my room, I scrubbed my bathroom like a maniac.

I could move tomorrow. I could throw my clothes into suitcases and have everything out the door in just a few hours. Knowing that is liberating. With a closing date that is still up in the air, a soccer season that starts in a few weeks, hosting a wedding shower and a trip to Brazil on the horizon: I was beginning to wonder how I was going to pull off a move.

Now I can pull off a move.

When I was done at the house, I gave myself an hour for a long run in the sunshine. It was perfect. I undid the run with a frapuccino and it was fantastic I don't regret it or the small mountain of chocolate whipped cream that topped it.

Following my trip to Starbucks, I transitioned into Mother's Day mode. Meg was hosting at her house; I had a lot to bring and prepare and, since I had a soccer game in the morning, it all had to get done last night. It did.

And, because this is how things happen sometimes, when I went out to the car this morning -- the car that I had packed with my soccer bag and everything I needed for Mother's Day -- of course it didn't start.

Because this is how things happen sometimes.

I was driving my mother's car (the reason why is a long story) and it's still quite new, only a few thousand miles on it, but the battery wasn't dead and my dad couldn't find the problem and, to save you all from the boredom of the entire story, the car got towed to the dealership.

And I missed soccer. The primary reason I spent all of last night prepping for Mother's Day.

Can't win 'em all, right?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Just life

This is always when I have the hardest time blogging.

Life is just life sometimes. That's what life is now. I am not remarkably happy or remarkably sad. Things aren't exciting. Things aren't boring.

It's just life.

Tonight, I was driving home from another Friday night dinner with Lucy and Chet and their boys -- how many hundreds have we had? How many times have I blogged about it? -- which is a longstanding tradition and always a treat. As I drove, my mind wandered and settled, as it usually does after our Friday night dinners, on how different my life and Lucy's life really are.

It's generally a time I can feel a little sorry for myself. It is quite easy to do while driving home, alone, to an empty house.

I indulge in that a lot. Too much, probably.

But is this really so bad?

That's what I asked myself tonight. Because, when I look at the picture that is my life, all I ever allow myself to see is what's missing. I ignore the blue sky and the shining sun. I only see what's not there.

What might never be there.

Maybe this is just my life. Maybe this is what I get. Maybe this is what it will always be.

Not at all how I pictured it.

Still incredibly blessed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Housing Crisis, Part 13

When I last wrote about my house search, I wanted to light my real estate agent on fire.

But that night, my mother (who was nearly annoyed with the whole process as I was) joined me on another evening wasted driving around and looking at houses that I hated.

Or so that was my attitude on my way out.

And then we looked at a few losers and I was even more infuriated with the whole situation. I didn't say anything, as though when I put on a happy face I am even the slightest bit convincing when I am pissed. (I am most certainly not.)

My realtor had sent me a few listings for condos earlier in the week and, though I was convinced that I was not interested in buying a condo, I asked her to show us one. I liked the location. I liked the price. I liked that the association dues weren't exorbitant.

We looked at the condo last that night and, to my surprise, I liked it.

Of course I liked it. Absolutely everything I assumed about this whole process has been incorrect: I was sure I didn't want to buy a house. I was sure that I couldn't afford it, anyway. I was absolutely sure that I didn't want a condo.

Wrong again!

The condo couldn't be in a better location. My drive to work will be simple now and easy, in terms of freeway accessibility, if/when I take a new job.

It was also cheap. Ridiculously inexpensive. Significantly less than the sellers paid for it 12 years ago, it's going to be hard for me to lose money on this one. Maybe I won't make money, but it seems unlikely (anything can happen!) that I'll take a big loss.

And then there were the monthly association fees. Those were probably what turned me off of condos in the first place (it wasn't the lack of a yard that I wouldn't ever want to mow, anyway). I just think it's wasteful to spend hundreds of dollars a month to maintain a pool or tennis courts or whatever other amenities that I would never utilize. The association dues in this complex were completely reasonable and wouldn't leave me to exist on a diet of ramen noodles and saltine crackers.

The next weekend, I had my agent bring me back to the condo, this time with my dad. She showed us another condo and a few houses that day but the first condo was sticking. I felt good about it.

I put in an offer on Monday.

Remember that week? That week where I thought everything was going to turn out right? Ha.

Not quite. But I found out on Thursday that my offer had been accepted.

It was overshadowed by boy stuff.

And it was still contingent on financing, which was a royal pain in the neck. We sat around for a good 10 days, waiting for everything to shake out. I had other things on my mind, anyway.

But, finally, early last week, it looked like we were good to go.

It looked like I was going to buy. And buy a condo, at that.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Best weekend

The weekend was perfect.

Everything was perfect. We ate all the right foods and parked in the right place and got the right amount of sleep and drank the right amount of alcohol. We wore the right dresses and had reservations at the right restaurants. We picked the right hotel and times our drives just right and had tickets in the right locations. 

After all of the discussion about dresses, I ended up wearing my white dress on Friday. I had fun jewelry to pull in the pink theme for the day. The weather was so cool that I wore my sweater all day.

We started the day with loss after loss. It clearly took us some time time remember how to play the ponies because, once we figured it out, we were hot. Lucy or I won money on each of the last handful of races. I finished the day ahead, she was about even. We don't go to the Derby because we're gamblers but, truthfully, it does make it extra exciting.

For the rest of my life, I will have a memory of Lucy jumping up and down, with our racing form rolled up in her hand, pumping her arm in the air and turning increasingly red as she screamed herself hoarse during a race. After the race was over, her horse pulling out the win, we collapsed back into our seats and laughed and laughed. That was what the weekend was all about: acting a little like idiots and enjoying every second of it.   

When I held it up to my hat, the coral dress was the exact color of the flower on my hat (which you can't see in this picture) and that's why I ended up making the unexpected dress swap.

My outfit may have been good luck. I did well on Friday but I killed it on the races on Saturday. Every race, of course, but for the actual Derby.

It didn't dampen the mood.

Nothing could. 

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Gratitude: April

  • Working close enough that my grandma can drop off Easter goodies to my office.
  • The favors I am able do for others.
  • Legs that carried me through another half marathon. 
  • Circumstances that start bad but turn good.
  • Blogs as a vehicle for venting.
  • Blogs as backup memory.
  • Blogs as crowd-sourced fashion consultation.  
  • Honesty.
  • Streaming video.
  • Hope.
  • Peeps.
  • Allies.
  • Dresses. 
  • Being wrong.
  • Concert tickets.
  • The simple anticipation of road trips here and there.
  • Waterproof blister bandages.
  • Endings.
  • Beginnings. 
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