Friday, August 29, 2014

Sand and cheese

"Mom said you had Lucy's boys again today," Meg mentioned when she called to set up a shopping date for tomorrow.

"I did -- that's why I'm just about to get in the shower," I told her. "You wouldn't believe how much sand I have in my bra. I am going to have to pour it out."

Meg laughed.

"And my shirt! It looks like I am wearing a bib of macaroni and cheese."

"Does that make you want to have a hundred babies?" Meg asked.

"The sand in my bra and the cheese on my shirt? Nope."

Not those two particular perks of spending my day off with my two favorite little guys. That is the truth.

But pretty much everything else.

I didn't bother mentioning it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Grand Project Reveal

I hope that the title of this post doesn't have you all excited to see the couch that I reupholstered or the backsplash that I tiled with reclaimed materials. Not that fancy, boys and girls. Surely you know that by now.

The closest I am going to get to being a stylish home blogger, however, is the gallery wall in my hallway. That's the Grand Project. And here I am, revealing it.

I'm actually only 75% completed (you'll see in a minute) but I didn't want to wait.

This all came about because I happened to have a lot of white and off-white frames (I actually like that they aren't too matchy and they aren't all the same shade of white, which I half expected to drive me insane). And then I bought a bunch more.

Then this happened.

I think I'll extend the wall to the other side of my guest room door (I took this picture from the door to my bedroom) because it seems a little awkward to leave it out of the picture party. Plus I have more frames and more desire.

I mostly used things I already had, but I did pick up a few prints (I love that lock print and do you see the UM one?) and other goodies like my friend the elephant.

Here it is from the other side of the hallway. I was a little concerned about the thermostat being in the mix but you hardly notice it.

I am far from a decorating wizard but this was an enjoyable little project. I like that I can change things around easily and I think it will be fun to see how the wall evolves.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


While it isn't that I don't find that the new wave of Facebook activism adorable* or that I don't entirely enjoy watching my friends and family douse themselves in ice water**, this ice bucket challenge for ALS is not my style.

The ice bucket challenge, of course, is dumping a bucket of ice water on your head to promote awareness of/donations for research for ALS. The dumping is recorded and posted to social media and the whole thing is very viral at the moment. As you all know.

Other than maintaining a blog for the last 10 years, I'm a pretty private person when it comes to the interwebs. I post a handful of pictures to Facebook a few times a year. I never update my status. I don't like the thought of living that loudly, I guess, and the attention that comes from doing so doesn't feel good enough to get me to stray from my comfort zone. I sleep just fine without having my dad's cousin tell me how great my hair looks, thankyouverymuch.

I thought that, because I'm not a Facebook junkie, that I would escape from being nominated to dump a bucket of ice water over my head. A well-meaning soccer teammate nominated me yesterday.

It's not that I'm too good for this, it's just that donating my time or my resources to a reputable organization of my choosing -- and doing it privately -- is much more my thing.

I considered just ignoring it but, instead, I posted a compromise.

The donation to the ALS Association was mainly to play along; I donated much more to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. (If you haven't been reading for years: Type 1 diabetes is what killed my aunt.)

Before you think that I'm writing this because I want you to think that I'm a saint: I absolutely used my knee injury as a weak excuse for my non-compliance ("I've had enough quality time with ice over the last 5 weeks") to the ceremonial dumping of the ice bucket.

And you know what? I don't even feel bad about it.

*Actually, I don't.
**Nope. Not this, either. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

About an email

Mondays call for a cup of good Canadian coffee and I am apparently not the only one who feels that way: the line at Tim Horton's this morning was epic.

I passed time as we do: trolling around on my phone. Deleting emailed job postings, updates from eHarmony that remind me that I am supposed to build my days around answering queries from strangers, coupons before I can get properly tempted.

And then, an email from C.

The American guy from Brazil.

The engaged American guy from Brazil.

I hadn't heard from him since the night of the World Cup final. Which was also the night I found out that he was engaged.

Which is also the night that I decided to let the whole thing go. 

The tournament -- what we had in common -- was over. There was no longer a reason to email or text or call.

And there was especially no reason to email or text or call some other girl's fiancé. I am not that girl.

It was a little sad, knowing that I would likely never see or hear from C again. But that's how it happens when you meet on vacation, isn't it? You go back to real life. You go back to work. You go back to your fiancée.

Knowing that he was engaged and never mentioned it made dropping the whole thing easier. There was no temptation. There was no way. That door was closed. And the dude standing behind it was shady, anyway.

So certain I was that I would never hear from C again that his email this morning -- all of a sentence or two, all of it meaningless nonsense -- nearly knocked me over.

So much for certainty.

I would now like to predict that today's email is the last that I hear from C. I'm sure of it.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A blessing and a curse

Best part about moving to my condo: my 5-minute commute.

Worst part about moving to my condo: my 5-minute commute.

Instead of using the shorter commute to my advantage and get to work a little earlier every morning, I mainly just use it as a reason to sit around home in my pajamas for as long as humanly possible each morning. I arrive at the same time that I used to.

If not a little bit later.

Okay, usually a little bit later.

Really, if I'm going to slide in to work as late as I do, I should just sleep in. But I don't. I get up at a respectable time. And then I make a cup of coffee and do absolutely nothing to get ready for work. Sometimes I'll put in a load of laundry. I've made a batch of cookies. I worked on my secret house project. I'll use the time to finish up a book or pay a few bills. I've blogged. This week, I've been tackling my eHarmonizing in the morning hours. But getting up and getting ready like a normal person? Totally out of the question. I've lived in my condo for all of six weeks and I have already lost the ability to function like a normal human being.

It's pretty awesome.

But I am mildly afraid that the awesomeness of the 5-minute commute and the glorious freedom that is being the boss will make me never want to leave this job, when really I should start looking to move on and move up as soon as my pension is vested. I fear being the last boss of this place, who didn't leave until she was forced out after 40some years. I don't want to get too comfortable.

But it is going to be a sad day when I break free of these golden handcuffs for a job where I won't be able to stay in my pajamas until nearly 9:00 am or go home at lunchtime and watch an episode of The Mindy Project.

It's a hard life, you guys.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Knee Brace: Day 7

I have been a very good patient. Despite my initial plan to continue to play soccer despite the doctor's orders, my sister made a comment that set me straight and I have been compliant. 

I wear my knee brace every day. It looks awesome with shorts. It looks equally awesome under the one pair of work pants that I can fit it underneath. 

I got the okay from my doctor to do a bit of running on the treadmill. I took my knee brace for its first spin around the gym on Monday evening. It was hard and awful. I should probably go back and try again. 

I am rapidly running out of time to register for the half marathon that I have enjoyed running over the past four years. I don't have another appointment until after the registration deadline. My knee doesn't feel great. I'm not going to have much time to train. 

And I feel like I'm going to be really, really, really bummed to sit this one out. 

And really, really, really bummed to register and be unable to race. 

On Sunday, my soccer team plays for our league championship. I will show up to watch. What great fun.

Basically the only good thing that has come to this is that Lucy's husband Chet sings me George Michael's "Never Gonna Dance Again" every time he sees me. I do love me a good serenade from a married man. 

Other than that, this is basically the worst.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Being Auntie

Lucy and her husband, Chet, closed on their new house this week. It's a lot of house but it will be great for them. And, selfishly, it is blissfully close to my house and has a beautiful finished basement that would be perfect for housing a spinster aunt in 30 or so years.

They have more wallpaper to strip than they know what to do with, so my mom and I took Lucy's boys on Friday afternoon.

The boys were the sweetest and my mom was over the moon. She's never said a word about not being a grandmother but I absolutely feel guilty for making her wait. But such is life.

We started with fishing off of the dock. By fishing, I mean the boys each had a fishing net: Baby A (age: 2.5) caught some pool toys and Baby L (age: 13 months) waved it around for a few minutes. Then a small dead fish bobbed on by and my mother swept it over to where Baby A was fishing and he caught a real, (formerly) live fish and he nearly burst open he was so excited. As disgusting as that was. 

We dug in the sand and we went on the boat, where Baby A turned the steering wheel and pressed buttons and otherwise captained the ship (which was moored to the dock).

They met a neighbor, who saw the little guys and came down to see what fun we were having and to remark, "so, Aly, this is how behind you are?"

She's a very blunt woman.

Mom and I took the boys back to the house, fed them dinner and gave them both a bath. Lucy had packed them changes of clothes but, because shopping for the boys is my mom's #1 hobby, she had a set of new pajamas for each of them. 

Lucy and I had traded cars so that I could just drive the boys home. They were both getting tired and Baby A suddenly realized (four hours later) that his mom was gone and sadly remarked, every 30 seconds, "Momma. A's momma" during our entire drive home.

And then we got to their house and Lucy wasn't home yet.

This was how I felt:

Luckily I have a key. Luckily the boys were happy to be home and didn't seem to notice that their mom, their dad and their dog weren't there.

Turns out that Lucy thought that I was bringing the boys to the new house and I brought them to their old house (it was bedtime, after all!) so we killed more time playing in the living room.

Baby L absolutely loves books and he kept toddling over with a book in his hands and ploping into my lap. It made me want to kidnap him and keep him as my own. With each book, Baby A announced "Auntie bring that book! Auntie Pie bring that book from the li-BRARY." and then I wanted to kidnap him, too.

But Lucy came home before I had time to formulate a kidnapping plan so I went back to my condo, instead, where I slept as though I had not for months.

Babies are hard.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Enough with the email

On Tuesday, my guardian angel of eHarmonizing and I finished all 9,253 questions on their questionnaire/personality test/torture advice. I complained about, oh, every question except the one that asked my height.

But I finished and that's all that matters. We picked out a couple of decent pictures the next day and, while I wasn't really ready to go, eHar was taking off my training wheels and: the emails. Oh my goodness. The emails.

That devil of a website has sent me over 100 emails since Wednesday. This dude wants to get to know you. This dude sent you more f'ing questions. Give us money so you can see what these turds look like. Over and over and over.

It was enough to make me quit entirely. I started flushing them all into a special folder, unopened. I do not like being overwhelmed. I also do not like being excessively emailed. Or reminded that I'm doing this in the first place. Give me some space!

It took me a few more days, and a coupon code, to actually sign up. To just use the service for a month is, like, more than the cost of my gym membership. Whatev, eHar. My gym has a steam room and yoga classes. eHar clearlys want you to sign up for a multi-month package, the prices are way less stupid, and I decided that I could commit to three months.

Six months is their shortest package. (24 months is the longest which seems...mildly hopeless.) And that annoyed me so I put it off a little bit longer.

And then I got an email yesterday for a three-month package at at the price of a one-month package and I was like "OKAY. FINE."

I logged in and gave them my credit card information (automatically renewing, someone remind me of this come November 15).

Then immediately changed my email settings.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


30 days since injuring my knee, I finally, finally, finally had my doctor's appointment.

A partial tear of my lateral collateral ligament. (Exactly what my sister, Meg, thought it would be.)

No soccer for the time being, which is a horrible disappointment. I am getting fitted for one of those horrendous hinged braces this afternoon, which is equally disappointing. 

When I told my sister (who is a physical therapist) that I wasn't supposed to play soccer, I really thought I would get the "oh, you can play, just be careful" response. Advice which was going to usurp the advice my doctor had given me. But instead Meg said, all professional-like "you just need to let it heal. It takes as long as it takes."  

With two professionals telling me to give it a rest, I guess I'm giving it a rest. But only from soccer. I got the okay to try running in my sweet new brace, which means that it's time to give serious thought to whether or not I'm up for cramming in enough training to run a half-marathon in October.  

I was really hoping that I had just imagined my injury. So much for that. 

It could be much worse; I will refrain from complaining further.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Just browsing

My cousin, Emma, leaves today for New England. She starts grad school in a few weeks.

With a level of drama expected for anything that includes both Emma and my sister, Meg, we arranged to go to dinner last night to celebrate her big move. After far too many changes of plans, irritations, weather-related delays and the like, Emma decided that she wanted to go to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

Oh, the Cheesecake Factory. The one in the area has only been open for six months, so it is still laughably busy. I wasn't exactly surprised when I was told that our wait could be as long as two hours and I probably should have ditched my mom and my grandma (my partners in waiting out the line) and arrived extra-early to put our names for a table but I am so over being the ringleader for every single little thing I do with a group of people. So I just told my mom to pick me up at work when they were ready to go.

It was almost 7:00 when we arrived. There were six in our group. I wanted nothing to do with waiting two hours for dinner but Meg and Emma were at least an hour away and I didn't have it in me to change Emma's mind.

And anyway, I had a plan.

Sur La Table is just around the corner from the restaurant and I was quite certain that neither my mother nor my grandmother had ever been inside. Or even knew that such a store existed. (Grandma despises the mall; Mom is never in that particular corner.) As I come from a long line of housewares junkies, I was certain that a stroll through the store would help kill a bit of the long wait.

We weren't seated for 90 minutes, every second of which my mom and grandma and I spent touching approximately every item that Sur La Table had on the sales floor. They had something to say about each and every thing, too: how clever it was or how unnecessary or how they had one that was older/better/worse/different/comparable.

It was oddly enjoyable. I guess maybe it's because that domesticity gene that Grandma passed along to us is so strong. She loves that stuff. My mom loves that stuff. I love that stuff.

In the midst of a couple of weeks where I've felt so out of sorts, it felt positively luxurious to have the time to share an experience and an interest with two of my absolute favorite people in all of the world, even if all it was is a slow crawl through the entire inventory of a mall store. 

I feel a lot better today and I think it had something to do with all of the pie-baking supplies. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

About Soccer

Yesterday was my very last game in my Sunday summer soccer session.

I play in another league into the fall, but Sunday summer soccer is my absolute favorite. I love my teammates. I love that we get to play outdoors. I love that we have cute jerseys. I love that I can still hang with 18-year-olds who play college soccer. (I don't love doing the math and realizing that I'm quite nearly biologically old enough to be their mothers.)

That Sunday summer soccer is the soccer that I grew up playing. It's soccer for the sake of soccer, not for socializing, not for fun or for exercise. It's just pure soccer and it just kills me that we only play a few months out of the year.

Yesterday, I needed soccer because the three hours that I played were the only three hours in the day when I wasn't restless and irritated and completely stuck in my head. I played soccer and I felt like myself. I shook off everything that I'm carrying around for a few hours. I needed the break. I needed the exercise, too. (I forget sometimes that I'm pretty anxious if I'm not getting in a regular workout.)

It probably seems silly, this love affair that I have with this sport. I'm 31. There are more important things. I get why people think that way.

But I also can't understand why they don't feel the same.

Just last week, an acquaintance who is about to be a step-mom to a 7-year-old girl emailed me about finding a soccer league for the daughter to join. I stopped what I was doing and immediately sat down at my computer to search out what they were looking for. I sent her a list of options. The acquaintance didn't grow up playing a team sport and I'm not sure she has any idea how defining that participation can be and, though I resisted the urge to preach ("it's not about the sport," I can picture myself writing. "It's so much more than that.") I gave her more options than probably necessary. Because I think it's so important. I think it's so, so important.  

Along with the abundance of soccer information, I sent along links to Girls on the Run, which is a very sweet rah-rah girl power running program, and the local girls hockey program that I also know to be very empowering. Because it isn't about the sport. I don't care what that girl, who I've never even met, does. But I care that she does something. I care that every girl, every kid does something, be it soccer or hockey or cross country or figure skating or golf.

Because sometimes you grow up and you find out that you need teammates. Or you need a reason to exercise. Or you need three hours on a Sunday to temporarily lose what's weighing you down.

I simply cannot imagine my life without it. I can't picture myself without it.

It's just a sport. But it's also not just a sport.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Everything, everyone

I am not in the best place right now.

And I don't really know why.

Usually, when I'm in a strop, it's about something specific (ahem, boysworkfamily) and I let it spill over into everything until I'm a miserable hot mess and I can't even stand to be around myself.

Except right now my something specific is: everything, everyone.

I always know I'm in a really foul mood if I'm irritated with my best friend, Lucy. And if I can't blog. And when I aggressively delete photos from my phone. And when doing nothing sounds as awful as doing something (anything). And being alone is as unappealing as being around anyone else. All of which: yes.

It wasn't even a bad weekend. It was actually pretty decent if you overlook the black cloud. I got a lot of stuff done. I started watching the Mindy Project. I played a few soccer games. My big secret project (no, not the eHarmonizing) is 95% complete. I ate a Snickers ice cream bar.

But I'm basically just not any fun right now.

Keep your distance, friends. I'm afraid this is contagious.

Friday, August 08, 2014

The beginning of the end

Confession: I just downloaded my grocery store's app.

So, this is middle age.

What's the most embarrassing app on your phone?

Thursday, August 07, 2014

This, that, here, there

I suspect that my knee is getting better. And now I begin questioning whether or not I should cancel the doctor's appointment that I made. A month ago.

I'm obsessively working on a project in my hallway. I promise to share when I'm done if you promise to cross your fingers that it doesn't turn out a complete disaster.

I am absolutely horrible at forgiving myself for making mistakes. Little mistakes. Yesterday, I put the wrong date in an email to my soccer team and I am completely mortified. Then I went home and accidentally took my neighbor's recycling bin to my garage and I am equally displeased with myself. As though either of these incidents matter.

I have been listed as an emergency contact for Lucy's sons. Does this mean that I'm a real grownup?

I apparently have no passions. Or no desire to write about them. After a week of disinterested plodding through multiple-choice questions, I have found myself at the essay portion of the eHarmonizing process. I hate it.

I have anxiety about my condo association's rules. Like, my dad stopped by yesterday and he probably shouldn't have parked where he parked and I just wanted him to move his car already but he wasn't getting the hint and it really wasn't a big deal so relaxing would have been a good idea but THE RULES.

I had a big, big victory at work this week. I received a few dozen congratulatory emails from all over the state. It almost makes the pain and preparation feel like it was worth it.  

I find that I am getting less and less tolerant of other people's bullshit. Specifically, my sister's. It's probably a good thing.

I made scones last weekend. They were delightful. I think that I will make them again this weekend.

I'm curious about what you guys have been up to. Don't be shy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Happy Election Day

Today is not a big election but, for me, it's a big election.

A really big election.

The Monday after I bought my condo, in early June, I registered to vote. And I thought I was so clever, sneaking in that purchase right before the big vote.

Being that my precinct is across the parking lot from where I work, being that it's raining and I broke my umbrella just after I got to work, I kept putting off taking the 11 minutes to run over and vote.

So, finally I did and I go to check in and they're like "did you register in time?" and I was like "hell yes I did!" and I whipped out my voter registration card. She looks at it and says "no, you didn't register until the 14th. You had to be registered by July 7th."

In my head I was all tough like, "oh hell yes I was registered by July 7th. That was a month after I bought the condo! You are wrong, girl! This can't be!"

And this is what I said: "Oh. Okay." I took my card back and then I started back towards work. In complete shock.

As I'm walking back to work, I start thinking about how they had needed to reprint my voter registration card because the original one got sent back. But, then, didn't someone give that original to me anyway?

I decided to go home and tear my place apart in search of the original voter registration card.

So I walked back into work and announced to my employees "I HAVE BEEN DISENFRANCHISED!" and told them that I would be running home to trash the place in search of that original voter registration card.

By the time that I walked through my building, out the staff door and reached my car, my phone was ringing. Just kidding! Our mistake! You can vote!

And vote I did.

But I was so frazzled that I didn't get even remember to grab my sticker.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Gratitude: July

  • The truth.
  • Perspective.
  • That life isn't a competition (even though it feels like it sometimes). 
  • Chocolate milk.   
  • After work dates at the beach with my best friend Lucy and her boys.
  • The many, many, many hours my mom has spent helping me with my condo.
  • That the way I eat when I am on a road trip is not the way I eat every day.
  • A 1.7 mile, 5 minute commute. 
  • Friends who know how and when to push me.
  • Plush, new towels. 
  • Sunday summer soccer season.
  • The cans of touch-up paint left behind by my condo's previous owner. 
  • Surprise carrot cake deliveries by my grandma. 
  • Making it through a whole year at my job.
  • Feeling settled in at my new place.
  • Specialty soccer socks that come with grips on the foot bed, despite their $40 price tag.
  • Windows-open, mild, sleeping-weather nights.
  • Having a good friend who is also a good locksmith.  
  • Kineseo tape.
  • A flexible work schedule.
  • The luxury and convenience that is leasing a new car without stepping foot in the dealership.
  • The fresh and clean and crisp and strangely pleasing smell of the aforementioned new car.
  • Grapefruit juice.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Here we go

I really, really hope that I am epically wrong about this. Because I do not want to do it. I don't.

All I've done is answer stupid questions and cry in my office, so I would say that it is going pretty well.

Send inspirational Pinterest graphics. Or alcohol. I hate this.
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