Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014

I went to Brazil.
I bought a condo.
I moved out of my cousin Liz's house.
I became addicted to a podcast.
I got a raise.
I didn't read enough.
I wrote about pie crust.
I saw Beyoncé and Jay Z in concert.
I got a new nickname.
I lost a boy who I never really had.
I threw a wedding shower.
I eHarmonized for a minute.
I went to the Kentucky Derby and didn't lose money.
I had a few scary moments with my grandpa.
I ran a half marathon.
I got a new car.
I turned 32.
I wrapped up the first year at my job. 
I blew out my knee.
I considered getting a dog.
I saw Motown the Musical.
I made some progress.
I had some setbacks.
I made it through.


Happy New Year, friends! 

Tradition

I'm just home from my traditional New Year's Eve massage.

May I suggest that you follow my lead? I am convinced that the New Year's Eve massage, which I started treating myself to 3 or 4 years ago, is one of the best things I have ever come up with. (All of that patting myself on my back gives me huge knots in my shoulders so: necessary!)

It really is a nice way to round out the year and it doesn't require coordinating with friends, a special outfit, cleaning your house or doing anything other than showing up.

The NYE massage leaves you with plenty of time for celebrating with your friends and family, wearing something fancy, hosting a party, doing your hair, drinking yourself silly. Whatever you want to do.

And if it all turns out horribly (we all know it happens), at least you can fall back on the knowledge that, earlier in the day, you had a massage.

It's basically guaranteeing that you win New Year's Eve. I highly recommend it.

Do you guys have any traditions -- New Year's Eve or otherwise -- that you highly recommend?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hail!

This is not a college football blog but please allow me (and Sabrina) one brief celebratory moment.

It was a long and painful football season for this UM alumna. Very long. Very painful. Crushing. Humiliating. Bad.

When I was a student (2000-04), I genuinely thought the football team wasn't that great. Mostly because they didn't win a national championship. Mostly because I only had one chance to rush the field after a big win. That's how high the expectations are for UM football.

It took a few recent, painful seasons to realize how good I had it.

Today, Jim Harbaugh was hired as the new coach at UM.

Everyone connected to the University -- students, fans, alumni -- is thrilled.

Christmas came a little late this year.

And our present came wrapped in khakis. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blogging & My Bad Attitude

I am still undecided on what to do about the current state of my blog.

My grandiose plan was to make the change (I have spent time trying to convince myself otherwise but staying completely the same is not feasible) by the new year, but I have not made a decision.

I find it terribly easy to avoid making a decision when my feet aren't being held to the fire.

My feet aren't being held to the fire. I have yet to experience any horrible fallout from the existence of this humble little blog, so I am mostly in denial.

In denial and so busy. So busy binge watching television shows* and feeling mildly blue and not going to the gym and sleeping really poorly. (I am certain all of these things and also my diet of 93% chocolate are not related.)

I need to get back to the gym, you guys. And stop this mild television addiction. And make a decision about my future as a blogger.

So many places in my life where I need to improve. Just in time for new year's resolutions. How terribly convenient!

Which reminds me that, in the ruckus that surrounded my sister finding out about my blog from a stranger on Thanksgiving morning, I never wrote a gratitude post. Here's what I was grateful for in November: the 10 years that my sibling didn't know about the blog that I didn't want her to know about.

Yep. Still a little bitter.

Anyway.

I promise plenty of warning before I vacate this space or lock it up behind a password.

And I promise a new attitude in the new year, too. I can't be the only one sick of Crabby Aly.



*Have I watched the entire series of Scandal, a season of The Americans and a season of Homeland since Thanksgiving? I have.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas: a poem

No
Not dead
Or missing
Haven't quit blogging
Yet

Busy
Busy
Busy busy busy

Celebrating,
Family time
And
Celebrating the end of family time

(I'm kidding
Mostly)

(I was irritable
A little
But I think I hid it
Fairly well)

As far as presents go
I did well
Giving
And receiving

I look forward to
Showing off
My new phone case
Very soon

Overall
The holiday was lovely
I'm still full
And just about
Ready
To leave for a party

My cousin Liz's

I don't really like her friends
They don't really like me

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Life Lesson

I'm good about not checking my work email when I'm at home. I only do it if I have a good reason. And usually that good reason is that I remember that I forgot to send something. It happens.

But my personal email is generally nothing but notes from my cousins, important communication with my blog friend/life adviser AM, the occasional recipe from Lucy, reminders of soccer games and dozens upon dozens of advertisements. I don't get emails that will ruffle my feathers so I don't avoid my inbox.

Except last night.

Last night, the last thing I did before I went to bed was check my email. In my inbox was an email from my Uncle Ed. My intense but well-meaning Uncle Ed. And in his email he bludgeoned me and my mother with suggestions about how to care for my grandfather. 

Basically, he wants to hire someone to come to Grandpa's house and force him to take his medication. Someone who my grandpa (and grandma) wouldn't let into the house anyway. Supposedly this will make us less of the "bad guy" when it comes to making Grandpa take his meds but, really, it just shifts the fight from being about medicine to being about the worker who administers the medicine.

Also, his refusal to take medicine is annoying, yes, (he implies that he's too good to take medicine which is extra insulting because he has two daughters who have had to take insulin shots for the majority of their lives) but not the biggest issue. It's really all just a matter of keeping him safe and relatively happy. 

I immediately forwarded the email to my sister, Meg, and to my best friend, Lucy, and then wished that I was a person who didn't check her generally innocuous email just before bedtime.

I slept horribly. 

My aunt and uncle mean well but they are so intense and so controlling. They push and push and push and push -- because they think they're pushing the right thing -- and it is exhausting. That's going to be one of the many hard parts as my grandparents continue to age: my aunt and uncle's involvement. 

The email was still bothering me this morning. (Which is something that I need to get over. Their intense brand of involvement is something that I just need to accept. I can't change them.) When I got in to work this morning, I called my mom. 

By 9:30 am, my uncle had already called my mom three times. Three times. She finally took his call on his third attempt and tried to talk him down. It sounds like she was mostly successful. She was in good spirits about it. I was already exhausted.

Just thinking about it -- what my grandpa will need, what my aunt and uncle will expect, what will be required of my mother -- it exhausts me.

Tossing and turning all night didn't help.

But now I've learned not to check my personal email at bedtime. Life lessons, my friends. Life is always full of lessons.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

I've been handled

I would tell you that I am not a television person but somehow I managed to start, and catch up on, the entirety of Scandal between Thanksgiving and this weekend (3.5 seasons) so perhaps I am mistaken. Maybe I really am a television person.

Or I am just a little obsessive. (I think you could make that case.)

Or I've just been a little blue. (I think you could make that case, too.)

I have read exactly zero books during that period of time. The amount of gym time that I have logged has been equally pathetic. I haven't had much going in terms of projects or the ridiculous business that sometimes invades my life.

I just haven't been much into anything since Thanksgiving. (Remember what happened on Thanksgiving?) I had a minute where I was pretty excited about Christmas, but that has passed, and now I'm sort of just looking forward to turning the calendar to January.

A fresh start.

And more episodes of Scandal.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Productivity Bus has stalled

It is a damn good thing that I spent last Sunday preparing for Christmas like I was the jolliest of Santa's elves because I have not done anything, not one thing, this week.

Unless you count eating all of the Christmas cookies that I made on Sunday. Because I totally did that. Or watching 92 episodes of Scandal because I did that, too.

My holiday steam? Lost it. Other than one gift that I must pick up (shopping this weekend should be enjoyable, no?), I am done. Not done as in finished with what I need to do so much as done, like, really over it.

I think maybe I hit my holiday quota and it just happened a little bit early this year, instead of at 2:00 pm on Christmas when I'm just sort of ready to go to bed until New Year's Day.

I'm ready to go to bed until New Year's Day now. 

The holiday will be lovely. And I will busy myself with other Christmas-y activities because it's expected of me and because my mother will need my help. I will wear my red wool Christmas coat. I will turn on my Christmas lights and wrap a few remaining presents and stop for a peppermint mocha at Starbucks.

I will go through the motions because that's what you do but I am kind of just done.

With the exception of making Hanukkah donuts with Lucy's boys tonight because: fried dough.

Fried dough forever. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

About Serial

Um, you guys? I need to tell you something important.

My Serial addiction has not lessened.

Here is an incomplete list of the people in my life who I have more or less forced to listen to Serial: my sister (who has turned two of her best friends into listeners), my mother, Lucy, our good friend Alon in Israel and my cousin Mara. Also my grandparents listened to the first seven or eight episodes on our trip to Chicago but I still need to get them caught up.

So, anyway. I remain addicted to a podcast*

A podcast that I know many of you are also addicted to. (Strength in numbers, my friends.)

A podcast that ends ON THURSDAY.

A podcast about a crime that I am still so undecided about. My opinion on Adnan's guilt/innocence changes every episode. Shit, it changes multiple times during every episode. AND WE WILL NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH.

Fellow listeners, please share your thoughts and your feelings.

Feed my addiction.




*Speaking of podcasts, Dear Sugar (easily one of my favorite things in all the world) has transformed into a podcast and I haven't listened yet but just knowing that it exists makes my heart so full. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Skating lesson

The highlight of my weekend was taking my friend Heather's daughter skating. She's a tiny little elf of a not-quite three year-old and she's been hellbent on learning how to skate since seeing the ice skating episode of Peppa Pig.

Heather deferred to me because she's pregnant and I'm a former skating coach. We've been planning the outing for a few weeks.

My protégé was quite the little trooper. I expected her to last 20 minutes. We skated for an hour and a half. I got her marching around a bit on her own -- she insisted that I yell "yaaaaaaaaay!" when she did -- but she loved when I pushed her around fast or carried her as I skated, too.

I am not in coaching shape, you guys. While in college, I was on the ice for 20 hours a week. 90 minutes of picking up and pushing around Heather's daughter nearly killed me. Back knots on knots on knots.

But totally worth it.

While preparing to get ready for Sunday's skating lesson, I discovered that my skates are missing. My ridiculously expensive, custom figure skates. I suspect that they didn't make it off of the moving truck in July and I am devastated.

They weren't my only figure skates (not to mention the two pair of hockey skates that I also own); the pair I wore were perfectly fine for coaching and tooling around in a circle but they were never quite the right pair for jumping and spinning. I retired them down to coaching skates pretty quickly. I'm glad I kept them around.

I didn't have any plans to get back into competitive figure skating anytime soon but this all but guarantees that I won't be getting back into competitive figure skating ever again.

I keep hoping that the duffel bag that they were stored in will turn up but I've all but dismantled my condo and my bedroom at my mom and dad's house with no luck. Liz couldn't find them at her house and, ugh, I hope they turn up eventually.

Even if I never skate again, I hope I find those damn skates. I hope it's soon. I am driving myself insane looking for them.

And I promised Heather's daughter that I'd take her skating again after Christmas. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Impulsively unsentimental

I am sentimental. About things. I am sentimental and my memory is sharp so I can look at something and recall a moment or a feeling or an event or an accomplish so clearly that I never want to get rid of it because of how easily that thing jogs my memory.

Ticket stubs. Clothes. Cards. Jewelry.

I am not a hoarder. Thankfully. I put meaning on few things. And none of those things are, like, my empty water bottles or every catalog I have ever received. My house isn't overtaken by things. But they're there. In a box. In a drawer. The things exist.

A few weeks ago -- the Sunday before Thanksgiving -- I was impulsively unsentimental.

It was late on Sunday night. It was cold and dreary and ugly. I was putting away laundry and, at the bottom of a drawer, were a few pieces of clothing that I had tucked away when I should have given them away.

My feelings on all of it had changed.

What was in the bottom of that drawer wasn't memories, it was clutter. It was taking up valuable space in my house and in my mind and in my heart and it needed to go. It needed to go right away.

Instead of being tossed amongst other things in my pile of things to donate, I got in my car, I drove to one of those not-actually-a-charity-but-posing-as-one donation bins that is a few blocks from my house and I dumped it. Gone. Out of sight. Out of mind. Out of my heart. Out of my life.

And I've done it a few times since then. I'll remember something as I'm getting ready for work in the morning and I'll run to wherever I've squirreled it away and it goes straight out to the garbage. I tear pages out of journals and destroy them.

I have no room. I have no space for it anymore. In my house. In my head. In my heart. 

I must be making room for something.

Or someone.

I wonder what.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Long week

I am restless this week. It is close enough to the holidays that I am not 100% present but far enough away that I really have no excuse for getting nothing done.

Yet I am getting nothing done.

It is Tuesday afternoon and my head is already halfway though Saturday. I am shopping for Christmas gifts and cleaning my bathroom. I am not at work.

But I am at work.

Making up for all of the time I spend thinking about work when I am at home.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Options

As I told you all last week, I have decided to keep my blog up and open through December 31. I still haven't decided anything beyond that.

I have options. It's nice to have options.

1. Turn my blog private. It's the easiest option. If you want to keep reading, you send me your email address and I forward you an invitation to read and we continue on as if nothing ever happened. Except that I lose that element where someone spontaneously stumbles across the blog and leaves a comment and then I start reading her blog and leaving comments and that's at least half of the fun of keeping a blog. Possibly 65%.   

2. Migrate over to WordPress. This would give me the option of making certain posts password protected without keeping the whole damn blog under lock and key. It would be open to new random readers while I could password protect important posts, restricting them to trusted, longtime readers. Important stuff, pictures, polls about the dress I should wear to the Kentucky Derby. (Again.) It would be a lot of upfront work but it probably wouldn't kill me.    

3. Start over. Brand new blog, brand new name, brand new appreciation for keeping certain things (like where I live and what I do and what my face looks like) quiet. Pro: I shed 10 years of history. Con: I shed 10 years of history. 

4. Quit entirely. I thought that was the only option that I wouldn't truly consider but it isn't. Not really blogging over the last 10 days has come easier than I thought it would. Maybe it's time to move on.

5. Give no fucks and stay the course. This is tempting, as it would require the least amount (read: no) work and I am generally a lazy person. But, considering that I'm working in a moderately public position that, if I stay in this industry, would likely become more public as I advance, I should do something. Having a stranger out my blog to my sister was one thing, getting called out in a public meeting about it would be something else entirely.

So, that's where I am. Lost in indecision.

I do plan on resuming somewhat normal* blogging shortly, but Christmas shopping and watching countless episodes of Scandal does not an interesting blog make.

*Normal for me. Not normal normal. 

Thursday, December 04, 2014

How about a list?

Alternate title for this entry: I Need a Break From Writing About Last Thursday

1. Serial: still obsessed
2. Scandal: were you wondering where I was and what I was up to in the blogless stretch of days following Thanksgiving? Watching Scandal. In my bed. I started the series just last week (I've been meaning to for months) and it has basically become a full-time job.
3. Christmas shopping: always a struggle.
4. Christmas everything else: I have decked the halls. I am feeling exceptionally merry. Smiling's my favorite.
5. Work: I am either killing it or I am a lazy slug and must force myself to work and there is nothing between these two extremes. Right now I'm killing it. Killing it always feels better.
6. Snacks: all the snacks, all the time.
7. My hair: looks exceptionally good today.
8. Remind me: to write about my recent, unusual lack of sentimentality.
9. Finally: read that F'book message from my mom's friend's son. As I had feared, he asked me out. As he probably expected on account of my not opening his message for three weeks, I politely declined. 
10. Curious: about what's happening in your lives. Any news to report, friends?

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

An Open Letter to My Sister

Hey, man.

If you haven't gone looking for my blog again after what happened on Thanksgiving, then we might not even be related. Or you got all of the self-restraint genes and I got all of the nosy ones.

But I expect that you're curious and I understand why.

I owe you an explanation. I got blindsided on Thursday morning and I handled it poorly and I'm really sorry.

I've been blogging for just short of an eternity. I started writing when I was just out of college and confused about being a grownup. I'm still confused about being a grownup and it turns out that I quite enjoy writing on a regular basis, so I've kept it up.

I call you Meg here. (You know why.)

I have written things that would piss you off. And make you laugh. I have written about little things that you would never remember and big stuff that you couldn't forget.

It's all here.

This blog was never meant to be read by you, our family, my friends. It was private. And public. (I recognize that is a massive contradiction.) You weren't supposed to find out from a stranger. You weren't supposed to find out at all. 

But you did.

Read if you want. I would prefer that don't but I will not stop you.

Because, as you're well aware, I have never been any good at telling you no. 



Team Fantastic forever. xoxo

Monday, December 01, 2014

It Finally Happened

It was after running our annual Thanksgiving race. I was tired, sweaty, hungry, 25 hours since my last cup of coffee, walking to my car, in the middle of a conversation with my sister, carrying a bag of coney dogs and completely unprepared.

And then an unfamiliar man comes up to me and says "YOU'RE SO MIDWESTERN!"

You guys: I have never said So Midwestern aloud. I have never heard it said aloud to me.

I do not have the ability to explain, after blogging for 10 years, how shocking it was to hear that. To be in that situation. To be sweaty and exhausted and caught completely off guard.

I couldn't have handled it any less eloquently.

The entire interaction essentially consisted of me standing in the middle of the sidewalk with my mouth hanging wide open and saying "wait? What? No."

What do you do? What do you say?

Because, if you weren't aware (and apparently some weren't because otherwise I wouldn't be in this situation), my sister didn't know about my blog.

It all happened really fast and I'm not sure I really even comprehended what was happening until we were walking away (it all went down in passing) and I was still shaking my head and, I don't know, maybe I thought that I would get a "oh, sorry, wrong person" but, no. No. I am not that lucky. "YOU'RE SO MIDWESTERN!" was followed up with "I read your blog! It's awesome!" (or something like that). So, instead of being able to pass it off as mistaken identity it was...right out there.

Thanks for the compliment, though.

We kept walking to the car and my sister is saying "So Midwestern! That's a good name for a blog. Do you have a blog? You must look like someone who has a blog called So Midwestern. We should look it up. I think we should make a cooking blog, with all of our cousins..." And I am shocked to the point that I can't even speak.  

It wasn't long into our drive home that my sister is on her phone, googling my blog. I could see it out of the corner of my eye and all I could do was ask her "can you just...not read that?" She asked why and I said it was because I didn't want her to and it was old (it's seriously good that I don't have a job that requires me to think/perform on my feet because it is obvious that it is not my #1 skill) and then babbled a bunch of other shit that didn't make sense.

Upon arriving home, I made the blog private and spent the weekend trying to figure out what to do.

I still don't know.

The damage is done. What happened changed everything. This space isn't what it was and it never will be. I don't know what's next.

I do know that I have spent enough time blogging that I don't want to disappear without any notice.

I'm going to give it until the end of the year. I will make a decision. I will make changes. I will write an epic poem about my retirement from blogging. I will do something.

In the meantime, I am just going to leave it all out here in the open.

I am not ashamed. This blog was never meant to be read by certain people but I am not ashamed.
   
But something has to change. I don't have a choice. This isn't optional, even if it's breaking my heart a little bit.

I probably have no right -- I knew the risks of writing a public blog -- but I feel like something was taken from me.

It's the end of an era, my friends. 
 
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