Wednesday, April 29, 2015


When I comes to home improvement projects, I am neither skilled nor creative. Mostly I'm afraid of botching a project so badly that I leave it worse than I found it. If it wasn't for my mother pushing me here and there, I wouldn't try anything on my own.

Except when I recently stained my bathroom vanity. When I was bored in the hotel room during my recent trip to Wisconsin, I started investigating what I could do with my builder grade 1980s cabinets and, on a whim, I ordered a can of gel stain.

After it arrived, I found a bit of bravery, followed a tutorial I found via Pinterest and, 10 days, a lot of drying time and a bit of patience later, I'm pretty happy with the results.

(Which Brady insisted on modeling. It probably looked like I posed these pictures but my little stalker dog really demands being that close to me every second of every day.) 

Mom and I also swapped out the light fixture and the towel bar -- which I neglected to take pictures of so just trust me when I tell you both were huge improvements -- and I'm in the process of framing the mirror with wood that's stained the same shade of espresso. Which is a project that requires a miter box. I mean, really. Who am I?

It isn't a forever fix but it buys me some time to decide if I really want to invest in completely remodeling the bathroom. It will need it, eventually, but I would like to get a better feel of how long I'm going to stay in my condo before embarking on that sort of a project.

And for now, I'm considering staining my kitchen cabinets the same color. It was that easy. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Getting off the Struggle Bus

I injured my knee last July and I have just struggled and struggled and struggled to get back from injury and into a regular workout routine. 

I fell out of the habit because, well, I was injured. And then I was busy with physical therapy. I got back on track for a short while towards the end of the year. Then there were the holidays and the six weeks in which I was maybe a little depressed and decided to spend most of my free time in bed, watching every episode of Scandal. Then I got a dog who doesn't like to be left alone.

I am going on practically a year of having a really hard time prioritizing and motivating myself to work out. And I have always been so good. It's always come so easily to me. 

Until Sunday, I hadn't gone on a run in 2015. It's the end of April, you guys.

Last week, I subbed for my soccer team (I took the spring session off in hopes that it would free me up to get to the gym but that plan failed miserably) and it. was. so. hard. 

I have rarely struggled with my fitness level at soccer. But my lungs were burning. It was a very big, very loud wake up call. My summer season of soccer starts in a month. It's time to get serious.

Since that soccer game, I've been on a few runs and I swear that I already feel better. My body feels more like my own, rather than this soft awkward thing I've been lumbering around in since July. 

I hate that getting back into game shape is going to be such a process -- I'm usually already there and, damn, my life is easier for it -- but this ordeal is probably a good experience. Now I know what it's like to get really out of shape. Hopefully it's enough to keep me from doing it again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

This Weekend

I made a quiche.
I wore a new shirt.
I packed for Kentucky.
I had waffles.
I caught up on this week's Scandal episode.
I drank a hot toddy.
I plugged away at a humble little home improvement project.
I made an appointment to get my hair cut.
I turned down an invitation from Alexander.
I shopped for baby clothes.
I ate a lot of shortbread.
I watched the Bruce Jenner interview.
I took Brady to the dog park. Twice.
I ate too much at a Brazilian steakhouse.
I meant to blog but never did.
I finally got to the gym.
I took a cooking class.
I went to Tim Horton's.
I did laundry.
I didn't relax much.
I definitely didn't get enough sleep.
Friday night was probably my favorite.
It was a good weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Drama Continues

Since my last post about Brady's separation anxiety he's made a tiny bit of progress. I continue to purchase every product that claims to help with separation anxiety that I can find on the internet. My latest buys include:
  • A new pheromone collar.
  • A pheromone diffuser.
  • Calming chews.
None of which are probably making any difference. It's hard to tell. I leave and he inevitably barks. And it is, like, the saddest and most pathetic howling bark I have ever heard. The sound of it makes me want to sit on my front porch and cry.

I really just want him to be able to stay alone and not be so scared and anxious. It's killing me that I can't communicate (or find the right product to communicate) to him that he is safe and loved and that I'm always going to come back. It's also killing my pocketbook.

I'm just trying to be consistent and to not get too frustrated. I'm trying every suggestion that the trainer at our obedience class has given me. I'm not giving up -- though some days I absolutely want to -- and I regularly remind myself that it takes some dogs an entire year to get settled in a new homes.

This dog is going to be able to stay alone, in his crate, at his home if it kills me.

To practice being in the house by himself, every morning, Brady stays alone for a half-hour. I do the whole routine -- special shirt, Xanax, extra-great toy stuffed with extra-delicious food for distraction/entertainment, radio on, fingers crossed -- and I sneak out of the house.

Let me tell you: you can't get anything done in a half-hour.

I've been frequenting Tim Horton's. I order a coffee, read a few chapters of a book or scroll through Twitter. Or I go to Target and try not to buy anything. I get gas in my car. I run to the bank. Today I stopped by Home Depot (I'm contemplating a kitchen project) and, fact: everyone at Home Depot is extra nice when you're all dressed up for work and looking entirely out of place.

And then I turn around and go back home and rescue my poor pooch from the disgrace of my abandonment, drive him to my mom and dad's house and leave him there for the duration of the workday.

It's a lot of running around for first thing every morning. But whatever. Anything for the end goal.

In other news, I am completely convinced that I am going to meet my next great love interest at the dog park. And that is how Brady will repay me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Helpful (but not too helpful)

Things with my grandpa are hard and they will only get harder.

My mom is the only one of her siblings who is truly able to help. Her sister lives in Chicago; my uncle is out of the picture.

I struggle with how much I should pitch in because I don't want to be overbearing  (you know that person who is being really helpful so that they can control the situation? I don't want to be that person) and because I don't want my sister and my father to get off without doing their part.

Late last week, I made a few calls to caregiving organizations. My mom didn't ask me to but the idea of hiring someone to do some companion care and driving had been brought up a few times and looking into it seemed to be something that I could to do help. I called, got a little information, passed it along and left it at that. She hasn't done anything with it and that's fine. I think it would be awesome and I wish they would just try it but it doesn't have to happen right away. I'm not trying to push; I'm trying to help.

I did the same thing a few weeks ago with boats. We're trying to find something smaller -- much smaller (his current boat is nearly 40 feet long) -- that he could fix up in the driveway of their house. I scoured Craigslist for boats, passed along the information to Mom and Grandma and let it be.

On Sunday, after my mom mentioned needing a schedule for calls to check in on my grandparents, I finally went ahead and did it. I googled around until I found a website that would fit our situation (I knew there had to be something out there), I invited my immediate family, my aunt and uncle in Chicago and my cousins in Maine and New York and Chicago.

What I was asking for was someone to volunteer to call and check in on my grandparents on a daily basis so that my mother doesn't always feel like she needs to. My grandpa loves to talk, too, so entertaining him for 20 minutes so that my grandma doesn't need to is a bonus.

I was nervous sending out the invite because, you know, family dynamics and all that. These things can be sensitive and my aunt and uncle are control freaks and I didn't want to come across like I was telling anyone what to do. I framed it like hey, we're all really good about calling but this way we know that someone is calling every single day.

The reception to the sign-up system was surprisingly positive. I'm glad I went ahead with it but I am quite certain that, one of these times, I am going to do something that I perceive as being helpful and it's going to blow up in my face.

It's messy, all of this family stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Lucy and I spent all of last week exchanging emails on a very important subject: Derby food. More specifically: who was buying what of our favorite junk food. This includes, but is not limited to, the following delicacies.

 Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos.

Mini Brie Bites from Trader Joe's.

Skim lattes from Starbucks (to power us through the drive to Kentucky).

And assorted gummy candies.

On Friday night, we were being wild and adventurous and spent our Friday night in. Once her boys went up to bed, we broke out the hot glue gun and chatted while we created the magic that is the Derby hat.

"You realize," Lucy said, as she sewed ribbon around her hat, "that we are two weeks out and we have every single meal planned?"

I had booked all of our dinner reservations months ago.

She had called and ordered us box lunches. (Fun fact: you can bring in lunch to the Derby and it's much tastier.)

We would have breakfast at the hotel and pick up coffee and donuts at our favorite bakery on the way to the racetrack. 

And we spent the week meticulously planning all of the extras.  

Yep. We were definitely two weeks out and had every meal planned out and it's basically a miracle that neither of us has gone online to browse menus and choose what we're going to order at each of our dinners.

We might have a problem.

But, speaking of the hats...


Saturday, April 18, 2015


  • If I had known that working in a sport would ruin it for me forever, I wouldn't have been so hell-bent on doing it.
  • If I don't get to the grocery store soon, I'm going to have to live on saltine crackers, leftover Easter candy and rice.
  • If I have a little time tomorrow, I am going to start reading The Girl on a Train.
  • If I had known that Brady was such a nervous dog, I would have been less of a nervous person.
  • If I had known how poorly things were going to turn out with The Coach, I probably would have done it all anyway.
  • If everything goes according to plan, I will take a few days off of work at the end of May to help my mom after her knee-replacement surgery.
  • If I find a little time, I'm going to stain my kitchen cabinets. 
  • If I knew how to help my cousin Danielle, who is bipolar, I would do it. 
  • If I know what's good for me, I will let someone else coordinate this year's Mother's Day brunch. 
  • If I had cable television, I would never get anything done.
  • If my hat is any indication, I am going to win my fortune at the Kentucky Derby.
  • If I don't wash my hair soon, I will have dreadlocks.
  • If I get my way, I will be going to Russia in 2018.
  • If I'm being perfectly honest, I would admit that I cringe every time Alexander texts me.
  • If I collected all of the Brady hair that I vacuum up over the course of a week, I could make a life-sized replica Brady statue. 
  • If I don't get back to running soon, I very well may forget how. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


The weather here in the southeastern part of the mitten is finally decent and, my goodness, the difference it makes. I am walking around positively giddy simply because I don't need to wear my winter coat. And don't even get me started on the joy that I feel when I leave work and it isn't dark outside.

I don't know what I'm going to do when the weather really turns. I think one day I am going to be able to wear a dress without tights and I might just explode into a cloud of glitter.

Here is a positive of living in a place that features a season of shitty weather: when the weather is finally not shitty, you feel very joyful. You can't get that feeling living somewhere where the weather is beautiful year-round!

Owning a dog is easier when it's nice out. I mean, I already sort of knew that but it was very obvious last Saturday morning when Brady and I lounged on the deck. I enjoyed a cup of coffee and the book that I was finishing up (Lean In, making me officially the last human on earth to have read it) and he enjoyed the sunshine and the smell of the spring air. It was all a little perfect.

Spring, you're on my good list. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Doing My Part

When we were kids, my mom would always remind my sister, Meg, and me that our family was a unit that required our participation.

If we were being lazy or giving her flak about making our beds or doing the dishes or putting away our clean clothes, she would always feed us the same line. No yelling. No threats. Just this: "these are the things you do when you're part of a family," she would tell us. "Don't you want to be part of our family?"

It was seriously annoying at the time.

And now that I get it, it's seriously annoying in its own way. You know, the Mom's always right way.

Things with my grandpa have really started to go downhill fast. It seems like everything that could go wrong, lately, is. My mom is the only one of their children in the area (not counting my uncle who quit the family); everything is falling on her.

Correction: everything is falling on us. My immediate family.

My mom absolutely does the bulk of the work, but we are all very aware that helping is not optional.

Yesterday, as my dad and I rushed out the door to put out my grandpa's latest fire, I promised my mom that this was all okay. That we didn't mind. That she could sit this one out.

"This is what you have to do when you're part of a family," I told her.

And it's the damn truth.

Friday, April 10, 2015

A List

Things I would do if I was less scared or didn't need to sleep, a list

Complete that blog update/redesign that I committed to at Thanksgiving
Cut my hair into a bob
Quit Facebook
Learn to be more approachable
Run a marathon
Take a creative writing class
Care a little less
Dye my hair something other than this-used-to-be-my-natural-color blonde
Be more assertive
Watch Downton Abbey
Try out a really time-intensive, commitment-heavy diet
Write something worth publishing 
Remove the people from my life who need removing
Get passionately involved in a cause that I really believe in
Look people in the eye more
Accept less mediocrity
Really give learning to golf a go
Quit my gym
Install a backsplash in my kitchen
Always have a perfect manicure
Knit something that isn't a scarf
Unpack the boxes that have been neglected since I moved 9 months ago


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Spending Time

I am averaging one trip to the gym every week. I have taken exactly zero yoga classes this year despite it being a resolution.

Nothing about this arrangement is okay with me. I feel pretty awful pretty regularly.

I just don't have the time.

Not any time to spend outside of my house and away from my sweet nervous dog, anyway. 

(Things will get a little better once I get Brady all trained up and able to stay alone for, like, 60 whole minutes. We're making slow progress.)

(Things will also get a little better once I'm through an unexpected transition at work.) 

And if I feel like I don't have time to do something that I actually like and want to do, well, who knows when I will get back to eHarmonizing. Which I tried for the first time last fall and basically hated every second of while also feeling like, yeah, this is something I should be doing even though I don't want to do it.

It's like going to the dentist.

Except that you only have to go to the dentist twice a year and you have to log in a check your online dating website of choice, like, twice a day and instead of getting toothbrush at the end of an appointment you get your soul bludgeoned with stupidity.  

I wish this was easier for me.

I wish I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


Look what came in the mail today!

Derby tickets!

Dress: purchased.

Flowers: on hand.

Hat: en route.

Derby: less than four weeks away.

Monday, April 06, 2015


One of my favorite parts about blogging is that I am writing publicly, not in a notebook that I keep stashed under my bed, and that keeps me accountable.

Not that I think you guys are hanging on my every word or anything, but I wouldn't want to just disappear one day -- whereas any journal that I have ever kept is abandoned after a few weeks, only to be revisited in moments of extreme drama. Not that there is anything wrong with that type of cathartic journaling, but isn't exactly an accurate representation of my life.  

One of my least favorite parts about blogging is that I am writing publicly, not in a notebook that I keep stashed under my bed.

The longer I do this, the more times I am reminded that that a blog is not anonymous the hard and awkward way, the harder writing becomes. Especially since I don't like to tell just my own stories. I have written so much about my sister, my friends and my cousins because they are important to me. The volume I have written in the past makes it hard (and, to be honest, makes it feel a little wrong/disingenuous) not to update you guys on all of the funny/exciting/sad/monumental/interesting/trainwreck/notable things going on in their lives that aren't directly connected to me.

But this is my blog and my story, not theirs, and I am trying to respect that and remember that even though I want to tell you all about my sister's professional successes and post 94 pictures of Lucy's toddlers. Unless it's directly about me, I am attempting to bite my tongue.

Or, more accurately: halt my typing fingers.

Friday, April 03, 2015

My Velcro Dog

I have had Brady for two months and it turns out that the best thing in your life really can be the hardest thing in your life.

(Do I sound like a new mom? I feel like I sound like a new mom.)

We are still transitioning. Brady is a nervous creature (I suspect that he was not treated well in his previous home) and has separation anxiety and I am a nervous creature and his separation anxiety breaks my heart. But we're getting by.

His nervousness improves a little bit better every day. He is still easily startled and he follows me from room to room (we call him Velcro Dog) but he seems braver. I think that obedience class has a lot to do with that; he is starting to learn his boundaries and my expectations and it is making him more confident.

But the separation anxiety is TOUGH.

When I first got him: he stayed at Mom and Dad's house for the first couple of weeks when I was at work. He was already accustomed to spending time there and he would have the company of their dog, Elle. That worked okay.

Then: I made a few attempts over the course of one weekend to leave him alone at my condo for a short period of time. He barked the whole time. 

Which is never ideal but the barking is one thing if you live in a house and a completely other thing when you live in a condo and the three other families that live adjacent to you are also subject to the barking. Nobody complained but I don't want to be a bad neighbor. 

So: since I was going to dogsit for my parents in another week anyway, I decided he could stay at Mom and Dad's house for another week.

During dogsitting week at Mom and Dad's: I crate trained him. No issues. He loves his crate, which I had suspected that he would because he was already drawn to tight spaces, like underneath my kitchen table.

Continuing on: after Mom and Dad got back, I was determined that Brady would start staying at my condo. I planned to leave him alone for few hours on Monday. I pulled out all of the stops: crated him, wrapped him up in his little anxiety shirt that makes him look like a sausage, gave him a Xanax (prescribed by the vet), made him up a special treat that would entertain him for a while, turned on the radio, didn't make a big production about leaving. I am such a worrier but, for some reason, I was really convinced that this would work.


I asked my mom to check on him about an hour in. He was barking. I drove by a half-hour later: still barking. It took everything I had in me to leave him a little bit longer before rushing back home to find him still barking.

I didn't cry but I definitely wanted to. I'm so thankful that my parents are understanding and, quite frankly, happy to have Brady crated at their house for the time being.

But it can't be like this forever.

So we've been practicing. He goes in his crate. I give him a special treat. I hang out in another part of my house for a half hour or so.

Looking for additional suggestions or the magical cure, I vented to our trainer. I told her the whole story. Our conversation went something like this:
Her: "what about (insert suggestion here)?"
Me: "I already do that."
And that and that and that and that.

"I would rather not have to purchase and use every anti-anxiety product out there," I laughed. But of course I will. Brady is my dog. He isn't going anywhere. I will make the investments.

Next up is a Dog Appeasing Pheromone diffuser (although he already wears a collar that's infused with the pheromones that are supposed to make him feel more secure) and maybe some calming chews because I really hate the idea of giving him Xanax every damn day and, I don't know, maybe an appointment with an exorcist?

The trainer assures me that I am doing all of the right things and that I just need to give it more time and more practice.

Which I can do. Which I am doing.

While being completely paranoid that I am going to permanently scar the sensitive little guy.

I might need to dip into Brady's Xanax supply.
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