Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Nick and I both have a tendency to bring work worries home. We don't take the stress out on each other per se, but I cannot deny the taciturn coexistence that settles over the evening every now and then. Since work is so heavy during the week, we try to have fun once the weight lifts for the weekend. We schedule a few weekend getaways every year to enjoy life with each other—we went to Chicago last weekend.
We typically visit Chicago every year but missed the trip last year for some reason. (I think the problem was that we stayed in Schaumburg and got all snagged up in IKEA…I don't think we had much of a budget left to hit The Magnificent Mile!) I love going to Chicago for a couple days, but I'm always ready to come home. I can't live with that level of frenzy around the clock!
This year's trip was inspired by Elton John tickets. I think you probably know by now that I am a huge Elton John fan. Levon gives me chills every time I hear "He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas Day…" It holds a certain Cat's in the Cradle-esqueness for me…the reminder to pay attention to the important things before it's too late. Anyway, Nick brought it to my attention as soon as the tour stop in Madison was announced…despite the fact that he's rather indifferent to Sir Elton's music. That's love, folks.
He even took some video with his phone:
Since the concert was a Thursday night and I'm old (read: I need much more sleep to function), I scheduled vacation for the next day. I wanted the day off solely to sleep in, but the rest of the vacation day was going to be a bit of a waste…so why not go to Chicago for the weekend instead? Why not indeed.
Do you think I can link out to much more in this post? I think that's a sign of the ADD taking over, so I'll have to continue this story another day. For now, I can tell you that I absolutely loved seeing Elton John again…and I will go to his concerts as often as I can. I am so awed by his talent. If there was just one thing I would go back and change in my life, it would be that I give more of my young life to learning how to make music. Since I cannot go back, I deeply, deeply appreciate those who can.
Is it ever too late to learn?
Monday, March 26, 2012
What a lovely weekend we had in Chicago…I married such a nice guy. The night has slipped away from me, but I will be back to tell you more.
Monday, March 19, 2012
How many times has this happened now?—I walk into the store to buy one thing but leave with enough bags to fill the entire backseat of my car. The most absolutely sneaky trap is the grocery store. I seem to always shop when I'm either hungry or prone to the striking inspiration to create a new recipe—that one gallon of milk that I actually came for be damned!
Either of these maladies sends me on a bumblebee's journey crisscrossing through the store, and I notice so many other items that I didn't realize that I needed…and the need is so great at first glance that it really isn't even a decision point as to whether or not it ends up in the cart.
I know this about myself all too well and have major shopping cart avoidance issues (at least mono e mono…I do marginally better with supervision). When I shop alone, I completely bypass the cart corral and forge on with only my limbs and determination as my allies. I consider this a way to keep myself in check because I only have the two hands (and I am not terribly dextrous to begin with).
I find that the shortfall of hands and dexterity both fail to stem the bleeding as much as I had hoped. Instead of adhering to these limitations, I start using my armpits, hips, and elbows (and occasionally my chin and teeth) in addition to those two measly hands. I start waddling down the aisles making sure that I haven't missed anything I need, praying to make it to the checkout without dropping the bag of apples straddling my hip.
The high school students stocking the shelves stare at me and begin to ask questions. "Do you need a cart?" "Would you like me to get you a basket?" Really, they come up with the strangest questions…and even stranger are the ones they ask with their eyes: "Did you forget to take your meds?" and "What are you doing to those apples!?"
"No, I'm fine, but thank you!" I cheerily reply to the spoken questions. To the silent questions, I narrow my eyes to communicate, "Maybe." and "Leave the apples out of it!"
In the end, I save about five dollars per trip. I know, right? FIVE DOLLARS! Don't be jealous…I was born this awesome.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I've had to work today. I have more to do yet tonight…but as the work on my project involves coding, I need an intellectual reset. Any HTML tinkering that I might have to do to blog isn't real programming, so this counts as a suitable break.
I woke up with a raging headache—probably knowing what was in store for me today. I was having trouble debugging a long section of code because it was irksome staring at the computer screen when it felt like I needed to drill a hole in my skull to relieve some of the pressure.
So, I printed the bit problematic programming—about six pages— and wanted to tape the pages end-to-end to have one nice long string of gobbledegook to decipher. I placed the papers on the floor on the living room and set about lining them up to tape.
Do you have any concept how difficult a tiny project like this is when you're a perfectionist? After taking care to align two pages, often putting my face an inch or so from the seam to make sure it lined up along the entire eight-and-a-half inches, a pent up exhale would flutter my work askew.
I finally got the breathing thing figured out and was making good progress when Sophie decided that I was having fun without her: she wanted to play the game too. She always finds my frustration entertaining and does what she can to feed the fire. She lay in wait while I painstakingly matched one page to another. Finally happy to the millimeter with the placement, I slowly (so as not to disturb the air current) leaned back to grab the tape.
Just then, she burst from her crouched position and skidded across my line of printouts, sending them scattering. Rolling over in bliss, she looked back at me with her dazzled eyes as if to say, "Dude, let's do that again!"
Thursday, March 15, 2012
I tend to be a little snooty when it comes to cheese. I don't think I'm that insufferable, but I do have standards. Maybe it's the Wisconsinite in me, I don't know. Maybe it's that no self-respecting adult should be eating a food that comes wrapped in flimsy plastic1.
When I lived in North Carolina, a southern woman gave me some of her recipes for casseroles. I was appalled that so many of them called for processed cheese! What was wrong with these people? Didn't they know there was a whole world of cheese beyond "American singles" to explore? I hope I was able to hide my horrified expression before the woman noticed that I was glassy-eyed and headed toward shock.
Our refrigerator is almost always stocked with some form of legitimate cheese. Cheese makes everything better. Also, a blanket of sharply flavored cheese can really help to hide the taste of an otherwise unpalatable meal. In short, real cheese is the mythical pair of rose-colored glasses.
Sure, we had processed cheese singles at home when I was a kid. Would you like to know what we used them for? Well, I'm telling you anyway: we used them to get the dog to take her medicine. She never put it together that we folded the cheese to hide the pill. Instead, she was always giddy to be given a whole wad of cheese! There are times I miss the guileless trust of a dog—cats are often sardonic, hormonal teenagers who never mature out of it—but then I remember the non-discerning way that loveable mutt gobbled up that wad of yellow "gunk" (that, and the whole litter box conundrum). Sorry, pooch…you're just not snobbish enough for me.
So, just imagine my surprise when Nick requested fake cheese for his sandwiches. I curled my lip at it for weeks as I made lunches. Distracted one morning, I accidentally put a slice of
It's not like it actually tastes like cheese…more like a bland, thick spread of some sort. I'm still not happy about this development, and as soon as the fake cheese is gone, we are not replacing it: I'm pretty sure there isn't a way to doctor Kraft Singles into something more socially acceptable. If I had known that I would be susceptible to its charms, I never would have allowed it to flirt with me in the first place.
Given the title, I meant to work in something about Swiss cheese.
1 I have discovered that I have quite the complex about eating "childish" foods. I bought tater tots several months ago to make tater tot casserole. Well, I never got around to making the casserole, but I didn't want to be wasteful and toss the tots. But really! Tater tots!? At my age!?
I took out a portion of them when I was rolling cod in a blend of spices and rolled the tater tots in my "scampi-like" blend. I thought that maybe this would disguise them and throw out any flashbacks of the intimidating lunch lady who smote the ruins of overcooked potato pellets across our little red lunch trays. Nick's first reaction over my gourmet side dish? "What's the crap on the tater tots?"
Monday, March 12, 2012
First, there's a lot of back story to this that you should digest.
So, I was ecstatic when I discovered that most of my bras were way too big. Yay me! I'm feeling so much more comfortable in my body, even though I'm not all the way there yet.
I was sorting through my closet a few weeks ago to find the clothing I wanted to donate. I try to do this twice a year (when I switch out seasonal clothing). My guideline is fairly simple: I ask myself either , "Laura, have you worn this in the last year?" or "Laura, does this even fit?" The answer to either question, of course, is inversely related to the other question, "Laura, are you going to donate this?"
Honestly, you'd be amazed at how articulate I can be with myself when I get a truly rousing conversation going.
I wasn't so keen on donating the bras. I'd probably get that craggy-faced old man when I stopped by, and I am not sure which one of us would blush more as he itemized my donation. I carried down the clothing that didn't stand up to the inquisition and stumbled upon Nick in the living room. I had the bras in my hand, planning to throw them away, and I explained the situation and the blushing old man.
He was incredulous, knowing I was about to toss a small fortune in satin and lace. I watched him transform before my eyes, his face animating with excitement. "I'll take them in!" he cried. "AND I'LL GET A RECEIPT!"
Sunday, March 11, 2012
This is what happens when I'm giving more attention to the camera than I am to the fuzzy gray thing wrapped around my legs.
…so violent when she doesn't get her way…I think we'll be able to save the foot, thanks for the concern.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Today was a friend's last day at work, but not by choice. Since learning the news earlier in the week, I have been sad and angry…so angry. It's the line where business needs and personal feelings clash…the disarmament of each side understanding the other and knowing that neither can compromise. I hurt for her, but I would be remiss if I did not admit that I also hurt for me.
We have become very good friends through our working relationship. She has been a high point in my day: no matter how stressful the conversation or fruitless the argument, we could make each other laugh…often to tears. I do not want to lose the closeness we have, but I know how easily a bond can weaken once convenience fades.
Today was heavy. This morning she asked if I was willing to be a personal reference for her…and if I was, she asked that I email her my preferred name and telephone number. When I sent the information, I added an asterisk by my name and indicated below that I also go by Princess Awesome, instructing her to use whichever she prefers. I was happy that this made her laugh, but the laughter was bittersweet…a reminder of what was about to change.
In short, it will take work…especially since she lives an hour away. It's worthwhile work, don't get me wrong, but I seem to be struggling with balance lately.
I spent the afternoon with her after she turned in her security badge just before we left for her farewell lunch. I was impressed with her bubbly mood—I think we all managed to forget why we were gathered. She was driving me back to my car (I left it in the office parking ramp) just before 5:00 when she sighed, "I had so much fun today. It was a good last day."
She wouldn't hug me goodbye like she hugged everyone else who wished her well. She swiped at the air to stop me from coming any closer and said that she'd see me soon. I nodded, seeing the glassy reflection of her eyes. Today was her show, her rules. I climbed in my car and headed home. I really wasn't surprised when I walked in the door and received her sad message that after doing so well all day, she couldn't stop crying.
It's a strange sort of goodbye that I am struggling to articulate. I'm not trying to be melodramatic or maudlin, and I don't understand these awful feelings when there is nothing final about this goodbye. I can only surmise that it's a mix of many emotions that have whirled themselves into a storm. It's frustration, hurt, fear, sadness, some lingering anger…and underlying everything, a deep fatigue that I cannot joke away.
I have been listening to a lot of Train in recent days; I have always found personal truths in their lyrics. The Finish Line is one of the saddest and most beautiful songs they have ever released. The first time I listened to this song, I had to swallow back tears when Pat Monahan sang the final chorus:
When we learn how to fly, we forget to how walk
When we learn how to sing, we don't wanna hear each other talk
When we know what we want, we forget what we need
When you find who you are, you forget about me
Here we are at the finish line
I know what I want, but I often forget what I need. I have always had a certain level of pride in my ability to focus on a goal and drive forward without distraction…but I am frightened that the mere thought of needing to find more time to maintain a friendship stirs such anxiety. (I guess those blinders aren't all that worthy of my pride after all.) I don't like the person in the mirror very much right now…but I'm working on her. My friend is definitely worth the work. Balance…
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The things that come out of Nick's mouth…you can't just make this stuff up.
I was sitting on the couch all mopey because one of my favorite treats had betrayed me. Nick walked in from work and sat on the couch to give me a kiss. Understanding my misery, he gestured toward the pantry to suggest that I comfort myself with a replacement treat.
"Why don't you have some Cheerios? No, not Cheerios. Have some Fritos. No, not Fritos. Hmm." He was spinning his tires, and his face looked pinched as he tried to do a mind-meld with the pantry before locking me in an intense stare. "Crunchy. Orange."
"Cheetos?" I offered.
"That's the one! See? We're perfect for each other."
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I have a fairly healthy diet for the most part, but I do allow myself a dalliance now and then. Particularly at this time of year, many of my friends happen to know that I'm a sucker for those Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. Sources say that Reese's products in general may be an acknowledged weakness. The eggs, however, are extra satisfying in my book.
Since many of my friends have working knowledge of this information (and because I am friends with very nice people), I often find treats left at my desk this time of year. They (the eggs) greet me when I arrive in the morning. Nick brought home a package of them when he stopped at the grocery store last week. Word is out…people know. I typically stockpile the treats at work to carry me through the non-egg season, and I started restocking my stash just last week (I did not budget very well last year).
After dinner last Sunday, I allowed myself dessert. Less than 30 minutes later, I had intense stomach pains and became very ill. I thought it was either a reaction to dinner (leftovers) or that stomach bug that seems to be hitting everybody. I felt all better in the morning: neither breakfast nor lunch caused even the slightest upset. That afternoon, I shared an egg with a dear friend of mine who found out last week that her job was part of the budget cuts announced company-wide. It was bummer news that warranted an egg.
Less than 30 minutes later, my stomach started cramping. Sigh.
After work, I admitted my suspicions
Telling myself that perhaps I did have that stomach bug that everybody seems to be getting, I tried one more egg today. What was it that Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results? Yeah, well…that dude was SMART. The experiment felt pretty rotten less than 30 minutes later.
I know how the story goes from here. I've had to give up a lot of different foods (as does anyone with any sort of IBD) over the years as this happens. It's just that, well, I've never had to give up anything so dear before. It's one of the few foods left in my diet with which I have an emotional connection.
I'll give it some time and let my heart heal. Then I'll get back up on the horse…maybe put an ad in the paper:
Grouchy female tired of saltine crackers seeking chow that'll cheer.
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