Sunday, November 29, 2009

dog #2

I couldn't concentrate in church today. On anything, that is, except the dog in front of me. It was a lab, in training to be a seeing eye dog. I love labs.



I've wanted a chocolate lab since I left home.



Honey, I know what I want for Christmas.



Don't get me wrong, I am happy with Tucker, but I want to get him a companion. And a dog that is my dog. Tucker is Steve's dog. They watch football together. Steve lets Tucker lick off his plate. If I'm at home alone with Tucker, he watches out the window for Steve's car.



I want a dog that thinks the world of me, too. I want to be the center of some dog's universe. I want to take my lab on nine mile runs with me. Tucker would never make it.



What do you think, honey? Hold off on kids and get me a chocolate lab? Our bed is big enough for another dog. Why else would we even need a king-size bed? You must have been thinking about this before we bought the furniture...weren't you?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Adventures at Chipotle & Qdoba

Steve and I stopped at Chipotle to grab dinner after doing our Christmas and grocery shopping. When I came out with Steve's piping hot burrito, our car wouldn't start. So I asked a stranger for help. Just a quick jump, we have the cables, you just need to keep your car running. He said no. Well, he said it was a rental car and he wasn't sure where everything was on it...and if you can imagine a human voice trailing off, imagine that now. What an asshole. Go home and watch tv with your hot burrito, you insensitive smurf of a man. And when I see your white Chrysler stalled on 680 in the snow, don't be surprised when I don't pull over to help you. Or if I yell out my window, "I thought it was a rental, prick!" and zoom by, because that would be more accurate. I love to have the last word.

Just before I gave up all faith in mankind, I decided to try again. After all, this next man exiting had held the door for me not five minutes earlier, so I knew he at least had manners. He said sure he would help, and within mere moments we were all on our way. Faith in humankind restored (at least for now).

Then we stopped at Qdoba for my dinner. I go to Qdoba quite frequently, and always go alone or with girls from work. So Jose jumped the gun by asking the man in front of me if we were together. Perhaps he wanted to be happy for me and think of me as someone other than a woman who enjoys her nachos in front of the tv with a Smirnoff in hand. Perhaps he wanted to think of me as having a relationship outside of the one I have with his staff. Of course, since he had asked if we were together, I had to scope out what this man looked like. He was about my age, maybe a couple years older, wearing a pretty ugly half-zip sweater (navy blue with orange and cream stripes around the cuffs and waist). He was taller and heavier than me, so admittedly, we did look like a match. I answered "no," that we weren't together. Jose gave me two dollars off my order. As a result? perhaps, quite possibly, most definitely.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas spirit

There are very few days each year any more exciting than the one where I pull out all my Christmas decorations.



I love wreaths. I have so many, this one had to be hung on the bathroom door.



I love pine garland with lights in it. I love personal stockings. Oh, how I love everything about Christmas!



Steve helped me trim the tree while Tucker laid on the couch pouting. He remembers being scolded the past three years for chewing up our ornaments. Hopefully this will be the year he finally learns. We say that every year.



Steve's favorite part is hanging our special ornaments (I call these the tacky ones).



I was so excited when my mom brought this wreath with her when she visited. I bought it last year at the Tacoma Mall and was bummed when I couldn't fit it in my suitcase.



My sister helped me last night with the more domestic things. These aren't natural for me, so I enlisted her help. She said it was actually quite simple. I'm more at ease with extension cords and pine garlands.



I love Christmas cards. I've been sending them out since I was 12 years old.



The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.



And here are the two men of my life. They make me so happy. Even happier than having a home to decorate. Enjoy this upcoming month and all the festivities!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

fog



Right near my work, there is a sod farm. One of the only farms left in Omaha, and it is under I-80 right near these large corporate buildings which house thousands of people. It offers serenity, peace of mind in a way no man-made lake or fountain can. Some mornings, when I'm driving in, this field is enveloped in fog. And I can't help but remember when I was.

I remember missing class because I couldn't get a ride back to my dorm from whichever stranger's house I had passed out in. Buying CDs I didn't like but wanted to make myself acquire the taste. Waking up Veteran's day 2004 and being scared shitless my gut intuition was right - that I really was pregnant.

There were a few moments of clarity when I asked myself what I was doing. But I left those questions unanswered. I didn't know there was a me - a person who, separated from influences, could stand alone. Once, I was driving home during those gray hours around 5am and thought of myself and if I was happy. And I forced myself to answer. Because I knew if I didn't, nothing would change.



Not still dark,
not yet light.
Not yet daytime,
not still night.

It's this blur of between -
this overcast haze,
when I can't see black or white,
just endless grays.

I question myself.

Then the moon disappears,
the sun takes charge,
and the light blinds
my discontentment.

After the night
darkens the sky
I forget my questions
and live like I have the answers.

It's not the black,
nor the white:
but those god damn grays
when I resurrect my own fight.

-December 18, 2005

Monday, November 23, 2009

half marathon



So it's official.

I'm running a half marathon. On January 17, 2010 I will run 13.1 miles in Phoenix, AZ. 21,097.5 meters. 20.96 kilometers. 13+7⁄64 miles. Wow. That sounds scary. I have registered online and bought my airline ticket. Now to train. Oh, to train. I'm a bit behind on that. In fact, I'm taking tonight off of running to do some things on the computer - like buy my ticket and blog.

Did you know the fastest man to run a half marathon ran it in under an hour? I hope to finish it somewhere less than three hours. Less than 2 1/2, preferably, but I don't think someone who hasn't trained is in any position to get greedy. The only thing encouraging me is the fact that last season on the Biggest Loser they all completed it and none of them died. OK, Ron almost did, but that's typical Ron. But they were all morbidly obese and I am just slightly overweight, so somehow I think I could do it. I will get a new battery for my iPod and put some kick ass tunes (Rihanna) on a playlist and run. Or jog.

Best part is - I'm going to see Marie. I love Marie. I am going to slow her down and infuriate her during the race, but afterward she will forgive me and we'll have a few drinks. We are texting each other excitedly right now about the trip details. She will pick me up at the Sky Harbor airport and we'll pick up right where we left off, as we always do. It's rare to find a friend where you have something to say to each other besides reminiscing about old times. I'm pumped. About all of it except the running.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

optimistic musings

Ah, the Christmas spirit. When I was young, it was wrapping presents and listening to Bing Crosby on our Grafonola and reading the Bernstein Bears' Christmas Tree over and over. And how I wish it was still that. Now it's drawing names and price ranges and checking off lists and coveting. Yes, coveting. So hard to shop for others without finding something for myself. Did I say hard? I meant impossible (yes, I got this season's Victoria's Secret catalog).

Sometimes I miss my childish innocence. When I didn't know that we were poor and thought my piano teacher really would love this plastic music note ornament that I pulled out of an 8-pack that cost $1. When caroling was festive, not corny. I believe back then I actually uttered the phrase, "reason for the season." Yikes. Scary how over the top I was then, but scarier still how cynical I've become.

Adulthood changes us - sometimes slowly, in my case, rapidly. Nothing like bills and drinking too much and meeting too many people I couldn't see any good in to sour a disposition. When I was young, I was blissfully unaware of the chaos around me. Now I'm painfully aware. Sometimes I even predict it. And that shy, naïve girl is such a distant memory, sometimes I forget that she was ever me. It's like one of those memories people relay to you over and over until you convince yourself you remember it happening, but never really do.

It's almost as if, looking at me now, I've tried to become the opposite of my younger self to convince myself I've always been strong and independent, and have never been vulnerable or sensitive or small.

But there are still those moments to remind me that I was and still am. Like last night when I felt my eyes tear up when I neared the end of a young adult chapter book and quickly wiped those tears away. Like when I get giddy hearing the first of the Christmas songs in stores and hope to hear Bing Crosby next. Like my elation when I found that old copy of Bernstein Bears' Christmas Tree on eBay for Gracie.

There are those times. Just moments now, not the bulk of my personality by any means. But moments I remind myself we choose who we become and people can change for not only the worse, but also the better. And there are moments when I do see good in people and think, there's hope for all of us. Even Scrooge had a change of heart.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

good, better, best

When I was a kid, my favorite place to go was dad's school. He would take us there after dinner, when no one was around save a janitor and a haggard-looking secretary. He would shoot hoops with Chad in the gymnasium while Amber and I would jump on stage and pretend we were being watched - belting out songs, dancing around. And then dad would take us into his classroom. I would marvel at the maps on the wall, the skeleton, and the little cubbies each student had. It was then I decided I was going to be a teacher - just like dad.

I'm not a teacher. Sometime in those chaotic college years (when no one should be held accountable for what profession they will end up in, mind you) I changed my major. To English. A degree w/o a correlating profession. But I had high hopes: of one day being a writer. Today, I am grown up, and although I don't have a classroom, I do have my cubicle. My small yet inviting cubicle with dual monitors. As a kid, I would have thought that was so cool. If I saw the rainbow of colors light up the screen, I would think that was even cooler. I would ask for a copy of Fraction Munchers in all color, too.

I'm not a writer, either. I go to work each day, then come home and write my humble little blog. Occasionally, when my ego has had a chance to rebuild itself, I submit a poem off to a literary journal somewhere where someone is sifting through poems the way I do resumes, picking the good from the slush and the best from the good. One day, maybe I'll be that person. And I will teach a creative writing class. I will do a little of both - a little of what my dad does and a little of what I do. I've been learning all these years. Preparing for something I'm truly passionate about.

I wrote something really cheesy in 2005. Super cheesy. But I'm copying it for you in the spirit of nostalgia and hopefulness and optimism. I wrote this when I was pregnant and afraid and alone; when I needed words to soothe my pain and tell me that someday, things would turn out for the best.

We all had our high hopes and dreams - of being actresses, singers, presidents, and CEOs. We were the future - we were going to change the world. But then our dreams collided with reality. A couple made their dreams come true. A few dreams changed as life progressed, and a few gave up on dreams altogether...Once in awhile, when I feel like life is a cycle of running in circles and never reaching any destination, I remind myself of my dream and how all this running in circles will one day take me there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

mom's visits ends

So my mom was extremely productive while (why do I feel that this should be "whilst"?) she was here.

She told me that bath towels were not correct for towel-drying hands. You should use hand towels. I fought this until I had no fight left in me. I know it's not the correct use for a bath towel, but I like being able to really grab on and submerge my hands in the towel. I don't like to feel the ends of the towel or keep doubling back. What can I say? I'm time-efficient. Well, I was. Now, I have tiny hand towels hanging on the towel racks. Tiny. I feel like a giant in comparison. Maybe if mom had fingers half as fat as mine are, she would understand. But alas.

She also made me do something about those hideous toss pillows I had lying on the couches. I know, they're disgusting. Oh, you don't know? Here - here's the carnage:



And the replacements:



And she took me to Costco. Not only did she take me and Amber there, but she bought us a membership. Well, you know what they say: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. A Costco club card? I'm such an adult. I never thought I'd see the day.

We shopped and we ate out and we made each other laugh with our own little stupidities. She took my coupon cutting to a whole new level by opening a store credit card for an extra 30% off. She bought me and Amber our Christmas presents. And now, I feel like decking the halls. I bought some stockings that I'm just dying to hang on our new fireplace. I've never had a Christmas in my own home before. Maybe this is the year we train Tucker not to eat the ornaments off our tree. Probably not, but either way: we have our own home, families that love us, and a tiny little family of our own.

Happy Holidays, indeed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

tight pants

Do you ever have a day when all day you dream of getting home from work if for no other reason than unbuttoning your pants? Because I do. I've been in these pants for 13 hours now and I'm surprised I haven't lapsed into cardiac arrest. These pants are t-ight! No, they're not some teeny tiny size that doesn't fit me. This is my size. Well, I should say, this was my size.

I just told my husband this morning that no matter what, I'm not changing pant([s] confused here...) sizes. I won't do it. I will run for an hour each night on the treadmill, and maybe-if it gets to that point-buy a food scale (yeah right), but I won't trade in my extensive (and expensive) pants collection ever. It is my pride and joy. I will wriggle and jump and safety pin for years before I give in. Maybe decades.

I know I shouldn't be surprised it's come to this. Hell, just yesterday I blogged about my love of foods chock full of sugar and carbs. But it has. I'm about to pull out the old elastic-band maternity pants just to get me through this rough patch and to spare me from buying the next size up. The next size up is a danger zone. The next size up is a few more hundred dollars worth of viscose.

I understand the girl I have mocked - you know her: muffin top. I understand her completely - her pants are from Banana Republic and she's too prideful to buy a size up and her husband's too frugal to let her. Yikes. It's a rough world out here. Don't join me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hate the word, "foodie," but feel it's the only fitting title

Confession: I love food. I love about ten different items. I could easily limit my menu to only these for the rest of my life and die happy. OK, not happy: elated. Here's what I can't live without and dream of each day at noon when I'm eating my terribly bland and cold salad:



If we've ever gone out to eat together, odds are we've gone to TGI Fridays. If we haven't eaten out together, odds are it's because you don't like TGI Fridays.



Summer, winter, spring of fall, I'm ready for it. Bring it on.



I make these at home all the time. My poor cheese shredder has worked 6,000 times as hard as his lazy cousins.



So what if the Qdoba guys know my name? Every ten, I get one free!



I'm thirsty and hungover already.



Classic. Makes me feel like a kid again.



There are some days (like after too many mimosas) when the only thing that sounds good is a greasy pan pizza from Pizza Hut.



Be still my salivating taste buds.



For when I overdose on all the food you've seen above, I'll sooth myself with yet another kiddy meal.



And when I need to feel like a grown up again, I'll throw five bucks at the Starbucks corporation.

Monday, November 9, 2009

the Midwest or bust

On Thursday evening my mom flies into Omaha. She's coming to see our new home and my sister's new apartment. I feel the urge to clean up and organize and impress her, the way I always felt on December 23rd before our family's Christmas Eve party. Mom would bake and make candies while I scrubbed the toilets and hid our clutter behind any door that allowed an inch of space.

I feel the way I did when us four kids were home schooled and we knew mom would be home any minute. We would throw the cushions back on the couch from "Hot Lava" and attempt to do two hours worth of chores in eight minutes. Throw away our tell-tale wrappers from those York Peppermint patties she thought she had cleverly hid above the stove in that tip-top cupboard. Turn off that record (yes I said "record") that we were dancing around to and pretend we are concentrating on diagramming sentences (who am I kidding? I probably was).

Something about people visiting that makes me feel I have to be entertaining. Somehow more or more interesting than what I am: sitting around in green sweat pants and a long gray sweater watching DVR'd HBO shows from last night. My lofty goals and ambitions should be more than taking a day off next week. My future plans should entail more than another receipt from Furniture Row. I did plan out an exciting field trip we can all do together: hit up Costco. I'm going to mooch off that membership card mom's got while I have the chance. Opportunity knocks. And I'm going to answer the door.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

taboo



Aren't these the cutest kids you've ever seen? I certainly think so. Of course, I might be a bit biased. The one on the left has my features. It's not something people seem to want me to talk about, best it be swept under the rug. But that's not my style.

She is my daughter. Well, perhaps I should rephrase. I am her birth mother. When I was a senior in college, I became pregnant one drunken night. It isn't anything my parents or their friends or the members of my church wanted to hear or believe about me. The girl who won Neighborhood Bible Time and Clubber of the Year in AWANA each year. It was so taboo.

This was when I finally learned not everything in life is about me. I was listening to "the Fray" tonight and heard, they say the best way out is through. It is. Gracie is a happy girl with a brother who is her best friend. Occasionally I see her. I see her and I ball my eyes out for days, but that doesn't mean I regret any of it. I'm happy she's happy and I'm grateful for her wonderful parents who love her and me regardless of mistakes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the off hours



I found this picture and it describes me. Everything about this is me at my core - without the influences of other people or social norms or worries of money, this is who I am. I'm not always a bitch, I'm not always a workaholic. I'm not always entertaining someone (however subtle or obvious my efforts). But I am always inside my own head. And I am the most alive when I am alone with my thoughts, a pen, and a piece of paper. And at these times, I'm everything you wouldn't think me to be: I'm introverted, I'm quiet, I'm pensive.

Many people don't know this about me. Many people have no idea I write anything - this blog, poems, tiny blurbs of fiction that go nowhere. Many people don't know about my collection of rejection letters from literary journals or my books of scribbled pages full of crossed out adjectives and added semi-colons. Many people know only the surface me. The surface being the part of a person you can make snap judgments about. The part of a person that is perceived from stereotypes and generalizations.

But most of us have a little more to us. A spark somewhere in us that makes us something special, something different. A dream we will continually chase.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween on a budget

This Halloween was the first time I've been able to hand out candy. Truthfully, I trick-or-treated much older than most kids do, and one of my final years, I was wishing I had stayed home to hand out candy. Until, of course, I got four pounds of candy for myself and that thought quickly vanished.

The kids were greedier than I expected them to be. And they had no right to be, as I was giving out a handful to each kid, rather than one measly piece. One little girl said, "I want a tootsie roll." I wanted to tell her that the fun size candy bars I just gave her were much better and that tootsie rolls are like the scum of Halloween candy. Well, that and sweetarts.

The costumes were nearly all straight out of a bag, but there were a few kids who just threw together things they had from home: a mummy of toilet paper, some sort of astronaut (but really just a kid dressed in all silver). These kids reminded me of myself and my siblings. We didn't buy costumes, but rather pieced something together from household items.

I would be a hobo, or a cowgirl, or wear Chad's "Spoilers" baseball uniform and carry one of those jumbo plastic bats. Once, the four of us wore t-shirts with spiders on them, and mom added some plastic spiders with the glue gun. I have no idea what we were supposed to be. One woman asked me if I was spiderman, and I said, "no" and dashed off with my candy.

But despite all our efforts, the best homemade Halloween costume was my mom's:



Oh yes, and that's me in the Spoilers uniform with my plastic bat. Only wishing I too could look like something from a Fruit of the Loom commercial.