Thursday, December 31, 2009


So today while Steve and I were out and about, I requested he stop quickly at a nail salon so I could get my eyebrows waxed. He could stay in the car, it would just take a minute. He politely refused. He wanted to get home to watch the second half of the Stanford game. I begged using that hold I thought I had on him. He told me my eyebrows looked fine, why didn't I just get them done sometime this weekend. What was I worrying about, I looked pretty.

Nothing like a compliment to talk a girl off a cliff. We were nearly home when I pulled down my visor due to the blinding sun. The visor has a mirror on the back of it. I gasped. My eyebrows were growing their own eyebrows. I looked like I had just stepped out of a Geico commercial (one with the unibrow Sasquatch caveman, not the lizard, obviously).

Guys will tell a girl anything to get their way. Anything. And I thought being dull and married changed you to being more honest with each other, but I guess not. The lying and compliments don't stop after the bar scene, they start all over; but instead of trying to take you home, the guy wants smaller favors. Maybe for you to wash up the dishes, take out the trash, or leave him alone.

So we got home and he turned on the Stanford game, and I picked up my keys and drove to the nearest nail salon immediately. I didn't make Steve drive me, I didn't curse him up and down, because one thing I have learned from marriage is compromise. But only because it's what you have to do, girls, when the guy is no longer trying so hard to woo you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

morning after

There is a reason that I don't typically drink. And the reason can be defined in the hours between 6am and 11am this morning. My legs ache as if I walked a marathon. My voice sounds like I've been smoking for 600 years and my throat feels like it. I want to coat my entire face in Vaseline. I had an urge all day for greazy (I know it's misspelled, I like to pronounce it that way because it's funny) food.

But it was fun before the after effects hit me. It was fun singing along to Steve's CDs on the way home from the bar. It was fun to drink a bottle of champagne out of my new flutes. It seemed like a lot of mimosas, I know, but that's only because they hold a mere 6 ounces. It was fun to play games with old friends and stay up way too late making jokes at each other's expense.

Tell me, boys, how you do this day in and day out. Because I need to take at least a week to recover. And maybe an entire bottle of over-the-counter medication and a jar of Vaseline. When you add up all the recovery costs, I am no longer a cheap date. That pitcher was just the beginning.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

when I grow up

I have this reoccurring dream where I'm in school. And each night when I dream this, I panic and look in my notebook for what my next class is and what homework is due. See, that's just how I was in school. Doing homework the class before it was due, my teachers always thinking I was taking notes, because somehow I still got As and Bs despite my procrastination.

I would rather teach myself. There were a few times in school when I got an assignment and I was so excited to go and complete it, because it was exactly the kind of assignment I would have given myself when home schooled. But for any thing else, I pushed it off to last minute, not wanting to give it more thought or time than I thought it deserved.

And because of this, I'm coming to grips with the fact that perhaps I'm not cut out to be a teacher. If someone doesn't learn my way, I figure it's a lost cause. I'm impatient when people don't catch on quickly and don't know how to take it from square one because I figure everyone already knows that step.

Once, when I was tutoring a second grader in math, I realized she didn't understand basic subtraction. So I pulled out a box of crayons, and had her count down from the largest number to the sum. And somehow, she still didn't know how many crayons to pull out of the box to start with on the next problem. It frustrated me so much I just wanted to grab her homework from her, do it for her, and then play hide-and-seek.

But if I'm not cut out to be a teacher, what then? I've wanted to teach since I was in fifth grade and went to my dad's classroom and saw the globe, the pull down map, the assignments hanging on the wall. I wanted to be surrounded by learning since it was what I loved.

And that leaves me here: 26, four years out of college, and still unsure of what I'm going to be when I grow up. This is just like me: to put something off much later than I should.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I just finished The Secret Life of Bees today. Originally, I was in a hurry to finish it so I could start The Bell Jar again (love Sylvia Plath!) but a few chapters into it, I was reading even more rapidly because of the way the story unfolds and every thing ties together.

Any time I finish a book that I think was any good, I read all those pages between the end and the back cover. I read the discussion points, Q&A with the author, about the author...the whole nine yards. And Sue Monk Kidd had included this quote in her Q&A that inspired a large chunk of the book:

People give pain, are callous and insensitive, empty and cruel...but place heals the hurt, soothes the outrage, fills the terrible vacuum that these human beings make. - Eudora Welty

I had to read it a few times. The word "place" seemed like it should read something more uplifting or even religious. "Hope" or "Jesus," perhaps. But she meant exactly what it said. There is a place you go that soothes you, calms you, recharges you before you're released back into the muck of the world. My place is my home.

I am a homebody. I don't mind that I'm snowed in right now, because there is so much I have time to do. Put away Christmas presents (but I haven't), shave my legs, try out that exercise DVD with the balance ball (it read "beginner" but I think it was mislabeled). Listen to my new Norah Jones cd. And read, read, read. This is my fortress of solitude where I can shut out the world and walk around as myself: broodingly moody then happy; productive then lazy; longing for Steve's attention, then dying to be alone. My life a constant versus.

Just like my life inside and outside this fortress. The outside life usually beating out my inside one, but occasionally - in instances like these, I find myself again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Big fat tears

A secret about me that people who think I'm tough would never guess is that I cry easily. Not at work, of course - sob stories during interviews make me want to laugh out loud; but at home, at the movie theater, reading a kids' book at Barnes - you name it, I tear up. Anytime I sense a real emotion that overwhelms me in someone else, I empathize with it as if it is my own. I feel the emotion as if the story is mine. I am invested.

Just recently, Steve lost his grandma. And grandpa was over at Christmas - his first Christmas in over fifty years without her. He still wore his wedding ring and says, "we" at the beginning of every story, but with no one for him to turn to with that knowing smile, allowing her to finish his sentences. And it overwhelmed him. When he started choking up, I choked up. Big fat tears ran down our cheeks in streams.

I can't imagine. I don't have nearly the history with Steve that grandpa does with grandma, but even with what little we have shared, we're so invested in each other. Life without Steve would sink me into a depression I'm not sure I would ever climb out of. And I don't know how grandpa did it today. Smiled while opening presents and making jokes and giving hugs. I wouldn't even get out of bed.

Tough exteriors are usually safely guarding a tender heart inside.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

winter solstice

To The Thawing Wind

Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate'er you do tonight,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit's crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o'er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out the door.

-Robert Frost

Monday, December 21, 2009

All in a day's work

Unfortunately, good work ethic doesn't come standard w/most humans. You have to learn it. And like most good habits, it usually comes at an early age. Mine comes from years as a papergirl.

(that was a sweet video game, by the way).

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. It required necessary resources to complete the job.

The Huffy I won by saying the most Bible verses paid off. Literally. I made $10 a month on my paper route.

Reliable transportation is a must. And sometimes all four wheels are necessary.

Be dependable. I had to buy an alarm clock with the two bells so I was sure I couldn't sleep through it.

But also, always have a back up plan. (Thanks, dad)

Collections has always been the worst job. Just answer your door already. I saw you peeking through the curtain.

Look forward to Christmas time when you'll be rewarded for all your hard work

But always remember, no matter how bad your job sucks, it could be worse. That's why you have that good work ethic in the first place - to make sure you hang onto what you already have instead of finding out it's worse somewhere else.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

not making an effort

We are not very neighborly. No, not at all. We aren't intentionally uncordial, but we're also not overly friendly. True, we take a baggie with us when walking Tucker, but nothing else we do is too courteous. Well, I did give our next door neighbor her pick of hydrangeas, but only after she bitched about them hanging over the fence. Whatever.

Our neighbors are old - either retired or should be. The only people even close to our age on this block are the kids that still live with their parents even though those wings should have been spread long ago. Steve was asked by a door-to-door salesman if the man of the house was home recently, so apparently we look much too young to fit in. Much different from the apartments we lived in - here, ambulances come for heart attacks, not alcohol poisoning.

This is why I wasn't all too surprised a couple weeks ago when a flyer was shoved into our storm door handle. The flyer asked everyone to put outdoor lights on the house and make 158th the brightest street on the block (sorry for the lack of a visual - I asked Steve to save it so I could take a picture of it for my blog, but apparently my blog is at the bottom of his priority list, and throwing out clutter is at the top).

We didn't. We didn't even throw one of those lazy nets of lights over a bush. My excuse is this: our house is a double decker - it's two stories tall. There is no way to hang lights on the eaves without risking a broken neck. And with Steve's clumsiness and my terrible hand-eye coordination, that indisputably would have been the end result. Yes, I realize we could have strung lights around a couple shrubs. You don't need to mention it. That is destroying my reasoning for not participating in this social convention. So now, one week after being the only ones to not shovel our portion of the sidewalk in a snow storm, our neighbors have yet another reason to hate us.

Oh well, we can always hope for the best when this neighborhood turns. And I keep telling Steve it will soon. Soon there will be a new batch of neighbors who know nothing of our past indiscretions. And hopefully a few people we can sit on the back porch and crack open a beer with.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

epiphanies #5

I get very annoyed w/Facebook, I have no idea why I still have an account. Let me tell you what annoys me the most. It's when women write their married name w/their maiden name thrown in there in the middle. Yeah, we get it, you were single at one point. We all were. Get over it. Your name should appear as it is on your credit cards.

I see those bell ringers all around town lately. It's -2 and they're still ringing those damn bells. It makes me want to shove a twenty into that mitten and say, "don't put this in the can, this is for you. Go buy yourself a hot chocolate w/a shot of Bailey's in it - and for God's sake, don't you dare put this money in the can!"

I look at hundreds of resumes a week, and let me tell you a few of the things I've run across this week alone that you should shy away from on your own resume: "American Marijuana Growers Association;" "SSN: 444-55-6666;" and "Reason for leaving: sexually harrassed." Seriously? Keep it to yourself. Less is more. A resume is a synopsis of your work history and educational background - not Taxicab Confessions.

Steve and I have been debating what makes a movie a Christmas movie for weeks now. I say if there are Christmas songs on the soundtrack, that would make it a Christmas movie. Steve says if the story has to take place at Christmastime in order for the story to work, it's a Christmas movie. His theory leaves very few options. Maybe the Nativity. But I'm not saying I'm right, it's open to debate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

wrong number

So Jared called me today. He asked if this was Anh. I said, "yes." Somehow out of the name "Anh" I heard "Holly." Don't ask me. My ears are going bad, my eyes are going bad - it's all downhill after 25.

He said, "hey, it's Jared."
Me: "who?"
"Jared who?"

At this point, Jared sighed rather loudly as if exasperated w/my incessant pestering. Um, excuse me buddy, you called me.

"Jared Combs from ROTC," he said the exact same way Kip talks on Napolean Dynamite. I was silent. Nothing from me. This made him even more exasperated. "Is this Anh?" He asked again. "No," I answered this time.

Silence from both of us.

"I think you have the wrong number," I suggested more than stating.
Another sigh. "OK, thanks."
"Sorry," I apologized, suddenly feeling bad that he had to hear it this way. I felt a quick twinge of guilt for giving Donny who I met in 2004 a wrong number myself.

The line clicked before I was able to offer my condolences.

"Why did you apologize for a wrong number?" Steve asked me. "I felt bad for him," I answered. But I got over it to blog about it. Only I would dedicate an entire blog post to a wrong number.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day #1 of diet

Yesterday, when it came time to work out, I decided I would rather diet than sweat and slave away each evening on the treadmill. So today started day #1 of diet. Today I decided I would rather sweat and spend 4 hours a day on the treadmill than deprive myself of food I love. So I just had a quesadilla. And now I'm telling myself I'm waking up at 5:45 am tomorrow to walk three miles on the treadmill and watch CMT, since nothing is really on at that hour. Tomorrow morning will be deciding day.

If I am up before the sun and sweating away on my treadmill, then I can eat some of that popcorn and candy at work. Then I can go to Qdoba again this week and enjoy every bite of it. But if I don't, I can look forward to my least favorite color for food: green - and a lot of it. I hate dieting. I want this snow and ice to melt so I can run outside again - so I can get another nine miles in and call it good for the week.

I love fitting into my skinny clothes, but do I love that as much as I love the cajun shrimp and chicken pasta at TGI Fridays? Probably not. Yesterday I was saying it would feel good to look good, today I'm saying I'd rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable. It's going to have to be working out. The diet won't last a day. I tried: today. I snuck three musketeers (minis though!) and ate popcorn out of my boss' bowl. I am pathetic. But if there's one thing I hate, it's being hungry.

And I just don't think I'm ever going to be able to sacrifice food. So I will have to sacrifice my time - spend it on a treadmill instead of curling up with my husband in front of a movie. Doesn't this sound miserable? I'm losing motivation with each passing moment. I must be off to sleep - to dream of food and wake up to burn off those hallucinated calories.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

sending Christmas cheer

I addressed Christmas cards this evening until my index finger became indented. I insisted Steve mute the game so I could listen to Christmas songs (and I don't care what anyone says, Christina Aguilera counts). I lit a candle that smells like cider. I love these evenings. I've been writing Christmas cards since I was 12. And I remember that night every year that I wrote them.

I originally bought them out of the Current catalog. I would pour over the pages as if it were Sophie's choice trying to decide which cards were the best. And then I sent them out. To my buddies from camp, my pen pals, and to my aunts and uncles.

I ran out to the mailbox every afternoon around 2:12 when the I heard the familiar stop-and-go of the mailman's truck. I waited patiently while he pulled around the cul-de-sac. I stuck out my hand to save him the hassle of opening the mail box. I rustled through the stack before making it back inside, looking for something with my name addressed on it. Even if it wasn't only for me, if it said, "Grant, Jenny, Chad, Holly-" I tore it open since it was part mine.

Mom had a fabric "Happy Holidays" mailbox we stuffed all the envelopes into (to later stack into a decade-old pile of addresses to keep, of course) and then we scotch taped the cards up on the door leading into the garage. Amber and I would judge each card until we decided which one was our favorite.

Every year, as I get more cynical and less motivated to participate in social conventions, I hold onto Christmas cards. OK, so I don't attend weddings or send housewarming gifts, but by God, everyone is getting a Christmas card. Every year, as I address them, I imagine some kid - a cousin or niece or grandkid - judging my card. And perhaps that's why I keep doing it.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I got home from eating two meals out today and decided I was going to hop on the treadmill. As always, I caught a little detour walking by the computer. I've decided instead I'm going to play a quick game of Caesar III. Who am I kidding, there is no such thing as a quick game. I play for hours and hours and Steve comes and tells me goodnight at some point, which definitely means I'm up too late. I like to always be the first one to sleep.

But I do so love building my Roman empire. I am a nerd. I am one of those people I make fun of. Oh well. I've always had a computer game I was addicted to. It started with Oregon Trail (didn't it for all of us?) and then Fraction munchers - this all back when floppy discs were actually floppy. When CD-Roms came out, I got into I spy and even played a little bit of Warcraft because my brothers did and I liked to be included. But for about ten years now, my game has been Caesar III. And it always will be.

I am a Consul, and I'm afraid I always will be. One time, I set myself up to pass the level, but I didn't save it and have never been able to return to where I once was. So tonight, again, I chase that elusive sliver of hope I once had. One day, I will be Caesar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

getting old without growing up

Last night I bought this for Gracie. When I was a girl, I always wanted a barbie and my parents never allowed me to have one. Something about Barbie's body being too bangin'. They did give me a chubby and awkward looking Avon knockoff doll instead that was much too big - not nimble like Barbie. It was all in vain - I ended up with plenty of self-conscious body issues anyway. I guess all that sheltering didn't do me too much good.

Anyway, when I was checking out, Amazon was trying to get me to buy more stuff so I could get free shipping. So I looked at some Barbie accessories. I found an entire wardrobe for Barbie and thought of how cool that would be. All of a sudden, my inexpensive present was getting blown into a huge ordeal. I realized I wasn't shopping for Gracie anymore, I was shopping for myself. For everything I had wanted when I was her age. Had I not stopped myself, I would have been charging a dollhouse in no time.

I sat here clicking "add to cart" for her present instead of taking her to a store and watching her add them to the cart herself. Although it sounds easy, sometimes it's hard being a kid inside still. Because I didn't feel like an adult, I didn't feel like I could keep Gracie - keep her safe, healthy and happy. Like I could care for her the way a stable adult could. And now I can never feel like anything but a child because I couldn't take care of my own.

Now, I covet toys. I guess there is still a part of me that hasn't been overtaken by my adult cynicism and aloofness. I put together puzzles when I need to clear my head. I read children's books when I need an escape. Perhaps it's because as a child was the only time I didn't feel like a major screw-up. I wish to Gracie all the toys her heart desires. I hope she grows in a woman who knows a way to evolve, more than just how to diminish.

snow day #2

Day #2 of snow. I awoke quite early to the sound of my neighbor's snow blower. Again. This guy blows his driveway multiple times daily. I was cursing him until Steve and I went out there to shovel our driveway the old fashioned way. A minute into it, I was thinking of things I could do without next month so that we could get our own snow blower. We are literally the only ones on the block with the old Grip n Flip.

I'm finally adapting to living in the midwest. I buckled down and bought some boots yesterday. No, not my typical heeled boots, but some sensible, warm, waterproof boots that the old man on Home Alone wears. Yikes. I stayed home again. I'm feeling like a cave man, all cooped up in the house like this. I did get a lot of work done though, I had no idea what Steve did all day until he was telling his parents over dinner. Crazy how you can be in the same house as someone and have no idea what is going on with each other.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

snow day

This is what I woke up to this morning. That is nothng compared to what the snow accumulation is at now. It has enveloped those poor, winter-dead mums.

The snow is mocking my rain gauge. I wanted an accurate read of the snow inches (yes, I do snow too - not just rain: I'm equal opportunity) so I went out there with that Presidential ruler I got at the Denver mint. We were at seven inches an hour ago.

Tucker only likes to go out there if I go with him. He sinks right in, so nothing enjoyable about it at all for a dog that's only a foot tall.

I didn't go in to work today. Didn't think risking my life was worth it. Maybe I'm being melodramatic, maybe I'm not. We'll never know if I would have died on that commute, will we?

I worked from home. Steve made me eggs. I did a couple phone interviews on my cell. We shoveled the driveway (albeit futilely). I drank hot chocolate. This day was meant to be spent at home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

If my clothes could talk

they'd tell me to stop torturing them.

Even if you avoid the scale, there are little ways you're reminded it's time to lose a couple pounds. And I'm very aware of all of them.

1. You leave your pants unbuttoned until right before you leave the house
2. You come home and immediately change into sweat pants
3. Even the zipper on your boot is getting harder and harder to pull.
4. You need a long shirt to wear underneath your main shirt
5. You have tons of clothes, but re-wear the same ones because only they fit
6. Stretch marks
7. Muffin top
8. Jumping into your pants
9. Blousy tops
10. Elastic ring marks (waist, calves - wherever)

Time to hit the treadmill. Or buy a size up.

Peleskys visit Omaha

As it stands right now, on my side of our family, there is just one niece. I get to see her at least every December. Two years ago, it was at Chad and Keri's weddding in North Dakota. It was freezing cold and Saryn cried when I tried to hold her.

Last year, we went home for the holidays, and Saryn was a bit more fun. If, of course, Grandma was around.

This year, Chad and Keri made the drive from Seattle to North Dakota, and then a detour down here to see us for a day. We were so happy to have them.

Saryn is the most delightful version of herself yet. She made me laugh. Tucker was happy to have a friend his size to play with.

She opened presents and played her noisy toys in the car.

Here is the happy (and cold) family. They've been spoiled by their mild winters in Seattle. Welcome to the midwest.

Saryn found another friend just her size.

We had a great time - half of the family together again. It's nice on these years we don't go home for the holidays to have family come to us. Now if only we could arrange for this to happen more frequently.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fairview Heights, IL

Our first year of marriage, Steve and I lived in Fairview Heights, IL. Of course, you don't know where that is.

It's just over the river east of St. Louis. We lived there in the ghetto, far away from our friends, and talked every day about moving back to Omaha. But now that we're back in Omaha, I have some fond memories of good ol' Fairview Heights. I wrote a blog (back when my only blog was on myspace - back when I actually had a myspace) once from my apartment there at Park Terrace

about how one day I would look back on my days at Fairview Heights with a smile. Today, I'm doing that.

I do miss Longacre Park. It was right across the street from our apartment. I would run there every evening after work: four laps around the 1.5 mile running trail. I would walk in the mornings - two laps to wake me up. I was the skinniest I've ever been post-childbirth.

We loved Penn Station East Coast subs. Anytime Steve called me to ask what I wanted for dinner, we were both thinking the same thing. There are only three things I wouldn't do right now for one of those chicken cordon bleu subs, and all three are very illegal. It's very rare to find a sub shop w/hot subs and fries. OK, by rare I mean impossible. Impossible until Penn Station.

Every Friday night after going out to eat, we would stop at Dierberg's to pick up Steve's weekend booze. The alcohol was cheap there. They even gave out shots of tequila in the aisle there once. Hey, we lived in the armpit of Illinois-we had to have something.

Steve's job was always having parties. Renting out an area of Busch stadium for a Cardinals game or causing a ruckus at Smoky Bones...whatever the party - it was sure to be exciting. And no one was to leave sober. That was a rule. (and no, these guys in the picture are not from Steve's old job - just some yahoos from Google images).

I really don't care, but Steve was glad to eat Chick-fil-a once in awhile. I think waffle fries are overrated.

I worked at a call center. Although the job wasn't all that glamorous, I was good at it. Really good. I could get pretty much anyone off the phone w/in three minutes.

When we first moved to Fairview Heights, I was annoyed that there was no nearby Banana Republic, and Steve was equally annoyed that there wasn't a Chipotle. Before we left, they had built both within two miles of our apartment. But it wasn't enough incentive to stay. Omaha was calling our names.