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Interlude

November 5, 2012

These must be the golden years. For the first time in what may be “ever” – I’m not currently planning or waiting or working towards something immediate.

Frank and I are married. There’s no waiting and wondering when he’ll propose, or thinking about planning a wedding. No anxious saving for a party, or lists of crafty projects that need to be made. I’m not worried about finding “the dress” or stressing about fitting into it. It’s done – it’s fabulous. The last thank you cards have been mailed, and now I just get to enjoy the pictures when they come in.

I have a new job. One I hope to stay at for a very long time. I’m not wondering where I’ll be working, or how long I’ll have to stay at a job I don’t like. I know what I do for a living, and I know how to do it well. I’m not revising resumes or writing cover letters.

School? An advanced degree? Not really even a thought at the moment. I’m not studying for any tests, or worrying about additional deadlines.

I’m not stressed about money. I mean – I am. I always am. But at the end of the day, there’s money in our accounts. Our financial goals are longer term; retirement, paying off student loans. A new car, a down payment.  I don’t have to freelance, or think about a side-hustle. And if I do –it’s extra –a way to get to a goal quicker, not to fill in a gap.

My family is stable. Obviously, there are issues. Stories about Flo stopped being funny a long time ago. Relations with my littlest sisters are tenuous. My sister is having a rough patch, and I’m worried about my mom’s upcoming surgery and if I can get my other grandmother into assisted living. But – we’re stable. I’m learning to deal with the constant ache that is missing my dad.

The horizon looks bright. We have so much to look forward to – eventual babies, a theoretical house, a potential move, Frank’s graduation and becoming a real dual-income family. I still have goals and plans for growth – professionally, health-wise and other, but I know where I’m headed and have a good idea about how to get there.

Obviously, anything can change in an instant. People get sick, have accidents, lose jobs, divorce – I know all of that. But for now? It’s quiet. This quiet, golden time is almost like a gift.  And I couldn’t be happier.

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Calm After the Storm

October 31, 2012

We’re doing great. It’s been a long storm – both waiting for it, the anticipation, the preparing and the getting through it. We packed, we battened down the hatches, and we prepped to get through it together. And in the end, there were some rough winds, and a little damage — but we still have light, and electricity and we’re totally, totally fine.

Only part of that was a metaphor.

Eva, Frank and I are safe. I’m working from home, Eva is excited to have us both in the house and we’re going to make a food run soon.We’re totally out of cookies. We are watching the destruction on TV and online and it’s surreal — just a few miles away, here we are – warm and safe, and there are those that lost so much. Heartbreaking.

As I was falling asleep last night in my warm, comfy bed (a new king-size foam mattress — which Eva still manages to take over…), I also thought about how lucky I was to have such a great new job that is a seemingly perfect fit. Not only do I love what I do, and the people I get to work with — I was thinking about some of the potential alternatives I had throughout the year. I could have still been working for a hospital, and I had opportunities both with the MTA and with a popular and awesome airline. And during this storm, any of those would have been … awful.

I’m right where I should be. And I couldn’t be happier.

Express Lane To Happiness

August 20, 2012

“Do you want a tour of the cheese section?”

Frank looked at me like I was nuts. No, he did not want a tour of the cheese aisle, nor was he particularly interested in the olive bar. I couldn’t believe it. How could he not be charmed by the olive oil dipping station, or be charmed by the little local touches on the chalkboards. Were these prices on store-made sauce not insanely good? The free samples of shrimp salad not delicious? Wasn’t the little cow-car that collects the carts not adorable?

For the first time ever, it occurred to me that not everyone loves grocery stores as much as I do.

I still have a hard time believing this.

It’s not like I fall in love with every Waldbaum’s or Stop & Shop (though I certainly have my favorites),  but instead I have a slight love affair with my holy trilogy of Stew Leonard’s, Trader Joe’s and Fairway. I suppose if I lived upstate, I’d share my friends’ loyalty to Wegman’s. And I definitely have stepped into a Piggly Wiggly just to check out what’s going on. I make notes when I go to Publix…

I want to say I don’t know how to explain it. I barely even cook (as evidenced by the fact that apparently my stove was out of commission for a month before I realized it …), but there’s something about these higher-end shops that I just fall in love with.

Like most things, I blame my mom. She loves food shopping, and makes a point to take people to her favorite one of all – Stew Leonard’s. She describes it as a mini-Disney World for adults. While I think that may be pushing it, I can see her point. If you have to go food shopping – you may as well make it fun. And for some people, animatronic dancing Chiquita bananas fit that bill. Going food shopping is how I spend time with mom. It’s something we can do over the weekend that’s productive and sometimes fun.

I love these store’s commitment to customer service. I love local touches in my neighborhood Trader Joe’s and that the sign says “5 items or fewer.” I love the selection of cheeses and the olive oil tasting station at Fairway. I love the free samples and lobster rolls at Stew Leonard’s. I love that all three places hire good people and consistently win “best places to work” awards.

And I love the twist on a classic. All of these places want to be where you shop (and spend big money) on groceries. And I love the creativity and thought that goes in to differentiating themselves. Why you should shop there instead of the local supermarket. The commitment to quality, and often to local producers. I like learning about how they motivate employees and what they do to keep prices fair, but continue to grow and flourish in a competitive market — all without resorting to crazy coupon schemes. People don’t shop at these places because they are the best deal — but because they feel like they are getting the best for a good deal.

So, I guess I could see why someone wouldn’t love grocery shopping, and instead get their stuff online or on the way home from work. But … I’m not one of them.

In fact, I would probably expect to see some “highlight” tours of my favorite grocery stores very soon!

Do you have a weird obsession with something that other people  as mundane? What are you nerdy/passionate about?

13 Down and Across

July 13, 2012

One of the strongest memories I have of my dad is opening up a fresh “Games Magazine” and doing the word puzzles with him. In the car, at a diner, in the park, by the pool … Games Magazine was a staple of our relationship. When he died, I had the remainder of his subscription mailed to my house. A few months ago, when it expired – I renewed it in my name.

I haven’t touched them. They just pile up on my bedside table, waiting. Waiting for what, I’m not sure. Part of me feels like it’s wrong to do it without him, and part of me knows he’d be horrified that I have all of those great puzzles there and I haven’t touched any of them.

It also occurs to me that I hadn’t done any kind of crossword in about a year. I miss them. So today at lunch, I picked up the newspaper and sat down to a puzzle.

Didn’t go great – but I’ll get in the swing of it again. I’d do better if I had Dad for a consult. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Going to bed angry

May 27, 2012

I was super lucky enough to have had a beautiful bridal shower thrown in my honor last week (pictures [and video!] forthcoming), and one of the activities was to write down advice for a happy marriage. There were some interesting and unique tidbits (apparently, my friends are very pro-leg shaving) but by and large, the most-given advice was to never go to bed angry.

In fact, it was even Dear Abby’s single piece of marital advice to a bride today.

So, platitudes aside – is that really good advice? Because I totally disagree.

Sure, I’m not actually married yet, but we’ve been together nine years and I’d say we’re doing pretty good. And yes, we fight. Fairly, and without name calling, but we definitely fight. And I’ve absolutely gone to bed angry. And you know what? I think going to bed angry is a good idea.

Why? Two reasons.

1. The alternative is exhausting. I refuse to see how staying up and fighting or arguing is going to produce anything productive. How long can a fight stay fair if we’re sleep-deprived and worried about getting up in the morning? Are we really going to find a good solution or compromise if we’re tired? Or won’t we just want to end it, and say anything to make it stop?

Or is that the point? That when you are tired, you’ll give in and then it’s done and over? Or is the advice more – just stop fighting, remember you love one another, go to bed and deal with it in the morning? Because that’s all fine and dandy, and I can certainly remember I love this man, but still want to kick him in the shins.

2. Things aren’t as bad in the morning. Of course yeah, sometimes they are. But generally, going to bed angry or annoyed about something stupid? Seems even stupider the next morning. It’s a lot easier to wake up, kiss him good morning, apologize and then start the day. Not every thing needs to be hashed out, and sometimes its easier and smarter to be contrite rather than “right.”

What do you think? Still think not going to bed angry is the right move? Do you practice what you preach?

Not a day goes by …

May 13, 2012

I know, it’s Mother’s Day – but this one is a little rough for me, so please bear with some rambling. It’s the one year anniversary of my father’s death. And I still can’t believe that it’s true.

Literally, not a day goes by where I don’t absentmindedly think to pick up the phone and call him. Sometimes just to tell him something, and sometimes just because I’m bored and I miss him.

It’s been a really rough year. Anything associated with my dad seemed to come tinged with drama, and this has not been an exception. My relationships with his family, instead of growing stronger, seem to have become even unhinged, as I try to work through my own grief and somehow still end up as the center of support for everyone else. I’m consciously trying to take a step back from that role, and … it isn’t always pretty.

Mourning him is so difficult. My dad was such a polarizing figure, and people have strong emotions about him. And very often, I feel like I’m the only one who bears that burden. I know that’s not entirely true, but on some level – it is. We had a very complicated and unique relationship. He was more my friend than a dad in a lot of ways (although I’m realizing, now that he is gone, how much I really did learn from him – it’s so hard to accept that I can’t tell him that …) and in a lot of ways, I really was my dad’s best friend. It’s a heavy mantle.

I keep thinking about how much he’s missing. And whenever I do or experience something fun, I think about how much he’d love to hear about it, or what he would say. And I think that’s where I get tripped up. Because as my sister has pointed out – he’s not missing it. He’s dead. He doesn’t know he isn’t here. It’s really more about me, wishing he was here to share it. It’s a fine distinction, and I think it helps. When I think about it from what I would consider “his” perspective, I feel sad for him, and almost guilty that life goes on. When I think about how I feel about it — well, I mean – that’s just healthier. It also helps, because my dad was many things, but unpredictable wasn’t one of them. I can almost hear and predict, word-for-word what he would have said in almost any situation, and sometimes — that helps.

So, life goes on. And I’ll continue to try and untangle some of the messes he left, try to find ways to honor him as life goes on, and keep his voice in my head. But today, one year later? I’m just sad.

I promise you, I’m really shy

April 16, 2012

And if you’ve met me at a party, or maybe even if you read this blog, you’ll think I’m a liar. Most people would describe me as friendly, or maybe even outgoing.

And while it’s true my life is an open book, and I can generally find something to chat about, no matter where I am – the truth is? Having to meet new people, make a cold call, or heaven forbid — attend a networking event? Fills me with dread.  Deep, anxiety-ridden angst. (Oddly, exceptions apply for interviews, or when I’m speaking about a topic I actually feel confident about – like social media, or Buffy trivia.) But, sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants, and get the job done. So, I do. And to compensate, I put on my friendliest face, and smile big and try to remember names.  I try not to appear too nervous (but you can tell I am by my self-conscious giggle or self-deprecating remark), but hopefully I come across as genuine, fun and interested.

Because I am! Really!

Once I am in the swing of things, I can generally relax and enjoy myself.  I can gain my footing and be present in the conversation. But the thought of having to do it again? Right back to the awful pit in my stomach.

I’m so much happier on my couch with a book or close friends than I am at a party. I’d rather cuddle my dog (or yours!) then speak to the owner. And yet, I make my career in marketing and communications , although it should be no shock that I specialize in online and digital media.

I’m so friendly and bubbly because I am trying to avoid dying of my shyness.

Do you find that the way you describe yourself is totally different than the way others would describe you?

 

The more things change …

March 13, 2012

I think my life is a re-run.

So, the wedding is about 6 months away, and I’ve given up on my weight loss math. (What’s weight loss math? You know, the “if I lose 3 lbs. a week, times x weeks, and minus the “bad” week of my birthday then by the wedding — I’ll be a supermodel!” math.)

I’ve accepted that I’ll never lose enough weight by the wedding to look like a supermodel, but that’s okay. I ordered the dress in the size I was then (and am a few pounds lighter now) and it is what it is. That being said, I wouldn’t mind being a little lighter and more toned. That, and I need to work out for heart health and to reduce anxiety and to brighten my mood and all the other reasons people need to get in shape.

Getting to the gym in the evenings after work just never happens for me. It should, since I work about 10 minutes from the gym, but I always find an excuse. I need to walk the dog, I have to stay late, there’s no parking – whatever. So, I’ve decided to start going again in the morning.  I’ve done this before.

I got to the gym this AM, so damn proud of myself. Driving to work makes it easier to not worry about bringing a ton of stuff, because I can just leave it in the car afterwards. I was running a little late this AM, but nothing tragic. A good gym run through. I caught up on my beloved Suze Orman podcasts and thought about writing this blog post. I remembered writing about my strange gym routines and traumas before, and thought it may be a good “hey, remember me!” post.

Great. I had a plan. I finished up my workout, showered and got dressed …

This time, instead of forgetting flip-flops for the shower, I forgot pants.

Seriously. Only me. So, I emailed my boss, and then drove home, and drove back to work.

Seems like I still need to work on that whole “preparedness” thing.

Locked In

January 17, 2012

It all started so innocently. My sister was going to come over, walk the dog with me and then we we’re going to go shoe shopping.

I was hanging out in the living room, and I heard her come up the steps, so I went to open the door before she got to it – otherwise Eva starts getting a little weird when people knock on the door. I went to turn the doorknob, and it was stuck. It wouldn’t turn.

I called out to her, and told her to get her key out of the lock (sometimes she tries to surprise the dog) and she said she wasn’t even up the stairs yet.

I jiggled the doorknob – nothing. I played with the lock. Nothing. I tried to have HER unlock the door. Still nothing. Totally jammed. Eva and I were locked in the apartment. On a Sunday – and one of us needed to go outside to pee. And one of us was locked on the other side, closer to freedom but wanting a snack.

Marisa had the genius idea to remove the doorknob. So, I found a screwdriver in the myriad of toolboxes (I really need to speak to Frank about how to better organize that hall closet) and I took off the doorknob.


Still no luck. The metal bolt thingamabob was stuck in the door.  We called the maintenance guys who reluctantly agreed to come over and help. After about 45 minutes, and a search for needle nose pliers later  — we got the door open. And it was totally destroyed. But – I was free!!!

And then I shoved a towel in the door to use as a makeshift doorknob. Thank goodness I still had a working deadbolt. The guy agreed to come back tomorrow “after lunch” to install a new doorknob, which I had to go out and buy. Great. So, I just have a towel for a doorknob and a broken door and a deadbolt separating Eva from the rest of the world.

We took our chances and failed. No shoes were purchased, but one new doorknob was.

I waited the whole next morning at home, for after lunch. I called the cell number he gave me. He picked up, I heard kids in the background, I told him who I was and … he hung up. All calls went straight to voice mail.

I called his boss, who informed me that it’s my personal door and my problem, and if the guy doesn’t want to fix it, that’s between me and “the guy.” Also, it’s his day off, so why am I calling him?

Ducky.

So, I called the next best thing to Frank (and a lot less expensive than a locksmith) – Frank’s sister. She agreed to come over that evening and help. And help she did. Apparently, I bought the wrong door plate, so we went back out to Home Depot, and then we located our drill, a working outlet, and some sort of giant file she used to file down the door. She had some crazy word for it, and told me it was similar to some other crazy tool I never heard of. She worked her butt off, and I couldn’t even offer her food or a drink, because I hadn’t gone food shopping. Only shoes.

By midnight, she had finished, Eva and I had been safely secured, I emailed the dog walker to let her know, and I dropped off poor Carol at home.

And that, my friends, is how you get locked IN your apartment.

How was your weekend?

Atheist in America (In a Minivan)

December 30, 2011

Awesome! Today my guest post appeared on one of my favorite blogs (with a great name – Rage Against the Minivan)  in a series she calls “What I Want You To Know.”

I write a small piece on some of my thoughts on feeling marginalized as an atheist in America. It was a response to a lot of other posts in the series about faith, and how it’s the only way to heal. I was super nervous to write it, but so far the response has been really positive.

Check it out – What I Want You to Know: Being Atheist in America.