On Easter Weekend, hectically

Thursday:

Thursday night, Kevin and I went to see the band FUN. at the Ogden.

It was, well, fun. After, we went to the Satire and had a few beers. I love the conversations that you can have with random strangers in bars. I really do. We met a nice guy and chatted about everything and life for the better part of the night.

Since I’m dumping out phone photos, here’s one of my favorite of Carlos last week.

Friday:

Friday night, Mike and I went to the Nuggets game for his birthday. We sat club level, ordered food and beer, and had a great time! I need to go to more basketball games with Mike. I like how he knows so much about each of the players and is more than willing to educate me.

Jacob is working at my work now! He’s temporary and semi-part time. He likes that it’s such a fluid job and I like having some help. Here’s hoping that it continues to work out well for both of us!

Saturday:

Saturday also brought Easter brunch with another of my favorite families. This is one of the best pictures of Aunt Sally, with our small friends. G made us all be quiet at the table and then say “Happy Easter!” all at once. The kids were so happy with the Easter egg hunt that we went to at the local park. All of the kids were excited; it was adorable.

This little guy was the best. He couldn’t have been more than 20 months, and he was so excited to pick up that one egg that he’d selected. He didn’t want to go with the 1-3 year olds, but instead, stopped right there and waited very patiently (if not also very stubbornly) for the 3-6 year old egg hunt to begin.


I had sushi with Heidi on Saturday. It was absolutely delicious. I need to learn how to make my own, I think. (Put it on my bucket list, please.) To think, just a year and a half ago, I wouldn’t eat sushi if you paid me. Now I can’t get enough. But I still won’t eat cooked fish (unless it’s shrimp). It’s all too seafood-y for me.

Since I didn’t end up having to babysit on Saturday night, I spent the better part of the day making some cheesecake-filled Easter eggs from a recipe that I found online. (Last week, I was excited because I had successfully boiled noodles and added sauce to form a pasta dish, so consider this quite an accomplishment. I even made my own whipped cream! Stiff peaks!)

Heidi and I were in the grocery store, googling things like, “what is confectioners sugar?” and “is jam the same as preserves?”. I’m just very glad I have a personality to make up for my lack of housewife-skills (cooking, cleaning, keeping one’s opinions to oneself, etc.)

The housewife comment is more in jest than anything else. (I mean, I really don’t have any housewife skills at all…so that’s still true.) I went to church with my brother, grandmother, and grandfather on Sunday and my grandma expressed shock at some of my requirements for a mate, including intelligence. “Don’t worry too much about that,” she said. “You’re going to get married and have babies and it won’t matter. Find someone who will be a good father.” While I do think that she’s correct about finding someone who will be a good father, and while I would like to get married and have babies, I’m not so sure that I’m going to just abandon my own intellectual and career pursuits. (By the way, there is the possibility of semi-exciting life news coming soon, but not just ready yet. And it’s not another crack at grad school, but it is academia-related. And I swear to you that I will blog about how much I love my job SOON. Because I need to.)

A very messy (and time consuming!) process for making my cheesecake eggs!

My white chocolate-cheesecake-fruit filled Easter eggs.

Sunday: 

Easter lilies – they’ve been brightening up my room for the past couple of weeks and I absolutely love them. Too bad we can’t have them all year-round.

My neighbor and I being Easter bunnies! I love her.

My dad gave me back a CD that he found. It was mine back in 2000. We put it in while we were driving back home. Even though the music isn’t exactly art, it brings back memories of awkward junior high dances and TRL (Total Request Live, that show on MTV that was hosted by Carson Daly that everyone loved). Even better, my 12-year old self still knew all the words!

Mostly, I just love the dress. and Carlos, who was none too happy to be posing for pictures.

Advertisements

On my toes

Life goes on, whether or not you’re ready to go with it.

The past few weeks have been a blur of wonderful newness, of comfort and bliss. They’ve also been full of stress, cancer, death, uncertainty, and pain. But that’s how life goes. Sometimes it throws everything at you at once, just to make sure you’re on your toes. So that’s where I’ve been. On my toes.

The first funeral was on Friday. I put on the black dress only to find that I had shrunk (or it had somehow stretched two sizes) and it wouldn’t be suitable. So instead, I found another black dress. This one still fits. (I really do need to start with this eating business. I’m a little bit bony.) I wasn’t going to go, and I didn’t tell Dad that I was going until I was on 6th Avenue, headed west, but I feel like I was in some ways obligated to go. It was good. Merrilee was such a funny person, and the last time I saw her was at Jeanie’s graduation party earlier this summer. It was good to meet the people who meant so much to her. They had pairs of nose glasses that she used to wear on a board, along with pictures of people wearing the nose glasses. It was good that I went because that meant that I got to chat with Jeanie while Dad talked to everyone else. On a nearly irrelevant note, they had mini quiches. I am such a fan of any party that has mini quiches.

But mini quiches aren’t the point. (Unless they are? Wouldn’t it be so nice if the entire meaning of life could be reduced to mini quiches? I could get down with that.)

Life doesn’t last forever.

Marshall died late Thursday night. He is now listening to the harp music at the great golf course in the sky. (What? It could totally happen. Maybe my personal heaven is bubble baths and wine.)
I sat next to him at Thanksgiving and watched as Juanita fussed with him about whether or not he was happy and comfortable. I was really touched by the fact that after so many years together, they were still taking care of each other. He was constantly aware of her presence and she always made sure that he had what he needed – although there was that one time when someone was missing a cup of coffee and she just grabbed his and said, “Here, have this one.” That’s the kind of love that everyone should be looking for. It might not always be the most effective, but at least it’s real.  They are seriously the best non-grandparents I could have had. (Although, now it’s our turn to make Juanita cookies just because.)

Cancer cancer cancer cancer. I’ve not got a lot to say about this one. Seriously, every time I turn around, someone else has it. We’ve got two at work, two on one side of the family. I was talking to Mom about this and she reminded me that this is just a bad spell. I warned her that she wasn’t allowed to get any more cancer just because everyone else was doing it. So we go on. I come from a family of tough people, particularly the women. We’ve got this. We’ll tackle it like we tackle anything else. Everyone will help where they’re needed. We’ll cover the gaps and everyone will emerge alright. I promise. And if anyone wants a healing animal, they’re welcome to borrow Carlos for a few weeks. Nothing will make you want to heal like having the very grumpy Carlos around. (He’s currently at the bottom of my bed with his his paws wrapped around my foot. I love him so much. Best worst decision ever.)

Got an email from the other side of the family today. God, I hate holidays so much. When I am ruler of the universe, there will be no family obligations unless, of course, you want to. I am already stressed at the thought of them cornering me. I’m already imagining it happen. And I’m already tense and terrified. Gross.

The grad school application is limping along, coming together bit by bit.

The giant proposal due at work remains unfinished. Tomorrow will be the ultimate race to the finish line.

But those things don’t really matter. I mean, of course they do. I’d be an idiot not to get my application in, since I still have a month left. And I’d be an idiot if I didn’t bust my ass to get that proposal done. But in the larger scope of things, there is so much more that matters, well, so much more.

On the brighter side, guess what’s awesome?

We went up to Keystone yesterday. Day 5 of snowboarding this season. I’m starting to get it. I did a Blue run with the boys then headed back up to find Emily. Spent the rest of the day on some long greens. It was good. Kevin and his brother came down from Vail to meet up with the group. The boys that we went up with are fun – one of them is in town from Boston, and he’ll be on our New Year’s trip. I’m starting to be able to do my toe side stuff, which means I’m actually able to snowboard properly. Pretty soon I’ll be doing sweet jumps! (That’s actually what I dream about.) Mom, best Christmas present ever. Without your insistence, I’d never be doing this. And I think it’s pretty rad. Also, pass is officially paid for now. Be stoked on that.

I have a boyfriend-thing going on. That was unexpected. I blame the Real World for making me question our relationship situation. So I asked him if we were dating. He said yes. Apparently, that was enough of an exclusivity conversation for him. (We later discussed all of this and figured everything out. It was very reminiscent of our first date.)
I am so ridiculously happy. He’s wonderful. He’s smart, funny, sarcastic, sweet. We are different enough that it will continue to be interesting for me. But we are similar enough that we just mesh well. He takes good care of me. The thing that I think I like the most is that he’s up for anything. When I’m like, let’s go to this concert (I’ve done that twice so far), he’s always open to it. He likes the random adventures that I like, which is good.

Broncos game today. I realize that the tickets came to us in the midst of sadness, but on the plus side, Mike and I are sort of going on a double date. I am bringing Kevin, who is awesome and driving back from family vacation in Vail in time for this. Mike’s bringing a girl! I think I’m probably more excited for this than I am anything else.

This is not one of those “live every day like it’s your last” posts, because those are dumb. But seriously, if you’re not doing something awesome, or something that you love, or something that’s wonderful, what are you doing with your life? After babysitting, I slept for nearly twelve hours last night. (that’s the something wonderful I was talking about.) That was exactly what I needed to do after being an idiot and going out with Katie before I went snowboarding. So today is marching forward and if I don’t hurry, I’m going to miss all the excitement.

I almost forgot: I started writing about being on your toes and life and then I looked down and remembered all the bandages on my toes. Yesterday morning, sometime in the pre-dawn hours, while I was frantically searching for snowboard gear in my room, I somehow managed to step into the side of a laundry basket, taking skin off of two of my toes. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw little bloody toe-prints. As it turns out, sometimes being on your toes doesn’t quite work out the way you’d planned.

Have a beautiful day, world, you deserve it.

This, and that. Among other things.

(What follow is purely emotional venting – you know I’m big on feelings and on that whole experience, so forgive me for detailing it all so intensely. If you’re not familiar with this particular family dynamic, there’s no point in attempting to further your knowledge with this post – so look elsewhere for your daily entertainment. You certainly won’t find it here, at least not today.)

It’s about to get a little heavy, though. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I’m not big on Christmas.
I used to like it, I think, but as the years have passed, I’ve become more and more of a Scrooge about the whole ordeal.
Because it really is an ordeal to me.

I love Christmas lights, Christmas trees, the flutter you feel when you’ve found the exact right gift for someone you love. I love driving in the dark on those bitterly cold nights looking at lights. I love seeing our Christmas tree weighted down under the ornaments; I love remembering how much they all mean to me.

There’s the sparkling ice cream cone to commemorate my years of Dairy Queen servitude, the pink car I got when I was 16, the mugs tilted on their sides showing a family of mice baking cookies (my personal favorite ornament), Mike’s fishing stuff, the Broncos ones, the crystal ones, the doves, the homemade ones, the glass ones…everything. Some are dated, some aren’t, some get more love than others, but each year my Mom wraps them all individually and puts them back in the boxes they came from and then we haul them down the stairs where they’ll wait patiently for the next year.

I don’t like remembering. I don’t like Christmas.
It brings back really bad memories.

I automatically tense up when the holidays approach – I feel them coming as the weight gradually settles around my shoulders and I prepare to grit my teeth and get on with it. I know I’m old enough to have grown out of these stupid little moods, but there are times when I can’t quite manage to keep it all together. I try, really, but somehow, something always slips through my defenses and nags at me until it has all come undone.

This year was no exception. It was all going well enough. For the second year in a row, I was watching Danny’s dog Emma, who comes with a free house to stay in for a few days. I was taking advantage of a quiet bathtub and an adorable dog and an empty house.
We’d made plans to go to one Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve (as usual) and then more plans to see the other side of the family the next day.
I felt that something was off, so when I finished Christmas Eve dinner and checked the text messages, I immediately knew something was wrong.

“Merry Christmas!! hey we now have plans tomorrow, but would love to cu guys soon. What’s tom’s #?”
6:13 pm.

My heart sank. I’d even spoken with Mom about this exact scenario. I’d seen it coming, but foolishly believed it wouldn’t happen.
How foolish I was. You can’t trust anyone, of course. There’s no point in convincing yourself it’s possible.
I spent the rest of the night holding in tears. Mom saw this, the eventual breakdown was sliding toward us, and ushered me home to go look after the dog. She saw the pain shooting through me, the hurt feelings. I rarely get my feelings hurt. I try to be tough enough, but every now and then….Christmas, and I was off-guard.

I love the family elements of Christmas – and I was beginning to think that pulling off family time wasn’t going to be so difficult. It never is with Mom’s family. I’ve come to realize over the years that they are the most family I have, really. They’re never to busy to see us, they go out of their way to do things together, they help each other.

Like this:

Uncle Mike, my mom’s brother-in-law, took a few days off to drive me to college my freshman year. Even though all the boys claimed they were just in it for the Cubs tickets (which I’m sure wasn’t a huge lie), they were sweet enough to make the drive and then leave me. They still tease me about how much of a mess I was when they left. I can see Uncle Mike now, imitating my voice, crying, as they left. “Don’t leave me, I’ll go to DU, I swear! Take me with you!” I’m eternally grateful for their help, and I sincerely hope they weren’t too scarred by my hysteria.
I’m the only girl grandchild on that side – you can imagine how they react to me. They understand more than they let on – they all had sisters – but that doesn’t mean they don’t take every opportunity to tease me. Christmas Eve, Uncle Mike was sitting telling me that my shoes made my ankles look skinny. Implicit in that remark was that they were fat enough to need to look skinny. He paused, then said, “What are they called? Cankles?” A lightning fast surge of fury shot through me, followed by a comfortable warmth and then a smile.
It was well-played, I have to admit. All the boys were laughing to themselves while I protested mildly about cankles.
That’s the kind of family that you want around you.

Christmas Eve, my brother Mike came home with me. I was on the verge of tears and furious. We walked the dog and he let me vent at him. Then he sat with me and we watched tv for a couple of hours late into the night – long enough that a calm had come over me. I’m grateful that he did that for me – he knew exactly what I needed without even asking.

Christmas Day was fine. We saw Dad’s new apartment. He cried, but that wasn’t unexpected. We dug through his garage and found retro Broncos sweaters from the ’80s, which we immediately claimed.
I rocked one of them for the game yesterday. Not a bad look, I must say.

It was Boxing Day when the phone rang and Dad’s mom was on the other line. I could hear the guilt creeping through her voice, I know that’s why she called me. I wasn’t in the mood to play nice, so I told her exactly what I was (am) feeling.

That it’s bullshit to call and cancel on us at 7 pm on Christmas Eve, that we’re not stupid enough to think that “other plans” aren’t just the regular plan minus us.
“Maybe they’ll make it up to you,” she said softly. I snorted into the phone. “Not likely,” I told her. “They never do.”

And so it was. I stated my case, told her how this always happens just because her side of the family doesn’t want to see Dad, told her that Mike and I are independent adults who are capable of father-free actions, that we’re sick of feeling left out like that.

(If it’s not because they don’t want to see Dad, then I have no idea what it could possibly be. I’ve spent so much time trying to be the niece and granddaughter they want me to be and I’ve finally given that up. I’ve tried to show them that I’m not off doing drugs – as Dad used to tell them – and that my life is on track. Hello, does my Bachelor’s degree from a Catholic university mean nothing to them?
I can only think of once, maybe. We were little – I was fifteen. They found a lighter in their house and assumed it was mine. [It wasn’t.] I never explained that to them, but if that’s what it is, it’s been way overblown. That was 8 years ago. I babysat their kids a week ago, so it can hardly be the lighter thing, right? I’m responsible, respectful, polite. I answer the kids’ questions in a very PC way that no one should be able to find fault with. I’m a pro-babysitter, remember? It’s my job to assist in child raising, not de-rail it.)

“You always have Christmas Eve with your Mom’s family,” she said. That fact has nothing to do with it. I wasn’t invited to any Christmas Eve thing on Dad’s side, so how can that be played as a card?
She was crying, and soon, so was I.
“It’s really shitty to cry on Christmas Eve,” I told her. “It’s shitty to feel left out by your own family. Rejected like that.”
“My hands are tied,” she said. I disagree.
“Do you want to see them?” she asked.
“Why would I want to see people who have no interest in seeing me?” I asked, before I had to hang up because I was crying so much.

The divorce didn’t have to put us in the middle like that. It’s stupid that ten years later, we’re still paying for the mistakes of our parents. It didn’t have to come down to one side of the family against the other, but it’s looking like we’ve got a clear winner.
And no, Dad, this one’s not about money. It’s about family and yours obviously doesn’t think that we belong.

Again, that Christmas refrain: Bad memories and a sour taste.