On Wedding Weekend, Spiritedly

I forgot how much I love to travel.

Love. The other morning, I had the urge to just throw things into the back of my car (including the cat – who doesn’t hate the car as much as you’d think), and run far away. I wanted to drive until there was no more road, until I’d come upon the glorious nirvana that is endless waterfalls and starry nights that never get too cold.

I love grabbing my “mountain backpack” (that’s what I call it, I bet it has a proper mountain term) from the closet and filling it to the brim with whatever I’m going to need for the next three to five days. I love the travel-sized toiletries. I love the bits of brightly colored fabric straps that have been tied to the zipper pulls for the past four years. I love the way I feel when I wear it.

I love shouldering the always too-full pack (always. I’m going to be the worst backpacker ever) and heading into the airport. In those moments, before the back aches set in and my feet start to hurt, I am filled with the possibility of adventure, with excitement, with a tingling in my fingertips as I hand over my boarding pass to the TSA agent.

I always try to make the exact awkward face I’m making in my driver’s license or even worse (better?), the face from my passport. I don’t know if they find that as hilarious as I do, but it’s worth it.

Chicago, gold coast, streelights,

The view from my friend’s apartment downtown. Oh Chicago, your cold spring winds caught me off-guard and were terrible. But the magic of the city is palpable. Its energy flows around you. It’s sublime.

This is where Katie and Eric got married. Between those two trees. I started tearing up when I saw her start walking down the aisle. I teared up again when her dad gave a speech, but it was her mom’s that put me over the edge. It was beautiful.

White wine. Photo booth. I kept calling it a “king hat.” It’s very obviously a crown. I’ve always been good with synonyms. Dancing. It was so wonderful to see my friends. I have missed them.

On Sunday, my friend Anne drove out to the burbs to pick me up and then we went back to her place and watched new episodes of Arrested Development and got frozen yogurt. I went with her to a birthday party before heading back to Denver.

I’ve been telling Evan that I want to go camping with him (athleticism and adventurous spirits are so sexy, but I’m nervous that I don’t have enough of that – maybe enthusiasm can make up for it?). My goal is to go to Conundrum Hot Springs, which is a very lovely 8.5 mile hike each way. While I was in Chicago, with my “mountain backpack,” I took the stairs as much as possible at the train stations to practice hiking. (Obviously this is a very flawed approach, but you have to work with what you’ve got.)

Sunday was great – I woke up early and went to REI with Evan. I’m really not having great luck with not losing Nalgene water bottles (I left yet another one in Spokane), so I thought I’d try yet again.  (80th time’s the charm, right?) We’re two days in and I’ve not lost them yet.

[Hah, I just have to insert a thought here that has nothing to do with anything, except losing stuff. My freshman year of college, while being young and dumb, I lost my camera at a bar. Shortly after, my mom sent me a care package with a package of cards with a note attached that said, “Maybe these will entertain you on those Friday nights when you don’t want to go out and lose something.” I love my mom.]

After REI, we went to brunch and then, faced with the prospect of an entire day off, I went to see Jacob. There was coffee, cleaning (I owed him – he’s helped me clean so many times), and then we met up with my brother and his friends for some grilling in the park.

Delicious.

Evan was at work, so I brought him dinner – tucked into an empty 6-pack was a cornucopia (ha, mostly) of delicious picnic foods: a brat with grilled onions and German mustard, chips, grapes, and cookies.  He loved it. (Relief. I was a bit nervous that it was going to be the worst thing.)

Summer is coming and I’m in full adventure mode. I want nothing more than to take road trips and to see things I’ve never seen before. Also, I’d love to actually get around to planting my garden (too late, but whatever), and doing yard work, and relaxing in my hammock. I’m filled with the same excited anticipation that I get waiting to get on the plane. It’s endless possibility and experience and it’s all in front of me. This is going to be the best thing.

On the Marrow of Life, Lovely

(I don’t care that “lovely” isn’t technically an adverb. But if you were to use it as an adverb, then you would be able to attempt to encapsulate everything I’m trying to put in this post. Think of it that way. I do what I want; deal with it.)

I think I was a sophomore in high school when we read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” At this point, I had not yet developed my hardened hatred for Hemingway  and was far more open to the literature from that time than I am now. I loved and hated the book.

At my core, I believe firmly in hopeless, foolish love. But at the same time, I recognize a situation that has no hope of ending well.  You can’t quite manage to tear your eyes away, watching the disaster unfold in front of you. It’s the compelling crash, but even as I see everything unravel, I hold out hope that there’s some way to fix it, for the characters to run off into the sunset together, happy and unburdened.

I also happen to adore Baz Luhrmann, mostly for “Romeo + Juliet”, but also “Moulin Rouge” and “Australia” — tear-jerkers, the lot of them. I’ve been meaning to go see “The Great Gatsby” but haven’t managed to find the time.

Evan came to visit me at Dairy Queen to try my roasted beets – his face was priceless, and he declared that he didn’t hate them, but I’m not sure if that was just an attempt to preemptively soothe my eager, anxious ego.

Spurred on by the wildling living inside me, I declared that I wanted night tennis (which is exactly what it sounds like); he did not. He suggested the movie; I readily agreed and plans were formed. He stayed for an hour and helped us close. Poor guy – his day off and he finds himself at work, sweeping and counting. I was thrilled, because we got out in time to make it to the last showing (11:15 PM; we’re madmen).

The theater was nearly vacant. I curled up and settled in for a long movie. It was breathtaking. I’m actually surprised that Luhrmann didn’t go for a more disconnected, surreal vibe. It obviously was, but I almost wanted more. It was elegant. I’m a sucker for Jay-Z and I loved the soundtrack. There were moments of brilliantly placed black humor.

The critics are right – we do lose some of the story through the visuals, but I think in the end, the story isn’t about the details. It’s about more than that. It transcends its own plot, as poignant and pertinent today as it was then. It speaks to experiences and heartbreak and the evils of obsession. You cannot repossess your past. There is no way to go back, no matter how hard one tries. There is only the bittersweet, hopeful march forward.

Speaking of the bittersweet, hopeful march forward, I’ve been on a journey of my own lately. It’s not bittersweet at all, it’s beautiful. The slow kindling of something into something more has created in me a warm radiance that seems so natural, I feel as though it’s always been there. It’s brimming with possibilities and the prospect of adventure.

For this, and so many other things, I am eternally grateful. I’ve been wondering Why now?, for it emerged suddenly but sweepingly, but I don’t want to wonder. I want to let this cloud of happiness swallow me whole, and I believe that’s exactly what I’m going to do. (He hates baseball and golf, too! Ugh, this is the best thing!)

We had our first book club meeting last night. The discussion was interesting, at times incomprehensible  and all around inconclusive, as I imagine every discussion about gendered communication to be. It was lovely. We sat on the porch outside, gathered around a table full of snacks, until the air grew too cool and we retired inside.

Then there was Game of Thrones. And of course, I fell asleep, warm and safe, pretending that I wouldn’t be unhappily woken by the rude intrusion of the daylight and the 4 alarms I set each night. But alas, employment called and I answered, reluctantly leaving my nest. (I won’t lie, I’m an insanely good nester. My bed consists of pillows and blankets and small bits of heaven.)

And now, I’m off to Chicago for a wedding! I always cry at weddings. I always cry at everything. The other day at Dairy Queen, a grandmother with tears in her eyes thanked me for letting them have their graduation party there, and told me how wonderful it was. And then I teared up. Because it was so sweet. She was so happy. It was just a cake. It was beautiful.

I haven’t been back to Chicago since last Memorial Day. I’m going to eat Dunkin Donuts, and touch the Bean like a tourist, and eat Portillo’s, and go to Laschet’s (or Laschet’s’z, as I call it), and stand by the lake. It’s going to be lovely. I have beautiful dresses to wear, too, so that never hurts.

Enjoy your weekend.

On the Weekend, Happily

I truly believe that sometimes life hands you exactly what you need when you least expect it. I believe that radiant joy can be found in the strangest of places, like a crowded bar or during an impromptu adventure sometime during the darkest hours of the night.

Last week, my horoscope said that my personal winter was over. As I read it, I sighed in relief. (I don’t care if you don’t put stock in horoscopes, I believe that even the slightest suggestion of positivity can work wonders, and thus, I allow them into my heart, hoping that they’ll plant the seeds of sustainable hope.)

The past few months have been quite the journey, testing me in ways I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to withstand. Whenever I feel like quitting, I laugh and think of my brother quoting Wedding Crashers, “Rule number 76,” he’ll yell, “no excuses. Play like a champion.” As soon as I posted that rather melancholy blog post last week about how down I felt at work and with life, I imagined what Mike would say. He’d have told me to stop focusing on the negative and to count my blessings, to cultivate the positive in my thoughts and in my life.

And I did.  The universe responded in kind, rewarding me with a weekend so full of joy and adventure that even through the exhaustion, there was no possibility but to be happy. So here we are. Spring. New beginnings. Renewed strength. Hope. Joy.

Exhausted from my third fifteen-hour work day last week, I went home Friday night and collapsed into bed. I’m so disappointed – I finished the three seasons of The League that Netflix has to offer and now I’m not sure what to work through. I could finish Breaking Bad, or Mad Men, or ….the possibilities are endless, and overwhelming. 

Saturday brought babysitting. I had two of the three girls. We painted, and did some stretching (we call it yoga, but it’s not yoga at all), and read some stories. I painted Carlos and a birthday card for Jacob.

I went home, got my nails done with Gina (oh yes, the simple joy of a pedicure and gel fill is like best kind of joy), went to my cousin’s birthday with my family – Happy 32nd, Brian! – and then went to meet up with Jacob for his birthday.

I usually have a “no drinking in heels” rule, but I just got some wedges that are so adorable that the rule had to be amended to “no shots in heels.” I danced, quite happily, and then managed to clumsily drop both a glass of ice and a cup half-full of gin and tonic. If you’re looking for a graceful woman, I am in no way your girl.

In all fairness, I was so nervous. For the first time in a long time, I have a crush on a boy developing and I’m panicking. “Be cool” is not a phrase that exists in my life dictionary. Also curiously missing is “Remember to breathe.”

We ended up chasing the dawn, a small party filled with music and couches and warm PBR. (I owe someone beer. Remind me to check on that. I hate drinking beer without giving back; it makes me feel terrible inside.) At some point, I grew bold and reached for his hand, and as our fingers came together, it was simultaneously terrifying yet familiar.

I danced. I talked to new people. I drove home and accidentally let the cat out and spent five minutes chasing him around the yard as dawn broke around me. The chirping of the birds sounded like mockery and I groaned as I finally secured the black beast and held him tight against my chest, pressing my face into his furry head with relief at his safe capture.

I woke up, threw on hipster shorts, and went to brunch with Jacob and Ben. We wandered down Colfax, bringing coconut water to a friend who’d joined us for the evening and who had to work early. We went to Cheeseman Park, pulling some sheets from my trunk to lay on. Just as we’d settled into the grass, the sky grew dark, the air suddenly biting with cold wind. Desperate for summer, we stripped down to our shorts, but frozen in the wind, we huddled under the sheets. It was miserable, and as we headed back to the car, it started to sleet/hail – small soft balls of ice shattering against my windshield.

I went home, napped, and then went to work. By the time I got there, I was wrung out, ready for a respite from consciousness, and thoroughly not prepared to be fully present. I told Evan that if I stopped, I’d most likely fall asleep, and we settled into a frantic rhythm as we helped the customer after customer who came in never-ending waves. I was laughing, though, delighted by my life and in the hilarity of the present moment, and the night passed easily.

I teased Evan about being a professional just as I nearly overflowed the strawberry container, and we had a discussion about his favorite physicist as we wiped down the store. At one point, I turned to Evan and muttered something about “….the inevitable existential crises” that result from our (under)employment at Dairy Queen. He laughed and nodded. I imagine that I won’t work there much longer after he goes; he’s my partner in crime, the other half of the A-Team. The lighthearted and yet mindful banter we engage in both enriches my life and keeps me entertained.

***

Totally off-topic, but then again, when am I ever fully on-topic?

Recently, my favorite pair of jeans resurfaced from the depths of the house, the same place all the socks must go. They are the first “nice” pair of jeans I ever owned, purchased when I was 21. They have traveled with me to countless cities, and they’ve been worn down to the soft point where they’re like pajamas. (The back pockets are also ripping, so it’s a “wear at your own risk or with big underwear” situation.) I put them on today, reveling in their nostalgic magic. But then I got to work and I remember why I won’t wear them anymore: as you wear them, they start to expand, as tired pants are wont to do. By noon, they’re now like two sizes bigger than they were when I put them on this morning. So you know, that’s less than thrilling. Perhaps they’ll have to become house-bound lounge pants from now on.

On Hate, Sadly but Love, Optimistically (Legitimately)

no8, marriage equality, gay rights, human rights, love,

A glimpse of the “Mermaid’s Tears” nails to start your day. But more importantly, let’s chat about the gays. (I’ve scribbled a symbol for marriage equality across my ring finger.)

Emily came over for our girls night last night – since GIRLS is over, we ended up making mac and cheese and then funfetti cupcakes. Delicious. We had to chase the cat-beast because he got out and hid under the stairs. (Scary. I don’t want him to escape because if he does, he might get eaten by a wild animal. And my heart…..oh my heart would break into thousands of pieces. I’d be inconsolable.)

We were talking about friendship. We’ve been friends since high school – she was afraid of me until we went on the forensic science trip to Ireland/London, where we absolutely bonded.

We were talking about unconditional love and acceptance – the kind that goes with friendship. We talked about how valuable it is to have a strong support system, the kind where you can be your true self, the kind where you can share your fears and your heartbreaks and your successes.

Why the long lead-in? (What? You don’t care about my cat or what I ate for dinner last night?!)

For me, knowing that the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in Hollingsworth v Perry
– 
the gay marriage debate has reached the Supreme Court! – is such progress, such a monumental advancement, such a terrifying time. This ruling, although it most likely won’t be handed down for some time, is such an important map of the future of our country and the future of civil rights as we know them.

What does this have to do with friendship, with solidarity?

As it turns out, I sometimes worry that I don’t have a diverse enough friend group. And by that, I mean that I sometimes worry that I need more straight friends. (Kidding, mostly. Mike and I were talking about our friend groups after the adoption panel a few weeks ago – he’s got a very racially diverse friend group and I’ve got a diverse friend group that includes a wide range of people in all professions, age groups, walks of life, and sexual orientations.)

One thing that I’m grateful for is that I exist in such a welcoming, open space. My friends are people who love and respect and genuinely welcome diversity. I often find myself the lone straight girl in a group, and instead of allowing that to remove me from it, I embrace it. Honestly, I don’t even notice it anymore. The people I hang out with are my friends first, gays and straights and whatever else second….a far second.

Marriage is something that I want some day. It’s something that I want for myself and for each of my friends (each of them who wants to be married, of course). My hope, a hope that springs from a place of love, from a place of peace, and from a place of community, is to someday attend the weddings of the people who I care the most about; it is to know that should something happen, both partners have the full protections that legal marriage can offer them; it is to know that love has overcome hate and that we have known the peace that can come after hard work and struggle to promote change.

I hope that future generations understand the full weight of this upcoming decision and that they understand the amount of work that so many people have put in to make this a national discussion. I also hope they sit back and shake their heads with disgust as they think about the people who tried so hard to prevent this. I hope that my children think that gay marriage is common sense; that being gay is natural; that it’s okay to be who you are. I hope they don’t have to fear for their lives or defend themselves against attacks based on who they are, what they look like, who they love.

Because at the end of the day, it comes down to love and community. There’s nothing I want more than a community based on love and support, the kind that comes from strong friendships and shared goals.

It’s love. It’s more than religion or politics. It’s love. Love is the stuff that makes the world go ’round. Love is the life force that drives us, that moves us, that picks us up and leaves us breathless. What kind of monster would you have to be to deny love? (As soon as I typed that, I started thinking of certain kinds of weird love that we should deny. But my point stands: between consenting adults, love – the kind of love that makes them want to commit to each other in the eyes of the law – is a beautiful, natural thing that should be revered, celebrated, shouted out, and respected.)

 

Edit: [Typing with long, reptile claw nails is ridiculously difficult. I’ve been making serious errors everywhere. If you were to somehow calculate correct usage of the English language and keep a chart of it, you’d see a sudden drop-off in exactness, or even near-ness. I feel like I’m just banging on the keyboard and hoping that words come out. Ugh. First world problems, I know. But seriously. Try it some time. Example – last night, I tried to unwrap a fresh cupcake. Could I do it? No. Weak. It was the ultimate in shame.]

On Rape and Rising, Hopefully

[There are potential triggers in this post re: rape. Please do not proceed if this may make you uncomfortable.]

“Rape” is a four-letter word.

I’ve written before about my journey to the realization about the devastation of rape (I knew, but I didn’t know, you know?). Now that I’m fully aware of not only the physical effects but the emotional and psychological devastation caused by rape, I’m burning with rage about it.

My friends and I have spent a lot of time discussing the gray areas surrounding the concept of sexual assault and rape. It’s a harrowing topic, because the more it’s discussed, the more it doesn’t make sense anymore. There’s the “maybe” and the “I don’t know” and the “intent,” but at the end of the day, regardless of where any act stands on the spectrum, it’s a harmful, traumatic experience, period.

It was one of my friends, during a recent discussion about rape amazed me with his passion, who reminded me why it’s not a fruitless endeavor to fight for change. His anger, his emphasis, the sincerity in his voice – it brought me out of the removed apathy that so many of us don when we’re hesitant. It brought me into the present; it ignited a part of my soul.

They say that rape is about power, and I guess that to a certain extent it is. But it’s more than that, too. It’s about having your power taken from you. Rape, gray area rape or legitimate rape or date rape or sexual assault or whatever else you can think to call it, takes away your power. It makes you feel weak inside. It makes you skittish and scared; it makes you hurt all over; it makes you burn with shame, even though you know that it’s not your fault.

It’s under-reported. I can empathize with those women (or men) who for any number of reasons, cannot report it, and suffer in silence. I think of the Kobe Bryant trial. I don’t care whether or not it was rape – look at what happened to the victim. She was shamed, called horrible names, doubted, had her life spread before the eyes of the world and then slowly dismantled to be examined. So often, it comes down to “he said, she said” and nothing can be proven.

(I should note here that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people assume that women are “crying rape” for attention. I don’t think anyone should ever misreport anything, and it’s disgraceful to do it – but at the same time, every time someone reports something, people are so quick to make critical judgments and I think that says a ridiculous amount of negative things about humanity.)

The statistic that 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped within her lifetime is terrifying. One billion women. One billion. (I’m imaging Mike Meyers as Dr. Evil saying “one million dollars” right now….)

Think about that number. Really think about that. What does that say? What does that say about men? What does that say about our tolerance for violence? What does that say about our inclination to make women bear the brunt of the responsibility for actions committed against them?

The world is not a safe place. It never has been. But that’s not an excuse for us to stop working toward something better. I hate the idea that women are weak. I hate it. But I understand it.

During college, I took a Transgender English class – liberal arts, I know – and we read a story about a college professor who transitioned from male to female. I hated the book at the time – she wrote about embracing femininity in a way I found to be so shallow, materialistic, and stereotypical. She wrote about the vulnerability that she felt when she felt the wind between her thighs when she was wearing a skirt.

I disregarded the notion entirely. But I have gained new insight. I do understand the vulnerability. I am glad that I never realized my own vulnerability while I was living in Chicago or staying in Cape Town. I’m glad that I was bull-headed and street-smart enough to be safe.

No amount of “right decisions” can protect you. No amount of preparedness can keep you from harm. There is no such thing as safety. It’s all merely an illusion. That’s what we’ve come to as a society. Our gated communities and fancy security guards are nothing. Trust is irrelevant, an outdated idea shirked in favor of deceit and false self-truths.

Enough is enough. Listen to Eve Ensler (Vagina Monologues!) say some powerful stuff about the movement called “One Billion Rising.” People are breaking their silence. They’re letting go of the discomfort that they feel when discussing something as taboo as rape and sexually motivated violence. They’re realizing that something needs to change. People need to be held accountable for their actions. People need to fundamentally respect other people.

Rape is a preventable crime. It’s not preventable in the ways that have been suggested in the past, such as “dress more conservatively.” I forget who originally made the counter-point to this, but it’s so incredibly valid: what does that say about men? That they’re little more than wild beasts who will be unable to control themselves at the sight of flesh? That argument in itself is disgraceful to men and to women.

What I wear or do not wear cannot be construed as an invitation for rape or violence. What I do or say or act like cannot be construed as an invitation for rape of violence. There is no valid excuse. None at all.

We need to teach our young men that “no means no.” We need to teach them that power can be gained through other avenues that are more rewarding than acts of violence aimed at belittling and degrading other people. We need to emphasize respect – actions have consequences. Even if you can’t see the harm that’s been done, it’s there. We need to dispel the myth that sex is something to be taken, something to be claimed.

We need to remind all women that their voices and experiences matter. We as a global society need to value our women, rather than marginalizing them and quieting their voices. We need to remind women to be strong – we need to assure them that we’ll support them, heal them, and lift them up.

No one can be an island. We’re not in this fight alone. Globalization necessitates cooperation and conviction. We must work together to stop this perpetuation of violence, of hatred, of fear. Sexual violence against women (and men, too) has long been used as the ultimate bargaining tool, a source of shame and ultimate destruction. We must stop it. We must make it so that our people are free from the terror of vulnerability.

The world is willing to work for change – it’s time for us to realize that the capacity for human compassion and love is ever-present. This is a beautiful thing. Love is the essence of humanity – it keeps us strong and humble. Love is something we need to work on teaching our children. With a strong foundation, they will be less likely to take from others what they cannot find in themselves.

On Luck, Unluckily

It has most certainly been a very eventful week. And not necessarily in a good way. It’s frustrating, because I subscribe to the “put good out into the world, get good back” philosophy. Usually, I seem to maintain a pretty level relationship with the rest of the universe.

Lately, that’s been a seemingly impossible task. This is odd – Mercury isn’t in retrograde; there isn’t a full moon; I’m not in any way overwhelmed by floods of strange hormones. It’s just like all of a sudden, my luck has run out.

Remember that Disney channel original movie, The Luck of the Irish? We got cable when my parents divorced, so I spent most of middle school totally obsessed with the Disney channel while trying to sneak views of MTV when no one knew I was looking – that was when TRL was cool and Eminem was upsetting middle-class parents across America. I can probably still spit most lines from a few of his albums. (Oh god, I didn’t just type that. Mostly, I wrote that because “rap” sounded crass and I believe I’m unqualified. But perhaps “spitting lines” implies a level of rap battle preparedness that I’ll never achieve? Because honestly, any amount of rap battle preparedness is more rap battle preparedness than I’ll ever have.)

I mean, maybe I’ve been looking at the situation all wrong: I do have elf-like features and I’m most likely at least part Irish, maybe I’m just a leprechaun. Perhaps this spell of bad luck is just because an evil Irish-dancing leprechaun has made off with my luck, and all I have to do to get it back is beat him in a basketball game (giving real meaning to “March Madness”). But in that case – losing – I’d probably have to spend the rest of my life without my luck (my jump shot is a tad rusty).

Just so we’re clear, I’m this guy:

 

and whatever force is currently harshing my buzz (on life) is this guy:

I mean, there are definitely some silver linings to some of the stuff that’s been going on in the form of compassionate souls, understanding, lessons learned, and general introspection, but on the whole, I am making a mess of everything I touch. Life in general is crumbling around me, all of a sudden. It’s like dominoes. It’s like straws on a camel’s back. It’s like floodgates. Pick your metaphor, whichever is the most disastrous. One thing fell, and everything is tumbling down.

So here I am, trying to weather the storm. (Hah, apparently I’m going for broke on the terrible metaphors today.) Here’s hoping that things calm down and go back to normal soon – I’m ready to go back to the stasis of optimism. This pessimistic peering at the bottom of things is really getting me down. Here’s to a swift return of my luck, of my hope, and of normal.

(Images stolen from the internet – they should link back to their original source.)

On the Big Steps, Thoughtfully

Post root canal, I drove home, gingerly lowered myself onto the couch, popped a pain pill and didn’t move. (It was glorious. I watched Breaking Bad and snuggled with the cat.)

I can’t chew on one side of my mouth (it was my chewing side! and my favorite tooth!) for the next month, so eating has been a horrific challenge that plagues me with terror. I called my dentist’s office to see about moving the appointments to get the tooth crowned, and she told me not to worry unless something really big comes out. Great. Now I keep imagining just spitting out bits of mangled tooth. (Graphic, I know. Sorry. I’m like the anti-tooth fairy right now. You want fuzzy images of happy fairies and shiny teeth and money? Ask my five-year old neighbor, who just lost her first tooth. Her view of all things teeth is rather rosy at the moment.)

I spent Friday in bed, covers pulled tight around me, as though nesting would speed the healing process. He drove up to lounge with me. I had gotten up to go get cupcakes and Thai food – pineapple curry, as usual, was the only thing that sounded good. The cupcakes were for him; he has a sweet tooth and who doesn’t love cupcakes? I hadn’t showered – didn’t feel like it – and was a general, grumpy, rumpled mess. I was grateful that he didn’t seem to mind.

Friday night was family dinner. Prior to receiving news that I’d be having the Great Root Canal Adventure of 2012 (and hopefully the only one ever), we’d been planning Friday date night around family dinner. The date night was going to be Mean Girls (he’d never seen it. Who makes it through life without seeing that movie?!), takeout, and Halloween gingerbread house decorating. Instead, it was a 4th date full of grumpy, medicated Katie and 14 members of her family.

Once we’d decided that he was going to come to family dinner (they’re casual affairs, nothing stuffy or overdone), I panicked. As I was throwing clothes around my room, he looked at me – amused, I hope – and asked, “What, you’ve never met your own family before?”

We stopped at Whole Foods (I’ve never been into the one by my mom’s house – I avoid Whole Foods at all costs: they’re pretentious, overpriced, and filled with ridiculous hipster/hippies that make me feel so inadequate and un-hip.) to pick up some bread to bring. He likes this olive bread and I picked out some fruit/nut grainy-looking loaf.

As it turns out, this olive bread is the most delicious thing ever. And now, I may have to brave the onslaught of self-loathing just to get to it. Maybe I’ll affect some sort of hipster swagger, and they’ll never know I’m not one of them. I’ll pay for the loaf, cock my head to the side, do that nod of universal cool, and bail. Once I’m safely in my car, I’ll breathe, open the bag and sniff the loaf of olive bread like Golem hoarding his precious. Totally worth it.

So we arrived, ten minutes late, just as everyone else was arriving. In the taking of the coats, I lost him for a few minutes. The first five minutes were rough for both of us. I was in my typical, “if I avoid it, it’s not really happening” mode, and he was overwhelmed. I get that. It was the fourth date. We’re talking about a step that usually doesn’t happen until you’ve been together for a while. A long while.

I have a thing about bringing guys home to meet my family. For me, it can be a total deal breaker. My family is a big part of my life, and if I’m with someone who can’t handle that, then I’m forced to re-examine my relationship. I’m serious, it’s been the final straw for a few relationships. I need someone who’s not just going to stare at his plate and check his phone, wishing he was somewhere else. I need someone who’s going to engage and be fully present.

As far as I’m concerned, he knocked it out of the park. My uncle, whose opinion is very important to me, pulled me into the kitchen at one point during the meal and said, “This one’s a keeper. We want someone just like him. Even if he’s not the one, you’re on the right track.” It was so nice to have such strong validation.

He talked, he ate, he was generally adorable. He later told me that he was terrified going into it, but that he had a great time, loved the family, and wouldn’t have chosen to spend his night any other way. He told me, jokingly, that he hoped that they liked him because they’re going to be seeing a lot more of him. That made me happy. Really happy.

I met his friends last night. I drove down to him (an hour away) and got to see his office (!!) before we met his friends for dinner. I was nervous (I had no right to be, I was meeting one couple and he had just met 14 people), but they were wonderful. It was a really great evening, although it ended too soon because I had to drive back to Denver to sleep before work this morning.

So, things are moving quickly. But we’re being reasonable and rational. There’s plenty yet to come, and plenty of big things that haven’t happened yet. I know that jumping into things is my specialty, but this feels different. This feels somehow familiar. My mom commented that she felt like he’d been there before. I agree. This is so new, but it feels like forever. We’re on the same page. And I like it.

The Halloween card he mailed me didn’t hurt, either.

(You can all go vomit up love emotions now.)

On All Intents and Purposes, Intensively

Last Friday, anticipation of our second date sang through my blood, mingling with the terror of an upcoming professional experience: my first trade show appearance. It’s simple: you go, you haul a booth, you set up said booth, then you stand in front of it (or off the side, angled close enough to be attached yet far enough away that you’re not blocking the text that you’ve so carefully crafted) and smile and answer questions about your software.

So I went. I struggled over what to wear, but decided on a loose tweed skirt, black tights, black cardigan, black flats. (Black flats were the best choice. I’m tall to begin with, and wasn’t in the mood to have my double-jointed ankles falling all over the conference.) It was perfect. I looked professional, appropriate, and blended in exactly as I wanted to.

We set up our booth. The attendees wandered through the hall. I smiled. I networked. I talked about legal software and more legal software, and I was happy. I was comfortable, the nerves were gone. At one point, an attendee came over to my table and told me that she wasn’t interested in legal software, but she thought that I was absolutely beautiful. I glowed with pleasure at the unexpected compliment. I love that legal administrators are the friendly grandmother type. It eased the nerves. Now I am one hundred percent sure I can take on lawyers, which I’m surprisingly not intimidated by at all. (That may or may not be a lie.)

It was a good day.

***

But date night was even better! Second date nerves had me throwing things all over my room, unsure of what to wear. I googled it, and one of the results said that I should have worn jeans and a cute top on the first date then upped it to a dress on the second. I rolled my eyes. In the end, I was cold, so I decided on skinny jeans, combat boots, and a gray sweater.

It was cold, dark, and snowing. I was late, but only because he was early. We ate sushi at the place by my house, and I found myself chattering nervously. After dinner, lulled into our first real extended silence, I swirled my water around in my glass and looked up at him. “Can I tell you something?” he asked. Then he told me that I terrify him, but in the best way. He compared me to a t-rex. I raised my eyebrows. Smart man that he is, he quickly assuaged my fears that I somehow resemble a lizard-like – worse, prehistoric – predator. The opposite, in fact. He is under the impression that I am radiant, intelligent, and wonderful. I’m not going to complain.

I told him about my errand-rule: you can tell a lot about a potential relationship by running errands. If doing lame but necessary things together is enjoyable and positive, then the relationship has a better chance of surviving. As it so happened, he needed to run some errands in preparation for Halloween. I was overjoyed, of course, since I find the idea utterly romantic. (Yeah, I get that it’s weird. Whatever.)

Our third date was on Sunday – a day date complete with errands, pure heaven – and it started off with bagels. Then it was off to Target in search of Halloween decorations. Since he commutes for our dates, I drove. Oh god, my car! He saw my car and didn’t leave me right then and there, so that’s got to be a good sign. We drove, and when he didn’t say anything. I started to breathe again.

Pulling into the Target parking lot, he asked me, “Have you ever seen 50/50″? I said no, but I knew what he was going to say. The car scene. Long story short: The guy gets into the girl’s car and it’s got stuff all over the floor. She’s talking and he’s like, “Pull over,” and she does, expecting him to get sick, but then he grabs stuff off her floor and goes to throw it away. She stops him and retrieves her dinner from the pile. It’s cute. When Katie first told me about the car scene in the movie, she ended the story with, “There’s still hope for us!” meaning that someone would still love us even though our cars are messy. She was right.

After two different Targets (when you need a furry spider with orange lights for your wall, you NEED a furry spider with orange lights for your wall), plenty of Halloween decorations and a pair of socks, and a viewing of the movie “Frankenweenie” – during which I cried twice because dogs and kids get me every time – we found ourselves in City Park, wandering.

City Park fall

Autumn in the park is beautiful. He gets credit for this photo, since I am nowhere near that talented a photographer. I wish he’d gotten one with my actual smile instead of my satisfied-but-haven’t-yet-broken-into-a-smile smile. But alas, the more I look at this picture, the more I like it.

This feels different, but in a good way. It’s intense and familiar. I know that I’m prone to leaping into things with both feet, but this is something I’m simultaneously leaping into and dipping just one big toe into. I want to make sure it’s right before going any further, except the more we discuss, the more I find we share. I am examining our motives for seeking out the companionship of another, questioning everything, basking in the newness of it all, and glowing, for no reason other than sometimes you just need to let the light through. The only way to know if it’s right is to forge on and build fierce memories. Fierce, like a t-rex.

On a/the First Date, Fatefully

date night dress

(Candid. I like that I’m carrying leftovers and a rose in one hand and making a fist with the other.)

Is there anything better than the promise of what could be? Last night was one of those rare instances where the experience far outweighs the anticipation.

Dinner was set for 7:17 – a time mutually agreed upon by all parties. I was nervous all day; I scrubbed off the black nail polish that I’ve been sporting, worried about what black might say about me (entirely forgetting that nail polish doesn’t talk at all). Dissatisfied with my naked nails, I painted them a soft gray. Dissatisfied with that, I went back to nothing and groaned inwardly about wasting so much time being silly.

Construction near colfax

I was ready early. I’m never ready early. I walked; I entered the restaurant – I had home field advantage; I panicked. I didn’t see him, so I let the hostess seat me, only to find myself directly perpendicular to a friend and his girlfriend. After making awkward small talk, I sipped water and texted him. He had walked past the restaurant. I was buried in my phone, texting him a map, when I heard my name and looked up. There he was. We laughed after checking our phones and confirming that it was indeed exactly 7:17. Panic subsided and conversation flowed. The pineapple curry was exactly as it always is: comfortably perfect. And so was the night.

We wandered to my favorite bar, which was oddly noisy and annoying. Then, we prepared to walk to the dessert bar he’d been dying to try. I realized we were about to embark on a walk that would tear my feet apart, since I was wearing very sensible yet oddly antagonistic heels. I smiled and told him not to judge me as I peeled off my tights (on Colfax, of course, classy lady that I am) and stuffed them in my purse. Carrying my shoes and walking barefoot, I let him take my hand as we walked in search of chocolate cake.

Chocolate cake

He draped his jacket around my shoulder when I got cold. He gripped my hand as he attempted to steer me away from gross things on the sidewalk – I’m a very nimble side-stepper, and successfully avoided all the horror the city pavement had in store for my naked feet. He laughed when I talked as he kissed me good night.

It was lovely. It far exceeded my expectations. I fell asleep smiling. I have received confirmation that he shares my sentiments, as we have scheduled another dinner and made tentative plans to journey to the Southwest. I’m not kidding, it was that good. Here’s to strange and wonderful things in strange and wonderful places. 

Friday Drivel, Nonchalantly

Work this week was wild. Every now and then, one of our consultants who works remotely flies in and we have company meetings. Even though I’m in a department all by myself (which is the best and worst thing ever), I still find myself distracted and unproductive during these weeks, regardless of whether I’m attending every single meeting or not. Now that it’s Friday, I’m finding myself able to settle down and focus on setting my schedule for the week ahead.

***

In Kaiser-related news: I passed my drug test with an A (for amphetamines, which we entirely anticipated since I take them most days. I had a good shock when I saw that on the results list, but quickly realized that it meant Adderall and stopped wondering where I might have accidentally come into contact with meth or something related).This is the best news. (Not that I was worried.)

***

I have been trying to curb my internet shopping habit. Having to slowly purchase a new wardrobe is so much easier when it can just come to your office, but it’s also expensive and annoying as all hell when you have to return something. But when I saw boots on sale on one of my web sites, I had to buy them.

Every year, I try to buy a pair of boots that I like. Every single year, I go for black riding boots. Every single year, I am disappointed. Last year, I bought a pair to try at Target and ended up wearing them all year. The only problem? They didn’t last and I won’t be able to stretch their life through this winter. So after Christmas, I treated myself to a pair of wonderful boots. They arrived, via mail, at which point I discovered that they looked worse than the Target boots, so they were sent back.

I got the new boots today. I get so excited to get mail, particularly when it’s a package. I tore it open, and tried them on. And they did exactly what I knew they’d do: they gaped around my calves. Gaped. They looked like rain boots, which I hate more than any other kind of boots for the simple reason that they’re just so large. The boots have been returned to their packaging and will find themselves back in the mail tomorrow. I’m dejected, but determined. There must be a pair of tall black boots that isn’t going to cost me tons of money that will fit my calves (or at least not swallow them into a dark abyss). I will find it, although I’m starting to give up hope that I’ll ever find a pair of black riding boots with a small enough calf circumference to suit my chicken calves. Instead, I might go nuts and get some Doc Martens, something I’ve wanted since I was like 13.

***

I wore a white shirt to work today, which means that within five minutes of making coffee (I can make coffee now! I realize that seems stupid, but I learned this week and I’m incredibly proud of this), I had a coffee stain on my shirt. Of course.

***

I pride myself on being very even keel. I’m not usually girlish or overly emotional (although lately, I’ve been questioning whether or not this is true. Last night, I cried at the end of one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.) I’m usually pretty consistent when it comes to assessing my own emotional needs and doing what I need to do to ensure my own happiness and well-being.

But I’ve been uncharacteristically moody this week. I should have realized what was happening since my skin started to get grumpy, but I was hit with an assault of hormones that threw me into an irrationally angry and pathetic state. Like, “WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?” needy, which is a very rough place to be, especially when that’s the last place you want to find yourself.

Trying to explain to Britt why I need to be reassured and snuggled was like trying to speak Esperanto to deaf penguins in Antarctica. It went like this:

“Since we started hanging out, you haven’t once told me that you care. I realize that even if you said it now, it’d be under duress, but I just need some reassurance from time to time that you don’t hate this.”

He laughed. “I spend time with you! I see you all the time! Do you think I’m a masochist who would spend so much time hanging out with someone I hated?”

“I just need some reassurance sometimes. You’re always so sarcastic about everything.”

“So if I don’t ever see you but tell you that you’re pretty and that I like you, that’ll be enough?”

“NO!”

“That’s exactly what you just said you wanted.”

Men are very frustrating creatures, particularly when they don’t speak your love language. Especially when they aren’t aware of the concept of love languages. I think everyone should have to grow up with sisters, so they’re prepared to enter adulthood with a good idea of how things work.

I was complaining to Mike last night (while he was kind enough to make me a turkey and avocado panini on his beloved panini maker), and he said, “You always jump into things without realizing what you’re getting yourself into.” He’s not wrong, but I’m too stubborn to give up until it’s beyond saving. Based on my pushing and his non-response, it may be sooner rather than later. Ah, well, such is life.

***

If you’re a pet owner, you will love (or at least appreciate) these two sites:

Dog Shaming | Cat Shaming

The beast would get a shaming picture because when we play, he loves to attack my hands instead of his toy. Or because he always runs into our Saw basement (think of the movie Saw. Then you’ll know what our basement looks like. Dark and full of crazy rooms and clutter.) the minute I open the door and has to be coaxed out by shaking a bag of wet food. Or for once attacking a dog.

***

Happy Friday!