On the Weekend Recap, Productively

This weekend passed far too quickly, but it was wonderful.

On Friday night, I met my friends Jacob and Gina for dinner at my favorite Thai place. It used to be two blocks from my apartment, but now that I live across town, I don’t get there nearly often enough. (Order is always the same: an order of crab-cheese wontons with extra house sauce, pineapple curry, medium. Jacob and I usually share a bottle of their house red wine, too.)

Then I went to a friend’s soccer game. Well, sort of. His roommate and I ended up waiting forever for food, so we missed everything but the last two minutes of the game. (Oops.) I spent all of Saturday doing nothing on the couch – it was amazing. I never get days to do nothing, so doing nothing felt so good.

We always joke that I would make a terrible housewife since I’m not well-versed in the art of cooking. Or cleaning. My friends had a joint birthday party on Saturday night, and it was a snack potluck. In the middle of panicking about what to bring, I decided on bacon-wrapped, cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos, because everyone loves those. I went to the store, bought a bunch, made a bunch – it took forever – and then brought them to the snack potluck. They were a huge hit, which pleased me greatly.

Here’s a semi-gross picture of the final product:

Bacon wrapped cream cheese stuffed jalapenos

The party was awesome – there was so much food. Gina made the most delicious carrot cake I’ve ever tasted, then we made cream cheese frosting for it. We ended up with two cakes – one that said “Happy Birthday” and then another that said “Erica and Justin.”

My Dairy Queen cake-writing skills transferred nicely to the house party setting. I wasn’t so terribly thrilled with my handwriting, but it was suitable and made them happy, so I’m not complaining.

On Sunday, I worked. I feel like we’re staffed by a seriously high percentage of over-qualified people, and I’m grateful for it. A lot of us have been there forever, too, so we’ve known each other for years. It makes work interesting and reminds me how important it is to have a cohesive team. My friend Evan has graduated from college and is back at Dairy Queen awaiting word on some jobs that he wants to do – in the meantime, he’s got a bunch of qualifying tests to take, so we spent Sunday afternoon playing with words and quizzing each other.

At one point, my junior high math and social studies teacher came in. She didn’t recognize me (thank G-d). She caused me much grief during those fragile, hormone-addled years, and I hate her for it. (Seriously embarrassing but somehow hilarious story – when I was in 7th grade, I didn’t get into the “fast track” math section that would do Algebra in 8th grade. I got stuck in the “slow track” section that did two years of pre-algebra. When I found out the news, I stood at the window of the classroom, fighting back tears. A few months ago, I found myself sobbing – absolutely breaking down – on my therapist’s couch about that incident. It somehow totally changed my ability to see myself as intelligent, and I had no idea that I’d been carrying it around with me for so long. In the middle of my crying, I turned to my therapist and sobbed, “You can’t make this shit up,” to which he responded by laughing so hard his body shook – while apologizing for laughing. He wasn’t wrong. It’s funny, sad, and true, all at once.) So, of course, rather than stand by my co-worker while he rang up her purchases, I did the mature thing and went to the back – where no customers can see – and busied myself with some unnecessary task until she’d left and it was safe to go back up front.

I went to Jacob’s belated holiday party last night. It was fun. I didn’t know anyone, so I tried to muster up the energy to be social and make small talk. It was good – I was bubbly and talkative for a while, but then was saved when my friend’s roommate texted me and asked me if I would edit a paper for him. (I love to read people’s papers.)

Tonight is my weekly girls’ night with Emily – we watch the show GIRLS on HBO (she DVRs it for us); we cook dinner; we drink wine; we do our nails; we bake something. It’s a surprisingly low-key and very calming way to start the week. I’m excited. Tonight we’re making chili.

On Home Ownership, Sulkily

[We hosted our first sleepover for our little cousins on Friday night. They were so excited to be over at our house, and we were excited to have them. We made cookies (oh god, so much cookie dough) and watched Home Alone 3, which is always a hit. (I laughed.) Also, it’s very hard to explain to an eleven-year old why Macaully Culkin looks the way he does now without mentioning his probable intravenous drug use.

The sleepover was so much fun and I hope we can have them back soon.]

The cards we got when we moved in were adorned with flowers and kind sentiments, probably to build us up before the inevitable letdown that comes with “maintenance” and “ownership” and “responsibility.” I am still beyond thrilled to own land, but as time passes (mind you, the time that has passed thus far is shortly over a month), I am becoming aware of the reasons for that endless list of things to do in and around the house.

The first problem is hilarious. It really is. Our front door won’t open. It’s always been difficult, but a little bit of body-slamming (for me, gentle push in for Mike), plus a swift pull used to make it open. Now, that process no longer works. The door remains shut. We had a party on Saturday night, and people who came to the front door were quickly alerted by the guests in the living room that they had to go to the side door. (Thank goodness for the side door, right?) A friend of mine who came to the house ended up going in the side door and then straight down the stairs into the basement – where I most certainly was not – because he didn’t see the kitchen entryway.

Anyway, we will dismantle the lock and replace it and then we will have a working front door. And on the plus side, no one will be able to burgle us through the front door unless they’ve got serious B&E skills (I mean, if your chosen profession is burglar, hopefully you have better sense than to rob us – you’ll end up with some lawn chairs, IKEA tupperware, and romance novels – not exactly the haul of a legend).

The second problem is less than hilarious. The garbage disposal has ceased to function. (It was already sort of limping through the food mangling process, so this wasn’t unexpected.) Mike took it apart, and then neglected to inform me that the dishwasher drains through the garbage disposal (you learn something new every day), so I ran it and then there was a slight flood. I put the drain pipe into a bucket, so the dishwasher could continue and our floors would be saved. I made him put the garbage disposal back on at least until we can get a new one so that flood situations can be avoided.

Last night, Mike put in a new garbage disposal. It was quite the involved process, but I’m glad to have a brother who’s patient enough to read the directions and determined enough to get it done. Thus, we began the project list.

(Note: I’m not actually complaining about being a homeowner. I mean, I am, but I still like it. But I like complaining just as much, if not more.)

On Being Boring, Reluctantly

I saw an article about being boring on Facebook about a month ago, so I clicked on it. Sure enough, I am boring. It’s official.

I crave me-time. The single-Katie that lives inside of me is thrilled by the prospect of nights spent with a hot bath and a good book, or visits to the library to wander through the stacks, filling my arms with more books than I can possibly read in three weeks. I’m also thrilled by thought of having endless amounts of time. Time to do what? I don’t know. Peruse the thrift stores, organize things (pssh, that’ll never happen), paint my toenails more than bi-monthly.

I haven’t jumped naked into a body of water other than my bathtub since 2010, and even the bathtub can’t count as jumping – it’s more a careful stepping to avoid slippage and broken bones. (All I can see in my head right now is that commercial where the elderly people have the bathtub that has doors on it. Is that next?!)

I don’t drink like I used to. (Note to all people: this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a departure from my typical habit of a responsibly enjoying a gin and tonic or four with my friends and then going dancing on a semi-regular basis.) Weeks are going to turn into months and then pretty soon I’ll be sipping non-alcoholic beer in a Chili’s wondering what happened to my life. Alternately, I imagine that I’ll have two martinis at a corporate event and be so overcome by the reintroduction to alcohol that I take off my pants and/or throw up in the punch bowl.

(That scenario is entirely unrealistic. The worst drunk me ever does is jump into bodies of water – Lake Michigan, I’m coming back for you, I swear – or get belligerent and lecture strangers about anything from feminism to sexual health to politics to sports. South Boston, I’m sorry for the things I said about Belichick, even though I was not wrong.)

I make excuses about doing laundry (Jacob calls me out on this all the time) so I can go home and run a hot bath and relax. I work too many jobs to ever be hung over. There’s no room for naps or excuses or anything else. I got excited to print out IRS forms last week. I signed my very own homeowner’s insurance policy. But wait, it gets better! It’s bundled with my brand new auto insurance policy. Oh, bundling was exciting!

Ready for the worst part? I’ve been listening to oldies. At least, I was until Kool 105.1 started playing holiday music. Since I’m holiday-averse, I immediately plugged another radio station into my #5 preset in my car. Once the new year begins and the nightmare that is ever-present Christmas music ends, I will reset #5 to Kool 105 and I will revel in the disco-tastic awesomeness that it is.

8 Signs You Are Becoming Boring

NOV. 8, 2012

Disclaimer: I write this list in full recognition of the fact that I am a freshly-minted Boring Person myself. This is a space of no judgment, only facts.

1. You see students out having fun and are exasperated.

It starts with the high school kids. You see them out at the mall, scowling at things, drinking their energy drinks and just generally being assholes in front of the Pacsun or the Hot Topic. You think, “God, what irritating little warts. Good thing I was never 15,” and then carry on your boring way to go get a loofah at Bed Bath and Beyond or whatever you are there to do. Then you see college kids, getting rowdy in a bar, potentially using terrible fake IDs but still getting away with it because the bartender is cool and they want the money. Despite the fact that you, too, used a fake ID just a few short years ago, you are filled with righteous indignation. “Wait your turn, you brats,” you long to say, “Go drink 4 Loko in your bedrooms until you turn 21, like God intended. The bar is for people with jobs.”

2. Your idea of fun has become staying home with some blankets and your computer.

There is just something so profoundly beautiful about having a whole night ahead of you with nothing planned but Netflix, perhaps some tea or wine, and chilling out in your jammies under your covers. It is a state of such deep relaxation, it can occasionally reach near-orgasmic levels of joy. Add a little take-out Thai food to be eaten while still firmly in bed into the mix, and you have the makings for a night that would beat a club opening hosted by a nude Ryan Gosling and a snowblower full of free money.

3. The only thing keeping you from being obese is being lazy.

There are so many times when you are overwhelmed with the desire to go a few blocks over to get a big bag of McDonald’s or a Frappucino made out of what appears to be vegetable shortening, or simply a king size candy bar (king size, of course, because if you made the trek out there you’re not going to just get a regular-sized Snickers like a peasant). But then you think, meh, that would require leaving the apartment and turning off this episode of Dexter and putting on something other than a Snuggie, and then it’s just like fuck it, I’ll eat these carrot sticks I have in my refrigerator. Who knows how many potentially-clogged arteries were spared out of sheer will to remain a hermit.

4. Staying within budget is not a problem.

There was once a time during which you were truly concerned about spending too much money on things like extravagant nights at the bar or too many dinners/lunches at restaurants, even moderately-priced ones. It seemed like the most efficient way to burn a sizable hole in your checking account and find yourself unable to comfortably make rent at the end of the month. Then, all of a sudden, you realize that actually extracting yourself from the comfort of your apartment every once in a while and finding something worth spending said money on may actually be the more pressing issue, as you are quickly adhering to your pajamas and learning through real-time evolution how to blend your skin in with your patterned bedspread.

5. You are excited when people cancel plans.

I think we’ve all had a moment or two where you are sitting there, not at all pumped to go to this social outing that you agreed to (it’s not that you don’t like the person, you just don’t like having to go outside right now), when all of a sudden they call you with the thrilling news that they are unable to make it! It’s as though the heavens themselves have parted and shone a light down on your lazy, boring ass personally to sing to you with the voice of a thousand golden angels “Fear not, for you have a few more hours of dicking around on Tumblr ahead of ye.”

6. You prefer to go to the same restaurants, ordering the same foods.

One minute, we’re these adventurous little sprites of youth and excitement, ready to go anywhere and try anything at the drop of a hat. The next, all we have to do is call our local Chinese takeout and, through only seeing our number on the caller ID, they are downstairs in five minutes with the exactly what we want, right down to the extra soy sauces. When I was a barista, there were many customers for whom we could prepare their drink only seeing them walk through the door. I used to think that they were silly, that they should try to expand their horizons. Now I resent the fact that no one knows me well enough to make my extra-hot grande soy latte when I walk in the door.

7. Literally any plans the following day make going out a hassle.

How is it that you used to be able to stay up until 6 in the morning doing crystal meth and running naked through a forest of pine needles and still be fresh as a spring flower for class the next day, and now you have to really weigh your options about going out for dinner if you know that you have to be up by 10 the next morning to go pick something up at the dry cleaners? How is that possible?

8. People are no longer surprised when you don’t do things.

In your transition from “chill person who is down for pretty much whatever” to “boring-ass hermit who has a minor panic attack every time the bar they’re in gets too loud and full of amorous college students,” you will notice a time frame in which people still hold out hope that you will prove to be the social butterfly you once were. They will try in vain to extract you from your home-pod, thoroughly disappointed when you don’t accept. Now, of course, they don’t expect you to come out to their various parties and gatherings — they know that you, like any society diva who is so in demand on her own futon, have a lot of potential nights to choose from, and it may just end up being ice cream and The Price Is Right reruns. TC mark

Read more at http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/8-signs-you-are-becoming-boring/#GGSColeKRzqPdQbB.99

On a Night Off, Unexpectedly

This week brought an unexpected night off – there was a 24-hour power outage at the Dairy Queen and everything melted or was spoiled. It’s not funny, but it was a nice surprise. It was even better that I didn’t have to do any of the clean up. My manager said that squeegy-ing (sp?) melted cakes out of the freezer was horrific. I imagine she wasn’t wrong.

I was anxious driving home on Wednesday. I so very rarely have time that’s unaccounted for. What was I going to do? I shouldn’t have feared. I called Jacob. When he suggested our goth bar, I was elated.

It’s not really our goth bar, of course. But it is one of my favorite places in Denver. It’s only open two nights a week. You have to enter from an alley. There are two separate rooms, connected by a dark hallway. Each room plays different music. The darker room is bigger and the walls are lined with dark couches perfect for hiding away and people-watching. The Clockwork Orange-esque room is brighter, and more upbeat.

Since I was a little goth in high school (who wasn’t?!), I feel so at home here. The people are so lovely – they’re fascinating and equally terrifying. But the best part isn’t the patrons, it’s the dancing. In my natural state, I dance like your stereotypical white man: legs spread, rock side-to-side. It’s so unattractive.

Once, at a club, Jacob grabbed my hips and started moving them in a figure-eight. Like this, he said. Start there. And so I did. So now, after a couple of years of tentative figure-eights and remembering to let go a little, I’m much better. (Much better doesn’t actually mean I’m a good dancer; it means that I am much improved.)

My ability – or partial lack thereof – is not the point here, though. It’s how thrilled I am to be surrounded by people who look like they’re doing my signature dance move, The Wet Noodle, or alternately, having hipster seizures. (Sorry to offend hipsters and seizure-sufferers.)

It’s freeing. Suddenly, I’m part of a mass of moving limbs. I let my mind go, I shift to the music as I internalize it. My eyes look down, around, everywhere. I become a kinetic observer, watching from curious eyes while not-quite-mindfully moving to the music.

This is why the goth bar is the best place. That and the terrifying bathroom conversation between two large women about how tough they are. (I lingered while washing my hands – I scrubbed my fingernails! – to be able to hear their conversation. First it was about some guys “newest fiance” and then it shifted to how thick their legs were, which meant that they were more powerful. Scrubbing completed, I dried my hands and bolted. I’m tiny, I’ve never been in a bar fight, and even though I grew up fighting my now-6’4″ brother, I’m nowhere near as tough as I’d like to think I am.)

I thought this two-faced shadow bit was cute.

Last night, i spent two hours with my wonderful mother signing mortgage loan documents. Mike and I are really buying a house! Oh my goodness. It’s a leap. Last night, he told me that since I’m taking care of the paperwork, he’ll do the packing. (And the unpacking, I hope.) This is such a good example of why we make such a good team.

We are such polar opposites as people, but in such complementary ways. He’s the detail-oriented, logical, patient one and I’m the take-charge, impatient, chaotic communicator. The screen that displays everything in his car broke and he couldn’t change CDs or radio stations or anything. So he was left to cycle through his CDs, song by song, listening to the entirety of each.

I, being as ADHD about music as I am about the rest of my life, told him that this would kill me (it was killing me in that moment. He likes jam bands whose songs are all about 8 minutes or more on average). He replied that he considered it an exercise in patience. He’s that guy. Hilarious, wise, and sometimes entirely frustrating. But for all of our sibling squabbles, we get along remarkably well.

So he’ll pack. I’ll coordinate paperwork and loans and payments. We both dig this plan.

Tonight is date night, so of course I’m antsy and excited. Not being able to see him all week builds the anticipation. Of course, we’re in nearly constant communication – emails, texts, FaceTime. It’s nice, though, to be able to maintain my life and begin to start incorporating him into it. It’s also nice to email links and running commentary about everything back and forth. People’s taste in the internet is very telling.

Uggggh, I was not going to blog about any of this. I was actually going to talk about people. But I guess I’ll do that this weekend.

On Black Bathrooms, Magically

Oh my goodness, I love black. It’s one of my absolute favorite colors. After my parents’ divorce, we spent a lot of time moving around – rentals = white walls – and I promised myself that when I got a house, I would paint every room a color.

This home, done in blacks and whites and other neutrals is beautiful. There are parts I’m “meh” on (like the horns; not a big fan of horns), but check out that black and white striped bathroom and tell me that’s not amazing.

While I’m no closer to owning a home than I was at twelve, I’m definitely excited for the possibilities of painting and decorating; although based on the looks of our apartment now, I’m not going to be the most amazing decorator ever. I’m sure that KatieBarry-chic will be its own blend of clutter and color and homeyness and it will be wonderful. (and!….a bathtub with claw-feet!)

Also, I’m realizing that since all I really own are clothes and books, I’m going to need extensive shelving. Either that, or I’ll have to pare down my possessions. (Pssh, not going to get rid of my books, even the romance novels. They’re the best things for rainy days and cold winters.)

I have some free time this weekend (read this as: I am babysitting too much to really have a life), so I think I will begin the process of digging through my closet and trying to donate/sell/eliminate excess clothing. Anything from college (oh dear, or even high school) must go if it doesn’t fit, looks weird, or hasn’t been worn in ages.

This is such a difficult process for me, because I find myself crippled by the “What ifs” as I go through things. “What if I need this?” “It’d be great for a costume party.” – That’s the weirdest thought possible, I think. Who actually goes to that many costume parties that often? I haven’t been to one in at least a year. “This might fit me someday!” – Again, a terrible thought. If it’s more than two sizes too big, it’s got to go. (Which means that most of my man-pants are out. Bummer.)

Ah, well. I assume that I’ll come back to you on Monday only to report that I’ve stared at the closet, become overwhelmed, and bailed on the plan to organize. But one can always hope for great change, right?

On the Flat Tire, Sadly

Waiting for AAA

I got my first flat tire on Friday night. I was driving up to Boulder after work to see Swisher, and as I was getting off of the highway, I heard a noise like I’d driven over a rattlesnake (and since it was a prolonged noise, it was like the rattlesnake had suddenly jumped into my backseat and was rattling away). I didn’t stress, thinking it was just the pavement being strange.

As I got off the highway and started to slow down, I heard another strange noise and my car handled differently. So I freaked out (internally) and quickly merged right and onto a frontage road and parked (calmly). I got out, and sure enough, my left back tire was flat. I called Swisher, who was already a little grumpy since I was late to begin with. I dropped a pin on my iPhone and sent him a picture of the map and told him to come find me.

And then I set about trying to change my tire. I whipped the jack out of the trunk (of course, I had to move a bunch of crap around, including a bike rack and some shoes), and began attempting to loosen the lug nuts. They refused to budge, so I jacked up the car anyway.

Why? Because it made me feel capable. I am a small, not very muscular human being, and I was pretty stoked to see my car rise up off of the ground. Since it’s Boulder, tons of people stopped by to see if I needed help, and one guy finally tried to loosen the lug nuts, to no avail.

Swisher arrived. “What am I going to do with you?” he asked. I grinned. “Love me,” I told him.

So we put the car back down and left it for the night, since there was no way I was going to be able to get the tire off. The next morning, I waited for an hour for AAA. When the guy got there, he asked me, “Where’s your boyfriend?” I didn’t respond, but instead let him struggle with the lug nuts.

After AAA had done their business (putting on my very sad-looking donut tire), I drove the 2 miles to the nearest Discount Tire, where I spent a large portion of my life savings on 2 new tires. I think the guy saw my face (a look of sadness, shock, and terror) when he said the price, and I asked him to remove the lifetime-warranty-replacement deal from the bill. He kindly reassured me that it was a good idea, and I wrinkled my nose, so he offered to put the other two tires (that I did not buy at Discount) on as being covered under the lifetime-warranty-replacement deal for free. I agreed. And then got flustered and accidentally flung my credit card across the room.

Then it got denied. “I just got back from Vegas,” I explained. My debit card worked, though, so I breathed a sigh of relief. “How was Vegas?” the guy asked. I wanted to tell him that he could just pay some chick to sit next to him covered in glitter while he drinks a 12-pack with a silly straw next to his neighborhood pool, but instead, I muttered the usual, “Great, good, expensive, fun.”

(Not that Vegas wasn’t fun. It was. I was just frustrated that after such an expensive weekend, I was forced to deal with real world problems that also cost massive amounts of money.)

***

Friday night was my first time being in Boulder in a long time (I’m not a huge fan of the place, and haven’t spent much time up there since I was dating Ely last spring). Swisher and I went out for dinner. We were having a happy-enough conversation with two men at the bar about whatever and at some point, one of the men decided to adopt that strange testosterone-fueled-bravado-slash-douche attitude. After a few minutes of this, I told him that I really don’t respond well to men who attempt to patronize me. We continued with our now-awkward conversation, and he continued to attempt to one-up me. I didn’t bend. As we were leaving, I apologized for coming off as abrasive. And then he bought me a beer, so I think I came out ahead on that one.

***

Lights at Pride

Lights at Pride Fest 2012. We went dancing at a bear bar and it was wonderful!

Katie and Mark and me!

***

Sunshine through windows

This is a strange picture, but I woke up early this morning to find that the sun was streaming through my windows in the most beautiful way. (As I look at the picture, I’m realizing that perhaps I should de-clutter my window space.) I ran the picture through Instagram to attempt to highlight the color, and even though it didn’t turn out exactly as the sun looked, I think it’s still a gorgeous reminder of why summer is one of my favorite times of the year. The way the sun looks so golden through the trees is one of the best lights (besides the gray/green after a rainstorm).

On Las Vegas

I won’t lie, I was apprehensive because this was our first “Cousins Trip.” I have known these people my entire life, but hanging out with them has been relegated to family events, not adventures.

And this was most certainly an adventure. There was a lot to fit into three days, and since it was Ginger’s and my first time, I didn’t expect to do much more than the typical touristy stuff.

Oh man, my feet are sore. I wanted so badly to wear heels (who wouldn’t?), but due to the broken toe, it appears that any closed-toe shoes are impossible. (I still haven’t heard the final read on the toe x-rays taken last week, but regardless of the doctor’s decision, the pain is way too real to ignore – which I thought I would be able to do for beauty.) We walked and walked and walked. We saw so much more than I thought possible.

There was pool time, eating time, show time, sleep time, alone time…all in all, it was a really great vacation with some really great people.

On the way home, there was a girl traveling alone to spend the summer with her dad. Her mom was trying to hold in tears at the gate as she said good bye and her little sister ran up to give her one last hug. I saw the girl try and be brave with a “Don’t cry, Mom, it’s only two months.” But as soon as she was headed down the jetway, there were tears welling up in her eyes.

A woman a few years older than me was standing right by the girl and asked her if she wanted to sit together. They ended up talking for the entire flight. I think it was incredibly selfless and sweet of that woman to spend some time making a girl feel a little bit more comfortable and a lot less scared.

Quickly, some pictures:

Beetle at the airport, DIA

(This Beetle is on display in the Denver Airport. It was hand-beaded by several families over the course of many weeks. It’s beautiful!)

(The security guard after the Blue Man show. He was pretty much amazing, and I told him so.)

(I liked this flower.)

(my grumpy face. By the time we got to the airport, I was exhausted and more than ready to be home. Finding out that our flight was delayed was more than frustrating.)

Wynn, Las Vegas

(The Wynn, Las Vegas)

Black cat

(I’ve never left Carlos alone for very long. Three days was the longest. I was nervous, especially since he got out and ran to hide in the basement during our 5:00 am departure on Sunday morning. We got back to a very grumpy Carlos, although I was thrilled that he was very much alive. He had taken his collar off somewhere along the way and i still haven’t managed to find it. – old picture)

(The Las Vegas Strip)

(Sorry Ginger, the eyes looked so creepy when I tried to fix them!! I still think we both look beautiful!)

(Caesar’s Palace)

(Mike and I thought it’d be fun to wear hats. It wasn’t.)

(I touched a Blue Man!! Better yet, my favorite Blue Man! Something about his eyeballs was super cool.)

(And of course, there was pool time. Mike said he felt like Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall because of the fruit we started collecting. It was cute.)

And now, I’m off to work! I am so late, so I expect to be there quite a bit later than usual tonight. I have a giant project that absolutely must be completed by tomorrow night  I am hoping that I can overcome the exhaustion and rock today.

Odds and Ends and Saturdays

I got an email from Mama P this morning. You’ll remember Priscilla, my absolutely insanely wonderful host mother in South Africa.
Her emails are always short and to the point. They never say much, but I’m grateful for them. Today she said that the weather is turning cold, and to say hello to Mike and James Dean for her. I laughed out loud when I read the last bit; I had completely forgotten about that. So here’s how it goes:

The night that James was coming to pick me up for our first date, I realized I had no idea what his name was. I knew it was either James or Dean. So we had all just referred to him as James Dean the entire week. I realized that this was eventually going to present a problem, so I called him, and luckily, he didn’t answer his phone. Voicemail clued me in on his real name and that was that. But we still called James Dean.

It’s amazing how much I miss that place. I know it will never be the same, but it will always have a beautiful place in my heart. I want to get back there, to stand at Muizenberg Beach and feel the waves crash against my feet and fight my way onto the train and off again.

However, my life here is growing daily. While I like that I’m learning a lot at my current job, I’m not satisfied with the compensation and have taken on babysitting to make extra cash. (This supports my lifestyle, which you may be surprised to hear isn’t quite as wild as you might think.) Anyway, I’ve got four families in the rotation and the balancing act is getting a bit hectic.

This week, for example, I will be working all seven days. And twice this week I had to go straight from work to babysit. The other nights I went directly home and was in bed relatively early. It’s all fine and well, but I’m not getting any decompression time and am beginning to get a bit stressed.
Hopefully this week will provide ample opportunity for sleep as I’m not scheduled to work any week days.

Alas, today brings more babysitting, volunteering at a choir concert that one of my co-workers is singing in, and then date night. And tomorrow brings babysitting.
I really love the families that I’m sitting for this weekend – I find it much easier to babysit when I’m actually enjoying myself as well. One family has three little girls, and then, of course, there are the twins.   I find myself hoping the symphony season won’t end!

Last night, Jacob and I went to see a production of Macbeth at UCD. Jacob was personally invested – he did the music for the show. I went because I waffle back and forth on my hate/love of Shakespeare. This play was pretty well done. The costuming choices were interesting – mostly just corsets – and the cast was tiny, but the leads delivered their lines really well.
After that, we went to an art gallery where they were serving pancakes and alcohol (strange combination, but hey, whatever). After paying $5 to get in and being told that drinks were free – we ended up having to pay $4 for a small cup. Ridiculous. The gallery was cute, but it was trying too hard to replicate the scene in New York. There were topless models being spraypainted (when done properly, it’s actually really beautiful), but it just felt like an afterthought, especially as the crowd began to diminish.  After meeting up with our friend Claire and her girlfriend and wandering around looking at some art, we bailed to go dancing.

And so we danced. The night drew to a close, and I was grateful, because the tired had begun creeping through my bones. I went home, said hello to Carlos and Mike, and was asleep nearly immediately. I woke up tired – I didn’t get nearly enough sleep. I’m hoping for a nap while I do my laundry.

Tonight, once my obligations are over, I’ve got a wild night planned (as usual). The guy that I guess I’m dating (I don’t know – we eat dinner together sometimes. He made me waffles. I think that counts as sort of edging toward dating?) is going to come down from Boulder (and maybe bring his adorable dog!) and we’re going to go see Claire’s band play and then (depending on how tired I am or how bored he is) head to a weird art gallery/warehouse for a space party ordeal.

Jacob is super into the electronic scene, which means I find myself at a lot of events. I joking called it a “space cult” based on the theme of the first party he invited me to. Now, we call them space parties. They’re not really – just a bunch of people in a room listening to really good (or really bad, depending) music and maybe drinking.

And yes, we may have to relocate Carlos for the evening. Jacob is more than happy to babysit and Carlos has been itching to get out and explore.

Pre-Halloween and final Oregon pictures.





Saturday night was the pre-halloween party at Melissa’s friend Kaylie’s house at Illinois State University, which is a two hour car ride from Chicago. I dressed as Snow White and spent the better part of the night drifting between people that I knew, making the required small talk. I went outside, to talk to Danny for a little while and get some air, and then ended up having an actual conversation. Another party, another set of faces, and back again. It was enjoyable, but not overly stimulating.
I jumped on the trampoline at Melissa’s house today with her and Bobby and her 8 year old brother. That’s the one thing I was never allowed to have as a child, and the one thing I always wanted. Relaxing into the couch, curling up with football and a golden retriever, and a home-cooked meal. The drive back, eventually, and the weekend ended.
It’s back to the grind again.
The pictures: all of us at Kaylie’s; me and kaylie; melissa decided to give me a piggy back ride (at that point i had ditched my cute but painful shoes and slipped into my new favorites…..); Danny and I in Oregon, being young and in love.

Time melds as days turn into nights and then swiftly into days again. Lists and agendas pile up, good intentions never quite turned into actions. Clutter, so carefully attended to for such a long time, piles now, in places most awkward and obvious. THe desk, a dumping ground for paper products: receipts, art supplies, notebooks, textbooks that should have been opened nightly for the past two months. The floor, a collection of dirty laundry and clean, socks, mittens, a duffel bag, the Communist Manifesto. Pictures adorn the walls, models, friends, impressionists, photographs. There is no theme, no rhyme nor reason to the rooms. Now that fall is official, there are Halloween decorations, borrowed from parents whose lives are already set.
It is a question, hanging there, waiting to be answered.
It is the silence that follows, in the moments where one is unsure of what to say, or how to respond.
It is the deafening, the slow quiet in the room.
It is time to explode, to begin, to renew, to live.
She offended me, today, telling me I have nothing to worry about. I laughed it off then, standing at the check-in desk, waiting to let her into the building, but I wanted to tell her that sometimes things aren’t what they seem. Set into life, she has it easy. The endless stream of bills is constant. The mortgage payment doesn’t change. Her husband’s eyes don’t wander, her children are safe and happy. She has a career, a path, and I’d assume goals.
I stand on the edge of everything. Of staying, of leaving, of wanting to do what I love and loving to do what I want. I’m confused. I’m thrown and tossed a million different directions, caught between the two cities that I’ve grown to love and the people that I’ve become attached to. Every time someone says I’m too young, that I don’t know what I’m doing, I become more resolute. Life, to me at least, isn’t about doing what you should do, or what will lead to a standard life. I want to follow my heart, and if that leads me somewhere incorrect, then I’ll laugh about it, say I made a mistake and keep going. There are times I just want to run away from here, and not look back. I’d pack a duffel bag, taking Buddy and my Winnie the Pooh comforter that I just can’t get rid of, and some t-shirts and my clogs and just get away from here. I’d sell my books for plane tickets, and run to him and let him hold me against his shoulder and tell me everything will be alright. Or I’d run somewhere else, and get a job, or a little cottage by a lake somewhere, and spend hours working on the masterpiece that is daily edging itself into my brain. But not much, so don’t start holding your breath yet. I want to be happy. I want to experience everything. I want to move around and not settle down. Something happened in me this summer, a sort of yearning for comfort. I no longer want my heart to be broken in one of those heated arguments; I don’t want to be with someone just because I think I have to, that I need the practice. I want what I have, right now. It’s not that far-fetched of an idea, really. And today, for some reason, we decided, was going to be the day. 3 months, then, we are into this endeavor and I have not wavered in my opinion. If anything, it gets stronger every day. There is a connection there, the sort of thing that I never expected to find.
My clock has been blinking in a strange way, as though the power was turned off, since I got back from Oregon. And every night, I stare at it. I’m beginning to read it as though it was an actual clock. It’s only fifty minutes off, so I just sort of do the math in my mind. I don’t change it. I wonder how long it will take.
I’m consumed by thoughts of everything. Of worry for the safety of the one person I could never lose, of the success of the procedure people I don’t trust are about to embark on. I worry about him, always, just as much as he worries about me. I think about scenarios, I run them through my head. I play with the future, with ideas, places, people, life.
Australia, I think. Maybe.