Friday, March 31, 2006

Unsent Letters

My brother moved out of my parents’ house last month, which for some moms, would be a hard thing. Not my mom. She could not WAIT to clean out his room. I’m sure she’ll miss him eventually. Probably.

In the process of cleaning out what was left of his stuff, she moved it downstairs to my old room with what’s left of my stuff. She went through my desk, and found some columns I’d written when I was the features editor of my college newspaper, and half-filled notebooks of what looked to teachers like copious note taking, but was really me not paying attention at all. This could be the reason it took me seven years to finish college. Yes, seven. Although I guess I could also attribute it to the fact that my boyfriend my sophomore year of college was the social director of his fraternity and I had to set a good example by attending every event and drinking a lot, and also the fact that I like to sleep in and I changed my major three times. What? I’ve never been good at making decisions, especially ones that, in my head, might be construed as long-term. Anyway.

So my mom found a letter I had written to my old college roommate, Elaine. She had had a major breakdown the semester we moved away from each other – the middle of our sophomore year – she ended up in the hospital and everything, and I didn’t find out until a lot later. I wondered why she didn’t call me and I wondered why it happened. We both moved back home and still talked, but then she started falling away.

Elaine and I were great friends. We had gotten along wonderfully as roommates and not only that, we did everything together. Our freshman year, we had almost all of our classes together, ate three meals a day together and had the same friends. Our sophomore year, our boyfriends were best friends and were in the same fraternity. We still did everything together. And then we decided to move into apartments and we moved separately.

After we came back home, I continued on with school, but Elaine didn’t go back. She got a job as a server somewhere and if you’ve ever been in the service industry, you know it’s not the most conducive to, um, clean living. She got into partying and she got a new boyfriend, who turned out to be an abusive asshole. And like women in abusive relationships, she eventually stopped seeing her friends altogether. She got into a couple of bad situations and that, added to the fact that her boyfriend was a total prick, equaled out to her falling back into a depression.

It was weird, because she and I were so close, and she was also really close to Jeff, but she would never answer the phone when we called and never called us back. We knew she was having a hard time and we wanted to help, but she wouldn’t let us. Eventually, we gave up. It was hard for both of us, because we loved her.

I was pissed. And apparently, that’s what I wrote in the letter to her that my mom found.

I used to be exceedingly arrogant. I can still be that way, but I was much worse a few years ago. I knew it all and I would make sure you knew that I knew it all. Things were black and white and that was that. I was all about me and if you didn’t act the way I wanted you to, well, fuck you. And I’m sure that’s what this letter sounded like.

My mom didn’t read it to me and I don’t think I want to know what I wrote. Because I know it was angry and mean. My mom said that I was on a rampage about Elaine being depressed and how she should just pull herself out of it. That she was strong and she could do it and her friends wanted to help her. I’m sure that’s what I said. To be honest, I don't remember writing it. But I know I must have said those things, because in my arrogance, I thought that if she would just be strong, she could get herself out of the blackness she was in.

Thank god I never sent that letter. I would never want Elaine to read the mean things I know I must have said. Because I had no idea what depression could do to a person. And I know now.

Now I know that it’s not about being strong or not strong. It’s not something you can just “pull yourself out of.” It takes so much time and so much energy. Finding the right medication or combinations of medication alone can take months. Most depression medications aren’t ones you can take and then if it doesn’t work you take a different one. You have to wean yourself on and wean yourself off, because they’re strong. And it takes time. Sometimes people just give up, because the thought of weaning on and then off and doing the same thing with a new medication is so daunting.

People who have never been depressed don’t understand what it does. Most people wake up in the morning, get up, shower, have breakfast and go to work. Maybe they run errands at lunch, they go home, make dinner, maybe go to the gym. On the weekends they go out with their friends and do things around the house. It’s all very simple.

When you’re depressed, that just doesn’t happen. Getting up was a fight. Taking a shower and getting ready was overwhelming. Going to work made me want to throw up – for the entire 8 hours that I had to be there. I got caught in a cocoon while I was there and I didn’t leave all day long. When I got home, I just wanted to turn on the t.v., sit on the couch and not talk to anyone. I watched shows that I’d seen 8 million times just because it blocked out the noise in my head and I didn’t have to think about anything. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to leave my house. I wanted to be there and be alone and that’s that.

Anyway. I feel like I should call Elaine and apologize for not being a better friend. For not being more understanding. But I won’t. Because I’m selfish and I don’t want to know if I hurt her, because now that I know how she felt, it would hurt me too much to know that I’d been a bad friend to her when she needed me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Okey Dokey!

So I was recently an emotional nightmare. Maybe nightmare is too strong – maybe the better term is “emotional sorta bad dream”. I had two reactions to pretty much everything: anger and/or tears. Tears were inevitable – because when I used to have other emotions, they would all manifest themselves through tears. Happy, sad, scared, confused…hey look! Amber’s crying!

I joke a lot about how I hate my job and how it totally drains the life out of me. I guess I never realized just how affecting it was until January, when I had a complete breakdown. I went to work on January 3rd, after having a week off for Christmas, and I started crying and couldn’t stop. When I woke up the next day and thought about going to work, the tears started again. I called in sick. I could NOT face going to my job.

Over the course of the month, I took 100 hours of sick time, which means I actually worked the equivalent of two weeks. Never consecutively – I could never get through an entire week without having a day or two or five when the thought of getting out of bed was so overwhelming that I thought my head might explode. So I just didn’t get up.

The people around me knew I wasn’t myself. I would sit quietly, no jokes, no smiles, just sitting. I could put up a good front for a while, but man, the effort was hard. That, combined with the effort it took to get dressed and leave my house was something monumental. I didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. More accurately, I didn’t want anyone to see me. There were few people I could stand to be around – not for any other reason than that it was just too hard. Everything I did was so hard.

My boss and Sally teamed up to make things better. I got the best doctors and things started going in the right direction. I got on medication, which promptly knocked me on my ass. I was so mellowed out that I didn’t even care about getting out of bed. Also I was sick all the time. Not the right chemical. So I tried something different and it worked much better.

I spent most of February and March not having emotions of any sort. Except for happy – happy was good and I felt SO MUCH BETTER. I rarely got angry, and if I did, it lasted for a nanosecond and then I would be like “meh.” The Anxiety Queen has been dethroned – I rarely get anxious anymore. And the crying? We don’t CRY here. Don’t be ridiculous. A good example of the effects is the other night when P.I.C. and I got back from finding my car at the tow yard. I was looking out the window and he said “This is a testament to your medication – you were so CALM. I think I was more upset than you were.” And it was true. I was like “well, what are you going to do?” At first the no emotion thing worried me a bit, but then I realized that maybe I was just having the sort of reactions that normal people have. Huh. Weird. I also know that the emotions will slowly come back -- when I'm ready for them.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And I think that my having a crashtastic breakdown and subsequently dealing with shit happened so that when the time came for a HUGE life change (the whole “my company’s closing” thing) I could deal with it and not totally freak out.

I haven’t freaked out. When they told me the BIG NEWS, I was like “well it’s about time the board made the decision one way or the other.” I re-worked my resume and started looking for a new job. I’m actually really happy that this is happening.

Yesterday we found out that our office is closing April 30th, instead of in late July like we originally thought. The interim boss told us in a staff meeting, and we went over some of the details and questions and all that. At the end, he’s like “that’s all I have for now, but I’ll keep you updated.” And I said “Okey Dokey!” Everyone looked at me like I had lost my mind. Ha. That’s the funny thing – I felt like I had lost my mind a couple of months ago, but now? Not so much. Not at all, actually. Mind: found. No one panic, everything is under control.

So yeah. I still have stuff to work on – medication isn’t completely magical, but at least now I’m capable of dealing. Plus, if I didn’t have anything I wanted to change or improve, I’d be bored, and that’s never good. NEVER GOOD.

I’m excited to see where I go from here. I have fleeting feelings of fear and sadness and “what ifs”, but I don’t dwell on them. It’s great. I know that whatever the circumstances, I can take them in stride and adapt. I’m good like that. I have family and friends who love me and a bazillion other blessings that aren’t affected by whether or not I have a job or feel sad or am “myself”. This experience has shown me that over and over again, and for that, I’m thankful.

Okey dokey?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A tow-tal waste of money

Ha! Punny!

So the end of the "I can't believe that f*&%#^@*($!%@&*%@#!*%#$!! towed my car" saga, for all those who are curious, went like this.

P.I.C. and I went to the tow yard after work and picked up my car. For the low, low price of $140. Bastard. Not the tow company – it’s their job – but Dr. Prick. When I pulled up to P.I.C.’s building before we headed to the tow place, I “accidentally” blocked the entrance to the parking lot while we traded places. So sorry the people in the Lexus had to wait. SO SORRY. Not sorry at all.

We went back to his house, where I parked at a meter. Luckily, it didn't involve parallel parking. I suppose I'll be learning THAT in the near future. We went in and opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate…what, my first towing experience? The fact I’m poorer? Hmm. No, I’m pretty sure we just opened it because he bought my favorite and I wanted some. It was preventative -- so my profanity-laced tirades against Dr. Prick wouldn't just randomly start up like anger-induced tourette's. Then we watched the episodes of “Arrested Development” that we were so RUDELY prevented from watching the night before, cracked up, drank the whole bottle of champagne (What? Otherwise it would lose its bubbles!), and decided to go to dinner. We walked to dinner, but only after P.I.C. moved my car to another meter so that I wouldn’t get ticketed or, you know, TOWED.

So yes. Except for the whole “paying to un-impound my car”, it was a good evening. And as an aside, if anyone is looking for work as a tow truck driver, the good news is that you don’t need to know how to spell. At all. According to the tow receipt, I was “Parked in a privet lot/Unothorised.” Huh. Interesting. Apparently I was parked in a lot full of shrubs, when all this time I thought it was concrete. And the “unothorised”? Um, yeah. Enough said.

So there it is. Now you know "the rest of the story".

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What I was GOING to say was...

I was going to write about what I did this weekend. How Friday night, P.I.C. and I went to the Nuggets game then wandered down to the Celtic Tavern to watch the remaining March Madness games. How Saturday morning we went to Starbucks to fuel up before heading down to watch the people desperate for their 15 minutes of fame wait in line to audition to be on the next “Apprentice”. I had it all figured out – how I was going to talk about the 6’7” guy in a cowboy hat and full-length fur coat who, as we walked by, was being interviewed for the news and how he said “I’m the biggest Apprentice yet” and how I feigned a HORRIBLE coughing fit to cover up the laughter and how we had to walk a good block before we were out of earshot and we looked at each other and lost it. Then I was going to tell you about how we doubled back around the block and watched the line of people go into the building and commented on who had the biggest air of desperation and who was willing to sleep with anyone just to get on the show. I wanted to go in, but P.I.C. said no, that would look like we were mocking them, and I said but we ARE and he said yes, but they don’t need to know that. So we went to breakfast instead.

I could then talk about how I was at Sally & Joe’s later, sunning myself on their patio and then drinking wine and having dinner and all of the funny anecdotes from that. I could talk about the book I finished this weekend, or I could talk about the nap I took yesterday with my bedroom window wide open because it was 70 degrees outside.

I would probably finish the weekend recap with some sort of “oh my god, how awesome is it that Tony Soprano is out of the coma and is going to be back to normal Tony next week?” And then I could maybe talk about how P.I.C grilled delicious salmon and we had a spinach salad and after we watched “The Sopranos” and “Big Love” we were going to watch some “Arrested Development” before I went home.

I would have said all that, only then? I looked out the window and I said “Where the fuck is my car?”

See, P.I.C. lives downtown, and the bottom floor of his building is leased to who I will now refer to as Dr. Prick. Dr. Prick has reserved parking spaces that I park in when I’m there in the evenings and on weekends because, really, how many patients will he be having at 7 p.m. on a Sunday? I am there ALL THE TIME and have yet to see a patient parked there. BECAUSE IT'S NIGHTTIME. Well, this evening, Dr. Prick had me towed. Yes, I realize that there is an Avalanche game tonight and that he might want to discourage people from parking there for free and walking across the street to the Pepsi Center for the game. However, clearly he was there this evening, and if he was paying any attention AT ALL, he would have seen that I was not going to the Avs game. I was carrying groceries and I keyed in the code to unlock the building doors – I didn’t walk out of the lot and across the street. ASS.

So P.I.C. called the tow company (closed, of course) and he called the police to make sure that the car was indeed towed and not stolen (not stolen) and we went to the tow yard and there was my little car being guarded diligently by rottweilers. I took P.I.C.’s car home. Which was fine, because I like his car -- it's fast. Although since he's reading this, I will say that even though I really wanted to fly down 6th Avenue, I did not. But I wanted to. I didn't. But I wanted to. Anyway.

What did we learn from this? Dr. Prick? On my list – and not the good one. The sign at the tow yard that says “Beware of Dog”? Not just an idle threat. And most importantly? Apparently this means I’m going to have to learn to parallel park. Dammit.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Listen all y'all it's a sabotage

I am an expert on the subject of sabotage. In high school, I could sabotage other people’s relationships to get the boy I wanted – yep – I was a boyfriend stealer. It was easy – I have this sixth sense when it comes to reading people’s intentions, and I put it to use. I can spot a cheater a mile away. So if I thought it might be fun, I’d use it to my advantage.

After a while, I let go of the boyfriend stealing. My relationships with girls were way more important than a fling with a guy (although I’d like to say for the record that I NEVER tried to steal a guy from a friend) and plus, come on – grow up.

So since I couldn’t in good conscience sabotage other people’s relationships, I started sabotaging my own. And I’ve become really good at it – so good, in fact, that most of the time? I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I attribute some of that to the fact that I tend to make certain decisions without thinking first. Don’t ask me to decide what restaurant to go to, because I can’t make a decision like that. But if it involves something I perceive as fun, well, the decision is made – the word “consequences” never crosses my mind.

So why do I do this? THAT is an excellent question. Maybe it’s because, as I mentioned, I have a little fear of commitment. Obviously I’m capable of it, as I have sustained long term relationships before, but as I get older and the prospect of being with one person rears it’s head, well, the fear sets in. Because I doubt myself. I doubt that I’ll make the right decision when it comes down to it. I’d like to THINK that I will, but really? I have a hard time making decisions about what to eat and what to wear. So long term, life altering things make me a little nerv -- uh, is it getting warm in here? Do you remember that scene in the original “Star Wars” where they’re in that room and the walls and ceilings start moving in on them? Is the room doing that RIGHT NOW?

See what I mean?

So. In lieu of risk, I choose sabotage. It’s safer that way. If I start to have feelings about someone that I think I can’t control, or that I’m certain couldn’t POSSIBLY be reciprocated, well, I’ll do something to push them away. They may not know it, it may seem like the opposite entirely because I’m tricky like that, but it generally works. Of course, it’s stupid of me, because the whole reason I pushed them away is because I wanted them closer, but hey, potato, potahto, right? Yes, I’m lame. Fully aware of that. I’ll stay at a job I hate because if I’m unhappy in my life, I have something to blame it on, rather than looking for what the REAL problem is. I keep most of the guys in my life in the “friends” category because it’s safe that way. And maybe the guys I’ve dated recently haven’t been total asses, but instead, it’s been me – I get so tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop that I drop it myself to avoid getting in deeper and having actual feelings about someone. And then I’ll pick unavailable guys so that I can tell myself that I’m totally moving forward and working towards a good relationship, when in actuality, I’m staying right where I’m at. Running for mayor of Safetown. Oh the ridiculousness of it is seemingly neverending. Other than that, I’m a total gem. You’d be lucky to have me.

Kendra said something yesterday that I keep thinking about. She said “Most girls die to hear ‘I love you’ from a guy. I would much rather hear ‘I love you – and I’ll be here for you no matter what’. It’s the ‘no matter what’ that’s important to me.”

So yeah. No matter what. I need someone who will see that my pushing them away isn’t for any other reason than self-protection and who will understand that. Because the truth is, my heart gets involved early on and so I have to spend the rest of the time on the defense. I’m good – I know I am. It just takes some effort to get past the initial layers is all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

These dreams

I have vivid dreams. When they’re good, it’s awesome, because it’s like it’s really happening. But when they’re bad, it’s awful, because it’s like they’re really happening.

I’ve woken up crying, screamed in my sleep, and been haunted all day by what I dreamt. Sometimes I know what they mean, sometimes I know what triggered it, and sometimes I wonder if it’s a cruel joke my brain is playing on me when it thinks I just don’t have enough to think about.

Today is a haunting day. Not because the dream was bad, necessarily, it just had so much involved in it and I’ve been wondering what my brain is trying to tell me.

In last night’s dream, I was at an outdoor wedding at a hotel. The bride was distraught because she had lost her antique engagement ring, and so I spent hours looking for it. I was up near the altar, looking through the grass, and I kept finding all kinds of diamond rings and earrings, but never the one I was looking for. I finally went into the hotel and I saw my dad, and I showed him everything that I’d found, and told him the story. I can’t remember what he said, but it didn’t really help. While I was there, I saw my boss from when I used to work at the hotel and also my ex-boyfriend, who I met when I worked at the hotel. I couldn’t believe it was him, and we ended up getting back together. And I eventually found the ring. The dream went on into other avenues that I don’t remember, but for some reason, those particular details stuck with me.

Enter the online dream dictionary. According to that, here’s what my dream means.

So the fact that I’m looking for a lost ring means that I’m looking for “commitment, promise and security in love”. Yes. Of course I am. While I do have a slight fear of commitment, I have also grown tired of casual. Promise and security would be a great thing – with the right person.

The fact that the ring is an antique symbolizes something “genuine or proven”. I’ll buy that, seeing as I’ve always looked at my parents’ really good marriage as something I would want – it’s genuine and it’s proven.

Being at a wedding “symbolizes a new beginning or transition in your current life. Dreams involving weddings are generally negative and highlight some anxiety or fear.” The obvious thought here is that since I’m changing jobs, there’s the aspect of transition, and also anxiety. I’ve been pondering some major life changes, and while I love change, it scares me at the same time. Plus, I’m turning 30, and while this may not seem like a big deal, for some reason it’s freaking me out. Anyway. I’m familiar with anxiety (almost TOO familiar) and I know I’m in a transitional phase. I just have to figure out where I'm going. And of course THAT doesn't make me anxious. No. Not at all.

Finding all the other diamond stuff instead means that I may be distancing myself from others. Which seems logical, considering that I was the only one in the crowd looking for the ring, and crowds symbolize “the need to make space for yourself in order to think about a situation at hand.” I’ll buy that too, as I have a lot of things in my head that I need to get in order.

Looking for the ring in the grass “suggests that there is a part of yourself that you can always rely on. The dream is also symbolic of natural protection.” Which follows with why I also saw my dad, because fathers symbolize “authority and protection”, but also “it suggests that you need to be more self-reliant.” So I suppose while I’m thinking and making changes, I know that I can always rely on myself and that I should trust that and be more self-reliant.

So I leave the safety of the grass (I still don’t get that, but whatever) and my dad, and go into the hotel, which “signifies a new state of mind or a shift in personal identity. You need to move away from your old habits and old way of thinking.” Check and check. See above. Finding my ex-boyfriend there and getting back together with him “suggests that something or someone in your current life is bringing out similar feelings you felt during the relationship with your ex.” I suppose that’s a GOOD thing, since that particular ex was the one I loved the most. The fact that I found the ring after I was with him is an interesting aspect as well.

I usually don’t remember dreams so coherently, but apparently, I need to pay attention. My brain is trying really hard to tell me something that I’m not listening to in my waking life. And so it finally got frustrated and put all the symbolism it possibly could into one dream. “THINK!” it’s saying, “You need to make changes and you’re strong enough to do it!” Fine, ok, I get it. Sheesh.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Flashback: St. Patrick's Day, 2002

So a couple of years ago, I was in Virginia on a business trip. It was my first time on the east coast, and so my co-worker and I decided to make the most of it and stay over the weekend. Here's the story, interspersed with quotes from my email to Jeff when I go home.

"...I just got back from partying myself practically into a coma all weekend on the east coast. I gotta tell you that there's really nothing like St. Patrick's Day out there. And there's also nothing like hot HOT military guys all over the place. I kissed a cute little marine on Friday night and a super hot navy guy on Sunday. The few, the proud, the really hot. God Bless America. As a result, I am having a hard time both staying awake today and forming coherent sentences. It's not a pretty sight."

The party began Friday night. We went out for some St. Patrick’s Day fun at a bar in D.C. There were a million people there and what I remember most was being mesmerized by the hot singer of the band there and also drinking. Oh, and because we were hungry, we finished off these people’s nachos. No, we didn’t know them, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

So. Drunk, out late, jet lagged, drive to NY the next morning with my (non-drinking Mormon) co-worker and his wife. Get to NY right in the middle of a giant St. Patrick’s Day parade. The street we were on was blocked off, so Wife and I got out of the car and wandered down to the corner to see the parade. We got separated, and when I looked around for her, realized that traffic on our street was moving. Ran back towards our car, and see that Co-Worker had no choice but to go with the flow of traffic. I run up next to the moving car, wife reaches behind her and opens the back door, so I jump onto the running board, grab the roof of the car, and swing myself in. Awesome. Very stunt-like. Go to see "Aida" on Broadway that night, come back, sleep for a minute, and then drive to Philly, where Co-worker and Wife are visiting friends and I’m catching the train back to D.C., where Laura will pick me up. By the time I get there, I’m wrecked. In two nights, I had slept maybe a total of six or seven hours, plus the jet lag was totally kicking my ass at that point.

"Laura and I decided at about noon on Sunday to go get some lunch, so we walk across the street to get some lunch. We did not notice that the place we went to was an Irish pub, but we soon figured it out. Because it was called “Murphy’s” and everyone was drunk. So we left and went and changed into our greenest and went back to Murphy's where I proceeded to drink a lot of beer. Here’s where it gets REAL fuzzy."

There was a lot of beer for not a lot of money. There were a ton of people there, most of whom were obliterated because they’d been drinking since early that morning. It was 2 in the afternoon at this point. So Laura and I get beers (I can’t remember if we ever ate) and head upstairs. We talk to all the drunk people and laugh and get more beers and somehow end up in the middle of a crowd of six Navy EMTs. NICE. We end up hanging out with them the rest of the time we’re there and having a great time. If I hadn’t lost my camera, there would be great pictures, one of which was me kissing one of them on the cheek but then him pulling the old “turn my head” trick and so I’m kissing him square on the mouth. The next picture was most likely me NOT COMPLAINING. And then kissing him again. And again.

"The one I kissed was named John and just to give you a little picture of how hot his body is, well, he used to be a stripper. He's ok if you like that type. Turns out I do."

Well, after about six hours and six beers, I was very close to hitting the wall. Actually, I kind of passed the "wall hitting" point and was at the "passing out cold at any moment" point. So we decided to leave. And the EMTs decided to leave with us. It actually turned out to be fortuitous, because I had to be carried to the hotel and up to my room.

"John was their designated driver and so when we finally decided to leave, they all came to my hotel (yes, another beer induced great idea) and when it became clear that I was not going to be staying awake much longer, John put me in my bed, brought me some water and put a note by my head with his phone number on it. And then he made everybody leave. "

The next day, flying home was no fun. And judging from this email to Jeff, the following days weren’t much better. However, also judging from this email, it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

"Anyway, I have many other stories, but am quickly losing my ability to create decent sentences, so I should go now. Talk to you soon!

Your little military supporter


Friday, March 17, 2006

Amber Go Bragh!

I’m half Irish. My mom’s family is full-on Irish – my great-great-grandparents came from County Cork and Dublin and somehow, the family ended up in Illinois. My grandpa came from a family of eight kids and my grandma came from a family of eleven kids. Our original name was “O’Herlihy” but as with many other immigrant names, it was Americanized when they got here.
My mom is the oldest of five kids – three sisters and a brother. So needless to say, between my mom’s 17 aunts and uncles and all of their kids, plus my mom and her sisters and brothers, I’m hard pressed to go anywhere in my parents’ hometown without running into someone I’m related to or who knows someone in my family. We’re EVERYWHERE. One of us could be sitting next to you RIGHT NOW. Ooooohhhh.Spooky. Ha.
Anyway. My parents are the only ones from their families to leave their hometown. As a result, I didn’t grow up with my multitude of cousins, which I always thought was kind of a bummer. I always had a blast when we visited though, because let’s just say it – my family is a RIOT. Funny and fun and loud and obnoxious – there isn’t an occasion when things are quiet and “subdued” isn’t generally in our vocabulary. We'll out-loud, out-funny, out-wit you and if you don't like it, well, we'll kick your ass.
I have 13 cousins and for some weird and unexplained reason, we were pretty much all born in pairs. Except for two singles, every one of us has a cousin who is the same age. Mine is my cousin Josh – I’m older than him by exactly two months, and even though we obviously didn’t grow up together, we ended up being close. When we started college, it was the advent of email and IM, and so we’d go to our schools’ computer labs at a specific time and talk most nights. Eventually we got tired of that and started talking on the phone all the time – until my uncle got Josh’s $400 phone bill. He made us cut it down a little. We stayed close and we still talk on the phone, just not as much as we used to. We’ve drunk dialed each other, argued, listened to the other one cry, laughed our asses off and told the other one we loved them.
I love my mom’s family and it makes me happy that even though I missed out on a lot, I have Josh and our memories. So the pictures. The first one is of my mom, my grandparents and some of my aunts and uncles. The second one is Josh and I when we were probably eight. I have a huge shelf of old pictures of my family, and when I was framing these, I noticed something funny. If you look in the black and white picture at the expression on our parents’ faces, and then look at the picture of us and the expressions on OUR faces, well, you see whose kid belongs to who.
The last picture is Josh and I a couple of years ago when he came to visit me – we were out to dinner with my parents and, shocker, we’re laughing.
I love my big family and I love that I have so much history – it’s cool to know where I came from and really, what’s cooler than being IRISH? Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More random weekend notes

Is it another sign that I’m getting old if when we were walking home from the Avalanche game on Sunday in the freezing cold and snow, I wanted to smack a few people in the head because they had their children with them? Children in no coats or sans hats/hoods? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??

On Saturday night after we got home from dinner, P.I.C., C and I were sitting in front of the fireplace, and, during a moment of silence, C started singing. “Ground control to Major Tom…hey, you know? That would be a really difficult song to strip to.”

Is it wrong that I’m going to be 30 one month from tomorrow and I got inordinately excited when I heard “The Thong Song” in the restaurant the other night? Does it make me old or nostalgic or does it simply mean I enjoy the one amusing song by the tiny gay boy with platinum hair? P.I.C. thought I should stand up on the booth and dance, but I declined, as I hadn’t had nearly enough to drink to make THAT seem like a good idea.

I’ve decided it might be a good idea for me to take more pictures. Pictures of my adventures (although I’m not sure how many pictures you’d want to see of me SLEEPING, since apparently that’s all I do) and pictures of people I see. Like the girl at dinner on Saturday. I swear it was a chick. P.I.C. said it was a guy. C couldn’t really get a good look without making a spectacle of himself. The conversation continued and I could only half-listen because I couldn’t stop staring at the girl/guy. I was watching for mannerisms and breasts and I got nothin’, although at least she (or he) never realized I was staring. Also, I could have taken a picture of this guy at the Avs game in a fur coat and very pointy fawn-colored cowboy boots. Wow. I saw him again later and he’d taken off his luxurious fur, revealing a very tight short-sleeved pink and red and white striped polyester shirt. Huh. I want to believe that the ensemble was the result of him losing a bet or something, but I have a feeling he just likes to dress like that on purpose.

Speaking of staring, on Friday night when we were at the bar, I looked over and this old guy was apparently trying to bore a hole in my head with his eyes. And usually when you catch someone staring at you, they look away. Oh no, not this guy. He just stared and smirked and so I gave him the raised eyebrow “WTF?” look and looked away. Creep. And because P.I.C. and I like to eavesdrop on people, we were listening to the smarmy guy at the table next to us hit on this girl. So sad. It was one of those situations where he was not good looking and tactless, while his friend was totally cute but had some modicum of class because he didn’t start running game on the girl a split second after she sat down. Once the friends she was meeting joined her, Tactless McSmarm looked over at me and gave me this “how YOU doin’” look, to which I responded with the raised eyebrow “WTF?” look and went back to my wine. It’s an all-purpose look, I tell you. Also, if I’m ever the girl who goes to the bar alone and spends the evening playing Tetris at the end of the bar, please…well, do SOMETHING. I don’t want to be that girl.

Aaaaaand...end scene.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Narcoleptic Party Girl

It's no secret that I'm a fan of a couple of cocktails. I’ve learned over the years that wine is good and anything involving Southern Comfort should be avoided at all costs. Vodka and tequila can be friendly only if you don’t do them in shot form in combination with wine. There are other lessons there, but seriously, I don't think I need to keep you here all day.

For some reason, now that I'm getting super old, alcohol, even in small quantities, has the ability to knock me out fairly quickly. I’m fun when I drink. I can be obnoxious and loud, but I’m not angry and I don’t cry and tell everyone that I love them. I may drunk dial you or I may kiss you but I won’t get in a fight or call your mom names. Just don’t let me sit down, because that’ll be the end.

Which brings me to not only how I spent my weekend, but also yet another reason I love P.I.C. Because he doesn’t mind if I fall asleep at any and all times. Mostly because he is also usually asleep when I am. It all works out. We had plans to go out downtown with one of his friends on Friday night, but things changed and he ended up coming to my house. We went out for drinks, came home, had some more wine and I fell asleep. Not passing out, mind you, but "it's Friday -- the week is long I'm very old and it's past my bedtime" plain old falling asleep. Best. Hostess. Ever. We had rescheduled our Friday plans for Saturday night, and so we started out with aspirations of having a couple of drinks at his house with his friend C and then heading out. But then it was snowing and it was pretty cold and we got hungry and so the three of us ended up walking down the street for pizza and coming back to watch a movie. I would say that within less than an hour of getting home, all three of us were sound asleep.

So today P.I.C. and I went to the Avalanche game in the afternoon and when we got home, it was snowing like crazy out, which to me, is perfect napping weather. Of course, to me, the eye of a tornado is most likely perfect napping weather, but you understand. So he read the paper while I watched “Law & Order” and slept on the couch under a pile of fleece blankets. It was awesome. Then I made lasagna and we watched the season premiere of “The Sopranos” and also the polygamy show “Big Love”, which was also awesome.

So I leave you today with a picture that pretty accurately depicts my party animal ways. This picture was taken around midnight the evening of Joe’s birthday, and Joe, his brother, Sally, Ian and I were winding down. Ian was asleep, but woke up as the picture was being taken. If you look to the left of the picture, you can see that, as much as I love the camera, clearly? I couldn’t be bothered.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm in love...with a bookstore

I had an appointment this morning in Cherry Creek and I was early. By a full thirty minutes. This never happens. I am early for almost nothing and late for pretty much everything. Although in my defense, I am occasionally on time. Anyway. We’re not talking about me being differently-abled in the timeliness department.

What we’re talking about is what I DID when I was early. I went to the bookstore. This is not just some chain store – not Borders or Barnes & Noble. This is the kind of bookstore that when you walk in, you want to sigh because all of the sudden? You feel peaceful. Three floors of books, books and more books. I could have spent an hour on the stairs alone, because they have books all along the staircase. There are people to help you who love books. There are couches and chairs to sit on because you can’t possibly buy every book you might WANT to buy.

I TRIED to buy every book I might want to buy. At least the ones I could find in only a half an hour. I went in for one specific book (which they were out of) and came out with this book and this book and this book and two other books that I hadn’t intended to buy. Do I regret the purchase? Hell no. Everyone knows I love words and I love books equally as much. That’s where I LEARNED the words. And their context. And most importantly, their spelling.

I wish I could explain how I felt and why I felt that way. Yes, I love books. I love words. But maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time with books my entire life. I loved going to the library as a kid. My mom used to take me for story time every week, and then as I got older, I begged to go. All the time. I loved the library at my school. I loved that once a year, my dad would come home with a box FULL of books he’d picked out for me at the annual used book sale at the library. He’d cart this huge box up the stairs and you wouldn’t see me for the next few hours as I went through and looked at all of them. I always got books on Christmas Eve, because I was the kid that would wake up at 2 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep from the sheer excitement of ohmygodit’sCHRISTMAS!!! And so I’d read until I was allowed to get up at 7. I read on train trips, on plane trips and basically any car trip, whether it was to the grocery store or to Illinois. I would stay in the car and read while my mom shopped. I got in trouble for reading at the table – all the time. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

So that’s how I feel about books. They make me remember all the good things from when I was a kid. They make me learn stuff and think and even cry. They let me escape. Books are friendly and books are comfort. Books are ME.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A dare to be great situation

Remember how I said “be careful what you wish for”? I stand by that. Why? You may ask. Well, because my company? Is closing.

Now before everyone starts feeling sympathetic about it, let me just express my feelings on the situation. YAY!! FINALLY. We’ve been going through this “will we or won’t we” bullshit for the past two years. I’m glad that they finally decided on “won’t”.

It’s no secret I’ve been wanting to leave. I hate it here. I have for a long time. But I was loyal to my boss and I really love my coworkers. Now I feel like I can leave the company free and clear – I stuck it out and I did my job and because this place was really nothing but a political vehicle made to spin it's wheels from day one, well, I can leave guilt-free

That’s on the one hand. On the other hand is the fact that I am now in territory that I’ve never been in before. Whenever I’ve left a job, it’s always because I have another one to go to – I know what I’m going to be doing next. And now? Not so much.

What do I want to do? I have no idea. I know what I DON’T want to do.

“I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.”

And I feel like the logical way to go about finding a new job is to really give some thought to what I want to do. And so I do. But as I’ve said before, what I end up with is a whole lot of nothing. I know what I LIKE. I know what I LOVE. But none of those things would necessarily be parlayed into something that would allow me to live the way I do now. I know, money isn’t everything. But I love my house and that’s not something I’m willing to give up for a job. And so I continue to look for a job that I'll enjoy and that would allow me to keep my house.

But then I think “maybe I want to move to another state.” I’ve never lived anywhere but here. And now would be the time to leave, since I don’t technically have anyone tying me to any one place. Will I regret leaving Colorado? Or later on, will I regret NOT leaving Colorado? I don’t know. My entire life is here. I have so many people here who it would break my heart to leave and I’m not sure that that’s something I’m strong enough to do. So I think about it, and I know I probably could, but how much do I really WANT to. If I had a chance at an amazing job or experience somewhere, well, I think I would take it. Other than that, I just don’t know.

“How many of them really know what they want, though? I mean, a lot of them think they have to know, right? But inside they don't really know, so... I don't know, but I know that I don't know.”

Sigh. So much to think about. What to do, where to do it. I’ve spent the past probably four of the almost five years that I’ve worked here becoming increasingly miserable and disillusioned, not only with my job specifically, but with work in general. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing something that makes me want to cry and throw up every time I think about it. Where the dread mounts as I drive the 45 excruciating minutes to my office. Where I sit at my desk all day trying to entertain myself until I can leave. I don’t want that – I’d have to be a total masochist to want that. And when people have asked me what I want to do recently, I’ve said “I want a job that doesn’t make me miserable. It doesn’t have to make me happy, just not miserable. That would be a giant step up from my current position.” But now I’d like to amend that. I want to figure out what I REALLY want to do. I want my next job to be one that I enjoy and one where I feel like I’m doing something for a good reason.

“I am looking for a dare to be great situation.”

That’s right. That’s exactly what I’m looking for. Dare to be great.

*quotes courtesy of one of the greatest movie characters of all time -- Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Workplace Tips

Today I bring you some tips on how to look like you're actually working while you're at work. Keep in mind, I work at a very small office and I'm not micromanaged AT ALL, so all of these things work for me. They may not work for you, depending on how your office is set up. You know, just a disclaimer in case you get fired -- I don't want you to be blaming ME.

The way I act as if I’m busy is to type rapidly a lot. That’s how I get all of my personal emails and my blog posts and comments written, all while creating the illusion of someone totally eligible for employee of the month. Even though we don’t have that here. I think the illusion might be shattered when my mom calls and I talk to her for a while about nothing remotely related to my job. Oddly, no one cares. Personal calls are NOT frowned upon here, thank god. It’s where I get all of my long distance calling done. I know, it sounds horrible, but we actually pay a flat rate for phone service every month (both local and long distance) and it’s the same whether I call California or Chicago or not. It does not cover international, though. I tried to call Saudi Arabia once and I couldn’t.

Personally, I think the key to faking work is to complain out loud every once in a while. “Is your computer running really slow today? Mine sure is. Maybe I’ve overloaded it trying to download the 2005 workforce statistics from the Department of Labor.” Or “I am having the worst time with this mouse today! How am I supposed to finish this spreadsheet detailing how much money each university has received in the past five years if I can’t get the mouse to work properly. Sheesh.”

The thing that might give me away is if I read something funny and start laughing. If I accidentally laugh out loud, I cough/choke and mumble something about some water going down the wrong tube, or say “Goodness! Bless me!” as if I were taken by surprise with that “sneeze”. Then I make it a point to laugh silently. I also always keep an MSNBC news story up, so in case someone comes in, I can switch over real quick and look like I’m keeping up with current events. If I want to take it further, I might bring it up at lunch, just to prove that I read it. I do change up the article as the day goes on, because otherwise I look like he world’s slowest reader, and everyone knows that I’m not.

I hope that one day soon I will have a job that requires me to actually BE busy instead of just LOOKING busy. Although I should be careful what I wish for, as once I wished that I would have a well-paying job with great benefits and that required a minimum of effort, and we can see where THAT got me.