Thursday, May 25, 2006

A long post about change

I’m not good with change. Actually, I AM good with change, just not when it comes to people leaving. This is why the majority of people in my life have been there for a loooooong time. If we’re friends, you’re in. As long as you don’t do something that’s a friendship deal-breaker, you’re in for good. However, if you lie to me or betray my trust, we’re going to have a problem.

But that’s not what we’re talking about right now. We’re talking about change.

So in my time as a “professional role model” to the kids in the youth group, I’ve come to know a few of them really well. We’ve spent hours in the van, evenings looking up at the stars in Juarez and Montana, and days on the work sites. We’ve worked, we’ve played, we’ve laughed until we cried and we’ve cried until we laughed.

My first trip with the kids was in 2003, when we went to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. This was a huge thing for me –WAY outside my comfort zone. Why? I was scared to death that the kids wouldn’t like me. I knew most of them in passing, but except for my brother, I wasn’t pals with any of them. I remember the first person who made me feel like maybe I wasn't a huge dork – it was Mandy. She was so quiet, but would talk to me. By the end of the trip, I felt that even if I hadn’t totally infiltrated the group, at least they didn’t think I was totally lame.

The next summer was our first trip to Juarez. By that time, I knew everyone a little better and even though I’m probably not supposed to, I developed favorites. Mandy was one – really, how could I NOT love her? She’s super smart and in the past couple of years, I’ve watched her struggle and I’ve watched her succeed. It’s been so great. Because she deserves the best things. Mollie was one – she’s the one who is friends with EVERYONE, even the inevitable weird kid who annoys the crap out of everyone else the entire trip. But Mollie can find the good in them and they know that her kindness is genuine. She’s so cool – she makes you laugh, but she’s also a deep kind of smart that makes you think. She’s got an older soul than most people her age. And Dane is one – he’s like my younger brother. I can’t say “little”, because he’s almost a foot taller than me. Anyway. He’s like a really large, really hyper puppy. He’s all over the place, and by the end of a trip, he’ll have had a long conversation with someone he didn’t really know before and he’ll like them. Dane wears his heart on his sleeve, and he sees the good in people first -- he only ever sees the bad if they end up hurting him. I’ve watched him grow from an obnoxious 14 year old that I couldn’t stand into an amazing 18 year old who is like my family.

Last summer was my last trip with Mandy and Mollie, because they graduated from high school. I remember bawling the night before we got home, because even though we knew we’d see each other plenty, this was our last trip together. It was sad, because the trips are such experiences. We spend 24/7 with our group and we learn and do so much… I can’t even begin to explain it. Anyway, it’s true. I do see them – I see Mandy at church every week and I see Mollie for dinner, or I see both of them when they come to hang out at my house. So the change there hasn’t been that hard, because they’re still around. This summer’s trip will be so different without them, though.

This summer is my last trip with Dane. And as much as I know that I’ll see him and talk to him after he goes to college, it's still sad. And I worry about him. I worry that he’ll lose that quality of seeing the good in people after he gets hurt one too many times. I worry that he’ll make stupid decisions (as he is apt to do) that will get him hurt or worse. I worry that in his effort to be a friend to everyone, he’ll lose himself in trying to please them. He has such a good heart – he’s kind and loving and loyal and that’s not something you always see in teenage boys. It may be there, but it’s hidden. Not this boy – he is all those things and lays it all on the table.

The reason I worry about him the most is because I know he’s scared of change as well. Last summer at camp, we were doing this kind of quiet reflective activity, and Dane came over and sat next to me, buried his face in my neck and cried and cried. He was already thinking about this summer – and how after this summer, everything changes. He’s scared to lose the people in his life that love him and who he loves. The world could end, the sky could fall, but none of that would be half as devastating to him as losing someone he loves. That's one reason I understand him so well -- I fear that too.

So yeah. Change. At this time last year, the tears would sneak up on me whenever I’d think about my two girls graduating and moving on. And this year, the tears start when I think about my boy graduating. I’m so happy for them, because I know that they have so much cool stuff to do and see and it’s exciting to move forward. But as cliché as it may sound, I’m sad because I lose a piece of me when they leave.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fun with wurrds

So I may have mentioned in the past that I’m a big word nerd. Yep – pretty sure I’ve mentioned it. And I think in order to be a word nerd, you have to play Scrabble. If there were a word nerd handbook, that would probably be one of the cardinal rules.

The great thing about growing up reading all the time and being in spelling bees and developing a love for words is that I had an awesome mentor along the way – my dad. Like Yoda to my Luke (only with more big words and less backward grammar), I learned how to play Scrabble with the master. We’ve been playing for years – sometimes we’d play for an entire Saturday afternoon – and it took me until my 20s to beat him on a semi-regular basis. It was like my crowning moment. There was a lot of dancing around and gloating, but hey – I learned the art of winning from him as well.

But sometimes even the wordiest of nerds can get frustrated with the lack of decent letters necessary to spell high-scoring words. Enter Phonetic Scrabble. It’s exactly what the name says it is – you spell the words the way they sound. The only rule is that you have to use the word in a sentence. Also, you probably shouldn’t play with people who are obsessed with political correctness, because to use most of the words in a sentence, you have to use an accent or a speech impediment of some sort.

So last night, The Bad Cop and I decided to play Scrabble, but it was kind of late when we made that decision, so we decided to play Phonetic. It’s faster because you’re not governed by that pesky “actual words” rule, and also if you’re really creative, it’s possible to use all your letters every turn.

I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I would start laughing to myself before I even put my words down. Not even so much about the actual word, but the accent I was going to use. Seriously. Half the fun is using the word in a sentence. Actually, no, that’s MOST of the fun. The accents kill me.

I wish I would have kept the board intact when we were done, because I can’t remember all the words. However, I do remember some.

“I had to put the sadoe on my horse before I rode him.”
“So I says to her, I says ‘Marvel, we need to replace this wood panou on the wall.’”
“And then I got in ma car and I drove to Dukatr…”
“…Unfortunately I rolled ma car and ended up in a guly.”
“I like to do arts and & crafbts (the b is silent).”
“Oh my god! A midjet!”
“Look! It’s a smidjet! If you pile a bunch of them on top of each other you have a regular sized midjet!” (I warned you about the political correctness – also you say “smidjet” with an English accent. No, I don’t know why. Yes, you have to.)
“That senator veeteaux everything.”
“Watch out for the rear faqshion!”
And finally, when The Bad Cop was left with a few too many gs: “Hey man! You’re my daagg…g!”

You like how I bolded the words, as if you wouldn't have figured them out otherwise?

Ahem. So. Next time you find yourself with a word nerd, a Scrabble board and short attention span? Phonetic Scrabble. Fun times guaranteed. Or you could make up new lyrics to well-known songs involving what you’re eating at that moment. Or both. We did both.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Here's where I write some words

I went and saw my brother's apartment for the first time the other day. I was sitting on his couch, looking around, and I said "This may be weird, but every new milestone you reach is so surreal to me." Because I can't believe that my little brother is old enough to have his own place. To legally drink. To walk on his own without me holding his hands. Granted, it's been a good 20 years or so since that last one, but you get the point. Where is that little kid who used to run around our backyard wearing a raptor mask? Oh yes. He's in college or at work. Gah.

Last night, Karen, John and I went to the wake for Kendra's uncle. This has been a really difficult week for her, because it was sudden and she was close to him. Her uncle founded a drug and alcohol rehab center and so a lot of the people who spoke were people who had gone through his program. And every single one of them talked about how he had changed their lives for the better and how he never gave up on them. It was abundantly clear that this man has left an indelible mark on the lives of a LOT of people. There were so many people there who loved him, and the reason for that is because he was generous with love. It makes me think that when I die, if people remember me like they remember him, I'll have accomplished a lot in my life. Anyway, if you get a chance, head over to Kendra's and wish her well...

Head-in-the-cooler watch 2006 continues. It was still there yesterday afternoon, but when I got home last night, it was gone. Whew. Now I don't have to sneak over there and look in it.

Yesterday my mom, The Boot and I were walking around the lake, and we saw this little kid with his grandma. He was adorable -- probably about 2 or 3, and he looks at me, looks at The Boot, and with a really concerned look on his face says "are you ok?" I smiled at him and said "yes -- thank you for asking." Seriously, how cute is that? We also saw a snake, which was considerably less cute. Stupid creepy slithery snakes. Gives me the heebie jeebies.

We were eating dinner last night, and John was talking about how we should go to the drag races this year, because it's cool. I told Karen she could wear cutoff shorts and make her hair real big, and John could wear his shirt with the sleeves ripped off. John says "Well I'm not going to get all dressed up." HA! I could not stop laughing. That's why Karen was able to marry him. He's a hoot.

Anyway. Herein ends another less than fascinating post about my life. Stay tuned for Or something.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The perfect post for insomniacs. It's that boring.

After THAT ringing endorsement, really, how could you NOT want to read this post? Hey, at least it's not about the cats.

Sometimes I miss being a kid. I was driving past my old elementary school the other day, and they were having Field Day. Remember Field Day? Being outside all day and competing in contests. Parents came and watched – my dad would even take off work at least part of the day to come and cheer my friends and I on. This was back before all of the concern about political correctness. We got ribbons for first, second and third place. Sometimes for fourth and fifth place. We didn’t get a ribbon just for showing up. Such bullshit. Perpetuating pansy kids. Anyway. Field Day. Good times.

The other thing that made me miss being a kid is the way that everything is SUPER EXCITING and TOTALLY NEW to them. I was babysitting the other day and I asked the baby (he’s 1 and a half) if he wanted to go for a walk. His face lit up and he’s like “yeeeeeeaaAAAAAYYYYYYY!!” When we got home, I asked him if he wanted to eat lunch outside. His face lit up and he’s like “yeeeeeeaaAAAAAYYYYYYY!!” When we were walking, he and his brother (who is 3) were totally quiet, chillin’ in the stroller, and then when the playground came into view, they started clapping their hands and saying “Playground!” like it was the best thing ever. Because at that minute? It WAS the best thing ever.

Kids are awesome. They’re not worried what people think of them. They’re going to swing and play on the slides and it’s going to be the highlight of their day. Until the next highlight, which could be the puppies we saw on the way home, or when I’d run down the hills pushing the stroller fast. They don’t care about what they look like or whether or not what they’re doing is silly – it’s fun, and really, that’s the whole point.

I also like to babysit because I can spend time with kids and then give them back. I love the giving them back. Although there was the little moment when the 3 year old kissed his finger, buzzed it over like it was a bee and touched the tip of my nose. Oh. Melty heart.

Besides the fact that I love kids, I was babysitting to get some extra cash to finance my new addiction. No, not crack. For obvious reasons. Not daytime t.v. Booooring. Not scrapbooking. Um, just no. It’s Whole Foods, people. I just didn’t think it was possible to love a grocery store so much. Yeah, I know. It’s like the saddest thing ever. I’ve developed said addiction since being unemployed, because I used to hate going to the grocery store. I'd go on the way home and it was always crowded and who wants to cook after their job sucked their soul out of them for the past 8 hours? Anyway. If I can’t find it at Whole Foods, apparently I’m not meant to eat it. Everything there is so GOOD. Bad Cop and I ate six chocolate covered strawberries from there in about 10 seconds flat last weekend. I’m pretty sure there were angels singing. P.I.C. and I got some tasty bbq from there the other day as well. DE-licious. Crab cakes, buffalo burgers, spinach and mushroom pizza. Yum. Peaches, cherries, rhubarb. Perfect. I’ll stop now. Because I need to go make my list for my trip there tomorrow. And also drum up some more odd jobs to PAY for this addiction. Ha. I’m like half-kidding there.

In other news. I was walking up the stairs to my house today, and I saw that there was a cooler sitting outside one of my neighbors’ doors. Is it weird that the first thing I wondered was if there was a severed head in there?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

She Says

I wrote a post a while back about how Not Boyfriend was moving and how I decided at that time how I was ready to let him go. Turns out, I was delusional. Not ready. Because when it came down to actually saying goodbye to him when he was leaving the state? Not so easy.

It was last Christmas Day and he called me because he was in the neighborhood and wanted to say goodbye before he left the next morning. I went over to, ironically, the senior parking lot of our high school to meet him. I could feel the tears start to prickle behind my eyes as I was driving over there, and I was like “Great. We’re off to a smashing start.” So he drives up and we’re standing by his truck talking. I was doing just fine, but then the tears started welling up uncontrollably. Stupid tears.

I thought I was ready to let him go. To let go of the hope that I held onto for a long time. To move on. I guess what I forgot about in all of that was that a friend leaving for an indefinite amount of time is sad in itself. And when it’s someone that I’ve been invested in; someone I’ve loved so much and wanted to be with so much, well, that’s sad. The prospect of maybe never seeing someone that you really care about ever again? Sad. He kept telling me that it wasn’t goodbye. That we’d keep in touch. And I knew he meant it, but because of his past track record, I wasn’t sure about that at all. So it wasn’t the fact that he was leaving, or that we weren’t going to be together, it was the feeling of finality I had as I was standing there. The feeling that yes, actually, it was goodbye.

We hugged and I fought against the tears again. We got into our cars and drove away, he towards his next step, and me back to my parents’ house. I cried, but only a little because I didn’t want to – I knew if I started, I’d never stop. I tried to get totally under control, and I did it. No more tears. Until later, when I turned my head quickly and smelled him – he always smelled so good and somehow it always rubbed off on my clothes. So I wiped away the tears and changed my shirt.

That was almost 5 months ago. And I realized recently that you know what? Even though when he left, and I was determined to let go and move on, I didn’t. Not right away, at least. Amazingly, he was true to his word and has kept in touch – he calls me about once a week, which shocked the hell out of me when he started doing it. It's almost more shocking that he's kept doing it. Anyway.

I was supposed to see him when I went to Vegas with the girls last month. Only I didn’t. I didn’t feel like it. I was there with my friends and I didn’t want to miss a minute with them. I didn’t feel like I should sacrifice my time for him, when there were so many times he never did that for me, when we were in the same state. For a year. I didn’t do it to punish him, I just had other priorities. Finally, maybe, the right priorities.

And that’s when I realized that Not Boyfriend? No longer in the running for the title of “Actual Boyfriend.” Because when he was, he was a priority, at the expense of things that were probably infinitely better for me. I still love him, but not in the same way. Not at all. I no longer hope that things will “work out” between us. They already have – we’re friends. And that’s how things will stay.

Come around to another time when you don’t have to run
And when she says she wants somebody else
I hope you know she doesn’t mean you
And when she says she wants someone to love
I hope you know she doesn’t mean you
-- Howie Day, "She Says"
(Go here and scroll down if you want to see the video for this song)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

A long post in which I think out loud about moving

So. Apparently what with the whole job ending thing and the not knowing what I want to do next career-wise and the not having any sort of husband/boyfriend issues to tie me to where I’m at, the thought is that maybe I should move.

This is not my thought. Not that I haven’t been giving it a lot of time and headspace, it’s just that I’m not entirely sure I want to move. The girls and I were discussing this at dinner the other night, and everyone seemed to think it would be worth giving some serious consideration to. I agreed. I would consider it. Beth followed up on the conversation and recognized my reticence in really moving forward with figuring out where I might want to move – it’s fine to THINK about it, but really moving TOWARD it is something totally different. So Beth wrote a blog entry about it and asked her readers for input and experiences. I have gotten a lot of interesting food for thought as a result of the comments and also from talking to my friends here.

When I was in my awful job and feeling dark, sometimes I thought “I should just move away. I could start again and be whoever I want to be.” The more I considered that, the more I realized that that was a fallacy. Moving away doesn’t mean you become a different person. Sure, you grow and change, but you don’t become someone else. One of the comments really stuck with me: “You don’t get to leave your personal baggage when you move. It all comes with you. Your fears, your dreams, your personality quirks, whatever leaves you stagnant, or motivates you, it all comes with you, like it or not…”

This I needed to hear, because I have more baggage sometimes then I would ever let on. And one of my enormous suitcases is filled with fear. Fear of failure, fear of change, the usual things. But I also have a huge fear of loss. Sometimes I get a knot of panic that settles right in my throat when I think about losing my parents or my brother. Paralyzing. Fear. Moving away from my family and also my friends would be so hard that I’m not sure it would be something I’m willing to do.

I can’t run away from my issues. I have to face them, and to be honest, the thought of facing them in a place where I don’t know anyone is not something I want to do. Having to face hard things is bad enough – doing it alone is a whole other animal in itself. Like a growly, bear-woken-out-of-hibernation, you-don’t-want-to-cross-it sort of animal. Not good. And I’m not saying that by moving, I would be running away. But my idea of being a whole new person shouldn’t be the reason that I leave. Plus, as it turns out, for the most part, I like me. Again, the issues rear their ugly heads, but fundamentally? I’m good.

Of all my girls, I’m the only one who hasn’t left Colorado. Some of them left for undergrad, grad school, or just a necessary change. Karen made a good point when she said moving for school is easier because you have a built in network of people in the same boat. Plus, it’s exciting to move away from home at 18. I went to my first two years of college 90 miles away from home, and while it’s not that far, it might as well have been a different world. It was great. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. And moving in your early twenties is great too, because you’re still at that point where you pretty much have no ties.

The Bad Cop and I were talking about this last night when I told him about the conversation. He said that it would be harder for me to move now because I’m settled here. He didn’t mean it in a negative way, but he’s right. I own my house, and yes, I know, there are houses everywhere, but I love my house. It’s mine. I’ve lived here for two years, which is longer than I’ve lived anywhere since I moved out of my parents’ house. It’s my HOME. I like to be here and while I like to leave now and then, I always look forward to coming back to MY HOUSE. He said that moving when you’re younger is easier because you don’t have nearly as many roots. Again, true. When I was 18, all my friends were moving around and doing something different. When I was 23, I lived with my parents – I owned nothing, not even my car, and my friends were still moving around. I could have left then. I didn’t, and you know what? I don’t regret it.

I love Colorado. I love that I can lay in my bed in the morning and look at the mountains. I love the fall and the spring and especially the summer. I love that it can be 90 degrees during the day, but at night I can sit outside and it’s cool. That it’s midnight in May and I’m in my living room right now with the patio door open because it’s still 60 outside. I hate to be cold, but I love that we have winter, complete with snow and without bitter cold. I can drive for an hour and a half and be up in Winter Park – right in the middle of the mountains. I like the beach, but I’m a mountains girl. I could go on, but the truth of the matter is, I have no desire to live anywhere else.

I have my house, and my beautiful state and the people in my life that I spend my time with. And the latter is what holds me the most. I love going to Sally & Joe’s and drinking wine on their deck, just chilling and talking. I love that I can see Mandy at least once a week. I love that in 15 minutes, I’m downtown at P.I.C.’s and we’re walking to an Avs game or a Nuggets game or for drinks on a patio somewhere or hanging out for our traditional Sunday t.v. night. I love being with The Bad Cop and never running out of things to talk about, whether it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night. I love that Kendra lives three minutes away and Karen lives seven minutes away and even though we may not see each other all the time, it’s so comforting that they’re close by and we can meet up for dinner or shopping, and that if we need each other, it’s a matter of minutes. I love my youth group kids, and my summers with them are not something I’m willing to give up. I love my family and our Saturday lunches and that if I’m hurt or sick or upset, my mom can come and take care of me, and if I need something fixed, my dad can come and do it and if I miss my brother, he lives right by me as well. The list goes on.

So yes, maybe moving would be a good thing for me. Maybe it would expand my horizons and provide valuable life lessons and be a great new experiment in independence. But in thinking and wondering and weighing my options, it’s not where I am right now. Because fear and issues aside, the biggest factor is that I have a lot of roots here that I’m not willing to pull up. Will I ever leave here? I don’t know. I’m not ruling it out. I’m not in a “I want to move” sort of place. I’m in a “I want to stay” sort of place.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We're so money

Thursday night -- we NEEDED champagne to celebrate that we're all in Vegas together!!
Beth, me, and Kendra in one of the Cabs o' Creepiness on our way to The Palms on Friday night. At least this driver was just silent and surly and not the sex-game peddler or the commenting-on-my-breasts guy. Hottest Girls in Vegas on the roof of The Palms -- also known as the patio at Ghost Bar. In case you were wondering, the HGinV are Beth, Becki, me, Kendra and Karen. Who knew when we met that 15 years later we'd be in Sin City celebrating our third decade. Awesome. Taking a break from dancing at Rain (also at The Palms). Reason I look sort of intense and/or evil? Unknown.
My look of horror as we watch the train wreck behind us. As P.I.C. is fond of saying: "That's a LadyMan, man!" The guy he/she is macking on has no clue and they started making out seconds later. I seriously couldn't stop watching.
The restaurant by the pool. Just call me Ms. New Booty. That's just one of the many boot-related jokes from the weekend.
Beth and I -- we've been friends for 24 years. Love her. Anyway. We're standing outside the Bellagio on Saturday night waiting for the water show to start. Random fact #1: she was responsible for my hairstyles both nights. I liked them so much that I am now blaming her for the $100 in Bumble & Bumble products I bought when I got home. But my hair looks fabulous. You know, for when I'm home all the time. Random fact #2: We used to write each other's name on our homework because we knew we'd get the same grade anyway. Geeks, party of two?
So that's it. For now. Karen took some great pictures, don't you think?