Friday, August 29, 2008

The Art of Patience

“How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” -Paul Sweeney

I am addicted to good quotes. I found my high school assignment planner the other day, and page after page is littered with quotes. Funny quotes, inspiring quotes, thoughtful quotes… I guess part of me is occupied with the idea that eventually, I’d like some 18-year old to be jotting my words, verbatim, into their own planners some day.

Because of my obsession with quotes, I tend to savor them when I find them in unexpected places. This quote was in a word-a-day email I read. Recently, the moderator changed the format of his emails, including a “thought for the day” with each new vocabulary term. When I read this one, I stopped for a moment and really thought about it. We do live in a Right. Now. kind of world. Kids growing up today are accustomed to instant everything. Information. Mac and cheese. Photographs. Communications. If you want hot rolls, the Pillsbury Doughboy has one you can pop in the oven, and have a seemingly freshly-made roll in only 10 minutes.

I imagine our grandparents and how they must have viewed the same things we see as “instant.” For some of them, to have your photo made, meant sitting still for several minutes or risking a blurred face. To have a loaf of bread meant undertaking a half-day of dough rising, kneading and rising again. And information? Forget it. The library was the only place to go, unless you were lucky enough to own some encyclopedias or have very intelligent parents. There was no way they could just sit down at a computer and instantly be able to conjure up how much an average zebra weighs (700 pounds for males, and 570 pounds for females – the internet knows ALL).

This brings me to another point, which I think relates more to patience than anything else. Divorce. I think the ever-rising divorce rate has more to do with a growing lack of patience in our society than anything. In days of yore, men and women were expected to stick to the marriage, even when one or the other stopped having that lovin’ feeling (yes, I’m singing the song now). Today, there’s a society expectation of instant gratification, and if our partner isn’t satisfying our every need at that instant, you can be divorced faster than you could resolve the issue.

I am every bit the realist about marriage. I know, from watching my own parents, that there can be entire years when you don’t really like your spouse. You love him/her because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have married each other. But sometime that love is buried under frustration, stress, annoyance, anger, and dislike. Sometimes you really have to dig deep to find that love. Like when your husband has decided to pursue something you’re not particularly fond of (“But honey, you always loved watching ice dancers on TV!”) or when he’s stopped recognizing birthdays and anniversaries in any proper way (“Happy birthday, sweetie! When’s dinner ready?”). I’ve already readied myself for the idea that one day, Greg and I may not be on the best of terms. We may have a knock-down, drag-out fight that leaves us both avoiding one another for weeks. (Although I hope not.) This is where patience is useful. This is when you have to be truly committed to waiting out the bad patches until you get to another good one.

Patience is a virtue, as they say, and I think it’s time I redeveloped mine. I think this weekend I’ll bake a loaf a bread. From scratch. With regular yeast. That’s patience.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Some Tidbits

Usually Fridays are the day that I slack a little, write up a few posts, and basically glide through the day unnoticed. Last week, however, we had a fairly crazy week, and I barely had time to get my regular work done, much less do so AND slip in some post-writing in the process. Instead, I catalogued a few things for mentioning on this very lazy Monday morning.

1.) Friday midday, I overheard a very rich man, talk to a school principle about his son’s education. He’s talked about not wanting his son “taught to a standardized test” and how his imagination should be “encouraged and not quelled.” He emphasized that he should be getting a “wealth of experiences” and “be free to express himself.” He seemed especially upset that his son’s teacher is too stuffy and straight-laced and wanted someone younger who could “take on the world.”

He sounded as if this was a matter of life or death, with the seriousness in his voice. And I would be totally on board with him if I didn’t know one little fact: His five-year old son begins his first day of kindergarten today. I don’t know about you, but I thought learning that 100 popcorn kernels looked like a lot less than 1000 popcorn kernels was “taking on the world” when I was that age.

2.) We have a company who comes in and makes custom blinds for our gianormous windows around the office. One gentleman who works for this company makes me smile every time I see him. He is a walking caricature. Picture a 1950s greaser in your head, and you have this guy pinned. From his stylishly graying pompadour, to the rolled up sleeves of his button-down, short sleeve shirt, to the butt-hugging jeans rolled up over faded leather boots, he is right out of Grease; just give him a leather jacket, and he could be a T-Bird. All that’s really missing is the pack of cigarettes hanging out in that rolled-up short sleeve. I find him weirdly attractive, in that way I find John Travolta as Danny attractive. I do my best not to talk to him too much, because if he doesn’t have John Travolta’s voice, the illusion is gone.

3.) The wedding is approaching so fast, that I’m starting to have little panic attacks each day. Not big ones mind you, but little tiny, oh-dear-there’s-so-much-to-do moments. We started addressing the invitations yesterday, and after another good hour or two, I should be done. I’m going to pick up stamps at the post office while I’m at lunch, and then hopefully get them in the mail by Wednesday, with the exception of a select few whose addresses I don’t yet have. I’m just so ready for the wedding to be here and be happening; I’m tiring quickly of all the preparation. The last big milestone before the big day is my bachelorette party in a few weeks, and then it’ll just be three more weeks until the wedding. Oh dear.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our First Second Anniversary

As of today, my honey and I have been together for two years. Maybe to those who have been together 10, 20, or 30 years this isn’t much. To us, however, it’s a pretty big deal. This is the longest relationship I’ve ever had, and the longest he’s ever had, too. We’ve seen two Christmases, two Valentines, four birthdays, 104 weekends, six vacations, nine living situations, more than 100 bottles of wine, and about a bazillion calories.

In our first month together. Young and free. Tan and pale.

It all started when my last boyfriend, Greg’s former roommate, broke up with me after a year-long relationship. I was heartbroken, but knew deep down that it was the right thing. In the midst of it all, I got text messages from Greg, letting me know he was coming back from his job as a camp counselor in Minnesota. Before he left for camp, we had become pretty good friends. He had texted me occasionally throughout the summer, telling me about when he set himself on fire (really), when he was out at bars, and just chit-chatting with me from across the continental United States. So, about three weeks after the breakup and only a few days after Greg’s return to Oklahoma, I invited him to my digs for a bottle of wine.

At the time, my “digs” were at the house of a family for whom I was a live-in babysitter/tenant. Not knowing what kind of wine Greg preferred, I bought a bottle of red and a bottle of white. (And yes, I did sing the Billy Joel song as I bought them.) I remember feeling very grown up, inviting Greg over to drink wine with me and stroll around the large, wooded lot the house occupied. I put the kiddos to bed before he came over that evening, and felt a little nervous. I didn’t know if he was coming over as just a friend, or if – like me – he had other ideas about the situation. Needless to say, we were on the same wavelength.

Our first New Year's Eve together. I thought he looked like a rock star.

It wasn’t exactly the most perfect first date. We drank our wine, and it began raining outside, so I couldn’t have the romantic stroll around the pond that I had planned. The youngest child, a needy boy of 10, kept coming down the stairs to see what we were doing and ask when his parents would be home. We looked at pictures of my semester in Ireland (from which I had returned the previous fall), and I did everything I could to get up frequently enough that I could sit down each time a bit closer to Greg on the love seat. After we started the second bottle of wine, I had my legs in his lap and was practically nose-to-nose with him.

My shy boy took a while, but by the end of the night, he had kissed me, and we had stayed up all night long, talking and laughing, and… well… doing other things. Just a few months later we were on our first ski trip together, and we were both desperately in love. A year after that, we were engaged, and planning the wedding. Now, in just 7 short weeks, we will be walking down the aisle together, making our life. Who knew when I kissed this boy, thinking it was going to become nothing more than a “rebound relationship” that I would be finding the love of my life?

Greg is one of those people who will continue to grow and change through the years in the most interesting ways. He’s constantly working to improve himself, his art, and his life, and it’s a wonder to me to see what new things he comes up with every day. He’s creative and wildly inventive, and the two together means we have fun in whatever we do – whether it be a nice vacation with his parents or just playing around the house for an evening, putting pigtails in his hair and acting like a goof.

Our trip to Scotsdale before the engagement. A year in and still enamored.

So, here’s to two years of love, laughter and happiness, and to many, many more.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lord, I Was Born a Rambling (Wo)Man

There are days when I just want to write. I don't have an agenda, and I don't have a reason, I just have an urge to put my words into text form and send them out to the world. And by world, I mean to the one person who reads my random drabble.

So, today I am writing. I have no lunch break today, as we are crunching 3 days' worth of work into one day (as we are prone to do around here). My life at work is typically several weeks of boredom, followed by a week of relatively busy-ness. It's a random sort of life I lead. So, instead of taking lunch to go home and check on my puppy, I am taking a posting break. With pictures.

I have a feeling that I would have an urge to write, no matter what my life was like. I could see myself, homeless, helpless and alone, and sitting on a street corner, carefully scrawling into my notebook my tales of woe. Or, more likely, I'd somehow still have Father Mackenzie and I'd be like this guy:

By the by, we got a nice camera for our wedding shower, so there is a distinct possibility, I might actually start including some of my own photos on here, instead of stealing everything from Ffffound. (Which, also, by the way, I would love to be a part of, but you have to be invited. Instead, I just save random pictures as they come up. Oh well.)

I actually sat down with the camera and its manual, and began the process of trying to understand how everything works. The trouble is, this manual is for people who don't care what the acronyms stand for. I do. So, there are sentences like "Set it to a lower setting, such as F-6 for a room with more light." F? What the F?? There's something called ISO, and something called AV. For God's sake, they had a sentence that says, "You can set your AF to three settings, or you can set it on MF." It took me five minutes to realize they were talking about auto-focus and manual focus. Stupid. Instead, I resorted to my other manual - Greg. He's slowly but surely teaching me what all the little acronyms are for and how to determine what you should use in each situation. Hopefully by the honeymoon, I'll have it down.

[Did this make anyone else giggle?]

I suppose my ten minutes of writing catharsis must end sometime. My day is just half over, so we technically only have about 1.5 days' worth of work left to do (I hope). It seems we always have the worst day on Fridays, no thanks to the executives we work for. They decide if we have to have a book of reports FedEx-ed no later than Friday, that they'll get us the report Friday morning. Nevermind that we have to make 40 copies of each, assemble them in binders, label them and send them out. Surely that only takes a few minutes, right? Actually we can, but we just have to stay late to get it done. Damn my "can-do" attitude!

Everything via Ffffound. Of course.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

To Maid or Not to Maid

After the last few days in my house, I’ve been thinking about cleaning. Not in the sense of “how the hell am I going to clean all of this up?” but more in the sense of, “who can I find who will clean this up for me?”

I grew up in a house with a stay-at-home-mom (most of the time). Since she was a homemaker, she took the tasks to heart and she made dinner every night (except for the occasional visit to Little Caesar’s), did the laundry and kept the house clean. The kids, of course, had the task of keeping our rooms clean. Which, might I add, I failed horribly at most of the time. Our house was always tolerably clean, however. My mother was no neat freak, so we had piles here and there of random things, and the refrigerator often had at least a few things that smelled like they were starting a new life cycle.

Now, though, I am a “grown-up.” I have my own house. And now I have to clean it. So far, it hasn’t been terrible, but it hasn’t exactly been good. I don’t have the “neat freak” gene, but I do have the “ohmygodthisisstressingmeout” gene when the house gets too cluttered. Right now, we have boxes from our wedding shower littering the kitchen and bedroom, I have random things strewn about the living room, my closet is a total mess, and the pantry is about to eat me alive. And don’t even get me started about the things I haven’t done since we moved in three months ago. Mopped the kitchen? Nope. (Don’t even own a mop.) Cleaned out the refrigerator? Uh-uh. (I think we have a new species of mold in one dish, and maybe it cures cancer. I’m not going to throw away a possible cure to cancer.) Scrubbed the toilet? Yeah right. (Ew.)

I avoid these tasks like crazy. Although, I am motivated to vacuum our new carpet on a regular basis, which I did only twice in the six months we spent at our first apartment.

Hence, I have looked at maid websites to begin estimating what it would cost to have a maid come in every two weeks to do the “big” tasks that I avoid like crazy. Someone to clean the baseboards, and dust everything dustable. Someone to scrub the toilets like they mean it, and not feel like they’re going to vomit through the whole thing. Someone to rinse out the bottom of the kitchen trash can and bleach the bathtub and clean the fan blades. Lord knows it’ll take a lot of motivation for me to do these things.

I don’t know if, in the end, I’ll actually be able to go through with it. I think there’s some sort of hard-wiring that prevents some of us women to give up on any domestic duty. It’s like we’ve failed our second X chromosome. I feel like someone must have whispered in my ear when I was born, “You’re never going to be able to get away from housework – it is your DESTINY….” which was followed by weird echoing and possibly a David Bowie song with great synthesizers.

If I lived here, at least it would be easy to clean. No corners. Plus, who wouldn't want to live in a giant fruit on the highway? Via Ffffound

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Cow-Shaped Friend

There are days when I hate my uterus. Days that it really wants to assert itself. Days it decides it’s time to remind me that it has the higher hand, and has all power over me, and not the other way around. Days like today.

I assume the fainthearted immediately closed the browser when they got to “uterus,” but be forewarned if you tried to soldier on thinking the post wouldn’t be extremely and grossly inappropriate information about my menstruation. You were wrong. There is no silver lining to this cloud, so hit the back button while you still can.

My uterus, from a very young age, felt the need to be large and in charge. It was obviously asleep in my sex ed class in fifth grade, when the teacher informed us our periods would come every 28 days, because after I finally “became a woman,” as they put it, the damn thing didn’t operate for another six months. This pattern continued for a couple of years, until my uterus decided it needed to be a little more involved in my life and moved its trash-dump to occur around every 3 months. It constantly changed its mind about frequency of alerting me that it still functioned, however, and when I was 19, I finally tried to get the upper hand with a little daily pill. The. Pill. It was given the arduous task of regulating my uterus’s comings and goings. I did not envy the task it had at hand.

Well, just because I can now reel it in to tell it when and for how long it can cause disruption in my life, it has decided to remind me who’s boss each month. It tries to kill me from the inside, slowly but surely. To the point that when it began today, all I could think about was if I could give myself a hysterectomy with a pair of office scissors without bleeding to death. This pain isn’t just “cramps.” This is double-me-over, someone-just-stabbed-me-in-the-fallopian tube, oh-my-god-where’s-the-lortab kind of pain.

Though, come to think of it, this isn’t a new thing. The first time I really had my “real” period – a full, seven-day, fun-filled adventure, I remember hitting the decks like someone was shooting through the windows. I thought I had some horrible form of gas that was eating out my insides. I curled on the floor of my bedroom in the fetal position, with my sickly dog at my side, who just licked my hand and stared at me with “I totally understand” puppy-dog eyes. She later died of kidney failure, which – yes – makes me feel like a total jerk for whining about my piddling problems. Still. Being a twelve-year old with an unidentifiable "stomach" problem, home alone on your bedroom floor? Not exactly my idea of un-scary.

Why doesn’t the girl’s sex ed explain this? There should be a long section of the presentation called, “Why you will grow to hate having the female gene.” In this section, they will explain how, through systematic use of unexpected spotting, inexplicable late periods, ineffectiveness of the "ultra-super" tampon for your waterfall of a period, the stabbing pain of cramps, and the general unhappiness associated with menstruation you will come to loathe the cow-head shaped organ in your lower abdomen. If the presentation is really good, it will go on to include wanting to kill people or cry constantly for about a week and how that will invariably lead to everyone asking when you really have a right to cry if you are “PMS-ing or something.”

I remember videos about puberty being much the opposite of this. I recall one video we watched at Girl Scouts. A girl is downtrodden that she’s the last in her grade to get her period. She’s still a “little girl” while everyone else was… well, you know. It then shows her exuberantly bouncing down her hallway the next morning, and excitedly calling a friend on the phone, her new training bra showing visibly under her tank top. The conversation went something like this: “Susie? Guess what?! It happened! Last night! I woke up because the bed felt wet, and then I found I had just gotten my period! Isn’t it wonderful?”

Wet? I remember horrible pain, but I don’t remember wet. I think by the time my parents had gotten home, and my father had sheepishly abandoned the room after I described my problem, my mother immediately took me into the bathroom to give me a maxi-pad. Actually, it was more like a Mack Truck Pad. This thing could have soaked up a hurricane, it was so huge. I felt like I was trying to walk with a rolled-up beach towel between my legs. Thus began the christening of adulthood. And no, I didn’t call my friends to tell them all about it. I remember being pretty bummed, actually. Because it wasn’t at all like the girl in the video. Because real life doesn’t involve 12-year olds being thrilled that they’re going to be bleeding every month for the rest of their lives. Screw womanhood - I would have rather been playing with Barbies.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Downward Spiral, Sort Of

This weekend begins the long downhill to the wedding. That’s right – it’s a wedding shower. We decided on a couple’s shower, because it didn’t seem fair to exclude the boys (though they may have preferred it). It’s going to be an afternoon affair, short and sweet, with tons of friends and family. Seriously – I think the majority of those invited to the wedding are also invited to the shower. I tried to keep it limited to just a few of the people – close family, good friends… Then came the comments, “Oh, I’d really like to invite…” and “Well, I was talking to so-and-so, and I asked if they were coming, and it turns out you forgot to send them an invitation!”

Whatever. I’m going to look like a greedy bride, but I guess this is yet another party that is less about us, and more about the parents. And we get presents out of the deal, so I guess I can’t complain.

In the coming weekends, I am going to be downright busy. There are only (eek!) 8 weekends until the wedding. And somehow, in those 8 weekends, I have to cram all the last-minute drudgery involved with weddings: finalizing music lists, mapping out the layout, verifying rentals, deciding if I really want to “dress-a-chair” instead of having plain chairs, figure out the who-does-what-when sorts of things, and basically build the wedding with all the random services I’ve put together. Fun.

Is it bad that eloping is starting to sound pretty tasty?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

It Was a Day

Greg is out of town. This happens rarely with us. Or, at least, thus far it has been a rare occurance. We've only been together for about two years, so we've been in that sweet, "I can't go anywhere without you!" place. I think it may be beginning to wear off, just a smidge.

Anyway, Greg went to see some of his college friends who, for lack of a better explanation, have been ignoring his existence for a year or so. He's tried to make contact a few times that I know of, but - let's face it - they're all nerdy, arty people who flake out easily. This time, though, it appears to have worked out for the best. So that left me alone today from noon until... probably midnight tonight or so.

With the knowledge that my honey would be away, I made grand plans. I would go to Target and buy a few things that I've needed for a while. Then I'd go work out. After that, I wanted to come home, watch a movie and organize the junk drawer and go through a box of books that's been sitting in the entry way for a few days. I even made a list of all the things I needed to do/get so that I wouldn't forget any.

I got as far as Target, and the rest of the day is a blur. I didn't work out (how am I EVER going to fit into the wedding dress??), I DID organize the junk drawer, but nothing else has fallen under the jurisdiction of my nimble hands. I DID watch my movie, but after that I also opted to watch all the special features, followed by a disc of my favorite TV show, Friends, while I had dinner and played with my new hot rollers. So now, I'm sitting here posting, my hair looking fabulous, chai tea in front of me, and feeling pretty guilty. I mean, I had plans. What happened to me?

I'm still going to try to salvage things here. I'm going to put on an audiobook (after I finish my tea), and tackle our guest room closet, which is a freak show of wedding stuff, unfiled papers, random computer supplies and other unidentifiable objects. It's pretty much a house of horrors in there. Please pray for me. I could probably use it.