Wednesday, November 30, 2005

“I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. Christmas is all around me. It’s everywhere I go….”

We rented “Christmas with the Kranks” the other day, and honestly, skipping Christmas is not for me. In fact, it was this movie that spurned my holiday spirit into gear.

While it’s nice to get away from the commercialism of it all, I honestly love, love, love getting caught up in the spirit of the season. I’ve been listening to Christmas music on my way to and from work (so that’s four hours a day right there), and I’ve already sent out a dozen or more Christmas cards. A through C. (with some exceptions as I hunt to complete addresses).

I love it when I start to tear up at the Christmas Shoe song or when those really sweet puppy under the tree in a big red bow commercials come on the TV.

I’ve had my first glass of eggnog and bought my first few presents. I’m also making a list and checking it twice. I have two boxes of hot cocoa in the cupboard and an entire jar of fluff. The Christmas cookie recipes have already been selected.

Tree number two is up and decorated with only one casualty. This really pretty ornament that never got to see a Christmas morning was smashed by a brutish gold ball that I bought the first year we had our tree. Actually, this thought made me really sad at the time that it occurred to me. No Christmas ornament should be robbed of a magical Christmas morning.

The first tree went up half-heartedly over the weekend, and has since been decorated a little more. It still needs stuff since it looks pretty sparce. I’m going to see what I can whip up for it. Possibly a yo-yo garland and some more ornaments? We shall see. I promised Jason I wouldn’t buy any more Christmas ornaments, but I think that I have a few around the house that I haven’t unearthed yet that can help fill the tree space. And half the fun is making them (at least in sj world).

Part of what makes this Christmas that much more special is the fact that we have children in the family for the first time in over a decade (if you figure I was 17 over a decade ago). Little babies E and K gurgle and coo and maybe they don’t understand the concept of Santa, but it’s still a chance for us to spoil them rotten. Last year we had my cousin’s children, and while they are cute and lovely children, there’s something uniquely special about my sisters having babies.

I’m also hoping my cousin Heather comes down from NY to spend some time with us. It’ll be a tough year without my aunt, since we usually see them around this time for a couple of days. Having Heather around is a great reminder for us to cherish our family that much more.

On Friday before Jason gets home, I’m going to wrap up some presents so we have some things under the tree. We’re not going overboard with gifts this year- but the boxes under the tree to me are more symbolic about the hopes that come with Christmas – and trying to figure out what’s to come is the most fun.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"Get over yourself, Scotty."

I survived class reunion weekend with minor scathes.

So except for major open bar abuse, it went off pretty well. I was disappointed that I found it so hard to recognize people I should know. The guys were particularly hard. A guy I’ve also known since third grade and had a crush on for about 10 minutes in fourth grade, is now bald and spreading frighteningly around the middle. Unfortunately, I think he never got over the fact that I had a crush on him briefly and I think he thinks I harbor romantic inklings towards him. To which I say, get over yourself Scotty. I’m happily married and my husband has all of his hair and could bench press you all the while discussing the finer points of early Roman civilization and culture.

I talked to some people that I hadn’t really talked to them in years – or just didn’t talk to enough in high school. One such person was a girl named Lori. We weren’t friends in high school. We may not have talked. But she was so sweet and nice at the reunion, that I regret that now. I found out she’s an overnight dj at 96.5, so I’m going to make a point to listen to her and maybe give her a shout.

I also talked to a girl named Lisa, who I have known since first grade although haven’t been close to in a good many years and I’m so glad I did. She’s funny and witty in a self-deprecating way. And of course, dear old Jill, who thought I was trying to set her up with my husband when I told her I had the perfect guy for her…. it was a very funny few minutes as we assured her that we weren’t putting her on the spot. It made me glad I went to talk to these girls.

Everyone recognized me. At least, I assume they did. Some people I preambled with my full name, just in case…. and maybe that was stupid. Most of the people I talked to have known me since third grade, and really, I haven’t changed that much. My hair is longer and my skin is older (and by that I mean pimples have given way to smooth skin which has given way to freckles, laugh lines and crows feet). And I have a more developed sense of style.

So yeah- reunions are fun. If we have a 15, I probably won’t go. But I will go to the 20th. There were people I avoided, and there were people I probably should have avoided. I definitely was nervous chatty with a few. And there were probably some people who thought: why on earth is she talking to me so much?

My yearbook quote was: I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve mellowed in the past few years. While it’s true that I do look for the best in people and have entirely too many friends, according to J, I’ve stopped trying to find the good in every person. Some people are not agreeable, and I have no longer have problems not liking them.

I found it ironic that a girl who was very popular throughout high school and used her popularity to be mean and spiteful is now a mother of three, and very recently married. If I were her, I probably would have given up the past and be a friendlier, nicer person. That’s not the route she opted for, shooting cool, judging glances over toward me, Stacey and Joy. I caught her eye on at least one occasion, and she clearly looked me up and down with not a trace of nostalgic friendliness that I had seen in even the most aloof popular girls.

But I do feel good that we invited two of our classmates to join us for a while. The two had been sitting on the outskirts, not talking to anyone. But they came over and joined us and chatted for a while. JS reported that her mom saw the husband in church, and he said that he had a great time at the reunion. That made me feel warm and fuzzy.

In fact, I’d say that was the day’s high.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

“You look exactly the same…”

Standing next to my best friend from high school at our 10th reunion last week, someone told me they didn’t recognize her at all, but figured out who she was by looking at me because I, apparently, “look exactly the same.” Really? Not even a little older? I would be offended except it means the person didn’t notice all the things I obsessed about before going to the reunion.
It could have been worse. One of my friends heard a specific person was there and said, “Really? Where is he?” only to find out he was standing next to the guy! That same friend managed to puke in someone else’s hotel room and pass out in the bed of one of “the cool kids.” It makes my drunk faux pas of asking a kid I never liked if he was the head of the janitorial department when he said he was in charge of a department at the college where he works look pretty tame (I’m still cringing to think about it and can only hope he was too drunk to remember it!)
I’ve been trying to come up with broad generalizations about the reunion and have been unable to do so. It wasn’t any better than I thought it would be, but it wasn’t any worse either. Some people gained a lot of weight, lost their hair, learned to dress stylishly, got married… and others didn’t. Some of the people who never had dates in high school were married, but so were some of the most popular students. On the other hand, some of the girls who always had boyfriends in high school came alone.
It was a room full of people who had one thing in common—the fact that we grew up together. In many cases, that was about all there was to talk about since our lives had diverged in huge ways since then. It was kind of like going to a party where you know everyone and don’t know anyone, all rolled into one. (How’s that for confusing?) It was a good time.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Stuff I'm Thankful For

I'm recovering from Thanksgiving overload, and my brain hurts from too much food, so I'm afraid this is going to be a lame entry. Consider this a warm up for what will no doubt be a lengthy and humerous recap of the BEHS class of 95 debaucherie.

Today I'm reflecting on my luckiness and how grateful I am to have such fantabulous friends and loved ones.

I'm also reflecting on how much I absolutey adore the Christmas season, and I'm shocking myself with my lack of Christmas spirit thus far. This time last year, my trees were up and my house was completely outfitted in snowmen.

We had 4 inches of snow dropped on us yesterday morning, and suddenly, i'm less inclined to deck my halls with boughs of plastic holly.

I think it reminded me of how much work Christmas is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

the turkey trials

today’s high: knowing that there’s only one day left before a four day weekend.

I’m starting to slowly creep into the holiday spirit. I missed fall. I spent too much time raking leaves and cleaning in general to pay attention to the changing seasons. there’s probably something ironic about that, but I’m too tired to think about it.

Thanksgiving approaches FAST and I have two pies to make. Who’s brilliant idea was it to arrange a class reunion AFTER thanksgiving? When we’re all so stuffed that we can barely button our pants? I want to go into the reunion with a placard that says something to the effect of: “this outfit looked awesome on me on Wednesday, before the three turkey dinners I’ve had to sit through.”

So KAT and I are still deliberating our much ballyhooed reunions that are coming up this week – hers is on Wed before turkey consumption (kids from Burlington ARE smarter than kids from Bristol – the Mastery tests don’t lie!). I checked out the outfit, and she got my approval, providing she wears appropriate footwear (we’ve had this talk….). of course she wants to put her best foot forward (and of course it should be in a kitten heel or pointy toed svelte boot), so she’s done her shopping. I, however, have delayed the inevitable.

In high school, my fashion sense was steered by me and me alone. I was not trendy. I wore bright red tights. I owned at least 10 baby doll dresses (let’s recall that this was the 90s). I had super short pixie hair. I had my own style. And really, always have. So now comes the dilemma: what on earth do I wear?

Right now, my outfit in my head doesn’t correspond to everything in my closet. in other words, I’m going to have to do some shopping. And while I hate the idea of having a special “reunion outfit,” I’m also absolutely gung-ho on showing up in style. It’s just a matter of what style. April Cornell sheer peasant skirt and denim jacket? Jeans and velvet blazer?

The fact that our reunion is going to be more like a raging kegger than a chic soiree is also making the clothing decision tougher than it should. I didn’t go to such events in high school OR college, so I have no frame of reference. My friends – and I mentioned this last night at the reunion committee meeting – drink wine or gin and tonics. They don’t play beer pong.

So does that make me a snob or a nerd?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Here's to more highs than lows...

It's been a rough couple of days for me and I've had things to concentrate on other than the blog. My week has been rough enough that I'm having trouble coming up with good things to talk about. So, I'm once again turning the blog over to our audience of friends and family members (and perhaps even a couple of strangers). I know there's a good number of people reading what SJ and I have to say (how flattered are we?!?) but we still don't get a lot of comments. You can be anonymous if you'd like, although we always like to know who to mock… um, I mean, respond to.
My friend Amy does something with her class that she has adapted to her friends as well. She will ask her students to name their highs and lows for the day. It's also a frequent question from her when we speak on the phone. I love the idea of having to actually list out what makes you happy (or what's troubling you).
So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to share your highs lately (no lows… I could fill an entire journal with those and what fun is there is thinking about them anyway?) Let's hear it… did you get a flattering comment from a coworker? Have you been in touch with someone from your past? Are you looking forward to doing something special during the holidays?
One of my definite highs is the people I have in my life… I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rock the vote

Ok, SJ and I cannot see eye-to-eye over this issue so I think it needs to go out to a vote. So, don't miss out on this important election! Stand up for what you believe is right!
Anyway, the question is... are black nylons in or out of style? And, is there any difference between black nylons and black tights in terms of how stylish they are?
I won't tell you where we each stand on the issue, but I think this is an important debate that needs to be brought to the forefront of the American conscience, don't you?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Taking stock…

With my 10-year high school reunion fast approaching, it’s inevitable that I’ve been taking stock of those 10 years to figure out just how I’ve spent them (and trying to figure out what I was doing as life whizzed by and I became OLD).
By my calculations, I’ve had eight jobs, moved 10 times and played more than 800 hours of soccer since I graduated from high school. I’ve gotten my passport and traveled out of the country, I’ve fallen in love twice and had my heart broken a few times, I’ve lost my mom and both my grandfathers, but gained tons of new friends. I’ve been published and I’ve been on the radio. I’ve run five miles (which is about three miles more than I thought I could run!) and I’ve gained more weight than I want to think about. I’ve probably eaten more than 200 half-gallons of ice cream (which explains the weight gain) and I’ve bought countless pairs of shoes.
I’ve been in hundreds of photographs and attended at least a dozen weddings. I’ve invested in two bridesmaid dresses and never caught the bouquet (hard to do when you’re running the other way!). I have watched way too much television. I’ve driven almost 200,000 miles and used almost as many cell phone minutes. I’ve seen the sunset and the sunrise without going to bed in between. I earned a college degree and pursued a lifelong dream. Fortunately, I can honestly say I haven’t let many opportunities to have fun pass me by.
I’d say it adds up to a life well-lived… I’m excited to see what the next 10 years have in store.

Friday, November 11, 2005

She's Having a Baby.

Question: Can you still have the "oh god please no i'm not ready" moment when you're nearly 30, have a house,and are married to a wonderful man?

Answer: Heck yeah you can.

Tomorrow is the baby shower of one of my closest friends Gabriela. In a year's tme, her life has lept from fun, single gal living the good life to happily married gal working out a new life to Mommy-to-be. And I absolutely admire her for her amazing attitude throughout.

I love Gaby for her zanyness and whackiness and off the wall perspective, and some of my friends wonder why and how we ever became friends. I imagine it has something to do with artistic temperaments, outlandish fashion sense, and a deeper bond that tie us together. We've both gone through things that people shouldn't have to go through, and came out very different people. I think maybe that's why we're friends.

Besides, who else was going to think my black and white striped tights were oh so perfect to wear out to a bar on a Friday night? And who else but Gabriela could pull off our "we're foreign journalists Ella and Jane out for a night out on the town" act that we used at Hartford bars on boring Saturday nights?

And now, eight years later, our lives have changed dramatically and yet we're still good friends. It was a little over a year ago when I worried that our friendship would die under the weight of serioius relationships. Not so, in fact, now we call each other to vent about our husbands, having to clean the toilet and now- about the weight and wait of impending motherhood. It makes me wonder if that's how mom and Ginny were 40 years ago.

There was a time, some months ago, when I thought I might be pregnant. I was scared to death and didn't know what to do or who to talk to. How crazy a sentence is that to write when you're 28, happily married with a good job and a home? I should have been thrilled, except that I had been married for less than a year and feared a baby would break us financially. In six months, the prospect would have been better. In a year, we probably would have hit babies r us immediately.

When I spoke with Gaby on my way home from work one day -- she told me: I'm pregnant. I was elated for her, and part of it may have been a "if she can do it, i can do it" response. But another part of it was more of a genuine happiness. I was excited when my sisters were pregnant, and I adore my nephews to bits. They make me feel like my family is growing and getting stronger. But Gaby having a baby opens a new world to me. My children will have friends and we will have birthday parties together was certainly one thought, but another was -- there's hope for me yet.

I'm sure she's nervous and scared. But she's so calm and matter of fact about her pregnancy -- as complicated as its been - that if we do happen to be in the one percent of couples who conceive while on the pill -- I'm not so worried.

But just in case, I'm going to run to CVS now to pick up some home pregnancy tests, refill my prescription.... and maybe pick up some condoms. I mean, I'm excited and all, but let's not go crazy.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

What will we talk about?

I went to New York for the weekend with my bride-to-be friend MM. That meant five hours of sleep, a one-hour drive to her house at 7:30 in the morning and then a two-and-a-half hour trip to NY. Despite that, I don’t think there was one moment of silence in the car the entire trip (well, except for a couple of choice comments to other drivers, my solo part of the trip was fairly quiet…) The trip flew by because we had so much to talk about (and it’s not like we had that much catching up to do– we talk almost every week!)
We talked about her fiancĂ© and what a great guy he is, about my lack of a fiancĂ© or even a boyfriend (the crush is not going well– it rarely does when the guy you’re hooked on already has a girlfriend!) and we talked about friends, what’s going on in their lives, where we should get our hair done before the wedding, the ideal bridesmaid dress, how fun her parents are and plenty of other topics (apologies to the men in our audience– you should probably skip the rest of this and wait for SJ’s next post).
We not only talked this weekend… we also laughed a lot. Some highlights:
* MM’s dad poured some wine on us for dinner Saturday. MM was woozy after half a glass, but since I practice so much I was able to accept a second glass without any problems. After my second glass, it was suggested that we go to a local mall for shopping. I told MM I liked the idea, “as long as I don’t have to drive… oh wait, I don’t even have my car.” MM said she thought she’d let her dad drive since it was his car and all! He got a good laugh out of it too.
* On the way to said mall, MM’s mom accidentally knocked against the shifter in the car, which put it into neutral and made the engine rev really loudly. Rather than panic and drive off the road into a mailbox (as I would have been likely to do– especially after two glasses of wine!), MM’s dad reacted by shifting the car back into drive and calmly asking, “What’d you do that for?” We told him we thought her mom was trying to test his reflexes and encouraged her to perform other tests such as randomly pulling on the emergency brake and opening her door and rolling out– just to see how MM’s dad would respond!
* We stopped by a salon to see if it would be an ideal place to have our hair done on the day of MM’s wedding. The manager offered to give us a tour, which consisted of walking us into a tiny pedicure area and then stopping at a door to the “spa.” She said we would need to be quiet when we entered the spa area and explained before she opened the door what we would see. What we actually saw when we entered a “lobby” the same size as my bathroom was two closed doors that allegedly opened to massage rooms and a bathroom door. Since the four of us had already crowded into the “lobby” and closed the door behind us, I was unsure of where we were going with the tour. We stood there quietly until the manager opened the bathroom door– did we really need a tour of the bathroom?!?– and led us through it into the “rest” of the salon, which consisted of six hair stations. Basically, we could have taken the “tour” by standing in the middle of the place and having her point, but we got a kick out of the miniature spa and the bathroom exit.
While I won’t go into detail about the bridal show we attended, the two hours at the florist and the decision about the bridesmaid dresses, I will say I didn’t think a whirlwind weekend of wedding decisions could be so fun.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Burned Popcorn and Flying Mattresses

I got fired today for burning popcorn in the office microwave. Well not really. But almost. The COO came down the hallway looking for the culprit, stopping in my office to make the joke that whoever has the popcorn is “out of here.” I turned around mid mouthful and asked, “Really?.. Because I’ll go.” He just laughed... so I guess I still have work to do tomorrow.

But- to be fair – I sit right near the kitchen and daily I’m subjected to a variety of lunchtime assaults on my olfactory senses. I told them that for my encore microwave performance, I’m going to make kielbasa and sauerkraut for lunch next week.

And while I was kidding, now I’ve got a craving for serious back-to-my-roots Polish food.

Speaking of cravings, that’s exactly what brought on my microwave debacle today. I usually HATE microwave popcorn, and yet today, I felt the sudden craving to bust it out. I think the devil made me do it.

So- now for my jerry Seinfeld moment…
What is with these drivers on the Merritt parkway?

I’m driving home from work on Tuesday, northbound towards what I like to call “normal Connecticut", away from what others refer to as “fah-field” when suddenly a pickup truck traveling in the lane next to me and about 10 car lengths ahead of me starts to lose various parts of its cargo. first it was the portable gas tank. next it was a stick. and next it was the queen sized mattress and sheets piled on it.

so I’m thinking – who are these people that don’t strip their bed before they move their mattress? I’m also thinking, “WAAAAAHGHGHGHGHG!!!!!” because it’s headed right for me. so without much thinking about the consequence, I stepped on the gas and swerved past it, missing it by what must have been inches, and missing the jersey barrier on my left side by another few inches. the craziest part – the guy NEVER STOPPED. I was so incensed by this- how can you lose a MATTRESS and not notice? I can see if you lose a stick or two… but the mattress that was clearly impairing your vision before it dropped off? I got behind the guy and he was suddenly 20 car lengths ahead of me, but I flashed my lights at him numerous times, thinking he’ll look in his rearview mirror. and notice that he could SEE out of his rearview mirror, but he never stopped. finally, I floored it and passed him, waving frantically that he lost something…… I’m guessing the guy never stopped because when I drove to work the next morning, the mattress was tucked over to the side of the road, dirty, slightly damaged, but still there.

maybe some raccoons got a comfortable place to rest.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Life's little amusements...

What's funny:
* A guy dropped off a bunch of crappy gifts in our office for people to consider purchasing to support a local charity. The biggest hit has been a stuffed duck that quacks out three different songs. I've witnessed four grown men walking around the office with their hands up the duck's butt, making it sing. Eight of the ducks have been ordered already- by only three people (none of whom even have children!)
* This happened a while ago, but I don't think it made the blog then. I went out to dinner with a friend at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was rumored to have great food. We had passed City Hall on the way over and began talking about the woman who is the mayor of the city. I've met her on several occasions, but my friend had no idea who she was. As we were standing in the lobby of the restaurant reading the reviews on the wall and waiting to be seated, who should walk in but the same mayor we had just been talking about. I said hello and she greeted us and began to walk by. She stopped before going into the restaurant to ask if we had been helped, which is when my friend piped up, “No, but could we please see a menu?” I almost died from embarrassment as she graciously fetched us a menu.
* SJ wearing a Glinda the Good Witch/Tooth Fairy costume was the highlight of Halloween. I didn't think the Tooth Fairy would show quite so much cleavage… anything to get guys to brush, I guess!