Jul 30, 2006

beer, sweat, and chewing gum

tonight i went out to a neighborhood festival with my fabulous friend and her wonderful bf. good bands, lots of drinks, fun times. however, because i ALWAYS have to find something to complain about, here i am.

first off, i sweat entirely too much. like, more than any average female. yes, it was super hot tonight and really humid, but as i was looking around, drenched with sweat, i saw that all of the other girls around me looked like they were barely bothered by the heat. a few had some slight perspiration around their temples, but none of them compared to me. my hair was practically soaked on the underside because it had been sticking to my sweaty neck. my forehead and upper lip were constantly perspiring. ga-ross. i felt like i should come home to my air-conditioned hole and stay here til october. how is it that i sweat in such an abnormal and disturbing manner?!! ick. yuck. and, to make matters worse, there were lots of cute guys there. one in particular was standing near me, actually right next to me at one point, and never even so much as glanced in my direction. i felt invisible. miss celophane strikes again. as if to prove my point, i nearly got knocked down several times, like i wasn't even there. the icing on the cake was when the band decided to play an old school song by the group mr. big. as i looked around while the band belted out the words, "i'm the one who wants to be with you. deep inside i hope you feel it - you feel it!! - too," i noticed just how many couples i was near as they all put their arms around each other, hugged, kissed and swayed to this declaration of eternal love. puke. but, i admit i was jealous. so, in response, i chugged my beer. and sweated some more.

we finally decided to leave and stopped by subway to grab food. after that, i took the train home and my friends decided to cab it. as i was sitting on the train, thinking about my night and my gross sweating problem, i looked down at my feet. i may as well have gone barefoot tonight. my feet were NASTY. black streaks emerged from my flip flops onto my toes and sides of my feet. my nail polish had been chipped. both feet were sticky from beer being spilled on them repeatedly as drunk people pushed their way past me into the crowd. but, by far the most disgusting thing to happen to me tonight, was realizing that there was something stuck to the top of my right foot. i reached down to wipe it off and found - to my horror - that it was chewing gum. nasty, dirty, blackened chewing gum from some stranger's mouth. again, puke. the worst part was probably the fact that i tried to brush it off with my hand and got it stuck to my palm. here i sat, on the train, trying to wipe someone else's wad of discarded gum off my foot and hand. eewwwww. yeah, i felt gross. i got some pretty disgusted looks from the girls sitting by me, but whatever. i briefly thought about launching my subway sandwich at them, just for spite, but thought twice when i realized that would result in no dinner.

all in all, i really did have a great time. i'm just reminded of my loneliness when i go out and see all of these couples, all of these skinny, pretty, non-sweaty girls, hot boys, and i'm by myself. that's not to say that i'm not physically there with friends, that's not what i mean. i mean, i'm not going home with anyone at the end of the night, i'm not there talking to guys and meeting new prospects. i'm the yucky girl chugging her beer, getting pushed aside, and ending up with chewing gum stuck to her foot. i saw myself in the mirror when i got home and i can't blame the guys out there - i looked really bad and i wouldn't have thought twice about me either. ugh.

Jul 27, 2006

blogger etiquette and cowbells

i need input from readers and fellow bloggers about 2 things:

1) i've been reading several blogs linked on my friends' sites. there are a few i would like to comment on. i know that commenting on a really popular one, like waiterrant, which often gets over 100 comments per post wouldn't be a big deal, but what about commenting on someone's blog who you don't know when they may have only a couple of comments posted? is that weird? or rude or something? i'm just curious since i'm pretty new to this whole blogging thing.

2) what the hell does the phrase "more cowbell" mean?! i've seen this on shirts, typically worn by guys, for ever and have never known what it means. am i missing something? am i showing my age by being ignorant about what all the kids are saying these days? please help me before this stupid phrase drives me crazy!

Jul 26, 2006

ode to the assholes of the road

to the bitch in the mini cooper:

yes, i'm talking to you - the woman who almost hit me while trying to merge into my lane on irving park, the one who tried to drive around me on the shoulder of the road (blocked you, didn't i?! ha!!), the idiot who almost caused 6 wrecks (yes, i counted) in getting to the entrance ramp to the expressway. why is it you feel so special that you think it's ok to bypass an entire line of cars waiting to get on that ramp? did it make your day better to cut off everyone? were we all just in your way, princess? well, guess what. you're no better or any more entitled to the road than any of us frustrated, angry, road-raging, commuters who drive this everyday. here's a reality check for you - you are NOT charlize theron and the morning commute is certainly NOT the italian job. i recommend you get in line with everyone else before some nice hummer decides to turn your cute little mini into an accordian.

daily commuter and petitioner to get your dumb ass off the road

to the nasty bastard picking his nose in the cadillac:

do you think your car has some kind of special bat shield quality that keeps other drivers from seeing into your automobile when you're inside? because, guess what. it sure doesn't. you could not have grossed me out more during what is already a miserable commute. i almost got sideswiped and rearended by bitch in the mini, finally get into my lane and am crawling in traffic with everyone else, only to look over and see you digging for gold in your left nostril. i'm telling you, stop now or you're going to hit brain matter. i've never seen a finger so far up one's nose. fyi - if you blow your nose before you leave the house, odds are you won't need to pick it the entire way to work. if this is your hobby for passing the time while you drive, then please, please, take up something - anything! - else. i don't care if you shoot up while sitting in the parking lot known as the kennedy. that would be better than witnessing what i did this morning. i was trapped next to you for what seemed to be an eternity and i simply cannot convey how utterly disgusting you are.

thoroughly disgusted fellow driver and anti-nosepicking-in-public advocate

to the hottie in the jeep that i accidentally cut off:

i'm an asshole. but, if you would like to discuss this over drinks, i'd be happy to buy the first round. next time i see you on the road, i'll toss you my business card. kisses!

cute girl in the focus :)

Jul 21, 2006

the stuff exchange

it is common knowledge that every break-up goes through stages before the split actually occurs. these steps are neither pleasant nor easy, with the primary ones being a) the downhill slope the relationship slides upon as the impending break-up looms in the distance, b) the rollercoaster of arguing, making up, and arguing more, the rapid-fire rounds of mean and hateful words, the hollow, sad feelings that follow, the anger that builds as the relationship declines into an unsalvageable mess and c) the break-up itself, which is an entity that embodies its own cycle of emotional warfare, separate from the steps leading up to the main event.

we all know this. after the first few failures in our puppy love teen years, we learn that this is just the normal phase a relationship goes through as it is dying. much like a patient with a terminal illness, once the disease takes hold, the person/relationship is poisoned and the end is in sight. sometimes the end comes at a quick and relatively painless speed, sometimes the decline and decay are dragged out for what may seem to be a painful and certainly, emotionally exhausting eternity. regardless of the speed or the emotional impact, what leads up to the break-up is a well-practiced routine that all of us in our mid 20s and older have rehearsed - ad nauseum, no doubt - for years now. we know from experience that life will go on and we will feel better, even if it's only because we cried 6 times today instead of 7. we also know that someone else will sweep us off our feet, no matter how much we've hated on and sworn off men over pints of ben & jerry's and uncountable bottles of wine.

that said, i still don't think anything fully prepares you for certain situations in the aftermath of a break-up, one in particular being what i call "the stuff exchange." after the break-up, we will gather our friends for a heavy drinking and binge-eating session and pick apart the guy who just broke our heart, scrutinizing every little detail of the relationship and making a laundry list of all of his faults ranging from his obvious aversion to commitment and lack of good judgment in choosing a mate to his annoying habit of scraping his fork on his dinner plate and the fact that he is socially inept and doesn't even own wine glasses. we will detail his downfalls until he is nothing more than an ape with a couple of business suits and a strange ability to - sometimes - communicate with the human population. at this point, he is clearly not a suitable person to date or ever waste another sad sigh or tear on again. he has been exiled from the land of datable men and as long as we can keep believing that we actually did him a favor by dating him in the first place and gracing him with our class and intelligence, we will be fine. unfortunately, we will see him eventually and that laundry list will fall apart, maybe not totally, but at least somewhat, and he will become a human again and you will know that he's back out there in the dating pool. ugh.

i don't make this statement because i truly believe we will all have the misfortune of just randomly running into the ex. i say this because there is one step in the aftermath that can't be avoided and requires at least some form of communication with the ex. it is what i mentioned earlier - the stuff exchange. now, there are several ways to go about this, i know. you could be really vindictive (which i totally approve of, especially if said ex was hideously mean or the break-up was extremely nasty) and just throw away his shit. slash it, burn it, donate it to charity - done and done. that's only an option, though, if he doesn't have any of your stuff. if he does, better put down the torch, or you're never seeing that pair of sandals or your favorite tank top again. so, where does that leave us? options 2 & 3 - mail it all back or have a friend do your dirty work and make the exchange for you. again, with mail, you run the risk of not having your stuff returned to you once he has his. if he has nothing of yours and the price of postage outweighs the price of your soul to have to endure a meeting with him, then, by all means, a visit to the USPS will save your sanity. if you send a friend, make sure you coach this person on how to behave when the exchange takes place. if you do not send a clear message to your friend about things you do/do not want said or done, she may just take it upon herself to scratch his eyes out and spit in the empty sockets as payback for hurting you. again, if that is the path you choose, so be it. however, if you would like to avoid you and your friend doing a little jail time for assault, i recommend a game plan ahead of time. sure, your friend can be empowered to make snide, catty comments - we're women after all and much better with words than any Y chromosome - but you may want to have a few guidelines or groundrules, that's all.

but, should none of the above options work for you, there is the face-to-face exchange. the most difficult by far, but also maybe the most satisfying. admit it - no matter how nasty the break-up or how evil the ex, you don't want the last mental image he has of you to be the one of you sobbing/sniffling/yelling/pleading/reasoning/insulting/blaming as he probably saw you during the break-up, whether it occured in person or on the phone. no, you want one more chance to show up, composed and looking hot, and retrieve your things while returning his in a very adult, civil, i'm-so-much-better-than-you-or-anyone-you'll-ever-date-again kind of way. contrived as it may be, this is your chance to show him exactly what he's missing and walk away just knowing that he's going to regret being such a fuck-up for the rest of his life. la, la, la...

until you get there. so, you've talked to him briefly, decided the when and where of the exchange. you're driving to his place and your stomach is in a knot. you suddenly wish you would be involved in a serious car accident just to avoid this hell you've set up for yourself. but, as you park the car and gather his shit out of your backseat, you take a deep breath and tell yourself this is FINALLY it, FINALLY the real end. and you try to be relieved at that, which you won't be right now, but keep telling yourself that, for your own sanity. he lets you in and, as you take the elevator up to his apartment - good god! how long does it take to get up to the 5th floor?! for-fucking-ever?!! - you reapply lipgloss, give your hair a toss and paste on a pleasant smile that probably looks a little more like a scowl or a grimace, but you do your best. walking to his door, you consider putting his stuff down outside of it, knocking and running back for the elevator, but you don't. you look fabulous, after all, and he needs to see it.

he answers the door and you go in. somewhere in the recesses of your mind you're hearing either warning bells or tribal drums, both of which warn of certain doom. at this point the meeting can go many, many ways. you exchange quick and get out, you sit and talk and have a trip down memory lane possibly followed by one more goodbye shag, you start rehashing everything and have yet another argument... the possibilities are endless. in my most recent experience it went like this:

tribal drums in full force, banging away in the back of my brain. walk into apartment and stand awkwardly at counter, he offers a drink, i take water. we chat about recent vacations and seem to relax a tiny bit. he asks if i want to sit down. ok, fine. we sit in the living room, talking about nothing really. and the weirdness of the sitation strikes me - i've sat in that exact same spot on his couch several times, but usually he would be next to me, sometimes laying down with his head in my lap, me running my fingers through his hair. he's watching baseball, of course, which only reminds me more of past evenings hanging out with him there. weird as it is to see it all in retrospect, it doesn't make me yearn for those times. i relax a little and sip my water, fervently wishing i had the power of jesus to turn it into wine. i stay for a while and as we talk, the conversation eases us both and soon we're chatting like old friends. still no desire to touch him or get him back. i also realize that i'm not angry or resentful (ok, maybe a little, but not in the life consuming way i assumed i would be). i also realize that he was nervous when i first got there. seeing him relaxed and chatting away now, i compare his behavior to when i first walked in 15 minutes before and giggle to self that i find it very satisfying that he was really nervous to see me. i do a mental tally mark for me and self. he tells me i look great. another tally mark. i do not return the compliment, i just say thanks and shrug, like "Duh, i always look this good!" i am calm, cool and collected. not wanting to stay long, i finish my water and get up to leave. stuff exchange - check. having him see me looking good - check. me behaving in my most charming manner - check. him being sorry he ruined it all - well, that i may never know, but i'd like to think so.

i go to the front door and he offers to walk me out. "no need," i say. he gives me a big hug and tells me it was good to see me. this time i tell him it was good to see him, too, and i'm not lying. the hug, which i worried might spark some kind of feeling, was completely harmless and felt like little more than hugging a good friend. he says to give him a call or email and i say he can do the same. he says we should get together sometime, which i'm sure he probably doesn't mean, so i play along and agree, both of us knowing it won't happen. i walk out the door and he lingers for just a moment, watching me go. i refuse to look back. i hear his door shut softly as i turn the corner for the elevator. once inside and heading back down, i let go of a breath i wasn't even aware i was holding. as i get in my car, i almost expect to get upset and teary, but i don't. i drive home in complete silence, thinking only that it's finally over. this is the closure to my closure, if that makes any sense at all. whew. and now i can actually go on.

so, you see, the break up is not the end. i consider the stuff exchange to be the true end. after the break up has happened and you've had time to settle, you both test yourselves by seeing each other one more time, under the guise of giving back each other's belongings. it's the ultimate test of whether you are truly over the ex, at least at this stage of post-break-up. it is a necessary evil, this exchange, but if you are able to make it out without crying, hoping to get back together, fighting, or doing bodily harm to him, you're well on your way to being single and happy. if not, call a friend and stop on the way home for some ice cream and wine - it's time to make the laundry list again.

Jul 17, 2006

did i deserve this?!

seriously, this could only happen to me. not kidding. so, i have had the most miserable cold for the past 4 days. miserable to the point that i had not even left my house since friday around 5:30 pm (yes, it is now monday and i was a tad worried that i was starting to develop rickets from lack of sunlight). lying on the couch in my pjs, blowing my nose, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, eyes watering, pale, having to sleep partially sitting up because i was so congested. you get my point. anyway, i finally decided this evening that i would venture out and get something for dinner. not wanting to walk far in the 100 degree heat index, i decided that the italian place that is pretty much across the street would do just fine. i ordered my cheese ravioli and waited the suggested 15 minutes before leaving to pick it up. in preparing to leave my house i threw on jeans, t-shirt and flip flops. my hair was slicked back in the same unwashed pony it had been in for the entire weekend. my face was completely make-up free (scary!), my puffy eyes standing out on my pale face with the trademark allergic shiners i tend to get when i'm sick. sucking on a cough drop, i left the apartment and promptly started sweating as soon as i was 3 steps into my walk down the street.

i crossed the street and headed in the direction of the italian place. literally, the entire walk, round trip, may take me 5-6 minutes. as i was stepping up onto the curb in front of the little strip that houses the restaurant i hear someone say my name. i look up quickly and am standing approximately 6 inches away from jha. now, as some of you may know, jha is a guy i know who lives in my neighborhood who i kind of hooked up with recently. he's really cute, fun, etc., but i hadn't seen him for a while. we had tried to get together before i left for london, but the plans didn't work out and so it's been a few weeks since he and i have hung out. and here he was, in the flesh. and there i was, wishing so much that i could be miss cellophane when i really needed to be. i'm telling you - there are things that have gotten caught in a drain that are much more attractive than i was this evening. we made small talk for about 30 seconds, me still looking like shit - and sweaty shit at that - and sucking on my cough drop. he was nice and gave me a hug and told me to give him a call so we could hang out. i just wanted to die. really.

i walk around this neighborhood ALL THE TIME. i am fully aware that he lives nearby and the possibility of me running into him is actually quite good. that said, has this ever happened? no. of course not. not when i'm all dressed up, either going to or coming home from work. not when i'm looking cute for going out. not when i'm looking sporty and carrying my tennis racquet down to the courts at the park. not even when i'm dressed all casual, but with makeup on at least, heading to starbucks for a morning of coffee and newspapers. no. this had to happen when i've had so much snot running down my face for the past few days that the skin around my nose is red and crusty. when my eyes are swollen and i look like i've spent the entire day crying. when i haven't bothered to wash my hair because, really, all i've done is be one with the couch. did i brush my teeth today? yes, of course i did. and if not, at least i had the cough drop. how gross and sickly could i possibly look?! ick. yuck. ewwwwww.

think we'll hook up again? um, i'm guessing not.

miss cellophane, i am

"And even without clucking like a hen
Everyone gets noticed, now and then,
Unless, of course, that personage should be
Invisible, inconsequential me!
Mister cellophane
Should have been my name !!!!
Mister cellophane
'cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there! "
-- Mister Cellophane, Chicago Soundtrack
sadly, this song reminds me quite a bit of myself, or more accurately, the lasting impression i must make on others. read the lyrics and it's obvious - that impression is one that does not last at all. here is the crux of my peeve - for as long as i can remember, i have had this ongoing issue about people meeting me and then forgetting they met me, thus causing the next introduction to be just like the first. let me clarify - i'm not talking about a 2-second introduction to someone's friend at a bar or a neighbor leaving the apartment building at the same time as me. i'm talking about meeting friends of friends, co-workers, etc. repeatedly and each time having the person forget they've met me previously. i'm talking about people with whom i've spent entire evenings, had discussions with and talked to about thier jobs, kids, spouses, etc.
i used to make it a point, upon re-introduction, following the phrase, "nice to meet you," to let that person know that we had, in fact, met before. this just causes a lot of awkward stuttering and useless talk about when and where we met previously, followed by a sheepish apology from the other person. i always end up feeling stupid, regardless, and wondering what it is about me that is so forgettable. so, i quit pointing out the fact that i've already met people and play along, pretending it is the first meeting for both of us. i got especially good at this in college, when a particular friend of my roommate's boyfriend met me, not kidding, at least 5 or 6 times and thought he was meeting me for the first time at each encounter. after that, i think he finally started remembering me or maybe my friend's bf told him to stop forgetting me, not sure which.
since college, i've dealt with this somewhat, but not nearly as much. however, my peeve came glaringly back into existence last thursday at a work event. my office right now is the home of not only the regional employees that are supposed to work from that facility, but also a temporary space for our sister region, which is awaiting it's new lease approval. so, there have been lots of people in and out of the office over the past few months who typically would not work in close proximity with me. because they are sharing our space, though, i have come to know the other staffers and at least recognize everyone and know their names, even if i don't always stop to chat or have a reason to work one-on-one with them.
the event on thursday night was an outing to see the chicago symphony at an outdoor venue. this venue is great - you sit outside on the lawn, bring your own food and alcohol and just enjoy the weather and the music. anyway, i went with a friend who i work with and her boyfriend. we got there later than everyone else and apparently, as we were walking over to the group, one co-worker asked another who i was. WHAT?! granted, the co-worker who didn't recognize me is a staff person from the sister region, but still! i've TALKED to him at the office and been involved in some discussions between him and my manager. he didn't even recognize me. i work on corporate sponsorship for his events and raise income for his region - how can he NOT know me?!
needless to say, i was baffled, annoyed, embarrassed, and felt frustratingly transparent. forgettable me, miss cellophane. and i wonder why i can't get a date or why a guy i meet in a bar doesn't call me like he said he would! it's because i'm not memorable! apparently, there is nothing about me that stands out! not my job, not the way i look, not my personality. god.
maybe i need to have a little sign that i carry with me at all times. it could say, "you've met me already, so pretend to remember" or maybe "we've been introduced, don't make us both look like idiots by doing it again" or, "yes, you know me. don't argue." i think the last one is my favorite. i could just hold up one of these as the person is approaching, give it time to register and then by the time they are actually extending a hand or starting to speak, i've saved us both the embarrassment. they may walk away wondering where in the hell they ever met me or thinking i'm a nut case because they know for sure they haven't met me (they have), but at least i wouldn't have to go through that painful re-introduction, branding me again as someone that wasn't worth remembering. spare me, please.

Jul 12, 2006

beer rebate? what?

i've noticed lately that if you purchase certain brands of beer, they come with a rebate. typically, we're talking a $2 rebate on a sixer that runs somewhere in the neighborhood of $7- $8. believe me, i'm all about saving money and looking for a good deal. hell, when i have friends coming into town, i buy a case of 3 buck chuck and offer it proudly as the house specialty wine. that said, if you're that broke that you need to send in a rebate to get your $2 back on those 6 bottles of yummy goodness, shouldn't you reconsider your financial situation and your choice of beverage? maybe you should just grab a six-pack of $6 beer and call it a day. maybe the rebate enables those who enjoy snacking while imbibing to purchase a bag of chips, knowing they'll get their $2 back. hmmm.

i just find this beer rebate thing to be a strange phenomenon. how many people actually send in the rebate form? the time it takes to fill it out, slap a 39 cent stamp on it, and get it to the mailbox is at least $2 worth of effort (including cost of stamp) and several precious minutes of your life you will never get back. do those submitting their rebate anxiously check the mail in hopes that thier big whopping check has come? it's not like a tax refund, people - it's $2. aren't they a tad embarrassed to show up at the bank with a $2 check to cash or deposit? maybe those who take advantage of the beer rebate just stockpile all of thier rebate checks and then present them to thier bank at one time, en masse. that would be the logical thing to do, i guess, though you then run the risk of looking like a frugal alcoholic. i use the word frugal as it seems to imply a tad more sophistication than the word cheap and in order to get the rebate, you seem to at least have to drink good beer. i don't think you're going to find a rebate offer on a six-pack of pbr or busch light. ok, maybe there is, but it can't be more than a quarter. i mean, really - is a beer rebate something--

self: ahem. sorry to interrupt, but.....

me: what? what do you want? i'm almost done with this weird beer rebate thing and my even weirder fascination with it. what do you need?

self: just thought you'd be interested to know - i did a few quick calculations and if we bought beer at the rate we bought wine, and i was VERY conservative in my average, believe me, and got a $2 rebate, we would save over $400 a year because of it.

me: wow. $400? really?

self: and that's being very conservative. if i estimated it based on how much wine we REALLY consume....

me: don't tell me. please don't. huh. i guess when you put it that way....

self: looks like we'll be collecting rebate checks from now on, eh?

me: (sigh) another successful smack down by self. i hope the chase banking center enjoys processing my $2 checks.

Jul 11, 2006

should i stay or should i go?

coming back from a visit with my sister in london always leaves me feeling sad and somewhat wishing i lived there across the great pond. this visit, however, the feeling is even stronger due, of course, to meeting my niece. so, i've been seriously considering the question in the title of this entry - should i stay or should i go?

i love chicago and i know that this city is where i will end up for good - eventually. that said, i feel like i'm coming to a crossroads of sorts within the next year. my living situation has changed and i will be moving at the end of may, whether with a roommate, on my own, or somewhere else entirely, i don't know yet. my job is great and i love what i do, but i also look at it as a stepping stone to something bigger - within the organization i work with now or somewhere else, i don't know. i have fantastic friends here and across the country that have always been there for me regardless of situation or distance. that said, all of these friends are starting to settle down with their significant others - dating seriously, moving in together, getting engaged and married. i know, i know - there are precious few of us singletons still out there and there may be a few newly coupled friends that would go kicking and screaming against my comment about them "settling down," but for the most part this is true. my group of friends has managed to meet a group of great people to share their lives with and i look at it as gaining more friends, rather than losing the ones i have to coupledom.

so here i am in a city i love, but would be willing to leave for a bit. in a job i love, but would be open to the possibility of using what i have learned there to move on. with friends i love that are finding their own lives and who i know i will keep in touch with, no matter where i live or what is going on in our lives. with no one special that i want to spend my immediate future with and looking at that as freedom rather than rejection. at a point where i can go where i want, do what i want, meet new people, try new things, and figure out what i really want to do with my life.

there may come a point when i don't have this freedom, for whatever reason. maybe because i buy a place in chicago and am bound here because of that. maybe i get to a position in my career where i simply cannot up and move and do something new. maybe i actually meet someone and want to stay here. or, god forbid, someone close to me falls ill and i need to stay to be with them. but now, at this point in my life, 7 short months before i - gasp!! - turn 30, i'm considering chucking it all and finding a way to move to england to be close to my sister and niece. selfishly, i would also be doing it to live in a different culture, learn and see new things, and be able to actually travel around europe, as well.

would i miss the states, chicago, my friends and family? of course i would. would i love living in or near london, spending lots of time with my sister and niece and be excited to meet new friends? of course i would. the truth is, i don't know if there's a place for me here right now. i'm getting restless with the pattern my life has fallen into. it's not a bad thing, it's just not as fulfilling as i want it to be. i feel like maybe there's something out there that i'm missing. i'm not sure what that is, but i have this voice in my head (no, not self or any other weird alter ego), maybe just my spirit, telling me that it may be time to move on, to try something, somewhere new.

Jul 6, 2006

memo to self: never, ever hook up with a relative of an in-law

time: approximately 9pm

date: july 6, 2006

place: richmond; specifically the home of my brother-in-law's parents

event: dinner, drinks, visiting with english side of family


ok let me just set this up for you. went over to visit my sister's in-laws and have dinner at thiers while in england. have gone to visit with them every time i've been over the pond and they are wonderful, friendly, warm, lovely people. really, my sis couldn't ask for better in-laws. truly. that said, we had pimms and snacks in the garden, followed by dinner and wine, followed by cheese, fruit and dessert, followed by coffee. all of this was sprinkled with stories about the baby, catching up on what's happening state-side, lots of laughing and pleasant conversation. somewhere between the lighthearted talk that went with the end of the dinner course, we ventured into the subject of travel and, specifically, my brother-in-law's brother's wedding next summer in greece. um, can we say AWKWARD? yeah...

for those who do not know why such chat would cause me distress, let me preface this story with a brief synopsis of yet another past failure in the man department. brother-in-law's brother (we shall call him bob from now on) and i sort of, um, kind of, um, ok totally hooked up the entire weekend of my sister's wedding 2 summers ago. the whole family staying at the bed and breakfast knew what was up and we got called out for it every day at breakfast. how embarrassing. that was end of july 2004. we kind of started dating - if you can call trying to start something after a drunken weekend of hooking up, living an ocean apart and only really having one phone conversation a week "dating" - and continued to talk for a couple of months. throughout that time he told me how great he thought i was, he was really crazy about me, yada, yada, yada. he came to visit me in chicago end of september that year and that was pretty much the end of it. it just wasn't a "sensible" thing to do and there was no way it was going to work out. ok, fine. whatever bob. when i was here visiting my sister last summer, he was in and i saw him a few times. there was clearly still an attraction there, but, of course, nothing happened and it still wasn't "sensible." ok, again, fine. and that's true - it wasn't sensible, nor would it have ever, ever worked out. it was a fun weekend and had things been much different, maybe it could have turned into something, but there were just too many issues in the way - distance and family ties being the 2 major ones. so, he and my feelings for him faded away, as they all do eventually.

ok, back to present story. so. a totally benign conversation tonight between dinner and dessert turned into discussion of room and board for bob's wedding weekend, meeting his fiancee's parents, etc. i know no one else was uncomfortable, but i sure was. i was squirming on the inside, but stayed rather composed (i hope!) on the outside. so, the talk went on. i smiled plesantly and focused on draining my wine glass. bob and fiancee are going to be in london as of tomorrow night and are having people round for a bbq on saturday at the in-laws'. i won't be attending, obviously, but brother-in-law and baby are. my sister's mum-in-law jokingly said at one point that she would just give baby to bob's fiancee to watch over for the day, in hopes that she might get on the baby track. i think i may have actually turned green with envy at the thought of my niece spending that much time with the aunt-to-be. i also had a very strong urge to put my hands over my ears, start singing and retreat entirely to my happy place. instead, i continued to drink my wine.

the talk continued. my brother-in-law went in the house to check on the baby. wedding still the topic of conversation. a few minutes later, his mum went in to prepare the dessert. talk of bob, fiancee, and wedding still going. my sister went inside to help mum-in-law. at this point, i'm sitting across from my sister's father-in-law and we're STILL discussing bob's wedding!! auuuggghhh!!! i believe my right hand may have permanent scarring due to my fingernails digging into my palm for the duration of the bob talk and certainly for the one-on-one portion with his dad. i mean, i know i'm being a bit dramatic and i'm certainly the only one who felt even remotely uncomfortable talking about bob at all, nevermind his fairytale grecian wedding, but come on! give me one person who wouldn't be slightly off in this situation and i'll give you a dollar.

there's a lull in the conversation (thank you dear jesus!), but before i can change the subject, bob's dad asks me, "so when are we going to get you married off?" completely innocent, i know. believe me, i realize there was absolutely no judgement implied, no dig at me being single, no real implication to it at all - just a friendly, "we're all family", kind of lead-in to asking more about me. i believe i actually stammered. i am a woman of many words, so stammering like an idiot doesn't happen to me frequently. i ended up just laughing and telling him, "it's not looking good. no prospects in sight right now, anyway." he looked a bit sheepish and said he was sorry for asking, as it's not always the type of thing young people like to discuss, but seeing that it was just the two of us, he was just wondering. my wine glass was empty. i seriously considered licking the inside of it just to see if there was anymore alcohol within my immediate reach. instead i told him how my grandad is always telling me he's praying for me to find a spouse and that i tell him it's not working and he needs to pray harder. that got a laugh and a look of sympathy - though for myself or grandad, i'm not sure...

i was saved right after by my sister carrying out plates and silverware for dessert. everyone returned to the table and conversation returned to much less disturbing topics - politics, natural disasters, etc. whew. i checked to be sure i hadn't actually drawn blood on my right hand, saw that my nails had only done minor topical damage, and proceeded to refill my wine glass and sooth my discomfort with merlot, stinky cheese, and apple tart.

all in all, it was a lovely evening. the bob talk seemed to last an eternity, much as a root canal might, but in reality was only several minutes. i am glad that the subject isn't tiptoed around because of me, but i just don't have a real desire to discuss him and his happiness when i seemed to be the springboard to that. ugh. maybe if i was blissfully happy myself - or at least at the beginning of a relationship when everything is great and you actually forget to worry about it all falling apart 2 months later - i wouldn't mind at all. wouldn't care a bit. i really don't mind that he's moved on and is happy and settling down. i think what bothers me is that i constantly am the one that it doesn't work out with, only to have the guys i date then go on to serious relationships or marriage after dating me. what the fuck? i should start charging for my inadvertant matchmaking ability. "date me for 2 months and find your true soul mate soon after! cost: dinner, drinks, a weekly shopping stipend. true love is cheap! 8 weeks of investment only - guaranteed or your money back!! sign up now, offer ends soon!"

you've heard of not dipping your pen in the office ink? well, the moral of this story is similar. if there is any chance that the guy you're interested in could be brought up in conversation or you could actually see him and his wife and kids at family gatherings for the rest of your natural life, do not hesitate to run. take your cocktail and leave immediately. i'm by no means an expert on men or relationships, but trust me on this one. save yourself the misery and just go home alone.

Jul 5, 2006

it's a bird, it's a plane, it's SUPERAUNTIE!!

so tonight, self and i had the extreme privilege of babysitting our fabulous niece so that my sis and her hubby could go out for dinner and drinks. amelia and i had been getting along splendidly, so i offered with complete confidence on sunday to watch her tonight and let the two of them go out and enjoy the evening. she is a fantastic baby - very happy and smiley, has a pretty good routine, and loves, loves, loves me!

self: let's not forget that when you offered this favor up originally, when they were home for christmas and hadn't actually had the baby yet, looks of disbelief were exchanged and laughter ensued. not just from sis and bro-in-law, but from your own parents as well.

me: shutup and let me talk about our evening. granted, we are not extremely child-friendly in general, but i was sincere when i made the offer then and apparently, having full confidence in my superior auntie abilities, they felt completely at ease leaving me with her. la la la....

self: riiiiggghhhttt.... that's why when we called sis just to check in and let her know things are ok, there was an audible sigh of relief. i'm not sayin, i'm just sayin...

me: oh be quiet. so, as i was saying, my superior and amazing ability to handle babies with the greatest of ease clearly led me to believe that sitting tonight would be a breeze. after all, she's 13.6 lbs of cuddles, giggles, eating. sleeping, and playing, right?

self: you are absolutely right. (dripping with sarcasm) we never really need to change a diaper or give her a bath or anything. we can easily hand her back to mommy if she cries. oh, and that little tooth she decided to start cutting yesterday - i'm sure that won't affect her mood at all. in fact, i bet she'll just play until she's tired, tell you she needs a bottle and her nappy changed and then explain to you the best way to get her to sleep on the first try. sure thing.

me: ok, ok. maybe it wasn't quite that simple. traipsing around london all day may have worn her out a bit and, truth be told, she didn't actually get a proper nap. i mean, could you sleep strapped to the front of someone, sweating and bouncing up and down with every single step? yeah, no. so, she may have been a tiny bit grouchier than she normally would be when mommy needed to leave around 6:45. but, i think it went well, don't you?

self: um, if you think things go "well" when the child you're sitting for screams because you get her arm stuck in her onesie even before you plunk her into the bath that she hates, causing louder screaming, then sure, things went fantastically.

me: oh please. don't be dramatic. i wasn't that bad. she was already "grisley" (as they say over here when they mean grumpy) and wasn't much in the mood for a bath. i don't care if god himself was the one bathing her - she would have cried regardless. anyway, once she was in the bath, she did alright. put up with my non-child skills anyway. slippery little noodle made me a tad nervous when it was time to take her out, though. at 3 months, there's not much they do on their own, except hold thier head up, flail, and cry when taken out of warm water and are thrust into the cold air. so, i grabbed the towel, picked her up and cradled her to me, threw the towel kind of around us both and headed for the next phase - baby lotion, diaper, and dressing. good lord. so, half soaked myself, i layed her down on her changing mat where i was horrified to see that her crying has actually been producing real tears - streaming little rivers of baby tears. i felt like the most evil person on the planet. the lotion portion was good, though. i gave her a hand and foot massage, which she thoroughly enjoyed and even giggled at. i've promised to take her for a mani/pedi as soon as she's old enough.

self: that's more like it. mani/pedi. stick to what you know.

me: shhhh. ok, so things were peachy, except for the fact that by now i was sweating profusely. but, no big deal. she sure didn't care, so neither did i. getting her dressed was more challenging. i realized after getting her diaper on and causing more crying, as i sat holding the flowered little onesie she was to sleep in, that i hadn't actually dressed anything other than a baby doll in my 29 years and the last time i even did that was half drunk at my sister's baby shower, using one hand. poor, poor child. we got through it - more screaming and many, many apologies from me. i was starting to have a few little doubts about that profound ability to calm children that had made me so confident before. so, figuring she may want to eat, i warmed up a bottle, got her calmed down completely and had a very soothing and bonding time with her over 3 ounces of baby formula. i promised her that one day we'd have our serious discussions over cocktails.

self: again, maybe you should stick to what you know.

me: i'm ignoring you. anyway, the peace and quiet was completely shattered when i had to burp her. a necessary evil, i know. she was NOT happy to be roused from her food coma, bordering on sleep, to be abruptly patted on the back firmly and repeatedly in order to force the gas out of her little body. no sir. and trust me, she let me know it. you know how you feel after a really loud concert? when your hearing just isn't quite right? yeah.... girl has some lungs! ok, so then it was definitely time for bed. i'd love to say i calmed her down, rocked her for a bit, and put her down in her bed with no problems. would LOVE to say that.

self: and if you say that, it may be the biggest lie you ever tell.

me: ah, sad but true. it took me 5 times. count em - 5! to get her asleep, but i did it. i'm not sure anyone who has never had the responsibility of putting a baby to sleep can fully understand and appreciate what an accomplishment this act truly is. until this week, and certainly tonight, i never really knew myself. here's the gist of it: she starts getting so tired that she starts crying, rubbing her eyes, etc. i rock her in various positions (always standing up, of course) until we find one that works. this usually entails her kind of lying sideways in my arms, us swaying in front of the fan, with me craning my neck over to make a shushing sound repeatedly in her ear. the best is when her little eyes start to shut. i'm always tempted to just let her fall asleep on me, but that won't really do either of us any good. so, i lay her down in her bed, where she immediately lets me know that she was comfortable the way she was and does not appreciate me moving her, and then, as she starts to cry, i try to help her guide her tiny little thumb into her mouth. once she gets the thumb, we're golden. she starts sucking her thumb and is asleep in no time. i've seen my sister go through this routine a million times now and is pretty fabulous at it. it took 5 times of this for me. the crying and rocking, the almost sleeping, the putting her down and more crying, the trying to help with the thumb... only to have her just get annoyed at me. fifth time's a charm, though! i think really she just gave up on me and took pity on my poor soul. so, she went to sleep and has been slumbering peacefully since. bless her little heart.

self: i think we need another glass of wine...

me: for once, you and i are in agreement. let me just say, though, being here this past week and sitting for my niece tonight has made a number of impressions on me. she is a really good baby - i have to say that after the description of the evening, which in reality was maybe an hour total. she was a complete angel today throughout her first trip on the train and tube and even sat happily in starbucks after the visit to london so that sis and i could have a coffee and chat. she is an extremely happy child and i do, most of the time, manage to entertain her quite well. i loved sitting for her tonight and would do it again in a heartbeat. that said, i cannot imaging a more difficult job than being a parent and having this tiny being depending on you for everything. i feel as though i need to send my mom a card. or maybe several. one would be a thank you card for taking care of me, as she still does. one would be an apology card for all the crap i put her through over the years. another would maybe be a congratulations card for raising me without killing me, especially during those teen years. seriously, i have so much more respect for parents than i ever did before. i think from now on, i won't be so quick to shoot dirty looks at frazzled mommies when their kids are crying and won't stop.

self: i agree. we should try to be nicer. does this mean we have to start liking all children?!

me: oh god no. we only like the ones that are related to us or our friends. duh. and our niece is perfect, so it would be impossible not to be completely enamoured by her.

self: whew. what a relief. ok, let's get that glass of wine.

me: yes, let's. and we can cheers to being SUPERAUNTIE!! woo hoo!!

self: here we go again....