Saturday, May 23, 2009

A sprinkling of et cetera, a dash of romance

1. I'm very picky about strawberries, but I LOVE them. And I'm not a big fan of fruit in general, so when I find one I like, I try to have it as much as possible when it's at its best; i.e. strawberries RIGHT NOW. But I can't stand a single imperfect patch on them...and I don't mean just those nasty white fuzzy areas that everyone cuts off. Even the slightly darker-colored soft spots that they get simply by resting against the plastic in the container or another strawberry, means I have to perform Berry Surgery. Whenever anyone serves cut-up strawberries, for shortcake or whatever, it throws me off because I can't do my usual inspection without looking rude.

2. I'm on my second-to-last weekend at Stephens, and it is d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g. This May has five weekends in it, and with the finish line so close, everything feels slow. Days at MOSL don't usually pass this sluggishly (unless it's Friday afternoon). It may have something to do with the fact that my Stephens office has huge windows overlooking this unspeakably cute bricked courtyard below with sun streaming through the trees arching above everything, whereas at MOSL we aren't really near windows at all so I have no idea what spring weather I'm missing. Which would normally be depressing, but my co-workers are such joys that it matters not.

3. Lily's dance recital was last night (and will be tonight). Sarah went with me, Dad, and Gilbert last night, and it was two and a half hours of Lily looking gorgeous, Lily looking adorable, and Lily taking my breath away. There were also the usual round-up of tiny, tiny 5-year-old girls and boys performing VERY cursory 'dance moves' to 1950s songs (i.e., "Book of Love") in their fluffy, tulle-ey sequined dance outfits (sequined vests and black shiny pants for the boys--

oh I just need to tell you one the aforementioned "Book of Love," during the "Chapter" verses, the little boy was, contrary to usual little boys in these types of dances, REALLY good. He went down the line of his four tiny girl co-dancers at each 'Chapter'--

Chapter One says to love her
You love her with all your heart
[tiny boy bows to first tiny girl, tiny boy moves on]

Chapter Two you tell her you're
Never, never, never, never, never gonna part
[tiny boy and second tiny girl vehemently shake their heads at each other like 'no no no no no no no no no', tiny boy moves on]

In Chapter Three remember the meaning of romance
[tiny boy links arms with third tiny girl and turns a circle with her, tiny boy moves on]

In Chapter Four you break up
But you give her just one more chance
[tiny boy spins fourth tiny girl]

I mean, at this age group, the most these dance teachers can hope for is a boy who will just stay in the line, much less one who Does The Actual Dance Steps. He was awesome. TOTAL player.

Once upon a time, I would have never loved this performance, as cute as it was, because my 8th grade boyfriend broke up with me in a note quoting the lyrics. It was, in my little world, devastating);

Paul Pepper and Uncle James creepily looking on from the audience (okay, I'm projecting the creepiness--and yeah, when Dad told me last night that 'Pepper & Friends' was being yanked from the air, I was a TEENSY bit sorry for them); at least one song I couldn't help dancing and singing along to (this year's pick: RuPaul's "Supermodel." YOU BETTER WORK); one instance of Lily bringing me to tears (happens every time, pretty much); and last but infinitely not least, several very unflattering dance costumes. I do love to dance, but I'm glad I don't have to stand in front of hundreds of people in velvet stretchy pants and a tight halter top every May.

4. I started pseudo-Weight Watchers on Thursday, and I think it's going well. I feel like I'm forever looking for a short-cut solution to weight loss, but I always come back to the WW philosophy. Yep, it sucks to be sucks to have to leave the cheese off everything and be astounded at how small a serving really is, and to select the blander-tasting snack food (fat-free pretzels, yuck!) knowing you'd just eat the whole damned box of White Cheddar Cheez-Its within two days if you bought THAT one. And I'd completely planned on joining back in January, before our finances became really tight. Now, I've just done some research to find what points I should be at, how much activity I should be doing, and found an online calculator so I always know where I am at for my points totals during the day. And it's working fine. Boom, saved $20 a month!

5. I've been kind of half-ass following this blog, Starting Over at 24, written by this dude who broke up with his girlfriend after six years and has to start over in the dating world. I like cute little romance novels, so I'm always on the look-out for blogs that follow real-life adventures as a singleton because it's so cool to see where they end up (so let me know if you follow any, too!). And sure enough, SO@24 got a visit from an internet correspondent (and blog-follower), Beth, not long ago, and they apparently had a ridiculous weekend together...both are completely giggly and excited for what may happen next and planning for MANY future visits (they're on opposite coasts--and they've already spent like three weekends together in the course of a month and a half or so) and it's, so cute.

Anyway, this satisfying finale (and he's said he's ending the blog since he's pretty sure this is the ONE, so it really is a finale) made me regret so bad that I'd not had a blog (or done things the old-fashioned way with a pen and lined journal) around the time I met Neil. The way Beth writes about their first meeting makes me wish I'd captured those days in my life...not because I yearn for them, but because I was so giddy and out-of-my-head happy that I really *don't* completely remember every bit of how I was feeling, and I'd like to. I have little notes written down about what we did around town, what movies we saw, etc...but there's nothing like describing an event when the emotions are fresh and raw. Through the bad times this past year, and also when Mom was sick (and even junior year of high school, when she had brain surgery), I wrote things--blog/journal entries, e-mails to friends, etc., that I can't yet reread. When I have in the past, I break down. But I love that I *have* them.

And I wish I could re-visit how I felt that Friday afternoon (November 17, 2006), watching the clock at work, hightailing it out of Special Collections exactly at five and racing downstairs to release a few minutes of tension with Sarah, who was working at the Ref Desk, before heading home to shower and gussy myself up...a couple hours later, laying on the couch as the minute hand inched to the '12,' knowing he was due any minute. I mean...I remember the
facts. I just wish I'd recorded my exact feelings, then and during the weekend, and the Sunday night after he'd left and I'd spent three hours gushing to some friends at the winery about the visit. And, like these two (Beth and SO@24) say over and over, I knew it may have sounded crazy to everyone else...but I knew it about Neil. I knew that if he'd have me, he was my One. After three days! I mean, I'd hoped for it, so bad, as had he, but we also both realized we couldn't know for sure until we had really met. And Beth's post about her feelings before the meet-up brought back so many memories of those doubts and fears and excitement and, finally, relief and unbelievable happiness.

I'm happy with the memories I have...I just wish I'd captured more in black and white.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Regulation Minutiae

1. Last night was AWESOME.

a. Neil picked us up Subway sandwiches. Tuscan Chicken: yum.

b. Idol finale from 7-8. Adam began the show by being HYDRAULICALLY LIFTED ONTO THE STAGE STAIRCASE in a long, totally sexy coat and big boots, backlit with dry-ice mist being pumped onto the stage like crazy, and dived into "Mad World" again. Even yummier than the sandwich.

c. GLEE from 8-9. Oh MAN it got me pumped. And Stephen Tobolowsky is ge-ni-US. I can't wait for the season!

d. And THEN, I switched it to the Cardinals game. We'd not been doing great lately, so when I saw we were playing the Cubs I didn't have my hopes up. But there we were....3-0, top of the 9th, and we watched long enough to see Piniero pitch an entire-game shut-out. He looked so fiercely happy about it!

2. Other things:

-I'd purchased a regular Pepsi and a Throwback Pepsi from Gerbes the other day, because someone else had done it at work and given us a blind taste test. I wanted to do the same for Neil, so I poured some of each into different glasses and told him to guess which was which. He tasted one...then the other...then the other...then the other and the other. His verdict:

"Well, they both taste the same now."

We are planning our trips this summer, and I'm having fun! Yesterday, I booked our so-close-to Busch-you-could-catch-an-out-of-the-park-home-run-ball hotel, and I'm taking Lily's advice and waiting until just before the game to get tickets from someone with good seats who can't use them. It's risky, and I don't generally do risky when it comes to planning, but NO seats on eBay or the official ticket site look good (and in our general price range) and dammit, I am GOING to see Eckstein up close. (We're seeing StL vs. Padres in'll be sad not to see David in Cardinals-red, but I'm still hoping they walk him so I can see him run really fast to first even though he doesn't have to. Thurston does it too, but it's not really equivalent because he doesn't look like a little ball of flying cuteness in the same way. He's plenty attractive, but not at the Eckstein level.)

That one will be a whirlwind weekend: Friday night in StL for the game, leave Sat AM for Chicago, go see the Harry Potter exhibit, stay Sat night, see Neil's friends Sunday, then head home.

I've been reading my latest manuscript installments at about 100 pages a day, which seems, finally, to be a pattern I can work with. Even after seven years of it, I never seem to manage my reading time properly, so I'm always scrambling during the last couple days before they're due to be sent back plowing through hundreds of pages, tiredly writing B.S. reports, and rushing to the UPS store at the last possible moment. But even with bad manuscripts (which 9/10 of them are), 100 pages a day is never terrible. I use half my lunch hour and a few minutes at home, and it's done.

So: life's going pretty good. Lily dances this weekend (yay!), I'm off Monday, and then June begins with a bang a week later.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


It's not really a bad 'argh'...just an "Aw, man!" argh.

I just read about this awesome awesome thing from MotherReader...the Fourth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge, where everyone who signs up reads constantly for that weekend (taking whatever breaks they want, but mainly focusing on the reading) and posting short blurbs/reviews about every book they read. The only requirements are that the books read be at or above a 5th grade reading level.

It sounds FABULOUS.

Only, it's June 5-7th, a weekend I already have mega-plans for...and even if I didn't have mega-plans for it, it's totally my birthday weekend and I'm not going to spend my birthday weekend holed up reading because there is Art in the Park and lovely family time and I could use that to make people play board games or Celebrity with me and take me out to Sophia's three times, at least. And a cookie cake from Hot Box Cookies, which did you know MAKES YOUR COOKIES WHILE YOU WAIT? Oh my freaking god. And it makes me sad that there will be no Art in the Park for me this year, because that is always Dad's present, to buy me something I pick out there, and I love it. But I have never had a getaway weekend for my birthday, and we did it for Neil a couple years ago--went to Chicago for IKEA and chocolate cake shakes at Portillo's and to see USA vs. Brazil play soccer and Ronaldinho was there (it's confusing because on the same team was Ronaldo, who is not as good but whose name is easier to pronounce, especially for a novice such as myself). And it was a FANTASIC trip. Except I made Neil miss the US's like, only goal because I was thirsty and he went to get me a bottle of water and himself a t-shirt and we scored. Did you know they won't give you the bottle tops to the water? Because people throw them onto the field too much? That's the stupidest thing ever. Like we don't have a billion other stuff in our purses we could throw down? I'd rather have a plastic bottlecap thrown at me than a mascara wand or some girl's used kleenex. Or fingernail clippings. GAG ME, I don't think there are many things grosser than fingernail clippings. But I am grossed out easily, so it's all pretty bad.

I have only had a little caffeine today, but I kind of feel like it has been more.

I am eating baby carrots and dip, and crunching the carrots always makes me feel tough and bad to the bone, like I am going to KICK your ASS with my TEETH so you better watch it. Except the name 'baby carrots' pretty much wimps it down.

So anyway, I wish I could do this fun challenge. I've never really participated in anything like it, but I've always wanted read HP the weekend it comes out (never have, I always wait like a month), or go to the Crossword Puzzle Tournament or some kind of Set/Cross Sums/PathWords mash-up weekend somewhere (it doesn't exist, though) or a scrapbook crop or convention...just....something that I could devote an entire weekend to, and it would be awesome and I'd meet other total geeks such as myself who enjoy it, and we'd talk about it the whole weekend because come on, no one's husband wants to listen to their wife discuss the merits of chipboard letters vs. foam and how come the sticky backs never stay on the page like other adhesive letters do. That's one of the reasons I loved so much the weekend Emily and I spent almost *exclusively* scrapbook-shopping around St. Louis...we couldn't get sick of it, and we went crazy, and talked and talked and talked about what we liked and didn't like and wanted and hated and used, and spent far too much money (but not REALLY, because the WHOLE STORE WAS 75% OFF EVEN BASICGREY!), and it was exhilarating.

And I'm not saying an entire weekend devoted to 'pleasure reading' would be exhilarating. But I'd most definitely look forward to it, and I'd get everything all set up, like buy single-serving juices and finger sandwiches and pre-fill all the bottles of water I would need and mark off a space where I would be reading and blog about the things I read and see if anyone else would do it too, or if not, no big deal, and pick out the array of books I could choose from, being careful to include multiple genres and MOODS within genres (like, sassy chicklit, sassy sensual chicklit, sassy YA, naive YA, humorous fiction, celebrity memoir, clutter self-help, scrapbook idea books, etc) and turn off my phone and LOVE IT. And even though it would be tempting, I would not read anything I'd read before. Maybe that could be another weekend--Beverly Cleary weekend, or Judy Blume or LM Montgomery or Maeve Binchy or Nick Hornby or Lemony Snicket weekend.

It's weird, because although the idea of doing a single type of thing all weekend appeals to me, one of those 'TV Marathons' does NOT. It sounds depressing. And I am a huge fan of the TV! I just know I'd get so sick of it...even my Golden or Gilmore Girls, I fear, and that is a risk I shall not take. Also, I think I'd get too hung up on the 'not-being-at-ALL-productive' thing, and come to work Monday being ashamed to answer when people ask how my weekend went. "Awesome! I ate 5 bags of Baked Lays, an entire pan of brownies, and watched 100 episodes of Frasier straight through!" I mean, at least with reading, even if it's trashy, your mind works a bit. And that's more books I can put on my "Books Read" list (yes, I have a list. It is 66 pages long) and return to the library or put on Paperback Swap. And I might just come across a book that changes something about me, or how I think, in a good way, which happens once in a blue moon but is the most awesome feeling.

So maybe I'll just do it. My next free weekend is not for awhile, but it IS coming... (after May, I'm not working weekends anymore, and in June, we're traveling every weekend except the last one, when Steve will probably be here and he is TOO FUN FOR READING!) It'll be tough to resist the 'oh, no, things need to get done around the house or whatever' urges, but I think if I set aside a weekend ahead of time, and let myself look forward to it and prepare for it, it'll be a grand old time.

[statement at end of entry to give some dramatic space in between REAL last statement of entry and the time stamp/comments link.]

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

PostSecret's Sunday Secrets were all about moms today....some were hilarious, some touching, some downright CRABBY! It made me think on why girls' relationships with their mothers are always so and cold...passionate, pissy, precious.

Is it because females are pretty much always a little catty around each other? I don't mean every second of every day, I just mean that I've certainly never had a relationship with another female where it's 100% happy and sunshiney every time we're around one another. Why are we inherently so...competitive? So embittered? And then the next minute/day/week, feel like that very same woman is the most fantastic creature to walk the face of the Earth?

As much as I'd love to think my mother and I got along our entire lives together when I look at the moon and wish her good-night, that simply wasn't the case. Here's a highlight:

When I was in...I don't know, 5th grade? I was living downstairs in what became Joe's room, and is now Gilbert's staging area. I was a SLOB. A slobby slobby slob. My room was a freakin' WRECK. I was probably officially supposed to clean it once a week or so, but I never did, and at that point, my parents didn't have a system in place for chores. One day, probably disgusted by the mess COMPLETELY COVERING my carpet, Mom and Dad gave me the bad news: I had until a certain time to completely clean my room, or Mom would come in with a garbage bag and throw out everything left on the floor. They gave me plenty of time; probably 2-3 hours to get everything done.

Did I mention that, along with the slobbiness, I was also an INSANE procrastinator, even then? I swear, my last name should have been "Dawdle" instead of "Dawson."

Anyway, so that day, I took a gander around the mess....decided it wouldn't take more than a few minutes, and commenced dilly-dallying. Read some Sweet Valley Twins...listened to Huey Lewis and the News' "Fore!" on my bitchin' record player...probably called Alena to ask what we should wear on know, your basic 10-year-old Dream Afternoon. Then, with about seven minutes left in my Window of Clean-Up Time, I figured it was about time to start.

After five minutes, I realized I might not have left myself enough time.

I raced around the room, throwing things haphazardly onto my shelf system, shoving acid-washed denim into drawers, etc.

At exactly the deadline, Mom came in, armed with a black garbage bag. Without a word, she started tossing things left on the floor into the bag. My 3-D plastic red apple plastic puzzle I got at the last Children's House garage sale (it was a totally hard puzzle, believe me)...NUMBER TEN in the Sweet Valley Twins would I LIVE without these things?!!

I could NOT believe she would DO THIS TO ME! They actually kept their threatening promise?!! They'd never been this harsh before! I figured...what did I figure? That they'd forget to follow through? That if I cried and begged enough, she would stop? Maybe so, because I cried and begged and grabbed stuff right out of her hands and tugged at the bag, etc., etc., generally being very obnoxious and bratty. She demanded I leave the room, but I stayed rooted to the spot, yelling and crying....eventually she somehow got me out the door, but I pushed the door open and would NOT let her complete the job. She finally shut the door, not seeing that my fingers were clinging to the jamb, and I HOWLED. I needed to make her feel TERRIBLE! And it totally didn't even hurt...she didn't slam the door, she just shut it, and it only pushed my fingers out of the way. But I figured if she *thought* she'd just slammed my fingers in the door, I could rescue my things. My precious, valuable things.

It didn't work. I vowed I would not speak to either of my parents, but especially Mom, for the Rest Of My Life. They would Completely regret this.

I'm not sure my vow lasted much longer than dinner that night.

That was kind of silly...other, later stories are a little more serious and squirm-inducing, and I look pretty crappy in them, (even more than in this one...but that's excused, cuz I was ten) so I won't relay them now. But I do wonder if daughters *always* have such a stormy relationship with their moms, or if most other women live a "Gilmore-Girls"-like existence, where, when asked to name their best friend, they smile and say "My mother. Truly." Or, is that really just fiction?

I don't mean to say Mom and I always butted heads, at all. We had wonderful chats almost every day I lived in New York...her packages and calls brought me to tears (happy ones, I-miss-home ones) throughout my semester in London...I always felt special and loved whenever she'd make an effort to visit me at Grinnell, or in the public library, or call to have lunch together at Main Squeeze. And I like to think that if she were here for all the wedding stuff, we'd be perfectly lovely together and stress-free, popping into a coffee shop in between trying on dresses downtown, then laughing as we dashed through the rain to My Secret Garden, taking a mosey through the gardens to decide on a perfect place for the ceremony, having a girly lunch with Lily after our Dawson-Women mani-pedis, etc.

But I bet be would have driven each other a little crazy, too. :)

I love you, my sweet mama! We'll be toasting you tonight. You take care...