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Archive for December, 2010

Date Night

Back in the day, when my brother and I were neighbors in D.C., we used have semi frequent “Sibling Date Nights,” which was really just a (admittedly somewhat creepy) way of saying “All I want to do tonight is hang out in sweatpants, watch bad TV, and order pizza, but it seems way less lame if I have company.”

Things are different now – we no longer live in D.C., we certainly aren’t neighbors, and we’re both married and theoretically have someone legally obligated to stay in with sweatpants and bad TV if that’s what we want to do. As a consequence, we rarely find ourselves hanging out, just the two of us.

That’s not to say we don’t have Sibling Date Nights, however:  just last night, my brother, his wife, me, Mike and my stepdaughter sat around my brother’s apartment with take-out,  sweatpants, and season 1 of Veronica Mars*. My brother and I looked around the room, filled with our new families, and smiled at each other. Sibling Date Night: Version 2.0: just as good as it used to be, just now with more people to love. My brother and I may not get to hang out one on one like we used to, but I think the evolution of Sibling Date Night says something really wonderful about our lives. How lucky we are.

*My sister in law had never seen Veronica Mars. I KNOW!

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Tidbits

We celebrated Christmas yesterday, to capitalize on having as many family members around as possible, so today I’m lounging in post-holiday hangover, surrounded by wrapping paper and gifts galore. We got to skype with my stepdaughter this morning, and watched her open gifts at her mom’s house (again: Better (Divorced) Living Thing Through Technology!) (best moment on Skype – her stepdad leaning into the frame “you guys want some pancakes?” Heh. It really was the best way for us all to “be together” on Christmas), and now we’re sitting back, content and comfortable. Christmas, indeed.

******

I read a great quote today that I want to throw up here so I don’t forget it:

All this to say that we should choose our running partners wisely, because they become our friends and eventually become like family, and then we grow old together.

So true. I sent this to my book club girls, as we all started out as training partners, and look at us now. I’m getting excited for the next phase of family as we move to a new home, but I am so grateful for the one I already have.

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Moving Around

I had the hubris to schedule a one day work trip to Chicago in December (“It’ll be in and out! So quick! I’ll be home for dinner!” /moron) and, of course, the weather Gods were all: “HA. HA, you are so cute. No.”

Anyway, the point of that is that 12 hours after I was suppose to be home, I was still sitting at Midway airport, most decidedly NOT at home. I found myself strangely unpissed off about this development. I have, in years past, let travel mishaps get me EXTREMELY grumpy, but I think the ongoing theme of homelessness and disruption has made me care less about spending the night in an airport. I haven’t had a home to go to since November, so what’s one more night in a temporary place? At this point, they’re all temporary, anyway.

And on that note: we made an offer on a house in Colorado. It’s… it’s a good house. I like the house. The neighborhood is the best I could hope for in the suburbs; I wish the suburbs were differently located, but I think for what we need, it’s a good place. I dare say I’m even excited about it, which, of course, speaking such a phrase will ensure there is NO WAY we will get his house. But there it is: we house hunted, found a place, and we might even actually move into it someday.

I find myself now back in Minnesota, with brothers and in-laws and my husband (gasp! We’re actually in the same place at the same time!) and it’s relaxing and lovely. The constant travel over the past few weeks has finally caught up to me, and I’m a bit under the weather, so I’m taking this time to sleep late, read books, and not stress about working out or running around. With everything I own in storage, I find that I don’t really need much of the way of physical gifts*, and am instead happy to be with my people, curled up, and stationary for at least a few more moments.

*I’m mostly serious

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One the One Hand: There was a record breaking blizzard within five days of my arrival

On the Other: The snow mostly mostly cleared with 24 hours, so much so that the sidewalks at the local park were completely walkable (Ahem D.C.)

On the First Hand: THE METRODOME COLLAPSED FROM THE WEIGHT OF THE SNOW FROM THE AFORE MENTIONED BLIZZARD. I mean, c’mon. That’s insane.

On the Second Hand: The local news had footage of two guys on top of the dome, shoveling off the snow one at a time. Now that’s totally awesome. Way to work it, MN. We might be getting a metric ton of snow, but damnit if we’re not too proud to find a couple of dudes, have them suit up, climb the metrodome, and shovel away.

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It’s blizzarding outside my window, and in true Minnesotan fashion, I’m wondering if a) the Crossfit gym down the street [or rather, about a suburban mile away] will still be holding class, and b) if I can’t drive there, if it would be reasonable to walk.

That’s a nice combination of Minnesotan “Weather? What weather?” and 12 years of city living “Eh, I can just walk!” all in one.

The first day I was in Minnesota, I woke up early to a jazzed up puppy who had just spent 20 hours in a car. Normally I’d look at a temperature reading that said “1 degree” (ONE. SINGULAR.) and say “eff you dog, there’s the backyard”, but I was feeling guilty about the cross-country confinement, and proud of him for taking it so well (he didn’t whine the whole time! He basically slept for the entire trip, except for one awesome moment when he sat up while Poison’s “Something To Believe In” was blasting away and began his own little puppy version of head banging/air banding. Love that dog.)

ANYWAY, the point: This dog needed and deserved a good romp. I am not immune to puppy eyes, and so I found myself  bundled up with appx 5433 layers, and out we went for a nice little 2 mile job in 1 degree weather.

ONE. SINGULAR.

My face was so cold when we got back I had to wait to shower so the hot water wouldn’t sting. But you know what? Otherwise, it wasn’t so horrible. And the next day, when the temperature read “22 degrees,” I remarked with exactly no irony: “Wow – it’s warm out!” And later, when at the grocery store (first rule in the Yuppy Handbook w/r/t settling in and feeling comfortable in a new place: “Find the Whole Foods”), provisioning for an incoming blizzard, I saw a Jamba Juice and decided that, yes, a frozen fruit smoothie would be the perfect thing for lunch.

If drinking a frozen drink in 20 degree weather while stocking up for a blizzard isn’t me coming back to my Minnesota roots, well, I just don’t know what is.

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A Turkey Tale

My husband is really proud of his daughter. I mean, ok, DUH, but like, he is. So when she wrote a super awesome short story for Thanksgiving (an A+ short story, we must point out), he wanted you all to read it. (Apparently there is only enough room for one blogger in the family. Ahem.)

She wrote this story as an assignment for class, and told me that the construct of it was inspired by the book Hunger Games. I love that she’s taking cues from what she’s reading and applying it to stuff she writes. I hope she keeps reading and writing and letting me harass the internet with her general awesomeness for a long, long time.

It’s long, but I know you’re all procrastinating on a Friday afternoon, so: enjoy. We’re past Thanksgiving, but still in the Holiday season, which I think makes this fair game, right? Right.

******

A Turkey Tale, by Sammy T

I wake up thinking of my daily schedule. Feed, sleep, visit the others, feed, sleep. Not much goes on for us turkeys on the farm. I get up, fluff out my feathers, stretch my legs and head for the bucket. By the huge crowd of turkeys I can tell that the bucket hasn’t been filled since yesterday… and that means…

“Here chickens. Come get the food!” That’s Lucy, the old farmer’s daughter. At age 39 she is clad in a skirt much too short for farming, brown boots up to her knees, and a tight red shirt with gold writing down the sleeves. “That’s right chicks, cluck for food!” By now all the turkeys are franticly hoping and screaming at the sight of feed, except for me. I figured Lucy out long ago. How dare she call us chickens, like we are some clucking imbeciles!

“Where is your pride,” I mutter to myself. She dumps the feed into our bucket and walks away laughing.  She looks back and yells, “Happy Thanksgiving!” in an evil way like we should be worried sick or something. Oh right, it’s that time of the season. We go on eating happily without a sign of fear. No one eats turkeys anymore, not since, well a long time. No one counts the years anymore either, so I can’t tell how long it has been.  My family has been on this farm for generations, going back since the days when turkeys were a popular holiday meal. Some time ago, the turkey fad died out and we were left on our farms to live boring yet safe lives. The farm went out of business years before my birth, and we could have been left here to die out but we had our old woman to depend on. Speaking of the farmer, here she comes now.

“Hey there buddy, can’t get to your food?” Her fragile fingers pick up my plump body and place me right in front of the bucket. I hate being handled like that but it is true that I am having trouble getting to the front so I don’t resist. She smiles at me and goes to mend a hole in the fence while we stuff our beaks with feed. We all respect the farmer with the kind heart, especially compared to her devilish daughter. Now a funny looking vehicle pulls up and the strangest looking people depart from the inside where colored lights are flashing. They are all dressed in odd green clothing and the two little girls, probably ages eight and fourteen, carry oversized handbags lined with diamonds while the young boy, probably age ten, wears his hair sticking out in different directions. The mother and father I presume walk towards the farmer.

You can almost feel her heart skip a beat as she peers up at these strange people, “H-Hi,” she stammers out as she collects herself. “May I help you?”

“Yes,” They say together with voices like music. “We would like to purchase one of your turkeys,” the woman says, “It is, after all, Thanksgiving.” She looks up at the man and chuckles as if I’m missing some inside joke.

“Certainly, come this way.” The farmer leads them to us and we all back away pleading that we are not the one in a million to be chosen.

“That one,” The woman points to me and I am frozen. The farmer lets out a sigh and picks me up.  You can see the sadness in her expression, however she cannot refuse. I am not scared, but confused as I am put on and old rusted scale in the corner. The man hands the farmer money and walks off with me. Just like that I am gone, never to see a familiar face again. Destined to be eaten! Just like that.

The ride to their home is a blur and when we arrive I realize we are in a city. The houses are oddly shaped, nothing like the farm, and the vehicles that I found so peculiar are all over the place. They carry me to the back and place me in a giant cage with enough room and food to keep dozens of turkeys alive for weeks. To confused and frozen, I plop down on the floor and look directly ahead.

“Good boy Louie,” says the eight year old. I look up at her with disgust wishing that it were Lucy instead of this adorable little one. How dare she name me before ripping me open and consuming my insides!  Her big green eyes have little effect on me as I scowl in silence. After a minute of this I lose it.

I start running around my cage, flapping my wings, and screeching as loud as I can. This goes on for what must be an hour because the sky has turned from bright blue to an eerie navy blue. The girl just sits there looking at me calmly, warmly as if trying to relax me. This time those stupid big green eyes capture me and I sit silence once again, but not scowling as I did before. “You’ll understand soon,” she says as she stands and wipes the dirt from her legs. “I have to go get dressed.”

I expect any minute to be taken into the house and prepared for dinner, I know the procedure because of scary stories told back at the farm, but no one comes outside until hours after my episode. When a bald man dressed in black and white reaches for me I make a run for it but years of eating and sleeping works to my disadvantage as I am carried off into the house. If I think the clothing and vehicles are strangely spectacular, I am not prepared for what is next. Walls with exuberant shades of yellows and oranges, doors covered in gold, twinkling lights hanging down from the ceiling, majestic artwork at every turn, and last but certainly not least and dark brown table with gold trimming, covered in candles and hors d’ oeuvres crafted with such care that I even find them to be the most appetizing things I have ever laid eyes on.

The beauty and excellence of the house momentarily distracts me, but I am brought back to reality when I see the clear box as a centerpiece. That’s where they are going to serve me, I think. Celebrate over a job well done in killing me and savoring every last bit of me. I close my eyes and think of life on the farm. The farmer, my parents, my friends, even Lucy. When I open my eyes I am once again, confused. Don’t I belong in an oven, I think, not the glass box?

I go through a list of possibilities when I stumble upon a horrifying thing called truth. They are going to eat me alive. My beak is about to break before I realize that I am pecking at the glass so hard that it makes me bleed. I look around for a way out, a door, a crack in the glass, anything, but there is nothing.  I don’t even know how I got in here in the first place. My heart pounds as the family enters, dressed in orange outfits this time, with guests. They all take their seats and observe me while I run hopelessly back and forth. A man I do not recognize chuckles and I smack into the glass so hard, wanting to peck out his brains,  that he jumps back in his chair at my aggression. This amuses you! I think as I scowl at him. I whirl around to find a way out when the girl’s green eyes catch me and I sit quietly without disturbance.

These people make their way through meals like there is no tomorrow. In minutes they have gone through multiple courses. After an hour they have finished stuffing their faces and the mood changes into relaxed conversation, even though the glass has cut off my hearing. This is it, they are giving themselves time to digest and then fill their stomachs with me. I close my eyes again and a tear trickles down my face.

When I open my eyes I am being carried away by the little girl. What’s going on? Shouldn’t there be a knife in me by now?

“Good work James,” says the man who chuckled to the man who hosted the dinner, the same man who bought me. “You truly are a trend-setting genius,” “Bringing back turkeys, but not to eat, to cherish.” “What beautiful creatures. Every family will want one for the holidays. And what fun pets! He is so lively! Good work.”

My eyes widen at these strange words. Cherish? Beautiful creatures? Pets? Something clicks in my brain and I realize that their intentions were never bad. They only wanted to bring back a fad. I have a home now. What a day I’ve had! The girl places me back into my little home and whispers “See?”  I nod my head and get lost into her green eyes again. Then I drift off thinking of my change in heart.

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Even when home is appx a million degrees below zero

(Ok. Fine. 19 Degrees. Same Diff)

So, anyway, I’m here in Minnesota. The motherland. The land of hot dishes and Lutherans.  A couple of things:

1) It snowed for 17 hours of my 20 hour drive, which, well, sucked. Hugely. Welcome back home, indeed

2)  I have been in such a massively huge state of denial about leaving that when my good friend asked if I wanted a going away party, I honestly replied “Why?” I figured it out (eventually), and we did have that party, and it was awesome, but it made leaving that much harder. We have such good friends in D.C., and it really hit me: I like them. I like it there. And now we’re… leaving. And that, frankly, in the harsh glare of the post-party hangover, that seemed insane.  Luckily, I had 20 hours in a car to work through the other stages of grief (I may have paused for a while on “Anger” and there were at least two ugly cries in there) and now that I’m home – erm, “at my parent’s house” — and not mainlining Red Bull in a car cruising through the always scenic Indiana toll road, things are seeming like they will, eventually, be Ok. Better than Ok, actually. Things will be Good.

So, I’m back home again. But after a few weeks of bouncing around on borrowed couches and guest bedrooms – which I am VERY grateful I had access to, btw — it feels wonderful to be here, regardless of the fact that it’s not my most recent incarnation of home. If you need me, I’ll be eating some hot dish and dodging Lutherans!

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