Thursday, July 9, 2009

With This Ring

Though some of the stereotypes the South lives up to are regrettable, there is never disappointment in a small town Southern wedding. And don’t jump to conclusions. This is no backwoods affair. This is wedding in which tradition is king and good taste his loyal queen.

J. was initially very dismayed at having to attend this wedding. We had both been traveling all week and he was ready to spend the day clearing out his DVR. We compromised by agreeing to drive back after the wedding, and then he was cranky about that. Luckily, the 90 minute drive was a breeze (for once, no Atlanta traffic) and though hot as hell, it was sunny for the first time this month. The wedding was exactly what I had always pictured it would be when the bride – who I’ve known since college – would talk about having to one day get married in her small hometown. She loathed the idea! She had no reason to. Highlights included:
- A hand bell choir. With white-gloves!
- The same minister that baptized the bride thirty years ago
- A white lace dress and a processional to Edelweiss
- A buffet dinner (particularly poignant to me as the buffet was a battle I fought, and lost, with Sooz)
- A lemon cake with buttercream icing
- The following conversation overhead in the ladies lounge:
“You must be the groom’s grandmother. I’m the best friend of the bride’s mother. We’ve know each other since 7th grade and my daughter, the maid-of-honor, grew up with the bride. My granddaughter is the flower girl.”

J. and I agreed on the car ride home (as we listened to this awesome CD that they handed out as a favor) that if we could redo our wedding, we’d go ahead and copy a lot of what they did. Especially the playing of Edelweiss. Every Christmas we watch The Sound of Music and have to rewind that part of the movie several times. This year we had friends over and it turned into a bit of a maudlin sing-a-long. But I digress. The main point here is that in this damn economy, it’s nice to see that some things don’t change for the worse. And that tradition can’t be bought.

What can be bought are diamonds. Recently, J. has created a sticky sitch for himself by telling me something he shouldn’t have. Apparently while I was in Chicago for work, he hit a couple of jewelry stores in search of a new (translate: bigger) stone for my engagement ring in honor of our five-year anniversary. He wanted to surprise me with it when I came home…but he didn’t. After shopping around, he realized he doesn’t want to spend the money. And here’s where the big mistake comes in. Instead of not ever telling me about this field trip, he tells me within ten minutes of my arrival home. And though the thought of changing my ring had never crossed my mind, now that it has…whew, obsessed!

Per an email from J. I received yesterday, if we were getting engaged today, he would get a ring that was a bit different (insert above translation for “new” here). At first I thought this might be an expensive yet highly strategic jab to remind me that J. thinks we got married too young. It turns out he just really thinks I would like it. And though I loved then and now my current engagement ring, I think he’s right. Sometimes tradition takes a backseat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hot Off The Press

Even I (a little too mature to be considered cool) can recognize that the new all-music issue of FLYP magazine is VERY cool. Check it out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

More or Less

Yes, I know that the blog needs updating. I know it's my turn. I know, I know, I know.....

Things have been busy. The super fun Florida trip was soon followed by D's arrival home from college. And when she's home there's just more -- more activity, more errands, more comings, more goings, more mess, more fun, more food, more laundry, more life. More. More happiness. And when she's gone again, as she is now, there's also more -- more wishing that time did not speed by so quickly, more quiet, more loneliness. All the mores that add up to less.

I'll adjust again. Today is already better than three days ago. It's not an unfamiliar process but it's still hard. Seems a bit unfair to pour one's life into raising kids, striving to make them independent, and then you succeed and they ARE independent and gone away. Not exactly a welcome reward for a job well done.

Okay, days have now passed since I began writing. D is happily settled in New York City and I have returned to a good routine. Less self-pity, more normal. And before more time can pass, I do want to tell you a little bit about the trip to Florida because it was just. so. fun. First, the weather was Chamber of Commerce perfect. This is important to mention, not only because while lolling under the clear blue skies and soaking in total sunshine, we missed five of the nine straight days of cold rain at home, but also because it has done very little except rain here since. And I'm now talking over a month's time! Yuck. It doesn't even seem summer-like; there have been only two trips to the pool since the Memorial Day opening. Back to Florida.... we stayed at an oceanfront private club, very posh, sooooo nice, with every amenity imaginable. Nothing so vile as money exchanged hands on the grounds; discreet signatures only, please. All this was made possible by my friend Annie and her reciprocal agreement with a Washington, DC club of which she is a member. We sunned, we ate, we watched tennis, we napped. It was truly the perfect vacation. We also had the opportunity to see a number of yachts docked on the inland waterway. When I say yachts, I am not speaking of larger boats, I am talking YACHTS! Those that require crews to run, and surely come with staff as well. Although I enjoy the occasional ride on a boat,I have never had any desire to own one of my own. That is, until I saw the yachts. I quickly became obsessed with ownership and could easily picture myself spending my days in sunny exotic locales. When we got home I researched my favorite boat, The Gallant Lady, as well as similar models, and learned that the yacht purchase may just be a little bit out of reach in the current economic climate. Those suckers are expensive! That disappointment in no way mars the great memory of the trip however -- it was a fabulous getaway!

Coming up on Monday is my granddaughter's birthday! Sweetums will be 3 years old. It's really hard for me to believe that she is no longer a baby, and is now very much a little girl. I say it over and over, but only because it is so true, being a grandmother is just the best! More love, less aggravation. Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Better Days

Sooz is right. When life is, as a coworker calls it, “in session,” it’s hard to get a post written. Apart from being humdrum busy, there’s nothing of interest to share. And so the blog becomes one more thing to feel guilty about. Like my pile of hand-washables, I think about it a lot and don’t ever do it. But the blog must go on so I’ve decided to share what’s been happening lately chez moi.

Things have been breaking. My cell phone won’t hold a charge, our gutter fell off, a routine oil change revealed nails in two of my tires, an altered pair of pants is now silly short and our air conditioners – both of them – have leaky coils. We’re $500 in with about $2400 in repairs to go. J. (aka Hubs) is seeing stars. I’m unnaturally calm. As Dad (I refuse to call him Joe since that isn’t even close to his real name and I don’t know why he wants his grandchildren to call him this) says, “It’s just money.”

In other news, J., bowing to the pressure of my sighs every time I opened the door, cleaned out the refrigerator.

J: Honey, check out the fridge. It’s clean!
Smash: Nice! Did you actually clean the shelves too?
J. (undaunted): No. But I threw away a ton of stuff. Freezer too.
- Smash opens freezer.-
Smash: Where are my potstickers?
J.: You haven’t touched those in at least a month so I threw them away.
Smash: But I was going to eat those! I thought I could have them one night while you are out of town. (An outrageous lie. I hated those potstickers. )
J.: That’s an outrageous lie. You hated those potstickers. And besides, you know we shun buying in bulk.

And that’s true. We do shun buying in bulk. I let it go and showered him with praise.

It’s finally consistently warm/hot here in Atlanta so we went to the pool this weekend, which was nice. My stomach got burned and I’m convinced it was because I made J. stop at the Publix beforehand for a grilled Italian sausage which I accompanied with chips and a soda. My stomach was thus enormous and entirely too close to the sun, hence the burn. The whole pool experience is humiliating anyway because we (“we” used loosely as not to hurt feelings) are too cheap to buy a membership somewhere so we have to sneak into our old apartment complex, which we call our “Swim/Tennis.” It involves lurking around the front gate and then dashing in on foot behind the first car that drives in. I hate it. Am convinced we will be thrown out and possibly arrested for this. We’ll go again next weekend.

The hot weather has also, inexplicably, drawn a crowd to the bird feeder and I am very frustrated by the birds’ lack of self regulation. I’m running through a 20 pound bag every other week! Sometimes I put them on probation and don’t fill it up for a day, but then feel so bad that I get anxious and drive home from work super fast so I can fill it up before the sun goes down.

The last bit of news is the best bit. J. surprised me with tickets to Bruce Springsteen and the concert was Sunday night. We met up with some friends – friends that I always love to see and never see enough of – and then headed onto the floor of the arena for what I thought was an incredible show. It was so. much. fun. The title of this post is actually a nod to a favorite Boss song – “These are better days.” 100% agreed. Best days even.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Life Mundane

My oldest daughter was chastising me yesterday for not blogging more often. I know she's right. The time between entries is way too long. Some (a lot) of this fault rests with Smash who has not written in a very long time. Something about busy at work, busy at home, travel, guests, blah, blah, blah. I expect the real reason is the same as mine: when life is just moving along in a humdrum rhythm, there's really very little to blog about. I realize now that the blogs that I read the most often are those written by people who are experiencing some sort of upheaval in their lives, be it loss, infertility, or the trials and tribulations of raising young children. There's a tension in their writing -- a story to tell. Joe says that anyone's life can be an interesting story, that's it just all in the telling. I'm not sure that's true; sometimes my life even bores me.

I'm getting ready this week for a four day vacation beginning next Saturday. Joe and I are going to Florida with some friends. In preparation, I went shopping and bought a pair of pants that had to be hemmed. Needing any tailoring work done is always an adventure. I don't sew myself, but I have found someone who does. He runs a local drycleaners, can sew like a dream, does the work quickly, and charges reasonable prices. The only downside? As far as I can tell, he does not speak a word of English. We manage to communicate by pointing, folding material and hoping for the best. In the middle of the non-verbal communications, he often startles me by yelling out "Ye-ha." I have no idea what this means. He never gives a receipt for the clothes left for tailoring, and often retrieving ones garments requires lots of gesturing, pointing, and sighs of relief when the clothes are back in hand. Recently when I went to drop off a dress for alteration, the tailor's son was in the store. The son was in his thirties, well-dressed, and spoke perfect English with not even a hint of an accent. Noticing that I had no receipt in hand, he asked if I had been given one when I left the dress. I told him no, and he sighed with obvious distress. His dad went "Ye-ha." We have a system; no need to make changes.

I'm looking forward to being away for a few days, although beneath my happy anticipation is an undercurrent of worry about my dad. For the most part he seems to be doing okay, but there are still days when he tells me that he is so weak that it hard for him to get up from his recliner. I feel panicked and think that his congestive heart failure is catching up with him, but then the next day he reports that he feels much better. He's definitely more frail. I'm not sure why I worry about taking a trip -- I'm five hours away from him when I'm at home, and I expect if needed, I could reach him from Florida in about the same amount of time. Still, I just feel uneasy being "off duty" as it were. I'm not sure whether I will tell him that I am away. I think he would worry, so it may be best just to make my daily phone call from my cell and not mention that the call is being made beachside. I'm still thinking about what to do.

Perhaps worry about my dad, on top of worrying about everything else, has set off my recent wave of insomnia. For me, sleep has always been a refuge. When happy, I slept. When troubled, I slept. When bored, I slept. Naps, no problem. Early bedtime, all the better. But no longer. I can't sleep, and it's awful. I plan my whole day around sleeping. No caffeine, no naps, plenty of activity. Sometimes after dinner, I'm so tired I think my eyes just won't stay open a minute longer. But as soon as my head hits the pillow, my mind starts racing at a million miles per hour, and I am wide, WIDE awake. I toss, I turn, I get up, I go back to bed and finally at some point late into the night, I finally sleep an unrestful sleep. I hate it. I spend a lot of my time scheming as to how to lay my hands on an unlimited supply of ambien. So far, no good ideas.

The town where I live was named this week "The Most Affluent Town In America." I'm sure that people across the United States, hearing this breaking news, are picturing a vibrant downtown, fancy restaurants and stores, and even fancier people. I've lived here over twenty years; the thought makes me laugh. Sure we're up to our necks in politicians and rich folks, but what a dump! A dump we treasure, but still a dump. This is fodder for another post, for sure.

And finally, over dinner I was complaining to Joe that my blog is double dullsville. So, he's given me new ideas for upcoming entries. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Lift of Spirits

In the short lifetime of this blog, I've discovered this problem: when life is dull, there's nothing to blog about and when life is busy, there's no time to write. And then there's the third situation -- when life is busy and there are things to do, and yet I am stuck at home waiting for the oven repairman. Yes, the oven saga continues, now entering its fourth week. We've had missing parts, wrong parts, parts that needed to be special ordered, overly busy repairmen, repairmen taking a sick day, and finally today a technician who says he will arrive here between 11 and 2. My confidence level in that actually happening is not high. In fact, tonight's dinner is already cooking in the crockpot. In these last few weeks, I've become an expert at slow cooker, grilled or skillet meals. Were it not for my longing for a homemade chocolate chip cookie, I could no doubt remain ovenless for a while longer. Which, with the time ticking away and my confidence dropping further, still may happen.

Apart from the economic gloom and doom discussed by Smash in her last post, I'm feeling fairly optimistic. I always prefer April to March. March is my least favorite month --long, gray, and usually cold with just enough days with a hint of warmth to remind us of what we're missing when the next day is back to cold and windy. I was glad yesterday to bid March goodbye. So there's one for the Joy Journal.

The last few weekends have been fun-filled. Smash was home to visit, an increasingly rare treat. I love all three of my girls, but it's nice when I can have time to visit with each one individually. I'm not saying that having them together isn't wonderful as well, but sometimes it seems as the one-on-one time brings out the more adult, reasonable side of each darling daughter, not a return to the sibling squabbles of previous decades.

March Madness is always a fun time as well. I am usually spot-on with my bracket choices, and take great pleasure in pointing that out to all family members around me who have not made such wise choices. This season has been an exception; my brackets are busted. I blame that on the dismal economy. Obviously my worry about the financial future clouded my prognostication ability. D is leading the pack in her pool of 25 sorority sisters; unfortunately she is the administrator of the pool and failed to collect each person's one dollar in advance. There will surely be a life lesson there -- always better to get the money up front.

This past weekend we attended D's sorority Parents Formal. This is our third Parents Formal, and each year has been more and more fun as we've gotten to know more parents. The girls themselves are so lovely -- there's little fault to be seen in a group of so pretty 18-21 year olds all dressed in great dresses and escorted by handsome tuxedo clad dates. It was interesting to me that in the 100 or so young men that were in attendance, I didn't see one tuxedo that looked as if it were a rental. Do all college boys have their own tuxedos? Surely wasn't the case in my day, but as the evening with the sorority certainly pointed out -- college for me was a LONG time ago. I spent a good part of the evening avoiding the roaming photographers. A sure fire way to look old and feel depressed is to view myself in a photo standing next to the dewy skinned coeds. Someone took a picture of D and me on my camera.... one glance and I hit delete with record speed!

Following the college visit, we continued on to North Carolina to visit with my dad who lives in an independent living facility. Perhaps that should always be my next step after a visit with the college set.... I'm the youthful guest with my dad's crowd! Those visits are always interesting; the group dynamics are fascinating. There are always squabbles in the works about who sits where in the dining room, who is visiting whom, and the parking wars are vicious! When I commented that it seemed an awfully lot like high school, Joe corrected me and said he thought it was more like junior high school. He's right.

This weekend we'll spend at home with the focus being on the big UNC game on Saturday night. The cherry blossoms are in bloom, but I'll see them on television. Those of us who live in the DC area are loathe to go downtown on this, the busiest of all the tourist weekends. Still, there are some trees beautifully in bloom in my own neighborhood, the weather forecast is for gorgeous weather, and as of five minutes ago, I have a working oven!!! Toll House cookies here I come! So, no gloom and doom for me. It's joy all around.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Joy Journal

I'm exhausted from the persisting focus on the doom and gloom. The AIG bonus scandal dominates the news and apparently we've had to tell those taking stimulus money that it's not meant for building swimming pools and golf courses. Joe Biden is, to quote, "serious about this." I'm glad to hear it.

The exhaustion I feel does not preclude me from feeling concern for the people who are really struggling, but to the rest of us: enough already. Even Sooz, a true "snap out of it" personality, is dwelling in the dumps. With all the bad news and sad feelings, it actually feels inappropriate that I am in a good mood. But I just returned from a very nice long weekend with my parents and when I got back it was all sunshine and warm weather; Atlanta has made the switch to spring. Work is going fine, my husband is still the funniest person I know, it's Tournament of Champions week on Jeopardy.

Are our stocks down? Yes. Am I a smidge worried about my job? Sure. Even so, I'm abstaining from my favorite pastime of intense worry. What's the point? When my dad -- a loving but particularly gruff personality -- starts complaining (about anything) the family chants, "Time to get out your joy journal!" It's a therapist's method (or maybe it was from Oprah) for taking stock of the good things in life. I know, it's so good-natured I can hardly stand to write about it. But since it's the only tool I have right now, I'm giving it a try.

Today's joys (gag!) will include Obama choosing UNC as the NCAA champion, light traffic on the commute and, happening currently, watching a Jeopardy with my husband that I already watched with my parents and thus appearing as if I am really, really smart.

Yesterday the list included: America's Funniest Home Videos, the recent New Kids on the Block song and watching the cardinals on the bird feeder. It's the list of a loser. A happy one.

PS: My husband just announced he's making popcorn. Double joy.

Hubs: Do you want some of this popcorn?
Smash: Not really, just a handful.
- Enter Popcorn -
Smash, tasting a piece: Did you put sugar on this?
Hubs: Yes, just a little.
Smash: But I hate sugar on popcorn.
Hubs: You said you didn't really want any.
Smash: Yeah, but just because I'm not having any doesn't mean you shouldn't make it how I like it.
Hubs, en route to basement: This is what I'm living with.

See? Joyful!