Wednesday, August 26, 2009

He sees me more like 4 times a year

This weekend, my nephew Grant pitched for Arizona in the Junior League World Series Championship. His team played Aruba, who, in an odd turn of events, was the “home” team at the final game taking place in Michigan. Grant was a total rockstar. How do I know this? Because the entire game was broadcast on ESPN and it was seriously one of the coolest things ever. I saw several members of Rob’s family in the stands and watched Grant pitch an awesome game while the announcers talked about him. ON ESPN. I was so proud, and I have absolutely nothing to do with the success of this kid. I certainly have nothing to do with how tall he is.

Rob called Grant after the game and talked to him briefly while I yelled from the couch how awesome he was. When Rob hung up, he said, “Grant said to tell you he loves you.”

I nodded. “I’m very lovable.”

“Well yeah,” Rob said. “Because he only sees you twice a year.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Cats

I went to yoga twice last week, which is notable since I haven't attended a class in something like 8 months. What have I been doing? Mostly walking, I guess, but that feels somewhat pathetic as a form of exercise considering my primary path is between the office and my apartment. It's not a short distance, but I'm wearing my work clothes, so there's not really a lot of perspiring and elevated heart rate action going on.

So I made myself go to yoga on Wednesday and I was really happy I did. The teacher, P., gave me a big hug and there was a live 3-piece band in the corner of the room: two guitars and a bass playing festive Spanish rhythms. As light and fun as the music was, it didn't quite take my attention away from the pain of moving my now inflexible body into previously simple yoga poses. I was so sore the next day that I forced myself to attend class once again on Friday.

As usual, P. een-a-haled and giggled his way through class. During triangle pose, he wandered over to my mat, sat down, and touched my engagement ring. "There's my friend!" he announced, laughing. "Yes, I like it, too," I said from my sideways position. He sat there, looking at me and giggling for a few more seconds and then trotted away to observe things about other people.

It's so hard to go to yoga, and the gym in general, sometimes. It feels like such a commitment to set aside 90 minutes after work for a class. Who am I kidding, it feels like a commitment to do anything other than collapse on the couch and figure out what episode of True Blood I have recorded. With this in mind, I also ordered two yoga videos online to do at home. I set myself up on Saturday, mat on the floor in front of the TV. Smokey immediately placed himself on the mat, too, either because he is a zen master or because he simply cannot let me perform any function without his assistance. Each time I tried to place my hand on the mat, I had to remove Smokey from underneath it. My sitting poses were accompanied by his constant circling of my entire body, punctuated by head butts into each knee as he passed it. As he sidled up to me while I was in triangle pose, I pictured him exclaiming, "There's my friend!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I think I need a vacation

I was walking to lunch with a coworker who was also out on vacation last week. He told me that his boss asked him yesterday if he was feeling “refreshed” from the time off. He just laughed in response, because NO. No matter how nice or fun or far away your vacation was, the feeling you get upon returning to the office does not remotely resemble refreshment. It’s more like panic, resentment, and/or a general sense of being at the bottom of a hole trying to dig your way out.

“If anyone had asked me that question yesterday,” I told him, “I would have punched them in the face.”

I am not nice in the early days after vacation.

Of course, the vacation itself was refreshing. Unbelievably so. I spent days alternating between the lake, the bonfire, and my bed. I took long walks in the woods with my mom, my sister, and the various dogs that accompanied us on the trip. On these walks, I was in charge of my grandparents’ dog, Lucy (also known as Lucifer), who had a charming habit of zigzagging into the woods until her leash was hopelessly wound around several small trees and I had to stumble in after her. Lucy, by the way, is the beagle dachshund mix who was about to make out with Rob in yesterday's post. They had a connection.

Every night in Wisconsin around 4 or 5pm, we headed out on a cocktail cruise on the pontoon boat. We circled the lake with our drinks and snacks like havarti with jalapenos on crackers, spicy olives and smoked trout, black bean dip and tortilla chips. On each trip, someone spilled the olives. This sounds like some kind of euphemism, but really, the olives just ended up on the floor of the boat. It's not meaningful, I don't think.

Among our wildlife sightings were a bald eagle eating a dead muskie (a two-fer!), loons, geese, more fish, and turtles. Also one weird bird that everyone took turns looking at through the binoculars, but no one could figure out. It certainly wasn’t going to be me…I was proud I could recognize a turtle considering what my average animal encounters in New York consist of (dogs, pigeons, the occasional rat in a subway.)

Spending the week with my grandparents was one of the very best parts of the trip, because I love them a lot and because everything out of my grandpa’s mouth is hilarious.

One evening, Liz’s boyfriend Rob mixed up a batch of margaritas and offered one to Papa.

“No thanks,” said Papa. “I don’t drink sissy drinks.” He then went back to his brandy manhattan garnished with totally manly cherries.

And Nana celebrated her 83rd birthday while we were there, so Liz and I made her a carrot cake to celebrate.

Liz decorated it.

A requirement on any family trip, of course, is silly games. And we played them. Joe actually created a Jeopardy game (I'm talking construction paper, markers, tape, and wholly original questions like "What is the significance of The New Collossus?" which is really hard to answer in the form of a question. This didn't turn out to be a problem though, since none of us actually knew what he was talking about.)

On our last evening, we played a particularly comical game of Guesstures. Highlights included Rob frisking himself and Liz's Rob trying to get us to guess "hydrant" though we were all screaming "machine gun."

Tomorrow at work, if anyone asks me if I feel refreshed, I'm going to close my eyes for a moment, think about the lake, my family, utter ridiculousness, good food and dogs. And maybe nobody will get punched.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday Thought

I’m not ever going to be one of those people who leaves the petsitter a note “from the cats.” If you’re that type of person, that’s ok. I’m cool with that. It's a personal decision.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Adventures in the Heartland

Rob and I are leaving town on Friday for 10 days. I'm told we travel a lot, and though I guess this is true, I always think of "travelers" as people who go to far-flung, exotic places. Like Vietnam, South Africa, Schenectady. Rob and I have been on more of a domestic tour: Denver for me, San Francisco for him, Los Angeles for me, Pittsburgh for him. Which brings me to another point: in addition to traveling a lot, we travel solo a lot.

But here we are, 2 days and counting until our next trip together to the enchanting land that is known to its inhabitants and fans as...The Midwest. I think I'd like to call it The Wild Midwest, just to give it that sense of allure and romance that one normally associates with times past. And by times past, I'm not referring to the night my friends and I had a party at my house, took Ecstasy, and then drove all my little sister's friends home before heading to the beach. Just kidding. We did not go to the beach.

I love where I grew up. That doesn't mean I'm clamoring to move back there anytime soon, but there's just something so refreshing and NORMAL about that place. I guess I have to say that since I was formed there and everything. But I think it's no mistake that many of my best friends to this day are people I met growing up. Anyway, whether or not I'm biased, if you haven't been to Oak Park, Illinois, I recommend a visit. Famous for Frank Lloyd Wright, Ernest Hemingway, Kathy Griffin, and several top Deepish Thought commenters. Stop by my grandpa's house--he'll make you a brandy Manhattan.

Our upcoming trip actually starts in Indiana, at the home of Rob's brother John, where we will barbecue, hot tub, and heckle John's pet swans Frederick and Jewell. We then head to Oak Park for about a day and a half, and then up to Wisconsin to a house my grandparents bought many years ago with one of my uncles. The house is on Lake Archibald...Archibald would be a good name for a kid. Or an eagle...I digress. The lake is the center of all activity. We will either be lying on the pier, me looking at all of my brown relatives and trying to figure out how I ended up with the legs of Casper the Friendly Ghost, or on the pontoon boat with cocktails and cheese crackers--because we are elegant. Or maybe we'll be making s'mores at the bonfire, or making loon calls from a canoe.

All I know is that I could not be more excited about this trip. I will always love exploring new places, but sometimes it's really fun to just go home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Slow Day

Some smart blogger friends of mine have told me that if you just sit down to write, you can usually find something to write about. Though I think this is theoretically true, I'm just not sure how entertained you would be by my current stream of consciousness. So instead, look at this crazy elephant.