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Archive for May, 2008

I’m back

So I guess last week I should have retitled this blog “Sitting Perfectly Still”, seeing as how I didn’t write A SINGLE POST ALL WEEK LONG. But, as I’ve mentioned before, part of moving forward is trying to be nicer to myself, more forgiving, and therefore I’m not going to beat myself up for not posting. Really, I’m not beating myself up one little bit, not in the least. I don’t feel even a whiff of guilt or the teeny-tiniest bit of self- loathing or sense of failure. Not one ounce. I swear.

The funny thing is that I could have used an outlet last week more than ever, as Jay was gone for three days longer than originally planned, making it almost a week apart. He originally went home because his nephew Brian (who some of you may remember as the adorable ring bearer and scene-stealing dance phenomenon at our wedding) was having health problems. Well, unfortunately, on the Monday Jay was supposed to fly back Brian ended up going to the emergency room and being admitted into the hospital for surgery. It was a long and harrowing few days, with Brian not actually going in for surgery until Wednesday night at 9pm, and Jay flying back at 6am on Thursday morning. Explaining Brian’s exact situation in detail would take a much longer and more complex post than I’m willing to write at the moment, but the short of it is that he had a big mysterious lump on his back which had been swelling and deflating at random and causing him painĀ  over the last month or so, and the doctors wanted to remove it so that they could biopsy it and see what was causing it. Since it was so close to his spine, they had to call in a spinal surgeon, which caused the delay in his surgery. They still don’t know exactly what it is/was, but they have met several times with an oncologist who doesn’t seem to recognize it as any life-threating condition that she’s familiar with, so I guess that’s something. The most important thing is that they’ve got it out, Brian is recovering quickly and well, and they can now move forward to see what needs to happen next.

Jay was very glad he could be there for Corie (Brian’s mom) and Brian and the rest of his family, but it was an emotionally exhausting week for him as well, trying so hard to be the big strong shoulder to cry on without letting himself show how worried he was. Every time I talked to him he sounded exhausted. To add to that, I felt sad and frustrated that I couldn’t be there for Corie or Brian or Jay at such a crucial time. And the cherry on top is the fact that that was the longest that Jay and I have been away from each other (6 nights) since we got married. Let’s just say that I wasn’t having the “Best Week Ever”, and writing it out probably would have been healthy and helpful. Oh well, I guess I screwed the pooch on that one.

But this weekend was at least a partial return to normalcy, with BBQ’s, sleeping in, and lots of catching up with Jay and with friends. I was extremely grateful for my friends who pitched in to keep my pathetic butt company while Jay was gone, including a special gold star for Robin who let me sleep over at her house on two different nights (the second of which came a bit to her- gracefully displayed- surprise) and for Jen and Becca who took me out and got me totally ferschnickered on half-priced cosmos on the last night before Jay came back (cuz that’s what you should do the night before you have to make a 6am airport run- drink 3 cosmopolitans- good idea Julia…). Though it was lonely and hard, that week did teach me that I have a great group of friends that I need to be more grateful for and spend more time with. It also taught me that I’d be a big fat hot mess- at least temporarily- if Jay were to ever leave me, so here’s hoping that never happens.

So I’m back, mentally and emotionally, and ready to start writing again. Only a little less than two months until I leave for the writer’s festival in Iowa City, so I’d better get serious about my writing goals. Wish me luck.

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The man behind the curtain, in this case, takes the form of the missing posts from Wednesday and Thursday of this week. I just forgot to write- it’s really that simple. Moving on…

Jay is out of town this weekend, back in NY visiting his family, and I am not looking forward to a weekend with my empty bed. In order to distract myself, I decided to throw a dessert party for my lovely friend Anna, who will soon be leaving the flat and frequently frozen Midwest and moving back to the balmy South East- Atlanta, to be exact. I will truly miss Anna, that’s for sure, but I’m pretty excited about having an excuse to host a dessert party. I’m Monica, after all, and I love being the hostess. I decided that for the sake of ease and as an introduction to the (coming soon!) summer season, I would make the party an ice cream social. Therefore tonight I will spend the evening in my empty house making homemade ice cream, cookies and various ice cream sauces. Just a typical Friday night. Sure, I could easily just buy all of that stuff at the grocery store, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, there are way more bragging rights in saying I made my own hot fudge and caramel sauce. Not to mention my own mint-chocolate chip ice cream, and even some homemade magic shell. What can I say- Martha Stewart is my hero, prison rap and all.

Not much else to report. We got the final go ahead for our Italy trip, and so we will be spending the 4th of July in the Tuscan countryside this year. I really am spoiled. If it makes you feel any better, after all of the ice cream and sweets I plan to eat this weekend, I will be probably end up wandering around Italy in a MumMuu.

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Topsy Tuesday

My mind has been leaping around like a frog on a griddle today, and I just can’t seem to get focused to write about any one particular topic. So, in-lieu of follow through, here are a few things I’ve read or thought about today:

* David Sedaris on food– two of my favorite things

* The Foo Fighters on food– this combination is as funny as it sounds

* This is one of my new favorite blogs for inspiration. Where does she find those wonderful illustrations?

* I want to refurnish and streamline my apartment’s office space (so I can read blogs all day there too)

* This seems like a pretty kick-ass travel resource

* This is funny and slightly creepy– they should design a corresponding menu

* Sweet- cheap wine is just as good as posh wine. Score!

* Clearly Jay working at Whole Foods is rubbing off on me

* I’m hosting an ice-cream party for a friend this weekend, so this post caught my eye. I recently made some tasty bacon cupcakes and Vosges’ bacon chocolate bar is pretty good, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work..

There you go- a glimpse inside my mind, chock full of bacon and wine and rock stars and gay men and baby-sized fruit and travel plans. And some pretty pictures and resourceful furniture. Weird, huh?

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You know how you feel about Valentine’s Day when you have been recently or viciously dumped, or when you’re the only person you know not receiving any paper heart mementos or boxes of cheap chocolate? I figured out yesterday that that analogy perfectly encapsulates my feelings about Mother’s Day. On that one day, I secretly hate everyone who has a living breathing mother to go to brunch with, and dread the idea of leaving my house and being confronted by these happy twosomes. I silently resent the aggressively cheerful suggestion by television commercials, billboards and store clerks that I should “Do something nice for Mom on Mother’s Day!” or “Have a Happy Mother’s day!” I am filled with rage at the blatant presumption that EVERYONE has a mother to celebrate the day with. Yeah, I had a mother once, but I’m between Mom’s at the minute, and thank you SO much for reminding me!

The main difference is that it’s hard to find anyone willing to join in on the hatred of Mother’s Day. Lots of people hate Valentines day. There are plenty of websites, parties and even mugs and tee-shirts promoting the hatred of V-day, but not so much on hating Mother’s day (though a Google search for “‘mother’s day’+ hate”did turn up more items on than I thought it would, mostly decrying the commercialization, and I love that this was the first item listed- hilarious). The fact of the matter is that most people do have living mother’s- much more than have romantic partners on Valentine’s day- and those that don’t have Mom’s to celebrate with usually don’t want to bond about that in public. It’s not like you’re going to meet a cute new rebound Mom at your local bar’s “Mother’s Day Can Suck It!” party, so what’s the point? People who hate Mother’s Day usually keep their sadness/bitterness to themselves, or just try to ignore the whole thing and push through til Monday.

Other than talking about it on this blog, I myself am no exception to the rule of the silent Mother’s Day masses. I spent most of yesterday hiding in my house eating brownies, drinking wine, and watching sentimental girly movies to distract myself. In essence, I spent the day wallowing and feeling sorry for myself, just like on many a single Valentine’s day past. And I’ve gotta tell you- it actually did make me feel better.

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Today I am not going to write a long post, because I am far too busy researching food- wine, cheese, gellato and other wonders- for my 2 week Italian vacation which is exactly 7 weeks from today. I know very well that no one pities me even one teensy bit for this, and I don’t blame you. This trip is going to ROOOOOCK!

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Reading this post on this blog made me a bit misty, and then I remembered what Sunday is. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I had already been reminded by my therapist, at the end of a session in which I talked exclusively about Jay’s family instead of my own, what Sunday is. She then clucked knowingly that I was bound to be “affected by it”. And I thought to myself- am I? Am I really? I seem to have done a pretty good job so far of ignoring all the cheesy Mother’s Day commercials during my favorite television shows and the special Mother’s Day brunch menus at all of my favorite restaurants and Mother’s Day gift ideas on all of my favorite craft blogs. And then I read that blog post and realized that I am affected, whether I choose to see it or not.

I have so many friends who are new mothers that Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new dimension of meaning these days. I’m happy for my friends and their beautiful babies and I genuinely love observing all of the new rites of this club which has swiftly and silently formed within my peer group. It’s not a club I’m desperate to join just yet, but it’s one I do hope to be inducted into in the near future. And I’m sure that once I am a mother, Mother’s Day will elicit at least some sunny and heartwarming feelings of anticipation and enjoyment.

In the meanwhile, though, I pretty much hate that day. I do diligently call my stepmothers, grandmother, mother-in-law, and all other surrogate mother figures. But each call reminds me of the one mother I can’t call, or send flowers to, or go to brunch with, or sit in on a book club with, ever again. And that reality- as pointed out in the 1994 Winona Ryder of the same name- bites.

Sigh. So much for my new goal of making posts more upbeat and positive. Oh well, even smart young women moving towards personal enlightenment hit an Eeyore patch from time to time.

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I love my job- but not for the reasons you might think. It’s not glamorous, or exciting, or intellectually challenging, or creative, or even particularly interesting. I don’t make money hand over fist, or get three months of paid vacation a year. I do not work from home in my pajamas, or in a luxury compound with free massages and posh cafeterias stocked with locally produced gourmet fare. My official job title is “Program Assistant”, which is just a fancy term for for office manager or glorified secretary. I work 8:30 to 5pm in a tiny office, for low to moderate pay (but great benefits), and a high school graduate could easily manage my job (though they’d probably earn even less money than I do, which- as I said- isn’t a whole lot).

No, I love my job for all of the things that it isn’t- stressful, difficult, time consuming, strict. Despite all of its shortcomings, this job is exactly what I need at this point in my life, and in many ways I sometimes feel like my Mom must have slipped on her guardian angel wings and flown down to design this position in this office just for me.

There are several reasons for my waxing poetic about a desk job. First of all, it’s easy. Very easy. As most of you know, I’m currently in graduate school (well, if you don’t count my upcoming summer break), and therefore I need a job that doesn’t add to my evening and weekend stress load and preferably even allows time to get some school work done on the clock. Check. Along with time to do school work, I have lots of down time to surf the Internet, which allows me the opportunity to explore my interests and start to formulate ideas for what I want to do with my life after grad school (and catch up on food blogs- let’s not forget the important things).

The second best thing about my job is that it takes place in a very flexible, relaxed, and positive working environment. Everyone in my office- all six of us, counting me- is very nice and laid back and interested in maintaining a full life out of the office. We all use every last one of our personal and vacation days, no one is afraid to take a sick day if they really need it, and it is generally understood that out of office life is just as important as (if not more important than) in the office life. When both of my grandparents died last year, my boss didn’t hesitate to send me home for their funerals, and in one instance she even insisted that I leave right a day earlier than I’d plan so that I could spend time with my family. This is the main reason I decided to stay at this office through my pregnancy (assuming I’m pregnant within the next year). I feel pretty confident that this is the kind of office that will be very sympathetic and understanding of a fat, emotionally erratic pregnant woman. They’ll probably even throw me a shower.

But one of the main reasons I love this job is because of a tiny perk that I’m sure most people would take for granted: lunch hour. I have one unpaid hour in the middle of my day which I can take basically whenever I want, and that hour is my favorite thing about this job. It’s just the most wonderful little respite in the middle of my day- a chance to walk around the block, or wander through the grocery store, or sit in the library reading, or even curl up in my chair and catch a quick nap. I know it might sound odd, but I love my lunch hour. It is one hour that is totally my own right in the middle of the day- it’s all mine to with whatever I want. Lately, as the weather has been warming up, I’ve been using my lunch hour to walk around the neighborhood and just observe- looking at houses and squirrels and people and flowers. I love noticing things I’ve never seen before, like the way the light hits the sidewalk as it’s filtered through the trees, the small imprint of a leaf forever imprinted into the cement of a walkway, a fantastically bright teal house whose front lawn is absolutely peppered with violets.

In their own way, all of these elements are helping me to figure out where I want to go next in my life. This simple little office job is helping me to build up some basic job skills and confidence while simultaneously providing a safe place to rest until I’m ready to move on. It allows me time to think, explore, work towards a degree, enjoy my husband and friends, and even squeeze in some daily exercise. In an ideal world, I would be a full time grad student who didn’t have to work until I finished my degree. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. But I feel like this is the right place for me to be right now. If I have to be working and going to school, at least I’m working in a place that allows me time to enjoy the in-between.

So thanks Mom, or Universe, or God or whoever. I never thought I could be so grateful for a boring office job.

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