Thursday, February 3, 2011

Please Cut It Out, 2011

My father passed away last week. I was flying home from my business trip, and when I got home my mom gave me the news. Anytime your mom calls you at 11:45 pm, you know it’s not going to be good.
We’d been preparing as a family for the inevitable, but no amount of preparing does you any good when you actually hear it. I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but I just hope my family can make peace with his death and the cause of it.
My mom, sister and brother all flew to Boston so we could at least gather and give each other a hug in person. In a way, the repairing that happened over Christmas prepared us a little more for this, but it also sort of felt like another family gathering he wasn’t present at.
I’m not sure if the gravity of his death will really be felt until we gather once again this summer to scatter his ashes. It’s been a really rough week, but I’m very grateful to have such amazing friends checking on me every day. My apartment is filled with flowers right now, and also an amazing, chocolate-filled gift basket from Zabar's. I’m so lucky to have a wonderful family and amazing friends to take care of me when I need it.
I really need to have a heart-to-heart with 2011, because it wasn’t listening to me very well when I asked it to please be kind. 2011 is kind of a dick, and while we have a lot of work to do to make it better, it’s getting easier day by day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The One About the One-Legged Prostitute

For the next week, I'm going to be doing some traveling for work. I'm in Los Angeles now and then early Saturday morning I'm headed to Chicago. Because the weather has been so frigid in Boston lately (Nine degrees on Monday!), I decided to stay at the beach during my time here.
Now, I know Venice Beach has its "reputation" as being a place for the down and out or characters, as they're sometimes called, but throwing caution to the wind and trusting the pictures I saw online, I booked a room, eagerly anticipating the sound of waves and the salty air.
Typically when I travel, I like to book at mom-and-pop hotels because you're supporting a local business and there's usually a little more attention paid to the customer. I may never do that again after what happened today.
I park my rental car, and start walking to the hotel, I notice a few of the Venice characters roaming about: the woman wearing rollerblades laying in the middle of the street (sidenote: dead? maybe?), the man with the biggest dreadlocks I've ever seen in my whole life, the young couple sitting in a shopping cart together, etc. Then, I round the corner and see my hotel.
Outside, there are more characters, including a woman on crutches with one leg, wearing a see-through shirt, and her friend, who looks very possessive of her, ifyouknowwhatImean. I keep my head down and walk into the lobby, which is in shambles. Continuing with my "benefit of the doubt" attitude, I start the check-in process. The young lady and the gentleman come inside and push the elevator button, and the woman behind the desk says they're not allowed to enter the building anymore.
She says, "You are not guests here; you need to leave. There's been reports of thefts. We know what you're doing up there."
The woman is very obviously intoxicated (and, uh, also missing a leg), and tries to grab the counter and misses. She falls backwards and SLAMS her head into the wall. I'm standing there speechless, with my eyes bulging and my hand over my mouth in horror.
The guy helps her up and tries to move her to the lobby couch, and the woman behind the desk says, "You still need to leave. Get out of here."
Now, THIS is the point where most people would leave. I chose to view it as an isolated incident, and said, "Room 310, you say? And, how do I get wireless Internet again?"
I go up to my room, and it's disgusting. It's incredibly hot with no air conditioner (usually not a problem at the beach, but I LOVE sleeping in a cold hotel room), the toiletries had been used and my pillow case had black scuff marks all over it.
On the verge of tears, I sit on the bed searching online for a new hotel and feel so bad for having to go downstairs and tell the woman at the front desk that I'm unhappy. I really hate complaining, but I think a one-legged prostitutes, dirty sheets and used soap are legitimate reasons to now be typing this from a cushy Sheraton that serves Starbucks coffee in the rooms.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: A Year in Review

I was emailing with my friend Lillie the other day about how our holidays went, and I told her that I couldn’t believe how far we have both come and how much has happened to us in the last year. In January, when I was still living in NY, we went to Borders together after going to the gym. Waiting in a massive line to buy our discounted calendars, we were talking about how Christmas 2009 went (horrible) and how our families were (in shambles). Almost a year later, with lots of ups and downs for both of us, we’re in pretty good places in our lives. I’ll let her handle her end of things, but here is a little review of 2010 for me, in no particular order:

1. I trained for two half marathons, and ran one. The reason I signed up for the races is because I really hate running – at least I thought I did. It turns out, that once I’m past four miles; I enjoy it. The fact that I have to get to four to feel that way is sort of terrible though. Anyway, I ran the race and completed all my goals: don’t die, finish in under three hours and don’t have to pee in the woods. 2010: The Year of “I’ll Take the Physical Challenge”.
2. I went to Costa Rica with two of my best friends. We explored the rain forest, stayed at a luxury resort, met the dumbest nature guide in the world, got drunk before 9 am and laughed a ton. 2010: The Year of Exploration.
3. I moved from New York City to Boston. I never really wanted to move to New York in the first place, but moved for love. That didn’t work out, but I fell in love with a lot of amazing people there. I miss my New York friends SO much it hurts, but we’re fortunate to be pretty close to each other. Luckily, I’ve been able to have 1-2 visitors a month since moving up here. I know I made the right decision to move, and I’ve been so lucky to have made a lot of new friends and also reconnect with old friends. 2010: The Year of Changed Addresses.
4. I’ve come to terms with how I look. Like most people, I grew up with a mom who was very critical of her looks in front of me. This developed a lot of unhealthy habits when I was younger, but now when I look in the mirror I don’t see a horror show. I see someone who is actually kind of cute, and sometimes pretty. I’m also more confident about my body, too. Of course I can always find the parts that should be thinner and all that noise, but I’m OK with how I look … finally. I’m trying not to get wrapped up in being annoyed at myself for all that time wasted thinking I was a big, fat mess and just focus on the positive: my traffic jam booty and my cupcakes. 2010: The Year of Vanity.
5. I put myself “out there” as far as dating goes. This year I’ve gone on more dates than ever. While nothing has really panned out, I’m proud of myself for at least trying. I’ve been (mostly) single for the last three years, but I’ve met a lot of different types of guys – some crazy and others crazier. 2010: The Year of Dating.
6. I had a fling with a hot “teen” model/stand-up comedian. He was really 24, but same difference, and he thought I was gorgeous and hilarious. 2010: The Year of Holy Crap, You’re So Hot, Wait, Those Are Considered Washboard Abs, Right, and You Want to Make Out with Me?!
7. I was a vegan for three hours. 2010: The Year of Bacon.
8. I’ve already detailed out stuff about my dad on here, so let’s move on, but it’s been a long year for me emotionally. I’m not the best at talking about my feelings; I’m better at listening to other people’s problems. This year I’ve gotten much, much better at talking about things of substance. In fact, I talked for about 10 minutes straight about my feelings a few months ago. It was incredible. 2010: The Year of Feelings About Feelings.
9. I went camping with some of my best friends in Boston. We slept in tents, on the ground, in 40 degree weather. We ate so many meals that we had to come up with new names for them (Breakfast, B’Breakfast, Brunch, B’Brunch and “Uhhhhh”). We wrapped everything in bacon and put it in an iron skillet and then put it in our mouths. 2010: The Year of (More) Bacon.

A lot more happened, but that’s the highlight reel. I’m not really sure what’s on deck for 2011, but I’m looking forward to it and hopefully not putting too much pressure on it to perform. I do at least know one song that will be on next year’s soundtrack. This is the anthem, put your damn hands up:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Had Myself A Merry Little Christmas

Words have yet to be invented to accurately describe how terrible Christmas was last year, and this year has kindly steamrolled that further away from my memory. I had SUCH a pleasant holiday.
I flew down to my brother's house in Texas last Tuesday, and we hung out in Houston to wait for my sister's flight to get in a few hours later. I was nervous to see her because over the last few years we have not gotten along at all. It's frustrating to look at someone who has the same face and voice as me, yet couldn't be more different.
She recently started working her first job, and I think it's starting to change her for the better. We did not fight once over the break, and actually enjoyed each other's company.
As a family, we went to the movies twice (it's $4 to see a movie in Texas - amazing!) and saw Black Swan and True Grit - both highly recommended. During True Grit, a man was sitting in front of me chewing and spitting tobacco. How very Wild West of him!
We also went wine tasting and glow-in-the-dark mini putting where I got THREE holes in one! Speaking of "That's What She Said", I taught my mom what that means over the break, too. When we were waiting for True Grit to start she noticed that my wallet was sticking out of my purse and asked, "Do you want me to help you put it in?" I started laughing, and asked my brother if it was OK if I said TWSS to my mom. I explained to her what it meant, and she tried to start using it, but she's still learning. Even during Christmas Eve dinner, she pointed at the roast beef and said to my sister, "Go ahead and lay some of that beef on here." My brother and I started laughing hysterically, but she's still a little slow with it. It'll be nice to chart her perverse progress.
We do all our celebrating on Christmas Eve, so Christmas Day we just hung out and I cooked our big dinner. I made a southern meal with a delicious turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, collared greens, cornbread stuffing and, for good luck in 2011, some black-eyed peas. It was delicious! Later, I made my own turkey stock for the first time, and it turned out pretty well, too.
On a serious note: there was obviously a hole in the family with my dad not being there, but he's chosen to pull away. We haven't really talked in a year, and I obviously want him to start a new life for himself, but it's out of our hands.
There's no easy way to transition out of that seriousness, except for three words: Indoor Gun Range.
Texas is a really interesting place. I can't think of another state that has as much pride and guns as they do. There is an indoor shooting range next to their Starbucks, in case you need to blow off some steam after getting overly-caffeinated. Also, the whole town shut down on Christmas. My brother and I drove around that morning just looking at how deserted it was. Everything was closed, except liquor stores and churches, of course.
I came back on Sunday evening, surprisingly. The East Coast was slammed by a blizzard, and my flight was the last one being let into Logan Airport. The landing was the scariest I've ever experienced, but the cab ride home was worse. I gave the driver a $10 tip for not killing me.
Thankfully, yesterday my office was closed, too. I got a bonus vacation day and hung out with some friends in my neighborhood.
Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely, stress-free holiday. It's been an interesting year for me, to say the least, and 2011 has a LOT of pressure on it to perform. Let's just hope those 5 black-eyed peas I managed to eat do the trick.

Friday, December 24, 2010

And By Cupcakes, I mean ...

As I mentioned below, my friends and I have a few different "catch phrases" we like to use on a regular basis to talk about feelings. My favorite is "And by cupcakes, I mean ..."
This summer I went to a Patriots Game with a friend of mine. We spent all afternoon tailgating and hanging out with her brother and his friends in the parking lot, waiting for her cousin to get there. Her brother's friends were terrible. (People are terrible.) One of them even made a bet for $50 with my friend that he could sleep with me within two months time. Classy. Spoiler alert: I did not sleep with him. I wasn't expecting much from her cousin when he finally arrived, but he was really pleasant, into beer, funny and a ginger. I love a ginger.
At the end of the night, we exchanged phone numbers and planned to hang out soon. We started texting a lot, sometimes for a few hours. I actually really don't like having text or phone relationships. I'd rather spend time in person, but the texting continued. He decided he was going to come to my birthday party and I said, "Great! There will be cupcakes there!" He took that and ran with it. He mentioned cupcakes every time we texted, through thinly-veiled innuendo.
One night, after drinking for a few hours (IMPORTANT DETAIL), my friends and I ended up out in Allston - where the dirty hipsters live in Boston. He also lives out there. So, my friends and I ate our second dinner of the night (I actually had to look at the menu online the next day to remember what I ate. Oof.) and I started texting him. Once again, he brought up the cupcakes. "Will there be cupcakes? :)"
At this point, I was so sick of the back and forth flirtiness, I responded with, "Yes, there will be. And by cupcakes, I mean boobs."
Surprisingly, I never heard from him again.

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Snow/Ugly Work Parking Lot

I'm on Shag Highway Heading West!

Tomorrow I leave for Texas to spend the deargoddon'tbeterrible holidays with my family. It's the first Christmas that my dad will not be in attendance, so we've decreased our chances of family combustion by a little bit. And, to make sure the holidays start off even more out of the red, I'm going to my friend Sarah's house tonight to watch the best holiday movie: Love Actually. We're also going to eat curries to make us feel more British, too. Merry Christmas!