Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Post O' the Year

Here we are. On the couch. Drinks in hand, potatoes on the boil, pajamas on.

The last hour of 2010, which was a great year.

A year in which I figured a lot of things out. In which Steinvic moved here and we set up house. In which we married and made a home. A year in which we began to figure out our lives and our life together.

Mick Jagger is prancing around on the television and it makes me wonder how he can be in such phenominal shape and I have the same 20-30 lbs to lose that I've been toting around for the last 10 years.

2011 is time to exercise and get healthy. I've already ditched smoking and continue with my nearly unprocessed food diet. But I'm not perfect yet. There is room for improvement.

There is room for reading. For writing. For more art. I am almost 40. If I'm going to do something, now is the time.

I was awake before Steinvic this morning, and watched the movie about Harvey Milk. He didn't start his advocacy until after his 40th birthday. While the story was profound and deeply sad (how did the movement lose momentum after all the hard seems like equality should have immediately followed!) it reminds me that a lot can be accomplished quickly if you've got direction.

I need direction. Am I an artist? A writer? What?

I am not setting goals, but I'm open to possibilities.

But first, I'm off to drain and mash potatoes...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Open Letter – Restroom Cell Phone Talkers

Dear Restroom Cell Phone Talkers –

I need a word with you.

I’m sure that at your house, your bathroom is your sanctuary. You can hang out in there, take a soak in the tub, read a novel on the potty, or surf the internet if you are fortunate enough to have something wireless and portable to sneak in there with you.

But our workplace is not your house. And our restroom is not your personal lounge. It is a place to – as privately as possible - seek relief, wash your hands (thoroughly, please), freshen up and move on.

You are not The Fonz.

Our workplace bathroom is not your "office."

So, why – oh, why – are you talking on your cell phone from that corner stall?

So often, you are guilty of the “sneak attack.” This is where you are already in the stall when I arrive and you're on the phone, but you’re in the listening part of your conversation, so I don’t know you’re talking to anyone. (Had I known you were on the phone, I seriously would have gone to a different bathroom on another floor if necessary.) Then suddenly, you start the talking part of your conversation. And, with technology being what it is, I can’t help but think that your talking must be backed up by the sound of tinkling.

I don’t really want my tinkles to be overheard by the friend with whom you’re bashing your ex-boyfriend, the receptionist from your doctor’s office who finally called your prescription in or the mechanic who fixed your car for an amount greater than what you’d agreed to pay. But more, I don’t understand why you’d want the person on the other end of the line to hear my tinkles, your own tinkles or any other Sounds of the Ladies’ Room.

It makes me wonder if you think that the person on the other end of the line isn’t on to you…that somehow, you don’t think they hear the echo-chamber-like effect of the bathroom or the tinkles or any of that. It makes me think that you think that they don’t know what’s up when you say, “Hold on,” set the phone down, pull off some toilet paper from the roll (pretty distinct sound there, Fonzie), and then FLUSH. Do you think they don’t know what they’ve just involuntarily witnessed? Surely, you didn’t ask their permission, “Say, Mr. Jones, I want to hear more about that lawn care special, but I’ve got to use the can. Want to come with me?”

This building is HUGE. We have break rooms, conference rooms and learning rooms that are soundproof. You are allowed to use them! But the fact is that you are either void of etiquette or just flat out too lazy to walk down the hall and you prefer to duck into the one place that is supposed to be reserved for a function that does not require telecommunicating.

Regardless of the reasoning behind your rudeness, I’m asking you to reconsider. Either that, or I may begin using your cubicle as a toilet while you aren’t there.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Recovery

We had a great Holiday. Steinvic and I celebrated on Christmas Eve – just us. We had cocktails at our local, a fabulous cheese & cracker and homemade soup feast at home, and then exchanged gifts and fell asleep on the couch during “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

We were lazy on Christmas Day until time to go to my folks, and Young Man and Girlfriend met us there. One of my (distant by logistics only) older cousins (she’s English, and 80 going on 50-something) was also there, and her love of music and sparkly personality kept the kids smiling. Young Man and my Mom bonded over their love for jazz records and made a date to get together to compare and share vinyl soon.

The kids, Steinvic and I all headed home and had our own Christmas there, sharing stories and joking in the kitchen while I made appetizers for the day after celebration at Steinvic’s sister’s home. Suddenly, we realized it was 1 a.m. and that would have been fine, save for the kids needing to get up and head for Columbus REALLY early (6 a.m.!) so everyone was off to bed.

I woke up early to make strong coffee in travel mugs and pack up some blueberry muffins for the kids' long, dark commute home, then slept a wee bit more and then we were up to get ready and drive to Columbus. A full house – all siblings and their kids – gathered around big, beautiful tables for an Italian feast, which was fantastic. Then lots of drinking and visiting and finally sleep.

Then back home yesterday…and we’re worn out, and both back to work today. I’ve managed to get some kind of goofy sore throat, watery eyes funk, probably from all the running around I’ve been doing. Seems like my body has a cut off for how long I am permitted to burn the candle at both ends, and then BOOM – hello, cold! Just need to shake it before next week…we’re headed out West for a belated honeymoon!

It’s time to load up on the B12, B6 and Vitamin C…and relax!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Christmas Tale

Here, we see a small penguin from my friends in front of roses from Steinvic...

Once upon a time, in a city not so far away from here (though it feels like a million miles away, or that it never happened at all), lived a groovy chick who found herself in a bad situation. It seemed that a horrible monster had taken over her castle and was slowly but surely destroying everything within it.

The groovy chick thought carefully and one day, with the help of her very brave parents, quickly packed everything she could and began to move away while the monster was out of the castle.

She packed her clothes, gathered some personal belongings and – at the last minute, as encouraged by her parents – brought along a very special, small, grey and black kitty (who was quite grateful to be escaping with the groovy chick.)

However, in her haste, the groovy chick could not take a lot of her most precious belongings. You see, there was no time…if the monster had returned to the castle during her escape, the brave parents, special kitty and the groovy chick ALL would have been in serious trouble.

So some things had to stay. Most of those things she didn’t care about because she imagined some day, she would buy things like furniture and artwork and dishes again. But other things…those she would grow to miss.

Her childhood Christmas ornaments – the ones she’d carefully made so long ago that her mother had saved for her until she had a home of her own – remained tucked carefully away in the upstairs crawlspace. The table runner, cookie jar and Christmas dishes from her only aunt stayed packed in tissue, stacked lovingly in plastic bins (she really loved her aunt, and cherished those matching decorations.) She left her bike. She left her Beatles scrapbook. She left.

She moved with her kitty to a new home. They bought a small tree. They bought some glittery things from the dollar store to make their home cheerful that first Holiday. It was sparse, but sentimental…and that became more important than anything.

A handsome Prince came into the picture, and over time, brought them love, happiness and some special decorations to help the cause. Years passed and he came to stay for good and had some of his own Christmas decorations to share.

And then, one fine Christmas weekday, the groovy chick met her dear friend and her dear friend’s lovely children for lunch. And the groovy chick was given MANY Holiday treats by the friend and children. So many beautiful, special, fun and handmade Christmas decorations that the chick thought her heart might burst with joy…and that her arm might fall off under the weight of the packages on her way to her car! The decorations would merge with those she’d begun collecting once again, and would make her home look and smell like the Holidays.

And as she drove away from the luncheon, she thought to herself, “Too much.” Her friend said she remembered how the groovy chick lost all of her ornaments long ago. And knowing that her friend cared made the groovy chick…well, some icicles dripped just a little on her face as she walked to the car. And she realized, this is how you really escape the monsters…by making happy memories with the people you care the most about. And she knew that all of her Christmases would be full of goodness from now on.

And the brave parents, handsome Prince, dear friend, lovely kids and groovy chick all lived their very blessed lives, happily ever after.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Es Ist Morgen

It's 8 a.m., and instead of being snuggled down, sleep-in style, I'm sitting in the living room...Young Man and Girlfriend snoozing downstairs, Steinvic slumbering upstairs. The Christmas tree lights are on, all of my favorite candles are glowing and I've got a batch of lemon-poppyseed muffins in the oven. I've got a small pan of water and mulling spices simmering on the stove to make the whole house smell heavenly. Except for the furnace kicking on ever so often, it's completely quiet.

This is a feeling that is, on one hand - foreign to me, and on the other - something I've embraced so naturally, you'd think I always had a family like this.

Yesterday afternoon, Young Man and Girlfriend arrived. We left early to go to the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. It officially doesn't start until 5 p.m., but the traffic to get there from here - way north of the city - is horrible. So, we left just after 3 p.m. and they let us in...we almost had the entire place to ourselves for the first hour. We bought hot chocolates with Baileys and a winter beer for Steinvic and made our way through the paths, lights already twinkling, feet freezing, but also ducking into any of the animal houses that were open to warm up and to see the beings inside.

You know, I just finished and posted this entire, beautiful post, complete with a photo and links and blogger kicked me off and deleted everything I wrote!! ARGH!

So, let's try again! Festival of Lights was fun and Young Man and I got to pet pygmy goats, and one had a tickle spot that I accidentally found, and it made us giggle to see him bobbing his head with glee. We encountered peacocks, and one of us - Steinvic, I think - noticed them up in the trees:

Because of Steinvic's smart planning, we left the Festival just as the temperature was dropping and everyone else was clamoring to get in.

We took the kids to Melt for dinner, which was very different from what Steinvic and I had pictured in our minds. It was not a sit down restaurant exactly...more you go in and order, they give you a funky table card (ours was Betty White, and I saw Nancy McKeon and Lavar Burton on the way back to our table) and bring your order out to you. We picked it because it had vegan and vegetarian options and Girlfriend is now a vegan. And while we were a little apprehensive, it turned out to be really good.

Steinvic had a barbeque chicken sandwich, Young Man had a three cheese melt, Girlfriend had a vegan melt...and while I'd never have imagined tofu and peanut butter on a sandwich together, I had the award winning Rothko Tofu sandwich which featured those two items plus ginger hoisin sauce, greens and red peppers on multigrain bread. It was great! In fact, Young Man finished mine, because it was extremely filling, and then proceeded to finish Steinvic's sandwich, too. (He is a growing boy.)

We left there, pleasantly surprised and headed to Shake It Records - perfect spot if you like an intellectual, hipster, alterna-post punk environment. Young Man found a few jazz records to take home and we all enjoyed looking at the hard-to-find records and magazines lining the walls and shelves.

Then home for drinks and comfy pants and vegan soup making (I whipped up a GREAT pot of vegan potato soup that I'd been mathing out in my head all week and Holy is good!) and television watching and visiting.

It was a great night. And Steinvic is up now, so I'm off to make tea and coffee for us...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow + Tweaked Back = Grrrr

And now, a musical interlude to illustrate my morning. Feel free to sing along:

Stupid Snow
(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Dashing through the snow
Because I have to work.
We are having a snow storm.
People are driving like jerks!

The snow is packed real firm
On the highways now,
It’s going to be a royal bitch
To get home without a plow!

Stupid snow!
Stupid Snow!
Snow sucks really bad!
Oh, how much I wish for sun
That SUV just made me mad, oh
Stupid snow!
Stupid snow!
Snow sucks really bad!
I hope I will survive this drive -
This is really sad.

So, we’re having a little snow here in Ohio today. And it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Steinvic is working hard from home today, but I needed to come in to do something that had to be done in person. It took me an hour to go about 8 miles. I basically rolled here.

But I’m safe, warm, dry and getting things done.

Somehow, I tweaked my back last week and have been dealing with it ever since. Yesterday was the best day so far and I felt like I was at about 93%, so of course I did things I shouldn’t have last night (vacuuming, mopping, carrying big things, crafting hunched over) and now, I’m sitting here like a dork with a heating pad draped across my back again. It helps, but man, I’ve got THINGS to do and don’t have time to be ailing! Steinvic has taken on the additional role of masseuse, which I appreciate, but I know I will need to go to the doctor soon to get help if this doesn’t stop. It just flat out hurts…the kind of hurt where all the sudden you’re like, “I’m clenching my jaw because I’m in pain…I didn’t even realize it!” and then you try to shake it all off, take more Aleve and crank up the heating pad.

Other than a tweaked back, and non-stop snow, life is good…really! It is. I just need a snow plow and a chiropractor today...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is It Really Inclusive?

Did you ever see that episode of Seinfeld, where Elaine and Jerry and George decide that instead of saying “G*d bless you!” when someone sneezed, they would instead say, “You are soooo good looking!”?

It’s a great episode (aren’t they all?) and it’s also a nice reminder that what some of us find comforting, others are offended by.

But when is being considerate taking things too far? And at the same time, when is being offended an excuse to be hyper sensitive and to just have something to gripe about?

Christmas seems to bring out the sensitivity in all of us. I was raised Unitarian, and while I don’t really consider myself a Unitarian now (Belief-O-Matic says I’m a Quaker…go figure), one nice thing I took from that upbringing was a respect for other religions. I’m pretty darn tolerant, unless someone is cramming their beliefs – whatever they may be – down my gullet, and then I become a bit of a B.

In college, there was a very tight group of students who attended a nearby church and they were out to recruit as many members as possible. While skipping class and sunning myself on the lawn behind McMicken, my sunshine was suddenly eclipsed by a few of these students. I squintily looked up at their silhouettes and raised my head from my backpack which was doubling as a pillow.

“Can I help you?” I asked, shielding my eyes.

“Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” the girl silhouette asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“Do you have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?” the boy asked.

Now I’m getting up. Something about talking about Jesus while reclining with my jeans shorts rolled up extra high and my midriff showing for optimum tanning made me kind of uncomfortable. I unrolled, adjusted my tee shirt and brushed the grass from my butt. “Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus? Is that what you’re asking me?”

“Yes. Because we’re from the…”

“I know where you’re from,” I interrupted. My face was hot and it wasn’t from the sunburn I was working on. “Didn’t you just ask me about a personal relationship…operative word being personal?”

“If you’re a BELIEVER, then you should be proud to say yes,” the boy said, extending a pamphlet toward me.

“It’s really none of your business what my beliefs are. What kind of underwear are you wearing? Boxers? Briefs?”

I have never seen two people zip away so quickly. And I didn’t notice that anyone was listening to our conversation until about a half dozen of my fellow sunbathers began applauding.

So, I do get it. But there is a big difference, at least in my happy logic, between impeding on someone’s privacy or religion and putting up a tree.

I am all about sensitivity and consideration, but I just don’t understand how a lighted, decorated tree is offensive. We have a ginormous one at my workplace and I honestly don’t think of anything religious when I see it. I just think, “How pretty…” And then as soon as January 1 hits, I think, “Good gosh, let’s take all this Holiday stuff DOWN!” because I’m completely over it (as well as the snow and cold) once the festivities have officially passed.

Steinvic and I were watching something on the History Channel or the Discovery Channel or some other brainy channel over the snowy weekend and it was all about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. And then there was a show right after that featured former American citizens who had defected and joined terrorist organizations, now hating America and all it stands for, as well as Christianity.

It boggles my tangled little brain because while I certainly have my hot buttons and convictions, unless someone’s religious beliefs include killing or hurting sentient beings for pleasure, I don’t know how anyone can get ticked off about how someone else chooses to worship. It’s a personal belief. Keep it personal! Or discuss it civilly, just because it's interesting to share ideas and hear other viewpoints, peacfully. (Some of the comments after the article are perfect.) And let others keep their beliefs personal. And then everyone can be personal and personable and we can all get along because we’re not impeding on anybody.

I guess it’s a mixed message to be careful but also lighten up…and maybe have some egg nog or peppermint hot chocolate with Bailey’s (or ice water or whatever your drink of choice is) and appreciate the lights, whatever they mean to you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

No Babies

Two things happen when you’re a woman and you get married, and it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re 24 or 40. The first is that suddenly, everyone expects you to reproduce.

The second is that everyone loses their manners and openly asks you pretty direct questions about it, like, “When are you and Steinvic going to have a baby?”

If someone knows us well and asks us this, I don’t mind so much. I know that when family members ask, it’s because they love us and they all have kids and they think it would be super-cool-neato-mosquito for us to share the experience.

However, they momentarily forget that Steinvic and I are not young (we aren’t old, either, but for our comfort, a little too old to start our own family) and that Steinvic already has a wonderful son, Young Man.

So, those are the answers we give to the questioners. “We have a baby! He just happens to be 20 years old with a beard!” or “Nope, we don’t want to be the only 60 and 70 year old parents at graduation.” (Please note: I am not criticizing my fine 40 & up friends who choose to have children now. This is our personal preference for our lifestyle.)

However, if I’m honest, since getting married, a third thing has also happened: all of the well-rehearsed, sincere responses to the “when are you having babies?” questions have finally sunk in.

I actually now realize that I am not having children of my own.

I’m ok with this for many reasons. I’m not selfish, but I LOVE my free time and have no idea how I’d ever get away with simultaneously painting my toenails, watching girl stuff on TV and creating something artful between toe polish coats like I do now if I were a mother. (Of course I wash my hands after touching my toes – c’mon! I would not create art or anything else with feety hands.) I also know that I would be a complete wreck every time my child was not in my sight and I can’t imagine how edgy that would make me. I might be the kind of mom who got too involved. I might be too strict and expect too much of my child, or perhaps I’d be too permissive – either doing the same or exact opposite of my own upbringing. I might be a complete, psycho mess. I sometimes kid Steinvic, saying I’d be a crap mom, but what I’m really saying is that I don’t know if I could deal with the emotional challenges and major responsibilities of being a parent. I don’t think I’d abandon a child – even though it runs in my family – but I might do something worse for my child, like stay. (I know that sounds odd, but some people should not be parents.)

Not to mention that physically, I likely can’t have kids. (Which, by the way, is another one of the questions that near strangers ask that I really can’t believe: “What’s wrong?! Can’t you have kids?” with no pause or sensitivity whatsoever.) Since surgery, I’ve had about four years to get that through my head, even though I know that with the miracles of science or adoption, I might still have been able.

So, while I know that I’m not having babies, and I am logically fine with that and emotionally very happy to have Young Man in my life, it is bothering me, ever so slightly.

What has dawned on me recently is that I am realizing just what I’m missing. And maybe it isn’t marriage that has triggered it, but more things going on around me. That a good friend of mine – just my age – recently had a baby and plans to have another this year. Or that J’s kids are so wonderful and creative, with such great personalities…they really give her purpose and happiness. Or the way that Young Man looks at Steinvic sometimes. I see it and it goes straight through me – he really, really loves his Dad.

I will never know what it is like to love and be loved by someone who is part me and I won't have the chance to raise a person who could go into the world to experience life and love and do meaningful things. And I guess that realization is what is giving me a little pause.

But I’m okay. I realize that chapter is finished and for now, I think I’ll put a place marker there and set the book aside for a little while. Just long enough to rest my eyes. And then I can think about it again and about what I might do instead of parenting that could fill those pages.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let it Snow...

It's Saturday. We're in our pjs, sitting on the couch. We've had brunch, watched some shows, done a little Christmas shopping online. Laundry whirs in the background. Whatever ball game Steinvic wants to watch on TV is in the foreground.

And it's snowing.

It keeps on coming, even though they said just 1-3 inches today.

And we don't care. We're safe and sound. We took yesterday off and during the day, did our grocery shopping. Our bar is stocked. I'm getting ready to start a pot of soup. Then we'll undecorate our tree and redecorate it, as a strip of lights has quit working and can't be repaired. (small tree...not such a big deal to undo and redo.)

And we'll just be here today. Here and warm and out of the weather...