Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “holidays

I Literally Make Life Decisions Because of Christmas’s Commercialism

I received a great suggestion a couple of weeks ago. The short version is, “you should start blogging again because you need an outlet for all that shit you keep bottled inside.” The medium version is that a lot of our career coaching at my school seems to be therapy in disguise, and the professor assigned to this particular group saw me, felt that I felt invisible, and was doing her very best to give me even one useful suggestion for how to cope. I will keep the long version to myself for now.

The last couple of months specifically and last year in generally have been a period of upheaval in my life. According to all my social media feeds, almost everyone feels this way. There’s a lot I could dig into there, but instead, I’m going to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly in the last few days.

I live in Belgium y’all. I won’t live here permanently, I’m not about become anyone’s expat, especially not here. But I feel so good about my decision to come here and get my MBA. My class is very international. There are 42 students from 20 countries. Something that comes up a lot is the reason that each of us decided to come here.

My answer feels a bit silly sometimes, but I value honesty over appearing to be a very serious person. So here’s the reason I decided to uproot my life and move across a whole ocean:


A trip to Paris for New Year’s with my husband at the end of 2016 included a trip right after the new year to Brussels. Purely because of it’s proximity and affordability, we found ourselves in Brussels. And when you are in Brussels, you find yourself in Grand Place. When I walked into the area pictured above, I fell in love.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to everyone who reads it, but energy matters to me. It matter to me for people, places, and things. And the energy of Grand Place appealed to me. And it didn’t hurt that it was still gussied up from Christmas 2016. When I was 6 or so years old, I picked out a bedroom set based on the red & green decorative pillows they added because it was December. Yeah, I’m that chick, and have been my whole life. I was already considering trying to come to Europe for a 12, 15, or 18 month MBA program. But I came back from Brussels and googled “MBA programs in Brussels.”

Once I researched my school, I realized it would be a really good fit and it was the only school I applied to. I was happy to pack up my shit and move to another country, but made sure to leave roots behind in New York for when I’m done.

Christmas is here again, and I went to Grand Place, as you do when you’re in Belgium. They have the tree up again, and I was eager to get a look at it with all decorations in place. It was a bit underwhelming in the daylight, but when I went back the next night, it was better.

It was a really nice moment for me. Standing in Grand Place in early 2017, this new seed of a dream felt near impossible to make happen. And perhaps the huge upheaval of the last year made it more possible, but it didn’t change the fact that it felt huge every step of the way. So when I was standing there in late 2018, I felt really proud of myself.

I made one of my dreams come true. 2018 has been a year of doing a lot for just me, which is something I might be a bit rusty at. I’m still figuring out how to balance all of the things that matter to me. But it was really nice to take this moment and just feel pride and happiness. Christmas is my jam, and I’m excited for getting to spend this Christmas here, even if I have to deal with Zwarte Piet. I might have to do a whole other post about that shit… But for now, let’s just focus on the happy dreams-coming-true, actively-pursuing-my-goals thing for now, okay?

I’m Gonna Say Christmas Was A Quiet Success

I’m wrapping things up at work now, and my excitement is increasing. As is my tiredness. I’m tired y’all.

I ended up staying up late Sunday night to finish packing and then adding all my clothes into this new closet app thing I’m trying on my phone. It is time consuming to photograph all your clothes, but guess who doesn’t mind lack of sleep, and really doesn’t mind not leaving her clothes overseas accidentally? That would be me!

I was unable to do maintenance on my locs Saturday like I’d planned, so that fell to last night’s intinerary. Staying up to almost 3am two nights in a row when your alarm goes off at 5:10am is just plain silly.

But I did it. And as a result, I’m all packed for my trip, my hair looks neat and well kept, and Starbucks makes coffee to keep one awake. Well, the Starbucks isn’t a result of my poor time management, but my consumption of large amounts of Starbucks is.

I’m excited for the next week or so, but I’m also really pleased with how the Christmas holiday went.

After work on Friday, Chris and I headed to a friend’s birthday party then to Smalls, just like we’d planned. As a result of tiredness and terrible waitressing at the first bar, the only picture I have is the obligatory picture of Sara and me that I almost always take when we’re hanging.


When we got to Smalls, it seemed that almost the entirety of the birthday party crew had gone over there. We definitely wouldn’t put the club over capacity. Smalls charges a cover to get in, but for musicians (and their wives, cough, cough), they usually let them in. Smalls works hard to foster that homey environment for the musicians and their people.

I say all of that to say that there was no way in hell Smalls was letting in all those people for free. I’m still not sure how they worked it out, but I was cold and there was room inside for me and Sara (and Chris). Everyone else came in a few minutes after that, so I figure they worked it out and the 12+ people on that bar crawl ish paid the cover to get in.

By the time they got in there, I had my customary I’ve-been-up-since-5am-and-will-be-up-until-damn-near-5am drink: Strong, fresh coffee with Bailey’s and Bulleit Rye Whiskey. My girl Marjie, the amazing manager (and aerial yoga buddy) who was working the bar, always hooks me up. She makes it just right so it needs no sugar, and she good-naturedly fights me on the tip. The only time I couldn’t make her take her money was when we were there on my birthday, but little does she know I just gave it to my friend JS to give to her instead, ha!

The band was amazing, as usual. I listen to my own friends and their bands so much that it’s always nice when I get to the club early and can hear whoever is playing the set in front of theirs. I ended up making nice with a sweet girl who lived up the street from the club. She kept requesting a blues with such gusto. It amused me and irritated Chris, but eventually someone called it for the jam session. I stepped outside with her while she smoked (ew, smoking), and took a pretty cool picture of the entrance to Smalls. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many times the name of the club is written on/above the door.


The night ended after 4am, as it always does. We got home and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning, finally checked my mail, and saw that Sara’s Christmas gift for me had indeed arrived like Etsy told her it had.

This tank is hilarious and will be put to good use as soon as we’re back from Europe in the New Year.


The night of Christmas Eve, we went to a party for my friend Michael from college. He looks amazing, all slim and toned. He was always handsome, but damn if he’s not aging well. We did the math and realized we met over 13 years ago. We drank more egg nog shooters and stopped talking about that, lol.


We stayed at this party All. Night. Long. We were laughing and drinking and talking and playing games. Chris and I had some friends nearby who checked in our activity for the night. Michael was down for the-more-the-merrier, so we invited them over and it went from a small gathering of family and friends to a ruckus house party situation. I hope he has more parties like that in the future.

I almost forgot to take a picture with Chris, but then I remembered. I’ve greatly improved my selfie game from back when I almost always cut half my face out of the picture. But the other party guests didn’t know that. So when I raised the camera back towards us, flash ready, someone offered to help take the picture.

Apparently, without breaking my smile, I brusquely said no, and because I’d already pressed the button before he spoke, the camera flashed immediately after. Everyone found this amusing if caustic. It took them awhile to explain to me why it came across that way. I guess they didn’t know I’d already pressed the camera button, so there was no rapid fire No-Smile-Click that they perceived.

Chris was cracking up the second the word no came out my mouth, as you can see below. I’m clearly drunk, as evidenced by my big ass smile. And my lipstick is also staining his lips, lol.


Christmas was a very very lowkey day for us. So lowkey that at no point did we leave the house and no point did we put on pants. I happily watched The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 while cooking dinner and lunch. The only thing I photographed all day was the shrimp wraps I made for lunch, go figure.


I squeezed a lot into just a few days because I was on a time crunch. The only real fail was David taking forever to get home from the airport last night after spending Christmas with his family. Even with staying up to finish my hair, I couldn’t stay up as late as necessary to watch the Sense8 holiday special with him. He says he’ll wait for me and we can watch it when I get back. I hope he doesn’t leave me behind like he did when it came to watching Supergirl.

Seeing as how we have over a week in Europe, I’m hoping it can be as eventful, but also more restful. Wish me a safe flight y’all, my plane takes off in 6 hours!

So Says My Husband: “Christmas Is Saved!”

We decorated our tree! We have a pitifully small number of ornaments on it (first world problems, amiright?), but it’s up and lit. Not lit, like a great party, but alight, lol.

I put a picture up on Instagram where it was pointed out that our tree was on a lean. I would like to clarify that it’s NOT leaning. Chris did a great job at getting the tree set up. It’s very much upright… It just didn’t grow evenly on all sides.

I’ve yet to be responsible, at any point in my life, for picking out a Christmas tree. But I imagine if I did, I would walk around the entirety of the tree, checking it out from multiple angles, making sure it was as even as could be.

But like I said, I haven’t ever had to go buy a tree. So what the hell do I know about what tree options are available? A whole bunch of nothing, that’s what.

All I know is I love our tree. This is our 7th Christmas together, but it’s the first time we’ve decorated a tree together. Both of us have memories of decorating the tree with our fathers (parents, but mostly our dads), and it’s nice to make these new memories together.

Weird how one tree can make me feel like Christmas is saved, huh?

After an hour at Target yesterday, we are back on track. A failed trip to Home Depot will henceforth be known as “That Time Chris Almost Ruined Christmas, But He Didn’t, So It’s Fine, So Get Over It, It’s Fine.” That’s all I’m saying about that.

Last night I cooked half a dinner at our friend Corey’s house, the other half provided by leftovers from Merry Black Christmas. Shout out to Allyson for delicious food she’s always cooking. We drank–wait for it–watermelon double IPA beer. That 10% and lovely bitterness and low low price made the watermelon worth it. It was a like a summer-themed Blue Moon. I wouldn’t recommend it.

But we were soon drunk adjacent and happily enjoying roasted chicken breast with mushroom gravy, green beans, butter-dipped artichoke, cornbread, and macaroni & cheese. We flipped back and forth between Last Holiday and whatever football game was on. Chris and I decorated the tree when we got back home. To me, it felt like the official start of our holiday celebrations.

Tonight, we’ve got a birthday hang that will span a bar I’ve never been to and a jazz club I go to all the time. It’s our friend Deadria’s farewell to her twenties. Corey has his regular jam session he leads at Smalls Jazz Club, and as usual, if we’re out, that’s where we’re ending the night.

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get some packing done for our upcoming trip, then we have a Christmas Eve party to go to being thrown by my friend Michael from college who lives nearby in Brooklyn.

Christmas will be a quiet day with just me and Chris (for now, lol). We’re going to see Fences in theaters. It’s not a movie unless Viola Davis is crying out her nose. I’m cooking us a tasty simple meal.

On Boxing Day, I’ll be at work, and when I get home, I’m going to watch the Sense8 Holiday Special on Netflix with my best friend David. It’s one of the shows we try and watch together even though we don’t live in the same state. Go technology. We both love Christmas, and it’s really cool that the first episode of season two is doubling as a Christmas special. I’m also working on the 27th. But I’m leaving work early on Tuesday, heading home to get my packed bag and my husband, then we’re headed to the airport.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was over everything. But now I’m back on track. I’m excited for the next two weeks, like really excited. Not sure-to-be-disappointed-because-reality-can’t-live-up excited. More like who-knows-what-each-day-will-bring-so-bring-it-on excited.

Now for your visual enjoyment, my Tannenbaum and other Christmas accoutrement (when it’s singular, it’s without the s, right?):

I know it looks like it's leaning, but I swear it's not!

I know it looks like it’s leaning, but I swear it’s not! The more I look at this tree, I’m thinking, “is it really that great?” But then I’m like, “of course it is, that tree is adorable, and anyone who disagrees is blind to the truth.” So dramatic, I know, whatever.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don't use it to pull down the tree.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don’t use it to pull down the tree.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth. Also, we clearly need to sweep up the needles that got sacrificed on the altar of artificial lights.

So... this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I'd pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

So… this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I’d pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

You’re welcome. 😉


Still Got Time To Get The Holidays Right, Or At Least Better Than What I’ve Been Doing So Far

There’s a medium sized chance that I’m getting Christmas, and life, back on track.

We actually got a tree yesterday. And by we, I mean, my husband went and got one before he had to be at school while I was at work. That poor little tree is still undecorated.

We still have a couple of days to make it happen though.

The cats are once again welcoming of the tree. They play with each other around it, drink from the tree water (which leads to vomiting, but you try and stop them), and pose in very photogenic ways around it.

The plan is to somehow magically find time to go buy lights for the tree, and maybe a couple of ornaments. We have a few. I bought Starbucks cup ornaments on a whim a couple of years ago, and there’s something made of glass that I don’t remember getting, so Chris must be responsible for those.

I think that will be the full extent of the Christmas decorating. If we’re in New York for Christmas next year, maybe we’ll build on that.

The main reason not to do too much is that we’re going to Paris for New Year’s! I’m super excited. I finally finalized our travel arrangements and accommodations today. I know, I know, cutting it kinda close there. But it’s done.

I’m hoping to change up our travel style a bit. We have a habit of doing a whole bunch of nothing when we travel. To be clear, I say that with extreme prejudicial fondness. My favorite thing to do on a day off is nothing. Chilling out, making sure I don’t tire myself out, and making grand efforts only to eat.

But I’ve been inspired by the travels of those close to me. They leave their rooms each day, exploring everything they can walk or ride or boat to, taking amazing pictures every step of the way. I’ve decided I wanna be more like that.

With any luck, our days will be spent exploring the city on foot, stopping at museums, shops, galleries, pubs, and cafes. Our evenings will be filled with good food and live music. And then we’ll do it all again the next day.

The leisurely nature of exploring and being spontaneous appeals to me more than making an itinerary just to see all I want to see it. I’m gonna have this attitude: If I see it, great. If I don’t, then that’s just a reason to come back again one day.

Wish me luck that when it’s time to put on pants, I actually get off my ass and seize the day.

And wish me luck that the French speakers in Paris and the French and Dutch speakers in Brussels are kind to us. Did I mention we’re going to Brussels too? Only took me 32 years to take a trip to Europe, trying to squeeze as much out of it as I can.

Christmas Fail and Harry Potter Praise

So we didn’t get the tree. I wish I could say I was surprised. In a stunning group effort, my husband Chris did not get the addresses for people he wanted to mail cards to, and I didn’t even purchase the cards had we had somewhere to send them. We are not good at Christmasing, y’all.

There’s a lot more I want to say, but I’m still finding the line for how personal I want this blog to be. Instead, I’ll completely switch topics.

Any Harry Potter fans out there?

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve never been to Europe before, but I’m going next fall to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in West End. Or is it on West End? I would say I was seeing a play on Broadway, not in Broadway. Is is the same for West End in London? Somebody help me please.

Anyway, being the huge Harry Potter fan that I am, I am so excited to get to see it in person in London before they bring it to Broadway in 2018.

Does anyone remember when Michael Jackson died? I do because it was June 25th, the 5th anniversary of the day my boyfriend from freshman year of college died. I bring him up because I remember how upset I was when his This Is It tour was announced to be NOT coming to America.

At the time, I couldn’t wrap my head around travelling to Europe for just a concert. Well, that tour never happened, and Michael currently tops my list of entertainers I regret not having had the chance to see perform live when I had the chance. Luther Vandross is a close second.

I know that ever had I purchased tickets to the concert, obviously I still wouldn’t have seen him. But just accepting the lost opportunity had an impact on me. I promised myself that if it were in my means, I would never miss another important (to me) culture event if I could help it.

That’s why I waited 15 hours in an online queue to get tickets to see the Harry Potter play.

Why did I bring up Harry Potter? Well, I’ve just finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

LEAVE NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS, and now a random picture to fill up some space you don’t accidentally read what I’ve got to say on the matter.


That’s me and my friend Corey, both very liquored up, at my favorite NYC jazz club: Smalls Jazz Club.

Back to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Albus Severus Dumbledore is such a fuck up.

And Voldemort plus Bellatrix?? Ew. And her husband was fine with it? Double ew.

And all those magical effects? I can tell you there won’t be many high school play productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. *smirks*

The people who said it was hard to follow because it was a stage play? Bullshit, y’all folks don’t have imagination. Almost every set was one from the books (and movies), use your imagination, or if you don’t have enough of that, use your memory! You know what Godric’s Hollow looks like. You know what the edge of the Forbidden Forest looks like. You know what Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom looks like. Come on y’all.

The British are bracingly realistic. The resolution of the relationship between Harry and Albus (both of them, come to think of it), was so messy. Messy, messy, messy. Just like real life. I suppose that’s why so many people, myself included, deeply love these characters. They’re so freaking real.

I’m so excited to see this play. Reading through all the books in a row has perfectly prepped me for watching all the movies in a row. Then it’ll be back to the books, likely next summer, before I go see that play.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them SIDENOTE.

Yoooooooooooo! When they revealed Grindelwald, I was like whaaaaaaaaaa?!?!?!?

I’m so excited about the actor they’ve cast for Grindelwald. I’m really pleased with the choice. Because of Pottermore, my perception of Grindelwald is a flamboyant genius, whose charm belies his true intentions, and they’ve chosen perfectly to fit my vision of him.

Knowing that this story ends in 1945, presumably with the big duel between Grindelwald and Dumbledore, well, I’m so excited for, let’s say 8 years from now, when they finally put out the fifth movie. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll do a movie a year, but I just don’t think that’s very likely. It took 10 years to put out 8 movies for the regular series, and those characters only aged 6-7 years (depending on their birth date). These characters are covering 20-ish years. Oh the possibilities…

Harry Potter is a wonderful distraction from everyday life.

I’ve just acquired a 2009 edition of Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. If you’re up your Harry Potter canon, you know this version of the book (originally published in 2001) is no longer canon. They have recently released the screenplay, which is still not the correct version of the book, though it is with the movie series. The correct version of the Hogwarts textbook will be released in March of 2017.

Lots of chances to give J.K. Rowling all our money!

I’ll certainly be giving her mine. I’ll own the Kindle or physical copy of all her books, even the Pottermore books, which are just gathered assorted writings about the wizarding world. Let’s just be happy I haven’t gone off the deep end and purchased full blown Quidditch robes, lol.

Anyone who’s still reading care to share their favorite escape? Some other escape options for me include: Leverage (TV Series), The Sims 4, and all the DC Comics and Marvel Comics TV shows on Netflix, ABC and the CW.

The Holidays Are Upon Us… Yay…

I’m a known shopaholic. But shopping for Christmas gifts isn’t bringing me the usual joy. I think I’m just so ready for 2016 to be over.

Chris and I are supposed to go shopping for a Christmas tree tomorrow… yay.

I want to be excited, but I’m not. I’m just thinking about how I hope it doesn’t rain like it did last night. And I’m thinking about how this is our 7th Christmas, and we’ve never actually decorated a Christmas tree so we have to go to Target and get Christmas decorations. Right now the only decorations we have are Christmas stockings that we never took down from 2 Christmases ago and a Nutcracker doll I bought at Duane Reade that has basically become part of our permanent home decor.

Oh, and there are the Christmas cards Chris wants to send. We suck at sending cards. We never send birthday cards, we never sent thank you cards after our wedding (even though I hand wrote every single card by my damn self), but somehow he thinks we’ll send holiday cards this year. We’ll see…

Can y’all tell I’m not really in the holiday spirit?

It’s not really true though. Normally, I love this time of year. I love me some Christmas and Kwanzaa, and I really love me some New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

I am all about holiday music. For the last few days, I’ve been listening to my holiday playlist on my phone. Playlist is an inaccurate term because it’s really all my holiday music, but the genres are labelled weird in Amazon Music, so I had to manually put them all together.

As I’m typing this, I’m at work. I just changed my desktop background to one of the holiday options that Microsoft has available online. I keep staring deeply into the photos as they come up; I’ve got it set to change every 60 seconds. Two of my co-workers were just chuckling at just how deeply I was staring.

I feel like I’m looking for joy where there’s none to be found. I really really really want to be excited for Christmas and this holiday season. But I feel separated from the excitement, like I’m wearing fancy winter gloves meant to be used with a touchscreen smartphone. It’s like I can still use my phone and keep protected from  the cold, but my interactions with the phone are more difficult, blunted somehow.

I’ve been reading through the Harry Potter books again, prepping myself to finally read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This story seems darker to me than ever before. All the evil wizards, even the ones who aren’t dark (read: Dolores Umbridge), are just a bit much to take. And all the loss is making me tear up. I’m a highly emotional person, but not really prone to tears. But Dumbledore dying, Mad Eye Moody dying, Harry breaking up with Ginny, these really got to me on this read through.

I suppose that’s to be expected when you feel close to tears all day long though, right?

At least there are a few things that make me smile no matter what:

  1. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by NSYNC
  2. The Sims 4 (I just finished decorating the Epsteins’ house for Hannukah, that will mean something to you if you read my SimLit blog)
  3. Hand-written notes, like this one from one of my favorite coworkers


I’ll keep looking for things that can make me smile, since smiles are so hard to come by these days. Anyone got any suggestions?

Stop Asking Me if I’m A Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers! And people who are acting mothers! And people who have a deep attachment to their pets!

In spite of the title of this post, I don’t mind when people ask if I’m a mother. It’s the follow up questions after that that usually piss me off.

“Are you a mother?”


“Well, why not? Don’t you want kids? How old are you? Shouldn’t you be a mother by now?”

It takes all of my self-control not to snap when this happens. Full disclosure, I have snapped on a few people, but mostly I keep my angry responses to myself.

But to the point of I want to snap:

  1. Why the fuck is it your business why I don’t have children?
  2. I could have fertility issues and the assumptions could be breaking my heart.
  3. If we were close enough, you’d already know the answer to that question, and Mother’s Day is not the appropriate time to ask.
  4. I don’t want kids, why is that up for judgement?

When I calmly (or not-so-calmly) explain why I have no desire to be a mother, I get looks of either confusion, judgement, or pity.

The confusion confuses me. Do some people really know no women except me who are willing to stand up say, “at this point in my life, I have no desire to be a mother.”?

The judgement pisses me off because I am horrified to think of that person doing the same thing to a woman who’s only child was murdered. Or who has had multiple miscarriages. Or who is infertile. Or who also just doesn’t want kids but is emotionally affected by the judgement of strangers.

And the pity saddens me. There is so much is this world to feel badly about: climate change, poverty, childhood obesity, refugee safety, people constantly doing harm to the world in their god’s name. Being sad for me just seems like a waste of time and energy.

Knowing me, I will likely wake up one day and decide I must have children. As it stands right now, if I had a 2 bedroom apartment, I’d be filling out an application to be a foster mom. But raising a child from start to finish it outside of what I want right now.

I’ll just be happy with my own mom. And my grandmother. And my mother-in-law. And my godmother. And all the other women in my life who are like second mothers to me.

So feel free to ask me if I’m a mother, just keep the follow up questions to yourself. Thanks!

Starting Off 2016, I’m Still Me!

Happy New Year!!!

I’ve got no resolutions, just more of continuing to be myself. As my husband Chris says during every conversation we’ve had for the last 48 hours, 2015 was a year of big changes. He’s all about reflection. And speeches. And other people listening to his reflective speeches.

For Christmas, we were in Chicago with our families.

planeMy mother and his mother combined the Savage and McBride Christmases and we filled up my parents’ new house. I didn’t think we could fill up their big ass house, but we did it. And because Chris is Chris, he had to give a speech prior to grace. It was heartfelt and wonderful and made everyone go awwwwwww.


We were in Chicago forever, almost 2 weeks (is that hyperbole? Literary purists, help me out!). That meant lots of time for other activities. There were several dinner parties, a slumber party, a couple of date nights, Chris had a gig, and there was lots of sleeping late.

bullsnets3 bullsnets2 bullsnets1

I was, however, bamboozled! I was told we’d need to help move my grandmother into my parents’ house on moving day. but I spent hours at her house the first day. Then there were more hours at her house the next day. Then there were more hours at her house the next week.

What is family for if not to help you move, literally, piece by piece? She had 30 years of stuff to sort into keep, garbage, and giveaway piles. That took a lot of hands and a lot of time.


I’m pretty sure my mother purposely undersold the time commitment. She knows that I would’ve had no problem saying no ahead of time, but that there was no way I’d say no when the rest of the family was headed over to do hard work. I just can’t not help people (sorry literary purists whose attention I’ve specifically requested), not when it’s so obvious my help would make things go better for everyone.

There is one caveat, I can’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of. And my parents never make me feel that way. So it was settled, I got easily pimped out for manual labor on the big move to get my grandmother to my parents’ house.

Then there was waiting for the delivery of Christmas presents. I just bought everything online and had it shipped there rather than bring all those gifts with us. See the start and ending pics. Shit got real. That chair got added to my room when I salvaged it from the give away pile at my grandmother’s house.

presents 2 presents

There was also a funeral. The last of my great-grandmother’s siblings died. She was #16 of 16. It’s crazy to think that entire generation is now gone. I went to the funeral with my parents, and as much as the circumstances weren’t great, I was really happy to see so many family members from that branch of the family tree. After we left her burial, my daddy and I visited my Papa’s grave, who’s funeral I went to the last time I was in Chicago.

papa's grave

So after all the holiday parties, a new tattoo (more on that later), and hanging with friends I only see when in Chicago (if that often)…

paint & drink momma tattoo martinis

…it was time for New Year’s Eve!

I spent the holiday in St. Louis with my best friend David. We went to a nice dinner then a party at Ballpark Village. That party was so much fun and that DJ was everything. He was mixing songs based on: tempo, key, genre, lyrics, and theme. That’s right, lyrics and theme! Who does that?

Our tickets got us in all the 327 bars inside the village (more hyperbole! (I think…)), free drinks until midnight, free champagne toast at midnight, and endless dancing. We shut that party down like we have shut down several parties over the years.

me and david

My fancy sparkly shoes made it through the night, but barely got me back to my hotel. What should’ve been a 5 minute walk took almost 15! I wish I could blame it on being drunk, but I was happy champagne drunk, not old-school falling down vodka-and-tequila drunk. Nope, it was just a lot of dancing on concrete floors.

sparkly shoes

I got back to New York last night, and I was of course greeted by the cats who were looking at me like I was the biggest traitor for leaving them for so long. Our friend who lives around the corner watered, fed, and cleaned for the cats. So they were fine, they just have so much personality, so they had to let me know everything they were feeling.

Belle Jan 2016 2 Belle Jan 2016

I ended 2015 exactly the way I wanted to. I’m looking forward to 2016 being a great year. I’ve got hopes for this year, but there are some specific things I’d like to see happen:

  • Chris graduate from grad school
  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast
  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable
  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

Let me reiterate that those are not resolutions, but more of a way to focus my view of the year. It’s gonna be a great year! Did I say that already?

I Hold In My Hand

An Easter Egg

-Easter was fun this year. My brother’s birthday fell on the day, as it does every handful of years. Making a birthday dinner fitting his tastes while also making our typical Easter food was a fun challenge. Before dinner was a great church service. I had a meeting at work in the morning before church, so I was on time to church for the first time in months. Perhaps if I went to church seven days a week, I’d actually leave work at a reasonable hour.

The praise team and the choir were pretty good. The new drummer at the church does not like to let a song end. He isn’t entirely new, but I work a lot of Sundays, so he’s new to me. But imagine any Tyler Perry movie you’ve seen. We don’t have anyone back-flipping down the aisles like Mr. Brown, but there’s definitely some Holy Ghost party stuff happening when the drummer hits that reprise.

After church was crazy because the Sunday School, of which my mother is superintendent, made Easter baskets for all the children. Imagine over 50 kids age 0-18 running around hopped up on sugar. I was standing in a corner with my fingers crossed as if avoiding a jinx. All those children running around scared me. I felt it might be contagious, so I avoided anyone too young for school and definitely all those with parasites pregnant women. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies and I read all the mommy blogs, I just like to watch from afar and avoid joining the ranks for now.

Your Job

-This weekend was full of meetings and evaluations. I’m still getting adjusted to this part of being a supervisor. Almost everyone who knows me will tell you I’m a bossy person. I like to tell folks what to do. But I’m no Donald Trump. Saying you’re fired doesn’t come easily for me. I haven’t had to fire anyone, but I’ve had some get-it-together-so-you-don’t get-fired talks.

I like people to keep their jobs, so I focus on the meetings where I inform someone they’ve earned a raise. I suppose this part of it will get easier with time, but I was happy to get back to work today and escape to my spreadsheets and reports. The numbers never need to hear “get it together.”

A Glass of Champagne

-As I said earlier, Easter was also my brother’s birthday. It was his 30th birthday. It was nice to have a party with close friends and family there. My brother isn’t really big on family, so it was nice when he wanted to have a party that included family. His godfather came with his family. The older daughter of the family was one of my best friends when we were children. She was there with her husband and son. Even though her son is only 3, I made an exception to my earlier rule and uncrossed my fingers to hang out with him. Although I did have to tell little man to stay away from my husband once the husband hugged him and said, “I want one!”

We had a really enjoyable time, and the drinks were flowing. Mimosa, beers, and champagne gave everyone a happy buzz. Nothing goes with lamb, crab legs, turkey wings, ham, pot roast, and prime rib like champagne. We had a few vegetables as well. But only a very few.

The TV Remote

-I feel like I will never catch up with American Idol. Why they insist on having no way to view episodes after airing other than DVR is beyond me. I have 22 episodes queued up to watch on the DVR at my parents’ house. I only managed to watch one on Sunday after dinner. What crazy person decided they should take up 4-6 hours of television every week. I’ll never catch up. So I’m avoiding all news and media reports of who the Top 10 and Top 8 are and all that. I’ll probably be purchasing the CD of the winner before I even finish watching Hollywood week. There must exist some bootleg website (THAT I WOULD NEVER SUPPORT) that can help me so I can watch this show without taking over my parents’ TV.

Christmas Recap And A Plan For The Future

The last post I wrote was all about how I wasn’t feeling Christmas this year. I said how I wanted to just fast forward through to 2013. I must admit that feeling hasn’t gone away. But I have found the need to get some more balance in my life. Blogging is one of the ways I manage to feel balanced, and so I’m back to try not to depress the hell out of everyone in the last couple days of 2012. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas in spite of lack of money, a bit too many national tragedies, and a fiscal cliff threatening to pull all the news stations in with it.

On to not depressing you. My Christmas was lovely. We spent Christmas Eve night at the husband’s parents’ house just hanging. We spent Christmas Day early at my parents’ house for brunch. Then we all went up to Evanston for a Christmas dinner at the house of one of the husband’s aunts. Well, not all of us. One of the gifts my parents received for Christmas was Bulls tickets, so they went to the game instead of dinner with the rest of us.

I was so full from their Christmas brunch though, I barely had room for dinner. I mostly just ate the pot roast the husband’s mother made. It’s so good. I ate so much of it at Thanksgiving, my stomach was going through withdrawal. So I had my pot roast fix and my stomach is currently devising ways to get her to make more even though we’re past all the major cooking holidays for now.

If you read my last post, you’re probably wondering if I ended up getting potpourri drawer things for all the women in my world. The answer would be no, I did not. The husband and I ultimately decided to get house gifts for everyone. We got a house gift for my parents, his parents, one of his older sisters, and my grandmother.

We got actual gifts for three of our nieces and our one great-niece. Our lives were made easier because most of the adult siblings etc. still live at home for various reasons (read, not because they are going nowhere in life but because life’s circumstances are kicking them), so they got lumped in with the house gifts.

We still went over budget, which sucks, but we got gifts we really felt everyone could really use and love. My two favorite purchases were the area rug for the husband’s parents and the electric carving knife for my parents. No more big open floor space, though I will miss seeing the great expanse of gorgeous hardwood floors. And for my parents, no more questionably carved… everything. I must admit one of daddy’s strong suits isn’t slicing or carving any meat. Hopefully, that will change now.

Even though I wasn’t feeling Christmas, I still had the Christmas I wanted. I forced my Christmas playlist on myself and really found myself enjoying the tunes in the days leading up to Christmas. How many times can you say Christmas in one paragraph? Anyway, I had good food and good company, which was all I wanted. And neither set of parents had any trees or lights up, so I felt right at home. Maybe we’ll all do better next year.

So about this balance I’ve been saying I needed to find. It’s related to work.  Since I got my promotion at work, it’s just been work. Work. WORK. The job requirements are more than any human can accomplish in a work week. There are things I’m expected to do outside of the hours I’m at the building. Donation is a 24 hour business after all. That being sad, I hate being less than adequate at anything, so I was all about work. Then I realized I was getting no sleep, eating no food, having no sex. It’s a real problem. I have since recommitted myself to finding more of a balance.

In my head, I’ll be blogging more frequently, trying to re-focus my blog on the things I think my readers will actually find interesting. I think my life as a newly married woman in Chicago is pretty interesting. I’ve discovered some great places in this city through hunting for good food and music with the husband. I also really love my job and what I do, though I try not to talk too much about work, but maybe I can find something to share that doesn’t violate HIPAA.

Of course, I’d like to get back on the exercise bandwagon. I’m not a fan of my profile and I shudder to think how difficult it will be to get back in shape after kids if I’m out of shape before we even start. And no, that was not a sideways reveal of a plan to start having kids. It was more of a reveal of the true depth of my vanity. I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t even contemplated doing anything else but sitting on the couch and re-charging after work. But no more! My life will  be more than spreadsheets, and one on one meetings, and auditing phone calls. It will include baking, and exercising, and blogging.The husband has been really patient with this transition. I think I owe it to both of us to turn back into a real person.

I don’t know if I can just wake up tomorrow and be this whole new person, but I’m sure as hell going to try. I know what I need to do, so it’s just a matter of doing it. I’ve tried making new year’s resolutions. I’ve tried scheduling everything in. I’ve tried self-determination. None of that works long-term, so perhaps now I’ll try a combination of them all. I’ve learned I need to gear up slowly.

Have you ever tried to jump in with both feet into something new? Some people can do it, but not me. When I do it, I go strong for a bit, but eventually I fatigue. Whoever said three weeks was enough time to train people to new activity and habit was a liar and a fraud. It takes waaay longer. All I know is I need decompression time if I’m going to sustain an activity that sucks all my energy.

So what’s first up in my plan to re-gain balance? Well, duh, it was blogging. That’s why you’re reading this post. Once I’ve got blogging consistently back in my life, then I’ll add something else. My work out DVDs are calling, but I don’t know if they’ll be it. We’ll see. But you’ll get no new year’s resolution list from me, so stop asking. Oh, well, since you twisted my arm, I’ll at least let you know how I did on my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.

Just over a year ago, I wrote my new year’s resolutions post. It was full of wonderful things I wanted to focus on for 2012.

1) Cook dinner for the fiancé at least once a week. This is one I came pretty close to accomplishing. On average, I definitely did accomplish this one. Some weeks, I didn’t cook at all. Others, I cooked several times. I’d say this was a mission accomplished.

2) Go to some sort of production/media thingee once a month. This can be as extravagant as the opera, or as simple as a movie theater. Fail. I think I’ve seen three or four movies this year. I’ve been to no plays, no musicals, no orchestra performances, no ballets. It seems now the only live performance I see is when the husband has a gig. Thank God his music is good.

3) Exercise an average of 3 times a week. This can be going jogging or yoga. Fail again. And to think I thought I’d still have time for yoga, or a desire for jogging. I hate running! I did find Tracy Anderson though. She’d be good to me if I ever popped her DVD into the player. But it’s on my to-do list for 2013. I will get back on track.

4) Improve my diet to a point where I’m only eating fried foods once a week. This one is in between. I rarely eat fried foods. I’ve even managed to get more vegetables on the table at big family dinners. But my intake of potato chips and things like that undermines my lessened consumption of fries, fried fish, and fried chicken.

5) Finish unpacking my apartment by April. Major Fail. I just really want to get out of Hyde Park, and I think not unpacking is a symptom of that. Some part of me never wanted this place to feel too home-y because then we’d never fucking leave. I realize that’s irrational now (though we are still here when we should reside in New York by now…), and I plan to ge it done. I have to actually unpack, so I can re-pack whenever we move the hell away from here.

6) Get another cat. This one I actually did! Jazz is a crazy cat, but she fits in perfectly with our family.

7) Use one of my bridal shower gifts at least once a week. Giggity. Eh, except for when I got my promotion, I guess we sort of made this work. There are still a couple of things I haven’t used yet. But I just can’t imagine the cleaning afterward if I put on the candy underwear. I’m not ready for it yet.

So, I didn’t do so hot on my list. I did better than I thought I did though. I’ve learned setting firm deadlines means nothing if you don’t have the time or motivation to make it happen. Maybe I’ll look up motivation techniques to do things you hate the idea of. I’m not referring to exercise, I’m referring to unpacking this apartment. I just really don’t want to do it. This is the only place I’ve ever lived that never felt like home to me. Perhaps we’ll get it right next time, and we’ll live in a place I can’t wait to make home.

How was your Christmas?Any great plans for self-improvement in the new year?

Ignoring That Christmas Feeling

I used to be such a Christmas person. Up until about a week and a half ago, I still thought I was a Christmas person. But I’m just not feeling it this year. I have done no decorating, shopping, or planning for the holiday. The best I’ve done is purchasing Pentatonix Christmas album and updating my Christmas playlist.

In previous winters, I’m playing my playlist nonstop. This year, I’d rather listen to almost anything else. Eh, whatever.

In light of not feeling Christmas, I’m trying to figure out gifts I can get for people that won’t reflect how little disposable income the husband and I have. When you add up the cost of our bills and the cost of our income, then factor in how much we need to save each month, we are screwed. We’re trying to find a balance, but we aren’t there yet.

But here is a gift idea for the ladies in my life: potpourri mesh drawer thingees. I don’t know how to explain it if you’ve never seen one. But it’s basically a mesh bag filled with lovely scented potpourri. It goes into a drawer with your clothes in it and makes your clothing smell lovely. I could buy the materials to make it pretty cheaply at any crafts or hobby store and then make it myself.

Nothing says I’m not really feeling Christmas like a home-made gift. No wait, it actually says, “I care a whole lot and took the time to make you this with my own bare hands. I love ya, I do!”

Maybe it says neither, but at least it’s something pretty much every woman I know would appreciate. But what about the men? I can’t think of any mass produced gift that would apply for all the men in my life. Maybe coffee mugs? I’ll paint them myself, as if I were in 6th grade. Ugh, I wish I could just skip the whole holiday this year.

I wonder how folks would react if I told them not to bother with gifts, let’s just meet up for good food and then call it a 2012. What about New Year’s Eve, you say? Well forget about it because I’ll be bringing in the new year at work. In a set of unfortunate circumstances that led to me getting the holiday off and then that being undone, I will be at work. So really, I’d like to just fast forward to next year.

Next year I have things I’m actually looking forward to. There is my first year anniversary, there are a couple of planned trips that will be a lot of fun if I can find a way to pay for them. And also, there will be the end of our lease so we can get the hell out of Hyde Park. Yes, 2013 will be good times.

Msuic On My Honeymoon

In the spirit of thinking about things that help keep me happy, I want to talk about my honeymoon. At first, our honeymoon was supposed to be in Panama and New Orleans. As a lover of holidays (y’all know how I was about Christmas), I was over the moon with our original plans.

We were going to go to Panama for Carnival (and Valentine’s Day). Then we were going to fly to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Every time we make plans, something gets changed because of the fiancé’s music.

Since these were major and expensive plans, I made him promise not to take any gigs in the days before all the way up to 12 days after the wedding. We were planning on a long honeymoon so he agreed. I didn’t completely ban music, in fact I asked him to bring his horn with him in case an opportunity to play came up.

But of course, the plans changed. He got an amazing opportunity to be in this contest. This contest is geared towards young jazz musicians in Chicago. One of the people who is pretty important in this group who runs the contest attended one of the fiancé’s gigs. He told him it would be a good idea for him to sign up for this competition.

This competition is a great way to gain recognition as a young jazz musician. It has an amazing first place prize: $10,000.  Also, it was the Wednesday after our honeymoon, when we were supposed to be in Panama.

I had tried to book our honeymoon the day before this came up, but hit a snag. Thank God I did because I was all for switching course. We decided to do the first part of our honeymoon in Chicago and then fly to New Orleans for Mardi Gras as planned.

Technically this contest isn’t a gig, so he didn’t break his promise. It just so happened that after we decided to stay in Chicago, other gig opportunities popped up. We reasoned that we’d already be in downtown Chicago at a great spa hotel, so why not?

The honeymoon isn’t starting the way I expected, but I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty good about starting our marriage off in a way that shows him how much I support his career ambitions. I traded warmth, sun, and sand on our first real vacation for a competition. I think it’s a fair trade because he’s really talented and has a good shot at it.

And hey, if he wins, we’ll still go on a vacation somewhere warm, sunny, and sandy.

“I Know Who I Am”

After many months of procrastinating, the fiancé finally called Comcast and got us some internet. We debated whether or not we were going to get cable as well, but ultimately decided against it. I really wanted a land line, so we got that too.

The day the Comcast guy comes to set up the internet and phone line was a morning after I had to work. I have the only laptop between the two of us which is the only computer in the apartment. They needed me to get home from work so the internet could be properly set up.

There was only one problem. I got a flat tire three blocks from my job, which is 30 miles from my apartment. When I called the fiancé, he didn’t answer the phone. I can change my own tire, but it was freezing cold and the tire jack broke. So I called my daddy who came to the rescue.

Turns out, the fiancé dropped his phone in the toilet. I wrote a post back in mid December that had this quote:

I feel I should take the moment to say, “baby, I’m not buying you a iPhone. Buy your own damn iPhone.”

I now feel very wise. Had I purchased a new iPhone to replace the one he’d broken three different ways, that one would also be ruined be being dropped into a toilet. A toilet he had to have been peeing it at the time it dropped in. I’m just saying, I would be feeling some kind of way if he accidentally peed on my Christmas gift.

He could still accidentally pee on my Christmas gift now that I think about it. Baby, please don’t use the gift I bought you near the toilet!

So back to what I was talking about before. I was late getting home because it took an hour to get my tire changed. When I got there, I handed them the laptop and got in the bed. When I awoke several hours later, the computer was hooked up to an ethernet cord and the phone was coming out from behind the living room TV. After having a WTF moment about the ethernet cord, I turned my attention on the phone.

I was so confused as to why the phone was behind the TV. The fiancé said the Comcast guy had no choice because that was the only phone jack. For him and anyone else who may not know, buildings are not built with all the phone jacks they’ll ever have. Especially not buildings that were built before there were phones in every home. They can add new phone jacks on other walls.

Also, Comcast is mailing us a wireless router so we don’t have to have the laptop tethered to the wall like it’s 1999. Side note: doesn’t that Prince song take on totally new meaning now that it’s 13 years past 1999?

The fiancé doesn’t mind the phone being behind the tv because it’s a very bright pink color. He said he’d rather replace it with some old phone from his parents’ house. I told him there was no need for that because I had a cordless phone with caller ID and an answering machine we could replace it with.

Well, I didn’t tell him that at first. First, I ridiculed him for being against the phone simply because it’s pink. That’s a little too “I’m-6-year-old-and-girls-are-stupid” for my tastes. But then the fiancé realized he was a grown man and said, “I know who I am. It’s fine if we have a pink phone.”

I chuckled at him for needing to remind himself that he was a man and therefore need not be threatened by a pink phone. Then I finally told him about the cordless phone, which happened to be black and grey. I also told him that this day would turn into a blog post because it made quite a ridiculous story.

Also, it just occurred to me that I didn’t ever say what I actually got the fiancé for Christmas. Just know that it was electrical, useful for his career, portable, in a manly color of dark grey, and able to be ruined by being peed on. Please don’t pee on my gift!


A Review of My Holidays

With all the posts I wrote about the holidays I wrote in the days leading up the the holidays, it only makes sense that I would write a post now that that the holidays are past. Well, they were pretty great.

The whole great slight altruistic idea I had would’ve been great, if only we had more time to make it happen. When December 22nd rolled around and we realized we’d never made moves to get anyone gifts, we let go of an idea that we didn’t have time for anymore.

We set a time to go shopping on Christmas Eve. I feel like hesitant, reckless, or bad drivers shouldn’t be out in the streets when there are so many people around. The fiancé falls into one of those categories. I won’t say which one. But there we were, and we managed to get all our shopping done in just over 3 hours because we rock.

We went to my parents’ house to wrap gifts and hang out a bit. Of course, they had gifts for me to wrap. My daddy made the fiancé some sort of drink that knocked him on his ass. Suffice it to say, it was a while before we headed to his parents’ house.

We got there at just the right time though, shortly before his mother arrived. Once our nieces got into their pajamas, we gathered his family so they could open their gifts. We would be at my parents’ on Christmas Day, and I wanted to get pics of them opening their gifts.

We fell asleep, as we’re apt to do, and we ended up finally back at the apartment by 3 am. We woke up only 3 hrs later so we could exchange gifts and still get ready to be at church by 8 am. The fiancé bought be lovely gifts. He got me two new charms for my charm bracelet. He first bought me the bracelet for Christmas last year. He’s been filling it up slowly but surely. He also got me 2 seasons of Leverage on DVD. Such an enabler, lol.

We went to church and then to my parents’ house. I slept a lot at my parents’ house, and then woke up so the fiancé could drive me to work. They made me a plate of the dinner I’d missed and I enjoyed that at work. Three words: Sweet potato cheesecake. It’s a real thing. It’s really delicious and it’s my new favorite.

For New Year’s Eve, we went out with the couple who’s wedding we met at. We went to Quartino’s, which is where we spent Valentine’s Day last year. We brought in the new year with a prosecco toast (the Italian’s answer to champagne). It was a lot of fun. In order to spend less at the restaurant, we had drinks and hot wings with my special sauce before hand at our apartment.

We were gonna go dancing after, but we couldn’t find parking, and the more demanding half of each of the couples, which may or may not have included me, just wanted to go home. We went back to the apartment and chatted for a bit. The husband of the couple we were with insisted on trying to play with our cat Belle. Fifteen frustrated minutes later, he finally believed me when I said she’s not like other cats.

On New Year’s Day, we went to my parents’ house. We normally have a pretty amazing seafood etc. feast that day, but mostly it’s a lowkey event. Not this year. We had all our close family who lives in town. Two sets of family friends (who are from the same family), the fiancé’s family, and a friend of my brother’s. There were 22 people there in total, which is a lot for one of my family’s gatherings.

The menu was amazing. The sweet potato cheesecake reappeared, along with crab legs as large as your arm, gumbo, german chocolate cake, lobster tails, fettucine alfredo, jumbo shrimp, black eyed peas, and much much more. The best part is that there was enough for everyone. That’s right, that means more than 20 lobster tails. We were all laid out half sleep after eating.

When we finally got around to dessert, we were barely able to make room. I was so happy I didn’t have to work, so I really got to just relax and enjoy the time with my families. How was your holidays?

Happy New Year!!

I don’t know how you brought in the New Year, but I hope it was fantastic! Whether you watched the ball drop in your PJs, took in a comedy show, or danced the night away with someone you kissed at midnight, I hope your holiday was amazing.

Since I’m writing this post in advance, I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure I enjoyed this holiday.

I imagine the kiss I shared with the fiancé at midnight was as magical and thrilling as the first kiss we shared in July 2010.

I know the New Year’s Day meal we’ll have with my family later will really be spectacular. We have a seafood feast on new year’s and I can’t wait.

I hope this holiday season has been great for you. I hope you have great resolutions going into the new year. And I really really really hope you finish all the egg nog in your refrigerator before it expires.

Hello 2012!

I Think I Watch Too Much TV

As evidenced by the post I wrote on Christmas Eve, I watch a lot of TV. In the days between Christmas and New Year’s, I think I watched even more than usual. With almost all the shows on holiday hiatus, the fiancé took care of my TV fix by buying me two seasons of Leverage as one of my Christmas gifts.

We’ve been holed up in the house watching episodes. You get hooked on each plotline. How each new person adds to the team’s identity and how each case fits in with the season’s arc. And then you start to see similarities between the show and your life.

Oh wait, is that just me? Yeah, I think I’ve officially watched too many episodes of Leverage in a row.

I was a work and a man I’ve never seen before happened to be in one of the kitchenette areas where I go to get water. He’s steeping his tea and looking very into it. He looks pretty unassuming. Nice smile, slightly askew glasses, even has an ID badge prominently displayed proving he works here.

But I do work at night. There’s a finite number of people that come through here during evening hours and this man just didn’t look familiar. He strikes up a conversation asking about some information that’s pretty crucial to the entire company and our bonus payments in the new year.

Without going into too much detail, based on the way I was dressed, anyone in the building would know that I’d be in the know about specific cases. I had the answer to his questions. And before I even knew what I was doing, I answered his questions. In detail.

I felt like calling the fiancé immediately to tell him what happened. With each episode we watched, he was confused as to how the team could gather so much information from and about their marks. Why would people just volunteer the info? Well apparently, all you need is an employee badge and an unassuming smile, and you’re in.

I’m not saying that guy is a con man who gathered intel from me to bring down someone in my company. I’m not saying he was there, ready to pounce on his prey an extract all he needed to make the job go down.

Nah, I’m just saying I watch too much TV.

Everyone Has That One Flaky [Insert Title Here]

Everyone has one. that one flaky person in their life, two if they’re unlucky. It’s a flaky co-worker. Or a flaky friend. Or a flaky bridesmaid.

I’ve got one of those. Most of my friends have been in my life for 10+ years. My oldest still-close friend is a chick I met in 1990-ish, so we’ve known each other for 20-ish years, and she’s awesome. That’s a long ass time. But this post isn’t about how awesome one of my best friends is.

This post is about my flaky friend. Luckily, I have only the one friend. Unluckily, she is one of my bridesmaids. Let me tell you a story to help illustrate my point.

My bridesmaids are all wearing the same dress to my wedding. We ordered these dresses at the end of the summer and they were supposed to be delivered in mid-December to my parents’ house. The gorgeous dresses arrived right on schedule.

The downside to their arrival is that the store requested that if we needed to order different sizes, we should send the dresses back in a week. Within this week, I was working 5 night shifts. That left a Saturday and Sunday afternoon to gather the bridesmaids to try on the dresses. They were all available Sunday (except the law student in the middle of finals) so that’s the day we picked.

Most of the bridesmaids go to my church. They came over after to church and began trying on dresses. My aunt, uncle and cousin came over so my cousin who is a jr bridesmaid could try on her dress. My sister (in-law) came over with her twin daughters (the flower girls) and our niece (the other jr bridesmaid) to try on their dresses. So we had everybody there.

Merriment and sadness ensued. Some dresses fit perfectly. Okay, two dresses fit perfectly, and the others… not so much. I’m glad to report that we only have to order two new dresses, one for a jr bridesmaid and one for a bridesmaid. We worked it out for almost all the bridesmaids.

There was the law student who had to come on Monday for her dress. An there was also my flaky friend. My flaky bridesmaid friend. She said she could come Saturday, not Sunday, at first. But then Saturday, she said she would have to come Sunday. Then Sunday, she said she wasn’t sure if she could make it before I had to leave for work.

The other bridesmaids came, tried on their dresses, hung out for laughs and giggles, and then headed home. In all that time, flaky bridesmaid friend still wasn’t sure she could come. No one was surprised. No one was even upset. I guess after lots of cancelled plans, with her missing my engagement party and makeup parties, no one even expected her to show.

She did make it to my bridal shower, but that was under threat from the rest of the bridesmaids. I had such low hopes, so I was elated when it was very close to the time for me to leave for work and she sent me a text saying she was getting on the expressway.

She got to my parents’ house 15 minutes before I was supposed to leave for work. I sent out  a text to the rest of the girls and they were all really really surprised.

I’ve told that long ass story to say that if you have a flaky co-worker, or friend, or bridesmaid, he/she may surprise you. They may show up just in the nick of time.

My friend is likely still flaky as hell, but she saved me the extra money it would cost to send those dresses back late. I have renewed faith that she will be reliable on my wedding weekend. I just doubt that the holiday slumber party she has planned for right after the new year will actually happen. We’ll see.

A New Year’s Resolution

I’ve got a great idea. It was inspired by a blog I read by Silverneurotic. She’s one of the first bloggers I started reading back when I started blogging consistently over at blogger. Her last post mentioned New Year’s only very briefly. She said she was going to work on her resolutions.

Then I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to do that myself? I’d been thinking about it here and there, but I think I’m going to actually do it.

How many years have you written out a list of admirable and possibly achievable New Year’s resolutions only to forget all about the list a few weeks later? You only think of it around the next New Year’s when you’re wondering if you should even bother to make another list.

So on to my great idea.

I say we all make a New Year’s resolution list. Write a blog post about it. It can be just your list or your list and an explanation or a plan of action. Then post it on your blog, but make it a sticky post. That way, you can’t forget about it.

We could even do a monthly meme that checks in on the progress. I don’t  know about that one. I’ll probably feel more committed to it if I cross something off my list before January is over.

So what do you think? Who wants to join me in coming up with a fantastic list for their New Year’s resolution? I’m going to start right now.

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël!

I know a lot of useless things in three languages. The Pledge of Allegiance is one perfect example. Why on Earth would anyone recite it in French or Spanish? That’s what a “good eduation” got me.

But one good thing of my useless tri-lingual-ness is my ability to wish all of you a very happy Christmas in three languages!

I hope all your family and friends are happy and joyful today. If you celebrate Hannukah (Chanukah?), I hope all your presents were linked together and increasingly awesome (earbuds, iTunes gift card, iPod anyone?). If you celebrate Kwanzaa, please join me in reminding people that it’s not a replacement for Christmas, merely a supplement to it. If you were raised by anti-commercialist Atheists, I hope your friends snuck you gifts without telling your parents.

Mostly, I hope your hearts are warm and your troubles light. At this time of year, it’s easy to forget that someone close to you may be going through rough times. You may even be going through rough times. Just remember to take time to smile at a stranger on the street. It will make you both feel brighter inside.

And when it’s tomorrow and no longer Christmas, remember how amazing this time of year is and think about ways you can make it last through the whole next year.

Ways To GoAwry With Christmas Presents

As we are getting so super close to Christmas, I think a lot about the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas. Both are important to me. In previous posts, I talked of my altruistic ideas for Christmas, as well as some other tangible gift ideas.

I know a lot of people will be giving and receiving a good number of gifts this holiday season. Gifts that come in wrapping paper or bags or boxes. Gifts that should make a person’s eyes light up as they remove the last layer of packaging to reveal the perfect gift. Gifts that, when properly chosen, really exemplify the real meaning of Christmas.

Okay, maybe I went too far on that last one. But still, you get my point. Christmas gifts, for whatever reason, are important. And there are a number of ways for it to go wrong, so here I am to the rescue!

1) Too much tape. Have you attempted to open an impeccably wrapped gift only to be thwarted by tape? I’m a huge fan of perfect, tight corner gifts that look like they were wrapped at a department store. But the tape is meant to hold the paper on, not to keep it locked down like a vault. Unless your gift is literally bars of gold, do not super glue that shit shut! A few pieces of tape here and there is sufficient.

2) Ridiculous paper. Don’t give a cartoon-ish paper on your gift to your grandparents unless you’re less than 10 years old. Don’t give a 5 year old that fancy schmancy paper you spent a ton of money on at Target. Trust me, watching him rip through the bronze and burgundy velvet paper will diminish the joy of your day by a full 4%.

2b) Beautiful paper that is still somehow ridiculous. Don’t get paper that is destructive to those around it. I just got a Secret Santa gift at work. It was beautifully wrapped in a chocolate brown and gold glitter paper with a golden ribbon tied in a perfect bow. And as soon as I touched it, I got glitter everywhere. Literally everywhere. In order to unwrap it, I had a pile of glitter on my desk, my hands, my lap, and the floor. I was wiping off my hands for a long time trying to get all that glitter off. I’d brought food with me to eat, but couldn’t eat it because I didn’t want to be-dazzle my insides! I felt like I was trapped in a snow globe! It was truly beautiful and truly disastrous.

3) Gifts that would be better for you that the person you bought it for. We’ve all seen the commercial where the husband buys his wife power tools. Don’t do it. Learn from Sears advertising and do better. If you want to buy a self-serving gift, buy a big screen that will service the whole house, or better yet, a trip for two to an island that will allow you both to escape the winter.

4) No gift at all. Do not proclaim to have a gift you can’t actually produce. There’s this scene in one of my favorite movies, The Holiday.

In this movie, Kate Hudson’s character is in love with this man who just cannot do right by her. He mentions he got her a Christmas gift. She reacts with pleasure by handing him his gift. As he takes it, he backtracks to say he doesn’t have her gift with him, and if fact, he’s probably mislaid it, but he’s sure he’s got her something somewhere. Don’t be that douche.

Of course, you could just go the simplest route ever: Give a $25 iTunes gift card in a gift card holder greeting card. But if you’re thinking of doing that, don’t. Not unless you’re shopping for a teenager who you will definitely disappoint if you actually try to shop for them. Good luck with your last minute shopping!

Worried About My Christmas

So, I re-read my post from about a week ago about fights. The fiancé and I seem to be increasingly better at working through issues that come up. But there’s one problem that hasn’t been settled yet that really worries me.

It worries me because Christmas is right around the corner and I’m worried he’s going to ruin it. And if not Christmas, he’ll be ruining New Year’s Eve. You see, the fiancé doesn’t love holidays like I do. In fact, last year I was convinced he hated Christmas. I’m sort of convinced now that I was mistaken. Sort of.

I’m worried he’ll ruin one of these ever-so-important holidays because when it comes time for big things, he tends to mess them up and then make up for it later. I had to have a birthday re-do in October. Our Thanksgiving was 4 hours behind last month. We missed my great-aunt’s funeral last week.

It seems like every month, something I’m depending on him for goes horribly awry. I feel like I have only two options:

1) Stop depending on him and risk losing that faith in our relationship that we can rely on each other.

2) Expect that he’ll disappoint me and resign myself to that fact.

Perhaps I’d feel better if he were one of those guys who just didn’t care and never pretended that he could or would do better. But the fiancé isn’t like that. He says he cares all the time, he just constantly does careless things.

I know he didn’t mean to make me miss my great aunt’s funeral, but that doesn’t make me feel better. And I know he doesn’t care as much about Thanksgiving as I do, so being four hours late didn’t bother him, but that doesn’t make me feel worse.

I’m just worried about how he will ruin Christmas. I know it won’t be on purpose, but there are a number of ways it can go wrong.

1) I work nights and I have to work Christmas night. I care way more about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so this isn’t so terrible. But if we get a late start on our day, which is very very possible, that will throw off my whole schedule and ruin my day.

2) He took a gig on Christmas Eve. I knew when I decided to marry a musician there were certain sacrifices I’d have to make. He spent last Christmas in Europe on tour, so I want to be with him. I just don’t want to be with him on a gig. In Indiana. On Christmas Eve. But that is my life now as a professional groupie, I guess.

3) He will suggest some sort of house hopping like what we did on Thanksgiving. That was fun, but with me having to work that night, it could be a total disaster.

Christmas is usually my favorite time of year. That just hasn’t been the case since I’ve been with the fiancé. I’m trying to reconcile that. It’s just hard because it’s been this fear of mine that I would end up with someone who undervalues birthdays and holidays. And it happened.

I just need to figure out how to adjust. It’s not fair of me to put all my expectations on him. I’ll be constantly disappointed, and he’ll feel like I’m putting too much on him. It’s just so frustrating!

Christmas Shopping For The Fiancé

A recent post I read on Inside The Nice Guy got me thinking about my Christmas present for the fiancé. While I’m definitely interested in making our gifts to others mean something altruistic and all that crap, I want to get him a real present.

To me the perfect present has several components.

1) It’s not cheap, but also not so expensive that they’ll feel you’ve spent too much or are trying to show off.

2) It’s thoughtful. It needs to be a gift that couldn’t be easily given to another person.

3) It’s useful. I love pretty figurines as much as the next girl, but a great gift can actually be used by the recipient.

4) It’s unique. It should be something that only someone who knows them well would decide was a great purchase.

5) It’s unexpected. You shouldn’t have to throw them off the trail because you’re buying something they’ve been drooling over for months. That type of gift is better as a just-because gift.

6) It’s cherished/memorable as a gift from you. Getting something where every time they look at it or use it, they think of you is always a good goal.

All of those components can add up to a pretty tall order for a gift. I think I have found that for the fiancé. He reads my blog, so I’m not going to say what it is. I’ve done some preliminary research, and I have to do some follow-up research, but I think it’s going to be good.

It’s not cheap, it’s thoughtful, it’s very useful. It’s unique in my circle more-so than his, but that still counts. It’s unexpected and on that note, I feel I should take the moment to say, “baby, I’m not buying you a iPhone. Buy your own damn iPhone.” I know that sounds harsh, but he’s used to it.

My gift idea is also unique and it will be cherished. I know that every time he uses it, he’ll take a moment to fondly think of what I got him. I never would have thought it before we got together, but I love that the fiancé is so sentimental and emotional. He tells me he loves me 50 times a day. He tells me he misses me when I’ve been gone 5 minutes.

I probably don’t let him know I appreciate it often enough, but I never get tired of hearing all the wonderful things he says to me. He says more, I do more. It’s our love languages and all that. But enough mushy stuff.

This gift will be amazing. I just need to go to a store or two and confirm I’m making the right purchase. And fend off questions from the fiancé that are sure to come once he reads this post.

Double Giving For Christmas

Alternate post title: How The New York Times Saved My Christmas And My Honeymoon

I read the New York Times Opinion page voraciously. One article I read recently suggested a great gift giving idea. This idea wasn’t novel, but this was the first time I’ve given it serious consideration.

The idea is to give gifts for Christmas that are actually donations made to charities in someone else’s name. I liked the idea for reason both altruistic and selfish.

1) We can really personalize the gifts and spend time searching for the perfect charity that focuses on an area or problem that the giftee really truly cares about. Our families and friends are really very caring people and it won’t be hard to find a charity that covers something near and dear to each of their hearts.

2) The money we’ll spend on charity donations will be far less than whatever we’d spend on actual tangible presents. All that money saved will make sure we can pay for the entirety of our honeymoon. Our joint family is a shitload larger than what either of us had before being engaged, so saving money is honestly a good motivator.

3) We care a lot about the world around us and the fiancé and I have been searching for a way to turn our caring into actual action. Seeking to do volunteer work and/or make a real difference (no matter how small) in the world is something we discuss frequently. This would be a great way to do that.

4) I love giving cards for holidays and a lovely stack of cards would be the perfect way to deliver the news of what we did for everyone’s Christmas gifts. I can imagine personalized cards with our pictures or classic cards with Christmas trees or Christmas angels or something. It will be great!

5) We will be getting tangible gifts for all these people less than two months after Christmas. Most of our family or friends qualify as gift-receivers for their part in our wedding. In particular, our gifts to our parents and the wedding party will be expensive because there’s so damn many of them. I’ve been picking up things here and there, but it’s not enough. There’s a big balloon payment out there looming like an underwater mortgage because I don’t think the fiancé has gotten anything for any of his people. Le sigh.

Of course, we have a number of children to buy actual Christmas gifts for. I can’t imagine anybody in my life under the age of 20 truly understanding and appreciating a gift given to them that’s actually a gift given to someone else. I know our parents’, cousins, friends, etc. will appreciate it though.

I talked with the fiancé about it and he seemed to kind of like the idea. We still have to discuss it further to be sure it’s what we want to do. I imagine he’ll go with it, mostly for reason #2 and #3. I’ll let you know what we come up with.

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like A Chicago-Style Christmas

Christmas for me in Chicago has looked increasingly different as the years have gone by. When I was a child, the chances of a white Christmas were near certain. Somewhere around high school, about ten years ago, it became less likely. Anyone who doubts global warming ought to move to Chicago for the winter. There are freezing cold days, but those are waaaay fewer than the days where we say, “why the hell does it feel so not cold?”

Case in point: It snowed on Monday. They were big beautiful snowflakes, the type you can only get when the temperature is right around 30°F. I sat at work that night watching in joy, thinking it might be our first real snow. In Chicago, no such luck. The snow was gone two hours later. No-sign-of-it-ever-existing gone. It looked like it had been drizzling outside.

I want snow!! Is that so much to ask? If I have to freeze my ass off, I should get snow. If I have to spend all these nights at work instead of snuggling in bed with the fiancé, I should at least get to look out the windows at beautiful snow. If I have to choose between bulky sweaters with a God-awful bulky coat or a cute coat with too-thin clothes, I should at least get snow.

I miss driving through the streets of my city starting from Thanksgiving on, seeing Christmas lights, snowflakes falling, and listening to Christmas music. I’ve still got the music, but not much else. Too warm for snow, too recession for lights.

I will be okay though because I still have my imagination. I’m thinking of al the great things I can do in the snow whenever it arrives (hopefully not in blizzard form like last winter).

1)Make a snowman with my new nieces (they’re not new to the world, just to me; they’re 5).

2)Buy even more scarves than I already own just to make sure I have one that matches every outfit.

3)Play in the snow without a hat because my hair is locked and won’t get ruined by getting wet.

4)Get frisky with the fiancé because he’ll keep me warm.

5)Drive down quiet streets in the morning when people are hesitant to go out into the fresh snow.

The possibilities are endless, if the damn snow would just come on already!