31 December 2012

Resolution Time

‘Tis the season for publically listing goals and aspirations. “Tis the season for telling anyone who chooses to listen what we will and will not do for the next 365 days. It’s resolution time.

Resolutions are fanciful. The idea of them carries us from the start of the adult debauchery season (Halloween) through such a time as when we’re ready to admit we’ve had enough (Christmas). Resolutions (in my opinion) represent the best of us. They say “here’s something of which I am not proud. I recognize this behavior is not indicative of the person I want to be and I hereby announce my decision to be better.” Resolutions represent honest and unprovoked self-reflection. No one can force you to make resolutions. That, to me, is their beauty. It’s not that often people admit their faults and commit to addressing them. Long live resolutions!

Now – on the eve of 2013 – it’s my turn. It’s time for me to name those attributes I typically ignore. Beyond naming them, I have to face them. This is probably the most significant resolution-ing of my life. Last year I totally avoided the process. I dedicated 2012 to making 30 ΓΌber fabulous.  I celebrated three decades of doing what I was supposed to do by doing everything I wanted to do. I relished in the fact that I answered to no one. I exercised my independence in a way that I was previously incapable of doing. Trust me when I say 2012 was a success from start to near finish. (We still have some hours to go yet.) Along the way, there were some issues I noticed and that I batted away. I was focused on fun in 2012 and I did not let anything get in the way of that. But I’m still me. So I also took some notes. 2013 cannot be the same party that 2012 was. Been there. Done that. Moving on. I have goals larger than myself. It’s daunting. But it’s time I get cracking.

I have to be better.

I have to a better sister, by listening to Derek. Though I typically disagree with his decisions, he really does mean well. He needs to be able to come to me for advice after both of our parents lecture him. I tried (in 2012) to not to be involved. That backfired when (a few weeks before Christmas) my family dumped a load of “what’s really been happening) onto my psyche. I couldn’t sleep for a week. I’m pleased to report things are looking up for all parties these days, though there is a need to steady vigilance.

I have to be a better daughter, by recognizing my parents are getting older. They need their own watching. My dad is that guy who doesn’t like to book his own flights. Though he’s really into his tablet and everything that uses the Android OS, so he’s not giving up. My mom takes on too much and needs help simplifying. Much of my life is automated for convenience. But I don’t have a seven year old. There’s no reason I can’t take the time to share simplicity lessons with my mom.

I have to be a better granddaughter, by visiting and calling my only grandma more often. I could give you some great excuses, but they would still be excuses.

I have to be a better Danie, by looking beyond the short term. I have to go the gym, not buy larger clothes. I have to network on my own, not wait for invites. I have to decide what path I want to take, not decide just from the options that present themselves. I have to talk to men, not feign indifference or wait for them to talk to me. I have to grow up in 2013. I have to take the steps that will bring me to the Danie I see in the future.

Dear 2012: you were amazing. You were everything I wanted you to be and even more. You were full of debauchery and vices. You gave me everything I needed and nothing I didn’t. You were stellar and I will forever cherish our time together as among the best in my life. However, you’re no longer what I need. We can’t recreate what was. Even if we could, I wouldn’t. You’ve prepared me to take the next steps without you. Now I’m excited. And I thank you for that. 

27 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby (iv)

8 December 2012

The time had arrived. It was shower day. We got up (what I would consider to be) pretty early to complete the rest of our set up. We made sandwiches - until we realized we needed more bread. We hung decorations, cleared tables and put things where they needed to be. We hid our sleeping cave, went back to Wegmans and started playing the "baby" playlist. We operated like a well0-oiled, baby-showering machine. Finally, at the height of our preparedness, Tab put a sash on Abby. I don't know what came over me (though I suspect Abby sprayed hormones from her armpits), but I started crying. Tab started crying. Abby started crying. We laughed about our crying, but we still cried. I mean it was really exciting and the whole thing is truly daunting, so it was probably a combination of that. Still, if you know pregnant ladies, have them keep their arms down just in case. 

Veggie sandwiches shaped like flowers.
Egg salad sandwiches were shaped like eggs.
Chicken salad sandwiches were shaped like chickens.

Carrot cake.

The spread.



Our theme (if you couldn't tell) was "Abby's About to Hatch."
It gave us unlimited pun-ability.

Messages to the little lady.

The gifting process, paraphrased.

The cake pops a) behaved & b) were a hit.

Love birds.
The shower was a success. Our little baby received darling gifts. Our little Abby felt very special. We had way too much food, but we did a decent job of forcing them onto the guests. We decided to leave the real clean up for another time, and we as a five-some went to visit a couple of college friends and their 3 year old. It was precious, bordering on overwhelming. Next stop, margaritas.

I have to say our time having margaritas (with no work left to do) was my least favorite. First of all, my stomach was unhappy with the amount of cake batter / cupcakes / chips / salsa / carrot cake / wine consumed. By the time I tried to ingest a simple chicken breast, my stomach was not having it. I was forced(!) to focus my efforts on the margarita.

Aside from my poor life choices coming to haunt me, we were out. It was a little loud and ruined our happy family dynamic. Abby's order was butchered. Most importantly, it was the beginning of the end. We were all about to go our separate ways, again. There's never enough time with all of us living so far apart. I mean Tab & I live the closest to each other and we rarely get together on our coast. I can't remember the last time I saw Abby's parents, though Tab & I promised our paths would cross more often once the baby was born. We meant it too. We started syncing our 2013 calendars as best we could with the (large) number of variables in play. It's going to take a lot of coordinating. But I know us. We'll get it done.

19 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby (iii)

7 December 2012

"Danie! It's 11AM!" - Tab 
"What?! Is that east coast time?" - me

Tab & I apparently had a very restful evening. Once we got back from the airport, we all got ready for bed. We caught up - mostly just by looking at each other and giggling. Abby asked us to be in her wedding. We squealed. Tab took some heavy duty meds and we crashed for nearly 11 hours. We awoke in a cozy cave, where (based on nothing at all) I assumed it was maybe 9AM. Abby & her mom were already out getting Abby's hair cut... because it was 11:00AM in reality. Tab & I got ready in time for their return. We synchronized our to do lists and embarked on the one thing that was at the top of all our lists. We went to Wegmans.

"Wake up."
I can't describe Wegmans if you haven't been. And if you've been, you don't need to be reminded. We browsed and we ate. Then we dawdled. In reality, that was probably the best part. I watched Abby march pregnantly up and down the aisles looking for water - but not Wegmans water, because that tastes funny.  Every now and then Tab & I would look at each other and try to wrap our brains around what was really happening. Our dynamic was changing. Okay. Maybe that's not what Tab was thinking - though I suspect it was.

The advice starts early. 
A little Abby is coming. She'll be the first of us, the eldest of the psuedo-cousin band that we'll produce. We're always going to worry about her and tell her to do well in school. We're not going to let her talk to boys (or girls, if that's what she's into) or spend too much time on the Internet. We're going to be Aunt Tab & Auntie Danie. Yes, I already have a nephew and a niece. I don't know why this feels different, but it does. It feels more serious. It may be because I talk to Ab & Tab more than I talk to my brother. I don't know. The point is, seeing Abby and being with her & Tab in Wegmans made it significantly more real.

We shopped. We hit Michael's. We went to campus and (I) bought a lot of IC paraphernalia. We got home and started assembling and decorating.
My friends are adorably short.

One bucket of margaritas, down.
Poofs for the hanging.

Mr. Abby's Dad made dinner, while Mrs. Abby's Mom rearranged the shower area for maximum entertainment.  We took a break to eat, them kicked it into high gear with the cake pops.

Remember a few posts ago, when I said I would go speed dating again? Keep that in mind when I say this; I will never make cake pops again. It's just... It's not natural. First we found out we didn't have all the ingredients. We couldn't use just cake mix. We had to add pudding mix. Then we realized one box of cake mix (+ one box of pudding mix) makes way too much batter for a cake pop serving pan. We removed some, but it was apparently not enough.

I was really trying...
The instructions said to start from the middle.
"They're too full."
"It would be funny if we looked in the oven and they were exploding out of the top..."
But I was wrong. It was not funny. It was very, very not funny. I mean yes, we laughed and ate the excess... the first time. But we were out to make approximately 72 cake pops. No, I don't know why we planned on more than 70 cake pops for 15 people, but we did. And at the rate we were operating, we were never ever going to get to bed. We were never going to get to painting eggs or making sandwiches or any of the other stuff we had to do. The cake pop situation grew grave, causing some serious delirium. Margaritas didn't help. Lionel Richie didn't help. Abby laying sideways saying "I want to help" didn't help. We just had to tough it out - while also throwing away one batch of batter and turning the very last batch into mini cupcakes.

17 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby (ii)

6 December 2012

Our chariot.
We Arrived. The flight was extremely uneventful, other than making clear that I don't know how to use a neck pillow. I mostly slept until the wheels hit the ground. It's my favorite travel jolt. Tab & I looked at each other & said "we're here!" It was indeed quite exciting. 

It was great to be back, and to see how Ithaca is booming. I don't remember the last time I was there, but I think it was the year after I graduated. There may have been one other visit, but it's been at least eight years. 

Ithaca was just as gray as I remembered, and probably just as cold, thought it could technically have been warmer. It was 33 degrees and I was wearing leggings. So I should have been cold. We were also exhausted, and probably on the brink of tears. And Tab was getting sicker and sicker. 

Abby's house was the same, only painted and extra pretty.  We got to work combining our party planning lists, making an itinerary and rearranging furniture. Mr. & Mrs. Abby's Parents made dinner. I let my bag explode and took a too long shower. We couldn't go to sleep; we still had to get Abby. So we ate, caught up, and decompressed. Once we had our wits about us, Tab & I started to see the beauty of  retirement.

"What are you guys going to drink with dinner? Vodka? Rum? Margaritas?" - Mrs. Abby's Mom

I suppose that could seem normal. But to us - exhausted and travel weary - it seemed like the start of a spring break like rager. We probably would have been okay with water, but we settled on wine. Well most of us had wine. Abby's dad had a margarita, you know, from the margarita bucket in the freezer.  Duh.

Having wasted most of our shower shopping day in Newark Liberty International Airport, we did have errands to run at 9 that night. We took our list to Target, and got everything we couldn't get at Michael's. That still left us with two hours before it was time to get Abby.

We went to McDonald's.

Yes, we'd already had dinner. No, there is no good that can come from killing time under the golden arches. We started out with hot chocolate. We also had fries. And nuggets. And some sort of holiday pie resembling cake batter inside an airy pop tart. After sitting, drinking, snacking and judging the other guests, we still had an hour or so to go. The day would just not end.

The gates were down until the minute before people
arrived from the tarmac.
We moved our waiting party to the airport, where the only thing left to do was think of ways to mess with Abby. I may have been alone in that, but it passed the time. She had been pinging us all day, wanting to know what was happening. Even though she was the reason for the season, she was the only one in our quintet who had to spend the day alone. She wanted to feel as though she was part of the action. I understood that. I then used that understanding to tell her we were going to be 20 minutes late to pick her up from the airport. Sure, I was the mean one, but Tab hid behind the tree right alongside me. And Mrs. Abby's mom was off behind a tree and on a bench. Co-conspirators for life. It doesn't help that Abby is so gullible.

So there we were, hiding behind a giant Christmas tree, watching like creepers. The goal was to get the picture of Abby first seeing us. We spotted her and of course she went in the wrong direction. It made sense, she's a) pregnant and b) expecting a 20 minute wait. Of course she had to pee.

So there we were, giggling with the camera ready just outside the entrance to the ladies' room. We were so giddy, it took us a minute to realize Abby might not be the only person in the rest room. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to risk missing the shot. I also didn't want to catch some stranger off guard by snapping a picture of her as she walked out of the restroom. I was starting to drop the camera when Abby appeared!

So there we were, reunited and complete in our unique three-party way. It's difficult to explain, but I wager it's fun to watch. We three are so different and so alike. If left alone, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. It's wonderfully comforting to feel a part of something that has so much potential.

It was finally time to shower this baby.

13 December 2012

Let's Shower This Baby

I live my life for myself. There's really no other way to say it. I do the things that I think are best for me. Every now and then, something comes along and inspires me to think beyond the Danie. There are happenings that humble and scare me - because failure is unthinkable. Well folks, one such happening is upon us.

Abby is having a baby. As Abby is so much a part of me (and Tab of course) this can only mean one thing.

We. Are having. A baby.

This did not just happen. I've known about it for months. Abby called when it was confirmed. After that, her mom asked Tab & I to help plan the shower. We coordinated via e mail & text message for months, coming up with the theme, menu, guest list and games.

I'm trying to tell you the baby and the shower were all quite real before now. Somehow it just became extra real.

6 December 2012

West coast represent.
Tab lives in LA. I live in SF. We somehow meet mostly on the east coast. Abby's baby shower was to be no exception. We planned our trip perfectly (as only we could do), each taking a red-eye flight to Newark. We then booked the first flight out to Ithaca. We both arrived on time, in full California style, wearing boots, leggings & comfortable shirts. We laughed.

We charged our phones and giggled for about a half hour before heading to our gate. "Alright," Tab said, "Let's shower the s**t out of this baby." But we never made it.

I mean, we made it to the gate - it was right at the bottom of the escalator. But there was no boarding. In fact, there was no plane. There was only a counter, a flurry of business travelers, and a sign.  It read "Ithaca Cancel." Being a college graduate, I looked at Tab and asked "what do you think that means?"

Would you believe our flight was canceled? I couldn't. I didn't. Tab received a cancelation and rebooking e mail from United. I did not. To me, it was obvious. Tab was going to be left in Newark while I caught the 8:30AM flight to Ithaca. I would like to report I was sad, but instead I just said "I'm getting on this flight,"  and I marched to the counter. Unfortunately, the displaced business travelers were taking up all available space and agents. So I went to Plan B. I marched up to a gate that was wide open. I mean sure, the sign said the flight was going to Syracuse, but there were agents there and the timing was about right. It couldn't hurt to ask.

"Is this flight going to Ithaca?" - Me
"No. Do you want to go to Syracuse?" - Her

Sure. I seem unreasonable. But a check in with Tab offered "let's just rent a car" and "or we could fly to Syracuse and ask her parents to get us there."

In summation, we were stuck. We were rebooked (I eventually got the e mail) and seated together as originally planned. From there, we had seven hours to kill at Newark Liberty International.

Step 1: Find an outlet
Tab is a planner. I am also a planner, but in a different way. Tab plans events. I plan contingencies. A large part of producing is having back up plans. Over time, that became second nature. Once the plan was derailed, I jumped into survival mode. That survival depended on electricity.

While many airports have accepted the reality that access to outlets is more important than access to pay phones, that memo has yet to reach EWR. Outlets were in random places, or set up so that users couldn't sit at them. Part of me felt it was deliberate. Whatever. We found a spot. I plugged in my MacMan, used it to charge Tab's phone, and turned on my mobile hot spot. Our mobile office was in business.

Step 2: Notifications 
I sent my parents this picture, alerting them our flight was canceled, and that we had set up a little office for working. I have a feeling  they read something entirely different.

My mom replied asking me about hotels and compensation. She expressed outrage and advised me to tweet. My dad called with "what do you mean canceled?" Also "did you find something to eat," and (to his credit) "did you find an outlet?"

We never heard back from Abby's mom, and we didn't even think that was odd until her dad called me from the airport where we should have been. He was sent while she was getting her hair done. Tab and I never thought to notify them individually.  Either way, Abby's dad is a dad and he was also concerned, saying "you guys are going to be really hungry when you get here." We assured him we would be alright and rebooked pick up for later that afternoon.

The fatherly concern for our tummies was endearing. I got the impression my dad was going to call the principal and demand to know why I was left unattended. Adorable. Tab & I laughed.

We sat until we couldn't sit anymore. We just needed to be somewhere else. We needed a Starbucks. We packed up and ventured out, walking every finger of the C Terminal until we found familiar territory. We then ordered lattes and set up shop again.

OH! I should mention Tab was sick, sneezing and being otherwise wet and germ-ridden all over the place. Note the Puffs near her iced chai.

Hours passed.

We did get hungry, and decided to feed ourselves - but slowly - we still had 90 minutes before boarding. We ate. I took part in a conference call. We were allowed to board. I left my bag unattended at the mention of gate checking it, embarrassing Tab and prompting her to kick it. We laughed.

Descending into madness.
We boarded. We sat. We sighed. Tab sneezed, possibly on me. She then touched my face. We began descending into madness. We laughed.

And we were on our way.   

11 December 2012

Speed Dating. For Real.

Once again, I come to you to report the unbelievable.

I went speed dating.

For real. It happened.
And now I'm going to tell you about it.

Naturally the following tale has to be told with a bevy of qualifiers.

  1. The speed dating was not my idea. Anne The Reporter found a coupon through Living Social and suggested it to a large group of ladies. Of that group, one person replied, then flaked. I replied as well, entirely out of support. If you figure it takes two women to go to the restroom, it must take a small army to go through rounds of speed dating.
  2. I was not excited for said speed dating. I dreaded it almost as soon as I purchased my ticket. I operate on the practical end of almost everything. The probability of the stars aligning in a way that allows two people to be their most captivating selves within a shared five minutes is, well, literally incalculable. But even if it weren't, the odds would be so high my best bet would be a lottery ticket. Essentially, I saw it as pointless.
  3. The affair had to be kept quiet. The people who were invited knew. I told literally 3 other people, and didn't even bother offering details. I agreed to do it. And that was enough. 

And now, I take you to 27 November 2012

I had already had a massage scheduled for that afternoon. I think that timing was what truly convinced me the ordeal would be okay. I typically ride the post-massage high for days. I was sure it would last me through a few hours of forced intimacy. I scheduled 80 minutes - so that any angst could be pre-dissolved. Once my post-spa glow was achieved, I met Anne The Reporter for a cocktail. 

It must be noted that Anne The Reporter was stoked. She was excited to have the experience. I think she was hopeful. I think she had faith in the process. Anne was ready to put herself out there and let all comers do the same. 

In other words, I had no idea how to deal with her. 

Thank heaven for Ms Kerry D. She arrived and was more on my level. Ms Kerry D had played through the same "what-ifs." Where Anne The Reporter had hope, Ms Kerry D and I had reality-based trepidation. 
What if we didn't like anyone? What if we liked men who didn't like us? What if we had nothing to discuss? What if all the other candidates were in their early 20's and we were lonely spinsters who paid and still couldn't get dates? 
It may seem counterintuitive, but those shared thoughts soothed me. I wasn't alone in thinking them. I wasn't the odd (wo)man out. It was a relief. We drank. 

Miss Kerry D, Anne The Reporter, Our Heroine
moments before "the event."
We also got to talking. The conversation turned from what we didn't want, to what we did. We discussed our hopes and our standards. It's always interesting to me what shapes women. I feel like we all have experiences that make us say "never again." And we tilt our heads in confusion to other women who say "that doesn't bother me." We talked ourselves well into the future, only to reign ourselves in from kids and daycare. We had to set our sights significantly lower, for the hour of our reckoning was upon us. 

I went speed dating and it wasn't bad. I would even go again. 

I'm not going to describe the event or the venue, because neither were relevant. I walked in feeling nervous. I maintained that throughout the explainer and the first stop at the bar. I was nervous, until I wasn't. 

It turns out I can turn on the charm with a flick of my neck. I can talk to anyone and enjoy myself. I can laugh and bring laughter. I can easily go on for 3 - 5 minutes and not reveal anything personal. Speed dating was kind of my zone - one in which I could be social and learn about people. I had fun - because I never once had faith in the process. I didn't allow myself the possibility of being disappointed. I neither put myself out there nor asked any  potential suitor to do so.  No, that's not how it's supposed to work. Yes, my father was disappointed in my behavior. But we have to stay grounded in reality. 

It takes time to strike up a relationship. I'm not at a place where I am willing to give that time. I have goals for myself. There are things I want to do before I will consider myself ready for a partnership. I've seen a lot of mistakes made. I absolutely recognize I'll make (more of) my own. Still, I know I'm not ready right now. I'm okay with that.