Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Grandma C.

My grandma died today. Currently, I am experiencing a sadness like I've never experienced. I have lived thirty-one (plus) years of my life with all four of my grandparents. Today, that lovely world of having all of them around was shattered.

I'm so sad. I came home from work today with P.I.C. and decided to keep my mind occupied by going through all of my old photos and scanning in all of them of my grandma. It helped to keep my mind on all of the wonderful memories I had of her. Tonight, I feel the need to just tell you all about her in a rather incoherent fashion. I love her. I never want to forget all the reasons why.

Allegedly when I was born, she ran screeching out her house down the driveway to her neighbors that "IT'S A GIRL!" (She had two boys.)

She smoked for years. So did my grandpa. One day, she just quit. I asked her how/why. She said one day she coughed up blood. She threw her current pack away and never smoked again. Cold turkey. (Grandpa eventually quit too, only he was aided by butterscotch discs that he was so kind to share with me.)

Her hair was silver. Not gray, silver. She dressed rather smartly for a grandma. She wore great clothes and had more shoes than any woman I'd ever met. I mourned the day I bypassed her size. Dressing up in her vintage clogs and heels and modeling them in her closet mirror was one of my favorite past-times.

I loved to hear stories of how she and my grandpa would go out. Of course, this was the time when people dressed up and wore hats and gloves. They traveled all over (Bermuda, Hawaii, Spain, Morocco) and had so many stories to tell. When they went to Spain, Grandma told me she brushed her teeth with wine so as not to drink the water. I believe she actually did that. Part of the reason I wanted to incorporate Morocco on our honeymoon was because I knew that she and my grandpa had gone. I mean, Grandma hated Morocco. She point-blank told me not to go there. But I did anyhow. Mainly because I knew it would result in a good story with which I could tell my grandchildren.

She loved to shop. In fact, she used to have all of her Christmas shopping done by August. No lie. I'm pretty sure she had it all wrapped by then too. She would make my grandpa drive her all around to the various stores for anything she wanted. (She never drove.)

I used to relish all snow days, sick days, or days where our teachers were striking. That always meant Mom would drop us off at Grandma's. That meant watching Zoobilee Zoo (PLEASE tell me someone else recalls this slightly creepy show), eating spaghetti-os and meatballs from the can, having "cocktail hour" when Grandpa got home from work wherein my brother and I would get the appropriate virgin drink. I had my own room there with a double bed. No matter who stayed there, it was always my room. I used to raid my grandma's nail polish drawer for her newest shade to give myself manicures.

She loved the Chicago Bulls. LOVED them. The words "those damn Bulls" frequently came out of her mouth. She hated football though.

Her grandma was from Germany. She spoke the "old German." My grandma learned the new German. This caused a problem when Grandma was in school. Her grandma insisted on speaking to her in the old German which my grandma did not understand. Grandma would sit and do housework with her grandma during the day frequently. When Grandma's dad got home, her grandma (confused yet?) would tattle on her and tell him that my grandma was not speaking the right language. My grandma's dad would say, "She speaks the right language. She speaks English."

She taught me how to knit. I still have the little book from the 1960s she gave me to help. I still can only knit dishcloths and scarves.

Before her eyesight got too bad, she used to read all the time. She loved books. When I got older, she would pass along these books. Being a voracious reader myself, I was in the habit of reading nearly anything anyone was kind enough to donate to me. I quickly learned that my grandma had an affinity for suspenseful romance books. (Read any book by Sandra Brown. Find the page where she references "his manhood." I guarantee there will be at least one reference.)

My grandpa used to buy a couple scratch-off lottery tickets every week. This annoyed Grandma. She concocted a deal. For every $1 he spent on lottery tickets, he had to give her a dollar. For every ticket he won, he had to split his winnings 50/50. The last I heard, Grandma had saved up about $500.

She and my grandpa had cocktail hour every day. When my grandpa worked, he usually had a martini or two (gin, dry, rocks, twist) and cocktail hour was at 5:30 p.m. After he retired, cocktail hour gradually moved up to about 3:00 p.m. Grandma used to enjoy a scotch and water back in the day. She switched it up to one glass of chardonnay or occasionally a merlot. (She really really loved Charles Shaw and requested me to bring bottles of it in from Trader Joe's when I came into town.) She eventually cut Grandpa down to one martini, two on holidays.

She and Grandpa taught me that a Moscow Mule is properly served in a copper mug. Limes get squeeze in first, CRUSHED ice, then vodka and ginger beer. That is the only proper way to drink one. They knew so much about the proper way to drink things. I figure it's because they drank it all.

For a couple of summers when I was in college, I served at a nearby restaurant. I would take all of my double breaks at Grandma's house, letting them feed me and taking a nap on the couch as they watched golf.

For years, while I was in college, then in law school, then on my own, she and my grandpa would call me at 10:00 a.m. sharp every Sunday. Many days, I'd have to sleep off my hangover, but I would always call back. When she started getting sicker, those calls didn't come like they had in the past. When we would hang up, she would always say..."I love you" and I'd say back, "A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck."

Our standard Christmas morning photo, circa 1983.
I'm sure I'm forgetting more stories and memories. This is a good start. She was a wonderful, fun, and lively woman. I'm so glad to have had her in my life for as long as I did.

Grandma, I love you. A bushel. A peck. A hug around the neck. For always. XOXO

Oh Christmas Tree...

Last year we didn't get a Christmas tree. We had gone on vacation in December and figured it didn't make sense to put one up. Man, was I depressed. The three years before, I had bought REAL trees. I would go to the nearest tree sale by my apartment (two years I bought from the boy scouts, last year from the local plant shop) and carry that bad boy home walking right down the middle of the street. (That's not so difficult when you're living off a busy street.)

Growing up, we had fake trees. My mom and I had the tradition of getting out all the ornaments and decorating it the weekend following Thanksgiving. I got why she didn't want a real tree. Messy. Expensive. All of that. But I knew that once I was on my own and had the abilities, I was going to buy a real tree. So I did for three years. I loved the smell. I loved my own tradition of walking that tree down the street. I didn't even mind the shedding needles and messy disposal process. NOPE. I love having a real tree.

This year? It's happening again. REAL TREE IS COMING TO OUR HOUSE.

However, we have one dilemma in our current apartment. We have no place to put said real tree. I suggested to P.I.C. that we put it in his bedroom. Sadly, that means we wouldn't see it much. It would be almost like we were putting the Christmas tree in timeout. That ain't cool. Santa might be missed. He might wonder, "WTF, guys. Why is this tree in a room with one chair and your angry-looking cat's litter box? Maybe I won't leave you weirdos any presents." (Santa can be SO judgmental...ya know, the whole naughty and nice list...sheesh.)

Personally? I don't care where it goes. I can't wait to lug my huge bin from our storage unit upstairs (well, P.I.C. does the lugging, but you get it) and unpack all of my Christmas goodies. I can't wait to sing Christmas carols and decorate our tree. I can't wait to wrap presents. Mostly, I can't wait to have our very first Christmas as husband and wife. (CUE THE "AWWWWS.")

Naturally, we're going to have that first Christmas with a real tree, even if we have to visit it in time-out. Santa Claus will have to learn how to deal with it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

HEY. I turned my frown upside down. Neat.

I just wrote an entire post about the entire sad state of my union. That I'm mad at the world that I have to budget. That I'm upset that it's looking like I will never ever get another raise at my current job, despite my increasing amount of experience. That I have been having bouts of insomnia and allergy attacks on the regular.

I deleted the entire post.

While I'm not going to make a "things for which I am thankful" list as many of us bloggers are prone to do (myself included, circa 2010), I do want to leave a more positive message on the day before Thanksgiving. My life is not so bad.

I might whine about a budget, but that means I have money to pay my bills. Learning to distinguish between needs and wants is a challenge, but I am slowly coming educating myself. I might not get a raise this year, but I have a job and some semblance of job security. I might not sleep well, but Benadryl is available in my medicine cabinet. Zyrtec too for the insatiable sneezing.

Really, my life doesn't suck.

Isn't that all we want?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and family. Thank you for being a part of my life that doesn't suck.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Randomly happy.

Despite getting rather depressing news at work today, I am happy for the following reasons:

1. Thanksgiving. I get to see the family, play some card games, eat my husband's DIVINE corn casserole, and just relax. I also get the day after Thanksgiving off of work. Three-day work weeks are the best.

2. I had a really nice visit with my parents this weekend. We ate pasta, drank wine, and my dad renewed his love of a nice glass of bourbon. The girls didn't wear makeup and the boys had their PJs on early. It was wonderful.

3. Christmas! I have my presents done. Mainly because I can't afford to do much this year, but I am so excited to give people the stuff I made.

4. P.I.C. and I slept on an air mattress last night so my parents could have our bed. By the middle of the night, it was like sleeping on a water bed. Despite us both being dead tired at waking up often, we kept on getting the giggles. Do you know how fun it is to sleep in the same bed every night with someone that will GIGGLE with you? It's awesome.

5. Two occasions in the past week, I thought I was going to get bitched out. Turns out, I didn't get verbally bitch-slapped by anyone. That makes this three-day work week SO MUCH BETTER.

6. I got my camera fixed last week. This means I can take a BAJILLION more mediocre photographs while pretending like I am a professional. I will also fawn like a crazy person over the two photos that actually look lovely.

 Please share, what makes you happy today? Let's have a love fest. Please.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another confession.

I am rather compulsive about thank you notes.*

Today, I realized that I did not receive a thank you note from a wedding that I did not attend her wedding. I did, however, give that person a check shortly before her wedding. She cashed that check. I have not received a thank you note. I FEEL LIKE I AM THE THANK YOU NOTE POLICE SOME DAYS.

We had many weddings this year. I think the grand total was eight. One was our own wedding, we attended six others. Some involved travel and hotel expenses. Some of these weddings involved being a member of the wedding party. All involved us spending our hard-earned money on other people. Do not get me wrong, I am very glad to celebrate my friends and their love. I love buying them presents and making them feel special. BUT. I also like to be appreciated. I also like to know that my thoughtfulness was noticed. That is all. I don't feel this is so excessive.

I do understand that in large wedding situations, it takes awhile to get the thank yous done. However, please do not make me wait months and months only to receive a photo thank you card with NO PERSONAL NOTE WHATSOEVER. That's rude. Don't send me a facebook message after I ship a shower gift to you saying "thank you." That's rude too.

I understand that I might be in the minority. I still love sending cards. Real cards. I buy my friends birthday cards. I mail people cards. I love them. Creative, well-made cards make my day. I will spend $8 on one card if I know it will make the recipient smile. I also put this effort into sending out my thank you notes from my own wedding. I don't expect people to be obsessed with cards or notes or stationery. I do expect them to follow some basic rules of manners and send a thank you when a gift has been given. THAT IS ALL.

Basically, here are my requirements for me to not seethe at you for thank you note etiquette:
1. Send them relatively timely.* I know that they are daunting, but they don't go away. Just do them.
2. DON'T SEND OUT FORM THANK YOU CARDS. That's incredibly insulting.
3. A little personal touch goes a long way. Again, I know that they are overwhelming and having to do over one hundred (or two) makes it less likely you're going to elaborate. But come on...just suck it up and do it.

MY RULES ARE EASY. Follow them, please, and you will never see me passive-aggressively rant about your etiquette again.

*Except I have one friend that sent out really delayed thank you notes and for her, I was not perturbed. Her notes were so funny, thoughtful, and sweet that I could never be mad at her. Plus she's one of my favorite people, and I know how she rolls. She's a procrastinator, through-and-through. This is entirely hypocritical given my extended rant, I know, but she didn't receive my wrath.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things that make me angry.

1. "Friends" who text/call/send a facebook message/post on your facebook wall that they would like to get together. When you respond, radio silence.

2. Coworkers who operate on a sniper method. This means they sneak up on you in your office and request you to do something for them that is wholly unfavorable. Since it is a surprise attack, you have no handy excuse and are forced to complete the unsavory task.

3. A dwindling bank account that just doesn't have enough money for me to splurge on the MOST DARLING sequined miniskirt ever that I have been ogling for two weeks now. PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES WANT TO BE FANCY TOO, UNIVERSE.

4. The bitches in fashion magazines that say that because I am over thirty, I cannot wear said sparkly miniskirt. You suck. Obviously, I will wear tights with it. THIS IS WINTER IN CHICAGO.

5. The fact that the end of my day became incredibly busy, including yet another phone call from that particular person that has already called you seven times today. This means I could not get my beef jerky fix this afternoon.

6. I cannot do a serious exfoliation on my face now because I am worried I will look crazy from the spray tan coming off. I now have some light flakiness that is driving me INSANE. Moisturizer isn't working. I have flake face. This makes me angry AND sad.

This concludes today's episode of things that make me mad. You can now resume regularly-scheduled programming.

Good enough.

Last night as P.I.C. and I enjoyed a lovely dinner party with a very kind couple we know, we all got on the topic of jobs. We are all fortunate enough to be employed. "In this economy," that is something about which we can smile. I brought up, as I know I have mentioned before, that I don't find my career path to be the one that is most suited for me. I'm a lawyer, but I know I am destined for something else. Anyone who knows me knows that I have mentioned this many times over. I don't doubt that my current job is probably the best law job for me. I would be miserable in a law firm environment. I know, I have been there. I don't make very much money, which is sad given that I have been a lawyer for six years, but I get to have dinner with my husband every night. I don't have to work on the weekends. My workload is entirely manageable.

But really...does this innate dissatisfaction with my career make me a millennial? P.I.C. brought up the fact that we were different from our parents' generation. They got jobs to pay the bills. They worked at those jobs to make money to support the family or the things they liked to do. It wasn't about personal fulfillment. It wasn't about finding a "true calling" or a job that made them smile every day. The real issue was putting food on the table and clothes on the kids.

I don't recall my parents ever complaining about how their jobs just were not their destiny. My mom never said, "I work here, but I know there is something better out there for me." My dad didn't either. Of course, there was the occasional musings of "if I win the lottery," but I think everyone has those, even now. (For the record, I'd pay off student loans and housing loans in the family, take a six month leave of work, and travel the world.)

Neither P.I.C. nor I really enjoy our career. But right now, neither of us hates our jobs. "In this economy," I think that's good enough. I might not feel as though this is my destiny, and I might not smile everyday at my job, but I don't cry. Right now, that's good enough for me.

(P.S. Please say I'm not a millennial. I HAVE NO ENTITLEMENT. I SWEAR. PLUS I AM TOO OLD.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rules of using an umbrella in Chicago.

After being bopped in the head three times by in considerate umbrella users on this windy and rainy November morning (one bop that resulted in my hair becoming entangled in the lady's umbrella...ouch!), it has occurred to me that I should do my very own umbrella etiquette piece. Why? Mainly, I'm just pissed off that my head hurts.

Rule number one: If you are tall and carry a large umbrella, go up. Lift your damn arm up and carry it over the shorter people.

Rule number two: This is the obvious pole to rule number one. If you are short, or have a smaller umbrella, go down. Squat your knees and duck under the taller people.

Rule number three: Keep to your own damn side if the sidewalk. Seriously. Umbrellas make for trickier city walking, so attempt some semblance of patience and you will not end up ripping out strands of a stranger's hair. Strangers everywhere will thank you.

Rule number four: Really evaluate the weather. Is it pouring? Umbrellas are a good call. Is it misting and windy as hello (the very conditions that exist this morning)? Put your damn umbrella away and suck it up. An umbrella will be more of a pain in the asset that anything. You know it is going to flip out at least ten times on the way from the el to the office. I recommend a rain jacket with a hood or perhaps a hat in this situation.

If you follow these four rules, rainy days might be a shade less annoying for everyone. And yes, I will get to keep all my hair. That's the real reason for this post, obviously.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The skirt that lacks a slit.

I, like many female attorneys, have a collection of suits. I have some I really like to wear, and I have some that I just wear because suits are expensive. Oh, and shopping for a suit is not fun.

I have this one suit that I do like, but I don't love. It's a wool gray tweed skirt suit that I snagged on sale at Banana Republic. It looks professional, is in style, and makes me feel presentable in court. Its main flaw lies in the skirt. The skirt is relatively short, which is fine. I wear tights so I don't look like a floozy. The skirt does lack, however, a slit.

Slits are functional, really. They enable you to walk with your normal stride. This means a skirt lacking a slit makes me have to take shorter steps. This isn't a problem in walking around on flat surfaces. This does, however, mean that situations in which I might take a bigger step are problematic. My main complaint is boarding the bus. I have to somewhat shift my body to the side and attempt to discreetly hike my skirt up. No, this does not mean that the skirt is too tight, so shutyomouth. I guess I never realized that a slit was so important.

This morning, after successfully boarding the bus without feeling like too much of a jerk, I crossed the street. There was a puddle obstructing my path at a curb. Usually, I am quite adept at leaping a puddle. I like to think that my years of dancing have given me a certain grace and ability to leap over a puddle much better than the average human. Sadly, this morning, I forgot I was wearing the slitless skirt. No sooner had I began my (in my head) graceful leap over the puddle when I felt the jerk of my skirt stopping me.


I jumped SQUARELY into the puddle, effectively splashing my entire lower left leg and soaking my entire right foot. Awesome.

This suit has now been been blacklisted. Well, until the next time it comes up in rotation. Fingers crossed that I have no puddles obstructing my path on that day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Anticipate this.

My friend told me once that the best part of vacation was planning it. The anticipation, the expectations, all of the new shopping...it was all leading up to something great. Whether it be an exotic two weeks away in Spain, or just a long weekend in New York, the anticipation was always fantastic.

Of course, there was no way that a vacation could actually live up to all of the hype, right? It wouldn't be perfect. The anticipation was nearly as good as it was going to get. Flights would be missed. Trains would be missed. There was NO WAY you could actually wear all of the new clothes you purchased.

My honeymoon? You know, that trip I took last month? Well, the anticipation didn't even come close to how wonderful of a trip it ended up being. I'm not saying it was perfect. I'm not saying that P.I.C. and I never once snapped at each other because MOTHEROFGODIAMSOTIREDANDHAVENTSLEPTINTWODAYS. Oh, and I must say...I think my backpacking days are over. My thirty-one year old back isn't having that anymore.

No. It wasn't a perfect two weeks. We missed lots of trains. They canceled a bus route on us. I didn't wear all of my pretty dresses. We both got violently ill (although that was fortunate to happen at different times.) However, we ate so much delicious bread. We drank gallons of rioja. We had cafes con leche every single morning. We sat and stood in cafes, taking in all of the Spanish culture. I rode a camel on my birthday. We drank fino. We slept in almost every day. We drank ourselves asleep on airplanes. We took over a thousand photographs. We saw priceless art and ancient cathedrals.

We honeymooned the SHIT out of our two weeks in Spain. And ya know what? The anticipation didn't even come close. (Even if I didn't get to wear my new pretty pink dress.)