Saturday, December 04, 2010

A small update of big changes over many years...

Right now I'm babysitting for a colleague-friend who has become a role model for me in what kind of mother I wish to be (someday). She writes the most consistent and calming blog every single day and manages to capture moments and moods without my past level of verbosity (which, reading back through past posts, can be overwhelming to read). But it inspired me to post again here, a journal long-forgotten, one of the vanishing websites that sit with no change over years and years; you visit them and find that nothing is currently relevant and wonder how the owner could be so negligent! The internet is a place for timeliness and responsible updating, you think. So that is how I know that everyone who's ever read this has stopped checking for new messages. My link on friends' blogs has long ago been removed (because they do update their pages). My thoughts sat apparently dormant here, frozen in time for two and a half years ago.

At that time I was trying to keep myself busy over my summer vacation, finishing a handmade bridesmaid dress for a friend's wedding and looking forward to the trip. After reading that last post, I can remember, vividly, how I felt at the time... highly self-reflective, bent on self-improvement, not knowing what the future would bring. I clearly remember my trip to Chicago that I mentioned, and riding back on the train with my dad. We sat in the second floor lounge of train, with domed windows allowing for views of rural Wisconsin, and I spread out the final pieces of my dress on the vinyl table inside our booth. I finished sewing it together that day and it was beautiful: exactly the fit- a tight bodice- and colors- chocolate outside, lilac inside- that would look perfect at Angie's special day.

After I got back, I "met" a man (we were connected). We talked a little and I remember emailing him that I worried about the quality of my stitching on the dress and was worried it might spontaneously fall off during the upcoming ceremony. He thought that was hilarious. It didn't, thankfully. When I got back, I felt the need for a big change. My hair had grown all the way down my back and was almost long enough to sit on. It was time to donate it to Locks of Love again. I needed my mom to sit with me in the salon to give me the courage to do it. In the end, she cut off 17 inches! And my hair was a bob, just past my chin, which I adored.

The next day, I had finally arranged the first date with the man. We were going to see a movie in the park, but it started to rain an hour before we were to meet, so I emailed him that we should go to my favorite restaurant, Saffron, instead. (He firmly believes that you shouldn't go to a fancy restaurant for dinner on the first date... my last-minute change didn't give him a choice!). I curled up my hair into a sassy & wild bob and wore my black halter dress and copper sandals. I couldn't remember where was best to park by the restaurant, though, so I was 25 minutes late! I ran the last block, slowed as I approached the restaurant, and saw, standing formidably on the steps, the most handsome man I'd ever seen. My heart stopped. I knew in that instant that the game had changed. All rules- you know, about the first date? the future?- flew out of my head because it didn't matter anymore. Honestly, I remember having all these thoughts as I sashayed toward him.

And the game did change. I fell in love. After our first date, he lost his job, but he stayed in the tundra with me. In December, on a particularly heavy commute to work, I ran into another car after it slammed on the breaks on the highway. My arm was burned by the airbag and my car was totaled. He picked me up and drove me to the repair shop, where he met my mom. I was practically crying, filling out the police report and trying to figure out what I would do. I turned around to look at him behind me and he smiled and gave me a kiss- a hershey kiss that he'd taken from the jar on the counter. That's when I first knew.

We went to Washington, D.C. after Christmas and he took me on a running tour of Georgetown, where he went to college. After the run, we sat together in his favorite sandwich shop, singing along quietly to classic '80's rock playing over the speakers, and I looked across the table and the feeling was stronger.

He loved me first (to my knowledge) on Valentine's Day in Santa Fe. I gave him a book of photos of us for our 6-month anniversary. And he said it. And I finally could, too.

As I sit here now, it's a week until our 28-month anniversary. In that time, I've left for 6 weeks in Spain, we've gone to Hawaii, Milwaukee, Austin, San Antonio, and Boston, he left to find a job (11 months ago), got a job in New York City, and we spent the summer together there, sharing his apartment. I will fly back there, to him, on Christmas day, when we'll go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree.

This summer, I'm moving to where he is. It's time we were together. So everything will change except us.

And obviously my style of blog can't and won't change. I will always be a person who shares with more words than necessary. They flowed out of my mind today like snow, and will lay gently here, pure and white and undisturbed, until someone treads here again. I suppose that person is you.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


This was my day:
I woke up at 7am.
I ate yogurt, blueberries, and granola for breakfast on my balcony with a big cup of coffee (that makes it sound like the cup of coffee was human-size and joined me in my dining...I wish that could be! That would make breakfast fun. Then I would drink him; or would that be rude to do to a breakfast guest?)
I responded to emails ("my correspondence").
I got dressed, curled my hair, etc., then packed up curriculum stuff and went down to my bike.
I strapped all of my bags to the back and pedaled over to Dunn Bros., which is very hard to do in a poly-synthetic lycra-blend dress:) I think I flashed people every time I got on and off.
I got some green tea and tried to psyche myself up to work.
I felt really cold from the air conditioner, so I moved to a different table.
I was bored, so I ate the lunch I'd brought (at 10am).
Then I looked up restaurants to go to in Chicago next week.
Then I gave up work and biked to Rainbow to buy frozen fruit (tropical blend is only $3, compared to $8 at Kowalski's!!)
I discovered that Rainbow has a natural/organic food aisle (really?) and stocked up on a lot of granola-esque stuff that I don't need.
Then I biked home with two bags on my handlebars...oh, the swinging! It was tricky.
I took a nap, packed my gym bag and went there, where I did my routine (non-dance).
Then I biked to the hidden beach on Cedar Lake and read back issues of the New Yorker that I'd stolen from the gym. A sketchy old man tried to hit on me and asked me my name. I said "Julia." I think that's my go-to fake name now because it just popped out instinctually!
At home I put on my running clothes and ran to the Basilica for the Torchlight 5K. I found Bri, Adam, Mark, and Jeff right before the race and we met up afterwards.
I got four bags of sample oatmeal snacks from the food tables and we all walked back.

Now I'm at home, sitting on my balcony overlooking Uptown, thinking about tomorrow. I need to set more timetables for my day and kind of force a schedule on myself, or I waste so much time I could be using to get things done. It also makes me really cranky when I don't get things done and then I'm in a bad mood all day.

Things I should get done: What's stopping me:
*Curriculum planning for the whole school year. *I know that all plans will change in Sept.
*My bridesmaid dress. *I'm worried I'm going to screw it up!
*Clean my apt. *My cat will dirty it up right away.
*Volunteer more. *I still need to improve my current shift.

Oh, here's something interesting (to me, English nerd): at the race, there were two stations beforehand...Registration and Pre-Registration. Now, registration makes sense: it's a table where they do registration. It's where you register. But pre-registration makes no sense. It's not where you pre-register- it doesn't come before the registration table- it's where you sign in if you already registered. It's the table for the people who pre-registered. There are many other names that station could have had that would have made sense. Grr, Lifetime Fitness! Then I went to get a t-shirt and all they had was large. I'm sorry, but that's basically a dress on me. I was so mad that I boycotted the t-shirt, which doesn't make sense now, but seemed like an effective choice at the time for stating my opinion of their size selection.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This morning I went to a movie premier. It was a comedy written and directed by one of my co-workers children. It was hilarious. It's called "Cold Feet" and it's about a couple who lives in Minnesota who are about to get married...and the hijinks that almost ruin everything. The movie was basically a bunch of incredibly funny one-liners and pratfalls. The plot was less interesting: rich girl and poor guy, a ghost, a possible murder, and lots of scenes with the loser roommate. However, there were also many scenes involving stake-outs and following people to chart their actions. This made me wonder what someone would think if they followed me around, because my life is so random these days. For example, this morning...

I woke up at 6:30am. I wandered around my apartment, eating various random food, like soy cheese and sushi. At 9:45am, I packed up two bags and went down to the street to get on my bike. First I rode to my car to get my helmet and my glasses. Then I rode to a gas station (where I'd pumped up my tires the day before) to get the tire valve cover things that I'd forgotten next to the air blower. Then I rode down to 40th St. and then turned left and rode miles and miles into SE Minneapolis. Miles! It was incredibly bumpy and obviously not actually bike friendly. I might have sworn a little bit. Then I arrive at the Riverview Theater exactly at 10:45, say "hi" to my coworker and her son (really cute in a tie) and find a seat. During the film, I eat strawberries, grilled vegetables, and five pieces of gum, all of which I had in my bag. At the end I go across the street and get a chai tea and vegan protein snacks and then start riding back (this time on Hiawatha and the Greenway). I stop for 10 minutes to take a phone call. The discussion is mostly about Batman and SUVs. I exit the Greenway at Nicollet and park my bike outside of OfficeMax. I spend 30 minutes inside, mostly looking up the tax exempt code for my school and waiting for my ink cartridge to be refilled. Then I get back on my bike and ride to the Running Store, where I purchase a $25 gift card. Then I ride home.

My life is boring and a bit bizarre. Oh no, it's starting to rain and I need to head downtown. At least I have an excuse to drive:)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

As I was riding my bike this evening, considering how beautiful my neighborhood is and how lucky I am to live here and have the time to enjoy it, I realized that it was the type of musing I always used to write about here. But in the past week, I've tried to recenter myself; I want to be more productive and routinized with my day so I don't end up checking my email every hour or watching dvds while taking up wildly indulgent sewing projects that I'm not sure I'm talented enough to finish. So, that being considered, it seems like a poor use of my time to write about my thoughts here...

Which led me to a thought: why am I so worried about regret? All of my concerns about productivity, health, dating, and my career are founded in a deep seeded fear of making a poor choice; at least if I'm busy, my subconscious neurotic tells me, then I can't be blamed for not trying. I've resolved though, in the face of some loyalty to my generation telling me I should throw caution to the wind and lay around all day this summer as a tell-off to "regret," I'm going to try to get more done. I guess my type A personality can't be overcome even by this beautiful weather.

To keep this update short, then, here's a current likes/dislikes list, similar to the posts of my college days...

-Riding my bike everywhere- it's 20 minutes to my Aunt's house south of Lake Harriet, 15 minutes back to a book talk at the Lyndale Community Church (and 1 hour to the school where I teach...maybe I won't ride to work;)
-Swiss Chard & Kale with vineagrette- if I accomplish one thing this summer it's going to be to develop a love of vegetables!
-Crafty Planet's retro fabrics. They're so beautiful & unique. I'm going to copy my favorite dress with this new floral print I found...we'll see if I can figure it out and if it's a success, I'll use the same pattern to make my bridesmaid dress for August!
-Fage greek yogurt. It's fat free but has the consistency of ice cream. Delicious with fresh berries and granola:)
-My summer mix:
Again & Again by The Bird and the Bee
All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth by The New Pornographers
Baby Doll by The Fratellis
Everything's Just Wonderful by Lily Allen
For Emma by Bon Iver
Foundations by Kate Nash
Getting Down by The Kills
Goods by Mates of State
The Grey Estates by Wolf Parade (I get to see them tomorrow!)
Happiness by Goldfrapp
Let Me In by Hot Hot Heat
Lily Two by Matt Pond PA
Look Out Sunshine! by The Fratellis
Milk Crisis by The Go! Team
Oregon Girl by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Something Great by Haley Bonar
Sour Cherry by The Kills
Think I Wanna Die by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin (SSLYBY)
Time to Pretend by MGMT
Vanished by Crystal Castles
Viva la Vida by Coldplay
You Cheated Me by Martha Wainwright
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb by Spoon

I love them all.

-Democratic doubts about Barack Obama...let's please not dismiss our own candidate again; it really doesn't help come November
-Sunburns (on my stomach)
-Worrying that my students are getting good meals and supervision over the summer. All of our kids get free breakfast and lunch during the school year, so that's a lot more money that parents need to budget for during vacation. Not to mention that most of the parents work 2-3 jobs, so I hope the children are safe at home (and reading? Maybe that's too much to ask!)

That's all I can think of for now. I hope things get my interesting, spicy, tantalizing, and salacious soon. A girl can hope;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hot child, summer in the city...

Well, Minneapolis doesn't seem to qualify as a city- at least where I live- in that it's mostly clean, relatively crime-free, and there's minimal honking. I do get at least one ambulance every night, usually around 4 a.m. Why they need a wailing siren and horn blasts at that time of morning is beyond me; Hennepin is dead after 2 or 3.

And the title of this post is also a misnomer because it's not very hot yet. I've started eating breakfast on my new, non-flexible balcony, and it's still a goose-bump cold. By 3 p.m., the sun pushes through and tans my clavicle while I run to Northeast Minneapolis, but it hasn't managed to be uncomfortably hot as yet.

If you're reading this and wondering where I've been for the past two months, this is what I'd tell you: I'm writing off that time as a 6-week course in trusting my instincts and knowing the difference between a good man and a good time. I ended up resenting the professor, who unwittingly revealed all the exam answers to me earlier than expected, but, to continue to analogy, I learned so much... it's always the toughest classes that you end up feeling grateful for. And despite the fact that it ended badly, I still got good marks, including that I'm "too idealistic." Bring it. Hopefulness as an insult? I'll take that as a compliment.

So as I sit here on my structurally sound little porch, watching my multi-colored Mexican fiesta flags blow in the wind from the city, I'm looking forward to a peaceful day. I'm going to wash dishes, fold and put away laundry, vacuum, fashion a chic City Breathing nightdress from an oversized t-shirt, and then spend all afternoon with my littlest cousins. She's got a hurt toe, so I'll be pulling her in a red wagon to and from the lake- an excellent workout. I think we might make banana oat muffins, too, which I will put on my new recipe blog as soon as I take photos. With that segue, I may also spend more time on my cookbook project: I want to make a mini healthy life book for busy working girls like myself who want easy deliciousness with creativity and without guilt. I'm more than excited about the potential. I'm going to pitch it with photos, so I will by necessity need to make everything this summer. Yum.

Sneak preview: the blueberry breakfast bowl!
1/4 cup fat-free sugar-free blueberry frozen yogurt
1/2 cup fat-free greek yogurt (self-sweetened with Splenda)
handful of fresh-picked blueberries
handful of Special K Fruit and Yogurt

It tastes like (what I imagine) a fresh, farm breakfast could be, with the different blueberry and yogurt flavors and textures having a subtle nuance on my tongue. Excellent side-dish: open-faced breakfast sandwich on farmer's market sunflower flax bread (top with butter, fresh-picked mixed greens, sliced cherry tomatoes, and fat-free feta crumbles!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's been so long...

Hello, lover. I've missed you. But, seriously, I haven't written in this journal (I hear the distant deathnell of the b-word, or hope to) in quite some time. Today is Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday, which I thankfully have off from work/school. Technically I work at a school, but I refer to my job as both; school, when I'm focused on my lovely students, smiles, art, creative lessons, delicious lunches, done by 5ish kind of days, and work when I'm distracted by the dominant paradigm of disheveled, self-serving bureaucracy, colleagues who appear contemptuous, mouthy students, no time for planning, in-depth discussions of "Biggest Loser" in the staff lounge, and being there, in my little, window-less room until 8ish, only to realize that all the lights in the media center are turned off and I have to find my way, with many "ooofs" around the bookshelves to the exit in pitch darkness. In summary, I'm having a very nice day today because I don't have to worry where I'm going tomorrow, or which name might be bestowed upon it.

Things have subtly shifted since last we spoke. I'm feeling happier, healthier, appreciative of my blessing, and more optimistic than I was. Maybe it's because Spring is breaking on the horizon (each day I will the thermometer to rise above 50), and I can sense plants hesitantly waiting for the right moment to push their ways make my walks more green, less brownish-yuck. I've also tried to make a shift in how I feel about myself.

For most of my life, I've dealt with guilt about body image: I think people should love themselves for who they are and love the bodies they have. Like a second piece of chocolate cake? Absolutely! No regrets. That being said, I've come to the conclusion that I wasn't going to actualize that attitude in myself anytime soon. So for me, I decided the healthiest decision was to take control (surprise! that's unlike me) and respect my body. It deserves better than the choices I've made in the past, which include way too many bags of nacho cheese Doritos. I also wanted to respect my mind. Why should I spend so much time thinking about unhealthy choices, worrying about if I would look as I wanted in my clothes, or wondering if I'd ever truly be "in shape?" In February, I joined a program at my gym that helps you create a habit out of making positive choices for your health. Which is exactly what I need! A way to shift my paradigm away from "This is what everyone eats, so why can't I eat it? People all eat like this and have for years, so why shouldn't I? French fries are an appetizer AND a side-dish! Dinner should fill your entire plate and make you feel tired, sweaty, and a bit's American!" to a place where I understand what food does for me and how to give my body what it actually needs to be strong and healthy. I didn't want to make choices based on losing weight, but on having a healthy connection between feeding my body and my, Oprah as it is, soul. That meant stopping eating for emotional reasons (when I'm sad, happy, stressed, bored, or as a reward for happiness). My refrigerator is chock full of delicious food that I can eat whenever I'm hungry and all of it is good for me! I love it! My newest complete obsession is mango...where has this been all my life? I feel like I'm eating something rare, exotic, and tropical each time and they're less expensive than I would have thought. While I do feel like I'm a little wrapped up in thinking about my progress toward my fitness goals, I hope that, with one more month of practice and discipline, I can ingrain in myself how to sustain these healthy choices, and then it can become easy, and second nature. And then I will rarely have to feel the obnoxious pains of unhealthy regret again and can focus on more important things in life (=everything).

On a completely different note, I've discovered a secret boutique filled with everything I love in jewelry. It's called Luna Sole, and it's on Hennepin, south of 28th. I just bought a golden necklace with a little pink stone this afternoon, another step in the process of grieving for my confirmation necklace. It's the end of an era in my life: the gold (plated, it turns out) necklace that my parents gave me when I was 13, and which I have worn every single day, never taking it off for 13 years, has been removed, and is now officially off the neck. Apparently, a baker's dozen anni is what it took to wear down the gold to the nickel underneath. At that moment, precisely, is when the skin on my neck got enraged, turned red, reptilian in texture, and very itchy, and demanded it's removal. It's been four days and I still feel scaly and dry. And sad. That necklace has been around the world with me- I kissed my cross on Palm Sunday in Paris in the last row of pews of Notre Dame- and it's endured so much: years of cross country, innumerable showers and baths, and my almost-constant fidgety tugging (which never broke it's tried and true clasp). Farewell. I found a chain that looks almost identical in the bottom of my jewelry box, along side the invisible necklaces and friendship bracelets, and the transfer of cross and ring was simple, painless. But still sad. This does, however, confirm that I truly have an allergy! I've always been irrationally jealous of people whose bodies had one specific dislike, for no apparent reason. And it's apropos that I'm allergic to nickel. Now I've got something new to tell doctors.

In music news, I have to take offense at Rolling Stone for panning Vampire Weekend at SXSW. Granted, I wasn't there and didn't see it, but I feel credit is due for writing one of my most interesting and beautiful albums I've heard in a long time. M79 has been on practically constant rotation for me today (running around Lake Harriet, at the gym, washing dishes, and chopping veggies for homemade soup...and now) and I still love it. The violin? It's like classical-indie, a genre which must be established immediately. I've heard tell that the band's pretty cute, too, hence (or partially hence) the sold-out show here.

What else? I've been dating a lot, in hopes of finding a man who's not desperately clinging to college life, living with his parents, or already in the tasseled-shoe stage of life. It's a tricky balance to achieve. I've developed ways to make even bad dates fun, discovered that having a busy life is a turn on, and realized that the way to my heart, at least in the short term, is pink tulips and sweet little messages written in French! J'adore. I've also concluded that I could never settle for anything less than butterflies and that it takes more than two dates to know for sure if someone is telling the truth (about anything).

This week is going to be spent not lounging in Cabo- I'm not that girl and content in the fact. I'm going to clean up my entire apartment, which will also be a de facto spring cleaning of my stresses and neurosis which fester in my mind and compound other stressers. I'm almost done tonight, which is perfect timing. Tomorrow, I want to start going to the public library downtown every day for a few hours to plan my lessons for the rest of the school year. Since most choices I make are based on reliving future stress, I hope that spending this extra time charting a creative curriculum will let me relax more at school in the eight weeks of instructional time that remain. And the downtown library is stunningly beautiful, so it will be wonderful quiet time for me, too. I'm such a nerd. Oh, and I'm turning into the obsessive controlish person that my mom is now. While I see many drawbacks to that- I pity my future children- my mother also has always had everything together, been someone who could do it all, and I would be lucky to be as successful an organizer of all facets of life as she is.

My parents had a party on Saturday night to celebrate moving into to their new house. FINALLY. Whew. They've been sans maison for about a year, living in my grandparents' condo in Edina, sleeping on two twin beds pushed together! For all of the holiday season, they also most graciously shared the condo with my grandparents, who wake up at 4am and go to bed at 9pm. Their new house is adorable, intimidatingly big (my dad still can't remember all of the rooms), and elegant. Without planning to, they also ended up equidistant from both of my aunts' homes. Fifteen years ago, my family lived in New Hampshire, my Aunt Emily lived in southern California, and my Aunt Ali lived in Colorado...and now this. It will be so much fun to have family gatherings this summer. And, the part I'm already outrageously excited about is that my reluctant, shy, previously nonspirited family members have suggested (by themselves- without prodding!) that we Christmas carol between all the houses this winter! With sleds! And hot cocoa! Some of it spiked! Aww, holiday spirit, how I've miss YOU.

The purchase of this new house has inspired a little bit of curiosity, too: would it be possible for me to buy a place of my own? My current apartment is a bit of a fun-house, as in "funny=sheesh," and I'm ready for something that feels comforting. The market is just at it's low point, I, the neophyte real estate analyst am coaxing myself to believe, and it's the perfect time to buy. With help from my family, I can probably find a nice condo that would cost less per month than this grr-inducing one. (Story short: my bedroom doornob fell off and rolled under the oddly angled bottom of the door last week, and I was locked in my bedroom for 1/2 an hour until I could finagle it back to me and screw it on again). And a new condo might even come with a heated parking spot! That's enough to give me shivers, created by excitement this time instead of the bitter cold of shoveling off one's car in a Minnesota winter.

I'm desiring the delicious cabbage soup bubbling on my stove, so I'll end here. Bon nuit.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I almost forgot how obnoxious it's been!

I just finished listening to/watching the State of the Union address...

President Bush proposed nothing interesting, his rhythm was stuttered, and he offered nothing inspiring in terms of eloquence and leadership. It reminded me of how embarrassing his presidency has been, especially when juxtaposed with the constant coverage of the democratic primaries and their message of "change." I can just imagine how glorious it will be when a presidential speech evokes hope and personal responsibility and unity of all Americans! Besides his policies, record, and dedication, I would love to have Barack Obama in the White House just to hear him speak and effectively end the legacy of stupidity (whether true or effected) force-fed to our country for the past two terms. The goosebumps of good speech-writing haven't been felt for so long; I only want to yell at him, berate him for tired colloquialisms and sentence structure (and, of course, for still talking about "the war on terror"). I'm so determined to be involved this year in the primary process. It's so important, if only to make Americans engaged and proud once again.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holidays, part 1
I haven't posted in so long; I doubt anyone still reads my blog ;(

Since I don't keep a diary (for the reason that when I die, it would make me seem manic, trivial, superficial, and banal since I'm truly unmotivated to do it with any frequency), I feel like I should write something here about my holiday. It was marvelous. I am so incredibly lucky. Here's what happened:

I feel like the holiday season, at least in the secular sense, began on December 16, my father's birthday. Our family isn't big on surprises and we've never done a surprise party of any kind, so I thought I would try, in a small way at least, to attempt to stun my dad a little bit. The further benefit of which being that he always bemoans the fact that his birthday is so close to Christmas, it gets overlooked, he gets combination b-day/xmas gifts, etc. So I made a plan: it began when I saw an ad for the Transiberian Orchestra for the day before his birthday in CityPages. I love them. I think they're totally over the top, like a corale group mixed with an '80's hair band. It's just kitchy enough not to be obnoxious (or so obnoxious that they're kitchy?;) So I bought the tickets, which were trés chere. Oh well, that was going to be his primary gift, besides a stuffed loon that made a loon call when you squeezed it (my dad loves his looney buddies!) Anyway, the show was going to be at the Target Center, which happens to connect to my dad's favorite bit of skyway (idiosyncracy #2 about my dad: he loves the skyway!) Then I remembered that he loves Bellanotte, an Italian restaurant that connects, by skyway, to the Target Center. So after dinner, I could idly suggest that we all go for a walk in the skyway, which he'd definitely be up for, and then we could walk over there for the surprise unveiling of the tickets! The final part of the birthday involved getting my brother up here secretly, so he could come with us.

And in the end, it all worked out beautifully. We did have to rush dinner- Bellanotte was so slow- but my dad didn't seem to mind, and he loved the over-the-top light show at the concert. Yay first birthday surprise! I plan on many more.

My Christmas spirit continued to grow when my brother arrived on Wednesday the 19th. We have so much fun together. He even came to visit my work on Friday. Unfortunately, I started feeling incredibly nauseous by lunch and had to leave early...I didn't even make it to my apartment before throwing up, in the garbage can next to my mailbox! Then I took a little nap and forced my mom and brother to help me shop for the ingredients for our family's first ever Mexican xmas dinner, to take place on Saturday night. I bought most of the food, and delicious chips, at Midtown Global Market. I love that place! We went to Lund's, where I showed my dedication to good cooking by pushing through my nausea to finishing shopping (I only threw up twice there). Blah. By the next morning, even though I couldn't eat very much, I felt better, and went to my grandparents place to start cooking. It felt like a traditional Mexican scene, with three generations of women rolling tamales and drinking beer (maybe that's not tradition?) We also made Mexican rice, beans, Rosca de Reyes (like fruitcake), Mexican hot chocolate, margaritas, and sangria! With everything laid out, my apartment looked beautiful and felt so warm and cozy. We all sat around eating for a while, then opened the first night of secret santa presents (which we do for the three days before Christmas). My cousin got a pretend shaving kit and shaved everyone. Then I did a reading of a children's story about a father who goes to America for work and comes home just in time for Christmas (which the Republican candidates would probably recommend for a book burning). The whole meal was so nice.

John and I went to Chino Latino for drinks one night (why do I always forget their Irish coffees are horrible?) then to see Juno again. It's better the second time, I say. Oh, and before that, we both attended the team friendship gift exchange, which was super fun as well. I got a pretty mirror and placards from Bri and gave Amy a lollipop where you have to lick Rudolph's weird! For John, since he wasn't part of the exchange, I got Ben & Jerry's paraphenalia, and a pint of Americone Dream, which is delicious!

I'm getting sleepy, so I'll finish this later. Happy New Year's Eve in three hours!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've been thinking about career choices, what we're raised to believe, and how it differs in each generation. My grandparents were raised to believe that you should save every penny, buy store brand, never eat out, and put money in solid stocks. They got married when they were 22. My grandpa became a doctor and started working right away, which supported his family, and my grandmother raised the children and supported charitable causes. Now my grandpa is incredibly sound (financially, if not always in his mind:), and yet they live the same way as before and still worry about money. He told me yesterday that Apple stocks are up to $200 a share and they told me how many he has and I couldn't do the math in my head. But he and my grandmother were raised in a climate of spend-thriftness that they can't shake.

My mother was raised in a period when women were taught to liberate themselves and not depend on men for financial support. So she decided to become a doctor so she'd never have to worry. Of course, she met my dad right after making that decision that they got married at age 23. Both of my parents were still studying for their careers when I was born, but they haven't changed jobs and can support their family without much stress.

I and my friends were raised to believe that we should be whatever we want to be, independent of financial worries. We should study what we're interested in in college and feel free to take time off after school. Women and men are financial equals, so women are expected to earn as much or more, but we aren't expected to get married until late 20's, early 30's. And education, which we're encouraged to return to if we find our initial careers unsatisfying, is getting more and more expensive. We've been given an idealistic dream of labor that isn't productive. I made a choice that I felt certain about at the time without thought for my financial security or future. I don't feel that the world is full of endless possibilities anymore- like living in a foreign country for a year, writing a book, or buying a house are things I may ever do while I'm still single- and the future is seeming precarious. As a person who feels the most comfortable in a world with parameters that I can maintain and control, this is disconcerting and I am longing for the day when I can regain my fiscal balance (economic schmaltz!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This evening I went for a walk by myself to look at Christmas lights. I left my apartment and walked toward the lake, and then turned right and went 10 blocks north to Mount Curve Road, my fantasy street. While I was doing my little hopping walk, to keep from sliding, I listened to my favorite Christmas songs. From the capacity for happiness stored in the memories of those songs, in the peaceful quiet of the snow-covered street, the seasonal anticipation I was already starting to feel made me so, well, full of Christmas spirit, I guess:) Every year I get this way before Christmas. The season, so redolent of past times spent with family and friends, is therefore mostly a month of building up to the one day, which never quites lives up to the experiences during advent. I love decorating my little tree, baking and frosting sugar cookies, shopping for presents, planning parties, singing carols, drinking hot chocolate, and staying up late for church on Christmas Eve.