Friday, May 23, 2008

come and knock on our door

This weekend, my brother's roommate, Mark (the Wafflehouse Skanks' drummer) will be in for a visit. He's never been to Chicago, so he and my brother are going to crash at our place for a couple days and check out the city. It'll be a Wrigley weekend: a tour of the Friendly Confines on Saturday and two Cubs/Dodger series games on Monday and Tuesday. That means a lot of hot dogs and stadium beer for me. Plus I'm having the (in-state) high school crowd over on Sunday. That's a lot of people for a 685-square-foot place, but I'm sure it'll be a lot of fun.

I'd much rather have my home packed with loved ones than what's been going on—not that I have any problems with people coming to see the place—the more prospective buyers, the better! But H told me that yesterday after a showing when he got back into our unit, it looked as though someone had been sitting on our bed. For some reason that really creeped me out. Strangers walking around and touching our things, sitting on the couch where I fall asleep every night at 10 pm, fondling my pillow, opening my fridge and seeing my stockpiles of string cheese. It's a little too much to think about. 

So instead I'll focus on what to recommend Mark sees while he's here. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 19, 2008

can't never catch up

Last week I admitted on twitter that I was having a Jessie Spano "I'm so excited" moment, and some of you expressed your concern (Thanks for the "no hope with dope" reminder, Omar).

It's not that things are bad, or even really terribly hectic, but for some reason, I feel like I'm behind, like there are eleventeen hundred things that would better serve me to do than sitting around watching last season's So You Think You Can Dance all in one long Cat-Deely-narrated marathon. Yet there was nothing I could do to remove myself from its tractor beam.

Or maybe it's the waiting. Patiently anticipating has never been my strong suit; I always feel more productive walking twenty blocks than waiting twenty minutes for the bus, even though it takes a lot longer. The waiting—for things we've worked for to fall into place so I can finally relax—is killing me. So much so that the acid reflux/ulcer/monster in my stomach is coming back. I really hope I don't have to sleep sitting up again.

So in relaxation exercise, I share some of these shots of my trip to my brother's graduation:

I don't know too many people who can say they've been on a Jumbo Tron.

Mobile Bay, just behind the restaurant we went to for a celebratory dinner after the ceremony. There was a dock back there from which people were giving pontoon and airboat rides. We had to wait about two and a half hours for a table, and I was mighty tempted to hop on one and search for alligators.


But it was worth the wait: This was the view from our table. That was also where I tried alligator (small bites and a nice spicy sauce). It also had some killer Key Lime Pie.

Driving 14 hours in a Chrysler Sebring (the backseat is like a vortex—so close to the ground that adults can barely see out the windows) with my parents and H wasn't nearly as bad as it could be. Even though we were stuck on a bridge the bayou for three hours in the dark with hundreds of other cars because of a fatal accident, with no idea when we'd be able to see the inside of a bathroom. I had the through-the-night driving shift both on the way there and back, and couldn't help myself but cheer as we passed through a little town in Kentucky:

H was awake on the way back so I pulled over and made him take some pictures. I was in some of them, but after six hours of middle-of-the-night driving (on top of the three-hour bayou delay) I was looking disheveled at the very best and probably a lot more like a psychotic demon because of the way my hair got so very frizzy and frazzled down there in the humidity. So I'll spare you that nightmarish image. I'm dying to know how they pronounce it down there, but I'm pretty sure I'd have some shoes thrown at me if I tried to stop and find out at 3 am.


Sorry it's not more exciting. No actual woodmen were spotted, however there was a lovely (retention) pond by the side of the turn off.

* All photos were taken by H, except for the one of the airboat, which was courtesy of Cadiz.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

the things we give up for love

"Did you see that girl we just passed? I really liked her dress."

"Eh, it was okay. But did you see how much makeup she had on?"

"I thought she looked nice!"

"Maybe from far away, but as she got closer you could see it was really caked on. Gross."

"You're totally the reason I don't wear makeup. Not because I'm lazy or anything."

"I never said Don't wear it. I just don't like when you leave that menthol or minty or whatever-it-is stuff on my Gatorade bottle."

"I stopped wearing that Burt's Bees stuff because you said that."

"We all make sacrifices. Like when I started dating you, I had to come to terms with saying goodbye to my liver-flavored chapstick."

"I appreciate that. You're a pal."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

you'll never get those 3 hours back, but you won't get another shot, either

On Saturday we watched as my brother graduated from college.

A few months ago, he told us that he didn't want to walk in the ceremony, that it wasn't a big deal and it's not like he'll get anything other than the empty certificate holder anyway. Plus, it'd be an all-school graduation and likely last several hours. After a lot of persuading, I convinced him to suck it up and get fitted for that cap and gown because my parents deserved to see him up there. And though he grumbled the entire way and took his cap off as soon as he sat back down, he went through with it. 

We made the drive and got dressed up and filed into the auditorium. Most people sitting around us were leafing through the pamphlets and chattering (however there was an extremely frazzled mom with no grasp on her loud children, who rested their feet on our shoulders, drowned out the speakers and repeatedly hurled shredded programs at H's head). I was looking around at everything from the jumbotron to the blond-wood bass in the band and suddenly I was crying. 

I don't know what prompted it. I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, but the tears kept rolling and I couldn't do anything to stop them. All these years of my brother struggling just to make it through another day, let alone the rigors of earning a diploma—it really is quite an accomplishment. And it definitely wasn't easy. Several semesters were missed for surgery, recovery and complications, and dozens of credit units didn't transfer from school to school. A lesser man might have called it quits a long time ago. 

I looked over at my mom, who was in the same state. All she could do was smile through her tears. Later she said she had been picturing that first surgery, when my brother's tiny three-month-old body was covered in tubes and encased in an incubator, and how she hadn't known then if she should even hope to see this day. I held her hand; that's all I've ever really had to offer.
Five years ago, my then-boss' sister (who also worked at our company) had been diagnosed with lung cancer, despite never having smoked a cigarette in her life. The sister was one of those people who make your day better just by the way they say hello. My boss was just as wonderful: She was fair and kind and considerate and kicked ass at her job. And we worked hard because we didn't want to let her down. I loved that boss. She taught me so much, not just about our craft, but about what it really means to supervise people so they can grow. She gave me the feedback that pushed me toward a job I had hoped to snag someday but worried I wasn't good enough for. And she was a genuinely awesome person.

I knew my boss was having a really tough time seeing her sister in so much pain. And while there's not a lot that you can say to comfort people at times like that, I know a little about how it is. My boss said that hearing about my brother made her feel a little better—especially when I told her that the doctors had said we'd be lucky if he made it to age 20 and that we had just toasted his 21st birthday.

Unfortunately, my boss' sister didn't make it. Even more tragic, my boss herself was diagnosed with cancer last year. When I found out, I got her a card that just said "Shit." (She got a kick out of that.) When I was putting it into our office's Outgoing Mail pile, a senior person picked it up and approached me kind of menacingly. I thought I violated some policy about sending personal mail from the office, but it turned out that he was my boss' brother-in-law. He offered to hand-deliver the card because she'd been coming to his house to recover after every round of chemo.

Even though she had been doing really well, things took a turn for the worst and my boss passed away early Sunday morning, as we were getting done celebrating brother's graduation in Alabama. Losing her has hit everyone hard: I've gotten calls from people I haven't seen in years, and I will probably see more at the memorial on Thursday. It's terrible that it'll take a death to bring us all back together again. But it is a testament to how much this woman is loved and how I didn't have to go far before I bumped into someone else who is blessed to have known her. 

If I had gotten to see my boss before she died, I would have told her that not only did my brother finally graduate after seven years, but he'll be turning 26 in September and continues to raise hell every single day. I think it would have made her happy to hear. 

It pays to celebrate what you've got, while you still have it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Leave it to the skanks

I have just been informed that one of the Wafflehouse Skanks has broken Rock Band. Granted, the way it was presented to me was with the phraseology "something shorted in the drums; we didn't do it on purpose" but I recognize that sentence for the flimsy coverup for alcohol-laden gaming that it is. 

I am upset. I was really looking forward to taking a crack at it because a) I've never played Rock Band b) I've never played w/ more than one other person c) I'd do WAY better at the singing than playing any instrument and d) Playing video games with my brother is really fun. 

I probably can still try out the other instruments and sing, but it just won't be the same without the drums. 

Maybe I can convince H to let us bring the extra guitar and Guitar Hero so any hard-core Cadiz rocking out will not be impeded in Alabama.

Stupid skanks.

p.s. When I googled "Wafflehouse Skanks" to get the link to my earlier post, it wasn't even the first one that came up! This blog came up third, and it wasn't even the band post that it linked to, but one about the people our office shares a building with. The first two links are to how Kid Rock got into trouble with the law at a Waffle House, and apparently there were skanks present. Who would have guessed?