Sunday, December 22, 2013

Omit mention of nothing

I always feel a bit strange posting when I'm at my parents' house in Ithaca because I write this blog primarily for them so...who am I updating, really?  You're right. Probably no one.

But I think I will write a little something because I am just petty enough to crave the blogosphere (not a word--but who cares) limelight and to get a sad, secret thrill from each like I receive on facebook.  If you've read but haven't "liked" my posts, don't worry.  My self esteem only entirely depends on it.

It feels nice to be back on the East Coast, even though I've been on East Coast three times more than usual this year and even though I've seen more rain then snow so far and I really really enjoy my two weeks of winter before I jet back to 60 degrees and sunny blahness.  But the weatherman is predicting a white Christmas eve at least, so I am cautiously optimistic. 

And I am probably dooming myself to the most harrowing of journeys back by saying this, but my trip out here was shockingly uneventful.  This was probably the first time in the history of flying...ever to the East Coast during the holidays, when I didn't encounter a single delay or lost bag or emergency landing on any of my flights (yes, plural and involving more than one layover).  I even got to enjoy a glass of decent red wine at the Philly airport with Moses.  It was almost like something out of a movie, but with considerably much more waiting in lines, searching for power outlets, and concealing my annoyance of other people when they complain about the "taste" of their airport caramel macchiato.

Similarly to how I amuse myself by thinking of famous authors ordering sandwiches at Subway, I will also amuse myself by thinking of movie characters bogged down in some of the more unspectacular moments of air travel.  Which is all of it, really.  Like Nick Cage in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets on his way to Paris to find the next thrilling clue taking his shoes off and dully waiting in line at security behind a man taking handfuls change out of his pocket.

In her short story "Snow," Anne Beattie wrote "any life would seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it."  I always really liked that line.  Obviously, I don't follow that model on my blog, but that's because I don't pity you as a reader.  Anyways, when I taught this story in my intro to fiction class, I explained what this line meant to a student by using that example of Nick Cage's character from National Treasure 2.  The student seemed to get it after that.

But moving on.  I've been listening to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You a Swinging Christmas this year.  It's just the best.  I especially like that she ends her rendition of "Jingle Bells" with the line: "I'm just crazy about horses."  I sing that line more than I would like to admit/ I probably realize.  So much so that every once and a while Moses will ask me: "Wait, so how do you feel about horses again?"

When I got to Ithaca my ten year old brother Isaiah said "I think you might be addicted to that song."  When I asked him why, he replied matter-of-factly: "Because you've been whistling it all morning."

Let's see...what else?  Well, I really haven't done much yet in Ithaca except for Christmas shopping and watching episode after episode of Chopped but here is a spattering of randomness because clearly everything is worth documenting:

This is the festive centerpiece of our dining room table back home is LA.  I just think it's lovely.  The poinsettia will probably be dead when we get back, but, you know, always the optimist...

Isaiah took a long, pensive look at my parents' nativity set and said "I really don't think there are enough animals."

So remedied.

One of our most treasured Christmas traditions is making Christmas cookies, using my grandmother's recipe.

Sure we ran out of regular food coloring but what says Merry Christmas more than 1980's neon?

Now I am off to eat my millionth NY bagel, drink my fiftieth cup of coffee, and play Settlers of Catan with my siblings.

Who's ready to argue about brick?  Because in our family, it's always brick.

A very Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Tis the season to be stressful

Are you there, Alcohol?  It's me Wendy.

That should be the title of my autobiography.  Or lifetime original movie.  Or one woman show.  Or regular old Tuesday night.

Ugh.  That opening took me three days to write and at best it registers as a Chelsea Handler on the comedy meter. Which for those of you unfamiliar or unaware falls somewhere in between Dane Cook and nondescript sock puppet.

Traditionally, this has always been a dicey time of year for me.  As a student, it was full of finals and term papers.  As an instructor, it was full of grading finals and term papers.  Much worse, trust me.  But, this year, being neither a student nor an instructor for the first time in a looooong time, I thought I would be able to put up my feet, drink some peppermint hot cocoa, get my Christmas shopping done early, and skate into the holiday season with ease. Right?





I'm going to tell it to you straight, reader:  I'm ragged.  Like really really ragged.  Like almost grad school level ragged.  Like cry in your boss' office and then vaguely entertain the idea of inventing a pregnancy just so you could have something other than stress to blame it on ragged.

Yeah.  Based on a true story, my friends.

And all I can say is: W. T. F.

I am a working professional with remotely regular working hours; I shouldn't have to deal with this crap anymore.  But you know, something about me being gone from my desk for essentially an entire month and our office closing down for two weeks at the end of December, has made things a wee bit on the harry side at work.  Go figure.

Plus, I started doing these ballet fitness videos and man, are they tough.  The next day, my movement is reduced to a strained shuffle and in a Walking Dead happy office like mine, I'm left moderately concerned that someone will plunge an xacto knife in my frontal cortex.  Clearly the weapon of choice at an art school in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Over the Thanksgiving Day holiday, I saw a woman get off a bus in downtown LA and walk towards us. Her shoulders were hunched over a bit and she was dragging her feet, one staggered step at a time.  Just like a walker.  And, as an avid Walking Dead watcher, my first reaction was not: Why is she walking like that?  Or I sure do hope she's okay.  No. My eyes were too busy darting around, trying to find the closest, sharpest object.

You know, it's as if I ask myself: is this interesting to other people?  And then, when the answer is no, I blog about it.

Anyways, since my little meltdownage on Tuesday, things have gotten better and I'm no longer panicking about getting everything done before I leave--slight shudder--next week.  But it will be fine. It will be fine, she said decidedly, though mostly to convince herself.

And today readers, today is my birfday.  I would feel awkward announcing it so brazenly like that--as such an obvious ploy for attention--but A.  I'm a blogger, so...duh.  And B. I really have no shame when it comes to my birthday.  It's the one day a year that I allow myself to Kanye West-it and boldly and selfishly relish in the spotlight.  So wish me well, goddamn it because I am birthdayzilla.  Recognize.

Typically, my birthday is meticulously planned by me and is usually relatively elaborate (Disneyland, Ice skating--this makes me sound like a twelve year old girl, but I swear I'm not). But this year, when Moses asked me what I wanted to do, I first thought party, but then I really didn't feel much like hosting. Next I thought fancy dinner, but then I really didn't feel much like going out.  And finally, it dawned on.  I wanted to do absolutely nothing.

So we did.

And it was just what I always wanted.

Here's to the last year of my twenties.  They've been pretty fab so far.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blog 'til it hurts (or until you find something say)

Almost every morning I wake up and think: I am going to blog today.  And son of mother, if 8:30PM doesn't roll right around the corner with a full sink of dishes, me just having finished up a Jillian workout or an episode of Breaking Pointe (new obsession, don't ask), and scrambling together some semblance of dinner while gently flirting with idea of just another night of ordering take-out and wondering where my day and all my hopes and dreams went.

How did Kurt Vonnegut do it?  Because clearly that is whom I should compare myself to because we're totally on the same level.

I have to admit I've been feeling vaguely on top of the world recently due to the smoothness (slash lack of meltdownage) of my first East Coast trip.  But then I remember I only completed my online sexual harassment training mere hours before the deadline and that it took me leaving for my second trip to the East Coast  to finally unpack from my first trip to the East Coast and all my starry-eyed ideas about being a functional--if not industrious--adult gets chucked squarely out the window.  But you still love me, I'm sure.  No, you're right.  Idolize is probably a better word for it.

Right now, I am sitting in my pajamas in a hotel in Baltimore, watching Wizard Oz on TBS and surprising myself by the number of lines that I can recite verbatim.  Is it weird that I still feel that slight, familiar lurch in the pit of my stomach on the note before Wicked Witch of the East appears in Munchkin Land?

Also, and I am not sure why it took me until this viewing to realize this, but Glinda is kind of a B.  I mean, Dorothy clearly asks her how to get home and Glinda pulls this elusive bullshit about following the yellow brick road and then has the nerve, the NERVE, to tell Dorothy at the end that the reason that she didn't tell her the ruby slippers had to power to transport her back to Kansas is because Dorothy wouldn't have believed.  I know, I know, it's about the journey blah blah blah.  But seriously, Glinda, what the H?  Wouldn't have believed you?  Bitch, you magic. #Waytobewithholdingaboutpertinentinformation.  Too much?  Fine.

Against my better judgment, I clicked on a link floating around the facebook that assigns animals to the meyers brigg personality types and discovered that my spirit animal is an owl:

I read this to Moses over the phone and I'm not sure if he's speaking to me again yet.

I was very disappointed in myself that I wasn't more persistent in getting ridiculous selfies at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, so when I was in DC, I committed.

I committed hard.

Of course, I also acted like a normal person.

Same face in every picture syndrome be mine!

P.S. How do you feel about the bangs?  Moses says that he doesn't like bangs so I am going to need you to go ahead and assume his role of validating my life choices.

While in DC, I was fortunate enough to stay in just about the weirdest, grooviest, Austin Powers meets Willy Wonka hotel room.  I almost don't want to show the pics after giving you that description but I feel like it would be cruel not to.

Complimentary zebra print bath robe

Completely natural.

Curtains to the boudoir.

The mini bar.

I wouldn't have known what to make of it, if I wasn't positive that it was awesome.

As for today?  Today, I had grand plans to rise early and walk around the Baltimore harbor buuuuuuuuuut then I opened a drowsy eye lid to peer at the weather forecast this morning and decided that my hotel bed was a bit too warm and too comfy for me to leave it and brave the frigid tundra-like temperatures.  Especially when I've been conditioned to find 60 degrees chilly.

So I drank coffee and watched top chef instead.  All in all, it was a perfect day to spend mostly indoors.

Life experience, life spexsperience.

And now off to force myself to get a few hours of shut eye before I catch the earliest of early morning flights tomorrow.

Travels thus endeth.  For now.  Until Christmas.  Not complaining.  Much.

Owl catch you later.  Ugh.  Okay.  Stopping now...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yes, I am very busy and important

Where to begin? How about just by asking that and following it with some rambles?  How does that sound to you?  Awful?  Excellent.

I just returned from a two week long business trip on the East Coast that took me to four different states, none of which allowed you to buy wine in a CVS.  Thanks Obama.  Or Puritans.  Or both.

I see this lack of booze accessibility as a real failing.  Who cares about seasons and brilliant fall fuchsias if I can't buy moisturizer and a bottle of tequila from the same store?

And in case you were wondering, the correct answer is no one.

Relax, I'm just (mostly) kidding.  You can all close your google calendars, which you were assuredly checking to see when best to schedule my intervention.  Also, I will be busy for the next three weekends, so...yeah.  Just bear that in mind.

I am so glad that I am doing this instead of writing out a grocery list.

But moving on.

I have a new found respect for people who travel often for business--people like my father when he was working at IBM in the 80's and early 90's and jet setting nearly every other month--because as fun as it is, it's hard.  It's hard being away from your life and staying in multiple hotels and eating mostly take out and repacking the same suitcase that you stupidly overstuffed with clothes, over and over again until you have blisters on your fingers as relics from all your wrestling with luggage zippers.  True story.

But rather than dwell on all the times that I bruised my thighs and ripped my tights while lugging around my wheelie suitcase through the subways in New York City, I am going to focus on the more pleasant parts of my travel.  Not because I am trying to be optimistic but because in those other stories, I am sweaty and directionally challenged and I would prefer to keep up the vague facade that I am cool, generally non-sweaty, and resourceful.

So the narrative really begins on Halloween night, when I caught the red eye to Connecticut.  I was pretty annoyed about having to take the red eye, since I usually only will make an effort to cut those price corners when I am funding the trip myself, but in retrospect, I am glad that I got out of the LAX when I did. If I had left even seven hours later, at a reasonable time in the morning like I had wanted to, I would have ended up at LAX right around the time of the shooting that happened there.  So you best believe that I am thanking whatever lucky stars I have that I was saved from that harrowing experience.

Getting into Hartford early Friday morning also meant that I got to spend almost the entire day with my best friend Gwendolyn, which was just so lovely.

It was the mildest, most beautiful fall day.  The autumn colors were at their peak, which I was moderately concerned about missing; we drove around to the different colleges in the area (where Gwendolyn works), we drank endless amounts of coffee to keep me wide eyed while running on four hours of sleep, we dined at quaint New England restaurants that boasted spectacular views, and ran an errand or two at Target (no Wendy/Gwen trip is complete without that).

It was really the most charming day--one of the those days that I felt nostalgic about even before it ended. Do you ever have days like that or is this yet another symptom of my particular brand of overly emotional nutterdom?  It was so nice to see Gwendolyn again and to chat about our lives and to be in a place that I had never really called home but that felt like home.  Or maybe that was just being around Gwendolyn.

I know.  Mushy mush mush mush but you'll get over it, given time and the appropriate amount of therapy.

The real highlight of the evening was when Gwendolyn took me to an old mill that had been converted to a used book store and restaurant.

My favorite section.

Gender studies section.  Natch.

It was certainly my kind of place.

The next day I drove to Boston, where I stayed for three days, in a ridiculously nice and equally ridiculously expensive hotel room.

Still can't beat that view...

Taking selfies, my favorite travel past time but you already know this about me.

My sister is currently doing her second post doc at Tufts because she's not an overachiever at all, so we were able to hang out quite a bit while I was in Boston.  I feel similarly sentimental about that time.

On Sunday evening, she, Gwen and I walked around Davis square and the Tuft campus.  We got to see Genny's new apartment and share a truly fantastic dinner at a seafood restaurant.

Monday night, my last night in Boston, Genny and I walked the Freedom trial.  Yes it was dark and cold and my feet hurt by the end of the night because I'm getting old but we had soooo much fun.  And we ended the evening by having a drink and some appetizers at the Green Dragon Tavern, which is historic bar on the freedom trial where many of the revolutionary soldiers regularly met to plan.  And we had a nice text conversation with Scott about the name of the taverns affiliations with Tolkien.

God, Tolkein and history?  Nerd alert.

And since this is the traditional part of the narrative where I start to get lazy, I will just itemize the highlights from the rest of the trip.

The highlight of NYC: walking to the empire state building and realizing that I had to pay $30 to go to the top.  To which I responded, effff that and took the subway back to my hotel room where I watch no less than four straight hours of food network t.v. programming.

The highlight of my three and a half hour Sunday drive to Philadelphia: black bear roadkill on the side of the highway.  Did I say highlight?  I meant single-handedly the most horrifying thing I have ever encountered.  I totally wasn't freaking out for the next five miles straight.

The highlight of my three and a half hour Sunday drive back to Ithaca from Philadelphia: not hitting a black bear with my no liability coverage rental car.

The highlight(s) of Ithaca: hanging out with my family, having a delicious/delightful dinner with my brother Scott and his girlfriend Katie, not doing any work, watching girly movies with my mom, grocery shopping at Wegmans (be still my heart), drinking Ithaca Bakery coffee and eating Ithaca Bakery bagels, eating too much and only feeling moderately guilty about it, having my Dad pretend to be Jillian Michaels and scold me about eating too much, at which point, I ceased feeling any guilt.  Yeah.  It was all priceless.

And true to form, I have approximately zero pictures from the New York leg of my trip.  Fail, Kozak.

But I did manage to take this lovely shot of the sunset from my plane. Does that count?

Oh yes and this was after the first plane I was on had to make an emergency trip back to Newark after hearing a popping sound in the engine. But don't worry, it was not in the least bit inconvenient/terrifying/no, mostly terrifying.  And I totally enjoyed boarding the same flight twice.  I don't think I quite got it down the first time, but the second time around: nailed it!

I'm only kidding because fo' reals I am glad we switched planes.

I am also so so so glad to be back to this:

I know that this photo is a repeat offender but I love it, plus Moses vetoed all the other ones I wanted to use...

And this:

My welcome home tulips from Moses and my favorite W mug, with coffee in it.

I am also happy to be back to a refrigerator that works again and that has been purged from all rotting food by my saintly boyfriend.

And since it was snowing in New York the day I left, I am also glad to be back to the 70 degree weather and the feeling of smugness I get when reading my east coast friend's facebook statuses.