Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Coming Up Brigi

Last week wasn’t great. It’s not worth rehashing, but all you need to know is that last week ended on a low note and this week started off like Mariah Carrey in “All I Want for Christmas” (90’s Mariah, not 2017 Mariah…sorry Mimi). 

Our town had a 5k Sunday morning, a fundraiser for the high school girl’s lacrosse team, and Brent and I said to ourselves, you know what’d be a good idea? To stuff ourselves w/ Qdoba and beers and then run a race the next day; yeah, that’d be brilliant. Brent wanted to do a sub 30 minute run, which isn’t all that hard to do, but I figured the burritos and beers would have something to say about that (read: not happening). When we got to the high school, it was all families; little kids running around and their exhausted and slightly out-of-shape parents looking on wearily. I thought to myself: wait, is this a race we might be able to place in? So then I got all in my head and was actually nervous for a run that wasn’t even big enough to shut down the roads and had us running alongside traffic with a police officer every mile to give the impression of safety. 

I think my nerves gave me that final push at the end when I saw the finish line and that girl in the busy leggings who was in my sights the whole run and who I really wanted to beat. I started my final sprint as soon as I saw the orange cone, and I flew by busy leggings. And then I saw the actual finish line, which was well beyond the stray cone some maintenance personnel had left out that I mistook for the finish. It was a pretty long stretch there at the end, but I did it. I beat busy leggings! My new personal record, that I had just set for myself that day, shattered. That’s how you start a week. The good news just kept rolling in; when we were checking our results online, I saw that I had placed third in my age bracket. 

Full disclosure: my bracket was females 30-45, so I really lucked out there, but I don’t make the brackets, I just dominate them (third place is considered dominating, right?)

Full disclosure: I was more than a little excited about this turn of events. I’ve never placed in a race, ever. We were in the car, practically in our neighborhood when I saw this and I turned to Brent and was like, wait, should we go back? Is there going to be a medal ceremony? And he just looked at me like, aren’t the twelve Almond-Joys you swiped from the meager post-race swag table enough? (in my defense, I’ve never seen Almond-Joys after a race and they’re one of my favorites so I’m not proud of how I cleared that tiny table out, but it is what it is).

On our post-run high, Brent and I decided to head to the city. We wanted to hit up a brewery but needed to eat first, so we were those people, cruising along Seaport Boulevard at 15mph, hoping against all hope that we might be able to find a parking spot. Just as we were about to give up and pay for a garage, Brent pointed out a spot that wasn’t even a parallel park job; it was at the end of a row of cars and I just had to pull it in. It was across the street from the restaurant we wanted to go to and less than a ten minute walk to the brewery. You probably don’t believe me, b/c none of this sounds at all believable, but it’s true. It happened to us, it can happen to you; don’t give up on your dreams. 

Later that night, back at home, Brent was checking our NCAA brackets and noted how I was in first place. I had a pretty solid lead, but needed UNC to win Monday night so I could clinch first place. Spoiler alert: UNC won March Madness and I won McCarthy Madness. It’s a pretty big deal, I’ll definitely be mentioned in the family newsletter and they’ll probably need a quote about what I plan to do w/ my winnings. 

Come to think of it, Brent and I didn’t send our dollar entry fees in, so my prize might come up a little short. That’s probably for the best, since I plan to spend it all on Reese’s eggs. It’s not really spring until my couch is littered w/ those telltale yellow wrappers and I have a perpetual stomachache.   

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Monday Night Edition

Monday night we met some friends in the city for dinner. We went to Coppa, one of the places on my Boston’s Best list, and the food did not disappoint. Brent and I had a few beers to kill time before our reservation and I asked him if he just wanted to get nuts, who cares if it’s Monday, YOLO! Brent’s response: absolutely not. 

I guess one of us has to be an adult sometimes.

Without Brent as my sidekick, my plan wasn’t to get totes hammered on this Monday night outing. But the pre-dinner beers and the cocktails when the food arrived and grabbing more drinks at a bar before our train home probably sent my body the wrong idea. To put it mildly, it was a little aggressive for a Monday. 

It was great catching up w/ friends, though, and although it’d be easier if my Tuesday wasn’t spent with a raging headache and snacking on all the food I made for service, I’d like to make dinners in the city a regular thing for me and Brenty. There’s a zillion restaurants I want to try, and Monday or Tuesday nights are perfect b/c a lot of places run specials to up the business those nights, and I have Wednesdays off, so I could essentially get a little nuts and just regroup on Wednesday (kind of like I’m doing right now). 

It got me thinking about some other well-intentioned nights that ended up slightly awry (namely, this, this and this), and brings me to a little series I like to call: 

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Monday Night Dinner

Good idea: Enjoying a delicious dinner at a fabulous restaurant
Bad idea: Grabbing a burger and fries afterwards from the train station to tide you over on the ride home

Good idea: Talking up how handsome and attractive your friend is
Bad idea: Talking up how handsome and attractive your friend is (Brent did seem a little put out during my gushing….)

Good idea: Ordering more desserts than there are people to ensure everyone gets enough
Bad idea: Not making a move for that last ricotta doughnut #regrets 

Good idea: Setting an alarm on your phone so you don’t miss the 9pm train
Bad idea: Forgetting to set that alarm and not getting home until after midnight 

Good idea: Catching some sleep on the train ride home, since you’re up waaaaay past your normal bedtime
Bad idea: Falling asleep w/ your dress hitched up your legs and your legs splayed all over the seat

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Current March Mood

Somebody’s got a case of the March blues, and by somebody I mean me. The freak spring weather we got a taste of two weeks ago didn’t help. We’re in the home stretch, spring is almost here and yet….


That’s how I feel. I don’t know what’s wrong w/ me, but my right foot started bugging me yesterday at work and hasn’t gone away even though I came home immediately and iced it. And by “iced it” I mean I sat on the couch eating ice cream, b/c that’s my cure for almost everything. 

I asked my Chef about arch pain and he suggested I take a break from my Danskos for a few days. I didn’t wear them today and hoped the pain would immediately go away, but no dice. I've been limping around and have a sinking feeling the pain isn’t going away anytime soon. Could this come at a better time? Brent and I just signed up for our second 5k, we’ve found a real running groove, I’ve been logging the miles on our new treadmill….wait, could all this activity have something to do w/ my foot pain? 

Fingers crossed it clears up by the weekend. Brent and I are headed to Syracuse for some old fashioned day drinking parade fun. Last year was clear and sunny and nearly 60 degrees out. This year calls for snow and a high of 19. Boy, are we pumped! 

We haven’t let the weather defeat us (yet). Saturday we went to Providence to see The Lion King. Brent got me tickets for Christmas and I have been counting down the days (kidding) (Or am I?) I put on my best skirt and boots and even some mascara (it was an occasion) and said "fuck you, windchill." The windchill didn’t care for my attitude and promptly brought stinging tears to my eyes and cheeks. It was still fun to pretend I was a lady and shake my head at all the jeans and yoga pants I saw at the theater. I turn into a 90-year-old when I go to the theater and have to point out all the inappropriate outfits and behavior and I simply have to call it "the theater."

If you haven’t seen The Lion King (b/c you, too, are living under a rock), go find a show near you right now. It was seriously incredible. I sat in my seat, leaning forward as far as I could go, a huge kool-aid smile on my face, for the entire show. I had chills more than a few times. We stayed until the absolute end, even though I usually hustle Brent out of anything early b/c I hate crowds, b/c I couldn’t not applaud these marvelous performers.

On Sunday we bundled up for a run, which really set a nice tone for the day: sit around drinking and eating junk food. We went to movies in between, and I only had one drink b/c it was a hard cherry coke and tasted like NyQuil. We saw Manchester by the Sea and holy shit, I was not ready for that. I knew it was a drama, but it’s like, really sad. Good acting, really pretty imagery, definitely worth seeing; mentally prepare yourself b/c it’s some heavy stuff. 

And on that highly encouraging note,

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Things No One Tells You After You Get in a Car Accident

January 2017 went out w/ a bang; a head-on collision if you want to get nit-picky. I was driving home from work on January 31st w/ conditions I’ve driven in hundreds, probably thousands, of times (growing up in what is consistently ranked one of the snowiest cities in the country, I’m familiar w/ driving in wintry conditions, thankyouverymuch). It was overcast and icy out, with a light snow that had been falling for a few hours, but nothing I was really concerned with. Taking a bend on the back roads I drive home from work every day, my car hit some ice, my steering wheel locked –literally, I couldn’t turn it AT ALL –and I was headed directly into a pick-up w/ a yellow plow attached. I thought I was going to die.

I don’t remember the actual collision; I think I’ve blocked out the trauma. I remember heading towards the truck thinking, “I can’t stop, we’re going to crash, OMG OMG” and then being in the median on the right side of the road. The driver of the truck was incredibly kind, making sure I was okay, comforting me in my ensuing panic attack, taking the lead on calling the police. No longer than five minutes passed w/ us trading information than another car came around the bend, saw our accident and tried to turn around, only to be slammed into by another car whizzing around the turn. Standing feet away from this accident brought a fresh round of tears. I don’t know how Brent and my sister understood anything I said when I called to fill them in; the whole aftermath is mostly a blur.

Now that I’ve had time to process everything and tie up (what I hope are) all the loose ends, I needed to write about it to put it the rest and get some information out there. All you’re told about a car accident is to get the other person’s insurance information, and maybe that’s fine for a fender bender where you’re both on your way moments later. But an accident like this requires a lot more hoops to jump through; none of which I was prepared for.

- Make sure you take all the items from your car you’ll need immediately. I grabbed my house keys and work bag, but forgot all about my E-Z pass, gym bag and snow brush, which would have been nice. Also forgotten? The garage door opener #firstworldproblems 

- Make sure you know exactly where your car is being towed. The name of a nearby mechanic was thrown around, but this was one of like 3 small towns I drive through on my commute and I’m not really familiar w/ the area. It wasn’t a problem until State Farm called me to ask me where my car was. Excuse me? State Farm had told me when I filed the claim that they would take it to a salvage yard to inspect the condition of the car. They didn’t do this, it ended up staying at the shop where it was towed, but when I thought my car was MIA and I still had a bunch of important shit in there (see the point above) I might have lost my cool w/ a State Farm agent for a few. 

- You have to file an official police report. The police station is not as fun as it looks on TV. 

- The DMV (RMV in this case) needs all the info – and possibly the plates. You have to mail a copy of the police report to the DMV w/in a week of the accident and unless you’re transferring the license plates to your new car, you’ll have to return those, too. 

- You might want to go to the hospital, even if you’re not hurting at the moment. Honestly, you’re going to be so shaken up and pumping w/ adrenaline that you’ll probably feel physically fine. I waved off the EMT and said I didn’t need to go to the hospital; and on the drive home w/ my sister, while recounting all the awful details, my wrist started bothering me. Since I don’t remember the exact details from the crash, I’m guessing I put my arms up to shield myself and my left wrist got the brunt of the airbag force. I went to an urgent care center the next day and they took some x-rays and put me in a brace. They couldn’t determine if it was a fracture or not from the x-rays and wanted me to see someone in orthopedics (a bone specialist?). This leads me to my next point:

- If you forgo the hospital immediately, but need to be treated later, make sure you file it as a motor vehicle accident (MVA) b/c your regular insurance probably won’t cover it. It was annoying b/c I initially tried to go through my health insurance so there was a bit of backtracking, but my policy under State Farm included some personal injury protection coverage and they’ve been pretty good about that.

- You might have ensuing panic attacks and be hesitant to drive again – when you do, you’ll proceed w/ extreme caution; screw the tailgaters behind you, you are going the exact speed limit (or in my case, well under). 

- It’s a real emotional shitstorm. Besides the awful traumatic toll it takes, there’s just so much else to deal w/: filing the claim, getting a rental car, potential injuries and missed work days, buying a new car. I’m exhausted just making the list of the stuff I’ve had to do since. Fortunately one of my sisters was staying w/ us at the time of the accident and was hugely helpful, both emotionally and by letting me use her car. Brent has been understanding and, dare I say, enjoying the new car search? I think he’s in his element when he’s researching what we want to buy, w/ a million tabs open and all the reason we should or shouldn’t get this or that model. State Farm has been pretty easy to work w/; I don’t have any companies to compare them w/, but I feel like they have it together and it’s been a fairly smooth process. 

Honestly, one of the hardest things about the accident was that it was w/ Eleanor (don’t tell me you don’t name your car). Ellie was my first car; a 2005 Hyundai Sonata I bought in 2009. She was the best, even though her antenna was damaged and she rarely got a radio station for more than a few songs w/out the static creeping in. She was more trouble than she was worth my first year back in Boston, when I racked up a handful of tickets and tows after being ignorant to street cleaning or the stupid policy people have of using a chair or orange cone to save their parking spot. It was heartbreaking when I had to go to the salvage yard and see her after the accident, hearing the mechanic say she would definitely be deemed a total loss. In the end, she saved my life; she gave hers so I would live. 

Good Lord, what am I saying right now? I need to wrap this up, preferably w/ the new signature Brent thought would be perfect for my blog posts. On that note:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Simplicity in 2017

On a recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers, Stephanie, whose perfectly organized, immaculate life leaves mine in shambles in comparison, I read “The Joy of Less.” 

I’ve read other books about decluttering and simplifying, and they always leave me feeling inspired and ready to make real changes in my life and living quarters. This one motivated me to get rid of a few bags worth of stuff and finally take the give-away piles I’ve had cluttering up the garage to the donation center, so there was definitely that instant gratification.

This book was that it was all about minimalism, which I’m only familiar w/ from reading Steph’s blog (and which I should have picked up on that from the byline, A Minimalist Living Guide, which literally spells it out for me). Overall, I enjoyed it. Sure, she repeated herself a lot, and there was plenty of redundancy, but that was probably more the author trying to fulfill her contract rather than beat a dead horse. 

I found the first part of the book really motivating, and I was excited to apply her philosophy to my home. She asked the right questions and made me reflect on my life in a way I’ve never really considered. It was when she went into the room-by-room analysis of how to live minimally in each area of the house that I started getting a little skeptical. When she suggested using actual dried leaves and pinecones in lieu of buying seasonal décor, I might have started skimming the chapters.

All in all, an interesting read that made me want to overhaul most of our consumer habits. A true minimalist would probably take offense to our home, but for the most part, we live a pretty clutter free existence. I’ve always been fairly neat and organized and agree w/ Jay that counters and tables (and any surface space really) look best when empty. It’s buying crap we don’t need, stocking up on backups just because we have the room, other habits like this that we need to curb.

It’s late in the game for a new year’s resolution, and since I don’t buy into that gimmicky crap anyway, I don’t feel ashamed to say that I want to focus on simplifying in 2017…and all the years after. It’s not a one-and-done action, it’s a continual lifestyle. One that I can hopefully get Brent on board w/ before any spring shopping sprees rear their chaotic, costly head.           

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Binx and the Jellyfish

Sometimes I just don’t know. 

My concrete beliefs and values, my moral compass and how I was raised; all that I know. Things start getting a little trickier when you bring fate and destiny into the equation. One Pinterest binge is all it takes to start thinking about how you’re going to start dancing in the rain and that life’s too short for your crappy job. And that stuff? I’m pretty reluctant to believe. Call me a realist, a pessimist, a Debbie Downer, but I think the “everything happens for a reason” line of thinking is just that: wishful thinking.

I don’t know for sure how I stumbled upon this book, probably while scrolling GoodReads or Instagram, but Lily and the Octopus came up on my radar. I saw the cover w/ a cute little dachshund and a thumbs up from a fellow book-loving friend and I put it on hold at the library. It came in almost immediately and I started reading it in bed last Friday night. Brent was next to me on his laptop and looked over when he noticed my heaving sobs and ugly crying.

Turns out, Lily and the Octopus, SPOILER ALERT, isn’t about a dog and her pal the octopus. It’s about a dog w/ a tumor, that the owner refuses to acknowledge as a tumor and refers to as the octopus. I’m not even spoiling anything, b/c you’re introduced to the octopus in the first chapter, when your dreams of a cute little story are dashed and the tears start and you know that nothing will ever be okay again.

Is this a fucking joke? Less than a month after my own baby is taken by cancer, by abnormal fluid filling his abdomen and making him look like he had his own creature dwelling w/in, I randomly find this book. After my first bout of tears, after Brent suggesting it was too soon for such a read, I had to agree. But I couldn’t put it down; I don’t mean that it was the most gripping plot I’ve ever run into, even though it was interesting and well written. I couldn’t put it down b/c I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one, that there were others out there this deeply affected by the loss of a pet, and reading this, while heartbreaking at times b/c it is SO SOON after Binxy, was also slightly therapeutic.

Although I was blindsided by the title giving nothing away, I loved how the narrator referred to the tumor as the octopus. I thought it was clever and original and just the right amount of delusional that I could get on board w/. When we first noticed Binx looking heavier in his belly, I knew, I just fucking knew something was terribly, horribly wrong. But we convinced ourselves he was putting on weight for the winter, was less active b/c of the shorter days, had some rare form of feline seasonal affective disorder.

Binx’s fight was w/ a jellyfish (original, I know). Another innocent sea creature that humans probably have no real reason to fear, but after Finding Nemo, I’m scarred for life. His abdomen was taken over by this evil creature, taking his appetite, his energy, and everything he was.

I don’t think fate intervened and planted this book on my social media feed. I don’t think this was the first book I was destined to read after losing Boopshu. I still roll my eyes at these corny clichés. But there’s no doubt this book was what I needed at a very low point in my life. I'd recommend it to fellow animal lovers or anyone looking to cry for 300 pages straight. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Phantom Whiskers

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night w/ a start, shaken from a dream or having to use the bathroom, and I hear the low hum of the heat and my breath catches; I think it’s Binx, purring away from the foot of the bed. When I hear the creak of the house, the floorboards settling in on each other, my heart stops; I’m sure Binx is on his way down the hallway and is about to burst through the bedroom door. I still wait for his incessant meowing to start in the hour before mealtimes, and give a wide berth to his favorite corner of the dining room rug so I don’t accidentally step on him in the dark. 

I’ve been watching Glee, and recently an episode was on where Lea Michele sang The Rose. It had been ages since I heard that song, and I don’t remember having strong feelings for it one way or another, but hearing it now absolutely wrecked me. It’s been on a nonstop loop this afternoon while I scrolled through pictures of Binx, and I’m pretty certain this is not healthy behavior. 

I don’t need a good cry. I don’t feel better after these hysterical episodes. I need to pick myself up and get on with it, I just don’t know how to.

At work I’m phoning it in and not feeling it. This is bizarre b/c I adore my work and the hours have always flown by; now I’m just biding my time until the day is over. I used to always be able to talk myself into the gym, even after a long day, but now I just go home. If I do drag my ass there, I’m aggravated w/ all the new resolutioners taking up all the parking spots and treadmills and I half-ass a sorry excuse for a work out. I get home and I eat everything in sight. I make steaming mugs of hot chocolate using cream and cocoa powder and disgusting amounts of sugar in gigantic mugs that can accommodate all the marshmallows. 

I know Binxy will not soon be forgotten or any less missed and loved, but I can’t seem to shake this funk that I’m in. His absence is a void, one that I’m clearly trying to fill w/ cocoa and marshmallows, that makes the days stretch and linger w/ no real purpose. I know he never wanted to see me sad, but it’s a catch 22 b/c if he was here, this wallowing would have been nipped tout suite; he couldn’t stand self-pity, he was a real pull-yourself-up-by-your-whiskers kind of guy. You would be, too, if you had whiskers like that.