Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Four years in the making

So much to tell and so little time. I spent the better part of the holiday weekend visiting my Dad's parents. (My Grammy is in her mid-80's and my Pop-Pop is 90.) While visiting, my sister and I uncovered a photo album. It wasn't full of my dad's childhood photos. Rather, it was images from my Pop-Pop's stint during World War II. He was so handsome, so very young. And that buxom brunette on his arm? Not my Grammy. A very excited Checklosovakian girl who greeted the oncoming American troops.

My Pop-Pop has this whole history, whole existance, beyond our understanding. His life is so rich, so ready for the telling, but it's quieted by his humble nature, by the fact that his experience is so commonplace for the time. Happy Memorial Day. So much history is lost in quiet men.


And bringing everything up to date: I'm drowning in freelance work for the former mag I worked for. (Gotta try to counter balance those $1,000 plane tickets to Peru.) This week is short and pack-full.

And tomorrow is The Banker and my fourth anniversary. Technically speaking, he's been in my life for over a decade. He stalked me when I wasn't interested. He cleaned bathrooms with me when we were friends, just so he could spend time with me during my work hours.

Now, he lets me watch my crap T.V. shows when I ask. And he's let me add chaos after chaos to our lives in the form of furry beings. And at the moment, when I struggle to make sense of this baby thing, he quietly listens. He knows my gypsy spirit. Perhaps, almost as well as the sound of his own breathing. He tries to understand. And almost 15 years later, he's still there. Through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the damn funny.

He's my babe. The only one who I think could handle what I am. What I'm becoming. What I will be. (Not to mention my family...) =-)

I love you, babe. Thank you for all these years. May God bless us with countless many more...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

But then what?

So the Farewell to Independence Tour is booked, but it's left me wondering what will happen after the trip. This weekend raised a lot of questions and left me decidely uncomfortable.

We spent most of Saturday at our best friends' country home--and The Banker and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We brought the dogs out and let them swim in the pond, rode the tractor, chatted, ate ourselves silly, and played with their adorable son. This little boy is the happiest, most loving little one I've ever encountered. While I know he's not an angel all the time, he does have an amazing disposition and is an utter joy. He was in a great mood all day, and I was left with the impression that, yes, I could see myself doing this one day.

But then Sunday night rolled around, and The Banker and I babysat his nephew for a few hours. A few long hours. The longest, most uncomfortable few hours I'd spent in a long time. And here my blissful thoughts of childbearing came to a screeching halt.

I hate to admit this. It's proof that I'm really not a very good person. You see, as much as I adore my best friends' child, I don't have any feelings for a babe who is, technically, family. Yes the kid is cute, but he doesn't pull at my heartstrings. In fact, on Sunday night, he turned my stomach again and again. No, it wasn't the diapers--that doesn't faze me. But the poor thing was fighting a cold so there were constant rivulets of snot rolling down his face. And he refused to eat, smashing what little morsels he would take into his eyes and hair. The rest? He tossed on the floor. He even took his bottle and slammed it nipple-down to watch the formula squirt out. And when I firmly said "No!" to this behavior, he screamed. And screamed. And screamed. And it was then I understood why some parents walk away. Why some parents drink.

And it struck me that maybe I don't have what it takes to be a mom. If snot and messy eating heighten my gag reflex, if screaming and obstinate little ones make me question my sanity, then maybe I'm not the best person to have kids. How can I feel it's so right one day and so terrible the next? And why do I feel so thoroughly crappy for feeling this way?

Monday, May 22, 2006

A hike to remember

First off, thanks to all who passed on such nice comments about my supposed ASBPE win. I've yet to hear anything else about it, but I'm hoping I'll get more details soon.

And to end the week on another good note, The Banker and I finally booked our trip to Peru! It's a fifteen day tour through GAP Adventures. We'll be taking off on September 9, returning September 24. Here's the itinerary:

Day 1 Arrive Lima

Day 2-3 Amazon Jungle
Take a morning flight into the Amazon lowlands and the town of Puerto Maldonado. Travel by motorized canoe to our lodge in the Tambopata Rainforest Area, which holds the world record for the most bird sightings in one area. Explore the jungle with expert local guides.

Day 4 Cuzco
Cuzco is considered the mecca of Peru, and rightly so. With a friendly, colonial atmosphere, Cuzco offers much to the visitor: nearby Inca ruins, cobblestone streets, museums, markets and churches. Optional activities include rafting, horseback riding and mountain biking.

Day 5 Ollantaytambo
Travel with our local guide through the Sacred Valley and visit the Pisac ruins. In the afternoon continue the picturesque town and Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo before preparing for the hike ahead.

Day 6-9 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
A morning trip to km 82 begins a once in a lifetime journey on the ancient trail of the Incas. Local porters and guides ensure that the trip is worry-free. Fascinating ruins and spectacular mountain scenery fill every day of the hike. On the final day, climb the steps to Intipunku, the 'Sun Gate', to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. Return to Cuzco by train in the afternoon.

Day 10 Cuzco
Relax, shop and explore the sights and sounds of Cuzco on this free day. Stroll around the cobblestone streets of this beautiful colonial town or visit museums and churches built on Inca ruins.

Day 11-12 Puno / Lake Titicaca
Enjoy spectacular views of the countryside on a full day of travel from Cuzco to Puno and Lake Titicaca. The next morning head out by boat across Lake Titicaca for a visit to the floating reed islands of Uros. We stop at various islands to enjoy the lake’s scenic splendour and to meet the friendly people of these communities.

Day 13 La Paz
La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, is often a surprise highlight for travellers. A visitor’s initial impression of the bustle of more than a million Bolivians won’t be forgotten.

Day 14 La Paz / Tiahuanaco
The mysterious Tiahuanaco people constructed this great ceremonial centre on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca over 1000 years ago. Spend most of the day visiting these fantastic ruins and try to unravel the ancient mystery yourself.

Day 15 Depart La Paz

So I've got the Yellow Fever and Hep A immunizations coursing through my bloodstream. I've got prescriptions for Malaria tablets, anti-altitude sickness pills, and sleeping aids. And I've started running a mile several times a night to get into shape.

And I'm ready to leave. Like right now!

Monday, May 15, 2006

A little bit of "wheeee!"

As if in affirmation of my last post--about learning to be okay with where I am and what I've accomplished--today I got a surprise e-mail. A designer for the former mag I worked for (and fabulously talented friend) e-mailed to tell me that a nine-part series I'd written on personnel solutions had won a regional award from the ASBPE (American Society of Business Publication Editors).

While it's not a huge deal, it does make me kinda happy. It's the first such award I've won. Yeah, I didn't end up in New York working for some impressive magazine. And yeah, I've yet to publish anything really profound. But it's something. A reminder that maybe I'm not totally in the wrong line of work after all. And the fact that it's far from my best work? That's just confusing and a wee bit irritating. But you know? I'll take it!

A whirlwind weekend

One wedding. One birthday party. Two Mother's Day celebrations.

There was too little weekend for my weekend.

The high point: An old high-school classmate got married, and while the only reason I was invited to the nuptials was because my parents still socialize with the bride's parents, it was fun nonetheless. The bride was beautiful, the couple adorable, and the union very happy. And I saw classmates I'd not seen since graduation. Accordingly, we all played the usual game of catch up--who'd moved out of state, current occupations, and who was married, divorced, engaged, and had changed their sexual orientation. It was interesting, amusing, and eye-opening.

A few of those girls who weren't married stressed over their single status. "If I'm not married by..." was one of the common vows. But the singles never give thought to the fears of those who are married. "Do I seem old and boring now?" "Do they think I married too soon. Am I missing something?" And in the common way females have, we silently took stock of who'd kept themselves up, who'd let themselves go. A few of my classmates had moved to Chicago, stirring a bit of envy in me.

Even though almost a decade has passed, somethings never change. We're still measuring ourselves up against one another, wondering about the paths we chose, and trying to gauge our success by each other's action...or inaction.

All in all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, even going out into the wee hours of the morning with some old friends who'd traveled in for the wedding. But I'm hoping the next time I gather with these people, I'll remember to trust where I am. To be proud of where I've come...even if that's home again.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I experienced this feeling this weekend. What is it exactly? According to Wikipedia:
Saudade is "a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something you are fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return."

I was missing one magic, perfect summer.

I think everyone must surely have that one summer that feels so alive, so vibrant, filled to overflowing. Everything appears so effortless and perfect, but all the while, a knowledge lingers, a realization that it won't last. Can't last.

A group of us were between our sophomore and junior years at our respective colleges. Aside from lame summer jobs, we had no responsibilities. We were so free--so full of energy--and we took that opportunity to go camping, gather for late night drinks, endless talking, and the occasional tensions as we coupled off. A sense of limitless possibilities permeated those warm months. We were on the cusp of adulthood, all about to go our own ways, but that one summer we were a united front.

And I miss that feeling. That freedom, that untouched potential, that thrill as we stood on the brink of becoming who we'd become, but secure in the friendships that encircled us.

We've since scattered to the winds: Alaska, California, God-Knows-Where. Only a few of us remain in close touch. And even then, that irreverence and simplicity is gone. We've seen broken hearts, death, divorce, and separate paths all take their toll.

But for one summer, we had it all. It was messy, irresponsible, filled with longing, laughter, and some of the best friendships I've known. I catch just the tiniest hint of that summer at dusk--the electricity of the day changing to night, the world around turned soft and hazy. And like that summer, it’s all too brief.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No rest for the wicked

Or so my mother always claims. I've also heard it as "No rest for the weary," but wicked apparently is a better fit in my family.

Regardless, yesterday this seemed to be my personal motto. My first day back at work after Monday's sick day, I'm tired, achy, and loopy from the various drugs coursing through my body--all of which can make a long day in cubicleland that much worse. The day creeps by in a most painful fashion, and finally giving in, I slip out early to take a short nap at home.

The Banker calls only an hour after I've slipped under the covers. It seems he needs me at the cell-phone shop so I can sign a sheet of paper agreeing to let his cell-phone number be transferred to his new bank phone (all shiny, expensive, and PDA-equipped). A 20-minute drive later we're greeted by the most unhelpful employee. She can't possibly do what we're asking of her (even though the other bank employees have had no problem), nor can The Banker complete this transaction without someone from the bank there to witness it. WTF? One hour, one pissed-off bank employee, and one exhausted me later, I sign the sheet and slump home.

I immediately check on the girls in the backyard, walking carefully through the grass to avoid any "surprises." And instead I spot the tiniest, fluffiest fledgling, open and closing his beak but not moving otherwise. Shit. The old oak has been trimmed back to over 70-feet high. There are no other trees in reach and this little guy won't survive the aggressive crows and curious pugs. I carefully scoop him into the shoebox The Banker has found and off we go again, racing to the nearest emergency vet clinic that will take the little guy for the night and then hand him over to a backyard wildlife group that can re-release him once he's strong enough. The first emergency clinic is a no-go. The clinic that can take him? Thirty minutes away.

Thankfully by the time we reach the second clinic the little fledgling has proven himself quite the fighter. He's hoping madly about the box (yeah! hopefully nothing broken!) and is chirping like crazy. His antics make us both laugh despite ourselves. He manages to renew our energy and also proves there's no rest for the wicked, but that's okay, too.

Brainless, pointless quiz

I found this little quiz while breezing through some blogs, and I couldn't help myself. It seems so random but is an eye opener!

Are you spoiled?
You are if you can BOLD 40 of the following:

Do you own:
your own cell phone
a television in your bedroom

an iPod
a photo printer
your own phone line
TiVo or a generic digital video recorder
high-speed internet access (i.e., not dialup)
a surround sound system in bedroom
DVD player in bedroom
at least a hundred DVDs
a childfree bathroom (but we have no children, so that might not count...)
your own in-house office (I have to share it with The Banker, two dogs, and a cat. Does this count?)

a pool
a guest house
a game room
a queen-size bed
a stocked bar
a working dishwasher
an icemaker
a working washer and dryer
more than 20 pairs of shoes
at least ten things from a designer store (I’m not sure about this one…but to be on the safe side…)
expensive sunglasses

Egyptian cotton sheets or towels
a multi-speed bike
a gym membership
large exercise equipment at home
your own set of golf clubs (The Banker assembled an old group of clubs thrown away by his brothers and sisters. Surely this doesn’t count?!)
a pool table
a tennis court
local access to a lake, large pond, or the sea
your own pair of skis (Haha! Only boots!)
enough camping gear for a weekend trip in an isolated area
a boat
a jet ski
a neighborhood committee membership
a beach house or a vacation house/cabin
wealthy family members
two or more family cars
a walk-in closet or pantry (closet)
a yard

a hammock
a personal trainer
good credit (Why would this count?!?)
expensive jewelry (Okay, what's the threshold here? There are no skating rings on my fingers...)

a designer bag that required being on a waiting list to get
at least $100 cash in your possession right now
more than two credit cards bearing your name
a stock portfolio
a passport

a horse (How I wish!)
a trust fund
private medical insurance
a college degree, and no outstanding student loans

Do you:
shop for non-needed items for yourself (like clothes, jewelry, electronics)at least once a week
do your regular grocery shopping at high-end or specialty stores
pay someone else to clean your house, do dishes, or launder your clothes (oh, how I wish...)
go on weekend mini-vacations (Only one, and just recently!)
send dinners back with every flaw
wear perfume or cologne (Again, why does this count? What next, deoderant?!?)
regularly get your hair styled or nails done in a salon (NOT styled--cut. Different thing altogether.)
have a job but don't need the money OR stay at home with little financial sacrifice
pay someone else to cook your meals
pay someone else to watch your children or walk your dogs
regularly pay someone else to drive you
expect a gift after you fight with your partner

Are you:
an only child
married/partnered to a wealthy person
baffled/surprised when you don't get your way

Have you:
been on a cruise
traveled out of the country
met a celebrity
been to the Caribbean
been to Europe

been to Hong Kong
been to Hawaii
been to New York
eaten at the space needle in Seattle
been to the Mall of America
been on the Eiffel tower in Paris
been on the Statue of Liberty in New York (rode around it in a boat!!)
moved more than three times because you wanted to
dined with local political figures
been to both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast

Did you:
go to another country for your honeymoon
hire a professional photographer for your wedding or party
take riding or swimming lessons as a child
attend private school
have a Sweet 16 birthday party thrown for you (Umm…limo ride to restaurant
with friends must surely count)

Well, I must admit, I always knew I’ve been very fortunate (read: spoiled). But it seems according to this I fared relatively well.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The houseguest from hell

What kind of houseguest is sick for a full week but climbs into a plane to deliver his presence anyway? What kind of houseguest lets you clean, cook, and nurse his sorry ass, all the while extending those germs to you?

The kind of houseguest that WILL NOT be invited back.

Here I sit, white spots covering my throat, a fever only recently broken, and Sister #1's birthday dinner tonight.

Sorry, kiddo. But I hope your birthday is truly wonderful, even without my company this evening. I hope you rock 24 liked you rocked 23. Love you!