Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We say "Merry Christmas."

But also, we say "Happy Holidays."

And "Happy Hanukkah."

And if we knew anybody who celebrated Kwanza, we would say happy that too.

My brother and sister-in-law saw a house with lights strung up that said "WE SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS."

Things like that make me laugh. And also cringe. So passive-aggressively judgmental.

The status updates with "CHRIST" in all caps in the word "Christmas." The rants about the abbreviation "xmas." The "JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON!"s.

Um, isn't He the reason for every season? Happy CHRISTsummer. I'd like to start seeing that around in lights in June.

I know, I know. I've written this rant before.

But I started thinking about this a little more after we bought a business; we have many students of different races and religions. Some of the families that attend our school don't celebrate Christmas, so we make sure to avoid scheduling big events on their special holidays (wouldn't you be annoyed if somebody scheduled your testing on Christmas day?). Some students are not comfortable entering the church gym we rent, so we offer them a separate belt testing at our school. Some of them aren't allowed to work on Sundays, so we find a way to modify weekend-long training camps for them.

So I consider that when I update our Facebook page's status about the school being closed. It's not that I refuse to say "Christmas" (our calendar actually has the break marked as "Christmas Break.")

But there's nothing wrong with saying "holidays," guys. You can say it in addition to "Christmas," even. Just keep in mind, ye who type "CHRISTmas" and rhyme about reasons for seasons, that sometimes businesses that also say "Happy Holidays" in their ads and tweets? Aren't necessarily taking sides on the WAR ON CHRISTMAS!!!!!

(Shouldn't we be more concerned about different kinds of war?)

(My mom is ripping her hair out right now from ALL THE LIBERAL!)

The business owners that say "Happy Holidays" aren't participating in a war on anything.

They just respect their clients enough to include all of them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry.

The weather outside was not frightful.

Not even a little.

I woke up under an electric blanket with my favorite boy and favorite dog.



And that boy's eyes lit up when I gave him his ornament. The one from the year he was born that completed his set.



I found it on eBay. It was worth every penny.

And some of my favorite people were here.



And there was food.

A LOT of food.



And I didn't mess any of that food up. Not even one thing.

And I didn't have to do the dishes for most of that food.

Because that favorite boy did the many loads for me.



(There are a lot of reasons he's my favorite, see.)

And presents. There were a lot of those too.

A lot of them were tiny. I'm getting a nephew in April, remember?

And there was love.



Quite a lot of that too.

Most of it from that favorite boy and favorite dog.



And that's what makes me merry most every other day of the year, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Um, are you sure this isn't date night?

He called me today.

"I'm really sorry, but I'm going to have to do some work tonight," he said.

We have a newish agreement, see - he gifts me one night a week where we don't have to do karate work after we get home - Wednesdays. We watch TV and eat dinner and chat free of any pressure to get websites and bookkeeping and belt sorting and event planning done. It's my night. I'm ridiculously blessed to have a husband who drops everything for me at least one night a week. It's not an easy thing for him to give up for me.

But this is the last week before Christmas break, and I totally understood that he needs to cram in a lot of extra work this week so he can take the next two weeks off.

(Also - "next two weeks off." HA. HA HAHA HAHAHAHA. There is so much to do during those two weeks.)

"But how about this," he continued. "I want to take you to Anthropologie and buy you a dress to wear to the staff party. And I looked it up. They close at 9, so I'm going to leave early from work and pick you up, then we'll go see if we can find you something."

Wait.

WHAT?

You want to take me to Anthropologie? And buy me a dress? And you're LEAVING WORK EARLY TO DO THAT?

I mean, like I said, he sacrifices a lot for me, but he also has to sacrifice for the school, and leaving work early on a normal night? That doesn't happen much.

But he just, offered it tonight. Without being asked. And then had the audacity to suggest that he was "taking my date night away by working later tonight."

Ha!

So we went in with 40 minutes to shop. We basically picked up every dress we could find in my size and I headed to the dressing room.

He stood outside and evaluated each dress I tried on.

At the end of it all, I was in love with two dresses.

Two!

I mean, that doesn't happen often. I have a hard time finding clothes I love.

(But, you know, ANTHROPOLOGIE.)

So I had a hard decision to make.

And I looked at each dress. And I looked at him. And I thought...

This sure is a nice problem to have.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A karate wife

When Jack bought the taekwondo school, I had a picture of what it would look like.

He would do his thing, I would do mine. I love my full-time job, and we need both incomes. I'm sure he would ask me my opinion on some things, but for the most part life would continue as it had before we owned the business.

When Jack became a Master, I had a picture of what it would look like.

He would show up in his Silks or Blues to his black belt testings or tournaments, the room would be brought to attention and bow. I would be watching proudly from the audience or possibly from a corner of the gym with a camera. I would be wearing a very cute outfit, perfect just-applied makeup, with not a hair out of place.

I would watch him run his testings or tournaments as I visited breezily with parents, doing my part to help the taekwondo school by being a fantastic, well-put-together karate wife who showed up for every event to watch.

"Gosh," the parents would say to one another "That Mrs. Hornbuckle is so sweet and supportive, and they have such a wonderful marriage! He's lucky to have such an alarmingly beautiful woman by his side."

Stop laughing. You guys are supposed to be my friends.

Over the last few months, though, I have really been learning what a karate wife is.

A karate wife leaves her job every night and comes to his. She files and makes websites and writes black belt curriculum and formats documents and makes charity baskets and does bookkeeping.

A karate wife starts cooking dinner at 10 p.m. after she gets home from her 14-hour work day. She probably doesn't have time to go to the gym, uh, ever, but at least she's pretty sure the automatic payment that goes to them burns some calories, anyway.

When there's a testing coming up, a karate wife may not find out what is needed until the last minute, which will mean a week of hell as she scrambles to try to get everything together that they need.

She will arrange flowers, iron table clothes (that will later be forgotten in the wrong vehicle and therefore unused during the event), print extra scripts, and put together sound files and music.

She already will be running late to that testing, having had a video shoot at real work that day and absolutely no transition time to change her clothes, do something with her awful matted-down hair, or reapply the makeup that wore off hours ago, when she will get a call that the staff is locked out of the facility they have rented until the last minute so they haven't been able to set up as early as they needed to.

She will help set up tables and chairs, audio equipment, candles, rocks, and tea. She will send people out to get things she forgot at the very last minute, and she will THANK GOD for those people. She will run sound for this event with no rehearsal, all while being very, very nervous something will go wrong.

She will get sent out to the truck last-minute to get a CD after the event has already started, so she will calmly walk out of the gym as people watch, and then RUN WILDLY across the parking lot to get back faster because SHE HAS TO GET BACK IN TIME TO CLICK THE "GONG" SOUND EFFECT IN ABOUT 45 SECONDS.

She will be ripping that CD (because she needs to play it for the ceremony that starts in 10 minutes) while simultaneously paying attention to testing so she can fade sparring music in and out at the appropriate times.

After the event is over, as her husband takes pictures with new black belts and visits with parents, she will help the staff pack up equipment and put tables back, and pick up tiny pieces of trash (and put them in her pocket because there isn't a trash can around and she's so classy like that.)

She will go to dinner afterward to visit with the students looking not-at-all like the lovely arm-candy she was hoping to be. She will be disheveled instead of put-together. Frazzled instead of rested.

But then he will look at her, with the look of a man who has been pulled out of the water seconds before he would have drowned, and says "I don't know what I would do without you."

And this disheveled karate wife will be so ridiculously proud and honored to be the girl he says that to.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It makes me yummy.

Me (watching a video a co-worker made that I created a lower-third graphic for): "Hm.. I don't know if he used my lower third."

Jack: "Maybe he didn't like your lower third."

Me: "He did like my lower third!"

Jack: "He'd better not like your lower third."

And then he said "I love milk. It makes me yummy." And made an elephant noise.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In which I ride in a car and eat Nibs

(So, yeah, I wrote this at the airport on Sunday and forgot to post it until now. Because I am efficient like that.)

I have been in 11 states in the last four days.



That's a fifth of them, you guys.

As I mentioned in my previous (nonsensical) post, I flew up to Boston on Wednesday to ride with my brother from there to Colorado Springs, where he and his wife are moving this month.

I got there Wednesday night and crammed in a double-dinner of Nick's Roast Beef (you'll never want Arby's again if you eat here) and clam chowder at a second restuaurant. I wanted both since it was probably the last time I would visit Boston for a while, so they kindly obliged.

Actually, my pregnant sister-in-law relished the experience - she's in her second trimester and it seems that she just can't get enough food (she is also super-tiny and adorable and all belly). I'm not even close to pregnant but who am I to be an unsupportive sister-in-law? Bring on the multiple-meal meals!

That morning, Shane and Cassandra had their "find out if it's a boy or a girl" ultrasound, and Shane wanted to wait until I arrived to tell me/everyone else.

Our mother was not a fan of this idea. At all. Which obviously made it all the more fun (see what happens when you let us push your buttons, Mom?).

When I arrived, they handed me a stack of ultrasound pictures and had me "guess," though the "money shot" didn't make it a difficult guessing game at all - It's a BOY! I'm super-excited for them (they are SO well-suited for a boy) and for me (a nephew weeee!). His name is Devin and he will be all kinds of cool.

Shane and I left early Thursday morning and drove 15 hours through Massachusets, Conneticut, New York, Pennslyvania, Ohio (where I kept missing the turns and trying to go to Cleveland, apparently) and ended up in Fort Wayne, Indiana for the night. Fort Wayne was a little out of our way but Shane basically insisted that I get to see my buddy Ellyn, even though it added some time to the drive. (Squee.)





We enjoyed a really nice breakfast with El and the kids (Coen smiles at me now - I'm wary of the positive attention after all the time he spent in judement of me, so don't worry, I'm on my guard) and spent Friday driving through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. When we finally stopped in Hays, Kansas at about midnight, we were having a tough time finding a hotel on Hotwire so when we finally got one booked we asked the front desk lady what the big event was in the area.

We figured she would say something about a Kansas State game, but instead, her answer surprised us.

"Pheasant hunting," she said.

"Pheasant hunting?" we replied.

"Yeah, you're lucky to even get a room. They've got everything in this area booked solid," she said.

Um. Okay.

The next day, we were talking about the pheasant hunting.

"Have you ever eaten a pheasant?" Shane asked.

"No, I don't think so," I replied, "but I'm guessing it's probably a lot like any other bird."

"It's a bird?" Shane asked.

"Uh, yeah..." I said. "What were you picturing?"

"A little poor guy," he replied.

"A British one?"

"Yeah," Shane said, "like in Oliver Twist."

If they're hunting little poor Englishmen in Kansas, I guess it makes sense that people would want to come see that.

Saturday was a short drive thanks to our two long days before, so we got to Colorado Springs at about 2 p.m. and had some time to unload the car at Shane's rental house and do a little baby clothes shopping now that we know that they're having a boy.

Shane wanted a little Broncos jersey, so we headed to the mall to see what JC Penny had. As we passed by ridiculous onsies and tiny shirts that said stupid stuff like "My grandma hearts me" and "Daddy's little genius" and "My auntie is cooler than your auntie" (alright that one is totally true) and "Txt me for a good time!" (what??), Shane was getting angrier and angrier.

"Why do they put stupid crap like this on baby clothes?" he seethed "Some of these don't even make any sense! I would never dress my baby in this!"

We left JC Penny immediately, Shane nearly hyperventallating, and I directed him to Dick's Sporting Goods instead, where we figured maybe we would find the little Broncos jersey.

No luck. I headed to the cashier's station, where I asked one of the guys working there if there was somewhere else in the mall that might carry a baby-sized Broncos jersey.

"We didn't have one here?" he asked.

Uh, yeah, dude, You did have them here. It's just that I would rather get directions from you to somewhere else I can buy it.

Anyway, we ended up finding quite a few little Broncos onesies and pajamas and things (and later at Target I found the tiniest little jersey ever but Shane forbade me to buy it because it was a Tebow jersey). I think Devin is pretty well-set to be a Colorado baby now.




Speaking of Colorado, OH THE PRETTY.





Must. Stay. Forever.

Or at least long enough to stop getting winded every time I climb one freaking flight of stairs. Stupid altitude.

(Who needs a karate school anyway?)

Anyway, mission accomplished. Shane's in Colorado now and will do that whole trip again with Cassandra in a few weeks, we listened to an entire book (read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand immediately by the way, especially if you're in just too good of a mood lately), I introduced Alece to the word "Nibs," and I figured out that my love of sleeping in sauna-like conditions are a Crawford trait - Shane cranked the heat up so high every time we got to a hotel. It was AWESOME.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go work on persuading Jack to move to Colorado too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In which... I don't know, what was I supposed to be doing again?

I have to be on a plane in about 9 hours. And I'm not packed.

But hey, I'm blogging instead, so that's productive.

I also Skyped with my very favorite buddies tonight (instead of packing). And went to Starbucks with Jack (instead of packing). And watched New Girl (SERIOUSLY, WATCH IT) and Parenthood (instead of packing).

I am a Master Procrastinator. I'm a... Mastinator?

Never mind. Scratch that last part. Those aren't words you should combine.

By the way, I love combining words. I don't know if I've ever blogged about my love for combining words, but I do love it. I mean, the very word "blog" is a combination of words, so maybe that's why blogging and I get along so well.

I make phone promos every month at work - you know, the on-hold music with the "thank you for staying on the line" that you get when you call our offices and we put you on hold? Yeah, I make those. Except instead of "phone promos," I call them "phomos." And then I get all excited inside when I write it on my little to-do list at work, because, teehee! Look! I made a word out of two words!

I made it my life's goal to get our project coordinator to use the word "phomos" during our production meetings.

Well, that and making the perfect batch of hummus. That was my other life's goal. I have accomplished both of those things, so, I guess, this is goodbye? I can die now?

Sheesh. Did I have a point tonight?

Ah, yes. Leaving tomorrow. Flying to Boston. Driving from Boston to Colorado. Flying back from Colorado.

My brother is moving, see. And his wife and fetus aren't joining him there until a few weeks from now. And did you know it takes a long time to drive from Boston to Colorado, and if you go by yourself, you could DIE?

So, I'm going too. Because that's what good sisters do.

They ride in the car for three days with their brothers so their brothers don't die.

(Especially if they just want to go too. Because yay, countryside and lots of snacks!)

And books. We will listen to books too.

All while not dying.

That is the plan.

And as plans go, I think it's a good one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gingerbrexia

Apparently, Jack and I have food issues.

Oh, not of the eating disorder variety. And not of the body image variety.

No, this would be of the "bad decisions" variety. And the "lazy" variety.

You see, for the last two nights, all Jack and I have had for dinner was Starbucks gingerbread lattes. And while perhaps the gingerbread latte has some fabulous well-balanced nutrition that I don't know about (I think the red cup gives it extra power, maybe?), I still kind of doubt that's the best choice for a complete dinner.

It happened innocently enough - Jack came home from work on Tuesday night super-excited that it was red cup day (yes, we are THOSE people) and therefore gingerbread latte day (YES, WE ARE THOSE PEOPLE), so he whisked me off to Starbucks just before they closed. We sat and held hands on the table-top (YES! We ARE those people!) and sipped our lattes and talked. TALKED! Because, um, marriage is hard, and sometimes you have to sit and hold hands and sip lattes and talk.

Until you get kicked out because they are closing*, but then you can just go home and sit on the back porch and finish your lattes and conversation there.

Related: Our dog gets VERY nervous when we sit outside. She's like "WHY ARE WE OUT HERE? TAKE ME INSIDE! DO YOU KNOW THERE'S, LIKE, RABBITS AND WIND AND STUFF OUT HERE? WHYYYY ARE WE OUTSIDE!? DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS DOOR WILL TAKE US BACK INSIDE IF YOU JUST COME OVER AND OPEN IT? THIS IS ALL SO VERY TERRIFYING!!!"

I feel like we may have done something wrong in this dog-owner relationship but I can't quite pinpoint what.

So anyway, by the time we finished our lattes and New Girl (WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY), it was sleepy time so dinner didn't really matter.

Okay, no big deal, we can skip dinner every so often, right?

Except. We did the exact same thing last night. Minus the hand-holding because, seriously, too much of that is just gross.

When we went to bed last night, I sighed.

"I'm SO HUNGRY," I whined in the darkness.

"Me too," Jack said.

"We probably should have eaten dinner," I said.

Because, you know, we are adults and all. And hey, there is a way to fix this problem! Cook dinner! Eat it!

We went to sleep instead.

Which, judging by my recent cooking experience, was probably a good choice. Because the last dinner I tried to cook? Ranch burgers with fries?

Didn't go well.

Actually, the ranch burgers went okay. (Except that they were "bland" according to Jack, which, stab stab stab.)

But the fries.

See, I've never made fries before (or deep fried anything before). And instead of, you know, Googling anything or finding some kind of recipe for said fries, I just kind of cut up potatoes into French fry shapes and heated up a bunch of oil in a pot.

And I kept heating it and heating it and heating it. And darn if it didn't boil like I thought it was supposed to.

I put one "test fry" in the oil and it made a terrible hissing sound. Within 6 seconds it was burned to a crisp on the outside and still completely raw on the inside.

COOKING TIP: DON'T TRY TO HEAT OIL TO BOILING; IT WILL NOT TURN OUT WELL.

Candy told me to put a thermometer to if it was 375 degrees yet.

The digital thermometer didn't even return a number. It just said "HI," as in "HOLY CRAP, MANDY WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO THIS OIL!?" I took it off the burner and smoke immediately began pouring out of the pan.

Jack and I began running around, turning on fans and opening windows as our house filled with smoke. The dog was sneezing and our eyes were burning and it was getting hard to see anything through the haze.

So we did what any adults would do while the smoke cleared - we grabbed our burgers and walked over to my mommy's house down the street.

Oddly, they didn't even question it when we walked in with our plates and burgers. Just started talking to us like nothing was odd at all about us bringing our dinner over to eat there.

I guess by now everybody's used to my cooking.


--

*At 10:40? Can they really kick you out at 10:40 when they actually close at 11? I was kind of unhappy about this but I never question a Barista (THEY HAZ DA DRUGZ!) so we did leave.

Monday, October 31, 2011

And now I need a wand


"I am a genius. I have judged you and found you acceptable. Congratulations! Will you be my godmother? I'm afraid you'll have to: 1) Let me poop on you whenever I deem it appropriate. 2) Watch Dr. Horrible with me on a loop. 3) Love me a lot. 4) Take me to a Broadway show. Say yes or I'll be stuck with someone who doesn't understand sarcasm."


Because being a regular godmother just isn't fancy enough for me.


(Got this photo request in an email from Ellyn last night, which made me feel good because, you know, she wanted me to be her kid's godmother. But way more importantly, she edited this photo (With words! On the photo!) all on her own, without my help. You're on your own for blog designs now, El. Clearly you've been holding out on me.)

(And yes, the child did already poop on me. And, for the record, he's the second McCall to poop on me.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dancing in the Minefields

Jack and I didn't have the best week together.

You know how some weeks are just off? Yeah, that.

He and I have so many "on" weeks that an "off" week is really jarring. I get annoyed and naggy. We both get tired. We need a break from life but there's no such break in life, or in marriage. And on these kinds of weeks, it's even more important to pour effort into watching my tone and reactions when I'm communicating.

(I'm not always good at that.)

It's not fun, but God didn't promise us "fun" all the time, did He? I guess that's the thing about "for better or worse."

Sometimes there's "worse."

It's interesting, though - I was ready for "for better or worse" in a different way than this. I am and will always be committed to powering through those "really bad" times when we'd rather not be married, and I know he feels the same way.

What I didn't expect, though, was that sometimes my "worse" would be his "better." And it wouldn't be at all about us not getting along or not wanting to be married. It would be about life throwing us different stuff than the other one gets. Simple as that.

He is winning World Championships and purchasing taekwondo schools and becoming a Master Instructor. Every dream he has ever had has come true within the last 12 months. He spends most of his time elated, and I am so, so happy for him. And so, so proud of him.

Rejoice with those who rejoice.

In the meantime, though, I am losing grandparents and dogs and extremely close friends, and working through problems at work, and trying to cope with shouldering a lot of the responsibility of keeping up with the house and my part of the business and losing my husband's attention in general. It has been a hard year. Probably one of the hardest of my life.

Weep with those who weep.

It feels terribly selfish to say that. To have had a hard year, partially because all my husband's dreams came true? How selfish am I?

(Extremely selfish, to answer that question, though not exclusively for that reason.)

Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice. Simultaneously. Because not everything in life comes presented in a really organized boxes wrapped in butcher paper and a tulle bow, evidently.

Really, it has been a relief to have this much good coming from his side - I believe God put that in our lives not only because it's where He wanted us to be, but also because it's a relief to have something to rejoice about when we also have something to weep about.

But it still feels a little unbalanced sometimes.

I would love to tell you that I have it all figured out now, that I figured out to essentially weep with those who rejoice.

But I don't.

What I do know, though?

It's worth figuring out.

It's worth fighting for.

And I'm really, really thankful that he's the one I get to weep and rejoice with.

It's not just because of AIDS

I do awkward things.

This isn't news to you.

But, see, you're supposed to be all "normal" and "professional" and "not a spaz" when you're at work. Which is a problem for me because, well, I do awkward things (see above).

For example, when you walk into a bathroom stall and notice that the toilet seat is up because it has just been cleaned, you might put it down immediately since it seems like it should be a pretty important step before getting down to business.

And yet, I chose to close the door and hang my card key onto the little hook on the back of the door first. And because I have the attention span of a gnat (LOOK! SOMETHING SHINY! What was I talking about?) I forgot all about the seat-less toilet that was waiting for me during those four seconds.

So obviously, I fell in the toilet when I tried to sit down.

(Right now, my mom is cringing because "WHY DID YOU SIT DOWN IN THE FIRST PLACE!? YOU NEVER SIT ON A NON-HOME TOILET! I RAISED YOU BETTER THAN THAT! YOU COULD GET AIDS OR PREGNANT OR SOMETHING!" Sorry Mom. You had to find out sometime. Not everybody hovers. I hope you can still find a way to love me. I'm still your daughter, after all.)

Where was I?

Oh, right. All up in the toilet.

I caught myself just before I ended up in the toilet water, but I spent the whole trip back from the bathroom giggling at myself because I JUST FELL IN THE TOILET AT WORK.

When I passed my friend Debbie's desk, I was still laughing so she asked what was going on, so I just kind of blurted out "I JUST FELL IN THE TOILET!"

Because that is an appropriate thing to tell your co-worker, yes?

Oh, it gets better.

All of the sudden I heard the male HR Director, who sits in the office next to Debbie's say "Oh my gosh, Mandy, I did not need to know that." And then he got up and shut his door.

So I did what any professional would do next.

I opened his door back up and explained that I didn't actually fall in the water, at least. Like that was so much better.

And then, the obvious next step was to go tell my boss what had happened.

Just walked in his office and told him that I just fell in the toilet like it was something he needed to know.

I don't really understand why people stay friends with me.

I think maybe blogging has conditioned me to over-share. It's your fault, you guys. Stop rewarding me for telling you terrible things about myself.

It's probably best if I start preparing my resume.

Just in case.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The only blessing

So, children are a blessing.

That's what they tell me.

Actually, God tells me that too. It's in the Bible and all. So I buy it.

But, Christians?

Can we also agree that children are not the ONLY blessing?

Because, you know Jack and I?

We're really, really blessed. In lots of ways.

Not with children yet, but that's okay.

God has his timing for things. Don't you worry about us.

But other stuff, see.

The being fed and the having jobs and the ability to travel and the stopping for ice cream before dinner and the owning our own business and the having a dog who loves cuddling and the laughing until our stomachs hurt and the shorthand language to each other and the 10pm dinners and the friends who show up to help us no matter what and the other friends who call us on our crap when we need it and the winning taekwondo world championships and the family that is close enough to take care of the dog and the new church that feels like home and the medicine they make for heartburn and the joy of being together, right here, exactly where God put us, with what God gave us.

Those are blessings too.

Life isn't empty without someone else's version of a blessing. His ways are not our ways, or our friends' ways, or our families' ways, or our pedicurists' ways.

Those are blessings too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The day from Hell(-ta)

Oh, world.

Sometimes I wish I didn't have so darn much blog material.

Scratch that. Sometimes I wish DELTA didn't give me SO DARN MUCH BLOG MATERIAL.

Because. Oh, so much blog material.

You may already know this story since I basically tweeted the entire saga over the last two days, but today my brother called me and asked if I was making it up.

BECAUSE THE AMOUNT OF RIDICULOUSNESS WAS LITERALLY UNBELIEVABLE.

Jack and I spent Sunday morning and afternoon at Universal Studios Orlando, and our flight was supposed to be at 7:30 p.m. to Atlanta, with a connecting flight at 10:08 p.m. to Dallas. On Delta.

And see, that's where the story goes wrong. Because HOW DID WE NOT LEARN FROM LAST YEAR THAT DELTA IS EVIL EVIL EVIL AND NO GOOD CAN COME FROM FLYING WITH THEM?

So, non-Delta-related (and this will be the only non-Delta-related part of the story, by the way), we dropped off our car at the rental car line and headed upstairs, waited in a long line to check-in, and right in the middle of the line, Jack asked me where my ID was, to which I replied "OH SOMETHING-OR-OTHER" (I can't seem to remember the exact word I used; how odd) as I remembered that I left my purse under the seat in the rental car that we had just returned.

Under the seat, see. It's safer to leave it there because the burglars can't see it and won't break in to get it and ALSO YOU WILL FORGET WHEN YOU LEAVE FOR THE AIRPORT THAT WAY.

I literally ran through the airport toward the Enterprise counter.

"DID YOU FIND MY PURSE AND ALSO I LOST MY PURSE DO YOU HAVE MY PURSE IT HAS MY ID AND I NEED MY ID YOU KNOW HOW YOU NEED AN ID TO GET ON AN AIRPLANE ALSO DO YOU HAVE MY PURSE?" is about what I said to the lady at the counter.

No luck. She told me to go back down to the car, because it probably is still in there.

So I ran down into the parking garage to the Enterprise booth where we had picked up the car.

"DID YOU FIND MY PURSE AND ALSO I LOST MY PURSE DO YOU HAVE MY PURSE IT HAS MY ID AND I NEED MY ID YOU KNOW HOW YOU NEED AN ID TO GET ON AN AIRPLANE ALSO DO YOU HAVE MY PURSE?"

Nope. The cars don't live here, they live three parking garages over. Try there.

Running again. At this point I am so ridiculously pretty you guys, whatwith the shiny face and hair flying every which way and the disheveled clothing and the panting, OH THE PANTING. One of the guys working there already had the doors open and was searching the car since they had radioed ahead about the CRAZY LADY headed their way.

"DID YOU FIND MY PURSE AND ALSO I LOST MY PURSE DO YOU HAVE MY PURSE IT HAS MY ID AND I NEED MY ID YOU KNOW HOW YOU NEED AN ID TO GET ON AN AIRPLANE ALSO DO YOU HAVE MY PURSE?"

Nope. Nothing in the car.

Oh. Something-or-other.

I called Jack immediately and had him rifling through our bags while I checked and re-checked the car for the missing purse (AND ID! BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW YOU NEED AN ID TO GET ON AN AIRPLANE?) About ten excruciating minutes later, another worker guy emerged from the lost-and-found with my purse and I may or may not have offered to have his baby. (Actually, what I said exactly was "OH MY GOSH THANK YOU SO MUCH I WOULD HUG YOU BUT I'M PRETTY SURE THAT WOULD WEIRD YOU OUT.")

Weirded out anyway, lady. Weirded out anyway.

So, then I ran back though the terminals and back to Jack, who was still waiting in the line awkwardly and not looking all that happy with me. Can't imagine why.

But it was okay! Because now I had my purse, and my ID, and nothing else could go wrong, right? RIGHT?

Ha. Ha ha ha ha. Ha. Ha ha. Ha.

Our flight to Atlanta was delayed 40 minutes. Which meant that getting on our flight to Dallas would be pretty much impossible, seeing as how the first landed and the second took off right about the same time.

I'm not the smartest math-doer in the world (as evidenced by the fact that I just made up a verb called "math-doer" because I couldn't think of the real world... mathematician? Yeah, I think that's it. Mathematician. OMG this story is going to be long.), but even I knew that that wasn't going to happen.

No big deal, Delta! We're Jack and Mandy! Look how calm and cool and collected we are because we are soooooo easy-going! Just put us on the next flight, mmkay?

Except that there were no next flights.

Okay, put us on another airline straight to Dallas tonight.

Except all the other airlines were booked solid for the next two days (or so they said at the Delta counter and HOW CAN I BELIEVE ANYTHING THEY SAY ANYMORE?)

"The best I can do is two confirmed first-class seats on a flight out tomorrow morning at 7:14 a.m., from Atlanta, and we will cover your hotel in Atlanta for the night. I'll also leave you on the 10:08 p.m. to Dallas just in case you can make it."

Well, alright. It wasn't ideal, but at least they upgraded us to first class, right? Compensation for their crappy delays. We could deal with that. And! We might even make the connecting flight, right?

Yeah, it was that kind of false hope that caused us to run, nay, SPRINT, across two terminals when our flight landed at 9:40. We might just make it! My lungs are burning. It's possible! This bag of shoes is so heavy. I see the gate! I AM GOING TO DIE! We still have 10 minutes until the flight leaves, and we're here!

ANNNNND the doors were already shut, leaving Jack and me and our new friends with whom we had run, nay, SPRINTED across two terminals gasping for breath and looking SO INCREDIBLY AMAZING.

We limped back to one of the scanny things that Delta has everywhere that says "Missed your flight? Scan your boarding pass so you can get a new one on the next flight!" (there are a million of them in the Atlanta airport and I DO NOT WONDER WHY, DELTA) to get our meal and hotel vouchers for the night.

Hotel: Days Inn.
Meal voucher: $6.

You do it up classy, don't you Delta?

We headed to the Delta desk to find out how to get a shuttle to the hotel, waited in another 30 minute line, and talked to an agent that I swear was high (but VERY friendly!), who gave us several more $6 meal vouchers (score!), an overnight kit, and directions downstairs to the shuttles.

We stopped by baggage claim first to get our bags, only to discover that, SURPRISE SURPRISE, they were not there. And they would not be able to get them to us tonight. Because BAGS? YOU WANT US TO HANDLE YOUR BAGS TOO? AND, LIKE, DELIVER THEM TO YOU AFTER YOU LAND IN A NEW CITY? MY GOODNESS YOU PEOPLE ARE SO HIGH MAINTENANCE!

Fortunately, I had grabbed our pajamas, a sweater, and my makeup bag and deodorant in Orlando because, call me crazy, but I just didn't trust that Delta would get us our bags. Can't imagine why.

We hopped on the shuttle to the Days Inn, and after making a stop at another hotel and then another somewhat questionable stop at a gas station, in which the driver got out, went in, and then came back (?), we arrived at our at-least-it-has-a-bed-but-also-might-have-bedbugs hotel.

That's when the front desk guy met us as the shuttle pulled up.

"We only have two rooms," he said. Everyone looked around the shuttle. Three groups. Awesome. "So two groups can come in but one will have to go back to the airport and have Delta issue a new hotel voucher to another location."

Because, of course.

Fortunately, after Jack and I decided to be the "go back to the airport" group, the Days Inn manager said he would call to another hotel and see if they would take the voucher we already had. A few minutes later, he emerged and said that the Quality Inn across the street would take it. Phew!

When we unloaded our bags off the shuttle and entered the hotel, however, they gave us a blank stare at the front desk when we said "the Days Inn guy said you guys would take a Days Inn Delta voucher?"

"Who did you talk to?" they asked, surprised. "We didn't say anything like that."

Jack and I looked at each other. And then back at them.

"I mean, we'll take it, of course, we just didn't get any call."

EXHALE.

Jack seems to think they were joking about that, but I'm still not sure. What I do know is that we ended up in a not-as-questionable-as-we-hoped-but-I-still-checked-the-bed-for-bedbugs-and-roaches room that was thick with smoke smell, and it was the happiest place we could be at that point.

They had given us two menus of pizza places that still delivered at 12:30 a.m., so Jack called one of them up, determined to use ALL of our meal vouchers, partially because he hadn't eaten since 12 hours before, and partially since he was so set on "sticking it to Delta" that he wanted to be sure they paid for SOMETHING.

So he ordered two pizzas. And a meatball sub. And an order of hotwings. And two Dr. Peppers.

I'm fairly certain the people taking the order probably thought he was high. And probably most people ordering anything from them at all at close to 1 a.m. are.

An hour later, we got our ridiculous dinner. And by "ridiculous," I mean "ridiculously bad." It's the kind of pizza you eat going "oooh, we're gonna regret this," but at that point, what's a little food poisoning anyway? It might actually be nice to hand a Delta flight attendant a barf bag after the day we had with them. (Not really. There is no excuse for vomiting in public. NONE.)

So, we went to sleep at about 2. And got up at about 4:30. And we went up to the counter to get our boarding passes for our CONFIRMED FIRST CLASS SEATS.

And she said, "sorry, this flight is overbooked."

Sorry. This. Flight. Is. Overbooked.

She couldn't get us our confirmed tickets in first class. She couldn't even assign us the tickets in coach. And she really didn't want to talk about the miles/travel credit that I politely suggested on account of WHATEVER WAS SHOVED UP THE BACK OF HER LITTLE DELTA SKIRT.

"You'll have to see the gate agent," she said curtly. "I don't handle compensation and I can't assign you a seat either. You'll have to talk to the gate agent."

Who, of course, was not there. Because it was 5:30 in the freaking morning.

We sat around for an hour in an angry, sleep-deprived daze, occasionally bursting into fits of maniacal laughter. About an hour later, we finally got seats assigned (not in our supposedly-confirmed-first-class, by the way).

When we got on the plane, all of the overhead bins were full at the front so Jack had to walk our rolling bag to the very last row and put it in that one, so when the plane landed we sat and waited until every person got off before we could retrieve our bag from the back.

Perhaps regulating where people are putting their bags would help, yes? Like, if you're in the back, you have to put your bag above you in the back? I know, novel concept.

Anyway, it was fine. We were in Dallas. So excited to be almost-home. Yeah, we had to go to work on less than three hours of sleep, but it was over. No more flying. No more airports. No more lines, and never, ever, ever again any more Delta. EVER. MARK MY WORDS, INTERNET.

And then we went to pick up our bags.

And all the bags came out onto the little spinny bag thing.

And everybody on our flight picked theirs up and left.

And then they stopped the spinny thing.

And our bags were nowhere to be found.

Because, of course.

Cue maniacal laughter again.

After another 30-minute wait in line, we were informed by yet another Delta agent that our bags did in fact arrive and we must have just not seen them. We looked out at the empty carousel with the four unclaimed bags in front of it. None of them ours.

Uh, actually, no, they're not here.

Really? Not here? That's crazy, the computer says they're here.

Oooohhh! If the COMPUTER says they're there! Then it must be true. C'mon, honey, let's go home. The computer says we've already got our bags.

After some more evidence presentation that we did not, in fact have our bags (LOOK! SEE HOW WE DON'T HAVE BAGS WITH US?), she finally found them somewhere else.

18 hours after we started (which, again, is how long it takes to drive from Orlando to Dallas), it finally was over.

OVER. IT WAS OVER. Is this what Amanda Knox felt like when she got to go home? We want to lay down in a green field too!

With that, we shook the dust off our feet, and our twice-lost luggage wheels, forever.

GOOD RIDDANCE, DELTA.

No cheap fare in the world will ever be worth flying with you again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

That's why

Jack loves Disney.

LOVES it. Like, he wants to be on Disney property all the time. Skipping down the little fake streets arm-in-arm with Mickey.

It was so cute the first year. It was like going with a little kid; he had never been here before and everything was, well, magical.

But now it's year three. And we're still staying on Disney property. And he still wants to go to Downtown Disney for dinners and walk around the Disney Boardwalk during our free time. Fortunately, this year we're going the Universal Studios route over the Disney parks (how many times can you ride "It's a Small World," after all?), but he still tends to want to be ALL UP IN THE MAGIC here.

So this afternoon when we went downstairs to get (overly expensive) ice cream cones, he wanted to walk down the Disney Boardwalk while we ate them.

"Can't we just sit down and enjoy the nice day while we eat them?" I asked (whined) as we walked along the path and I tried to keep my ice cream from dripping onto my hand.

"Why can't you just walk and eat?" he asked. As he finished his sentence, his eyes widened and his arm shot out toward me. He grabbed be by the arm and pulled me to the side a few inches before I would have run right into a pole.

"Never mind," he said. "I remember now."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In which I try out the word "durned."

Do you ever start telling somebody a story and realize in the middle that it will only be funny and interesting to you, but by then you're too far in to stop and so you just kind of trail off, realizing that it was a totally lame story when re-told?

Why yes, actually, I do have experience with this.

You all know. You read my blog.

I was telling a story to my friend at work today about how Jack throws his empty water bottles across the room when he's finished with them (See also: we are so classy!). I always scold him for it, and this time when he threw it over the boxes of color belts strewn about our living room (See also: we are so classy!).

I turned and gave him a dirty look and he gave me one of his silly looks - the kind that always make me realize that it would be a losing battle to scold him for it - he's impossible to reason with when he decides to be cute.*

"See," he said gesturing energetically with his hands, "It was okay, because I threw it OVER the boxes. OVER them. See? OVER the boxes. So it's okay, Cheetles.** I threw it OVER them."

It was at this point in recounting the story to my friend that I realized that I wasn't quite conveying the funny (or, let's be honest, I was probably the only person who thought it was funny in the first place because LOOK AT MAH HUSBAND HE IS SO DURNED CUTE!). Also, I probably looked ridiculous trying to recreate the gestures Jack had been making, so I basically just trailed off, and mumbled something about "I guess you had to be there," and retreated back to my office, where nobody expects me to be witty.

(Nobody expects that anywhere, actually.)

So, my point is, nobody will find this story funny except me. But it's my blog, so quit your complaining about that.

But, alright, you might find this funny, on account of its relation to my simultaneously getting hurt and making a mess:

Last night, I was trying to get the flour out of my pantry (so as to make a from-scratch sour cream enchilada sauce - see also: SUPER WIFE!). I picked up the sugar canister, which was in front of the flour, when all of the sudden, the lid that I was holding on to flipped up and hit me in the face, and the rest of it went flying through the air and ended up like this:



Guess Jack throwing the empty water bottles across the room isn't quite so bad after all.

--

*When we were in pre-marital counseling, our counselor told us that if we ever get in the argument, one of us should make a silly face at the other to break the tension. And you guys, he is a firm believer in this technique. The man doesn't take ANYTHING seriously. But I have to say, it's effective. (See also, LOOK AT MAH HUSBAND HE IS SO DURNED CUTE!)

**Why yes, "Cheetles" is in fact his current nickname for me. No, I don't really know why except that it was derived from "Cletus," which was his nickname for me from the beginning. That particular nickname came when he was trying to get me out the door every time we were going somewhere and he would energetically say "C'mon, Cletus!" Eddie Murphy a la Nutty Professor-style. From there it went to normal conversation and has evolved in recent months to "Cheetles."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In which there are no pictures.

I don't have a ridiculous amount of pictures of my closest friends.

I know, I know. Madness, yes? Am scrapbooker! Must take pictures all the time! If it's not in the scrapbook, it didn't happen!!

But the thing about your closest friends? You're sitting around your living room floor, playing with the dog and wearing no makeup, hair wet and unbrushed after a shower, talking about who-even-knows-what while you watch TV and just... BE.

You don't think about pictures. You just, are. Together.

There aren't a lot of people like that in anybody's life, I don't think. The kind of relationship where it's easy. Unforced. Everything picks up exactly where you leave off no matter how long it's been.

Fortunately, I am incredibly blessed to have a robust handful of these types of friends in my life. I am sitting in one such friend's apartment at the moment in College Station. Michelle and I have known each other since... forever? I think I was six when her family moved in next door, and she was three. We grew up together.

And there are not nearly enough photos of the two of us together to represent the amount of time we spend together or the closeness we share.

And tonight, that made so much sense to me.

We're in town this weekend to see Jack's buddies from the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, and there is just no good way to describe the sort of relationship these men (and a few women!) share.

We hug. And we laugh. And we love on other peoples' kids. And it's just. so. easy. Even for me, who is usually exhausted after having to be social and "on" when I'm out with people - with this group? Jack's buddies and their wives? Effortless. A pleasure.

I could tell you about all of them, what I love about each one.

I could tell you about Megan - she's Brad's wife. She's the kind of beautiful that will make you want to hate her a little until you realize she's so ridiculously sweet that it's impossible to. The fact that she talks to me at these get-togethers still makes me feel like the girl who gets to sit at the cool table at a middle school lunch.

I could tell you how Jason and Katie are the kind of people who radiate love. They look you in the eyes and really, really listen when you talk. And if you could find a way to bottle their 6-month-old son's little laugh? It would be the most effective anti-depressant ever created.

I could go on and on about Wendy, Jack's college roommate's wife, the woman I want to be when I grow up. She is funny and sweet and such an amazing mom. I've watched Wendy walk through pain and I've watched Wendy walk through through joy and no matter what you're watching Wendy do, you're watching Christ. If I thought she would skip through a field of daisies with me, I might just ask her to do that.

I would say that Michael and Stephanie may be the couple Jack and I relate to most - sarcastic and fun and hilariously dry. If I could be guaranteed sweet, funny, and well-behaved kids like their three, I might just have three myself. Or a hundred.

I could tell you how Mike stood next to me at step-off and made fun of Jack with me this morning. There's nothing better than having somebody you can make fun of your spouse with who you know loves him as much as you do. You can relax and be yourself around somebody like Mike.

I would love to tell you about Bekah, the other Jason's new fiancee (as of yesterday, when I had the privilege of watching him propose to her at the Century Tree!). How she has a ridiculously beautiful tattoo on her wrist that says "faith." How I wanted to jump up and down and squeal with her after she got engaged last night but didn't because I didn't want to freak her out. And how I'm completely confident that she will fit in beautifully with this group of B-Co wives and that I can't wait to get her know better.

I could tell you how Philip once looked at me and said "I've decided you can be my niece." Matter-of-fact. Just like that. Doesn't matter that he's only 7 years older than I am - to me, he will always be "Uncle Philip." For reasons I will never understand.

That's not even close to all of them.

Really, I could tell you about each and every one of these people and use a million words listing everything I love about them.

But all I really need to tell you is that I didn't take any pictures tonight.

Because I was just enjoying my time with them too much to pick up a camera.

And that's a pretty good gauge of the kinds of moments and people you really should remember.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Just call us Aunt Mandy and Uncle Jack!

During the week of September 5, I went on a cruise with my family.

When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale and met my brother and sister-in-law at the hotel, I knew something was different about Cassandra. At dinner, she didn't order a drink (not that she always does; I just happened to notice). She touched her belly a few times while we were walking on the beach, which I thought was odd for her. And most notably? Well, um, parts of her were... well, more noticable.

(You can read the rest over at CrawfordBaby.com!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In which I am on a business trip (!)

So, my friends are all going to bed. 

I'm on a business trip, you see.

Saying "I'm in a business trip" makes me feel like I did when I was 16 and held my car keys in my hand. Or like I did when I walked across the A&M campus my freshman year.

I am SO grown-up.

But also, not quite so grown up on account of ALL THE REAL GROWN-UPS ARE SLEEPING AND WHO GOES TO SLEEP AT 11PM??

That's okay though. I'm surprised I am not more tired, actually. This weekend was exhausting in a good way and the last month has been exhausting in a not-good-at-all way. But that was the reason I got to visit six very dear friends, so hey look, something good can come our of the "your friend died" scenario. 

On Sunday, we met our friends Todd and Jenni for lunch at their house. They are pretty much the best hosts ever, by the way. Ridiculously sweet and totally up for a visit from four adults and six children, most of whom they had never met before. They even fed us!

Twas lovely.

(Point of reference: I met Todd and Jenni on a blogger cruise in January 2010 the same time I met Amie. My other blog friend Rachel, who coincidentally went to college with Jenni's brother, was able to come too so it was quite a reunion! Jenni is my crafting IDOL - it is all I can do not to ask her if she will spoon with me (and sometimes I do ask that), and Rachel makes me laugh more easily than most other people can. And Todd, oh Todd, my dancing genius friend. Such great people.)

Occasionally I wonder whether this "blog friend" thing is for real. I mean, we go so long between seeing each other sometimes that it's easy to wonder if you imagined a real connection and that you're really just hiding behind computer relationships because you're anti-social.

Not true.

I mean, okay, maybe I'm just a little anti-social.

But the blog friend thing. It is real indeed. Real hugs, real laughter, real bonding, real happiness. 

I miss them when I'm not with them (and when they die). I tell them things I don't tell other people. I laugh with them until our stomachs hurt. 

We don't get to see each other often, but when we do?



They are worth the wait.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Friends



We called it "Gitzapalooza."

We had been planning trip after trip to see Sara, but there were a lot of factors involved. Time off work, cost, Sara's health, and most importantly, our health - if Sara was even well enough to receive visitors, those visitors had to be completely, 100%, without-a-doubt healthy. No sniffle. No cough. No having been around anyone else who was sick. Any small germs in Sara's body could be detrimental.

Obviously, that part made it pretty tough.

Twice, the trips we had been planning for months were literally cancelled the week we were going to leave. Once, it was two days before departure.

I don't think I have ever been so heartbroken as I was when those trips to Iowa fell through. Until we lost her. That's a whole new level of heartbreak.

When I told my co-workers a few weeks ago that Sara wasn't doing well and that she would be passing away soon, one asked me "whether I had ever actually met her."

I had to laugh. I pictured knocking on the door of her condo, then shaking hands cordially and saying "Hi Sara, I'm Mandy. It's nice to finally meet you."

Ha!

No. Not even close. If she hadn't been in so much pain, she would have been the kind of friend I would have run at and tackled. While squealing. That embrace would have lasted several minutes. And then, all week, we would have laid in bed, laughing until we cried, watching movie after movie (mostly musicals because we are super-cool), basically cuddling.

Everybody likes a good cuddle. But you don't cuddle with just anybody. You cuddle with the kind of friends who know all your secrets. The ones who call you nicknames and flip you off and drink wine with you and text you when they know something stupidly small is going on that matters to you. You cuddle with the kind of friends who you don't need to hear them say more than "hello" when they answer the phone to know how they're feeling.

Sara was this kind of friend. And thank God, she isn't the only one. Because these girls would have been in that bed with us. Also cuddling.



We made the hard decision not to go to Iowa for Sara's funeral this week. That decision got even harder during the week when we watched all the beautiful services they had for Sara, only able to experience through a screen (fully felt the irony of that, by the way) and Alece and Candy's texts (thank God for you two), unable to be there.

But the thing is, it was either Iowa or Indiana. Ellyn just couldn't get away with all the kids she cares for on her own, so Amie and I booked flights to see Ellyn instead. This is the group who got together once a week or so, give or take a lung infection or two a hundred to drink wine and group video chat (We called it "Skwyne").

Mandy, Ellyn, Amie, and Sara. (Also known as Fred, Lucy, Ethel, and Ricky, per Sara's decreeing long ago - someday I'll have to tell you that story). Our hearts are knitted together in a way that I would have never thought four people who met on the internet could be. We decided Sara would want us together more than she would want us at her funeral. It was right to be here.

So this weekend, we drank wine (Moscato, Sara's very disgustingly sweet favorite). We laughed. We watched Dr. Horrible several times (OBVIOUSLY). El and Amie got the most beautiful tattoos in the world. We lit some paper lanterns and released them, watching them fly away, glowing into the night (while I repeatedly asked "ARE YOU SURE WE'RE NOT GOING TO SET SOMEBODY'S HOUSE ON FIRE!?"). We ate frozen Oreos. And most of us (everybody but me, who is still up blogging and watching it) fell asleep during "The Music Man," her favorite.

It is right to be here. Even if "Gitzapalooza" without her feels wrong.

It is right to miss her together. Even if not being at her funeral because of it felt wrong.

It is right to grieve together. Even if the seemingly-morbid way we grieve (mostly making inappropriate jokes about it, laughing instead of crying) seems just a little wrong (though, um, that's right up her alley).

It was right to love her so much you could explode. Even if it made losing her feel very, very wrong.

And it is right to love them too.



Nothing about that feels wrong.

--


Monday, September 26, 2011

And now, heaven is a real place.

My friend Sarah Wildman's sister passed away on September 24, 2001.

My friend Sara Frankl passed away on September 24, 2011.

Ten years later.

Sarah W. always talks about how heaven seems so much more real when your sister is waiting for you there. (Sara F. said the same thing about her dad.)

And while I don't technically have a sister...



I think I kind of get that now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To that guy

You know that guy I live with?

The one who's been cleaning my house? Because it's a disaster? Because I am just. so. tired?

And calling the plumber.

And paying the bills.

And running our business with no pressure to make me come help?

And completely supporting my needing to order dinner out every night last week because I didn't have the mental capacity to work a hot stove?

The one who never ever made me talk about The Terrible Thing when I didn't want to talk about it?

Not didn't. Don't. Don't want to talk about it.

(But still hugs me a little tighter anyway.)

The one who left me that really nice note about how much he appreciates all I do, even though, let's be honest, I have been completely useless lately?

You know the one.

To that guy...

Thank you.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Gitz I know

Let's just get this over with.

My friend Sara is dying.

It's not my favorite subject at the moment.

And people keep writing really beautiful posts about her. And make no mistake - they are right about her beauty. The fact that she couldn't leave her house but made the best of every situation, praised God for it, even. There is nobody like Sara. Never, ever doubt that.

And yes, she changed my life long ago. I call her Gitzbuckle because I consider her a member of my family. I took her with me everywhere, no matter how boring it was. And the thing is, she wasn't once jealous or sad that she didn't still get to experience those things herself. She was always delighted that she got to see it at all through my eyes.

That's who she is. She's the girl who prays for you even though you're the one who should be praying for her. I wasn't impressed by her attitude and her beauty because I read about it on her blog; I was impressed by her attitude and beauty because I saw her live it as we walked each other through some of our hardest days over the last three years.

I don't really want to talk about that, though. That's just ours.

But rest assured, she is exactly who she represents herself to be on her blog.

That's only a fraction of how I remember her, though. Most of the way I'll remember her looks like this:



...or this...



...or this...



...or this...



...or this...



...or this...



...and, what will for ever, ever, ever be my personal favorite - this, which is what happens if you call Gitz old.



(You can imagine what's under the heart, but it's covered because most people who read here have children looking over their shoulder, are easily offended, and/or have the power to fire me from my ministry job. And lest you think she would be mortified by my posting this now that she's dying, I threatened to post it immediately when she did it, and her response is "GO AHEAD! HERE! I'LL DO IT AGAIN FOR YOU!" and did it again. There are many reasons to love her.)

So, anyway, don't think for a second that she was ever angelically stoic at all times. Don't think that she was too sick to laugh. Don't think that she didn't have an amazing sense of humor. I don't know of any time I ever laughed harder than when I was talking on the phone, video chatting, emailing, tweeting, or texting with her.

She's the kind of friend who, when you send an e-mail to vent about the many, many people in your house, who are all over 50 years old, and therefore have the TV super-loud...

...but accidentally INCLUDE YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW IN THE EMAIL, WHO IS SITTING ACROSS THE ROOM FROM YOU...

...will, after having "shouted" an expletive on your behalf and then done nice things to help smooth things over with your (VERY UNDERSTANDING) mother-in-law...



...laugh at you relentlessly and unapologetically with the rest of your friends.



The Gitz I know is snarky. In a loving way.

The Gitz I know will watch an entire movie with you on Skype, 800 miles away, making fun of you for how silly you look laying in bed.

The Gitz I know makes up nicknames for those she loves.

The Gitz I know loves food as much as I do. Even if she can't eat a lot of her favorite things because of her allergies.

The Gitz I know is super-creative and loves pretty things, especially if you made them for her.

And the Gitz I know is going to run so fast toward her dad when she finally gets to heaven that she'll probably knock him right over.

And then she'll laugh so hard that she'll snort (oh yes, she will), which will make her laugh even harder. And unlike here, her lungs will allow her to do that and there will be no sharp pains coursing through her body causing her to cry out in pain during that laugh.

And if letting her go here is what needs to happen for her to laugh without pain?

That's worth saying goodbye to the Gitz I know.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sexism, solved.*

Women are just as smart as men.

I know this. And the rest of the world will to.

All we have to do...

...are you ready for this?

Show them.

Be good at our jobs.

Like, really good at them.

Be smart and confident and ready for anything. Work hard. Learn all the time. Don't create drama. Don't use your emotions as a weapon.

And also? Teach your daughters the same thing.

Don't make a big deal out of the fact that you're a woman, and they probably won't either.

And if they do, find somewhere else to work.

--

*Yes, I realize this doesn't ACTUALLY solve all sexist issues. Yes, I realize some things still need to be fought for when it comes to civil rights of all kinds. But it's something we can do, as women, to combat it. You don't have to care that they're sexist. You just have to prove that you're just as good, if not better. Your work will speak for itself.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The thing about men and pants

The other day, we were sitting in the conference room eating lunch together, and a guy who works in another department walked in to say something to us. As he chatted for a few minutes, I noticed that he was wearing some nice jeans - the dark wash kind with a light stitching. I liked them. They were good jeans. If he had been a girl, I would have immediately told her I liked her jeans.

After he left, I turned to my co-workers and asked a question that I thought was perfectly normal to ask (read: I AM AWKWARD).

"Is it okay to compliment a man's pants?"

They stared at me, slightly horrified that it would even occur to me to do such a thing, and responded with a resounding "NO, THAT'S WEIRD."

This led to a discussion about why it was weird (men will take it wrong if you compliment their pants, apparently) and it made me sad for the world.

I mean, obviously, if I was all "Hey male co-worker, your butt looks great in those jeans," I realize that would be inappropriate. But why can't you say "Those are great jeans!" without implying "AND I ALSO WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABY!"?

I don't like living in a world where you can't compliment somebody's pants.

And even more, I don't like living in a world where men are afraid to compliment women for the same reason. My three male co-workers unanimously agreed that they would feel uncomfortable complimenting a woman on something she was wearing because she would likely think he was creepy or hitting on her.

What?

I have decided that we have two groups of people to blame for this:

1) Creepy guys who only compliment women to get them into bed (Is that all men? Please say no! Please say some men want to talk about your book!)

2) Women who overreact or over-interpret innocent compliments from men.

Women, in general, don't take compliments very well from anybody. Have you ever had to argue with a woman about a compliment you gave her? It's infuriating. Say "thank you," ladies, even if you don't agree with the complimenter. I know, it goes against a lot of our instincts to just say "thank you" instead of pointing out all the flaws that we see in ourselves. But that's what we should do. Practice it right now. "Thank you!" See? Was that so hard?

So, yeah, I have to think we're partially at fault for this lack of compliments. I've heard of male friends who held doors for women and been chastised because "I CAN OPEN A DOOR MYSELF." And yeah, we burned our bras for this whole equality thing, but I'm not going to lie, I like it when my husband stands up on a bus for women or opens doors for me. I can do all of these things myself (I am woman! HEAR ME ROAR!), but you know, chivalry is nice too.

Maybe chivalry didn't just die; maybe we MASSACRED IT with our insistence on pushing people away at the slightest show of special respect or attention from men.

I don't know, really.

But what I do know is that Owen said he is afraid to compliment women even though he thinks it would be nice to be able to innocently do so.

And that's when I quoted Gandhi. In conversation.

"Be the change you want to see in the world!" I urged him. GOLD STAR FOR MANDY.

I think that's when he shook his head and walked away. I don't think I quite got through to this particular group of guys.

Oh well. I'll be that change I want to see in the world. I'll go ahead compliment your pants, gentlemen.

But just know - it's not because I want to get in them.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

And then he laughed out loud

Jack, in the parking lot at Men's Warehouse: "Come on, Mandy, let's go inside."

Me: "I don't want to go in yet."

Jack (jokingly): "WOMAN. You'd better come right now."

Me (also jokingly): "I DO WHAT I WANT! DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT!?"

Jack: "Alright, Crawford, let's go. I'll fight you."

Jack starts walking toward me, and I start backing up.

Jack: "If you want to fight so much, why are you backing up?"

Me: "Because I need a lot of room to KICK. YOUR. AAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!"*

I don't know what he thought was so funny about that.


--

Dear Mandy's Work, I did not really say "ass." And if I did, it's only because we've been reading the Bible every night and they say "ass" a lot in there. And it's the CHILDREN'S Bible. So, it doesn't count as a bad word, mmmk?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Eric's Question

"What do you think you're really, really good at? Like, probably better than anybody you know at?"

My friend Eric asked me this question on Monday.

I didn't quite know what to say.

I mean, obviously the first word that popped into my head was "RIVER-DANCING!" but after the river-dancing, it was a difficult question to answer.*

Because the thing is, I don't do most things long enough to become better than anybody else at them. I go in cycles where I need to do something until I burn myself out on it (See also: couponing). I do come back to it eventually, but I haven't quite perfected any one thing because of this, I think.

I ended up sitting there silently stumped for a few moments, and then (heaven help me) I quoted my dad to him, who always says "life is a collection of experiences." And I have been collecting.

I'm learning to sew. I have gotten good enough to sew fancy little camera strap covers and make curtains and pillows and alter dresses and hem pants and things. Most people my age can't do that.

I am loving learning to cook. Thank you, Pioneer Woman. And thank you, pretty kitchen that I want to be in all the time. I've made some dishes I can be proud of now, and I'm always getting better.

I'm getting better at photography. Partially because it's a part of my job, but mostly because I love documenting memories. That's the point of all of this blogging, tweeting, and scrapbooking, really. I love documenting memories.

I'm a good editor. I make things they put on the radio, so I must be good enough. I know many technical things and can talk super-nerdy about storage solutions and RSS feeds and the proper way to coil an XLR cable and which DSLRs are on the market right now and the ridiculousness of Final Cut Pro X. I'm really good at figuring out how to automate things using technology. I am willing to work hard, and I know my way around a studio just as much as the boys do. I kind of like that about myself.

I know musicals inside and out and so, so appreciate live theater. And even though I can't sing, I can quote and reference most any Broadway Musical you throw at me. That's probably not really all that important of a trait in the scheme of things, but it does fall under the "things Mandy is good at" category, so I'm counting it.

I feel like I finally "get" fashion. Not that I can afford the things I want, or that I'm always dressed right, but you know, I'm at the age where I at least understand what looks good and what doesn't and I just don't give a crap what people think about me anymore as long as I feel good in what I'm wearing. I like this age.

I'm good at managing money. I'm good at staying within budgets and saving, but I also know how to spend the money I need to to enjoy life. I think that's important.

I can make pretty things out of not much of anything, really. I've always enjoyed scrapbooking, cardmaking... creating anything really. It makes me feel relaxed and loved and centered.

I don't care what people think most of the time. I have a self-deprecating sense of humor and I think that's probably healthy. I am a ridiculously bad dancer, but I do it anyway. I am awkward and silly and nerdy and I think that's just fine.

In some ways, I'm a really good wife. I get excited about making dinner for my husband, and I make sure we have the things we need in the house, like batteries and light bulbs and toothpaste. I think ahead and always remember to bring his phone charger on trips when he forgets it. I make him laugh, and I try to tell him often that I'm proud of him and how much I truly adore him. Our relationship is far from perfect, but I do some things right.

I can communicate clearly through writing, which I think is an incredibly important asset to have, especially for a person of my generation. I love to tell stories in writing, and hopefully, people think I'm as funny as I think I am.

I try to make other people feel good as much as possible. I don't hold back compliments and I hardly ever forget birthdays of friends or anniversaries of close friends' loved ones' deaths. I do my best to let others know they are important.

I'm good at getting things done behind the scenes for our business. I'm efficient and useful at Whatever-My-Title-Is at our karate school, and I like to think I improve it with my web design and bookkeeping and office work and marketing. Or, at least, I improve Jack's quality of life by relieving some of the pressure for him at work (see point above about sometimes being a good wife).

I am really good at raising money for the MS Society. I lead my BikeMS team as best I can, and I am absolutely shameless when it comes to asking for money to cure my mom's disease. (You can donate here. See? Shameless!)

I don't know if I can answer Eric's question, really. At least, I can't answer the part about what I'm doing that's better than anyone else. But I can answer the first part at least. Those are some of the things I'm good at.

And really, it was a nice question for him to ask. Because it's probably a good exercise for everyone, especially women, to think about sometimes. We spend a lot of time thinking about what is wrong with us, and God made us into pretty fantastic people in so many different ways. It's nice not to focus on our faults sometimes.

So, now it's your turn.

What are you really, really good at?


--

*No, I've never river-danced. Let me just remind you what happened the last time I was near a river, okay? There will be no dancing in this place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You're not from around here, are you?

Today I was walking into the grocery store after work when I happened to notice a man opening up the hood of his car a few spaces away from where I parked.

"Awwww maaaan!" he said to himself as he fiddled with the battery. I stopped walking and glanced over.

"Do you need a jump?" I asked.

He whipped around and stared at me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

Like, stared for a long time.

An awkward amount of time.

I started to worry that I had said something weird. Maybe he was taking it dirty or something. Maybe I shouldn't ask random men if they want a jump.

"Like, for your battery?" I continued, slowly, after many awkward, silent seconds. "Of your car?"

After another moment he finally snapped out of his stupor.

"You would DO that!?" he gushed.

"Uh, yeah, it's no problem," I said, eyeing the car in between my car and the guy's car, "though I'm not sure if the jumper cables will stretch that far, so we may need to get this car to move..."

"I just... can't believe you would do that!" he said again, extending his hand and introducing himself. Did he think I was offering something very different than I was? He didn't seem as concerned with the logistics as I was.

"No worries," I said again. "So how do you want to..."

"Do you want a beer?" he asked, gesturing back to his non-working car. "I just bought some cold Bud Light."

"Uh, no, I'm good, thanks," I replied. Let's just open one right up in the grocery store parking lot, shall we?

Just then, another guy came out of a store in the shopping center, who, thankfully, knew Beer Guy. They started talking, and then Just-Came-Out-Of-The-Store Guy said he would make sure Beer Guy got all set up, so thanks for the offer but they wouldn't need my help after all.

Beer Guy shook my hand one more time and thanked me profusely again. As I walked away, I heard him telling Just-Came-Out-Of-The-Store Guy about the AMAZING turn of events in which SOMEBODY OFFERED TO GIVE HIM A JUMP WHEN HIS CAR DIED(!!!!!)

Uh... ooookay.

"Man, it was crazy! Nobody would have EVER stopped and helped when I lived in L.A.!" he gushed.

And then it all made sense. His crazy, crazy stare when I first asked. His copiously thanking me and even offering a [weird] gift in exchange for this CLEARLY OVER-THE-TOP offer.

He's not from around these parts.

Well, you are not in Los Angeles anymore, sir. Welcome to Dallas.

Welcome to Dallas.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Intense

Today was intense.

INTENSE.

For so many reasons.

But one of the ridiculously good reasons it was intense is because my friend Erin asked me if I wanted "a few pairs of jeans" she was getting rid of since we're the same size and we're both tall.

"Sure!" I replied. "Thanks for thinking of me!"

And then she brought in a TRASH BAG FULL OF JEANS.

I mean, you guys, a trash bag.

(I just heard Sara's heart go pitter-pat all the way from Iowa.)

And this girl? Buys really nice stuff.

The bag of pants stared at me all day. I was dying to open it up and try them all on.

And then I went to work at the karate school after work.

So I had to wait even longer.

I MEAN. TORTURE.

But I just got home. And I opened the bag. AND YOU GUYS.




NINE PAIRS.

And they all fit perfectly.

Like I said.

Today was intense.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In which I do not put my hands down my pants at work

A bug flew down my pants today at work.

And the thing is, I was sitting in my office talking to my two male co-workers, so as soon as I felt the cold, hard bug (Probably a cricket! They're everywhere in this office!) hit my lower back, I thought, "Stay calm. STAY CALM. You cannot react to this. I repeat: YOU CANNOT PUT YOUR HAND DOWN YOUR PANTS RIGHT NOW."

Evidently the guys saw me immediately straighten up in my chair, eyes wide, because both of them looked at me quizzically and asked what was wrong.

"Uhhhh..." I began, inwardly freaking out that A BUG JUST FLEW DOWN MY PANTS AND I CAN'T GET IT OUT BECAUSE I AM ENTIRELY TOO PROFESSIONAL TO DANCE AROUND WITH MY HAND DOWN THE BACK OF MY PANTS AT WORK.

I mean, that's not all that high of a professional standard to set for yourself, really. Hands not in pants? CHECK. Am professional!

But, you know, A BUG! A BUG IS IN MY PANTS!

Oddly, it wasn't moving, so a thought popped in my head as I was trying to figure out what to tell the two confused men in my office. I felt around the ponytail in my hair and noticed that one of the bobby pins that I had placed there this morning was now absent.

And then I PRAISED THE LORD because there was no bug. A bobby pin had fallen out of my hair and down my (now loose because I am so skinny! I don't wash them every time I wear them and they stretch out) pants.

But by that point, I still had to tell my co-workers what had happened - that there was a bobby pin down the back of my britches. Which... was awkward.

But I'm still going to count that as a professional and personal win.

Because (and you can file this under "lessons I never thought I'd learn at work"), admitting there's a bobby pin down your pants at work is better than having a bug fly down your pants and being caught trying to get it out.

And now I know.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Master Stapler

I have a new schedule.

It will, of course, solve all of my problems and stress. Because that's what new schedules do. New schedules are full of hope and structure and magic.

It's one of the many things that I have decided will simplify my life and relieve my stress. Along with:


  • Carrying a smaller purse (Less clutter!), 
  • Making a meal plan and shopping ahead of time (Dinner? No problem! I planned ahead because I am super-wife! HEAR ME ROAR!), 
  • Paying with a debit card or cash (No credit card bill coming this month! Weee!), 
  • Talking about serious subjects to friends via awkward word vomit (I'm an open book, ladies and gentlemen!),
  • Listening to the Bible on the way to work in the morning (I mean, LISTENING to it! Like an audiobook! WHO KNEW!?), 
  • And of course, refusing to be mad about anything at work (It's just work! It's not life!)


Of course, all of this has lasted about a week and a half, and yes, that week and a half was blissful and all, but you know,


  • I'm not taking as many pictures when my purse doesn't fit my DSLR (sad), 
  • We're out of milk so maybe I'll skip tonight's meal (and we can't even have cereal! Because, no milk!), 
  • Really I just haven't had time to find my new credit card (did I mention I lost my credit card overseas? Am responsible!) 
  • I am so not mature enough for serious conversations sans joking around and ruining it (also, talking about feelings makes me panic. See? Panic. That's a feeling. I'm growing.),
  • That data connection for the audio bible app goes in and out in the car so I will probably die in a car crash trying to reload it someday, 
  • And, you know, not much is happening at work to be mad at yet.


But the new schedule! Will surely stick. And will be the secret to my happiness for sure. Hope! Structure! MAGIC!

Part of this new schedule of mine includes working at the taekwondo school after work a few times a week, which may sound like more work and stress (it is!) but I think it'll actually relieve some of the time I usually spend working (it probably won't!) by allowing me to get everything done those evenings and having the rest of the week for myself (I'll find more things to do!)

So Jack has been training me in areas of bookkeeping (Man, there are a lot of k's and e's in that word! Look! Look at all the k's and e's!) and data entry and all the other Things Which Keep the School Running (which in turn keeps me eating and buying pretty things like shampoo).

It has been... fun. My husband? He is good at what he does. He is an excellent teacher. He is an excellent salesman. He makes really good burritos. And he is one of the kindest people I know.

But learning this job from him? Reminds me of um, how very different God made us!

You see, he is a details person. As in "open this dialog box and type the student's name, then change the date in this box and then type a four in this box and then check this box and save it by pressing these keys."

I? Am a "big picture" person. Because in the meantime I'm like, "Oh hey, what are we doing here? Bookkeeping? Is this an invoice? Are we entering an invoice?"

It is an interesting experience.

Especially when he is so detailed about the things he does that, had I been teaching somebody in that manner, I would have been incredibly condescending.

"Now, you're going to staple these two pieces of paper together. To do this, you will line up the front and back pages, making sure you line up the very edges and the corner, and then you will reach into your drawer, grab the stapler, and put a staple in the top right corner of the two papers, making sure that it is completely straight and not at all angled."

(THAT WAS A DIRECT QUOTE FROM YESTERDAY.)

(See also: HE HAS THE CRAZY.)

I'm keeping my mouth shut (as a good wife should!) because I know this is how he thinks and it's really not condescending at all coming from him, and really, when it comes down to it, I am getting ALL of the information I will need (and then some).

Plus, by the end of this training? I'm going to be a Master stapler.

Just like him.