Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Losing power isn't so bad.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Everyone should have to be a waiter

I've always thought that everybody should have to be a waiter at some point in life. Most people who have been waiters are pretty understanding at restauraunts. They get that if it's super-crowded, the server might be slower, and that if there's something wrong with the food, it may be the cook's fault, not the waiter's. They get that waiters don't get crap for pay and that you should tip well for decent service. If everybody had to be a waiter, the world would be a better place.

I feel the same way about road biking. I wish everybody had the experience of training in the midst of traffic for your stupid charity bike ride that you, for some reason, just have to ride every year. I know for a fact that this would make them drive differently around bicycles (who, by the way, ARE LEGALLY ON THE ROAD).

But not everybody rides, so here are a few comments for the drivers I encountered today who obviously don't.

  • To the driver who whipped around me at 70 miles per hour on the toll road, throwing gravel in my face - Thank you, sir. A lot of women pay a lot of money for an exfoliating treatment such as this.

  • To the guy in the truck who leered at me out the open window as he passed - Kudos to you, young man, for seeing my backside in these spandex shorts and still being so interested in me. Shallow you are not. However, I feel like you should know a few things about me before you decide you're ready for this jelly. First of all, there is a foam pad sewn up the middle of these shorts. Still into that? Alright. I'm also covered in dirt, sweat, gravel (see first point), and probably a little blood. I am mouth-breathing, no, panting, up this hill, and the inside of my right leg is covered in chain oil that I will not be able to get off for days, even if I scrub. My hair is plastered to my head under my helmet, and my crotch is probably black and blue at this point from being on this bike seat. Sexy, right? So if, for some reason, you're still interested, I'm totally in. Just run it past my sixth-degree-black-belt husband first, and it is on like Donkey Kong.

  • To the motorcyclist who revved your engine as you passed - Yeah, I get it. Your bike is faster than mine. Your penis is also bigger than mine. Bravo.

  • To the chick who drove by and gave me a weird look as I pulled off into your neighborhood - I am powering my vehicle with the energy from my own body. I need to catch my breath and take a bite of my disgusting protein bar as not to black out during the 7 miles I have until I get home. My apologies if my spandex-clad presence bothers you. Enjoy your drive.

  • To the probably friend/co-worker/encouraging fellow cyclist who honked at me from your little blue car - You are really nice, but I don't know who you are because you just passed me at 40 miles an hour, and that honk just about gave me a heart attack. I appreciate the support, but I really hope you can still be friends with somebody who just pooped her pants.

  • And to the jerk hole who just had to pass me in the same lane, even though there were two perfectly good lanes next to me - I get that you have a big truck and I am a little bike, and yeah, the 20 miles per hour that I'm riding down this stretch of road is not quite the accomplishment for you that it is for me. But my feet are literally attached to this bike right now, and I am far too clumsy to clip out in time to get off if you take me down. So if you take me into the curb, it's all over for me. But I get it - I slowed you down for a second there, and for that, I must die. There are not enough middle fingers in the world for people like you.*
---

*Dear Mandy's Work, I did not give anybody a middle finger today. Nor did I use the word "penis" in a blog entry. That was all in your imagination.**

**Okay, I may have done the second one, but I definitely did not do the first one. Which may or may not have been because if I take one of my hands off the handle bars, I will crash.***

***It wasn't because I will crash. It's because flipping people off is wrong and bad. Yay, Jesus!****

****I also didn't go on a bike ride on Sunday morning instead of church.*****

*****Alright. I did all of those things. Just not the middle finger one. Because of the crashing thing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five minute Friday - On Distance



The day I left for college, it took every bit of my self-control not to turn right back around at the end of the road, drive back to Jack's house as fast as I could, curl up on his couch, and refuse to move for the rest of my life.

You see, it was the first time I was technically allowed to be with him, finally with him, and yet we were being torn apart by distance.

Irony.

I kind of think my parents did that on purpose, the not letting us date until I actually left. I think they were hoping we would quickly discover that this long-distance thing sucked (yes, it did) and break up (no, we didn't) so that I wouldn't run off and elope with this super-dangerous old man I had fallen in love with (never intended to).

But I didn't turn around. I kept driving, and three and a half hours later, I had a new dorm room, new classes, a new job, a new town, and new freedom.

It really sucked.

I drove home just about every weekend, not because I was homesick or not used to being on my own, but because I was finally free to be with Jack and it was time to really date him, to get to know him, and to be his real girlfriend. Calendars were my best friends, because they told me how long it would be until I could be near him again. The distance between us made me ache all the time. I was incomplete.

The next year, I went home a little less often, and even less the year after. By my senior year, I barely went home once a month. It's not that I didn't miss him, or that we had any problems in our relationship that made me want to stay away. No, it was that as our relationship matured, the distance didn't matter as much.

We trusted each other and established our own independence. I figured out who I wanted to be, and he built a life back home to which I could return when it was time. We were apart and together, and it was a crappy and wonderful time for us.

Fast forward to now, seven years later. When we travel, we often do so separately because of our conflicting work schedules. During the week, I don't see him more than an hour or two a day since we work opposite schedules. And you want to know a secret that's going to sound a little terrible?

I don't really miss him when he's gone.

Don't worry, he doesn't miss me either.

I mean, sure, being together is always better, and don't think for a second that I don't completely adore this man.

But we will never be one of those couples who whines that they have to be away from each other for a day or two (in fact, we are really not fans of the kind of couples who do that). We'll probably never even be one of those couples who spends hours on the phone when they're apart for a weekend.

Looking back, I don't know if Jack and I would have the relationship we have had it not been for the distance during those four years.

The distance required us to wait, mature, and learn to communicate.

The distance built trust.

The distance taught me to enjoy my alone time.

The distance built independence and confidence.

The distance made the together much better.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oh, by the way, I'm still glad you were born

So it's your birthday again, huh?

You would think by now I would have run out of words to tell you what a ridiculously fantastic husband you are. But you know me. I never run out of words.

You're turning 32 today, and we have known each other for 9 years now... that's 28% of your life and 36% of mine. Let's just average that out and say 32% okay?

Look at me, doing math.

A third of our lives have been spent together now, and each year that I watch you get a little older I kind of wonder at what point you'll start acting like a grown-up.

I mean, not in the budgeting and working and owning-a-karate-school-and-a-house way. You've got that part covered.

I mean in the "you are old and stuffy and boring" sort of way.

Because while you are just old enough to always make me feel young (On my birthday, everybody was like "Ooooo, you're 25 now! Don't you feel old?" and I said "No, of course not! Because by the time I'm 30, my husband will be almost 40!"), you are definitely not stuffy or boring.



You make me laugh until my stomach hurts most every day, usually doing something completely not-grown-up, like shamelessly eating my ice cream cone while I'm getting something out of my purse, or sticking your tongue out at me through a napkin when I take your picture and then being surprised that, when you take it off, there are little bits of napkin left on your tongue that you can't get off.



And yet, you still take care of me. When people ask about who our electric company is or how much we pay for cable, I have to answer that I have no idea because you run our household so smoothly that I don't even have to worry about any of it myself.

Yes, he was singing the Plain White T's "1, 2, 3, 4" to me in this photo.


And the love. Nobody who knows you can dispute that you love me (and that you treat me like a queen). You brag on me with everybody you know, whether it's about my cooking, my job, or some silly thing I did to help you out.

You share your pickle with me when I don't get one at lunch (because, as you say, I "keep ordering pickle-less entrees"), and as far as I'm concerned, pickle-sharing is the agape of our relationship. Nothing tops pickle-sharing love.

Add to all of that the things you've accomplished in your short 32 years here, it's enough to make anybody gasp. 6th degree black belt. School owner. Master Nominee. World Champion. Gift-wrapping prodigy.

If I were nothing more than friends with you, I'd be lucky to have you in my life, but the fact that you chose me as your partner makes me the most blessed girl on the planet. There is nobody better than you. And there is nobody prouder than me.

So here's to another 32 years of making people gasp. Of being a man of integrity, chivalry, and respect. Of effortlessly making everybody you know fall in love with you for your charm and your simple kindness. Of being my very favorite person.

Happy birthday, Jack.

I'm really glad you were born.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In which, once again, I am awkward.

I've been writing part two of the Plain White T's trip, but to be honest, it's dragging and I don't know how to end it, so I've decided to procrastinate (hooray!) and instead tell you a tale about my terrible, terrible social skills.

Just about every day, my co-workers and I walk to the local Starbucks for our afternoon break. We walk and talk and laugh and generally pay no attention to our surroundings, focused mostly on exchanging our money for calories and a feeling of superiority.

Yesterday, as I was about to enter the Starbucks, I heard somebody yell my name behind me. Confused, and probably deep in a discussion about something profound and theological (probably something in the realm "Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog," the state of Taylor Swift's personal life, or the always-interesting debate over whether we'll have to go to the bathroom in heaven), I turned around and scanned the crowd of people behind me.

My group was all there, and then I saw her, a girl who looked very familiar, waving her arms at me.

"Mandy!" she shouted again and waved.

"Hey! How are you?" I shouted stiffly over the crowd of people at the patio tables as I realized that this was Leslie, my sister-in-law's roommate from college.

Leslie is by far one of the funniest, most fun people you could ever be around. I remember her telling stories when I was hanging out with her, my brother, and my (then future) sister-in-law in college, and we would all be laughing so hard that we were fighting for breath. She was studying to be a teacher, which was extremely fitting, because, as my brother always told her, she would fit right in with the middle-schoolers.

I glanced at the clog that had formed behind me at the Starbucks door, mostly made up of people from my own group, waiting for me to open the door so they could enter the coffee shop.

Jack and I have this pet peeve about being in people's way in public places. People who stop in the middle of crowded walkways drive us crazy, and the rule is that we stay out of people's way even if it's inconvenient or means splitting up when we're walking together.

I looked back and forth between Leslie and the door.

"I'll meet you in here," I mumbled and pointed at the door, assuming that she was coming inside as well.

With that, I ducked inside quickly and got out of the way of the door, standing uncomfortably close to somebody sitting in the big chair by the door. I faced the window, watching Leslie get closer as the crowd entered the building. All of the sudden, the crowd cleared and I saw a little dog emerge from behind the patio tables and chairs outside, and I realized that Leslie was attached to said dog via leash.

At that point she was past the door, still looking in at me, and all at once I realized that she wasn't coming inside at all. I waved at her awkwardly until she was out of sight, and in retrospect I'm not quite clear on why I didn't just step back outside to talk to her.

But in that moment, I was just like, "Welp, it's too late now. Guess I'll just have to settle for waving at her from this fortress of glass from which there is no escape!"

I felt bad about what had just happened, and I kept repeating "I thought she was coming inside!" to my friend Debbie, who had watched the whole awkward thing and already begun making fun of me for it.

Fast forward to this morning, when I got this e-mail from my brother - the subject line read "Mean!" and it simply said: "You blew off Leslie???" He included a link to a blog entry she wrote about the interaction, and I laughed and laughed when I read it. And, you know, felt terrible about it again.

I think she was right though, for her own sake - it was probably a good thing she didn't have to interact with me more than she did. There's no telling what I would have done next.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Covert operation, Part 1

I've been recieving CDs in the mail.

Don't worry. I ordered them. I didn't want you to think I was receiving unwanted or unexpected CDs. Well, I guess they're only unwanted in that who wants a CD these days? But the used CD was cheaper on Amazon than the MP3 download, so here I am. Recieving CDs in the mail.

I'm going somewhere with this, I promise.

Monday night, when Jack got home, he saw that I had opened a package and that The Plain White T's (T's's?) second-newest CD was sitting near the pile of mail.

"I GOT A CD!" he announced.

"No, that's my CD," I corrected him. "I ordered it with my Amazon birthday money."

"But I love the Plain White T's!" he whined back. "You got it for me for my birthday!"

"No, dear, actually, I got it for me for my birthday," I said. "I'm sorry; honey, that's not your CD."

He pouted. He tantrumed. He insisted the CD was his. But that didn't change the fact that he wasn't supposed to have the CD.

The next day, he came and took me to lunch, and when he heard the Plain White T's playing in my car, he began the whole process again.

"That's my CD!" he announced, excitedly. "You forgot to give me my CD!"

I sighed. Living with an only-child was taxing sometimes.

"It's not your CD, honey," I explained. "It's my CD."

He pouted. He tantrumed. He insisted the CD was his. He changed his Facebook status.



(He has The Crazy.)

But that didn't change the fact that he wasn't supposed to have the CD.

No, the CD was ordered for a specific purpose, like all the other Plain White T's CDs that had been arriving that Jack knew nothing about since I had hidden all the others on time. This was my third, actually, and there was still another coming. They were all going to my car's CD changer for a trip Jack knew nothing about.

We would leave Saturday after taekwondo classes. I already had Jack's bag packed, and I was ready to lure him into the car and start driving, without telling him where I was going.

And that's when the adventure began.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I:Still:Create

Gitz needs a nap and things now, but I still thought I'd show off my creative project here because I will forever associate her with setting aside time to be creative.

I had to get canisters for my flour and sugar and stuff, on account of all the flesh-eating bacteria* in my pantry.

I got some cheap ones at Wal-Mart and got everything sealed up, nice and tight.

I labeled them with sticky notes.



They were boring, but they did the trick. The "trick" being that I could identify the strange white powder inside each canister.

I mean, not strange white powder. Like, normal strange white powder. Like, you know, flour and sugar and things.

I feel like we're getting off topic here.

Look! New labels for my canisters!



I had my Silhouette** cut out those cool shapes on the patterned paper (I got the shape from a journaling box in Jacabean's Many Blessings kit, so I'm totally counting this as a Hybrid).

Then, I cut out plastic rectangles (I used a freezer baggie, but in retrospect clear vellum would have been a wiser choice) and sewed it on top of the patterned paper on the sides and the bottom, and then I inserted the cardstock labels I made inside those so that I could change the label if necessary.


(Hey Mandy, don't choose the worst-sewed label to take a close-up of, kay thanks.)


They're fun to look at now that they're all prettified.







Maybe I'll even bake something now.***

--

*and by "flesh eating bacteria," I mean moths.

**It's wrong to make out with a digital die cutting machine, right? Because if it wasn't, I would totally be doing it right now with the Silhouette.

***No, I won't.

Both.

He texts to ask if he can go out with friends tonight after work.

I exhale.

Tonight I will have extra time. Maybe I'll catch up on some housework. Maybe I'll make a few cards or scrapbook pages. Maybe I'll design a blog I've been needing to work on, or maybe I'll fix a computer problem. Or maybe, I'll just sprawl out on the couch and read a novel in the silence, something I've not had time for in... I don't know how long.

So that's what I do. I don't move for hours, except to turn page after page. The housework waits and I don't feel guilty because it's just me in my house.

And I cherish it.

And then he walks through the door.

I exhale.

He's safe and sound, chattering on with stories of kids in karate uniforms and stacks and stacks of paperwork. He's back in my house and in my arms, where he belongs.

And I cherish it.