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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


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!)

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."


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.