Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's a Tree Thing

We put up the Christmas tree last night, or should I say, we attempted to put up the 5-foot shrub we used to call a tree, but couldn't stop laughing at the way it was dwarfed by the tv armoire. The artificial tree was only 5-years-old but we bought it while we were living in a very small, one bedroom apartment and we had to pick a tree to size. Now that we have a considerably larger living area we decided to bite the bullet and buy a bigger tree. And let me tell you that it was no picnic trying to find a tree that was not pre-lit! Jon and I are old fashioned--we prefer to fuss with multiple strands of colored bulbs every year. We do not like to make life easier on ourselves by splurging for a tree that you just pull out of a box and plug in. No, you have to spend at least an hour untangling the strands of lights, then test and replace bulbs until you can finally begin wrapping them around the Christmas tree, carefully applying light to each little branch. That's just the way it is done.

We had to go to a few different stores, but we eventually emerged victoriously from Target with an 8-foot, light-it-yourself tree. They even gave us a $25 giftcard which we used to begin our Christmas shopping.

When we got the tree home we were pleasantly surprised by the way it was put together. Forgive me if I sound old-fashioned, but I couldn't believe that it was only three large pieces to snap together and the branches were already attached! The thing opened up like an umbrella. Gone are the days of holding artificial tree limbs up to the light, trying to decide if the tag on the end is black or midnight blue! I no longer have to compare branch lengths to figure out which row should go on first because I lost the assembly directions again! It turns out we were perfectly okay with a nearly pre-assembled tree, but we couldn't be swayed into believing pre-lit was okay.

The tree looks great, if anything it may be a little too big, but otherwise, it's perfect.

Friday, November 24, 2006

And So The Fun Begins

Homemade pumpkin pie for breakfast--life is wonderful.

I narrowly escaped having Thanksgiving dinner at my house again this year. The votes were 4 to 2 in favor of my place, but the 2 votes against came from myself and my father who garners the most important vote of all. If he says he wants to stay home for the holiday then that is precisely what happens. Thanks Dad!

It's not that I don't like having my family over or the responsibility of feeding them, but I hosted last year when all 5 of my siblings and their spouses and children were involved, bringing our grand total to 30 people. We lined-up tables that overflowed into the living room. After dinner those who didn't head into the family room for video and board games were using my hardwood floors as a slip and slide. It was,to put it bluntly, chaotic. I'm still getting over the shock of stumbling upon children who tiptoed into my bedroom to "secretly" jump up and down on my bed.

This year there were only 6 of us--my parents, 2 of my siblings, Jon, and myself. It was a small, quiet, and enjoyable dinner. Great food and good conversation go a long way. The rest of the family turned up for dessert, which was followed by two hysterical games of Apples to Apples, and a game of Cranium to showcase my spectacular charade skills.

Thanksgiving is by far the best holiday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Always Use Sunscreen

The social committee at my work is planning our Christmas luncheon for December. They decided to do things a little differently this year and begin the gathering with a mixer game that required me to provide something that makes me stand out, but it had to be something that my co-workers didn't already know about me. And after many days of deliberation, trying to decide how quirky or serious I wanted to make my personal information I decided on: I was given an award for being most likely to sunburn.

It was the summer before sixth grade and my softball coach had taken an interest in woodcarving. His wife was always very crafty, and one night the two of them must have put their creative minds together and decided to make small, personal trophies for all of the girls on my softball team to be handed out with our "official" trophies provided by the league. They were very small, a 2"x 2" wooden block for the base, with a little something goofy carved on top. My trophy had three small bottles that Mrs. Coach painted white and added SPF in red lettering. I was too young to find the humor in it at the time. I felt humiliated instead.

Just a few weeks prior I had gone to the Grand Prix of Cleveland with my best friend and her family. I knew nothing about cars or racing, still don't actually, but she and I did everything together so I agreed to go. We sat up high on the bleachers, watching the cars as they circled the track, and we talked about boys, cheerleading, and what we should have been doing instead of watching a bunch of cars taking laps around a track. It was nearly 12 hours of mind numbing boredom, all the while we were unaware of the sun beating against our skin from behind the massive bleachers. She was okay. She had that skin everyone longs for that doesn't have to burn instead it just tans. I, with my fair and freckled complexion, never tan instead I get second-degree burns that leave me immobile for a few days at a time. And that's exactly what happened. Normally I would have played through the pain, I loved softball that much, but because the sun was coming from behind most of the time we were there the worst burning was from the back of my knees all the way down my calves. I couldn't stand letting my knee-high socks and black polyester uniform pants touch my skin let alone take up my starting position at first base and actively play. I opted to miss two games in one week and this was apparently my coach's way of razzing me for it.

My SPF trophy is now hidden away in one of the closets at my parents' house along with the rest of my "official" sports trophies. I'm not sure why I was so ashamed of it. Perhaps it was because I expected something a little more flattering, like a box of Wheaties for all of the impossible plays that I pulled off or a chain link fence for all of the foul balls that I dove headfirst into the metal for, something that symbolized how good I played and not the two games of the season that I missed. I don't know the real reason that I didn't appreciate my coach's humor when I was in junior high school but looking back on it now I think it's hilarious. I'm half tempted to stop by my parents' house tonight to collect it.

At least the guy taught me a valuable lesson about using sunscreen, if nothing else.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Jagged Poetry in Random Notebooks

I never know what to do with myself on poker nights. It's one night a week that I have entirely to myself in this big empty house and I can't for the life of me decide what to do. I generally spend some time dilly-dallying around, straightening rooms that look too cluttered, wash dishes, and maybe fold laundry, but then I am left to stare at the pile of library books on the coffee table unable to decide what to read, or flip through the television channels for something interesting watch. When it's all said and done I usually end up here, on the internet, catching up on my friends page or trying to pull something semi-interesting to write about out of my very bored, sluggish mind. I have failed yet again.

During my little straightening ritual tonight I came across a few spiral bound notebooks that I used to scribble in through my teen years. It was like driving past a car accident--I couldn't look away. The writing was horrific, and it seems that I went through a very awkward stage in which I did not use the names of people or places, so even I am having a very hard time trying to decipher what I was saying and who it was about. The one thing that was blatantly obvious was that I was a wreck and 16-year-old girls should never have thoughts as gloomy and depressing as the ones I recorded. I can vaguely remember thinking that they were beautiful and insightful at the time, but almost 9 years later I am seeing the error in my ways. I can only say that I am so happy, relieved, and thankful that I was able to pull myself out of that 4 year funk. I don't know how I did it, but I'm thrilled.

I don't remember if I was aware of it at the time, but I found a few little notes from my friends hidden in the pages. Apparently my friends read my journal? Ha.

Dear Katie,
You still believe the world is a square and you've discovered how to crawl into a corner and stare, point, and laugh at the rest of us.

I used to wish I could crawl inside your head and discover what makes you recite such perfect paragraphs of wisdom. What inspires you to scribble jagged poetry in your random notebooks, but decided sometimes it's better not knowing why the stars shine.

I only wish they were perfect paragraphs of wisdom, but I suppose it was a time in our lives that we could not see beyond our high school graduation, so when a girl is ranting and raving about how terrible high school is and how awful classmates can be, it could have passed for wisdom. There wasn't anything more important or captivating in our world. It's just depressing that we chose to spend our time with our heads buried in overused notebooks, writing about how we were wronged in life instead of actively doing something about it. I can't help but think I could have put more effort into enjoying that time of my life. Of course, every page of my old journals seem to, in some way, reiterate that I was doing the best that I could.

My problems no longer revolve around my GPA and my social life or lack of. It seems I have graduated to more mature dilemmas such as what's for dinner and which book to curl up with. This is a stage in life that my 16-year-old self never saw coming. If only she had known that it could be this calm perhaps she would have come up for air more often.

Monday, November 6, 2006

All in a Days Work

It seems every unplanned moment is spent raking leaves at this time of year. They keep falling until I'm convinced they will never end. Jon and I have spent the last two Sundays outdoors, moving mountains of brown, yellow, and orange leaves with rakes and leaf blowers and we now have heaps taller than me waiting at the curb until next week when the city will pick them up. And that's only the front lawn. On my last count of the backyard we have thirteen large tulip trees that drop almost more leaves than we can bare each fall, but luckily, we get to push them all over the edge of our massive, tree studded ravine. I consider this my way of giving back to nature.

Sometimes I gripe about how we could still be renting and our landlord could be taking care of the yard work, or how there are people that we could pay to do this stuff for us, but mostly I like getting dirty and playing in the leaves like a little kid again. Not to mention there is a lot of satisfaction to be found in doing it ourselves. It is yet another one of those times that Jon and I are able to look at the finished product and then at each other with a smile and a nod that says "Yeah, we did that as a team, and we did a fine job. Nothing can stop us now."