Friday, December 31, 2010

Waxing reflective

Happy New Year my little lambs! This year has definitely had its high points for us, like D graduating law school and passing the Bar a few months later, and us driving cross country, which was probably the peak of my year. I often think back to that trip and wish we could be back there, back on the road, skipping from town to town and living by purely spontaneous impulse. Also big for me this year was finishing my first novel. Of course there were low points (losing my grandmother and landing what I thought would be my "dream" job initially come to mind), but all in all 2010 could've been worse.

So here's to 2011. I don't have a steadfast resolution; instead I'm going to see to it that I find happiness in my endeavors. I have a feeling it's going to be an amazing, life-changing year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The British are coming

I just finished my Christmas dinner of steak and red wine by the fireplace with my dad and D and thought I'd write a quick post to say Merry Christmas to you and yours (in a British accent, of course). 

My holidays feel just a smidge out of whack since my mother and sister have flown south for the season and are currently enjoying summer in Buenos Aires (opposite hemisphere = opposite seasons). They'll be down there for about a month, living in an apartment rental and hanging out with the locals, then they're off to Peru in early January, wherein my dad will make like the birds and fly south to join then.

I was invited along (more than once) for this fete, but had to decline because of time constraints with my bloody job (apparently I'm all about sounding British tonight). I DO have all next week off -- thank God! -- but would have wanted to stay longer than a week if I was going to spend that much money on airfare. Plus being away from D during this time of the year would have sucked, and I KNOW Boss Man would never let me take time off in January what with a bunch of important news things occuring, so no Buenos Aires/Peru por me. Me no encantan. To satiate my travel bug I've been watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona religiously and pretending I'm summering in Spain with a handsome spaniard who wants to weekend with me in Oviedo.

In other news D bought me some swinging presents this year:
  • A wood-handled melon baller from Sur la Table (only the one I've been talking about FOR-ever. I guess you know you're old when you get your kicks from overpriced kitchen utensils.)
  • A copy of Sterling's Gold, as in Roger Sterling's Gold, the fictional memoir Roger wrote in Mad Men that's been actually published (hardback!) as a collection of Roger's witticisms from the show. I guess this officially makes me a hardcore fan (though me owning a Mad Men wall calendar for three years running would have probably already affirmed that).
  • A pair of black Hunter rain boots!:

D bought me a pair of the original, tall, high-gloss version. Hunter boots were made popular by Arthur Wellesley the 1st Duke of Wellington (hence the name) and became uber fashionable among the British aristocracy in the early 19th century. Apparently they're the Queen's personal favorite in shoe wear.

The Queen in her Hunter boots during the Gun Dog Trials (whatever those are), 1967.
Whatever works for the Queen works for me. Maybe the Hunters are what's making me feel all-sorts British tonight.

I surprised D with the first two seasons of Breaking Bad, a pair of cufflinks and tiebar (no Ferragamo this year; Kenneth Cole had to suffice), and rotating Belgian waffle maker that he's wanted since we got married. He's already made me fluffy Belgian waffles twice and they were divine. Both times. Although with the holidays coming to close I feel I should start watching what I eat again (as in: probably not a good idea to down an entire tin of shortbread in one sitting). Better idea: Salad? (Notice my use of question mark, as taste buds are always partial to processed sugar over leafs). 

I do know that I've felt rather blah lately -- a combination of feeling flabby and lazy. And pale -- did I mention pale? Because something about looking sickly white with no trace of my golden Cabo tan from August makes me feel a bit under the weather. Not that I'd EVER go to a tanning salon (no judging those that do, but something about frying under lightbulbs semi freaks me out). But with my tan gone and my muscle tone non-existent I've just felt blah. And I know it's because normally I walk a lot. 

Up until a couple months ago D and I walked at least a couple miles every night, not including walking to and from the train station for work and what exercise we got walking for lunch. But since the weather's turned unseasonably cold for my area (and the rains have swept in), walking is the last thing I want to do when I get home. And my thighs -- Mona and Camille, yes they have names -- are deffo not thanking me. What I need to do is quit making excuses and bear the cold weather in my Hunters. Don't worry ladies, you'll firm up again soon enough!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best. Picture. Ever.

This made me laugh out loud at work yesterday. When a coworker asked what I was laughing at I muttered something about Borzois and snowmen and I think they thought I was looking at an x-rated website. Some people have no sense of humor.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Highs and lows, Dec. 19th edition


I finished the charcoal drawing of my grandma -- finally! It took two days (about 8 hours total), and I wanted to spend a lot more time making it perfect, but had to wrap it up quick since I wanted to give it to her last night (I won't be seeing her for Christmas). She seemed like she really liked it, so I was happy about that:

 I used to do charcoal art all the time but stopped at some point in college. Not sure why. Probably a mix of time and priorities (those two rainy clouds on any adult life), and though I've been lugging my art supplies around with me years, I never thought to just sit down and pick up again until this week. And I'm so happy I did! Since I'm on a computer so long every day, it's hard once I get home to sit down at a desk and continue writing on my laptop. Drawing is a nice break for my mind and eyes, and gives me that creative outlet I desperately need. I'm obviously rough around the edges and have a lot of practice to do, but it feels good to put hand to paper.
D says when we eventually get a house he'll build me an art studio off to one side, which would be divine since the carpet that I worked on (even though it was covered with newspapers) is not letting go of those little charcoal stains as nicely as I hoped. Concrete flooring would be SO much nicer to work on.


You know, I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a Low today and nothing comes to mind. I'm thinking this is a good thing. 

I suppose what could be considered a low is I started Saul Bellows' "Herzog" recently, and it's taking me longer than I'd like to get into. I'm about 50 pages in and the main character, Moses Herzog, is borderline boring, in a petulant, arrogant way. And I get that he's supposed to be, so maybe I just need to be more patient and let him grow on me. Plus the book has a lot to live up to since I just finished reading the third book in John Updike's Rabbit series ("Rabbit is Rich") and, well, that book won a Pulitzer for a reason. Updike is incredible. So gifted. There's no other way to describe his gift with the written word. Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, the main character, is one of the best in literature; he's tragic and flawed (like every good main character should be) but has the innocence and impurity that makes him so relatable. And through the four books you get to follow the story arc that is his life through the most pivotal decades of the 20th century. I recently heard a reviewer on NPR call Harry symbolic of America, and that his descent through the books is like the country on its way down the rabbit hole. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The most wonderful time of year

How is it already mid-December? Tingles, reader-friends, tingles. Christmas is right around the corner and though I'm not a fan of plastic trees in the slightest, I saw a 6-ft one at Target for only 20 bones (!!!) and couldn't help myself. Who sells a plastic tree for 20 dollars? Much less one that actually looks pretty good for a fake? D was skeptical we should even get a tree this year -- real or fake -- since our apartment is straight-up European in its tininess, but I convinced him this would not only work, but it would look great. And it does:

So it's a little crammed in its corner, but it was the only open corner in our casa and I actually find it strangely cozy. D and I also decided (well, it was more me deciding since I had the idea) to buy one special ornament each year of our life together. I thought it'd be a cute memory to pass down to our children. This year we couldn't decide on just one, so we bought two:

They remind us of our poodle and cat, don't ask why, because I have no idea. We've just always likened them to a polar bear and a penguin for some reason. 

It's looking like D did not get that Dream Job we were hoping for this month. Christmas won't be coming soon to our household. Sigh. We were pretty down about it last Tuesday, when he contacted them to check in and the hiring manager wrote back that they had extended the offer to someone else. She did say the guy hadn't yet accepted it, and if he doesn't they will go back to their pool of candidates, that D was very well-received in the office and that he would definitely be back in the running if the offer was rejected from their first choice. Which I take to basically be a big, fat no. I mean who would reject this offer? Really? Unless the guy had other, better offers on the table, which would be a stretch in this market. I have a feeling their first choice was a Harvard Law grad (based on what they said to D about their other interviews) who probs had better experience than D. Though we haven't officially received a rejection in the mail, I'm counting on it being there soon enough. Poop. 

I was sad about it for, oh, a day but quickly got over it. I'm already depressed enough as it is with my career, I really don't need to be sad about his as well. I kept telling him he has a very bright future, who cares about this bad news, that I know these opportunities don't come often but let's buck up and make the best of it. I'd rather be drinking eggnog and kissing under mistletoe and dashing through the snow in a one-horse, open sleigh than pouting on the couch together in silence. D seemed to agree, but I can still tell he's uber stressed out. The other night I asked him why and he said "Why do you think? I'm in this apartment, paid for by my wife who hates her job. I want you to be happy."

Totally an "awwww" moment. I threw my arms around him and told him we'd get through it, that just hearing him say that keeps me going. And it does.

I'm happy today because I took the day off (mental health day, I suppose), which was coincidentally a genius time to take a day off since I had a management training meeting earlier this week that lasted ALL DAY. Literally. 8:30am to 5pm, I was sitting in a conference room with a dozen other managers of different levels, listening to a management training professional who had been brought in by our company to teach us "management basics." It was like a parody of corporate life -- something you'd see on The Office or Office Space. We had to do things like break up in to groups and "brainstorm" about ways to evaluate performance (jotted down with a marker on a white board, of course), "roleplay" effective communication styles, and talk about our feelings. It seemed like the only thing we didn't do was that "trust test" people do on company retreats, when you fall backward and let employees catch you.

It was all so dreadful and I wanted to die the entire time. I kept thinking "this is not my reality, this is not my reality" and when we were finally let out of the meeting, I had to stay till 8pm because a writer missed his deadline which meant I had to sit there and wait for the copy to edit. Fun!!!! Because all I ever hoped and wished for was to sit in my office for 12 hours with no real break.

Needless to say when D picked me up from the subway station near our home, I needed two things: Taco Bell and a cocktail. Nothing fixes a bad day for me quite like a run for the border and a vodka gimlet.

Thankfully I got to sleep in today and am going to finish up some Christmas shopping this afternoon. Also, hopefully, I'll have time to start and finish a charcoal drawing I wanted to do of a portrait of my grandma in her early 20s. I think it'd make a nice gift for her, especially since she's an artist herself. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hope on a rope

I have been so bad with my blogging lately. Not because I lead a boring life (at least not between Friday night and Monday morning) but because D and I have been mondo busy. He and I usually take our lunch break at the same time but all last week he was stuck in trials and depositions and other lawyer-ey "itions" that make no sense to me, so I found myself mindlessly perusing Nordstroms, Bloomies, et. al. every single day, trying to fill my lunch break outside of the office. (Cue me aimlessly riding the escalator in Macy's up then down, up then down, admiring the Christmas decorations hanging overhead in my path.) 

My purchases began to spiral out of control. Cookie cutters (for a girl who likes to bake but never actually does), calendars, lingerie, suede peep-toe pumps, numerous articles of clothing. Each time I was rung up and asked by the cashier whether my purchase was a gift or not, I said, with pride, "No, no...this is for me. Always more fun buying gifts for yourself." Not that I NEED any of this, my closet is practically bulging at the seams with clothes I never wear anymore, and I've got three trash bags and counting of clothing in the coat closet that  I'm planning to donate to Goodwill. But something about spending money -- especially these days -- makes me so happy. It's like lapping like a kitten at a well-made Tanqueray martini and feeling that first saucy buzz after a crappy workday. So bad, I know. I shouldn't be leaning on retail therapy as a way to deal with my malaise and inability to cope with reality, but I do and it feels sooo good. I suppose it could be worse. At least I'm not addicted to meth and my teeth are falling out of my head because of my penchant for aspirin and battery acid or whatever it is meth is made up of. I just simply like shoes. And it's not like I can't afford my shopping excursions...I use my debit card for everything, no credit. But I guess a part of me feels a little bad since I know everything I buy is frivolous and unnecessary. 

D still hasn't heard from the firm he interviewed with last Tuesday. This doesn't mean he's out of the running but at the same time doesn't bode well for our nerves. If it's a "no" we'll get a letter in the mail; if it's a "yes" he'll get a phone call. Talk about pressure. Every single evening we are terrified checking the mail, just like two kids covering their faces during a gruesome scene in a horror film. We stiffen, and everything slips into slow-motion as the key makes its final click in the lock, the mailbox door swings open, aaaaaand...there is a Crate and Barrel catalogue (for me) and a school loan bill (for D). We can breathe easy at this sight for just a second, until we're back to worrying about how we're going to pay D's $2,000-per-month school loans back. At this point we might have to defer till he finds something significant; though I make much more than I need, it's not enough to pay what would otherwise be a mortgage payment.

This law firm D is waiting on is like a last vestige of hope at scoring a gig that would start him at a significant pay rate ($145,000, plus bonuses). Any other smaller firm would pay well, but not as much as this firm, which makes landing this job even more important. But this job market has prepared me to expect the worst, so I've inwardly started downplaying the likelihood D got it. Not that I don't believe in him, but because I don't want to dwell on it and be all sad if we do see that letter in our mailbox this week. There will be other opportunities and he'll get to where he wants to be....I just want it to happen soon! I've been a bad girl at work and have been shirking some of my duties that will have ramifications in January, February and March since I'm hoping more than anything that I'll be gone by early January if he gets this job. I'm such a fool since this act alone has probably jinxed this job prospect for him, but I can't help it. That hope on the horizon is so tempting...