Wardrobe Decisions

Cowboy BootsI am always antsy the day before a trip. For one reason, I wait until the very last minute to pack every time. It’s a bad habit that will most likely never change.

There is a lot of thought that goes into packing for a trip home. When I was in college, the primary one was do I pack all dirty clothes to take advantage of easy access to a washing machine or do I pack half and half? I once brought home a 55 lb suitcase of dirty clothes. Luckily, it was before the days of being charged for luggage. In my twenties, I thought about how often I would be out with friends. And now in my thirties, I think about how many lounge outfits I need because let’s be realistic – when I am at my parent’s house all I do is sit around, eat, drink, watch tv, hang with the family, rinse and repeat. It’s awesome.

This year is a bit different. While lounge outfits are still what are being primarily packed, there is one other factor to consider. My mom is getting me a pair of cowboy boots for Christmas. I have been dying for a pair of boots and picked them out myself. I know they are already wrapped and under the tree, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. When I do, I will have four days left at home to wear the boots. That means, I have to plan four outfits that I can wear with my new boots. It also means, I have to actually get dressed in real clothes for the last half of my vacation.

I love skirts and dresses with cowboy boots, but I also have a newfound love of skinny jeans after working my butt off at the gym. I have a lot of decisions to make today – maybe a spreadsheet will help. What do you think? What should I wear with my new boots?

ECSTASY

License PlateLast night, I had the pleasure of being behind a car with a license plate that simply read ECSTACY.  The car was not a sports car or any cool car, it was a cross over vehicle, which is basically a minivan trying not to be a minivan. 

I have so many questions about the license plate, the main one being “Why?”  Most of the time when I see something that has me intrigued but I have no way of getting the answer, I just make up my own story.

I have not written a fiction short story on paper since I was probably nine; the stories usually are just kept in my head so this is a new one for me.  I hope you enjoy the story I have created about the origin of this license plate.

Life had become mundane and routine for Rob and Lily, who live a typical suburban life.  They have a single family home, three kids, a dog and overbearing in-laws (on both sides).  Every day, the family wakes to little Emma crying at 5:30 am.   Like robots, Rob and Lily roll out of bed in mismatched pajamas to start the day, exactly the same as the day before.  The days go by without thought.  No move is calculated.  They go through the motions purely to make it to the next day. 

Rob loves Lily more than he did the day he met her.  She gave him three beautiful children and a dog, who is his partner in crime.  And while the love remains, the monotony of the day has begun to wear on him.  No longer are there things to look forward to and dream about as they lay their heads to sleep, like starting the rest of their lives together.  Their life already started, and it’s the same thing day after day after day after day.

Lily is exhausted.  She stays home with three kids under 5 and a dog that refuses to be house trained.  Her day is spent cleaning up poop – human and pet – and trying to maintain some sort of order in their house.  She is living life in the moment.  She is too tired to think more than a minute in the future. 

Each night when Rob returns home from his day job as an accountant, he and Lily embrace to give each other a short peck on the lips.  It’s a brief moment that time stops for both of them.   Life is pushed to the side as they express their love for each other.  It’s a fleeting moment but an important one; because as soon as time starts again, the routine continues – dinner, bath time and bedtime stories. 

Lily and Rob usually don’t make it more than a half hour past their kids bedtimes before passing out, exhausted from the day’s events. 

“We should do something.”  Lily said smiling at Rob.  She was propped up on her elbow tracing his chest with her fingers.  He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. 

“What do you mean?” Rob rolled over on his elbow matching her position. 

“Oh, I don’t know…something exciting.  We do the same thing every day.  Let’s think of something to do to break the routine.” 

Rob pulled Lily toward him, kissing her neck but she begrudgingly pulled away.  His kisses had so much control over her.

“Not like that, Rob.  I mean something more adventurous during the day or going on a date – something without the kids.  I need to get away from life as a parent for a little bit and so do you.  I want to be your wife.  Will you let me be your wife?”  

She let herself back into his arms soaking up his warmth.  Despite the mundane days, she was still in love.

“I get what you’re saying and getting away would be nice.  Let me think of some ideas.” 

They were both struggling to stay awake.  Lily was wrapped in his arms; her breathing getting heavier and regular.  It was a familiar sound he always missed when she was away. 

“And Lily,” Rob yawned, “you will always be my wife.”

It was a typical Wednesday night when Rob came skipping in the door home from work.  Continue reading

A Year of Firsts

2012I always get nervous the world is going to end as the new year approaches. It’s a worry that happens every year. There are so many things I want to accomplish and experiencing the end of the world isn’t one of them.

This year introduced a lot of firsts in my life. Some of them have been life changing, while others have been fun – like owning my first car. So without further ado, here is my countdown of firsts that happened in 2012.

1. I moved to the suburbs.
If you asked me two years ago if I would live in the suburbs, I would have laughed in your face. But alas I fell in love, and believe it or not, January 1st will mark my one year anniversary in the suburbs. It has been an ,err, exciting time.

Seriously, I can’t wait to move back to the city. That’s on our list of things to do in 2013.

2. I bought a car.
Her name is Tiffany, and she is amazing. The whole process of buying a car was awful. Thank goodness, Tom, was there coaching me the entire way. If I were by myself, I would have run out crying after the first five minutes.

3. I became a manager at work.
There isn’t much to say about this one, except yeehaw!

4. I tried Quinoa and love it!
We recently had a gym built in our office so I’ve been on a real health kick. I grew a giant boyfriend belly the first year I dated Tom, and the latter half of the year I have been working my butt off to get rid of it. Quinoa was one of the foods I discovered that is a healthy alternative to rice. It’s too bad I’ve eaten more white rice in the last week than I have Quinoa in the past three months. Please note, my intentions are good, I swear!

5. I converted to Apple products
I haven’t put my iPad down since the day I bought it. It’s turned into an obsession. Then, I recently got an iPhone. I’m a convert, what else can I say?

6. I started a blog.
It’s my favorite hobby to date. While I struggle to keep at it consistently, just like the Quinoa, my intentions are good.

There is one other first that is going to happen this year. Tom is coming home to Alabama for the first time. He will meet the rest of the family, and I get to bring to life all of the childhood stories I have shared with him. I have never brought a boyfriend home to Alabama. This is a big first for me (and him). I hope the first of many.

Happy Holidays!

This Too Will Pass

HopeA wise woman once told me to treasure every second of life. I had called home to complain about the minutia of my college life. I was an early twenty something navigating my way into full-blown adulthood. I needed my mom to not only listen but to point me in the right direction. She did that night, just as she always did when I was younger and just as she continues to do today. She told me that time will only go by faster as I get older, to be the best version of myself every day and that life always goes on no matter the circumstance.

Ten years have passed since that conversation with my mom, and yet, I still think about those words every day. Each year that goes by seems to be faster and more of a blur than the year prior. Time seems to be whirring by as I go about my days. Most of those days are filled with laughter, routine, joy and love but then, there are some days that are unexpected. Last Friday was one of those days.

Time seemed to stop as details came out about the Newtown, Connecticut shooting. There were so many precious and innocent lives taken too soon. My stomach lurched into my throat and a sadness came over me. It wasn’t the first time the holidays came with bad news. A few years ago, while I was home to celebrate Christmas, my mom learned she had breast cancer.

My mom was the first person I called when I left work on Friday. Her words were echoing through my head.

Always treasure every second of life…be the best version of myself everyday…life goes on no matter the circumstance…

The day I found out about my mom’s cancer is one that is etched into my memory. It was a few days before Christmas when the phone rang. My mom left the room to answer it. She had been holding the phone, as if expecting the call. I sensed something was wrong.

“Was that your call?” my dad asked.

“Yes.” They both disappeared into the kitchen.

My heart fluttered in my chest. My niece and nephew were crawling on top of me. We had been playing all afternoon. I don’t get to see them very often so every chance I get is a blessing. But I couldn’t stop my mind from shifting to my parent’s quiet whispers in the other room. I didn’t know what was happening but I knew it wasn’t good. We aren’t a family that keeps secrets.

The kids were oblivious to the change in the room as my parents emerged from the kitchen with forced smiles on their faces.

“Do you want a glass of wine?” my dad asked.

“Yes.” It was only three in the afternoon but we both needed it – although I didn’t know why. My mom came back to her recliner and gave me a smile.

“Is everything okay?”

“No, but I want to wait until your brother is here. I’d like to tell you together.”

I took a gulp of wine. My thoughts were running rampant. My sister, Lana, wasn’t getting into town for another day, and my other sister, Avery, wasn’t able to come home this year. We were each going to have to hear the news at different times.

Just as time stopped on Friday, time stopped on this day. My senses were heightened, and I was worried. The conversation felt forced as we talked over the elephant in the room. When my brother arrived, I was cautious and quiet. I didn’t want to start the conversation but I was anxious for it to begin…it never did. There was never a good time for my mom to tell us. My nephew was old enough to understand, and she wasn’t ready for him to know too.

The next day, my mom and I were running errands when her phone rang again. This time it was unexpected, and it was her doctor. When she was finished, silence hung in the air.

“Mom. Are you sick?” I knew the answer before I asked. Tears were welling in my eyes.

“Yes. They found a lump. I had a biopsy last week, and it’s cancer.” At a time when I should have been the strong one and be there for my mom, as she always had been for me, I wasn’t. I started crying. I was overwhelmed with emotion. The idea that my mom was immortal was no longer true. The reality hit me like a rock. I was numb.

“Elyse, please don’t cry. I’m going to be okay.”

This Christmas will mark the third year my mom has been in remission. While it’s hard not to think about that painful day every year as Christmas approaches, it has also become an important reminder. Life is precious, and we only get one chance at it. I am living the words my mom told me in passing a decade ago, and creating my own words too.

1. Do one thing every day that makes you happy
2. Give hugs to those you love frequently
3. Remind yourself, that this too will pass

Baby Fever

I took this photo while waiting to get my oil changed.  The little chair made me warm & fuzzy inside.  Seriously, the fever is in full force.

I took this photo while waiting to get my oil changed. The little chair made me warm & fuzzy inside. Seriously, the fever is in full force.

I have baby fever.  I laughed the day Lana told me the same thing four years ago.   It was a few days before her 30th birthday.   We were walking to our favorite neighborhood hot dog joint when she almost melted at the site of a baby in a stroller.   

“Oh my gosh, Elyse, did you see that little girl? She is adorable.” 

I looked at her cross-eyed.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  Lana had never been one to coo over babies.  Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t kicking babies on the sidewalk, but she always had an indifferent attitude toward them. 

“Where is Lana and who took her?” 

“It’s strange.  Everywhere I look, I see babies.  I want one.”

I was shocked at the revelation.  Lana always seemed more interested in her career.  She worked a lot and as a result was very successful at her age. 

“I think my biological clock is ticking.”

“That really happens?” I asked.

The first time I had heard about the elusive clock was as a young girl.  I was watching Look Who’s Talking.  At the time, I didn’t fully understand the concept but I wasn’t worried.  I was going to get married right after college and have babies in my late twenties.  Timing was never a question.

I’ve always known I wanted a family.  I played dolls and house regularly as a little girl.  My Christmas list was littered with the necessities – doll clothes, strollers and diapers.  I wanted the real deal, well as close as I could get.  I remember the smell of a fresh diaper.  It was a sweet perfume.  I would learn later as a teenager babysitting, that smell didn’t last long in real life.  In fact, I regularly gagged changing diapers, but it didn’t deter my want for children.

Even though I want kids, I didn’t feel magnetized toward them like Lana did.  I thought she was crazy so I teased her often about her newfound baby fever.  What I didn’t realize is that as the years passed, I would soon be experiencing the same fever. 

It’s a strange phenomenon to want to hug every child.  I find myself smiling, fighting the urge to scoop them up and give them a twirl.  I want to cuddle a baby and rock her to sleep.  I want one.

I know like Lana, my fever will too pass.  And the reality is as it passes so does the optimal conceiving window but I am not deterred.  It’s something I have always wanted.  My time will come.

Side note for my mom and dad: No worries guys, I’m hoping that ‘time’ is after I am married.

Bread, Ketchup, Bologna, OH MY!

Work

While I’m sitting at my desk on a conference call, I can feel someone behind me.  I turn around and co-worker holds out a grocery bag.

“For you.”

And then he left!  I couldn’t even ask questions, and I have so many.

1. What the hell?
2. How did you know I love bologna?
3. I’m confused. (Okay, this one’s a statement). 4. Why me?
5. Can I take this bag of goodies home?

Seriously, this has made my day.  It’s so random and baffling, yet so great. 

Apartment Tales: The Air Conditioner

Window Air ConditionerThe week I moved into The Apartment was stifling.  My apartment had two giant windows, one in each room.  My bedroom window was occupied with an air conditioner that was the size of an old tube tv from the fifties.  My kitchen window was met by the fire escape.

It was the first time I lived on a floor high enough to warrant a fire escape, and I frequently inspected it with curiosity.  There were only a few speckles of black paint that remained; the rest was covered in rust.  The metal had aged from the elements and looked fragile.  It was a long ways down so I knew if it came to a life or death situation, I would step out without hesitation but until then, the mere thought gave me anxiety. 

Even though I was skeptical the fire escape would remain intact if any weight was put on it, I was paranoid to open my window.  What if someone climbed up the escape to get me?  The thought ruined any possibility that I would open the window for air.  I couldn’t sleep knowing there was a potential entry way for intruders.  So the only option left was my bedroom window.

Just as I inspected the fire escape, I also stared frequently at the air conditioner from the Middle Ages.  As part of my lease, I was supposed to pay an additional $200 during the summer if I wanted to use an air conditioner.  I moved into the apartment in September so it didn’t make sense.  But I was suffocating in the stale, stench of the building.  Every breath was a fog of heavy air, dead skin, hair, the dying old and cigarettes.  I couldn’t let myself go that way.

I sat on the floor of my bedroom in nothing but panties and a tank top.  Sweat was dripping down my face – even my legs were sweating.  I didn’t know if the guy before me had paid the fee, and I was guilt ridden at the mere thought of using the air conditioner if my landlord didn’t have the money.  But I didn’t have a choice.  I was going to suffocate otherwise.

With the guilt defeated by my will to live, I flipped the switch.  A sudden whoosh of air blew dust in my face but it was cold air.  It felt so good.  I stood in front of the unit arms outstretched praising the electricity Gods.  But as fast as the cold air came, it left within seconds.

Shivers ran down my spine.  I blew the fuse.  My apartment was pitch black. 

I was on my hands and knees frantically trying to find pants.  I had no idea where the fuse box was.  If Patrick wasn’t going to show me the laundry room, he certainly wasn’t going to give me the privilege of knowing the location of the fuse box.  But I had to find it.  I couldn’t let him know I turned on the air conditioner.  Continue reading