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Archive for the ‘Once upon a time’ Category

Seven

Tonight, the hubs and I celebrated seven years of togetherness. SEVEN. YEARS. It’s kind of crazy to think about actually. I mean, on one hand it feels like we’ve known each other forever, and on the other, it feels like just a couple of years ago that we met since I can still remember it so vividly. (See previous post here on HOW we met.)

Though we weren’t technically dating until a few days later, Sept. 8 is the day we met, and it’s the day we celebrate. We call it “meet day.” As in “Happy Meet Day!” Yep, we’re dorks. Please tell me we’re not the only couple that still celebrates those tiny special dates years after they’ve been married? Regardless, I still enjoy celebrating the day every year, even if our celebration just consists of a card and dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Some years we even go back to that fateful place, the basketball court of our old apartment complex, and try to remember all the tiny details. This year wasn’t one of those years. Between dropping and picking up my car from the shop, eating dinner, and cleaning the house before family shows up tomorrow, there just wasn’t time or desire. Instead, we indulged on smoked wings at one of our favorite restaurants called Loco’s and spent the rest of the evening de-cluttering the house and giving it a quick wipe down. We typically don’t do gifts, but I did manage to surprise the hubs with tickets to see his beloved Michigan Wolverines when they come to Illinois in November. We’ll likely make a weekend out of it with a trip to Chicago. Hopefully the city will be decked out for Xmas by then.

 

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I always miss New York this time of year. The bright lights gleaming off of every slick surface, the sound of cars and people rushing by, the smell of roasted nuts from a street vendor – I miss it all. Sometimes I’d visit Rockefeller Center and just stare at the giant, decorated spruce as people skated round and round on the ice below. I remember how cold my cheeks always felt, as the wind would whizz past the skyscrapers. I remember the smell of my chapstick, which always seemed to mix with my perfume and hand lotion in a combination of vanilla, chocolate, and Carmex. My hair, always down, would constantly be in my face and I’d have to turn toward the wind to blow it out, rather than risk removing my warm, gloved hands from the pockets of my peacoat. I’d seek shelter from the wind in the subway stations, which never smelled as bad as they do on a hot summer day. Sometimes crammed like sardines, but never minding the extra warmth, as long as we had layers of cotton and polyester padding between us. I remember the sheer joy and excitement the city always brought to me, just by being there. I’d take a deep, cold breath and let it fill my lungs, realizing my surroundings and just how far from home I really was, and thankful for every, single moment.

I always miss New York this time of year.

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A couple of weeks ago in my Decade in Review post, Jen asked me to tell the story about how I decided on my chosen career (public relations). It’s not terribly exciting, but I know most people struggle with career choices, especially when our backs are pressed against deadlines and life-altering decisions such as picking a college and choosing a major. These are questions that will essentially change one’s life forever. How is any 18 year old supposed to know the right answers? Until then, the biggest decisions we’ve had to make are what clothes to wear to school, what to eat for lunch, and who to take to the prom.

Transitioning from high school to college life isn’t easy. Especially when you’re someone like me who can’t even decide what to have for dinner. When I graduated high school, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had an idea – well-paying desk job, office atmosphere, tall building in a city – but that was about it. No stay-at-home wife/mom for me, and certainly no blue-collar jobs either. So I picked a school based on things like cost (in state), location (far from home), class sizes (small), and how many of my fellow high school classmates would be there (the fewer the better).

When I started college, I felt pressured to pick a major. “You can always change it later,” the counselor told me. I don’t remember talking much about this decision with anyone, and so I just checked the “Political Science” box. I knew a lot of future lawyers started out that way and it sounded impressive. That was my reasoning. I was immediately put into a History class for people with this major. The professor had a reputation for being one of the most difficult and the class itself had a reputation for being the hardest of anyone’s college career. A week later, I dropped the course and also my major. The syllabus alone was enough to send me running.

I spent the rest of that year making bad choices, or at least just feeling like I did. As someone who had always made smart decisions before, freshman year of college was a rude awakening that real life choices aren’t always so black and white when it comes to right and wrong. By the end of the school year I felt lost. I was no closer to deciding what I wanted to do with my life than I was the first time I walked through the door of my dorm room. But a final family vacation and a chance meeting in Washington D.C. changed all that…

My parents don’t take a lot of vacations. Or at least they didn’t when I lived at home. My friends would all go to California or Florida while I was stuck riding in the car to places like Branson, MO and Pigeon Forge, TN. That summer after my first year in college, my parents surprised me by saying they wanted to take me on a real vacation, probably our last one as a family. The caveat: we were driving. No flying. I wanted to go to NYC more than anything. They had already been there and hated it, so they did not. We compromised on Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. My step-dad is a huge history buff so even though it was a vacation, he was going to make it as educational as possible.

I don’t remember what day it was or exactly what historical thing we were looking at at the time, but I do remember us wandering into a Burger King. The place was packed. Something was going on at the MCI Center (or that’s what it was called at the time. AKA the place that holds concerts). So my mom, the always curious and will-talk-to-anyone kind of person that she is, started chatting up these two young ladies while I stood in line to wait on our order. Next thing I know, we’re being offered 7th row Bon Jovi tickets for that night’s show. For free! My mom almost turned them down even though she’s a fan, since they only had two tickets and there were three of us, but my step-dad was more than happy to spend a few extra hours roaming the city and reading every historial-looking plaque or marker he could find. So we took the tickets and spent the next 30 minutes or so chatting with these two young ladies over our burgers and fries.

One of the girls had beautiful long dark hair and big brown eyes, and was sporting a jean jacket. Her name was Lauren. She looked to be about 27. She gave me her card which said “media and artist relations manager” and had the record label’s logo on it. I didn’t really know what her job entailed but I knew she had the hook-up with awesome tickets to awesome bands. Which is why she gave those tickets to us – because she had to WORK, backstage, with the band! In my eyes, she had the coolest job in the world. I wanted to BE her. But our meeting was cut short as she left with her friend to go do some media wrangling. I had so much more I wanted to ask her.

A couple days later my parents surprised me by taking me to NYC for a day after all. I was ecstatic. Before we even crossed over into Manhattan, just looking at the city and picking out the World Trade Center and Empire State Building, I fell in love. If you can imagine a wide-eyed 19 year old girl with her nose smushed up against the glass, jaw open, gawking at the biggest skyline she’d ever seen…that would’ve been me. I was in awe. I’ll skip over all the sight-seeing and sheer amazement I felt as we toured the city. (side note: I hailed my own cab for the first time and went to see Les Miserables – BY MYSELF. It was the most adult thing I had ever done at that point in my life. And on the way out, as I went to hail another cab, a homeless looking dude bumped into me, copped a feel on my chest and kept speed-walking past me. It took me a moment to realize I’d been violated. But hey, it’s New York. It just made the whole experience that much more “authentic.”)

On the day that we were leaving, my parents took me by the record label where Lauren worked so I could give her a thank you card and flowers in person and offer to buy her breakfast. I walked into the enormous, heavily-secured building and asked to see her. Several minutes later she came down, flattered to receive my thanks, and although she was in a hurry, agreed to a quick breakfast. She took me to the bagel shop in her building and bought me a bagel (despite my efforts to pay) and I asked her a few more questions about her job. Basically I just wanted to know what she did in college to get to where she was now. She told me she had majored in communications and journalism, did a couple of internships, and here she was. Just then, it was as if the proverbial lightbulb above my head had just lit up. I had a path laid before me now, I just needed to start walking.

Later that fall when I returned to school, I immediately declared my major: Communications with an emphasis in Journalism. And I’ve never looked back. Oh sure, I’ve learned some things along the way – like as much as I love NYC, I could never live there; and working for a record label isn’t as glamorous as it seems. I know that now, after living in NYC and interning at a record label. I don’t work at a record label, as I originally set out to do, but I know I chose the right field. I’m in the right profession. I have the job that I was meant to have, a job that I love (most days). And it all started with a chance meeting. A moment and a person that changed my life forever. And I know that I’m incredibly lucky to have had one of the hardest decisions any person has to make, become the easiest for me.

So maybe that’s why I’ve never really believed in coincidence. A wise man once said, “coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” And I’m not really one to argue with the likes of Albert Einstein.

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In 1988, a movie came out that would quickly become one of my childhood favorites:

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“Hot to Trot” features a talking race horse and a funny-talking main character (the actor and comedian otherwise known as Bobcat Goldthwait).

Do you know this movie? It’s okay if you don’t. But I? Loved this movie. And like all obsessive little children, I had to know everything about the real actor – Bobcat Goldthwait – so I could collect all of his movies and watch them repeatedly. But since I was only 6 when this movie came out and admittedly, I could barely read, it would be about 10  more years, once we finally got a magical thing called “The Internet” , before I could let my true celebrity obsession show. Enter EBay. The place that saw nearly every last dollar that I ever made working at the local movie theater.

I have no shame in admitting that I bought videos (Scrooged, Shakes the Clown, One Crazy Summer), HBO specials, and even an autographed photo of the guy. I just liked him. I can’t explain why.

At the time, I think he was doing the voice of the bunny on a show called Unhappily Ever After and I just sort of forgot about him until my annual viewing of Scrooged around Christmas time when I would think to myself  “I wonder what old Bobcat is up to these days.” Yes, I realize I’m not normal.

Last Friday morning, my alarm went off and just like I always do, I flipped on the TV and laid there with my eyes closed as I waited for the Today Show music to start.  I listened to the anchors babble on about the weather or sports or whatever it is they talk about until I heard a name that made me take notice: Bobcat Goldthwait was in town and would be performing two nights of stand-up comedy at JBucks restaurant. And that was that. We were going, end of story.

As for Bobcat? He did not disappoint. I felt kind of bad that whomever was responsible for promoting his act didn’t do such a hot job because there were only 21 people in the audience, but he still put on a good show. Though I almost cried a little when he said he was put in comedy jail for nine years after that damn talking horse movie. (Whatever man, I can attest that 6 and 7 year olds around the world loved that movie.) So Bobcat is a director now with a new movie featuring Robin Williams that’s due out later this year called “World’s Greatest Dad” which I fully intend to see. At the end of the show, he was nice enough to hang out, sign autographs and take pictures. I was the first one to approach him and confess what  a big fan I am. I’d like to think he was flattered and not creeped out but who knows. I was a teensy bit excited.

My hubz tried to snap a pic with my iPhone. Apparently I need to teach him how NOT to cut off part of my head when taking photos. And also to maybe lay off the caffeine because apparently he has the shakes too, as evidenced by all the blurriness.

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And for a little piece of 80’s nostalgia, here’s a great clip of Bobcat doing some standup. Ah, the wonders of YouTube.

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I notice it every year. September never fails to produce the undeniable scent of cool morning dew and fading oak leaves. It’s the smell that reminds me of nylon backpacks and freshly sharpened pencils; of shaded bus stops and squeaky school bus gear shifts; of a new pair of sneakers and a couple of crumpled dollars shoved in my pants pocket for lunch money.

That smell reminds me of so many fond memories that it’s hard to associate it with just one. Year after year I started school with equal amounts anticipation and excitement. So thrilled to see my friends after a long,  hot summer. So anxious to see how the summer changed last year’s crush, and contemplating the likelihood of needing to scope out new crush prospects. So eager to meet my new teachers and listen to what they have planned for us throughout the year. Did I mention I was a bit of a nerd?

I remember spending one late summer afternoon at a friend’s house, decorating our folders with markers and stickers for our various classes. Science classes always had green folders. English was usually orange or yellow, and History was typically blue. Hey, we may be nerds, but we were colorful, expressive, and organized nerds.

I was one of the lucky ones. Though I moved houses a couple of times, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in the same school district, only changing schools when I made the leap from elementary school to junior high and junior high to high school. I knew just about everyone in my graduating class of 250 students and though I was never one of the popular kids, I was never teased by those that knew me growing up. I have to say, high school was pretty darn good to me.

I thought about all of this on the way to work today. I couldn’t help it. That smell just has a power over me, making me reminiscent of my school days, and for a split second, I admitted to missing those times and a feeling of loss swept over me. It’s been nearly 10 years since my last first day (college doesn’t count). But as I turned the corner from the elevators and flipped on the lights to my office, I could smell the scent of coffee wafting from the end of the hall. I always considered coffee a very adult smell, and it immediately brought me back to the present, the now. I powered on my computer and glanced down at my black peep toe pumps as I slid my chair closer to my desk, ready to start the day.

Except I couldn’t help but notice…The desks sure have gotten a lot bigger since my high school days, and the notebooks and pencils are a lot fancier. And a smile grew across my face as I thought about how impressed my high school self would be with my adult self. Looking around at the pictures on the walls and the award on the shelf, a yoga mat in the corner and heels on my feet…yeah she sure would be impressed alright.

If only she knew how often I fight the urge to draw in bubble letters on my manila folders.

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