Twenty Eight

Happy Birthday, Kelly Jo. No suspense here, this one’s for you. I started out with a grand plan to make you a video, I even got up early this morning to do it. I did several takes and finally got it right. Then as I stood up, I dropped the phone and somehow, in the picking it up, I deleted the freshly completed video. Which is how my celebration of your day started out with a giant Fuck You to the universe. Man, oh man, that made me crabby. I didn’t have time to re-record the video because I’d done more than one take to try and get it perfect.

Then I spent the entire day stewing over it, because I was annoyed my plan had failed. I had every intention of heading home tonight and doing it again, except that it is dark when I get home now and the lighting in my house is terrible and I knew it would look better in natural light.

Then it hit me. Kelly likes words. Specifically, she likes it when *I* write words for her (feels like there is more than one meaning to that sentence!) And in days gone by I used to write sonnets to our friendship or post montages of photos glorifying our BFF status and post them to my blog. I don’t use the blog much anymore, at least not for things like that.

But I could.

I did.

I am.

I’ve spent all day thinking of you. I was in a meeting this morning (that I was NOT late for, despite my tech snafu, thank you very much) at the University of MN and the woman was talking about the children’s picture book digital art collection and I thought of you and how you’d be able to use that for your art unit.

I thought about you in the parking ramp when the person in the next spot parked so close to me that I could not fit between our cars and that was the driver side. And I ended up climbing in the passenger seat and over the console and contorting my body to squeeze into my driver’s seat. And even though it pissed me off, as I drove away I thought how funny it was and wished you were there because we’d laugh about that craziness for YEARS to come.

I stopped at Subway and thought of you and how much you enjoy Subway and how much you enjoy eating out, and that time you called me on the phone to tell me that Subway started offering breakfast and it was awesome.

I drove past Peppers & Fries and thought fondly of our lunches there, with and without your children. Then I thought of all the other lunches we’ve had and how much you enjoy going out to lunch. More than anyone I know.

All day today, every little thing I do, my mind has found a way to relate it back to you. Given the two very different lives we lead, this should seem a difficult task. But it isn’t. I can connect almost anything to you. And the reason is that we’ve been friends for twenty-eight years. 28. Our friendship is old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, lose money at a casino, drink alcohol and rent a car.

The Civil War lasted four years. World War I lasted four years. World War II lasted six years. The Korean War lasted three years. The Great Depression lasted ten years.

Our friendship outlasted all of these major events….added together. We have been friends longer than it would have taken to fight in four major wars and survive the greatest economic hardship our country has endured. With a year to spare.

I’ve spoken many times on my blog about you and our friendship. I’ve listed those if you wish to reread my words about you.

25 Birthdays

35/35

Lent Letter

Brecken’s Ultrasound

The Wonder (I think this is my all-time favorite Kelly post)

Chicago Trip (Although this is a close contender, still makes me LOL, literally)

The Right Stuff

33

First Sleepover

One of these posts contains a different list of posts about Kelly (there are a LOT to choose from) and in that one I put four and mention specifically that I stop at four just for Kelly. In this one I stopped at nine. It killed me to do it, but I did. Only nine lovable posts about my BFF. Because she likes lists that don’t conform. It’s me who doesn’t.

But here’s the crux of the thing. I love you, Kelly Jo. I’ve been loving you forever since 1989 and fully plan on that being the case forever. It’s a remarkable thing to know someone that long. Outside of blood relatives, there is no one I’ve known longer, and I know it is the same for you.

When we met, we didn’t have boobs. We didn’t shave our legs, we’d never gotten our first periods. We’d never kissed a boy. Our lives were small and sweet and innocent, as a child’s should be. The size of the world has grown immeasurably since we met, but it is in keeping with our friendship. More succinctly, the older we get, the better friends we become.

I know this is your first birthday since losing your dad and I know how hard that has been, and still is, on you. I think of you every day hoping, praying, that today will be a better day than yesterday. Also, I think of him, his warmth and his laughter and how very, very, very much he loved you. He is responsible for us, he moved you from Woodbury to St. Paul, and if he hadn’t done that, in 1989, you and I would never have met, never become friends, and what an immense loss that would have been. Nearly as awful as losing your dad. I hope that brings you comfort. Of all the things he’s given you, and Heaven knows that is a lot of things, he helped give you my friendship. And I’m still here, always.

Sometimes, Kel, sometimes it is hard to write to you because there is literally nothing I don’t say to you. I love that about us, our openness, even on the rare occasions that we fight, we always communicate our every thought. So many times I’ve set pen to paper (okay, fine, fingers to keyboard, but whatever, pen to paper is more poetic, and alliterative) to talk about you, about friendship and about how incredible it is that we are still forever friends.

Or BFF. As you like to say.

You are never far from my thoughts, and today, well, you are my favorite thought.

Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy birthday.

39 happys. Really. Count them.

Love you always, BFF.

kel

P.S. even though I never specifically mention NKOTB, I do reference them in the post. And because it felt weird to write to you, on your birthday and NOT mention them, I felt compelled to at this postscript to point that out, thus sneaking in a mention of your favorite band. I’m clever like that. Happy Birthday #1 Fan!

Keeps on Giving

If you know me personally, you know I’ve been sick. Since Thanksgiving. That’s a long, long, time of being sick. It was dragging my ass through my December teaching, feeling poor for the holidays, not being productive because I haven’t felt right. It’s been tough. I powered through and still did things, including all my holiday celebrations, but I wasn’t my usual sparkling self. People kept saying to me, go to the doctor. But I don’t. I’m not a doctor person. And a cold is viral, there isn’t anything a doctor can do. But it wouldn’t quit, it wouldn’t go away.

2014 ended rough for me, my mom being so sick and having surgery, then me getting sick, then my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and Kelly found out she needed surgery, and Mindy learned her collapsed lung will always be partially collapsed, and suddenly I blinked and went from August to December.

When the new year hit, I was actually relieved. I felt like things would have to start trending upward. And they have, sort of. Kelly had her surgery and while it didn’t go perfect, she is recovering and will be fine. My aunt had surgery to help with her cancer and it went very well. Now we have to hope this is the start of a healing process for her. My mom is scheduled to have her reattachment surgery in February, earlier than expected, so this is great news.

But I’m still sick. My ribs have been sore for a while now from all this coughing. Then Saturday hit and things went sideways. I got a flat tire on my car. I’m blessed that my dad took care of it for me, even though it still cost me $120. Then I coughed so hard my back spasmed and I couldn’t move. But luckily my sister had pain medication to help me get through. We finally saw my nephew Simon for Christmas and got to spend some much needed time with him. Sunday I wasn’t really feeling better. And my house was a disaster. Literally a mess in every room and I still hadn’t taken down my Christmas decor. The tree, yes, but not the decorations. But I was in such pain I couldn’t move. I called in sick to work for Monday and then I was sitting in my chair in my living room and I started crying. I was in pain, feeling poorly, and feeling overwhelmed. Everything just got to me, all at once.

Finally, I took a deep breath (which hurt) and starting talking to myself. Out loud, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear the words. I told myself it was okay, there really weren’t that many problems, and the mess was something I could easily fix once I felt better. I reminded myself that while this was a thing, I’m generally healthy, I have a good job, a good family, wonderful friends, and while we have had our share of problems, we are all still here. (Side note to mention this has been on my mind often because when my mom was sick, I worried she might die and it scared me, and with all the health scares for my loved ones…then Kelly just learned that a close friend of hers, her husband unexpectedly died at the age of 43. I know it can happen so it has been on my mind.) But the people I love are still here.

Monday, after another night of barely sleeping, I called to get a doctor’s appointment. Of course, I couldn’t get in for a week. So I looked up urgent care and they opened at 1:00pm. I got ready and headed over and was there at the stroke of 1. I got right in and had an exam, where I learned I am actually much sicker than I realized. I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. Far more than just a cold. It started as a cold, but developed into these other things at some point. I also have sprained my ribs from coughing. Fortunately, I have not fractured my ribs, so that is a bright spot. I got medication (though it took me 90 minutes at the pharmacy, grrr) and headed home to my messy, messy house to recover. I took my pills on Monday and they knocked me out. Asleep before 9pm. I woke up once during the night, took another dose and slept until 10 am Tuesday morning. Luckily I had already told my boss I wasn’t coming in on Tuesday.

I relaxed and recovered for most of Tuesday. I read a new book. It felt good, I haven’t felt like reading at all since I’ve been sick. I actually forced myself to read a few books in December, but otherwise, no interest. Then, about 7pm last night, I felt like myself. Not completely recovered, but better. So I got up and tackled my house. I put all my Christmas stuff away. I broke down the boxes in the corner that had been taunting me since Christmas. I gave homes to all my new Christmas gifts. I organized a cupboard in my kitchen that needed it. I did my dishes. I handwashed several items that wouldn’t fit. I cleaned my counters off completely. I ran three loads of laundry. I got everything back in order.

When I went to bed last night, I slept, deeply, soundly, and dreamlessly, for the first time in weeks. I finally felt as though I had turned the corner. I was up this morning to my clean house, ready to tackle the day and head back in to work. I hopped out of the shower, dried off, and used the toilet, then headed into the bedroom to dress. Suddenly I heard a sound I shouldn’t have been hearing. Running water. Did I not turn the shower off all the way? I went in to check and….stepped into a mess. My toilet was overflowing. Dirty water running everywhere. My bathroom is bordered by carpet, so I grabbed clean towels from the closet and built dams. I called my dad to find out what to do. He talked me through it and okay. I then called work to tell them I would be late and set about taking care of yet another mess. And it was a mess.

But now it isn’t. I got it fixed and cleaned up and threw in a whole load of dirty towels in the wash before I left for work. I also jumped back in the shower to rinse off and wash my feet. Gross.

When all is said and done, this has been a pretty awful week for me and many people I love. Yet, here I sit, blogging, not to tell you how rotten it was, but to tell you how lucky I feel. Life will always throw messes and challenges at us and we have to learn to deal and try not to get overwhelmed by it. At the end of the day, what matters is the people we love. If you still have everyone you love and they are, healthy (mostly) and happy, then it’s all going to be just fine. And if you don’t, if you lost someone, then it’s heartbreaking and horrible, but you still have all the moments that you shared with them. You still have the memories, good and bad, because for whatever time you had, you got to love them. So I’m happy and blessed with the people I love.

I don’t do resolutions in my life, but I notice a lot of bloggers choose words to help define their year. I don’t do that either, but this year, if I had to, I’d choose love. I’d choose to be happy and blessed with all of the life in my life and let that be my focus for 2015 and every year beyond.

The Door – Part III

(If you haven’t read Part I and Part II, you should do so first, so this makes sense.)

As Malcolm held open the door, Olivia once again stepped inside the house. It delivered the same sense as when she walked through a few moments earlier. Wrong. It was her house, the bones of it were familiar, but everything else was wrong. The colors, the sounds, the scents, it was as though someone had overlaid a different house over her brain’s knowledge. Everything felt familiar and strange, all at once.

The step forward brought her foot down on the paper bag. The mess. She glanced down and then flushed with something, shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, it was hard to tell. Her emotions were all jumbled from the bizarre circumstances, but her inherent manners wouldn’t allow her to let it pass.

“I’m sorry-” she began, still looking at the mess, rather than at his face.

Before she could formulate the words to complete the apology, and offer to clean up, he cut in.

“Don’t be. Something is happening, I can’t explain. If you feel as odd about this as I do, well, let’s just agree to call it strange. The mess is the least of our concerns at the moment.” His forehead wrinkled as though he was trying hard to determine something. For just a moment, Olivia felt a tug of familiarity, again, as though she’d seen that expression on him before. The urge was there, slight though it was, to comfort or assist him in some way. It bothered her, more than the overt strangeness of her surroundings, these people, the supposed time jump. It bothered her that inside, in the place where she trusted herself most, she felt as though she knew him. There was no doubt in her mind she’d never met him before, but somehow, she knew him.

Silently, they stepped over the mess on the floor and turned toward the stairs. Olivia took a deep breath. She wanted to see what else was different about her home, the home she worked so hard to create and build, by herself, but she was also apprehensive. These next moments seemed staggeringly frightening, for what amounted to a walk up a flight of stairs. Squaring her shoulders, she took the next step.

She could feel him at her back, his presence, his size. It no longer intimidated her; realizing that, she wondered at what point she stopped being afraid of him. The situation was deeply unsettling, and strange did not begin to encompass what was happening here, but at that moment, she wasn’t afraid. It was hard to be afraid when you were, by any reasonable standards, in your own home.

Accompanied by the chatter of small children, Olivia made her way up the stairs. Ascending to the top, she paused, trying hard to take it all in. The walls were the color of sand, decorated with large framed photos of people. She caught sight of the little boy, Oliver, in several and presumed that they were family portraits gracing the walls. The arrangement came across as haphazard, but a keen eye showed they were gracefully and systematically placed to look that jumbled. The sofa was a sectional in navy blue, large and overstuffed. A flat screen tv was hung over the mantel, tuned to the evening news. There were toys on the floor and a large toy bin in the corner. A stack of books was slightly off-kilter on the corner of the coffee table, next to an oversized red mug that demanded Cheers!.

It was clearly a well-used, and much-loved home. A family home. Seeing it, taking it all in, gave Olivia a pang of nostalgia. This was how it was meant to look. Overrun with the detritus of daily life, and ready to be used, to be lived in, to embrace the users in the sights and scents of home. Breathing slowly through her nose, fighting to maintain her outward display of calm, Olivia tipped back her head. She caught sight of the crack on the vaulted ceiling. It was larger than ever before, but in the exact same spot she knew. To the left, she searched for the missing chunk of sheetrock, an accident born of moving furniture by ones self, but it was gone, probably patched before someone painted over her beloved purple stripes.

Malcolm gently cleared his throat and Olivia became aware of how long she’d been standing still at the top of the stairs, just taking it all in. Stuttering back into motion, she moved forward into the living area, refusing to glance into the kitchen where the sounds and smells indicated the woman was making dinner, as she’d said. In that moment, the changes were just too much. Seeing more might have tipped the scales from unafraid to—well, Olivia was very much afraid that ‘heap on the floor’ might be her next destination.

Unsure of what should be happening, she reached the center of the room and did a one eighty, ending up face-to-face with Malcolm.

Neither spoke.

For a long moment, they just stood there, staring at one another. She took in his height, his dark hair, oddly similar in color and texture to her own, and his overly familiar green eyes. He was handsome, this stranger, with a kindness to his face that she would bet induced strangers to strike up a conversation with him. He looked…friendly. He did not, in fact, look like a lunatic. *mental snort* As if they had a specific look. In her experience, lunatics tended to look like everyone else, that was what made them so dangerous, but they did not look like this man.

Malcolm was staring at this woman in his home. He couldn’t understand what was happening, but there wasn’t a single doubt in his mind he was talking to his long dead mother. Her always slightly-disheveled hair, was worn down, long and curly, as he remembered it. Her eyes had the same slight crinkles at the corners that gave her the appearance that she was always on the verge of laughter. In his memory, she always was on the verge of laughter, so it was fitting. As he watched her, silently, he noted her fingers worrying the hem of her sweater and his heart skipped at the familiar motion. His mom was always playing with something, as though her fingers were incapable of stillness. He remembered in a flash of montages in his mind, her tapping, picking, petting, plucking in any given situation.

This was his mom. His mom.

He cleared his throat again and decided that no matter how strange, this was his home and his family and it was up to him to speak.

“Olivia, would you like to sit down?” he managed, proud of himself for broadcasting normalcy.

She shook her head, still saying nothing, just looking at him.

A deep breath, and he spoke again, “look, I know this situation is…difficult, but I think we need to have a conversation, to maybe try and figure out what is happening here.” Mac paused. “So, um, won’t you please have a seat?”

Olivia stared at him. It was exceedingly uncomfortable to be offered a seat in your own home, compounded further by the fact that this was not her furniture and she didn’t really know where to sit. Rooms have a hierarchy, a geography, to them. Certain people will sit in certain places, the couch is more casual, do you take the armchair or the recliner? There are unwritten rules to someone else’s home, and since she was standing in her own living room, the rules were about as clear as mud. She didn’t know what to do, but he was right. She couldn’t just continue standing there, in the center of the room. She canted her head to the left, seeking the nearest chair when her eyes caught the next door.

It was the french doors leading to the four-season porch.

The left door was slightly ajar and from her angle, Olivia could just barely see inside. Something, something caught her eye. Without a word, without a glance, she moved toward that just-opened door and reached for the handle.

“Where are you going?” She was dimly aware of Malcolm calling after her as she moved toward that door, but she could not stop. Her eyes had alit upon something of hers. A piece of her life. Something that proved that this was, in fact, her home, no matter the situation. Her fingers closed around the handle and she started to open that door.

The doorbell rang.

Olivia jumped and whirled around, forgetting for a moment, what lay beyond that door.

Downstairs, outside, someone was standing at her door. Her eyes collided with Malcolm’s and frustration was stamped on his features. Once again, she felt that pang that she should comfort him in some way, and once again, it unsettled her.

A heartbeat of time as they stared at each other, then Malcolm broke first.

“I’ll get the door” he said as he started to turn.

She wanted to protest, to run to the door and answer it, to see one of her neighbors or a friend or even a salesperson who was looking for her. Anything to prove it was her house…

and then she remembered. Just on the other side of the door behind her lay that very proof.

And in that moment, Olivia and Malcolm walked in opposite directions, both headed for a new door.

***To Be Continued…***

 

(And that, my fine friends, is the end of the third installment. I never intended this to be an ongoing story, but it has turned out to be more fun than I anticipated. But mostly, I keep writing it, every November, because Kelly really likes it and it is a wonderful way to give her an annual gift. I have to take a moment and wonder how old she’ll be when I finally finish this story….)

Happy Birthday, Kelly! Hope you liked this year’s chapter.

25 Birthdays

I had a great idea for a birthday post that I began prepping weeks ago. Then life got the best of me and it didn’t come together. So I will save it for next year. That’s the nice thing about birthdays, they come around year after year. It’s also the annoying thing about aging, it happens year after year. And so, this is my backup plan.

Today is the birthday of my friend Kelly. Anyone who reads this blog knows Kelly, she is a regular here at Changelivlife. Kelly and I first met in 1989, during the 5th grade. We were 10 years old. The origins of our story are blog fodder, she says I was the first person to be nice to her, I say I complimented her fingernails. Today, I’m still nice to her and she still has great fingernails. Life doesn’t change much.

But then, we are much older. Education and family and marriage and children and jobs and homes and sadness and pain and laughter and tears and photographs and beer and so many things have happened that in many ways, everything has changed.

It is a fact of life that things change, but somehow, after 25 years, we are still friends. It boggles the mind to think that a friendship could outlast the changes it has endured, but somehow, we have defied the odds.

In 1989, the first birthday we celebrated was Kelly’s 11th. I think it was at her house on Fremont, though I could be mixing it up with other birthdays, there’ve been 25 of them in total. It was the first birthday we celebrated together. Today, we gather to celebrate her 36th. Back then, if you had asked me, I would have giggled and said we’d be so OLD then, 25 years in the future. I would have invented stories for us. Kelly would have become a teacher (even at the age of 10, she knew what she wanted to do) and I would have created a story for myself. A lawyer or a circus performer or a traveling gypsy (even today I still don’t know what I want – or perhaps I want too much) and we would have argued over which of us would be married to Jordan Knight (she can have him) or Tom Cruise (I doubt either of us would take him now) and how many children we would have.

I know that neither of us would have doubted for a moment that we’d still be friends in 25 years. Children have a blindness to them. They don’t fully grasp the mysteries of time, the savageness of life, how things can change and people can change and life can turn you inside out. Children don’t understand. They live life by faith and happiness. My friend makes me happy, therefore we will always be friends. That kind of simplistic thinking is beautiful in its way. Most of the time it is unrealistic, but beautiful nonetheless.

When I think like that, it is rather remarkable that we are still friends, after all these years. We very nearly did not make it. We lost time. But we found our way back to one another and are close once again. Today we celebrate her birthday for the 25th time since we met.

Today, I wish I could go back and tell those little girls. “Don’t ever stop believing in the power of friendship. You will see others fail. You will be challenged. Life will get hard at times. But for every hard moment is a moment of joy with a best friend that can never be replaced. Don’t ever give up on each other, you will make it. You will stay forever friends. Those jagged heart necklaces are truth. When you are older than you can imagine, you will still always be friends.”

But I can’t talk to those girls, they are long gone, just memories in our hearts. But I can talk to us today. To Kelly, to myself and I can say this.

I am so grateful for the days of our friendship. I am grateful that we survived our breakup to become stronger friends. I love that I can call you for any reason or no reason at all. I love that we are each other’s family and can count on one another no matter what comes. I am happy when I am with you and happy knowing you are in my corner when we are apart. We laugh together, we tell stories, we keep secrets, we take pictures, and we are, as we have always been, the very best of friends. I never want to forget or take us for granted. We are so lucky to have each other.

Happy birthday, Kelly. Let’s get started on the next 25 years.

The Chase

I don’t think at this point it is a surprise to anyone that I love Christian Kane. I think it’s been covered quite handily on this blog-seriously, search his name, it’s almost embarrassing, except I love him, so it’s not.

Therefore, imagine my utter happiness to receive this brand new photo of him, as a text messaging gift via my mother at 6:48pm last night.

Untitled

I know what you’re thinking. My God, he’s hot. Oh, wait, that’s what *I* was thinking. YOU were probably thinking, “why do I care what time her mom text her?”

Well, because, as it turns out, and I am assuming a bit here, my mom was on Facebook a few minutes prior, saw that photo, thought of me, and text me the photo to brighten my Tuesday night. It did, by the way.

Here’s the cool thing. At that exact same time, way across town, Kelly was getting a pedicure. She was playing online and saw a brand new photo of Christian Kane and, naturally, thought of me. She text me that photo.

Which is how, literally, within seconds of each other, they both text me a photo of Christian Kane. Here is THE VERY BEST PART.

Untitled

 

They aren’t the same photo!!!!!!!!

True story. At 6:48 pm last night I received two text messages. Both contained photos of Christian Kane, but they weren’t the same photo. They are obviously from the same photo shoot (I assume a promo for his new show, The Librarians,) but two different, equally awesome pics of my main man, Christian Kane.

How is this possible? I have no idea. I couldn’t believe it when they came in during the same minute. It makes it easy to love technology when things like that happen. Oh, and for the record, I do NOT hate text messaging when it contains photos of Christian Kane. Those are always welcome. Day or night. Even the same minute.

And that is the story of how my mother and Kelly were racing to be the first to send me a picture of my favorite singer….and tied. And I won. Thanks to you both! I lovelovelove them.

P.S. And while it was a fun little coincidence, this is mostly just an excuse to post pictures of Christian Kane and endlessly type Christian Kane. Remember in junior high when you had a crush on a boy and you’d write his name all over your notebook? This is kind of like that, only in the modern technology world. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. See?

P.P.S Also, the title of this post, The Chase, is also a song title by, you guessed it…Christian Kane.

Hairbrush Mess

Yesterday, I was getting ready for work. The last thing I do in the bathroom is brush my hair. Yes, the last. I don’t know why, it just is. So I’m ready to go and I reach into my medicine cabinet to grab my hairbrush.

It was stuck.

Stuck.

Like someone superglued it to the shelf.

I have an old hairbrush, one that I used to used and liked a lot. It was a cushion brush, with nylon bristles and a gel grip handle. I loved it, actually, but it wasn’t always the best at getting out tangles. Then I stumbled across the Wet Brush. I bought one from Amazon and I really liked it. It worked well at detangling my hair. Well, the Wet Brush was stuck so I grabbed my gel brush. I picked it up and….ew.

The gel on the handle was gooping off onto my hand. It was so, so, gross. Can’t really describe that feeling but it was gross. Gel oozing through my palm and down my wrist. *shudder*

Now I was pretty certain why the other brush was stuck. But what to do? I only have two brushes, and the other was stuck and I had to get going. So I grabbed a wad of toilet paper, wrapped it over the gooey, goopy handle and brushed my hair. Then I threw the whole thing in the trash. Goodbye old brush.

I got to work and one of the first things I do is flip open Yahoo to read the news before opening my email. Lo and behold, one of the top stories on Yahoo News yesterday was “How to Pick the Best Brush for your Hairstyle”. Huh. That’s fantastic. Clearly a sign. I opened up the article and read the entire thing. And guess what I found? The best brush for me? The Wet Brush.

Well, that was anticlimactic.

I mean, it’s nice to have your choices reinforced but still.

Yesterday, I got home and thought nothing of it. I read like a fiend. Last day of June and all. Then went to bed. Before bed, I like to brush out my hair. So, there I am at 11:30, and I reach for my brush and….damn. I forgot about the stuck. So I opened the cabinet and pulled the shelf out, with the brush still stuck to it.

It was so nasty. Melted gel from the other brush had leaked all over the wooden shelf. It has solidified and trapped my brush, and there was tons of hair matted in….it was really disgusting. I should have taken a picture but I didn’t want anyone to lose their lunch after seeing it.

So I set out to remedy this situation. I scrubbed and scrubbed that shelf, picked off the hair, removed the brush, scrubbed the brush. Oh, it was a project and not a fun one. But, eventually it all got clean and the brush survived the experience, so that’s good, no need to buy another Wet Brush.

But. as I was cleaning it up, I was washing my brush, which is something I never do. Evidently you are supposed to wash your brushes, but really? Who does that? And I noticed the brush was getting those little rings at the bottom of the bristles, the ones that are hair and dust and probably dirt. I figure that’s why you are supposed to wash a brush, because those are hard to get off once they’ve formed. It reminded me of a story from many years past. I was….14? 15? and Kelly came over to spend the night. We were, I don’t know, giving each other makeovers or some such thing and I had this old brush. It was fuchsia with blue tipped bristles. I liked that brush. It, too had these little dust balls around the bristles. Well, Kelly noticed them and we tried washing the brush to get rid of them, but it didn’t work. One of us, I don’t remember who, had the bright idea to get them off by fire. So we got a lighter from somewhere, and we went out on the back deck and I held the brush while she took the lighter and burned off these little dust balls. It worked. Yes. But it smelled….horrid. You can imagine. And well, there was one tiny problem we hadn’t considered. Fire + nylon bristles. Um, yeah, we melted several bristles on that brush. Whoops.

For some reason, I didn’t want my parents to know. Perhaps because we were so stupid. But we didn’t tell them and I kept using the melted brush….for years. Seriously. It was absurd. But I did like that brush, so maybe that’s why.

And so, I did not reenact my youthful folly last night, I just cleaned the brush the best I could and brushed my hair and went to bed. That’s it. The whole story. Just gross and a strange memory, but I guess at least my medicine cabinet is cleaner than it was.

 

Teacher Appreciation

This week is National Teacher Appreciation week. If you know a teacher or have a teacher, let them know how much you appreciate all the hard work they do. (And since I work at a college, I’m considered a teacher for the purposes of this week.)

For the first time this year, my place of employment put out a box full of blank notecards and envelopes and let students know they were welcome to write a brief note of appreciation for any teachers on campus.

Today, I got one. I won’t tell you who it is from, but here is the text of my note.

“With your awesome persona, you can make just about anyone laugh or smile. Your knowledge in knowing and retaining so much info amazes me. Stay Awesome.”

I’m pretty sure it couldn’t be any better.

I feel very appreciated and love the tailored comments.

Thank you, student. And thank you, teachers in my life who have made a difference (read about them here and here and here and here and here). And Kelly, who constantly strives to make herself a better teacher, when she’s already so damn good at it. You never taught me in the literal sense, but you’ve been teaching me for 25 years about life and friendship and NKOTB and all things pop culture.

Know that as I am appreciated, I appreciate you.

The Lost Library Book

Here’s a story for you. Once upon a library book….

Back in January, Kelly had me come in to her class to do a book talk for her students as the official kickoff to “I Love to Read” month (which is February). I’ve done this for years for her. I bring in a ton of books from different genres and talk to the kids about what the genres mean and what types of books they can read. It’s a ton of fun, the kids love it and learn a lot.

Then I leave the entire pile of books with Kelly for the kids to use and explore and play with. Now, I would not do this for just anyone. The books are checked out to me, so I’m responsible for them, but Kelly loves the library as much as I do, and she’s very responsible with the books. YEARS we’ve done this and never had a problem.

Of course, this year, there was a problem.

She kept the books and the due date slip and returned them all by the date. As she returned, she checked them off the list to make sure she had them all. She didn’t. There was one missing. She looked for it. And looked for it and looked for it. The kids cleaned their desks, scoured the room, looked at home, this book is missing.

Kelly had told me all of this from the minute she couldn’t find it, so I knew. I fully believed that she would find the book. I figured one of these little kids had it tucked away somewhere and it would turn up. But, it’s been 2.5 months now and it still hasn’t turned up. Kelly offered to pay for the cost of the book, because it is in fact lost.

I’ve been renewing the book this whole time, hoping it would just turn up. But, it’s been so long now, Kelly is sure it won’t. Last night, I went to the library with the intent of paying for the book. There are no more renewals, so I just wanted to deal with it.

I explained this story to the woman working there. She said, “did you get a bill?” Um, no. I didn’t even know they did that. Honestly, I’ve never lost a library book in my life, so I have no idea how this process works. I only know it from the librarian end, how to handle payment for a lost book. And I only know that procedure for Anoka. She said that after a period of time, she thought 30 days, but wasn’t sure, the system would send me a bill for the lost item. At that point, she said, I can come in and pay for it.

Now, I wasn’t trying to be difficult, but I asked “why do I have to wait?” I explained that the book is 100% lost and we’ve been looking for it for months already and I’d like it taken care of. At this point, she is staring at me like I’ve grown another head while talking to her. She explained that until the system registers the book as lost, she can’t accept payment because there is nothing to pay. I’d really like to know who comes up with these things. That’s not true. She should have the ability to mark the item as lost, forcing the system to add the charges to my account. Thus, allowing me to pay for it. But, whatever, it’s not a huge deal and I wasn’t there to make trouble. So I just said fine, that I would wait until I get the bill.

Then she asked if she could call me with additional information, she said she wanted to talk to her boss today. She would find out the details of the this procedure. I couldn’t believe she didn’t know them, but I agreed and gave her my cell phone number.

She kind of hesitated and then she looked at me and said, “thank you for being such a conscientious library user.” I asked what she meant, because it is kind of an unusual compliment.

She said that it is extremely rare to have people step up and take responsibility for something like this, usually it is a fight that the library loses. Now, having worked in a public library myself, I can understand that, people don’t usually take responsibility. They claim they returned it or they accuse us of making a mistake or whatever. But this situation has nothing to do with being a librarian. I told her, “well, the book belongs to you, you trusted me to take care of it and I didn’t do that, so I am responsible for what happens next.”

She nodded and said, “that’s what I mean, very conscientious, so I just wanted to say thank you.”

And that made my day. And they still won’t let me pay for the book yet. When I get the bill, I’ll take care of it, because I am a conscientious library user. And it was nice to be recognized, but nicer still was the fact that I know I somehow made HER day just by doing the right thing.

35/35

Happy Birthday, Kelly Jo!

Today, on your 35th birthday we are going to celebrate by listing 35 things that were created AFTER you. So, without further ado, here are 35 things that you are older and more awesome than….

35. Plinko

Invented in 1983.

34. Roller blades

Invented in 1979.

33. Ryan Lochte

Born in 1984.

32. The Moonwalk

Invented in 1982.

31. Sweet Valley High

First published in 1983. Did you love them as much as I did?

30. Hooter’s

No, seriously. We are older than Hooter’s. God Bless America

29. Cabbage Patch Kids

Created by Xavier Roberts in 1982. I think that might actually be a picture of my Andy….

28. Cell phone

Was first marketed in 1979…an original ad.

27. Disposable contact lenses

And, yes, that photo creeps me out. First invented in 1987. When did you get your first pair?

26. The Disney Channel

First launched in 1983. Imagine, if that hadn’t happened, Miley Cyrus might have never been famous. Honorable mention to Miley Cyrus…

….born 1992.

25. J. Crew

Somehow this retailer has only been around for 30 years…

24. Viagra

Believe it or not, until 1998, men had to get erections the old fashioned way.

23. Sony Walkman

TPS-L2 headphone Stereo Walkman

Invented in 1979. Hard to believe that this was the epitome of cool. And the precursor to the iPod…

22. Macaulay Culkin

For some reason it’s weird to me that we’re older than Kevin McAllister. Born in 1980.

21. Tom Cruise going crazy

Remember when he was the coolest guy alive?

Oh, yeah. And long being a staple of our friendship, he had to make the list.

20. My Little Pony

Invented in 1983. And now popular again, Arionna loves them…above is her favorite, Rainbow Dash.

19. Garbage Plates

Also known as a sampler platter. Technically, these have been around a lot longer than you, but the name “garbage plate” was not trademarked until 1992. So I’m including it, because it’s your birthday, and you love the sampler platter. Or garbage plate.

18. Microsoft Word

Released the first version in November of 1983. What on earth did people use to write before that? Oh yeah…paper.

17. Mario Brothers

My brothers and I used to play this on our original Nintendo. Some of my very favorite childhood memories. Oddly, this year there were STILL kids dressed up as Mario and Luigi. I guess they are still cool after 30 years.

16. Baby Got Back

Weirdly, it seems wrong that we were old enough to listen to this when it came out in 1992. But stranger still is thinking that this song is old enough to drink.

15. The minivan

  Hard to believe that this didn’t exist until Dodge invented it in 1983. And now, some of us can’t live without one….
14. World Wide Web
was not invented until 1989. Sometimes my parents will tell me how when they were kids color television didn’t exist. But, luckily, I can say “ha! at least you HAD a tv, when *I* was a kid there was no INTERNET!” I was 15 before I ever surfed the web, I remember doing it for the first time. You?
13. Bon Jovi
They didn’t form until 1983…sometimes I’m sad that I lived the first four years of my life without hearing them…
12. Nicotine patch
patented in 1985, but they didn’t hit stores until 1992.
11. Compact Disc
Compact disc.svg
Can you believe it? We used cassettes.
bonus picture there, just for you.
But, anyway, the CD was invented in 1982.
10. Text messaging
IMG_2939
Yeah, until 1996, a year before we graduated high school, this was not an option. (and yes, that is a REAL text of ours..guess which one is you?)
9.  Air Jordan
Founded in 1984. I can think of dozens of boys who would show off their Jordans and pretend they could jump like that.
8. Guess Jeans
I think you had a pair…right? I did not. I always wanted a pair though.
7. Prince William
The most famous prince in the world, who will likely become King of England in our lifetime, was not born until 1982.
6. Forrest Gump
This movie was released in 1994. I can actually remember DRIVING to this movie, the first one ever. Granted, I only had my permit, so my mom was with, but I remember. And it was July…so you couldn’t quite drive yet. As a matter of fact, only a couple months after this release, we would meet Jesus.
5. Justin Bieber
Yes, yes I did. I put the Biebs on the list. He wasn’t born until 1994…which means…technically, we’re old enough to be his *cough* mother.
And also, because if not for teen boy idols like…..
then the Biebs wouldn’t be the success he is today. Plus, it was another excuse to insert a Jordan Knight reference for your pleasure. I’m all about you today….
4. D.A.R.E
DARE was created in 1983. Quick, Kel, what does it stand for?
*
*
*
*
*
Did you get it?
Drug Abuse Reistance Education. And unless I’m nuts, we were in DARE together in the 5th grade…right?
3. New Kids on the Block
Formed in 1984. Yeah, I know, you expected them to be #1, but I like to keep you on your toes. Plus, this is not news, but #2 was…at least to me. And #1…well, you’ll see.
However, they are #3 because I’m grateful. This band gave me a lifelong friend, I’ll always be loving you forever, because of them.
2. The Chicken McNugget
Seriously, this one SHOCKED me. How in HELL can we be older than chicken nuggets? They were invented in 1983.
Are you ready?
Here it comes….
NUMBER ONE!
1. Olivia
photo
That’s right. Born in 1979, you are, technically, 4 months and 1 week older than me. And that is not one of my favorite pictures of me, but since I am in YOUR chair, reading to Team 214, I thought it was the perfect way to tell you how much I love you, no matter how old you get.
Happy Birthday to my “oldest” friend in the world, who will never be old, so long as she listens to New Kids on the Block.
Love you, Kel!
And, just because, here are a few of my favorite Kelly posts.
I was going to do 5 posts….but she’ll appreciate it more if there are only four.
Happy 35!

Day of Friends

A few weeks ago, my mom got a phone call. A little voice asked when Simon was going to visit. Evidently Christian missed his friend and took the initiative to set up a play date. It was a lot of kids. Simon, Arionna, Camden, Victoria, Christian, and Brecken. The kids are all big enough now to go and just play, without being watched or entertained, so it’s pretty wonderful. Kelly and my mom and I just sat in the living room and talked, while cuddling on the babies.
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 The babies. They are only a month apart in age. They played and chilled. Auntie Livi got some good cuddle time:
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I call that one “Armful of Babies”.
Brecken and I were having fun practicing our clapping.
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We fed the babies lunch, I gave Brecken his first macaroni and cheese. It was nostalgic, because I fed Christian his first cheeseburger. Evidently I have a thing for giving babies their first taste of forbidden foods. Brecken is sitting in my family’s antique high chair, my father’s family has used that since before my dad was born (and dad is about to be 60!) there aren’t any straps or anything, we use a towel to tie the baby into the chair. Kelly thought it was awesome and took a picture to send to Mark.
It was such a fun day and great to spend time with all the kids together. Before our friends left, I was insistent upon getting a photo of all six kids together.
Here’s how it went. First, the boys wanted to hold the babies. The girls were disappointed.
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Arionna won’t smile and Victoria is on the fringes. But all four boys look great.
Try again.
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Now Victoria has moved closer but her hands are in her face. Arionna still won’t smile. Christian’s smile is fading, but what I like is that he is looking directly at me, while every other child has shifted their focus to Kelly.
Take 3:
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We have now shifted the babies to the girls. Cam is still being a champ, looking and smiling. Brecken is doing his own thing. Victoria is no longer visible. Christian is still maintaining solid eye contact with me but we’ve lost Simon and still no smile from Arionna.
Take 4:
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Probably my favorite outtake. Victoria, sweetie, what are you doing? Arionna finally cracked a smile, but it’s aimed at Kelly. The big boys, while being wonderful during this whole thing are clearly fading. The smiles are more forced and less pronounced. I think Brecken is screaming at me to stop with the pictures already. But Cam…still a smiling champ.
Take 5:
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Honestly, as far as it goes, this one isn’t bad. If I had had to settle for it, I would have been okay. You still can’t really see Victoria, no one is looking the same direction, and Christian has completely resolved to stop smiling. But, the two babies look fabulous. I know they are tired of this, all of them.
And so I said “one more” thinking I probably had something workable. I did not (see evidence above), so I am glad I took that one last photo.
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When it comes to getting SIX kids, ages 7 and under, including two infants, to look and smile for the same picture, I think this is well beyond as good as it gets. It’s sweet, they all look happy, everyone is (mostly) smiling. I’m very happy with this photo. There’s nothing quite like seeing the children you love all gathered in one place.
Thanks to our wonderful friends for giving us their Saturday. We should definitely try to manage it more than once a year!