Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out with the old, in with the old(er me)

Good riddance. Thank God it's over. And so on.

I don't know. I just can't work up a respectable level of animosity for this year. I mean, sure. Layoff. Money problems. Marriage missteps. It wasn't perfect. Still, I can't help feeling I've come a long way this year, not to mention this decade (which, you know, technically shouldn't be over until the end of 2010).

What with being born on an even year, and hitting my 20s as the millennium turned, I feel like I'll always have an easy time keeping track of just when I came of age. The decade started with me being too young to drink, and ended with me being old enough to know better. It started with nothing-matters-but-New-Year's-Eve parties, and ended with, well, everything matters. New What? I'm not sure if the New Year's Eves of this no-name decade are a microcosm of my growth throughout the decade, but maybe. The nights themselves take me from aimlessness, through partying, to lameness, to acceptance of lameness, to plain old happy; with side trips to Vomitland and way more David Caruso than I'd realized.

On the last night before 2000, I went to Denny's with my boyfriend and our friend. We had Diet Coke and fried something with fried something else on the side, covered in ranch. They tried to be ironic by singing "Party Like It's 1999," only it wasn't so ironic since we were being lame as a matter of course rather than by choice. I demonstrated my pedantic pretension insightful attention to detail by making sure everyone we encountered knew it wasn't really the start of the 21st century. I could tell by the way the waitress rolled her eyes that she was intimidated by my perspicacity.

As 2001 rolled around, I was hanging with a new, shallower cooler crowd. Our group had five or six guys, a sister of one of the guys, and me. For some reason, I was pretty popular. (I'm pretty sure it had to do with the fact that I knew 2001 was the actual start of the century and millennium. The guys certainly listened intently to my explanation, particularly when I took off my bulky sweater so as to elaborate in comfort.) I was dating one of them, and our group threw an ever-expanding all-night house party. This was the night I learned Jell-O shooters are not the same thing as Jell-O Jigglers. Incidentally, this was also the night I learned that it's probably bad news if your friends are smirking and won't tell you why, and that hangovers suck ass.

2002? Um ... I spent 2001 getting promoted at work (which really just meant agreeing to live there), dating a small series of increasingly worse boyfriends, alienating some of my good friends, getting pregnant, barfing for a few straight months, reconnecting with a few friends and family members and wrecking my car. Also, September 11. And did I mention pregnant? I have absolutely no recollection of what I did on New Year's Eve, 2001, except maybe to rejoice in the year's end.

New Year's Eve, 2002, found me asleep. I'd tucked my son in and watched CSI/CSI Miami/Something Else with my mom and crashed early. David Caruso flourished his sunglasses and revealed whodunit. I woke up and it was 2003. Whoopee.

New Year's Eve, 2003. Television with Mom. We talked over the parts where Caruso stopped in the middle of sentences to take off/put on/take off/put on his sunglasses. She turned in at 10. I was up past midnight, but only because my son chose to be. I rang in 2004 reading in bed, hoping the baby monitor would remain silent. I happened to glance at the computer monitor at 12:14 and decided to count it.

For New Year's Eve '04, I actually got invited to a party -- the kids in my lab group at ASU were going wherever it is they go, and asked me along. I couldn't go. I made up for it by doing most of our lab report, and pretending to regret that I would miss out on obligatory dancing and beer pong. I had a wine cooler with my mom at home, and watched Caruso wear grooves into his temples for an hour or two. 2005, and me feeling old, officially arrived.

My husband (then sort-of-boyfriend) and I rang in 2006 leaning against his car under the stars, kissing. We thought no one knew. Pretty much everyone knew.

2007 began with us newly married, in our new (to us) apartment. I don't remember if we rang it in at the actual time, but we made sure to kiss, and it was the first year my son appreciated the "See you next year" crack. My husband and I played Trivial Pursuit.

As we wrapped up '07 and rang in '08, my husband was living retail management, I was living/breathing/sweating my manuscript, and it was all we could do to scrape up the energy to laugh at my son's "See you next year" joke. I think we might have argued about whether we would wink-wink "ring in" the new year. I think my husband used the actual wink-wink. I don't think we actually did, though.

New Year's Eve, 2008, my mom called around 8 p.m. She said she hoped she wasn't calling too late. My husband, son and I welcomed 2009 in a new house. (Actually, our son went to bed a few hours before, and we were all happy enough to play along gladly with the "See you next year" bit.) I had a Diet Coke and some Excedrin, probably the strongest New Year's Eve fix since that wine cooler. Nine years after the lame dinner and Diet Cokes found me back with the same guy and with another Diet Coke, but so different I felt like there must have been several intervening decades. New Year's Eve hasn't changed much, but I sure have.

(My husband's not into CSI in any of its incarnations -- but at this time each year, I like to imagine dramatically split-up one-liners, hands on hips and sunglasses-putting-on action anyway. Just for old time's sake.)

Like this:

"Have a great New Year, everyone. Just remember..."

[Bam. Sunglasses!]

"'s not actually the start of a new decade."

And this year? We all had the day off together -- partially because we're unable to find much work, but what the heck. We took a speed walk while my son rode his new bike, rounding the curves until I could barely see him and was torn between pride and panic. I got some work done, but mostly the guys, and cats, tore me away from it. We watched a lame movie. The only intestinal turmoil I'm likely to experience is from the pizza we're ordering way too close to bedtime.

I'm old, and lame. And I kind of love it.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Year in half-assed review

Apparently it's the time of year when we all unofficially agree to do "Year in Review" posts. So my supreme wisdom of this year is...

Wait. Screw that. I didn't learn jack this year. I'm still doing all the same stuff as this time last year, most of it a little better, some of it not nearly as well, and all of it with much less money and security. So here's a random list of things I learned (because screw editing and rearranging; that's why).

In 2009, I learned to spot a pretty good read, and that my reading taste of old? It was pretty horrible, in some cases. (What the hell, ten-years-ago self?)

...that the exact details of a family's life rarely have much to do with how happy the family is. Deciding to be happy is corny, but it works.

...that my mom rocks, even a little more than I knew she did this time last year. to take better pictures, and teach my son the same.

...that mint truffle Hershey's Kisses will be the death of me. But it'll be a good way to go.

...that my husband will always surpass me in technical mastery of the camera, but is likely to never EVER listen to me about scouting good light. (Any of y'all want to tell him like it's not my idea? That might work.)

...that there are still some damn stupid people in this world. A whole heck of a lot stupider than me. (Stupider than a goldfish, for that matter.)

...that none of them will listen to me, regardless of how loudly or eloquently I opine.

...that there are still some damn good people in this world. A heck of a lot better than me.

...which online postings are likely to spark debate, and not to update my status with anything particularly inflammatory if I can't afford to be distracted for the next ten hours.

...that mysterious smells in the kitchen are never a good thing.

...that mysterious smells that smell like something melting are even less of a good thing, and only idiots ignore them.

...that I'm an idiot. to make eight batches of cookies and a amateur but good batch of cornbread in record time, while dressing myself, talking on the phone, and forcing my son into clothes -- and that food does indeed impress my in-laws. (Good call, self.) to live with freaking no money. to take steps toward actually earning some money.

...that, in a marriage, absolving each other of the need to successfully "hit on" the other one works wonders. to teach my son to be both proud and humble.

...that we might need to work a little more on that latter part.

...that I will never, ever get more than ten seconds to myself between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

...that, on the rare occasions that I do, I'm crazy and get all Hey! What's wrong? Don't you want to play together? to be a better wife. to be a better mother. to be a better person. to get my husband to finally remember the symbols for male and female. (Hint: It has to do with a ridiculously immature mnemonic device involving the shapes and what happens to males' male parts.)

...that our carpet is a great color for hiding cat puke stains. to host a boys' sleepover without going insane. (Hint: It involves equal parts vigilance and selective ignoring.)

...that if you propose something, and your partner says Hey; that's a great idea. Where did you get that from? and the answer is a previous romantic partner, you should keep that part to yourself.

...that I suck at keeping anything to myself.

...that the previous point is likely to make this list way too long, so I should probably wrap it up here.

Happy season, everyone. Enjoy the rest of this year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I would like to wish my husband a very happy anniversary.

I really wish I had more to offer him than "Happy Anniversary," and maybe, a, erm, celebratory activity when he gets home from work -- even though by then it'll be the next day.

But we don't have much any money, so we both kind of agreed to get each other less financial stress for our anniversary by not worrying about buying some obligatory present. Still, I wish I could give him something. Do something for him, at least.

But this is what I do. I write. Ramble. Tell. I tell way too damn much, according to him. Less telling is most definitely more in my husband's opinion. (Still, he'd known me for almost 15 years by our wedding, so you be the judge. Either that's not really his opinion, or he's not so good at thinking things through.)

So, I guess I can just tell. I'll give him a present by keeping it short: I love you. Almost daily Sometimes you snore, or sleep in past lunch, or fart, or are unbelievably stubborn, or do that thing where I'm working on the computer and you hover behind it until I want to throttle you and so I pointedly ask if you want the computer and then you get mad and want to throttle me -- and still, I never waver from knowing that I absolutely for sure married the only guy I ever could have married. (And you know how down I am on mushiness, since I lectured you on it last night.) And once in a while, I remember just how damn lucky I really am.

Here, a commemorative shot, taken a few days ago. All the pictures I have of him are doing things with us, because that's who he is.

And, other readers, lest you think I'm long-suffering: I frequently sometimes cry for no reason, or fall asleep at 9, or fart (which my husband, wisely, claims never to have witnessed), or am unbelievably stubborn, or do that thing where I bitchily ask who the heck put the peanut butter in the cereal cupboard, when I know darn well who put it there, just so I can have someone at whom to vent; and he never stops tolerating loving me.

You want proof we're meant for each other? The last time he admitted to checking me out in public, this is what I was doing (at the actual time of the checking out, seriously):

Sexy, huh?

Happy Anniversary, Aaron.