Friday, December 30, 2005

My Mother's Family

When my mom was younger, sometime in her teenage years, she found out that the man she thought of as her father, was not. The man who treated her unkindly, the father who didn't love her enough, was merely her step-father. Years of mental abuse suddenly made sense. But there were questions. Questions that went unanswered. My grandmother told my mother that her father was dead, he died when she was three years old. My mother had the name of a dead man and nothing else. She escaped that household and immediately began her own. One husband, eight children and eight grandchildren later, my mother wanted answers to the questions that none of us knew still tormented her.

With no help from my grandmother, my parents went to the library and searched the archives of city records and census papers. She found her father's name, along with the name of his mother, sister and brother. Were they still alive? Did they even live in town? She questioned my grandmother one more time and was inadvertently told that the sister lived very near. In a blind fury of emotions and tears, my mother opened the telephone book to what should have been her maiden name. She found the sister's phone number and dialed.

My mom was lucky. Uncovering a family, after 58 years, can be risky. It's like finding a name at random and owing them birthday cards and Christmas newsletters for eternity. In her rash moment of finding her aunt's name in the phone book, my mother didn't have time to think of the consequences. She didn't have time to think about the possibility of being disappointed.

And luckily for her, she wasn't. Her aunt and uncle knew the moment they saw her that my mom was "one of them." They came bearing stories and photos. And their non-bitterness helped my mother deal with the fact that this family had been hidden from her for this long. That her father didn't die until she was nine years old. That her grandmother didn't die until after I, the youngest child, was born.

Uncle Henry and Aunt Marion brought stories of my grandfather. Stories from when he was little, causing mischief. Stories from his adulthood, his many jobs, his marriage, and his subsequent death. When I first visited them, it was still new to all of us. Stories of my "new" grandfather dominated the conversation. Mentioning a relative's name brought confusion and a needed lesson in the family tree.

But something strange happened the next time I was in town and visited with them. My grandfather began to fade from the conversation. It was as though, having brought us all together, he could now step away. It was as if, almost 50 years after his death, he had played his role of ghostly matchmaker successfully. Up until recently, I had been thinking of these people as my mother's relatives, because she needed them the most. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they became mine.

Originally published in Maryland Woman Magazine, March 2000
In memory of Marion Dombrowski, June 2, 1919 - December 28, 2005

The Week in Review

Merry Christmas.
Happy Channukah.
Happy Kwanzaa.
Happy New Year.

The diet.
I've heard that the average American gains 10 pounds between Thanksgivng and New Year's. I'm not quite the average American -- but I came within a pound or two of it. Since my parents' anniversary party in mid-November and this morning when I finally got the guts to get on a scale, I've gained nine pounds. Fat and happy time is over. Tomorrow (not Sunday) begins the new year.

I've never liked starting new things on the 1st of the year -- or a Monday for that matter. So it's either wait until Tuesday or just bite the bullet and start tomorrow. Given the numbers on the scale, I vote tomorrow.

The job.
Still no word on the job. The neurotic part of me (even though I promised myself that I wouldn't freak out if I didn't get a call) is starting to think that I didn't get it and he just didn't want to ruin my holiday so he's waiting until next week to tell me. The practical side is telling me that he couldn't have possibly made reference checks around the holiday -- I know that all three of my references would have been tough to get a hold of the last week. And I heard from B before I left for Virginia last Wednesday that he hadn't gotten a call yet.

I'm starting to dread going back to word on Tuesday. I just don't want to. I'm thinking of this project and that project and just have no motivation for them. I've got three days to think of something else and then can psyche myself up to go back to work. I guess.

The other Ellie.
He was the sweetest man to put on a Baltimore Orioles uniform. And I heard two weeks ago from my former boss that the Orioles were treating him like shit. That they had taken his position of bullpen coach away from him, citing health reasons, without talking to him or his doctors. And now they weren't returning his calls. Elrod Hendricks wore that uniform longer than anyone -- first as a player, including as a member of the 1970 championship team; then as a coach -- and Flanagan, Perlozzo and "Uncle" Pete weren't returning his calls.

Maybe they were right to relieve him of his coaching duties -- but they could have gone about it better. He deserved better. Last week -- just a few days before Christmas, he died of a heart attack. Sweet Elrod, who always had a smile and wave from the field for me, who always have a hug, a kiss and a "hey baby girl" for me when I saw him. I'll miss his laugh. And I'll miss him telling me that I was too good for Sidney, "that fool."

Christmas in Virignia.
Lots of eating, lots of resting (did you read the first paragraph of this post?!), and lots of fun. I arrived a day early, surprised Tiffany at Panera. We shopped, we ate, we went to the movies. We never got out of our pajamas on Christmas day. And I didn't want to leave. And more than once, thought about turning around as I was headed north to Baltimore.

Aunt Marion.
My mother's aunt passed away on Wednesday morning, after a lot of health issues and a recent minor stroke. She was 86, never married and only came into our life in the past 10 years. (I'll post something specific I have about that.) I'm sorry that I didn't get up to Syracuse to see her before I left for Virginia, though I hear that I wouldn't have wanted to see her that weak.

I'll remember her as feisty, as a "ball breaker." I'll remember her yelling at my mother for eating too much cheese cake and telling me that I was getting up there in years and needed to stop looking for love and just find someone for security. I was sorting through a bag of pictures from the anniversary party (yes, I know it was six weeks ago!) and found a picture of her -- round and healthy looking, no oxygen tank. That's how I'll remember her.

Swing and a miss. Strike 2.
I stopped in Baltimore on Wednesday night. I had dinner with my god-daughter and her family, exchanged presents with them. It was too short, but it's so hard to try to fit everyone so I have to economize my time. After dinner, I spent the night with Bubbles in her spankin' new apartment. She got me sucked into "Project Runway," and I immediately set my DVR to record all new episodes when I returned to Ithaca. And because Elrod's memorial service was Thursday morning -- and J used to work for the Orioles -- I didn't get to see J.

I got home about 1:30 yesterday afternoon and immediately after unpacking my car (three baskets of clean laundry, and more Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl's bags than I care to count), I started to de-Christmas my house. Exactly four hours later, I was putting the vacuum cleaner away. Tree, ornaments, bins, candles, etc...all packed away for another year. I'm not sure how I accumulate all of this stuff -- it may have something to do with my love for shopping the day after Christmas. And this year was no different. Between the two of us, my sister-in-law and I spent about $600 before noon on the 26th. I got lots of birthday presents done and started Christmas for next year.

The big finish.
Yesterday I packed away Christmas. Tonight, after getting back from the funeral in Syracuse, I unpacked all the big buys on the 26th -- sorted them, made lists and packed them away. I still need to put away my clothes, some of my Christmas presents and sort through my Christmas wrapping paper. But in the words of Katie Scarlett O'Hara, "tomorrow is another day."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Chris called me last week to see if he could come for a visit this week. I told him I was busy, how about January 2nd? I don't have to work that day and it would be more convenient. He seemed put off a little, but I'm enjoying this new sudden control in our relationship. January 2nd it would be.

He called today to see if I had heard anything from the job (nothing yet) and to say that he has a client meeting on the 2nd, what else works for me that week. I looked at my calendar and we set a date for the following week.

And then there's J. We were to have lunch on Thursday on my way through Baltimore, but we had to cancel that. I figured he would be in New Jersey still next week with his family, but mentioned anyway that I would be back in Baltimore next Wednesday night and leaving on Thursday.

We'll be having a late breakfast on Thursday (sorry Bubbles...I know we planned to eat before you went to work). And so suddenly the possibilities and scenarios are running through my head as to why he seems so eager to see me. Is he separated? Did he kick the evil-never-wanting-to-have-children wife to the curb? Has he decided that he can't deny that "thing" between us? That "thing" that is real, but never acted upon.

Something tells me that I'll be eating a bagel with him at the Panera, or a nice greasy breakfast at the Double T, and then that will be that. A nice friendly catch-up. Nothing more.

I'm too tired to try to analyze any of this, to create some sort of generic, it could apply to most single women thing.

Nap Time

I'm beyond exhausted. I just want to lay my head on my desk and close my eyes. Between Thursday and last night, I worked 24 hours at my "real" job and 24 at my seasonal job at the mall. I think I could sell personal care products in my sleep. I'm surprised I didn't ask Casey if she wanted to get a box "for just a dollar more" for her treats this morning when I left for work.

I'm so glad I'm done until after Christmas. I just have to make it two more days at work, then I'm off to Virginia towards the end of the week. I can't wait to take a nap, with both dogs on my lap, in front of the fire. And it's going to be in the 50s this weekend. Who needs snow at Christmas? Not me.

No word on the job front. Though it seems a little premature to be thinking that I would get a phone call. They said they had another interview on Friday -- and hopefully the awful weather we had here Friday morning didn't delay it any.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Year in Review

Got this idea from my niece, who also has a blog. Take the first line, from the first post each month:

April 2005
Search for what? Love? Happines? Peace of mind? The perfect man? The perfect job?

June 2005
One year ago today, I left Baltimore, Charm City, Bawlmer for "10 square miles surrounded by reality" -- Ithaca, NY.

July 2005
I don't know if I'm doing this internet dating thing right.

August 2005
So, I've given up on my month's experiment on Yahoo personals.

September 2005
I love her. She's my mother...

October 2005
It's beyond liking B now.

November 2005
I e-mailed my friend JRK yesterday, about dating -- or lack of ...

December 2005
The PR Goddess could be making a comeback.

Hmmm....hers seemed so much more fun and cohesive. I'm going to take December's first line as a good omen.

The first BIG storm of the year

Snow! Snow!
Come out in the snow!
--P.D. Eastman, Dr. Seuss collection

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Interview

I had my second interview today -- in person, with eight people. Sometimes that can be intimidating, but it seemed okay today. They all had written out questions, so there was never that awkward pause of "is someone going to say something?"

I think it went very well....they did ask tough destination marketing, intergrated marketing, web optimization questions...but rather than try to sound like I was bull shitting them, I said I'm not sure if I've heard that term but I would guess it to mean....

I talked a lot about media successes and web marketing. No one had any questions about my sample press release that I had to write for them and then talk them through it (didn't know I would have to do that!!). I did mention that it was a very hard press release to write, that the event was so diverse that it was hard to get my hands around. They all laughed and said, that's why we picked it. Of course it is. I walked them through my thought process in how I wrote what I did, and also my strategies for creating a more complete press kit, who I would send that to, and what I would include in it.

I also brought a DVD of national, regional and local media (TV) clips that I left with them. It has clips on there from the Today Show, Nickelodeon, Comcast Sports Net (mid-Atlantic region) and the San Diego Padres pre-game show. Overall an impressive bunch of clips, if I do say so myself. God, I wish I had the Travel Channel clip. I remember saying stuff in that interview and then was like, "that was great...what did I just say?"

The have one more interview on Friday. When the director walked me out, I mentioned that I would be leaving for Virginia on the 22nd but available by cell phone if needed. And when I wished him a happy holiday, he said "we'll be talking before that." I'll take that as a good sign, but not get overly freaked out if I don't hear from him next week, knowing that things come up.

I also mentioned that I did include a reference from my current job, though not my boss (who he knows, but promised me confidentiality) -- someone who can speak to my web marketing strengths. And I had a great conversation with my former boss last night. He no longer hates me for leaving him -- he just remembers the good times, the times I worked my ass off for him, how much fun we had, and I'm confident that he will give me a great reference.

So...that's that. Glad it's was harder than most interviews, but going by how the phone interview went, it was about what I suspected and I think I did well. And now we wait. And then....and then we talk salary. And negotiate. Which is not something I do well. Money is not my thing. That's why I need a husband to give me an allowance -- but that's a story for another day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

An Unmatched Shoe

Sometimes I don't feel like I belong in my own family. I think it mostly has to do with everyone having a partner, or belonging to a unit. This becomes more and more apparent to me at the holidays, when all my local family members gather at one sister's house. And while of course having a husband or significant other would solve the problem -- it's not the only thing that would.

Everyone seems to be matched with someone or someones. My oldest sister has her husband, and/or her daughters. Her daughters have each other. My other sister, whose house we gather at, has her husband and her daughter. And that daughter -- that daughter used to be my partner, used to be my matching shoe -- has her husband and son. And on and on with my brother and his wife and two kids.

When I first moved back to New York, it was sometimes so hard to go to Syracuse and spend time with my niece and her baby. We're so close in age, and we've always pretty much wanted the same thing personally -- husband, baby, family. When I first came home, and saw her with all of it, it was hard. Sometimes too hard. Sometimes I would find myself crying all the way back to Ithaca, feeling an empty part of my heart, wondering what I did in a past life to not deserve having it all, too.

And so rather than deal with that, deal with that unmatched shoe feeling, I've decided to take myself out of that situation. Out of feeling lost at the holidays. And I'm going to Richmond for Christmas. Part of me -- the PMS-y, feeling sorry for myself, over-tired part of me -- wonders if anyone really cares that I won't be in Syracuse. If they'll even miss me. And of course they will -- it would just be nice to hear, I guess.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My 2006 Outlook

I take horoscopes with a grain of salt. If they say something good, I am hopeful. If they say something bad, I shrug it off. Either way, I wll always read my horoscope on my birthday and in magazines, especially the "year forecast" in the January issues.

The highlights from my Marie Claire horoscope for 2006:

Aries excels at creating order out of chaos -- exactly your destiny for 2006! Because you're famous for being so positive and outgoing, feeling discouraged takes you by surprise. This year, your Aries courage will return, and your resilience will be proven. At the end of March, a rare solar eclipse will make you feel like you've been shot from a cannon -- instantly removed from everything familiar and speeding toward an exciting opportunity.

Your love life: You're a woman with abundant gifts -- a sense of humor, a healthy sexuality and a generous heart -- yet many have taken the best you had to give and not fulfilled your needs in return. This year, Saturn will free you of a tumultuous entanglement, then bring security and commitment within reach.

What to change in 2006: What you most enjoy is the exhilarating buzz of creative work. But for your projects to succeed, you need to tend to all details -- not just the fun, exciting ones.

For In an important relationship, you must bravely ask a lover to take responsibility. You rely on the honesty and intimacy you share with him, so it will be worth everything to strengthen that bond.

Work: Careerwise, Mercury will bring a long-shot goal within reach. Spend more time on original, challenging endeavors. You can also demand top billing. No one will turn you down!

It sounds promising -- we'll see what becomes of the next year.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

December 8

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Have you hugged a veteran today?

I don't usually write about stuff like this. But I couldn't let today go by without saying outloud, even if I have no WWII veteran in my life, thank you.

Before I left Baltimore, I went to the WWII memorial in Washington. It was the weekend before its official opening, and there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of veterans walking around. Some acting like old college buddies, hugging and getting their pictures taken. But others, very solemn, perhaps remembering those who couldn't be there with them for the opening. I was glad that I had sunglasses on, so that no one could see my tears.

It was moving and touching, and I was glad that I was able to experience it. There was one veteran, in a wheelchair, looking at one of the stone tableaus. He looked at me, and I said simply, "thank you."

He smiled and grabbed my hand, and said, "no, thank you."

Thank you for what? Who knows? I was too choked up to ask. Maybe thank you for saying thank you, thank you for being appreciative, thank you for being in my generation and wanting to reflect at this memorial...or maybe just thank you for not overlooking him.

I don't know. And honestly, I don't need to know. If you have a veteran in your life, a veteran of any war, don't just say thank you on Veterans Day. They fought hard every day -- still fight hard every day -- they deserve to be appreciated more than just once a year.

And so on today's anniversary, it gives me pause to stop and think. And say thank you.

Flip a coin

I spent the last two days in computer training. Two days that I really didn't need to be involved in. It was all very technical, all very "over my head," and all very "not what I will be working on." I'm so glad its over. Suddenly, I've gotten very busy at work. And suddenly -- or maybe not so suddenly -- I am very fed up with most of my clients, one of whom now thinks he's a designer. He took the first proof of a postcard and recreated three designs in Photoshop.

Wouldn't it be nice to think that I have the next two days in the office, that they could be relatively quiet and allow me to catch up on some things? Yea, it would be nice. But it's not going to happen. The consultant, from a couple months ago, will be back with her report. First she is meeting with each of us individually or in small groups. The whole group will also meet with her for an hour tomorrow. Then on Friday, we have a retreat from 9 to 1.

What waste of two days. There are factions of co-workers who have gone behind my boss's back, who have talked to the vice president about things. It's all very political, it's all very shady, and the phone call for a second interview couldn't have come at a better time.

When I got home from the gym tonight, I had a message waiting. Second interview with the staff next Wednesday, and he would like me to write a sample press release and about the Lights in Winter Festival. It's been over a year since I've written a press release, but I've got time to work on it.

So the next question is, who do I use as references? The obvious choice, for what this job entails, would be my former boss. But has he forgiven me enough for "leaving him" to give me the glowing recommendation that I deserve? I might have to just call him this weekend and see. I have seen him, and I have recently communicated with him by e-mail. I just have to make sure that Bitch-stine doesn't get involved.

So there's one. J of Baltimore would be two -- not only is his title and company impressive -- but he would be able to speak to my organizational and event planning skills. And then I was thinking of asking B. I trust him to keep my confidence. And he would be able to speak to my web skills -- not counting the last two boring days -- my ability to re-architect sites and work with existing content.

And so I find myself at a crossroads, once again. Two sides of the same coin with my career, and who knows which side I'll end up with. I can only hope -- and try to believe -- that no matter what happens, either at the school or the CVB, that it's what is supposed to happen.

Monday, December 05, 2005

B is for Boob

I had my annual mammogram this morning. I have a lump, that my doctor in Baltimore found almost two years ago. Rounds of doctors, jags of crying, trips to the radiologist, thoughts of cancer -- and it turned out to be a cyst. But something that needs to be checked every six months. So I see my doctor twice a year, and get my "girls" squeezed once a year.

My doctor in Ithaca, perhaps being very perceptive to my neurotic personality, told me not to do self breast exams. That it would only make me worry, and that he would be checking them every six months. Probably a good thing. When the lump was first found, I checked my breasts every morning before I got out of bed, rather than the once a month that is recommended. Sort of goes along with the whole weighing myself twice a day thing.

But back to the mammogram...Can you imagine (ok guys, I know you can) mammographer for a job? Nothing but handling boobs -- literally -- all day long. And I realize that there is nothing sexual about all. But really....I almost starting laughing at the absurdity of it, when the technician was adjusting one of the "girls" and literally slapped the other one off the film board.

When you think about it, the whole experience is rather bizarre. You go into a private dressing room, take off all your clothes from the waist up and put on a hospital gown, and then go sit in a private waiting room. With other women. Who are dressed the same way. Dress pants or jeans, and a hospital gown, opening in front, tied at the side. And you read magazines or make small talk, as if this were the most normal thing in the world.

And then you go into the radiology room and you stand in front of a big machine with a small platform. The technician adjusts it so the platform is at your chest. Then because gravity does take over, she hoists your breast onto the platform, molding it in the way she wants it to lay and then holding it in place while another platform comes from the top, essentially squeezing it as flat as it can go. Hold your breath, don't move, and click, the Kodak film has an image of the inside your breast. Now let's do the other one.

I'll go to my doctor next week. He'll have seen the films, and he'll do an exam, and tell me I'm fine. He'll ask if I'm okay with everything, if I'm worried about anything -- and I'll ask him the same thing I always ask. "If I was your wife, would you suggest she be treating this any differently?" And he'll say no, and I'll tell him I trust him. And that's that for six more months.

Ithaca is Gorges!

The phone call went well. Very well.

I'm confident that I will get a second interview. In fact, he basically said that he would be calling me at the end of the week or early next week to set up a second interview next week. Ideally, he would want to make an offer before the end of the year (Merry Christmas!) and have the person start in January.

It would be a great job. I would actually be "doing" things, rather than pushing projects from this person to this person, rather than having meetings to talk about how busy everyone is, rather than dealing with the office politics of a college campus. I would dealing with the media again, creating long-range marketing and advertising plans, holding press conferences and writing press releases.

So what's the down side? Because, of course, there is a down side. And it is what it always comes down to -- money.

He did quote me a salary range -- that would be in the range of $8-10,00 less than I currently make. I asked if the salary was negotiable. He said that he wouldn't want to weed out a potential candidate over a dollar sign, so yes, he would be willing to sit down and negotiate.

That sounds promising enough, but I already have debt that I am paying off, from taking a job that sounded great, but didn't pay that well. A job that I stuck with for five years, waiting for the pay-off -- all the while, sometimes needing to pay for groceries on my credit card.

I don't need to be making more than I make now. I just really can't make less. Or I'll never be able to buy a house and have a baby, which are the goals. And perfectly possible under the current budget.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Monday, Monday


Everyone think good thoughts for me. Please.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

He Called.

The PR Goddess could be making a comeback.

I have to call him back tomorrow to set something up for Monday or next Friday.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why, oh why, hasn't he called?

I'm waiting for a phone call.

And I jump every time my phone rings with its distinct "outside call" ring.

I got an e-mail last week and this person said he would call me sometime this week, to set something up for next week.

He hasn't called yet.

I hesitate to elaborate because I'm such a superstitious person. I don't want to jinx myself.

Sometimes. I. Really. Hate. My. Job.

Deep breath.

I was given the task of working with student affairs on a website showcasing the college's diversity initiatives. No one wanted to take ownership. No one wanted our office to get involved. No one felt the need that the design, production, writing or editing go through our office. So I went off, hired an outside vendor, worked with the client to work on copy. I shared the slow progress in update meetings. The site is almost ready to be launched. Now...people want to have an opinion. Now they feel the need that we bring in focus groups about the actual need for this site, which by the way was a need the president felt.

I just want the damned thing up and launched. You didn't want to get involved three months ago. You don't get a vote now.

Then...I just spent an hour, in a meeting, listening to people bitch about our boss, bitch about the way our office is run, bitch about how they are going into our office retreat next week "fearless," and ready to unload all their frustrations with the system, our boss, etc.

Calgon...take me away.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

J, of Baltimore fame, Part 2

Ellie wrote:
Hey, How was your Thanksgiving? I had my parents' anniversary party on the 19th --and it was a huge success (would you expect anything less with me planning it?) And the Cal picture went over big, as well. My father's exact words after I made the presentation: "that's going in the living room." I've attached a couple pics (me, my brother & dad; and me reading the inscription). Hope all is well....I'll let you know the next time I'm driving through. Talk to you soon, Ellie

Very cool...I am so glad it was a big hit. Sorry about the screw up last time you were in time, I owe you!

Not a problem. And by the way, I send you a picture of me looking stunning in a dress that showcases my best asset and you say nothing?! So hurt...

Why do you think I was eagerly mentioning your next visit to Baltimore!!!!

Aahh...I will actually be driving through right before Christmas, probably on the 22nd. But you'll probably be in NJ, right?

Not until the 23rd...yippee!

Cool! Schedule me in...I'll let you know what time I should be through, but I'm guessing mid-day, early afternoon.

Good, bring the dress.

Sweetheart, we won't need the dress!

Outstanding answer!

I've Awoken the Sleeping Giant

Chris called today. Not entirely out of the blue, I guess. I've opened the door and he's walking through. He asked me if he "scratched my itch."

He's so cocky, I felt I needed to knock him down a little. "I guess so."

He pretended to be wounded, and I didn't respond. I launched into how I actually had to buy something with my own money at Old Navy this weekend (he still owes me a gift card for doing his invitations last month) and stories of the great success of the anniversary party and how I was the "belle of the ball," garnering lots of attention at the new me.

He was happy that it went so well and that I had a good time. And then he tried to subtly move into the entire reason for his call. "I should be in Ithaca again in December. Should I plan to stop by?"

I know what everyone is hoping the answer will be. I hate to disappoint, but I said okay. On my defense, I do have a busy month (mammogram, two full days of computer training, going to Syracuse to watch the baby for one full day, a department retreat, the campus holiday party, the building holiday party, and of course, not to mention actual work). I really can't see how I could possibly squeeze in a visit. We'll see.

Monday, November 28, 2005

An Interesting Development...

...though I'm not sure what, if anything, it means. My friend Dayna, at work, is having her annual holiday party. I got an e-mail from her husband this morning with the invite. Before I could RSVP to his e-mail, she e-mailed me to find out if I am coming. I told her yes.

Then a couple hours later, I got an e-mail from her friend Gary -- the guy that she knew that happened across my picture on, we had a nice telephone conversation and then one week later, he was "seriously involved" with someone else, and that was that (see "The Window Closed," 9/15/05).

Anyway, back to Gary...I got an e-mail from him:

Subject line: Hi Ellie -- from Dayna's friend Gary
Just wanted to drop you a note and say hi and see how your Thanksgiving went with your big family. Also hopefully you'll be able to attend Andy and Dayna's Christmas Party on the 10th. Look forward to seeing you there, Gary

Have I been burned so many times that I'm completely suspicious about this note dropping out of the blue? Am I nuts to be so cynical about this? To think that it wasn't written in the spirit it was intended? And if that's the case, what was the spirit it was intended? What is his ulterior motive?

I guess I won't find out until the 10th at Dayna's house. In the meantime, I truly don't know how to respond to his e-mail. Or if I should at all.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Stay Gold, Ponyboy

I woke up early again on Saturday -- too early. But again, I was in event mode. Finally, I got out of bed about 7:30 and went to the hotel gym. My brother joined me 15 minutes later. We worked out for about an hour. I knew that by the middle of the day (before my adrenaline and second wind kicked in, I would be thoroughly exhausted).

After breakfast with my sister and brother-in-law from California and my brother and sister-in-law from Alaska, Tiffany and I killed time at the mall before our hair appointment. By the time we got back to the hotel, my parents were there as well and Jenny and the baby. It was hurry up and wait time again. We wouldn't be able to get into the room to decorate until after 5.

My hair was done. My make-up was done. I would just need to throw my dress on at the last minute. My sister arrived with two car-loads of decorations around 5. We walked down to the banquet room and saw that it was nowhere close to being ready for us. Panic set in just a little. We set to work about 5:30 -- swags on the walls, bows on the centerpieces, setting up the placecards, the easal, the cake and gift tables, making sure the TV and VCR worked, and hiding the boxes and bags that we carried everything in.

I ran down to the hotel room at 5:55. Reuben and Tiffany followed me. Tiffany ran interference while my brother and I changed, backs to each other. It was so late that I didn't even care. grabbed my purse and back down to the room. At this point, everyone was gathering. I had told them all to be ready and in the lobby by 6 for pictures, hadn't I?

My mother had told me the day before that Sue and Frank would be there between 6 and 6:30. I tried not to let it bother me. And at this point, I was happy for the delay. My father kept calling me the "cruise director" and asking me what I needed him to do. I herded everyone into the lobby. Sue wasn't there yet and Sammi was still getting dressed, having put the finishing touches on the room.

I yelled for the grandchildren on the stairs. And the papparazzi took over. Flash, flash, flash. Then add Dan and Ryan. More flashes went off. Brenna and Erin (my god-sisters). Flash, flash. Throw my parents in the picture. Sue and Frank arrived -- I grabbed Angie and made her go with me to say hello to them. Frank's mother was pleasant enough. Frank said, "hi Ellie," (the only words he would speak to me the entire evening). And my sister nodded hello. Deep breath.

When Sammi got down to the lobby, we took pictures of the eight kids. We added my parents. More flashes than I could count, and who knew where to look?! Then the fun -- the entire family, on the stairs. It was crazy. I knew no one would listen to me. Organized chaos, at best. They piled on the stairs in their own order. Brenna and Erin and the priest took pictures. Then just the priest. And then he joined in the picture and an innocent bystander took a picture. Ok, time to party.

My sister Kathy, who brought the sound system, and I walked down to the room to make sure they were ready for us. It was about 6:45. We started the music and I ran back to the lobby with a quick arm sweep.

My parents were in all their glory. They stod by the door and greeted everyone as they arrived. There was some last-minute tabling shuffling -- my aunt sat with my sister's mother-in-law. My mom wanted the priest at their table. No problem.

Sue came up to me while I was getting a beer. "You need to get some rolls on the table. Frank (who is a diabetic) can't wait until dinner. This is ridiculous. Tell somebody." It wasn't the fact that she was asking me -- well in fact, she wasn't asking, she was telling -- it was her tone. Like, "I found a flaw in your party -- fix it."

I asked the banquet manager for a basket of bread for table 1. It actually worked out well -- Jenny was able to get Ryan to sit for a little while and have something to eat. I had given out most of the refund money (I hadn't needed to use all $350 from each person) the night before or during the day. I gave Kathy hers and told her that there was an extra $100 in there for the video production. She was very thankful. I knew that she had paid her production man out of her own pocket, but we had only budgeted a certain amount. With some extra money left over, I was able to give her more for it.

I went over to Sue. "Here's $30 -- I didn't use all the money. So I was able to give everyone some money back." Do you think I could have gotten a thank you? Nope. "Oh, okay. Good." Oh, okay. Good? What kind of shit response is that?! UGH!!!

At the end of cocktails, my brother Mike gave a toast. Kathy introduced each of the family members. And then Father Ahern came up with my parents. He asked the eight of us to join them -- girls on one side, boys on the other. We stood in brith order, which means I had to stand next to Sue. But I looked fabulous on the end.

And then we ate. After dinner, my niece and nephew recited the Irish blessing. Reuben told a funny family story and gave out silly t-shirts to my dad and brothers. I followed with my present, which I hoped garnered some ooh's and aah's. I was too focused on my parents and not tripping over my words to notice.

I said something like, "everyone who knows me knows that I love baseball. So of course my present is baseball related. I have here a picture of my brother's (look towards Bob) favorite baseball player. It is inscribed with the following -- Dick and Fran, congratulations on 18,263 consecutive days of marriage. Cal Ripken Jr. 11-19-05"

My father loved it. When I handed to him, he said, "this is going in the living room." Mission accomplished.

Angie sang next. "Sentimental Journey" -- very appropriate. And sung beautifully. And with her mother's knack for filling dead air (the musical interlude) with self-deprecating humor. Erica danced. An Irish jig. I love to watch her dance. And then the finale -- the video. Six minutes and 42 seconds of family photos. Forty hours of production time on Kathy's part. It was a hit!

The evening went too fast -- I managed to talk to everyone at least once. Though it didn't feel like more than simple catch-ups and how great my parents are (which they are). I also got a lot of "you look great's." That felt good. And I managed to not get cold, even though I was practically naked from the waist up, until the evening was almost over. I wore Reuben's suit jacket for a while.

It was an amazing night. I know that my parents had a wonderful time. They were absolutely beaming. I was so busy -- keeping things on track or just simply enjoying myself, I didn't even miss the fact that B was supposed to be there.

I wondered this morning when I got to work if he would ask about it. In fact, I thought that I would be pretty disappointed in him if he didn't. We were both on IM all day. Not a peep out of him. I had a meeting with one of the deans in the afternoon -- and even he asked if the party was a success. And then a meeting with B at 4. Nada. What a boy!

But I won't let him ruin my memories -- so much fun with my family. And what made it special was that everyone was there. Not just the siblings, but there spouses and kids. The last time that happened, Tiffany and I figured out was Christmas 1990. The last time the siblings were together -- and I have a picture of the eight of us in my office -- was when my grandmother died in 1994. But when the out-of-towners came home, the didn't bring their spouses or kids.

So to have all eight kids, and their seven spouses, and all eight grandchildren, plus one spouse and great-grandchild; the local in-laws -- three mothers-in-law and a father-in-law; two godchildren; and my dad's sister was probably a once-in-a-lifetime event.

A Success!

The party was amazing and wonderful and everyone had a great time. And I'm exhausted.

I'll update later in the day.

Friday, November 18, 2005

18,262 days of marriage

The party is tomorrow. My brother is on his way north from Richmond. My sister will be flying from the west coast at some point today, arriving in Syracuse near midnight. And I've been awake since 5:30 this morning, fretting about all I still need to do.

It felt like real "event panic." The kind I used to get before Babe's daughter was coming to town, before the Birthday Bash or Colts Reunion. The kind that wakes me up at an ungodly hour -- an hour that would never see me that wide awake and energized on any normal day. I flipped through channels at first before finnaly giving up on any sort of rest, and then got up and scanned my lists. I made piles of clothes that I need to pack. I went through my jewelry for Jenny to see if she wants to borrow any. I straightened my hair, even though I was only planning a ponytail today. And I've been at work, at my desk, answering e-mails and shifting paper since 7:20am.

Even though I'm working this morning, I feel like my weekend started yesterday. I left Ithaca at 2:30 and drove to Syracuse to babysit Ryan. What a sweet little bundle of love and hugs and kisses -- all wrapped up in his 20-month-old body. And being central New York and November, it snowed. As I was driving back to Ithaca around 8:30 last night, the snow was blowing directly into my headlights, not allowing me to see the white lines of the lanes.

I would have -- should have -- turned back around or gone to my mother's, sister's or brother's for the night. But honestly, I was too afraid to switch lanes. Once I got past Syracuse, and the infamous "snow band," I was fine. There was no snow, no precipitation to speak of. The roads were completely dry and the grass completely green. Twenty minutes of panic was worth sleeping in my own bed and being able to "do stuff" for the weekend at home.

And so my lists have been organized and condensed. My party piles are packed into shopping bags or gift bags. My clothes for the weekend are piled on my bed, waiting to be packed. And my dress hangs in the closet (dear god, do not let me forget my dress!). I have one meeting at 9am, and then I am going to the gym. To work off some adrenaline. To kill some time before my brother arrives in Ithaca. To tire me out so I get a good night's sleep tonight.

Tomorrow, we party. Until then, I'll think. And rethink the details. Over-analyzing everything to ensure a wonderful night for all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I feel pretty...oh so pretty...

...I feel pretty and witty and gay...and I pity...any girl who isn't me today

"You look amazing."

Sigh. That was what I needed. After an adrenaline-filled morning, complete with a presentation to the President and six Vice Presidents, I was ready to go home for an hour or so. He got there about 10 minutes after me, while I was in the middle of eating an apple. I showed him around my house -- we hadn't been together since I lived here. After looking around the downstairs and out back, I got the oh-so-casual, "can I see the rest?"

And then there was the obligatory tour of the computer room/office and the bathroom and the bedroom. Obligatory until he grabbed me by the back of my neck, kissed me and threw me down on the bed. I will let your imaginations go from here. Needless to was good. Very good.

Why I need the validation of a man to feel good about myself is beyond me. But I do. In fact, after the initial "you look amazing," he could have left. It was exactly what I needed. It was what I was missing when I didn't get to see J in Baltimore a few weeks back. It's what is continually missing in my life.

The logical side of my brain tells me that I'm attractive, that I'm pretty. But sometimes when I think that, it feels like my mother telling me I'm pretty. It doesn't count. Moms have to say that. And sometimes, you have to say it yourself. It doesn't feel the same. It doesn't mean the same thing.

To hear a man tell me that I look amazing, that I'm beautiful -- it's what I strive for. To hear a man tell me that I look amazing, to hear that when I'm naked, when he's kissing me -- there isn't an ounce of my being that doesn't believe him. That's what I crave. That's the validation I need. Without it, I feel ugly. I feel unwanted.

And even though I don't want B as my boyfriend, I was truly excited about having him with me at the party on Saturday. I was looking forward to having his arm around the back of my chair, having someone not related to me to dance with. And he pulled the rug out from under me. I want to believe that he truly has a conflict, that he just didn't not want to go, that he didn't get cold feet over the weekend. But even people I know ask that -- "do you think he really had a conflict? Or he just changed his mind?" It -- and their responses to it -- made me feel....icky. How's that for descriptive? It...he....the whole situation....made me feel unwanted.

And that was my frame of mind yesterday morning, when I made that phone call. When I called Chris. Chris -- who is so bad for me. But Chris -- who can be so good, at the same time. And now, even though a part of me is sad -- sad that it's temporary, sad that he won't be there when I get home from work, or there when I go to bed -- the rest of me is satisfied. And happy. And confident. And....pretty.

See the pretty girl in that mirror there? Who can that attractive girl be? Such a pretty face...such a pretty dress...such a pretty smile...such a pretty me!

Monday, November 14, 2005

A Monday Morning Pick-Me-Up

I had a nightmare last night that I overslept and missed my hair appointment for the party. Also left my dress in Ithaca -- the party is in Syracuse. And when I arrived at the hotel, after 6 without a dress and with bad hair, all of my family was on time for family pictures, but they were in their regular jeans and t-shirts because they "decided that we could do pictures later."

Two years of planning and it comes down to being able to get through this week. There is nothing more I can really do. Except wait and then be busy with last-minute stuff. I'm making lists and piles -- it is the only way I can maintain some control and feel organized. This is what brides must go through.

I have a board meeting tonight, at 5:30. So I won't be able to go to the gym. I didn't go on Friday, so I made myself get up at 6 and be on campus, in the gym and on the treadmill by 6:35. No small feat. But I did it. And I did about 40 minutes of cardio. It was hard to not keep watching the clock, figuring out my showering time, getting dressed, moving my car and what time would I be at my desk. Hence, only 40 minutes. But better than nothing.

I feel a little better about the B situation, but not completely. I need some attention. I need to feel wanted. And I needed the quickest way to get over having a date for two days and then suddenly not.

I called Chris. I'm weak, I admit it. But I feel as though I was in complete control of the situation, something that wasn't always the case.

"I need to see you. When will you be down this way?"

I think he was taken aback. "Wasn't I banished?"

"You weren't banished. I was mad at you. You hurt me. I told you. It's over."

"I was banished."

"You weren't. And you're not going to make me feel bad when you were at fault."

So he changed his tactic. "Why the sudden change of heart?"

"A girl has needs. You tend to fill those needs quite nicely."

I think he was actually speechless. "Oh really?"

"Yea, I'll admit it. I'm using you for your body. And don't think that you don't have a lot of making up to do for your last performance."

He'll be in Ithaca tomorrow. We're meeting at my house for lunch. I was contemplating a massage before the party to help with the stress. This is much easier. And free.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Four little words..."Good night sweet girl."

I watched parts of "The Wizard of Oz" tonight -- mostly the end. And it made me think of a great line from "Beautiful Girls,"

You let her behind the curtain, I know you did. You never let them behind the curtain Will. You never let them see the little old man behind the curtain working the levers of the great and powerful OZ. They are all sisters Willie... they aren't allowed back there... they mustn't see.

It always makes me laugh. And I think, the sterotype, the cliche, is that women are the inigma, that we are impossible to read, impossible to understand. But in this case, Michael Rappaport's character is turning the tables. Men have secrets, men have "things" about them that women should never know the key to.

Is that true? Perhaps. But I think it has more to do with people being people, then men being men, and women being women. I think back to my longest-lasting relationships -- Chris and Bruce. Both right around 18 months. Neither was ever going to go anywhere. So why did I fall in love with one and not the other?

Because one let me behind the curtain and the other didn't. And I'm not sure which is which, only the difference in the way each approached what was supposed to be a "friends with benefits" relationship only.

Bruce and I saw each other a few times a month, usually for lunch (and I use that term loosely). We also saw each other in work-related instances, where we remained absolutely professional, while occasionally giving each other "fuck me" looks. He was loving and supportive, and made me feel like the only person who mattered when we were together. In all our time together, I bought him one present -- a tie that I happened to see when I was shopping with my brother, and knew how perfectly it would match one of his suits. Several months later, he bought me a present -- a pink, silk nightie from Victoria's Secret. And it was such an "Ellie present," that I so appreciated the thought that went into it. But that was it. That was the only time our relationship strayed beyond any sort of line.

Chris, on the other hand, called me every day at work. Sometimes several times. He made me get emotionally attached to him. We took a few trips together, spending a solid 36 to 48 hours together at a stretch. As if we were a real couple. He paid for everything, even when I insisted on picking up dinner or the movies. We were, at times, living the life of a real couple. Except we weren't. He had another life, without me. One he didn't want me in, one that didn't allow for a commitment.

And while I knew this, and we talked about it, his actions were stronger than his words. His phone calls, his constant attention got to me. And I was soon smitten, and then completely gone. Totally in love with him. It was a hard lesson to learn -- but one that I did. I discovered the difference between words and actions -- and the difference between listening to my heart and my head. I learned, too late perhaps, that even though I realized he was calling me too much, that we were "playing" at being a couple, I should have called him on it.

I should have confronted him, made him commit, or not and let him walk away. But I was afraid -- afraid of losing this half of a relationship. Because, wasn't half of a relationship better than none at all? I thought so. Until I felt the crack in my heart and couldn't get through the day without breaking down in tears.

I don't even remember when things started to feel better, or how I got through it. But I did. And he had no idea -- or if he did, he didn't let on, didn't want to deal with it.

And so as I contemplate the whole "friends with benefits" thing -- wanting to find one and hearing the pros and cons from my blogger friends -- I think fondly of both Bruce and Chris. Both so different from each other, and yet, not really. I miss them both, for completely different reasons. Bruce filled a physical need, Chris an emotional one, even if it was false.

And so it brings us back, full circle to "The Wizard of Oz," when the Wizard tells the Tin Man that a "heart is impractical until it can be made to be unbroken."

An Open Letter to Dr. Neil Clark Warren

"Your dating service sucks. I want my $99 back.
Sincerely, Ellie."

Ok, I wouldn't write that. My ego wouldn't allow it. I would slave over well-thought out prose, citing specific examples in each paragraph, adding a positive aspect in paragraph three, before launching into how I would like situation rectified ( a full refund or another three months, gratis). Perhaps I will -- and I might even give a response back, though I doubt that. I'm big on writing complaint letters. Working in public relations, customer service is very important to me.

So in one month from yesterday, December 11th, my three-month subscription to e-harmony will be over. I have moved beyond the "four match stages," to have an actual e-mail exchange with someone, with exactly two people (and those seemed to last exactly one exchange each way -- I'm still waiting for them to respond back to me). I have talked on the phone with exactly zero men, and gone on exactly zero dates. I was not looking for the love of my life -- a date, a little dinner, a cup of coffee, some conversation. how unreasonable of me to think that I might actually find something like that here.

I have found what seemed to be promising-sounding men -- by reading their match criteria and lists -- only to be disappointed when they closed the match with the reason of "physical distance too great." I'm sorry...Syracuse to Ithaca is not a great physical distance. I work with people who make that commute every day to work. It's less than 60 miles. I used to drive farther to go to dinner when I lived in Baltimore.

Out of the approximately 30 mathces, I was matched with two men who lived in Ithaca. Most were from Rochester or Syracuse, a few from Binghamton, Rochester being the farthest (about 90 minutes to two hours).

I promptly responded to all my matches when they were set up. I am still waiting to hear from men whose last communication date was early- to mid-October. Am I the only person who finds this rude and disrespectful?

Perhaps the open letter should be to the men on e-harmony and not Dr. Neil Clark Warren (am I the only who distrusts men with three first names, and what exactly is he a doctor of?).

"Dear Fellow Singleton,

If you're going to sign up for the service, see it through. When you receive a correspondence from your matches, respond in a timely manner -- within a week, nothing unreasonable. If you don't want to date someone who lives 60 miles away, specify that in your match criteria. If you decide you want to take a break from dating, decide this a little sooner than when we've reached stage 3 or 4. If you are unable to meet these requests, please send me my $99 that I wasted thinking that you were worth meeting.

Sincerely, Ellie."

Friday, November 11, 2005

It's not like I'm asking for a Kidney...just a little Kindness

The anniversary party is one week away. I've been so busy planning -- thinking about decorations and invitations and seating arrangements and family drama and placecards and the video and my Cal picture.....that I haven't thought about the actual party. The interacting with people that I haven't seen in years, who haven't seen my in years.

And then of course, there is the inevitable query, from someone of another generation, from someone who means well, but from someone who needs to be slapped: "is there anyone special in your life?" or some evil variation of that.

Over the years I've heard it from my mother (well documented here, I believe); and my great-aunt, "when will we see you in a wedding dress? you're getting up there, you need to find someone for security now, not love"; and even my own brother in a recent e-mail, "you dating anyone? (and expecting a yes as the answer) will we get to meet him when we're home for the party?"

Last night I was on the phone with my oldest niece. When I mentioned that I had just been to hear B play, she said, "you should invite him to the party next week." It's not like I haven't thought about it.

I posed the question to a co-worker this morning, who knows of the whole B situation and always works regulary with him. And before she could give me sound advice, she questioned me: "do you want him to be your boyfriend? are you asking him because you want him to be there and think you'd have fun with him? or because you want someone there? given his commitment issues, would he be okay with the role you're putting him in?"

Do I want him to be my boyfriend? No. He's not boyfriend material. We've established this. He has commitment issues, which he is all too willing to express (though one might think he doth protest too much). I don't want him to be my boyfriend. I do want to sleep with him.

Am I asking him because I want him there? Yes. Not only do I think I'd have fun with him, but I think he'd have fun with most of my family.

Would he be okay with this role? I think so. He's so hard to read, and mostly because he's so unlike anyone I've ever been attracted to. I would make it clear that this was a "friends only" thing. That I like that we've gotten back to normal, etc.

So can I actually ask him? I'm so funny -- in a weird way. I can be the most sexually aggressive person in most cases, but I'm freaking out about asking my friend to be my date for my parents' anniversary party. Freaking. Actually playing the conversation in my head and figuring out the best way to ask him.

I've IM'd him and said that he did a great job last night, and to let me know when he was back in the office, that I have a question for him. Then I'll tell him that I have a favor to ask, but would rather do it in person, can I walk over to his office for a few minutes. And then I take a deep breath, and take the longest walk of my life between two relatively close buildings.

My friend Erica said she asked someone to her prom. And it's the same thing. It's like, "I need a date. I'm not asking you to marry me or even go out with me. Just be seen in public with me for one night and pretend you like me." But boys are weird. Or we over-analyze their impending reaction.

Either way, everytime the little "returned from away" flag pops up on my computer, I look and see if it's him.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gimme Coffee!

I went to the coffee house to listen to B. He did not disappoint. He's amazing. I could listen to him sing all day.

And things are so close to being back to normal between us. I think I'm back to this sweet, little thing he works with, who has the hidden bad girl, which I think both intrigues and scares him. And he's back to this wonderful guy I want to take care of -- in the way that I take care of everyone at work...I bring him a piece of his favorite candy, offer to get something when I do, etc.....he also happens to be this "not-my-type" guy that I still really want to sleep with.

But I realize, he is not boyfriend material. Not for me...and at this point in his life, I don't think for anyone. I do adore him, though, and am thankful for what I hope will be a continually strong friendship.

That's quite the reversal of fortune from my boy bashing a few weeks ago. I guess I'm ready to forgive and forget as long as I'm being treated in a way that doens't make me feel like shit. Which is what was happening, whether it was him feeling uncomfortable or me being overly sensitive (totally not out of the question)...or a combination of the two.

I go to bed with lyrics of Radiohead, Damien Rice and Coldplay in my head...and of course the original lyrics of B.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Girl Has Needs

I'm missing having a "friend with benefits." I'm needing some male attention. B could have so easily filled that role. Stupid B...or maybe stupid Ellie. Maybe he was right that it would be awkward, that it would be weird. I don't know.

I shouldn't be attracted to him. He's scruffy. He's sloppy. He knows nothing about sports. He doesn't take care of himself -- eats horribly, doesn't sleep, works too much. And yet, there is something about him.

I've been in all-day computer training sessions with him since Monday. I caught him looking at me today. Though it was different than when I caught him before - it was bolder. For both of us. I smiled at him and he winked back. And we both held the look.

Sigh...I'm going to hear him play at a coffee house tomorrow night after work. And I told him I was going so I can't back out at the last minute, can't make an excuse. I'll go for a little while -- and maybe I'll stay for the whole set and maybe I won't. But I will show up to support him, as a friend would. And try to move on beyond our mini-attraction, our four-hour session of foreplay that led nowhere.

Ahhh're driving me crazy.

Maybe if I told him that he'd be saving me from calling Chris if he would just sleep with me? Just once, just to get me out of my drought. It's a thought. Good thing tomorrow is at a coffee house and not a bar. I might have a beer too many and say something silly.

We know Drama

TNT isn't the only place. Two days after ridding myself of all bitter feelings about my sister, after sending her an e-mail telling her how I felt and why she's a bitch (in the nicest way possible of course), I got the following response back:

Ellie, The address that I sent it to is the only address I have. Usually when someone moves, Fran tells me but I guess she missed this one. Let me know what it is because I still do not know what it is. As for attending things, we don't feel comfortable attending, as sorry to say, that is the only time we hear from anyone. We would never do anything to hurt Trick and Fran and unfortunately they, along with Bob and Sally, are the only ones we hear from. I am sorry if you felt I was being non-responsive to your emails. I would have like updates or even been able to help do anything. I don'tknow what has happened but remember growing up, Frank and I were the only ones that did things with you and now when you are in town, which we find out after the fact, we never hear from you and I know all of our lives are extremely busy. I guess things will probably never change but let's at least have a good time at the party which we plan on doing. Love Sue

When I first read it, I felt bad. If she really feels that way, then she got to the sap in me. But then I read it again, and thought, "'s never Sue's fault." I called Sammi at work and read it to her. Being a part of the emotional family that she is, Sammi started to cry. And that's when I felt bad. I didn't anticipate this from her. I thought she had gotten to the point where she was all cried out where Sue was concerned. I guess these wounds run too deep.

Families hurt each other. More than friends. More than lovers. Because they can. Because no matter the hurt, the family tie is still there. Time after time families hurt each other, hurt other members. You hope things will change, you hope that this time will be different. And it's not. And just when you thought you could be hurt no more, just when you thought that you had no feelings one way or the other, you get thumped in the gut.

And that's what happened to Sammi today. And that's what happened to me the other day after Sue's first e-mail. It hit me hard, and I finally threw my hands in the air, and composed my response back to her. I think I've gotten to the point where I don't care one way or the other...I think. But I'll keep my gut in check, preparing for a thumping.

Monday, November 07, 2005

With less than two weeks to go, the drama unfolds

As of Friday, I still hadn't received the check from my sister. I asked my brother to call her. For a number of reasons, I felt it better that someone with a cooler head call her. He left a message for her to call him.

I don't know about you, but when I hear from someone who normally doesn't call me, I'm curious. I might even be worried that something's wrong. And if its someone from my family, especially, I return the call almost immediately. Did that happen? Of course not.

Saturday night, the gloves came off. "Sue, it's Dave. We need your money for the party. If you've sent it, great. Give me a call back and let me know when you mailed it. If you haven't, you need to. And are you really coming to the party? Give me a call back and let me know that too."

Sunday came and went. It was decided that he would call her at work today, where she wouldn't be able to caller ID her way out of talking to him. This morning, I arrived at work to find the following e-mail in my Inbox:

Ellie, I got a message from your goony on Saturday regarding the money. I sent that to you on Tuesday. I was dealing with one of my big events at a time. Once the wedding was over, I was taking care of Fran and Trick's party obligations. Let me know if you didn't receive it. I don't know why you didn't just give me a call or email me. As I have always said, I will pay my money and be a part of the party wherein Dave indicated that he didn't think I wanted to. That was hurtful. Let me know, Sue

Hurtful? Please. Once again, she figured a way to manipulate the situation, making herself look like the victim. I tried not to think about it all day. It helped that I was in an all-day computer training session, and couldn't immediately fire a response back in the heat of the moment.

I got out of the my training session early, and headed right for the gym -- 50 minutes on the treadmill, 10 on the eliptical, 3 sets of lower body strength training. Worked up a sweat, forgot about how dysfunctional my family can be.

When I got home, there was a check in my mailbox from Sue. She had mailed it to the wrong address -- to the apartment I haven't lived in in almost six months. That was the delay. I made some soup, heated up a piece of bread, flipping words around in my head, fashioning an appropriate response to my sister.

Sometimes, the words just come out right the first time. Sometimes a re-read reveals nothing needs to be changed. Tonight, that happened. And when I hit "send," I felt amazingly better. A weight had been lifted, all the bad feelings were gone. Because I was able to articulate how I felt, why I asked Dave to call her, and why she most certainly was not the victim:

Sue, I received the check today -- apparently you didn't have my correct address, but thankfully it was forwarded. Thank you for sending it. I'm sorry you were hurt by Dave calling you. There was a reason I asked him to call you, though I certainly wouldn't call him my "goon." Throughout this entire planning process, you've been difficult at best or downright non-responsive to my updates and questions, including the most recent ones regarding the money, the actual amount and you feeling that you weren't getting adequately updated on the party. Sammi and I have done an incredible amount of planning for this party, and to continually receive e-mails from you that seemed to second-guess what what we both happen to do for a living was, to use your word, hurtful. I thought it best to have someone else contact you about the money. And given your history in actually attending family events, can you really blame Dave for questioning if you were coming. I'm really happy that you are -- I know how hurt Fran and Trick would have been, having seen first-hand how hurt they, and others in the family, were when you didn't come to Jenny's wedding. Thanks again for sending the money. I will see you next Saturday, Ellie

Next week should be interesting.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That...

What a beautiful and totally unrealistic November day in upstate New York. It must have easily been 60, with a nice, warm wind and blue skies. I can only take this weather as a sign that Mother Nature is getting ready to bitch slap us with a mother of a winter. Something tells me (maybe a lot of talk related to the Farmer's Almanac) that we're in for a doozy.


I spoke to Morty tonight, and we caught up on life in Ithaca and life in Baltimore. He hasn't been to the Museum in more than a month, when he cataloged some pictures that a former board member got donated by the Washington Post. Pictures that he had never seen before, pictures of Babe off the field, with family -- pictures, I decided as the conversation played out, that would have been more appreciated by the Baseball Hall of Fame, because they were pictures that haven't been properly thanked for and that seemed to be considered very "whatever" by some of the curatorial staff. Can I say again -- I'm so glad I got out of there when I did.


My sister is thoroughly pissing me off. And I really think she's doing this just to push my buttons. And it's working. She has been so difficult to work with on this whole anniversary party -- giving me a hard time about the money, about the invitation list, about the planning, etc. She doesn't respond to any update or e-mail question I may send her way. She even went so far as to say that would only pay $300 "and not a penny more," when I really needed everyone to pony up $350. So my brother called her and basically said, "you pay $350 like everyone else. or you don't come." She backtracked and said she would pay $350 by the determined deadline of November 1.

Well, November 1 has come and gone -- and I have yet to get a penny from her. Even after I sent her a reminder e-mail two weeks ago -- to her and to my other siblings who still owed at that point. Even after I sent a party update e-mail on Monday. I don't technically need the money until closer to the party, when we pay the hotel. But that's not the point. If she had sent me an e-mail and said she would be sending me the check by the end of the week or early next week, that would have been fine. But to have November 1 go by, on top of the royal bitch she has beent hroughout this entire process -- I so don't want her to come.

Our mantra has become..."I can't wait until November 20 (the day after the party) because we never have to deal with her." And that my friends, is sad, but true.


The good news about the anniversary party -- I just received a call from some friends who will be traveling from Ohio for the party. I honestly didn't expect them to come, but I'm really excited. They used to live in Syracuse, and I babysat for them when I was in high school (it was a little unsettling to hear that one daughter is in college, the other a senior in high school).

My mom has been asking me if I've heard from them each time we talk. So I told Sari that I wasn't going to tell my mom, that we would let it be a surprise. I'm really excited about this, that they are traveling the weekend before Thanksgiving to come to the party. It will be nice to see them, to catch up with them -- and also what a nice tribute to my parents, and what their friendship means to them.


I sent an e-mail out to everyone in my address book (and asked my sibling to do the same), asking my friends to send my parents a card. I know someone who did this when her parents celebrated their 50th and they received over 300 cards. My mom got the first one yesterday, from my former boss. I think she genuinely touched and surprised. I hope they get at least one every day between now and the party/anniversary day. Like I've said before, I couldn't imagine spending 50 years with either one of them -- so god bless them for sticking it out and having fun along the way.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Introductions, please...

I e-mailed my friend JRK yesterday, about dating -- or lack of -- and I mentioned that it seemed highly improbable that of every person we each know, that no one knows a single man that they would be willing to introduce us to. And then I thought, well, I'm being a whiner. I'm being a baby -- just grow up.

But then she e-mailed me back, feeling the exact same way. She even expanded on my rant to the point that not only did it make me feel better, but actually made me laugh: I would agree that it is so difficult to believe that no one knows any nice, eligible, decent, employed, men who have college degrees, good jobs, nice cars, own property and have their own retirement accounts, who are worthy of us... What gives? People are so stingy with their recommendations of big, beefy men...

So really...what gives?

And then I thought...hmmm, if I had a single friend, would I be able to try to make a match?

And the answer is yes -- and though the match never actually happened, the intention was there and known that I wanted to introduce my second oldest niece to someone I work with. And I would hope that while the introductions never actually happened because of distance and proximity, etc...that both appreciated the gesture nonetheless, and have the knowledge that I'm looking out for them.

And I even fixed JRK up with someone when I was living in Baltimore -- and while that didn't work out, I think she had fun while it lasted. JRK, true?

But that leads to my quandry -- where do I meet a man? Hope thinks I should put something on my weekly to do list, to do something new. Not necessarily to meet someone, but to do something. It sort of goes along with the book, of making myself open to meeting more men.

I've started keeping my "list," as the book suggests, and my numbers aren't as dismal as I thought they might be. So I'll keep at it. And we'll see -- but really, where are all the good, single, straight men? Because I'm starting to become convinced that not only are they not in Ithaca, but they also know no one in Ithaca. At least no one that knows me.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Think of it as a homework assignment

With nothing substantial to report on, nothing new to share, I feel the need to write something, if only to stay in the habit. There was even a little pressure earlier in the day, as I thought, "what the hell am I going to write about?" So, though it feels like cheating a little, I offer some lists (at least there are personal anecdotes in some of them):

The "Friends" list -- although to quote Monica in that episode, "first I need a boyfriend, then I can have a list":
1. Derek Jeter (of course)
2. John Cusack
3. Kevin Costner (Field of Dreams, Bull Durham era)
4. Kiefer Sutherland
5. Kevin Spacey

The best baseball games I've seen live:
1. Game 5, ALCS 2001, Seattle at NYY -- everyone chanting "no game 6 every time Pinella came out to the mound." I had been to an NFL game two days earlier and the noise of the crowd at Ravens Stadium couldn't even come close to how loud, and how much the stadium actually shook, in the Bronx that night
2. Nomo's no-hitter, Boston at Baltimore -- first night game of the season, I was only going to stay for a few innings. Sidney was pitching for the Orioles -- and was pitching really well. So I thought, I should stay and see how long this lasts. And then suddenly, it's the 5th inning and I realize that while Sidney is pitching the game of his career -- it's not good enough as Hideo Nomo is pitching a no-hitter -- the first in the history of Camden Yards. Unfortunately, it's against the Orioles.
3. July 4, 2001, NYY at Baltimore -- Tiffany's first game...we got into the stadium early with my credentials and got a prime spot by the Yankees' dugout. Joe Torre came over and signed a ball for her and gave her Jeter picture to a ball boy to "have DJ sign." Clemens pitched...and you don't get chills hearing the National Anthem until you hear it in the city it was written in on the 4th of July
4. The first game after 9/11, NYY at Baltimore -- it should have been the last series of the season, but because of the stop in play, we still have another 10 days to go. It was the first time the National Anthem made me openly weep -- and I would imagine that 48,000 other people in the stadium that day were crying as well.
5. October 6, 2001, Cal's last game -- it was cold and damp, and I was sitting in the top row of the upper deck for the game. But before the game, I had media credentials and was on the field for the presentations. After the pre-game ceremonies, I said hello to President Clinton, who, I was told, couldn't stop looking at the "girls." All night, I proudly retold the story, "the President checked out my rack!"

Honorable mention -- July 5, 2003, NYY at Baltimore (do you notice a trend?)...a few days before Tiffany's 16th birthday -- we made a sign that read "Hey Jorge, it's my sweet 16th, how about a birthday kiss?!" She didn't get a kiss, but he came over and talked to her before the game, signed her sign and a ball. It was very cool, and something I wished we had figured out a long time before!

To Do Before I die:
1. Fall in love, get married, have a baby -- yes it all counts as one, although, even settling for one or two would be okay, too
2. Get some stamps in my passport -- I know it sounds very Sandra Bullock in "While You Were Sleeping," okay, more specifically, ride in a gondola at sunset, under the Bridge of Sighs with someone I love, and go to Ireland and England
3. Write a book...or should I say have a book published, since I have actually written books and short stories
4. Feel comfortable in my own skin -- 100% of the time, for days on end. I know that everyone hates something about themselves no matter what they look like, so to feel the comfort more than the discomfort would be a success
5. Have my 15 minutes -- whether I'm promoting my book, or fighting for a cause, or performing something, or being interviewed by Oprah for all of the above -- but being the media darling and PR Goddess of Baltimore doesn't count Wheel Man...where've you been? I'm worried about you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Casey at the Bat

The mouse problem has continued, intermittently. I really thought we had the problem solved when my parents came down and we found some small holes in the closet under the stairs. But low and behold, about 10 days ago, my favorite feline brought me a dead baby mouse. In the middle of the night, of course.

I thought I handled that one well. She carried it down the stairs for me, and I was able to use some cardboard in the trash to dispose of it. And I only let out a minor scream once. And it only took me three tries to get the mouse on the cardboard and into the trash can. I then forced myself not to deal with the thought again.

Until the past few days....when she's been suspiciously nosing around the closet under the stairs. In fact, upon my return from Richmond/Baltimore on Sunday, she wouldn't leave the bottom stair. I broke down last night and called my landlord.

That sweet 78-year-old man walked over in the rain and helped me empty everything from the closet (bins, the Christmas tree, small boxes, etc) and what did we find? Absolutely nothing. So there he stood, in the middle of my kitchen, scratching his head, flashlight still in hand -- when what do I hear? Casey scratching at something.

I looked in the closet and she was digging at the wall. Tony crawled back in, and found it. You couldn't see it if you were standing in the front of the closet, but down on his belly, with his head under the bottom stair, he saw a small hole. Clever kitty.

He used foam filler and filled the hell out of the hole and the areas around it. He sealed stuff that didn't need sealing. And now I feel much better.

Of course, the contents of my closet are still in the middle of the dining room and living room. I wanted to wait for the foam to dry. I'll deal with putting it all away tonight. Or tomorrow. Or over the weekend.

And so the mouse mystery at 105 #3 is solved, thanks to a very clever kitty, and a very understanding and patient landlord.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Subtle....he never was

It seemed like an innocent comment. Innocent to the speaker, not to the recipient. The very worst thing you could ever think about yourself, and then have someone you trust actually say it. It's a comment that still haunts me, many years later.

I was working in Baltimore, had been there two or three years at this point. I was out after work with my boss and Bitch-stine (when she was still happily married, still morally aligned, still my friend). We had been talking about dating -- and my lack of dating prospects of late.

Bitch-stine said I was too picky, that I overlooked good potentials. I agreed that that was probably true. And then Mike said, "You need to lose some weight."

Like a slap in the face. When I later confronted him on the comment, he said I needed to lighten up, that I needed to take responsibility, anything to make it seem like it was not what he said but how I interpreted it. Because, really, I had come to learn at that point even, that nothing was ever Mike's fault.

So however he meant it, whatever point he was trying to make, what came across to me was, "you don't have a boyfriend because you're fat." Like I didn't know that already. Thanks for the news flash.

It's something I had always thought, had never had the guts to say out loud, and here it was, out on the table, at a little bar, on a rainy Friday afternoon, in north Baltimore city. And not to trivialize the moment, or pull in a pop culture reference, but here it is.

It's the episode of "Friends" when Ross makes the pro/con list for Rachel and Julie. I remember watching that episode not long after that night, and that was what I felt. Except nobody could understand why I took to heart what he said.

I remember Bitch-stine (all 90 pounds of her) telling me that I was foolish to listen to anything Mike said (okay, true), and then not understanding how the thought process could be going on in my head. The only thing that someone said that made even a dent was John Z -- he reminded me that I was "laying down" with one of the biggest cazenovas in Baltimore, a man who could have any woman he wanted -- and he chose me. Time and time again, BB called me.

And so why do I bring this up three, four years later? Why do I let it still bother me?

Because here I am, gaining some self-confidence, liking the way I look -- and man, no prospects. And then I wonder, if I continue to lose weight, if I continue to gain self-confidence, and nothing happens? Then maybe it's just me.

I'm not sure how this tangent evolved -- this wasn't my intent when I started writing. I think it's the book that is pissing me off a little. I'm reading it, and I'm reading these comments from married people, and all I can think of is the annoying know-it-all mother friend of yours who says, "you can't understand how this feels until you have kids of your own."

But I'm going to keep reading, and hope that it gets better. Hope that I can glean something positive from it. Because right now, when I really think about it, about how I am where I never dreamed I would be -- or wouldn't be -- it's pretty damned frustrating.

Monday, October 24, 2005

...And the Rest of the Weekend

I spent a low-key weekend in Richmond. Played bunko with my sister-in-law and her friends (think yahtzee with three dice, and a picture of near-naked man that you have to wear around your neck if you get bunko -- I kid you not). One of the women there -- I later learned no one really like her -- asked me who was older, me or my brother.

I couldn't even pretend to have manners when she asked me.'ve just met me, and now you're asking me who's older -- me, who, though I am 35, does not look it, or my 44-year-old brother. I also couldn't let her off the hook gracefully when she tried to apologize. Yes, I am a bitch -- but, I am also ultra-sensitive of my age.

Friday, I relaxed, having the house to myself. Ran a few errands, got some Christmas shopping done and carved a pumpkin (see picture!). Friday night, we hung out at home, watched TV, ate pizza and chatted -- just like when I lived in Baltimore and would head down to VA for the weekend.

Saturday, I drove to Baltimore. Or, I should say, back to Baltimore. I made such good time on I-95 that I called friends I wasn't planning to see for a quick, 30-minute visit. Then headed to Linens N Things, where I used to work part-time.

Nothing has changed -- same people, same gripes, same fun. I miss it. I really do. I had fun shopping -- got way too much stuff, but it was worth it. A new pink comforter -- it screams "ellie" -- pink on one side, and pink, light blue and dark blue stripes on the other. And pink gingham checked flannel sheets. Yes, I'm a girly girl sometimes!

And the highlight of the weekend -- Robin, someone I used to work with on the floor, looked at me and said, "you skinny, girl."

Let's clarify, that while I've been referring to my jeans as "skinny jeans" and while I do look better than I used to, by no means am I skinny. In some ethnic cultures, those who appreciate curves, yes, I would be perfect.

Back to Robin. I laughed and thanked her for noticing, telling her that if I came home with her for Thanksgiving dinner, then yes, her family would probably think I looked good. But in my world....not so much. She laughed, her big, loud, rowdy laugh, (oh I miss that laugh) and said, "yup, you as white as they come."

And I saw Caroline -- my favorite. I loved working with her. She had a way of making stupid customers suddenly realize that they were stupid, without being rude. And then of course, when she would say exactly what you were thinking to rude customers, just enough under her breath that they would hear her, but think twice about it. Did she just

Saturday night, I went to Wanda's. Her husband fixed an amazing meal, and I got to give Miranda a bath. It was good to see Wanda -- we talked about the miscarriage and B, in a way that only old friends can in person, while we put Miranda's pj's on, and while we washed dishes after dinner. We've known each other almost 10 years -- and this past year was the first one where we didn't live in the same city.

That realization last Thanksgiving when I was visiting was hard. And I cried when I said good-bye to her at that visit. It's gotten easier, but I miss her tremendously. It was so good to be able to spend such quality time with her, even if it was just an overnight visit.

And she made a great observation -- one I hadn't noticed. She said, "isn't it funny how Richmond has become home for you?!" And I thought about it. When I lived in Baltimore, I went Richmond about once a month -- about as often as I got to Syracuse now. And I would do Thanksgiving in Richmond and Christmas in Syracuse, as well as three or four long weekends a year in Syracuse. Now, I'm having Thanksgiving in Syracuse and Christmas in Richmond -- and just got back from my third or fourth long weekend in Richmond.

And alas, Sunday I drove home -- northbound 83 to 81. It was sunny, the leaves were mostly changed. I had some candy, a bagel and a bottle of Diet Pepsi. And there was crap on the radio. Isn't that the way it should be?!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Still driving around Baltimore, waiting for a phone call....

I looked fabulous. Without even trying. Okay, without looking like I tried. Straight hair, crooked part, just enough wax holding it in place. Skinny jeans teamed with pink ribbed sweater -- accentuating the waist and the boobs. Black hoody, since it was 39 degrees when I left Ithaca in the dark. Black shoes. Just a touch of mascara and eye-liner.

The drive was easy. I didn't see a cop until I crossed the Mason-Dixon line (the Pennsylvania-Maryland border). I stopped for a potty break and to get gas around 10:45, about a half hour north of Baltimore. I called J, and told him exactly that.

"Hey, I'm in Harford county. I should be there in about a half hour."

"Cool. Call me when you get in the city, and we'll meet somewhere."

So, I rode down I-83, the Jones-Falls Expressway, seeing all sorts of things that looked so familiar and so foreign at the same time. This wasn't my home, anymore. And honestly, it never felt like my home, even when I lived here.

I was amazed by all the construction north of Little Italy. What was once slums are soon to be high-priced condos, I imagine. But here I was, in the city. I dialed J's office number. Got his voice mail. Hmmm....dialed his cell phone, got his voice mail there as well. I left a message, gave him my cell number again.

I pulled over by the water and waited. I called his office again, getting voice mail again, but this time leaving a message. And waited. About a half hour later, I called the main number and talked to the receptionist. She said he was tied up in a meeting. I explained we were meeting for lunch, 45 minutes ago, and could I speak to his assistant.

The assistant got on the phone. I relayed my dilemma again. She told me to hang on, coming back with a message that J would call me back in 5 minutes. I gave him 10, and then headed to Richmond. He never did call back.

I left him a message on Friday, saying that I hoped everything was okay, and that if it was, I was pissed and he owed me. Big time.

I guess I can't be mad until I know that nothing horrible happened. And really, I'm not a person that gets mad. Maybe that makes me a push-over. Probably. Oh well...

The funny thing about all of this -- I'm not sure if I'm more disappointed that I didn't get to see J, or that J didn't get to see me. Ego? Sure. I'll admit it. I look good -- and he hasn't seen me in over a year. So, hell yea, I wanted him to see me. And tell me how good I look.

And what would that have accomplished? Nothing, but making me feel good. A few chits for the self-confidence meter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

49 years and 11 months, today

One month from today, my parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary. My brothers and sisters and I are planning a big party for them. I've actually put my special event planner hat on and have been having blast with this party (think spread sheets and budgets and a planning binder!).

It will be at the ballroom of a hotel in Syracuse, and we've invited almost 80 people. I have a formal program all worked out for the night -- presentations and toasts. My oldest sister is producing a video from pictures that everyone sent us. One niece is singing, her sister is dancing. My youngest niece and nephew are reading a poem. And I got a picture signed by Cal Ripken Jr., congratulating them on "18,263 consecutive days of marriage." We even have a quasi-celebrity as the master of ceremony -- a local news anchor who went to high school with my dad.
All my out-of-town siblings and their families are flying home -- so for my parents, their eight children with their seven spouses (yes, poor l'il ole Ellie is the only single one), the eight grandchildren, plus the husband and child of a grand-daughter. So really, half of the 80 invited are just immediate family!

The only black eye on the whole thing is my sister Sue. I don't want her to come. And I know that's selfish, because not only is she my sister, but she is their daughter, too. And this is for them. But I feel uncomfortable around her. She never comes to anything. It's like she's a stranger -- but not, because she's my sister.

The last time I saw her was last fall, at my great-uncle's birthday dinner. She came up and hugged me. I was taken aback and slightly offended. Because it felt like some stranger invading my personal space. And what was I supposed to say, "hmmm... nice of you to come to this family event." And before seeing her, knowing that she was going to be there, I had minor anxiety about it. Why? I'm not really sure. Maybe because it's outside of my comfort zone.

We've been betting, amongst the seven of us, whether she and Frank are really going to show. On one hand, how could they not? But then, I've said that before about other family ocassions. And they never showed up.

If this was Vegas, and we were truly betting, I think the odds would be pretty good that they'll show. She e-mailed me the other day -- not in response to the e-mail I sent reminding her that she needed to send her share of the party money by November 1, and certainly not the one whose subject line read "info needed, please respond" -- but rather to RSVP for her mother-in-law, and then added, "of course, Frank and I will be there, too."

Of course.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

I've been reading the book that Just Thinking recommended, "How to Get a Date Worth Keeping," by Dr. Henry Cloud (see how I did that with my title?!). And I must say, it's speaking to me. Every excuse I can think of, this man has an answer for.

All the good ones are taken.
I'm fat.
I'm afraid of rejection.
I'm too shy.
All my friends are married (or coupled) -- there's no one to go out with.

But it's about taking chances. So when I get back from Richmond on Sunday, I begin my task, as outlined in the book. To keep a log of every man I meet, and whether there is dating potential -- there are three criteria that need to be met. And then I'm guessing that after a few weeks of that, I will need to meet a predetermined number of men each week, hence increasing my chances of going on a date.

And the biggest thing I've learned, only 60 or so pages into the book, is that dating is a learning experience, not about finding a husband. It's an interesting theory -- and one I'm willing to try for a little while.

And so, of course, I'll keep you updated as things progress. I have the feeling that I'm going to be spending a lot of time at Barnes & Noble, chatting up strangers about the books they are thinking of buying.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Maroon Five

I'm having lunch with a friend in Baltimore on Thursday. Stopping on my way to Richmond. I'm so excited to see him. Though we've talked and e-mailed since I left Baltimore, I haven't seen him in over a year.

What do I wear? It has to be something comfy (five-hour drive to Maryland, another two-and-a-half to Richmond). But cute. Without looking like I tried too hard.

Why do I care? Well...J is one of those guys who could have me any way he wanted (yes that means exactly what you think it means). The first time we worked together, there was an immediate attraction and undeniable chemistry.

And when I say immediate, I mean immediate!

And not only was he the first man to say to me, "if only I wasn't married...." -- but he was also the first one for me to think, "if only he wasn't married...."

And while I know nothing will happen on Thursday -- it is just lunch, for goodness sakes -- there is something about him. Something about the way we interact, the he looks at me and teases me, that is just good for my ego.

And so the selfish, ego-centric part of me says, "wait until he sees me." I mean, come on, there was sexual tension and a forbidden kiss between us when I was 35 pounds heavier. (Yes, my self-view of my attractiveness is tied directly into my weight -- a column for another day.)

I talked to my friend Bubbles tonight, and she said, "you two belong together. And if he ever got a divorce and you ended up together, you'd be the perfect couple. Someone would be having a party and before anyone would accept, they'd say, 'are ellie and j coming?'"

"But we wouldn't be like sticky sweet, perfect couple."

"No, not like Barbie and Ken. But we'd still talk about how perfect you were behind your back, even while loving you."

"Yea, we're too sarcastic with each other to be Barbie and Ken."

And that's one of the things that I find most attractive about him. His personality. He challenges me. He doesn't let me get away with things. And being the youngest, and having that youngest kid mentality, I tend to want to get away with things.

And so while I'm not pining away for J, not wishing on a star for his marriage to break up (that would be horrible), I do wonder, "what if...." How could we have met in another lifetime? Where could our paths have crossed before Baltimore?

No, I'm not pining, not wishful -- but I am thankful. Thankful for having him in my life, as my friend, as someone I can count on. Professionally he's my sounding board. Personally, he just might be the stick against which I measure all men.