Tuesday, December 7, 2010

They Say Black Friday - I Say Quality Time

Growing up, I was a good kid.  And I was pretty close to my parents.  but I was SUPER close to my dad.  I was the quintessential "Daddy's Girl."  If my mom said no, I would go to him.  Big alligator tears in my eyes, quivering lip, the whole deal.

And I would always get my way. 

Now - that being said - I wasn't actually a spoiled brat.  They did say no.  I was a good student, polite, and well-behaved.  So the story above is more about how I could wrap my dad around my pinky finger.

But now that I am (dare I say it), an adult, I am very close with BOTH my parents, and more than I have ever been with my mom.  We both love a good book, movie, or bottle of wine.  And she supports me through every single thing I have ever chosen to do.  Even more, she has been here for me the past 7 months more than I could have ever imagined.

But one random thing is that ever since I went to college, one of our favorite mom-daughter traditions has been Black Friday shopping.

We aren't the crazy Black Friday shoppers that stay up all night and try to break arms for the $1 television.  We aren't the people waiting for the hot toy of the season.  We're just out there to see what's available, and essentially shop for each other for Christmas.

It's one of my favorite quality times with my mom.  ALL YEAR.

The night before, after dinner is done and we are in our PJs and all comfy, we tediously go through every ad and decide if we are going to the store or not.  Then we decide what we want from each store, and based on opening times plus desires, we make a strategic plan of attack.

That's right - a list, a plan, and timed goals for hitting each store.  If you know me, this isn't really a surprise, is it?

This year the stores opened earlier than ever.  2am.  Read it again - 2am.  And despite the craziness of it, we decided to still do our traditional shopping.  Even worse - we were going to hit 14 stores.  Because we are gluttons for punishment.

We were out there at 1:45am, ready for our first store.  It was cold.  It was windy.  It was dark.  But then the stores opened and we were in.  And then out!  And then in.  And out!

We're pretty much a power team.  We weave and bob through the stores with the best of them - one shops while the other gets a prime line position (if necessary).  We know what we want, so we grab as needed.  And we know to avoid prime Black Friday real estate (electronics, toys, etc...)

So there we were - the Best Black Friday Shoppers Ever - and then we hit Victoria's Secret.  And suddenly, our whole day came to a halt.  We were stuck in the world's smallest store, with the slowest checkout, folding every bra into pale pink tissue paper.

I thought I was going to lose it. 

*To this day, I'm still on an "End the Pink Tissue" campaign.  Pink tissue paper has no place in Black Friday!

We lost a lot of time, but we were together.  And we laughed and made friends with the people in line.  I showed my mom Twitter and Foursquare and Facebook - all from my iPhone.  And eventually, we made it out.

By the end of the morning, we were exhausted and settling in for a hard-earned brunch at one of my favorite local places.  We were ready for the nap that we had definitely earned.

But I was also really content with all the quality time I had with my mom.  The whole weekend was great (and I totally cried like a baby as I pulled out of the driveway to return to Indy).  But I'm already looking forward to next year - even if the stores are going to open even earlier!

Blame it on the SAD

I'm starting this post with a warning - I'm in a mood.

As I sit here in my living room, I look around with complete disgust.

I am usually VERY into the holidays.  As soon as I return to Indianapolis from my parent's home in Chicago (after Thanksgiving), I pull out the huge Rubbermaid bins of decorations at start turning my apartment into a winter wonderland.

Usually my home....with creative liberties.
There is one whole bin of ornaments and another that contains all kitchen stuff - that's right, I have different dishes for the holidays.  That doesn't even begin to tell you about all the stuff I have just for additional decoration.  I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS.

But this year has been strange.  There is none of the usual desire to pull everything out and decorate.  I know that I am going home for Christmas around the 17th, so that might be part of it.  Why decorate when I won't be here to enjoy it?  But even that doesn't seem normal for me.

So I blamed work - I've been busy!  But I don't know if that is really it either.  It seems that, much like the blog writing, I lack the motivation to actually do it.  The strange thing is that in terms of the "Pursuit of Happyness," I am actually happy.  And I still do many of the items on the list (even Nicole probably doesn't realize it!), but there are other things that make me happy outside of those.  The Christmas decorating just doesn't seem to be one of them.

I think there is probably the little voice in my head that wonders if it's because I'm lonely (a little) and there is really no one (besides Bo and Tucker) to decorate for.  I am not sure what the weird non-decorating desire comes from, but it's there.

Now - if you read yesterday, you know that I did actually brave the weather and a STAPLE GUN to decorate outside.  So I can't be completely void of Christmas spirit, right?  And I even put up a tree and put lights on it (and admittedly, the glow in the evenings as I read is quite nice).

I'm beginning to wonder if it's okay to blame it on SAD - you know, the disorder that stems from lack of sunlight and warmth?  I don't think I've ever had it, but this year, I think it's in full force.  At least that's my story.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Working Hard For The Money

In the past two posts, I alluded to a new job.

It's amazing how something like that can really change your outlook on things. 

I'm still with the same company, but after a lot of angst, trauma, and personal turmoil - I changed positions.  Changing positions isn't strange at my place of work.  In fact, it's rare to stay in one place for too long.  I was just in a rut.

It kind of fit with the place I feel like I have been in life - big changes and then...STUCK.  Just stuck.  Not sure what to do, almost too scared to go one way or another.  It happened in my personal life and then I left it happen at work.

It was dark.  My friends tried everything.  But I put so much of myself into what I was at work.  And despite knowing better, that was just the way I was.  So my unhappiness just wouldn't go away.

And finally, a light.  Opportunity from a few different places and support from some people that I truly look up to, and all of a sudden - whoosh.

So here I am in - a new job and what feels like a new lease on my career. 

I know better than to tie my self-worth into my job, but I can't help but feel like it changes me.  I really care about doing good work and being a really useful person to the company.  Feeling valuable and appreciated to a team is a big reason that I go to work everyday.  It also matters to me that people respect me and think that I do good work.

I feel like that holds true all the time now.

Is it just a job?  Yes.  Does it help me feel like I can do more, be more?  Yes.  Is that worth it?  Completely.

Just Call Me Clark Griswold.

The gauntlet was thrown.

The community where I live sponsored a porch decorating contest.  Winner gets money off their January rent.

That speaks to me.  I love paying less - it's like a great sale on something I was buying anyways.

So I cornered my friend Tricia at work and asked her husband to put together a box of outdoor lighting necessities.  The following day I had 2 large boxes of lights, a staple gun, and a warning.

"Brian is worried."  That's what Tricia opened with.  Oh crap.

"I promise to be SO CAREFUL with your things.  Tell him I will be really, really cautious."  But guess what - that wasn't the concern.

"Brian is worried you are going to break yourself.  He sent a staple gun, and protective eyewear.  He's afraid you'll poke your eye out."

Valid concern, TI and BI.  Valid concern.

I actually wasn't concerned about it until I actually went out to decorate.  It was a cold and blowy Sunday, with lots of snow all over.  It had been a pretty good dusting the day before and I underestimated the height of my step stool.  That's right - I don't own a ladder (I live in a 770 sq. ft. apartment - you tell me where a ladder goes.). 

I also realized that I had operated a staple gun before, but never in icy conditions, outside, with electrical wires.  It sounded like a recipe for disaster for sure.  But I am plucky, and continued on with the determination that I was going to win at least ONE of the prizes.

It took about 1/4 of a strand before I realized that the bushes were really going to be in my way, and I moved to the inside of the porch.  This was the best decision I made all morning.  I was (slightly) sheltered from the weather and I was a little bit more flexible about my positioning of the step stool.  After I got one strand up, I decided that it wasn't enough, and I went with a second.

And then a third.

And then a little wrap around the middle pole.

I became Clark Griswold in a matter of minutes.  I couldn't get enough lights!  More lights!  Brighter!  Blinkier! Happier!

Okay - not quite.  But I did think they seemed sort of dim, so I continued the strand additions. 

*Note to future self: lights are not bright at 11am.  Lights are bright at 9pm.

I made a smart decision to stop - my hands were numb and I was out of outlets.  I had already reloaded the staple gun once (thank you iPhone and Google).  My toes were frozen.  So I waited patiently until evening to see my work in all of it's glory. 

And then I realized that a 747 may possibly land in my parking lot.

It's bright.  And it needs some garland or bows or SOMETHING.  And so maybe the right side is a little goofy (project for Saturday perhaps).  But you know what?  It's beautiful!  I did it all by myself.  I braved the weather and the step stool and the staple gun and I decorated outside my house.

I still have all of my fingers and eyes.  And I didn't blow a single fuse!  I don't even care about the prize - I am so darn proud. 

Okay, that's a lie.  I still want to win.

I'm back!

Okay, okay.

I did it again.  I disappeared for weeks upon weeks and left my small but mighty blog followers in the dark about what was going on.

I think it's pretty clear that I am not great at this blog thing.

So thank you, dear readers.  Thanks for hanging in and still being my friend, despite my clear lack of follow through here on the adventures of Liz.  I promise to try harder (again) and write more consistently.

I seem to do better with goals - so here are my blog topics that I have milling around my head:
  • My half marathon (oh yeah, that thing...)
  • My new job (What!? You say what!?)
  • The holidays
  • Bobo and Tucker Update (I just lost at least 25% of you, I know.)
  • Fun adventures (murder mystery, Black Friday shopping, and more!)
  • My next BIG goal (Did that get the 25% back?)\
I need you, my favorite readers, to push me to finish these goals.  A few of you faithful may even bring up topics that I promised to write about, but alas, never appeared.

That's right - I need peer pressure.  Say what you will.

But it will get me to post....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Less Than Three

For those of you that don't know, less than three is the long way of saying "love."  It's computer speak.  It's shorthand - <3.  A heart.
My friend Meggie pointed me to a blog post (via Twitter!) that was titled the same thing as my blog post right now.**  And it got me thinking...

This women's post was fabulous.  Amazing.  I loved that she did it.  And I wanted to do it too.  I have so many things that I love.  Sometimes it helps just to list them out.  So I did, and they are in no particular order:
  • Ice, cold Diet Cokes
  • My ever-present companions - heating blankets at night, protectors by day, snoring little mischievious devils - Bobo and Tucker
  • Things that are made in crockpots
  • Starbucks - standard Skinny Vanilla Latte order, and the seasonal specialties of Pumpkin Spice and White Chocolate Peppermint
  • The invention of DVR
  • Wine - red, white, I don't discriminate
  • Candles that smell like Christmas
  • Dryer sheets
  • Advil, ibuprofen, Tylenol - all the drugs that make my legs work after 13.1 miles
  • iPods and their playlists - especially the totally embarrassing songs by Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber
  • Friends - the ones that push me out of my comfort zone, and the ones that catch me afterwards
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Delta Gamma - I love the women that are my sisters forever
  • My parents - they are always there - enough said
  • Blue Moon, Leinenkeugel, Gumballhead....and their friends Bud, Miller, and Coors
  • My iPhone - I don't know how I existed before it
  • Flip flops
I think that sometimes I forget that the littlest things in life can really make me smile.  These are the things (big or small) that totally make my day.  I'm going to try harder to make sure that I take more time to notice these things.

Who knows - maybe tomorrow there will be another set of things that I <3.  I feel like this should be a never-ending list.

**My apologies to the original blogger....I can't remember where I found you!  Meggie - point it out if you know what I am talking about!

5 Days Until 13.1

That's right.

5 more days until I run the 13.1 miles that I have been training for.  By this time on Saturday night, I'll have 13 more miles on my shoes, a little more soreness in my body, and hopefully a beer in hand.

I waiver between confidence and fear.  I have done this before so I know that I can physically do it.  And despite the fact that I feel like I might not have trained as well as I could have, I know that I did 10 miles 2 weeks ago.

13 isn't that much more than 10....

But there is that sneaky little guy that sometimes lurks in the background of everything I do....he's dark and mysterious and always catches me when I am down.  Self-doubt doesn't hide.  It rears its head whenever I wish it would go far, far away.

I look up to so many runners in my life that do so much more than 13 miles.  I KNOW that I can do this.  If I can cheer them on, I can cheer myself on.

I can do this.

I can do this.

I can do this.

I will do this.