Please don’t take a crap in my bathroom…

Most people’s homes are not clean enough for me.

I realize that statement is an incredibly bitchy statement to make.  But, I say that while also acknowledging that my own home is not clean enough for me. I mean our house is pretty damn clean, like most homes, but… Clean enough for me is like Elle Decor clean. Like, “i’m afraid to touch anything it’s so clean” clean.  Like, “this bathroom is too clean to take a crap in” clean. The kind of clean that only the homes that nobody actually lives in, yet has a staff of at least 10 can attain.

I come from a long line of cleaners.  “Wipers” my grandfather calls us.  We all clean even while in conversation. Think about how you hold yourself, how you sit or stand, what you do with your hands while you’re in comfortable conversation.  My family tends to clean; sort papers, wipe tabletops or countertops, if there’s something to be picked up we’ll do so, all while in conversation with each other. We do it subconsciously… I’ve noticed this in both my mother and father’s sides. So it’s in my genes to be a cleaner.

The fact that my own home does not meet my incredibly high standards of cleanliness is slightly shaming to me.  Ok saying “slightly” is an understatement. It drives me crazy and that is why I feel the need to clean all the time. This is probably some form of OCD. (Speaking of OCD – does anyone watch Girls? I love that show.  I used to not love it, but then it grew on me and now I love it.  The season 2 finale was so good. Anything HBO puts on Sunday I pretty much love. It’s not TV, it’s HBO.) Despite my OCDness about my home’s cleanliness and appearance; I also want my home to feel lived in and welcoming.  I want my guests to feel comfortable sitting down and drinking a beer, visiting, eating… And believe it or not I want you to feel comfortable using our bathrooms, too. (Although please do try to save the crap for your own home – as a courtesy to others… If you have to, there’s a candle.  Light it.)

So if you ever do visit my house there are a few things I can promise you. 1) It’ll be pretty clean (especially given notice). 2) You are welcome to sit and chill wherever you like (except our bedroom, that’s just weird). 3) At some point I will probably clean up after you.  This will come in the form of straightening couch cushions, wiping the table or countertop where you were sitting, putting a chair back under a table…  Don’t freak out when it happens. I mean nothing by it…

-Shan

Last Call for Alcohol…

I’ve always felt younger than my 34 (almost 35, eesh) years.  Blame it on my sense of humor, love of all things Disney, whatever… But there are always going to be those moments that make you feel your age; the first time a kid who is maybe 5 years younger than you calls you “ma’am”, the first time you don’t get carded, when you’ve been playing on the floor with your kids and your knees pop when you get up, or when you find out that the bar you spent your most formidable college years in, is closing after almost 20 years of operation.

Fitzwilly’s. It was a Northgate institution. For those of you unfamiliar with Texas A&M tradition (and A&M is steeped in tradition), Northgate was essentially the first social center of tiny College Station, Tx.  Situated at the north entrance of A&M, it quickly earned the moniker “Northgate”. Over time it became the place where students could go to get good food and good beer with good friends – and is still that way today.  I’ve never met a fellow Aggie who didn’t have a good Northgate story (or two or three).  Everyone had their own favorite haunt along Northgate, the Dixie Chicken, Dudley’s… But mine… Mine was Fitzwilly’s.

Perhaps I should say ours was Fitzwilly’s.  My best friend and I.  We were originally regulars at the Dixie Chicken, but moved over to Fitzwilly’s for a change of scenery.  Namely, scenery in the form of the bartender/bar back who she had the hots for and who she was pretty sure was into her, too.  Lured by the promise of cheap(er) beer I left our usual pool table at the Chicken and moved over to the larger digs… and promptly fell in love.  Luckily, she and said bartender began dating (and are now married) so the drinks stayed cheap and our new hangout was born.

As you all know I love to make me a list so I thought I’d share some of my favorite Fitzwilly’s memories:

5. Halloween – I can’t remember the year, but we got it into our heads that we would go as Charlie’s Angels.  We recruited a third friend (who ended up bailing on us) and spent the afternoon running through the one mall in town to try to piece together outfits.  We ended up looking pretty cute if I do say so myself, but my allergies were killing me so wearing my contacts was a no-go.  My glasses ruined the outfit so I compromised and left one contact in.  I pretty much spent the evening winking at everyone so I could see.  The more I drank, the more I winked. So much so that my BFF began calling me her “cycloptic” friend.

4. I don’t always know when to keep my big mouth shut.  I have a quick temper and tend to mouth off and then realize that was my outer monologue vs. inner monologue and have to talk my way out of what I just said.  I had to talk my way out of a lot of fights in that bar.  Mostly in the restroom.  I don’t know what it was about me and that restroom, but every time I went to pee it was an event…

3. The crowd.  Unlike many of it’s fellow bars along Northgate, Fitzwilly’s attracted a rather diverse crowd. One night a rather unusual man set his sights on me.  What made this man distinctive aside from his apparent homelessness and insanity was that he had no legs. Instead of a wheelchair, he had this little skateboard looking contraption that his dog would pull him around on.  He smiled at me, so I complimented him on his dog (the dog was a beautiful chocolate lab), and he instantly took to me.  I spent the rest of the night with the man following me around and continuously trying to grab my hand so that he could “give me some of his power”.  He finally left me alone after I let him hold my hand for 10 minutes so that he could “transfer the power” to me. I didn’t get any power or powers… that I know of, but I promptly washed (with a pound of soap and the hottest water I could stand) my hand.

2. The BFF was a better pool player than me, but I wasn’t too shabby.  We would line a string of quarters on the table, signifying that the table was ours and we intended to play all night, but every now and then some dudes would come over, lay their own quarters down and say something like “play you for the table” thinking that us pitiful females couldn’t possibly hold our own against them, a challenge which we always accepted.  If we felt hospitable, and they were cool, we would play a game or two and then just share the table.  If we didn’t, we would run the table and then send the fellas packing.  In all the times we did that, we only lost a table once.  We were pool sharks, I’m telling you.

1. I’m reserving this for May 10th.  Final call at the bar I basically called home for two years.  The BFF and her man will be there, as I’m sure will be many others who called Fitzwilly’s “their” bar…  I’m hoping we can eat some good food, drink some cold beer, play a little pool, reminisce, make some new memories and maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll get into an almost fight in the bathroom.  You know, for old time’s sake…

It was always a place I knew I could go back to.  That it was still there after so many years, when new bars would open and close along Northgate, was always comforting to me.  So I’m sad to see it go.  But I’m excited to go back for final call and raise a glass to the place that played host to so many great memories and where I forged some lasting friendships.

Fitzwilly’s… I’ll miss you.

-Shan

Gammy (Also known as “the one I’ve been wanting to post for two days now but it’s been hard to write…”)


Thursday was a strange day. I woke up just thinking about my grandmother, Gammy, who passed away two years ago on Good Friday. All morning she just lingered with me… Eating breakfast, taking a shower, dropping off the girls Gammy continued to weigh heavily on my mind. So I decided that despite the fact I had lots of errands to run, I needed to go see her. Visit her. Which is big. I haven’t been to visit her since her burial. I’ve always intended to. But I’ve always avoided it…
One reason is that cemeteries have always creeped me out. My family has never been the kind to “go visit” our loved ones once they pass… Gammy herself even liked to tell us not to step on anyone, or breathe too deeply in a cemetery because we might inhale a lost spirit. (I think Gammy had a sick sense of humor…) But, as I felt so compelled to go, I sucked up my fears and went.
Of course I got there and promptly got lost. I didn’t realize how big the cemetery was… It was an adventure in itself just finding her grave.  Once I found it I just stared at it for a while. It all looked so different than the last time I was there…
Then I sat, right there. Crisscross applesauce. On top of my grandmother. (With my zombie phobia you can understand what a huge deal that was for me. I could even imagine her bursting from the ground to tell me to get up off of her and sit like a lady.)
I arranged her flowers… Yellow roses. Both Gammy and I always had an affinity for yellow roses. Well,I think she did, anyway. It’s what my Paw always gave her for their anniversaries. It’s what they gave me when I had my first child. It’s what was on top of her casket and what we each dropped onto it as it was being lowered into the ground… But come to think of it I don’t think I ever actually heard her say she liked them… How would that be for irony if she really never liked them in the first place?
Then I just started talking. Out loud, to my dead grandmother. I talked about what was going on, the girls, my husband, my friends, work, my mom… I told her about everything. It was like verbal diarrhea. As I was talking, it all just hit me. This flood of Gammy memories hit me like I had just been punched right in my chest and I started bawling like a baby. It was the first good cry I’ve ever had over my grandmother passing. I’d held it in for almost two years.
I had forgotten…
I had forgotten how I would sit at the bar in their kitchen while she ironed Paw’s clothes and just talk to her for hours. I would tell her all the latest gossip, about boys I liked, fights with friends. She would always weigh in with her opinion… The women in my family like to have their opinions heard.
The women in my family also love to shop. It’s in our blood. Gammy used to take me shopping every year for my birthday. And I knew I was going to get something good. She’d let me pick out one outfit, sometimes two, and if she approved she’d get them for me. Afterwards we’d get ice cream.
Gammy loved ice cream. Vanilla ice cream in particular. She had the most meticulous and systematic way to eat an ice cream cone, it would take her forever…
I had suppressed all of these memories and so many more for so long. For two years I have felt so guilty for not being there for her and my grandfather and my mom when it was roughest… For not having said goodbye to Gammy properly… I had just buried it all so deep and it all came out in this huge flood of emotion. Then I looked down and realized that during all of that… I had been twiddling my thumbs.
Gammy always twiddled her thumbs. She had tiny hands but fat little thumbs that bent backwards at an odd angle… and I have the same thumbs… She would always joke with me that we could never play the piano with thumbs like ours. It almost felt like she was there which freaked me out because I didn’t want to inhale her… And made me feel strangely comforted at the same time. That she had been listening, and in some way making sure she was heard in return…
I dusted myself off, and promised to come back… A promise that this time, I’ll keep.
-Shan

I forget what this one is about…

I have a terrible memory.  Horrible.  It was always bad, but especially after having children I find myself forgetting things all the time.  If I don’t write it down, I forget it.

I keep a notebook that I write everything down in. I’m constantly leaving myself notes of things that I need to do, books I want to read, movies I want to watch, clothes I want to buy, you get the idea.  The problem is that I think in incomplete thoughts.  Ellipses, if you will… My thoughts trail off and then I’m on to something new, a new topic, a new activity, etc.  So I go back and I find these notes to myself that say things like, “rosemary”, “make template” and “don’t forget membership”.  But the problem is, when I go back I have no idea why I would have written the word “rosemary” down in the first place.  Clearly I was to do something of some sort with rosemary, or wanted or needed it for some reason.  So I try to do a little deductive reasoning.

– Since I don’t actually know anyone named Rosemary I can quickly rule that out.

– Did I need to buy rosemary for a recipe I intended to try but never did? (Note: I have these grand visions of me becoming some wonderful cook…  There’s just one problem.  I can’t cook for shit.) After checking the pantry I notice that we have some but it’s old, perhaps that one’s it.

– Did I need to buy a rosemary plant?  We’ve been wanting to plant some in the backyard and I did see them for a good price the other day, so maybe that’s why I wrote it.

Unfortunately deductive reasoning can only get me so far, because the truth is, that would require reason.  Or should I say, reason that makes sense.  In the end I don’t remember why I wrote it or what I needed to do with rosemary so I just cross it off my list.  And pledge to try to be a little more descriptive to myself from here on out…

-Shan

The grass isn’t always greener… But sometimes it is.

Life is funny sometimes… I’m back at work (with my former employer) for one week.  I know, it sounds weird, but when I left my coming back for this week was a part of the agreement.  It’s a very busy week (culmination of a bunch of stuff) and my boss thought it would be good to have me back for it.  Perhaps work with my replacement… But, they have not found a replacement for me yet, so here I am… At my old desk, in my empty office.  With my old computer. With my old coworkers. It feels quite surreal…

I used to be so consumed with work.  Stressed to the max about work things.  I put off family and friends for the sake of work because I felt this crazy sense of duty, and in my head justified all of it as doing what I needed to do for my family.  I’ll be honest – I was looking forward to coming back.  I have loved spending time with my girlies, and having more time to spend as a family, but I have learned that I am a person who needs to be busy.  Not the crazy, extreme kind of busy that I was before, but comfortably busy.  So, it’s been good to come back and be able to help out… Not to mention I have missed this place.  But the “gift” in all of this, aside from having the opportunity to close out a huge project that I did put my heart and soul into and getting to interact once again with coworkers that I consider family, is that it has 100% justified to me that I did the right thing by leaving.

Does anyone remember that Nicolas Cage movie where he was given a glimpse into what his life would be like if he had made different choices?  I forget what it’s called but it’s a good movie.  It also has Tea Leoni and a pre-Ari Gold Jeremy Piven…  Anyway, I kind of feel like that’s what I’ve been given.  A look at what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t have left.  

Being away from work for this past month has been really hard for me. I was addicted to my phone. Addicted to email.  Addicted to seeing the same people every day.  Addicted to the craziness – even though some of it was bad for me.  It’s been hard weaning myself off of those addictions. But, in that month away I have also begun to see the old “me” return.

I’ve been more present in conversations with friends and family. I’m not just half listening or half paying attention while the other half of me scans my phone for emails or texts. Or wonders what I’m missing by not scanning the phone.

I smile more.  Make that, my smile is more genuine.  I smile out of happiness rather than the “political PR smile” I had been smiling for so long. (Makes me think of Bernard in Old School – “Smile, look at the baby, wave to the baby…”)

I sing and dance more (not well, mind you, but my kiddos seem to enjoy it).

I have more energy… That my kids very quickly drain.  But it’s a good drained, not the mental drain I had before.

I appreciate what I have.  I was taking a lot for granted…

So… Had I not been given this opportunity to return, I might have second-guessed and questioned myself.  I may have wondered if I had made the wrong choice.  There will always be people, and things about this place, that I will miss.  But now that I’ve truly seen what I was really missing out on by being here and seeing with new eyes what I left behind… I know I made the right choice.  I’m ready to go home.

-Shan