Monday, January 19, 2009

HERE WE GO...Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl!

I went home to Butler this weekend, and my trip was fabulous! First of all...I dedicate this blog to my Pittsburgh Steelers, who overcame a lot of ridiculous mistakes (penalties) on offense to take the AFC Championship last night. And how about our defense, led by the insane Troy Polamalu?? Though his touchdown run was awesome and all, I particularly liked the part where he jumped over our entire defensive line and pushed Joe Flacco away from the first down mark with his bare hands. If you couldn't tell, I am SO excited that Pittsburgh is going to another Super Bowl, and I look forward to watching them crush Arizona in two weeks. I hear Steely McBeam eats cardinals for breakfast...just saying.

Those of you with an eye for hometown goodies will notice that this Terrible Towel was being used to catch the crumbs of Eat 'N' Park Smiley cookies (well, okay, maybe not...but we thought it made for a good picture). And these were not just ANY Smiley cookies we had as game-time snacks...they were Steelers Smileys!! My mom and I had lunch at Eat 'N' Park on Saturday afternoon, and she kindly bought them for me after I decided that they were a must for Sunday's game. My favorite cookie honoring my favorite team! Doesn't get much better (or yummier) than that.

It was so cold in Butler while I was home (below zero with the wind chill), but I was nice and warm due to a belated Christmas gift from my parents:

This is a terrible picture of me (I'm not so good with the self-portraits), but check out this hat!! It is so warm and fuzzy...I absolutely love it. For those of you (like my sister) that think I look ridiculous, you're probably right. But in my opinion, it's okay to look ridiculous if you rock it, and I rock this hat. And so, I will continue to wear this hat proudly until the weather warms up.

While I was in town, my parents and I also hit up the ol' Regal for a movie, even though I no longer know enough managers still working there to be guaranteed free admission! Going to movies there is strange for me because all of the non-managerial employees (what we used to call "vests" back in the day because of the awful vest/bow-tie uniform
we had to wear) look like they are 12 years old! I'm sure they are 16, and I'm sure I looked just as young when I worked there...but wow, I felt old watching those high school kids trying to upgrade my dad's combo order. Anyway, we decided to see Gran Torino, and it was amazing. Clint Eastwood was so badass! His movies always tell such great stories, and this one was no exception.

This visit was exactly the therapy I needed to start feeling good again. My family took great care of me while I visited, and I didn't feel frustrated by all of the little things they did to help -- instead, it felt nice to be doted on. My dad put new windshield wiper fluid in my car, and cleaned off all the snow. My mom partitioned all my laundry (that she washed and ironed!) into several small grocery bags so I wouldn't have to lift anything heavy, and even packed me a lunch for the road! My grandmother loaded me up with cookies, which I am never, ever too old for! And my grandfather and I had a really nice time watching the game. It was nice to feel so special for a weekend.

Leaving was hard to do today, and not just because the traffic at the turnpike exit for Washington, D.C. was insane and the weather in Harrisburg was awful. I just really enjoyed being home, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that (I used to). Now I know that sometimes it's okay to be a kid again and go back home for the weekend. I am just grateful that when I get to be a kid again, I am always my parents' kid...and when I go home again, I go to Butler, PA (that little town north of Pittsburgh that people can't ever seem to find on a map).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trying to straighten up and hold my head high

This is my depressed stance. When you're depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high, because then you'll start to feel better. If you're going to get any joy out of being depressed, you've got to stand like this. -- Charlie Brown

When you begin to relate to a passage from Charlie Brown, that is when it's time to self-evaluate! I have been feeling a little low lately, which is really hard for me to admit, and even harder to accept. How can I feel badly about my life when I have so much to be thankful for? And yet...there are these feelings of frustration and anger and sadness that seem to creep up night after night, no matter how many baths I take (count for tonight is 2, so far) or how many new episodes of my favorite shows air on TV.

What makes these feelings seem worse than they actually are is that I am normally a very upbeat person. People ask me all the time how I remain so optimistic, and it is mostly because I am an absolute control freak. There, I admitted it. I get through life so well because I am a doer.
When something bothers me, I don't wallow -- I resolve it. I talk things out, I think things through...I actively DO SOMETHING until my problem disappears. I haven't met a problem or a situation that I haven't figuratively roundhouse kicked to death (though David might argue that some of our conversations to resolve our differences could be better compared to being slowly flogged with a wet noodle). I deal with things, so it's really hard for me right now to be faced with situations that just can't be dealt with...they only need time.

My injured back (my own depressed stance, of sorts) is an enormous source of frustration.
I am impatient and angry, and while I hate myself for those feelings, I can't seem to let go of them just yet either. The exercises I do in physical therapy are so basic, and yet my muscles quiver as if they are learning how to contract for the first time. My body has gone from being physically fit to practically geriatric overnight; and though I am incredibly dedicated to my therapy and am working as hard as I can, I feel powerless to make my slow progress move at a faster pace. It is so irritating to be this weak! But then, I observe the patients around me that are clearly struggling with problems much worse than mine, and I know that I shouldn't feel angry at all -- I should feel grateful that my injury will heal itself with time. But I'm not grateful. Not yet, anyway. Maybe the grateful part comes once the healing really begins. Right now, I'm just really pissed off. Every time I have to ask someone in lab to lift something for me that I used to be able to carry around without trouble, every minute I walk on the treadmill at a snail's pace to "warm up", every stretch I can barely complete...all of those things just make me feel more helpless and more angry.

I am also really struggling with the physical distance between David and me. Ithaca is only a car ride away, and yet I can't seem to stop missing him. I'm doing so well for myself here, and I have a lot to be proud of; in fact, one would argue that things are much better than they were a year ago when David left for Cornell. My experiments are really successful at the moment, and I am in the middle of writing three new manuscripts with a team of people from my laboratory. My internship is really fulfilling, and I have finally found a career that I am wicked excited about pursuing. I'm a really active member of my book club, and the BU Alumni Club that I am a part of has tapped me to help out with some events in the spring. I'm at the top of my game in so many why I do feel so incomplete? Why do I feel so empty when I come home to my apartment after work? Wasn't I raised to be independent and strong?
Why am I this needy and pathetic? (Maybe I should also ask: why am I so hard on myself?) I am working as hard as I can to make sure that I graduate in a timely fashion, but no effort is good I push myself harder in lab, working longer hours and taking work home with me. But then, when I am visiting with David, the opposite is weekend spent with him is ever long enough, and I lack the willpower to get in my car and go back to work on time. And yet, until I have my degree...something HAS to be enough in each of these areas. After all, the distance between Ithaca and Philadelphia isn't getting any shorter, and neither is the timeline for my PhD.

*deep breath*

Some people think it's pointless of Charlie Brown to try to kick that football year after year after so many family always felt pity that he wasn't smart enough to distrust Lucy and give up. However, I never felt that way. I always liked to think that someday he kicked the hell out of that ball (and possibly Lucy's face) if for no other reason than he was just absolutely determined to do so. And so, I have to be the same way towards the footballs in my own life that I can't seem to kick right now. I have to get up, dust myself off, and keep running at them full speed. I have to keep trying to feel better until I get it right, even if I continue to take some emotional falls along the way.

A start, in a positive-minded direction: Tonight I am grateful for friends that call exactly when you absolutely need someone to talk to...great to catch up, Anna.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy wedding year!

Hello all! Long time, no blog. My holiday vacation was an absolute blur this year, as David and I traveled to Butler and Utica to spend time with our families before settling in Ithaca for the New Year. Some highlights:

1. I got our brand new car stuck on my parents' hill in Butler during a
nasty ice storm on my way into Butler. Can't they just pave that road already?? There were 16 accidents on Elm and Monroe St. that night! Ironically, my dad was able to help me avoid trashing the Nissan (by moving its entire back end with his body before we backed it down the hill), but his car suffered damage from a Ford Explorer sliding down the hill like a Plinko chip at 4 am.

2. Santa was good to David and me, as always. I got lots of movies and books to occupy my winter, as well as the ice cream maker attachment for my mixer. David got an iPod nano and Lego Batman for the Wii -- both are spiffy! My parents always go all out for Christmas, and it really makes every year special. And since I know Christmas at my parents' house is awesome, I can never sleep on Christmas Eve night (even though I am 25 years old rather than 5). I woke up at 5 am excited and ready to open gifts...but I couldn't convince the rest of the house to open gifts with me until 7:30!

3. My grandparents got us the cutest wedding ornament, and I am so excited to put it on the tree as a married couple next year. And speaking of trees, I am very sad that I don't have a picture to post here of our beautiful Christmas tree that we finally took down on New Year's Day. (My camera charger still remains MIA.) I think it is one of the best trees I have ever had -- so big and fat and full of life and lights and ornaments.

4. We also had a nice time with David's family in Utica. Jane and Brian got everyone board games, and it was fun to try them all. I have to say tha
t I ended up with the best game, called Whoonu. It is made by the same company that makes Cranium, and it is really great to play in a large group. Also, Brian made his Christmas tacos that have become somewhat of a tradition (which is great because I love tacos, especially Brian's), and David impressed us all with his fantastic beef bourguignon dinner the following night.

5. I won the football bet I made with David! I beat him by two points! And so, I won an eggplant parmesan dinner that was to die for (which we ate while watching the Sex and the City movie), as well as a trip to see Marley and Me. Better luck next year loserface!

It is always tough to go back to work after the holidays, especially after all that traveling. We spend so much time preparing for the holiday season, and's over in a hot minute (well, okay...more like 10 days of cold and ice). Can't it take a little while longer for our routines to settle back in after Christmas is over and the New Year has started???

And so, with that mentality in mind, I wished my groomy (David's new name) a happy wedding year (so clever, right?) in Ithaca and then drove back to Philadelphia not to go to lab, but for an early bachelorette weekend...where Kristen, Elliot, and Victoria were waiting.

There are not really words that would be good enough or special enough to describe these three fabulous friends of mine. I don't know if we'll ever live in the same place at the same time again, but I do know that there isn't a distance long enough to ever separate us. Still, it would be cool if we could all meet in Boston in say...2010? Just a thought.

What a great party! Joined by Kate and Jen, we went to XIX, NoChe, Naked Chocolate Cafe, El Vez, and Lucy's Hat Shop! I have been in the wedding spirit since I got engaged, and it was really nice to have an outlet for my excitement that included my favorite friends joining me.

A party in pictures...
Me with Kate at NoChe, where we had wonderful coconut Cosmopolitans.

Jen and me at El Vez, sipping our very strong Pink Cadillac margaritas. The frozen blood orange ones were definitely better.

The sombrero needs no introduction or explanation. It was and remains to be AWESOME.

Now that the excitement is over and the sombrero is hung on my wall and not my head, my apartment seems incredibly empty. I am really looking forward to David's visit this weekend to spice things up again.