theicingonthecrazycake

When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake

Archive for the category “Random Nonsense”

Counting

We count. We are human and we can’t help ourselves.

We count calories. We count pounds gained and lost. We count our ages and birthdays past and future, freckles and wrinkles and sprouting gray hairs. We count the growing acreage of cellulite on our asses and thighs.

We count the hours we’ve slept, or not slept. We count out pills and vitamins each morning, we count the hours until daylight or dusk. We count out change to the cashier. We count out strangers based on first impressions, because their looks, education, speech and/or color don’t match our expectations.

We, needy humans that we are, tend to count on each other more than we count on ourselves. We can count on sometimes having only ourselves on whom to rely. We can count on feeling alone. We can count on the fact that no one person can fill every void in our souls and psyches.

We count transgressions against us, but sometimes, we don’t count the number of grudges we hold. We count the number of dollars in our bank accounts, and sometimes – well, oftentimes — we unfairly compare ourselves to people with higher pay and bigger houses. Which, count on it, only makes us feel like shit.

We count through the seasons, the days until Thanksgiving or Christmas or that three-day weekend. We count the number of vacation days we have, but we rarely count the number of vacation days we’ve already used and what we did, because we are too preoccupied with counting off the days until the next one.

We count our inadequacies, but do we use the same arithmetic to count our talents and good deeds? We count out people who, in our eyes have fucked up or screwed us over, but do we count the number of those people who eventually rise from the ashes?

We count the ex-lovers, the mistakes and the losses, the number of friends and lovers we’ve left behind (or left us behind) and the enemies we’ve gained. We count the days since the expiration date on those relationships, and count the days until we’re “supposed” to feel better about it all. But how often do we count the friends we do have, the lovers who have taught us so much? The love we gain and give back to the universe? The blessings bestowed upon us?

Counting will make you miserable. You see, we don’t count the days until our death, the number of breaths we have left, because we can’t. If we’re too busy counting anything and everything – counting the roses instead of stopping to smell them – it’s literally impossible to live in the simple arithmetic of now.

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Be afraid, be very afraid, of your iPad

I have rediscovered the Eden of my youth: The library. I can’t afford my ridiculously expensive Kindle habit, among a lot of other things, as my job grinds to a halt in 60 days. (The expense of my Kindle-downloading habit got to the point where I think being a coke-addict would’ve been cheaper.) And that’s good – austerity has made me creative and far more grateful for what truly matters in this life. Put a roof over my head and feed me and give me a way to take care of my pets, and I need little else…

…well, except for books. I cannot live without books. I not only want books, but I truly need them.

So I have decided in order to afford this need/want, I will never pay for a book again, if I can help it.

Last Friday, I went to the Rochambeau branch of the Providence Community Library system and got a library membership. I was as giddy as a little girl whose daddy just bought her a pony. The minute I walked through the door, the smell hit me: the smell of books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Hey mother ship, thanks for calling me home.

That musty, dusty, papery smell took me back to my childhood, where I would spend hours in the public library, carefully choosing my little jewels, the hardcovers and paperbacks that I would take home and read for hours on end, escaping the battleground that existed outside my bedroom door.

So how many books can I check out at a time? I asked the librarian at the circulation desk.

You can check out 99 books at time, she said.

Really?!? I replied with a gleam in my eye, raising my voice well above the library whisper threshold.

She looked scared. She should be. Because there will be a time when I will damn well check out 99 books at once, even if I have to attach a UHaul to the back of my car to cart them home.

This time, though, I checked out four books and two DVDs. Is it scary that it’s now Tuesday, and I’ve finished reading three of the books? And that I’m headed back to the library after I finish this post for more of the same? No wonder I don’t have a job lined up or a boyfriend…

But I digress.

One of the books I checked out – and devoured – last week was Robopocalypse. Although this is pegged as a science fiction book (I’m not a fan of the genre), I would say it’s a horror story instead. It’s a narrative of the near extinction of humankind following a robot uprising and subsequent war. I won’t tell you who wins, but I will tell you to read this book if you want to enjoy an almost guilt-free good yarn. And do it while your laptop, smartphone, tablet, even car, are TURNED OFF and your lights are TURNED ON. Read it in book form, not on your e-reader. Please, heed my warning.

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How going on a lot of bad dates can make you a more successful job hunter

I didn’t get the Marketing Consultant job I interviewed for in Boston. The kind recruiter sent me a personalized email, before I received the nauseating system-generated rejection email, to give me a heads up about the “not so good news.” Maybe she liked me. Maybe she felt sorry for me. Maybe she felt she should feed the Good Karma machine that currently keeps her employed. Who the fuck knows. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never find out.

Of course, this made the over-anxious, neurotic Keebler Elves in my brain start over-thinking as they sifted flour and beat eggs while making their Pecan Sandies and Chips Deluxe, which no doubt contained Xanax and a shitload of sugar.

And here is the point at which I arrived after all the thinking and when the Elves went into sugary Xanax shock: Job-hunting is a lot like dating, just without all the fun, booze and (sometimes) good sex. But there are similarities (both can be torturous and frustrating, for one), and valuable lessons can be learned from dating, which translate into being a more realistic, creative and resilient job seeker.

DATING CAN HELP YOU DETERMINE YOUR TRANSFERABLE (OR SOFT) JOB SKILLS

It’s a crying shame that my career counselor strongly urged me (actually, forced is more like it) to remove “More than 20 years of dating experience” from my resume’s career summary. Pshaw. That should count for something, right? They talk about transferable skills in these resume workshops, and over the years, copious amounts of dating have left me with many soft skills of which naive early-marriage-adoptors should be jealous:

  • Works well under stress: (Tampa, 1997) After I was invited into his apartment for a drink post-first-date, my date came out of the kitchen with gin & tonics, but without pants or underwear (yet, oddly, he was still wearing his shirt). I told him to put his pants on, calmly grabbed my purse, left his apartment (while screaming, “Hey there’s a crazy naked man in #301” throughout his apartment complex courtyard) and took a cab home.
  • Creative problem solver: (Gainesville, 2000) One boy-man took me out for Chinese, proceeded to order the entire menu and then said, “Oops, I forgot my wallet can you cover me?” when the bill came. Prior to settling up the tab, I excused myself to use the restroom and covertly walked out the front door. Maybe he is still there, 12 years later, washing greasy Chicken Chow Mein off of plates.
  • Strong communication skills*: (Providence, 2006) The first guy I dated in this city (for three insufferable months) was angry because he thought I loved my dog more than him (of course I did) and gave me the silent treatment during dinner at a local Thai restaurant. I left as soon as the bill came and waited outside in the fresh air for him to take me home. He came out, got into his car and drove off. W I T H O U T me. After I got home, thanks to a kind friend, I had a message waiting on my land-line phone (not the cell phone I was carrying) that said “I hope you had a nice fucking walk home alone in the dark.” He showed up at my apartment the next day, CRYING and apologetic, and I said “Why don’t you go tell your mommy what you did to me and if she thinks it’s okay and respectable for you to make a woman walk 2 miles home alone in the dark, I might take you back. Oh wait, I won’t. Have a nice fucking life.” I shut the door. (*He is now married – who marries these assholes?)
  • Experience with social media: (Various locations and years) I can defriend a recent ex on Facebook within 2 seconds of the break-up and deflect – in hockey-goalie fashion – ex-boyfriends who message me “wanting to be your friend now” or who are looking for a booty call. Booty call? Really dipshit? Did you notice that I live in New England now and you are still living in the same lame-ass town I grew up in 1,200 miles away. (I used to only date the moody poets, obviously not the mathematicians who still have possession of their frontal lobes.)
  • Works well as a member of a team: (Tampa, 1996-2000, various bars and clubs) During my 20s I often went out with a gaggle of singletons (who have since happily moved on to Smug Marrieds-land and lots of diapers). We attracted a broad spectrum of single guys, ranging from recent parolees and crack-heads, to UT grads who did mind-eraser shots until they puked into our laps and Hugh Hefners who thought the size of their paycheck could make up for the fact that they were quite simply gross old men hitting on 26-year-olds. We protected each other from the scumbags and made sure we were visible to the “good” ones (even though we were wearing beer goggles most of the time). But the thing is this: We never left anyone behind and we kept each other safe. We were a team, a drunken, slightly slutty team, but a team nonetheless.

IT HELPS YOU BUILD A TOUGH SKIN FOR THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS REJECTION OF THE JOB HUNT…

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Welcome mats and doormats

Yesterday I approached my Meals on Wheels route with a heavy heart. I can’t explain it. I think it was because that damn Bon Iver song “Skinny Love” was playing on the radio as I pulled out of the food distribution center. That song makes me sad. I fumbled with the dial, trying to find Bananarama or something else stupid and peppy and retro. Nope, Bauhaus was playing for fuck’s sake. Radio. Turned. Off.

I ruminated about my mood as I drove to my first meal drop-off. I decided it was because I felt like an empty vessel – and today of all days I needed to be shooting compassionate and patient pixie dust out of my ass. These people relied on me. Yet, I had nothing to give. As my wise friend Karen says to me when I’m facing a difficult task or visit home: “Just send your better self. Just for this one thing. It will get you through it.” So I tried to summon my better self, but I wasn’t sure if she was the one driving the car at the moment.

My first drop-off  was easy – I just had to put the food in the cooler, as was the case with the following two deliveries. No human interaction required, yet I still cried in my car between these easy drop-offs. Better self, where are you? I asked myself.

Next on the list: Ed. Sometimes he waited outside for his food, sunning himself on the back deck; other days he left a cooler for me. With twinkly blue eyes and ruddy Irish skin, he reminds me of my grandfather, had my grandfather lived to see his late 70s, instead of only his early 60s.

I pulled up to his house and headed to the back of the house. The cooler was there on the back deck, in place of Ed. Alas, there was no ice, and I’m not allowed to leave the food in the cooler unless it contains an ice-pack.

I knocked.

“Who is it?” said a gruff voice.

“It’s Meals on Wheels,” my better self cheerfully shouted through the closed door.

“What a glorious voice,” he said as he opened the back door.

I handed him his his meal and asked, “How are you doing today, Ed?”

“Tired. I just woke up. But my day just got better the minute I saw you. You look like a damn movie star. A movie star! It should be a crime to be as pretty as you are.”

Taken off guard, I squeaked, “You know, Ed, I was having a difficult morning, and you just made my day.” Putting my hand on my chest I said with less-squeaky conviction, “I will carry your compliment in my heart all day long. Thank you. You have a great day yourself.”

I practically skipped back to my car, with tears in my eyes but a big grin on my face. Yeah, yeah, Ed is practically blind, which probably makes my bovine-sized thighs look super-model svelte, but perhaps he can sense inner beauty. Or maybe I am pretty. Huh. Foreign concept for me.

After a few more easy stops, I reached Meg’s house. She always tries to give me something: brownies, eggplant, earrings, necklaces, a wooden angel. She won’t take no for an answer. We chatted for awhile and then she showed me her garden, as if for the first time, even through she shows it to me every time I visit her. I don’t mind. I like gardens. Besides, it’s a testament to her strength: 88 years old with a bad leg, she spends hours out in her garden, tending to the tomatoes and zucchini and beans.

“I have something for you,” she said, grabbing my hand and leading me out to the garage.

“Meg, I can’t possibly take anything else from you, you have been more than generous,” I argued.

She opened the garage and presented me with an empty Kmart shopping cart.

“I grabbed this when the store down the street closed. I’ve got no use for it, in fact I have an identical one in the basement.”

I stifled a laugh. A shopping cart? Too bad she didn’t have a job or boyfriend waiting for me in the garage.

“Meg, you are so sweet. I can’t possibly take this. I live on the third floor, in a 500 square foot apartment.”

She signed resignedly and said okay. I hugged her and walked down the driveway giggling to myself. “See you next week,” I shouted over my shoulder.

As the morning rolled by, I visited with two other of my favorites, and managed to coax another one of the clients outside her door. She usually leaves the door open just wide enough for me to slip the food through. Victory.

My better self finally emerged, due in no small part to the welcome mat that always seems to be put out for me. Whether I visit with these people or am left with a cooler (but no person) to deliver to, I feel welcome, needed, maybe even loved.

However, my day wasn’t over yet. On an afternoon walk with my dog, I would find out that the welcome mat doesn’t exist in some people’s lives; instead they seek to treat others like doormats. These days, I prefer actively stepping over the threshold of the welcome mat, not being the passive doormat. And the Cruella De Vil who tangled with me yesterday afternoon was met with my better, non-doormat self’s smart mouth and a sense of new-found confidence.

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Four weddings and a divorce?

I would feel un-American if I didn’t wish everyone a Happy July 4. I don’t really know what this day means anymore; this country has veered so far off the Founding Fathers’ path. In a perfect world, I would mandate that Congress work today, creating jobs and regulating Big Banks, rather than taking the day off, only to return after their 4,000th recess this year, where the useless agenda will include repealing Obamacare and taking away low-cost healthcare and birth control for women, among other stupid things. (Jeez, that was a long sentence.)

Okay, so Happy 4th. And now on to my totally non-Independence Day-related post, as I take a nose-dive off my soapbox.

My sister called me two Sundays ago. I didn’t answer. I texted her and told her I would call her Monday. I just wasn’t in a chatty mood and was feeling a bit funky.

She texted me back: “You’re reading the NY Times wedding announcements, aren’t you? Put that shit down. Better yet, set it on fire. It just makes you feel like crap.”

Busted. (But it was not why I felt like not talking. The culprit was a migraine coupled with obsessing about my looming unemployment.)

Yes, I am addicted to the wedding section of the Times. The obsession began about 10 years ago, when I started subscribing to the paper. I waited for that blue-plastic bag to hit my driveway each Sunday, after which I would greedily devour each and every wedding announcement. Shame spiral commencing now…

What attracts me to it? I’m not a person who has dreamed of a princess wedding since I was in the 8th grade, nor is marriage a goal in my life. Finding a companion is, I know that for sure. But marriage may never be in the cards for me, and I am okay with that. Plus, I don’t want to have children, which is sometimes (but not all the time) a good reason for matrimony. I came from a tidy little nuclear family, and look how well I turned out, hahaha.

Anyway, the reason for my unabashed attraction to the wedding announcements is that I feel like I’m reading fiction and creating fiction at the same time. These little parcels, little nuggets of life, fascinate me. I love reading them and then filling in the holes.

First off, it is fiction because the Crest-White-Strips smiles, glowing complexions and Ivy League pedigrees don’t seem real to me. For the most part, these couples have multiple degrees from top universities (mostly Harvard, Brown, Yale and Princeton) and have uber-important sounding jobs. For example:

Mrs. X, 28, will be taking her husband’s name. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, where the couple met, and has a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard. She is currently working on the cure for cancer. Her IQ is 170.

Mr. X, 33, has an MBA from Wharton School of Business and a law degree from Harvard. He currently works as Vice President of Asset Management Schematics & Technology & Wealth Management Logistics at XX Bank.

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50 shades of shameful, mindless escapism

There was an interesting editorial in The New York Times‘ regular Room for Debate feature last week. In particular, I was drawn to YA author Matt de la Pena’s part of the debate, where he quoted author Franz Kafka’s assertion that a book should wake us up with a blow to the head. He concluded that folks – due in no small part to their gerbil-sized technology-addicted attention spans – are mostly reading crappy, non-literary fiction in lieu of books that force them to think about and face their inner melancholy. And why? Because readers prefer a mindless escape, and ultimately, a way to reach a deeper sleep. No blow to the head needed, thankyouverymuch.

I doubt Kafka has read – unless he’s been reincarnated as a middle-age New Jersey housewife – the bestselling, taking-the-world-by-storm-oh-my-god-they’re-going-to-turn-it-into-a-movie Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I do, however, wonder what part of his body would be struck should he miraculously be able to read it. His head? Maybe not.

Anyway, Pena’s editorial was timely, as I had just put down the first installment of the trilogy – 200 smutty pages into it – to let my English major, William Faulkner and Edith Wharton-loving mind breathe for a moment and read something smart, like the paper version of the Times…my Sunday guilty pleasure.

Little did my innocent mind (almost as innocent as the 22-year-old narrator Anastasia Steele’s virginal world-view before meeting Christian Grey – sadist extraordinaire, billionaire mogul at the age of 28, and apparently the most gorgeous man in the world) know at the time is that it would get shamefully sucked into the 50 Shades trilogy, much like Anastasia gets sucked into Christian’s orgasmic world of exotic sports cars, helicopters and spankings. This series became my guilty pleasure for six painfully insufferable yet pleasurable days. I stand here (relieved? embarrassed? assessing my woefully inadequate sex life and bank account?) done with all 1,500 delicious, horribly written pages, replete (yes, that word is used like 6,000 times in the last installment of the trilogy) with insipid dialogue and a wildly implausible plot line. Yes, Kafka, this trilogy lodged a much-needed escapist blow to my head (and perhaps libido) – a blow that I must confess left me awake and alive, yet stupid (I feel like I just smoked 42 joints back to back to back and had part of my frontal lobe removed).

Speaking of libido, I can’t not talk about The Sex – which sometimes is “vanilla” (Christian Grey’s word, not mine), while other times borders on law-breaking S&M fantasies played out in the “Red Room of Pain” – that has every Christian group and stodgy librarian’s puritan panties in a wad. (And let’s NOT get started on the feminist outrage over this book; it takes two to tango – Anastasia knew what she was getting herself into.)

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An update to Happy Birthday to Me

You know it’s going to be a good day when you have to wrestle a used condom out of your dog’s mouth during the morning walk. It was on the lawn of a neighboring apartment building. Did they have sex on the lawn or in a car or did they fling it out of one the apartment windows? I’ll never know, nor do I really want to. I hope it was good, though.

Anyway, I’ve been rereading a couple of old posts from last Fall, and I’ve been laughing and sometimes crying. The one that stands out to me the most is my Crazy Cake inaugural post, Happy Birthday to Me. I wrote that post 21 days after the breakup; I’m already a different person than I was then. So in the spirit of realizing that things never turn out as expected, I’ve provided current updates to my original list.

***

#1 – October 2011: I can go three days without showering (but need to wash my hair only every four days). Not sure if all my friends and neighbors would agree…but I promise not to judge if they ever choose to curl up in a ball and eschew bathing.

June 2012: As evidenced by my recent post, I’ve whittled successive non-showering days down to two. Hair washing frequency has also improved. Progress!

***

#2 – October 2011: Vodka is NOT food group. Neither are Cheetoes. I don’t think I can look at a martini or powdery yellow salty snack EVER again. Tomorrow I start training for a 5K!

June 2012: What optimistic blather I typed above. Before cutting back my drinking to practically nothing and jumping on the yellow puffy snack wagon 2 months ago, I had stared down the barrel of the Gray Goose and Cheetoes gun many times. I have not trained for, nor run a 5K. But, I have started doing Pilates again. Again, progress.

***

#3 – October 2011: My friends rule the world. So does my family (even though they sometimes put the crazy in the icing on top of the crazy cake).

June 2012: Hahahaha. Sorry. Yes, my family is definitely still crazy and entertaining. I do love them despite all the emotional and guilt-laden shenanigans. As for friends, I’ve reconnected with old dear ones and even several people here in Providence with whom I had lost touch. I will never take for granted their kindness and unconditional love. Others have fallen away, sort of disappeared. I don’t know if they were afraid, disgusted, tired of my apathy toward life and my inability to be a good friend, and/or dealing with their own difficult stuff (like me). Like the condom’s origins, I will probably never know.

***

#4 – October 2011: Everyone should have a pet. The unconditional love attached to a warm nose and gentle eyes won’t immediately cure a broken heart, but it sure helps a helluva lot.

June 2012: No change on this. If you don’t have one, get thee to the local animal shelter today.

***

#5 – October 2011: Exercise is a natural anti-depressant.

June 2012: I still agree. And that’s why I’m still a little depressed.

***

#6 – October 2011: Unpacking after packing/reversing a move S U C K S. And anyone who causes that sort of pain is just not a nice person.

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Muscle memory

My land-line business phone rang at 1:28 a.m. early Thursday morning. (Do not mock my land-line; I have a very nice iPhone for personal use.)

I awoke from a deep, Klonipin-induced sleep with the thoughts “Who died, who died, whodied??” racing through my head as I tucked into the fetal position between my comforter and a fluffy pillow. By the time I reached the phone – located in the other room – the caller had gone to voice mail/hung up. I looked at the caller ID, expecting to see my parents’ phone number or a call from one of my sisters. Or maybe my brother, telling me the Bulgarian Princess had absconded overseas with my nephew. Instead, I was shocked; the illuminated number had not been on my quickly assembled mental list of potential callers.

It was NEB (now ex-boyfriend), whom I haven’t talked to since last October. Why? And why – after he left no message – did I call him back? Because, stupid me, I still fucking care for some masochistic reason. Did his mom die? Was he sick or had he been in an accident? Was he drunk and finally ready to offer an apology for his douchy douche-bag behavior last year? Did he butt-dial me? Did his new girlfriend, trolling through his phone while he slept, stumble upon my number? I had to know. It’s my nature. For me, ignorance does not equal bliss.

I dialed without any thought, the muscle memory in my fingers typing the number without the need to hit redial. It rang and rang. I got his voice mail. I hung up, leaving no message. Alas, I would get no answer to my “Whys” that night and, most likely, ever.

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Hurricane names I’d like to see

Yippeee. It’s Memorial Day. I’m feeling MUCH better than yesterday, due in large part to a friend’s generosity of spirit and the healing power of movement. More about that later this week, as I re-embark on a Pilates regiment, something that worked for me before and that I hope will be one of the next pieces in the puzzle of getting back on track.

So it’s Memorial Day, and you know what that means? Hurricane season is right around the corner – the official start is June 1, but we’ve already seen two named storms: Alberto and now Beryl (which in all honesty sounds like a god-awful ventriloquist act).

LIVE FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY! 6pm at the Knotty Pine Lodge!! Alberto and Beryl play with puppets!!! No COVER CHARGE!!!!!

Sigh. Can we please come up with some better monikers? Names that do justice (or lend irony) to these powerful forces of nature? Growing up in Florida and suffering through more hurricanes than I can count, I know they are killers, destroyers — and if we’re lucky — just minor annoyances. I respect them, we have no control over where they go or their strength. So, if anything, let’s have a little fun with their names, shall we?

To prove my point, here’s a sampling of the crap we have to work with this year, following good ol’ Al and Beryl:

  • Debby: All I can think of is that she does (and hits) Dallas. Nuff said.
  • Florence: As in Henderson. No self-respecting hurricane should remind me of Carol Brady.
  • Kirk: William Shatner, go back to the U.S.S Enterprise, please. Or those creepy Priceline commercials — and stay out of the Caribbean.
  • Patty: Seriously? I have a goldfish named Patty.
  • Tony: Mafia boss or pizzeria name. Inappropriate for any storm with sustained winds of over 39 mph.
  • Valerie: My sister’s name is off limits.

Soooo…drum roll please…here are my suggestions for some hurricane names, in lieu of the lame ones obviously being pulling from TV show credits and/or The Most Popular Baby Names of 1954 book:

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Weddings and divorces and long holiday weekends, oh my

I am way out of sorts today. On the verge of tears, in fact, as I sit in a very public East Side place — surrounded by the ladies who lunch dripping in gold chains and adorned with frosted foot-ball-sized hair — typing this. I hate these long holiday weekends, especially when they back into a four-day work-week where I don’t really have a job anymore. I feel lost. I feel lonely. I feel useless. I feel (stir) crazy. Hopefully the fancy ladies won’t notice the fat girl in the corner sniffling over her bowl of fruit, which she really wishes was a big chocolate cookie.

I know what my problem is but  I don’t know how to fix it. At least not right this moment. So I’m just going to write about it.

Back when lack of a paycheck and job and the imminent doom of government cheese weren’t concerns, I intended to fly out to Northern California this weekend and see a good friend get married. Although I know my decision to not go was a wise, mature one (so unlike me!), I’m sad that I’m not there to see her on one of the most important days of her life. I watched her work her butt off to become a doctor and suffer through her mother’s long illness and subsequent death, and it was about time to see her on a very happy day. Have a blessed, beautiful wedding day, dear Jess. My much happier spirit is there with you. I promise.

As a juxtaposition to that, I found out yesterday — via my sister-in-law’s Facebook status update — that my brother asked her for a divorce on Friday afternoon.

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