Monday, October 26, 2009

My Demotion (In the Familial status)

Just recently, I somehow went from being at the adult table for ten plus years to the "kids table" in a matter of months. Which is fine by me. You know, you wait all of those years to sit with the older kids. The "cool" kids, And then you finally get there. And you hang out with them at every funeral, wedding and holiday. And then suddenly, I am looking around the little table. And I am sitting across from a twelve year old. A seventh grader. "How did I get here?" I ask myself.

I'll tell you how I got there. I went from dating a guy nearly twenty years my senior to dating someone my age. That's all that happened. It's plain and simple, you see. And it works because I can act like a young twenty-something year old if I have to. Like while the speech was being given, I pretended to eat the Indian Corn centerpiece - typewriter style. You really can't do that with a man in his forties and three other couples all mid-forties surrounding you.

And then texting friends and pretending to take photos of all of the tables so you can really get a current picture of your friend's ex boyfriend with assistance from your table mates probably wouldn't work with a bunch of forty somethings either. So this hanging out with the kids table business worked out pretty well.

At the last wedding, while hanging out with the kids table, I continued to rub it in their face. How I remember when they were born. And when they learned how to talk. Until they all reminded me that I tell them that every time. Then proceeded to tell me how they never got to go out with me before. Until my family demotion.

And if you're thinking about being demoted, I highly recommend it. My old table mates are now exhausted with diapers and rug rats with runny noses. And they don't know the words to the songs we are dancing to. They don't know about the Hotel Motel Holiday Inn. And my new table mates - we are planning where we are going next while the old table mates are already in dreamland.

I am loving my demotion. I am looking forward to sitting at the kids table at our next event.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Dreary Suburbs

The other day, I was reading an article in "The New Yorker" - (it was the fiction one. And no, I am not that smart - someone left it at my house....) and it brought something to my attention that I often think about but rarely address: the suburbs. Obviously, every city is different, but in my agnostic/hipster/liberal surroundings, this movement thinks of the suburbs as dreary and uncool. As stated in the article, these anti-suburban folks decided that the 'burbs are a place to joke about and not a place to aspire to."

Clearly, I live down town. So do all of my closest friends. If I choose to "settle down" I wouldn't stay down town. I don't want to have to take an elevator to lug everything, including a stroller. And the trend here does seem to be to choose a neighborhood when it's "time."

But, there is something so very different about the "burbs" in Madison. The area just east of me is a melting pot along the lake. Known for being "diverse," it is not diverse in the sense that you are thinking of. It is diverse such as there are gays/straights/young/old/grad students/professors. As far as I can see, the only ethnicity over there are the adopted children by single sex parents. Maybe it is a suburb, but it is still Madison proper and there is nothing about it that appears to be like Wisteria Lane.

Now, where my cousins were raised and where my sister and brother-in-law live - that is also Madison proper. Although it has sidewalks and friendly neighbors, it still doesn't remind me of "Desperate Housewives" in any way. You can walk to bars/restaurants/coffee shops, as you pretty much can in any of the Madison proper "suburbs." So, in my mind, there is nothing nerdy or uncool about a suburb here.

I think my problem would be which one to choose. As I have run through a considerable amount of the suburbs in Madison, they are all beautiful and seem to be holding their value, as far as real estate is concerned. With everything so accessible, I suppose you would have to boil it down to the school systems which I know very little about.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank You for Not Smoking (Winston)

I was briefly reunited with my college friends this past weekend. We always do the same thing when we are together: reminisce, drink (probably too much), and share hotel rooms that inevitably look trashed by the next morning with pizza boxes, newly opened bottles of wine/beer and cigarette packs.

Because I had arisen at the crack of 5:00 AM the first evening together, I was informed that good gossip and serious boozing was five feet away from me as I dozed. This doesn't mean that I wasn't any fun. Because prior to hitting the hotel suite, we were at a bar on the water. And when I hear good dance music, I dance. Even if nobody else is out there on the floor yet. So, in my mind, I got the floor going. (Maybe if I was alone for a little, while my friends cracked up, watching through the window).

And after the rehearsal dinner, while friends had a puff of a cigarette, I finally caved and bummed one. "Why are you smoking, with all that running you do?" my friend asked me. (We had already agreed to go for a nice long run in the morning). Now here is a long distance runner/ex smoker asking another long distance runner/ex smoker. "I don't know. It's something to do, I guess," I told her. Of course in college, we all smoked. And I swore I would quit when I graduated. And I did.

Here is the story. Graduation day came along, and by noon, I was dying. I always needed a smoke in the morning. "Forget it," I said to my friend/co-quitter. We were driving twelve hours the next day to move out to Boston. If you smoke, then you know that long drives consist of a ton of puffing out the window. The plan was postponed. "When we get there, we'll quit," we agreed.

I went maybe one more week before I got sick. I felt exhausted. Completely beat. Then I found an itchy rash on my side. "Shingles," the doctor said. I went home and lounged on the couch, watching "20/20." Barbara Walters was interviewing Carol Burnett, whose daughter, Carrie, had just passed away from lung cancer. Burnett told Walters that before Carrie died, she said she was sorry to Carol. She apologized that she had smoked. That night, I had a dream about my lung. That it had a black hole in it. And I was done. For good.

Not even a year later, I went to see my Grandma, four hours away in New York. Her lung had "gook" on it and she was in the hospital. She was almost 90 years old. "Nana, how many years did you smoke?," I asked her. She thought about it and then said something incredulous like sixty years. I assumed she had lung cancer, but nobody seemed concerned. My dad called me the next day to tell me she had lung cancer. "I knew it," I said.

Then I was really done. The few times I smoked after that, I found it gross. I hated it. And then I moved to Madison and met my boyfriend. He had a similar story - smoked a lot in college and quit after. Then I discovered he would occasionally smoke socially here and there. Don't all hipsters? Next thing you know, I am bumming here and there.

Then we are back to this weekend, where my long distance runner/ex smoking friend is asking her long distance runner/ex smoking friend (me) why she is smoking. And I tell her "it's something to do." Bad answer.

After a nice run together the next morning, I ask her what her take is on smoking. She is getting her Masters in Public Health. She says, "You take a piece of paper. You put leaves in it. Then you smoke poison." Ok - enough said. I am done. And when everyone is smoking that night at the wedding, I refuse. Remembering, "Smoking poison."

And years ago, I went through an entire carton in one week. Sick. It's time to stop the smoking, kids.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mornings in Madison

Madison tends to start work early and leave early. Everyone seems to wrap-up their day around 4:30 or 5:00. After-work happy hours tend to go from 5-7:00 PM. And everyone seems to be a morning person.

If I told you a year ago what I now do in a morning, I wouldn't believe myself. You can have a whole morning before you even go to work. As one of the healthier cities in the United States, I can understand why there is quite a morning crowd. A ton of people are out exercising (myself included) prior to work. I see a lot of the same characters in the morning. The older man who jogs in his Wisconsin hoodie. The guy who always says "hi" on his roller blades. The 50+ lady in her professional looking running clothes who has the body of an eighteen year old. One morning, I even passed up my good friend as I was running along Lake Monona. And we were probably both out the night before, tossing back a few beers. But this is a dedicated group.

Move on to what happens upon my return. I cannot believe that I tend to throw in a load of laundry before work, as well. So that it can go in the dryer post-work, while my dog and I are at the dog park. (I don't EVER leave my dryer on when my dog is home alone). Some mornings, I also vacuum. (There's a ton of shedding going on here).

And then, of course - the dog has to go for a quick walk before I leave. Sometimes, I run into friendly neighbors and we get into a little chat. And before I know it, I am really late for my next part of the morning routine: coffee shop.

The brewing at home didn't last long. I missed Barriques, so we have been completely reunited. Because it is a familiar stomping ground, I can safely say that all of the regulars know each other's names. It is quite friendly. And if I have a lot of time, I will walk over there with my dog and hang out outside for five or ten minutes. One time, I even left the dog with a very nice coffee companion, who watched her while I ran in to get something to eat. She hung out with a group of regulars and relaxed under the table.

So here I am, now. This morning person. Who would have thought? And by 8:15, I am always happy I have so much done already. And I wonder why I am so tired right now?