Tuesday, April 24, 2018

More on Pups

Last week Ellen took Missy to the vet and found out that she had stage three cancer. For a long time now Missy has given me the willys. She always seemed kind of sickly and was very unsteady. She also licked the sofa a lot and I really hated that. But despite these things, she was the sweetest of sweet pups and only wanted to sit with you and be pat on the head. Ellen adopted Missy late in her dog life and she spent the last few years bravely venturing around town with Ellen, most notably out to and accidentally over the edge of our beloved family dock. She liked it out there once the fear wore off.

After some difficult mulling, Ellie elected to have Missy put to sleep Saturday morning. Missy was given about six weeks but hadn't been eating and still managed to hurl up goop and other things that send ninnies like myself running for cover. No one wants a pup to suffer and it's so hard to know how they really feel. So Belly and Missy came over one afternoon last week to have their picture made together. It was no shock to me that Ellen photographed like a dream - even on the verge of tears. Mom and I often marvel at how photogenic she is in general, let alone compared to the two us drooling buffoons leering at a camera. I think Mom is beautiful and I do think she's a little hard on herself but I understand and support her aversion to having her picture taken. After the Horse Incident of 2006 I dared not have my photo made for five years but that's a tale for another day. But Ellen can saunter out into harsh daylight sun in a saggy grey T-shirt and her photos will look like stock pages for picture frames. I kills me a little.

I brought mopey Ellen inside with me while I uploaded the photos to my computer and Ellen was pleased by the pictures - particularly the third one down that we called "The Money Shot" where Missy looks as delighted by the day as Ellen does. Then there was few minutes where Ellen forgot her woes and mulled over various filters and captions for assorted social media feeds. I wondered if this was all a ruse for some updated headshots and I glared at her on her glowing cellphone and then looked down a Missy who was curled up silently by our feet. But that was a false alarm because once she set her phone down and looked at Missy, welp she cried. Poor gal.

Saturday morning after Missy's appointment, Ellen came over to Mom and Dad's house where I was working on some wedding florals and Brett was scampering around loading my car and feeding me breakfast to make sure I had some Wedding Day Fuel. Ellen came into the house with her puffy, bright blue, teary eyes and really brought the mood down. I think Ellen used it as an excuse to get lots of Brett-hugs. Brett-hugs make everything better.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pips n' Lu - A Cuddlesome Two

I know I just mentioned my posting peeve and all but I want to tell you more about Pippa. She's the greatest! A little while after we had been living together and her fuzzy sheen wore off I realized that she bring's nothing to the table. I wondered if I am a monster or if Pippa really was just an animal that is now forced to exist in my home. "What are you going to do for me?", I asked her one day as I poured pricey dog cereal into a stainless steel bowl. The racket is not nice for my ears. She looked up at me, ignoring my question, and silently commented that she's tired of the same crappin' dog cereal. At least, that's what I think she was saying. A few weeks after these selfish thoughts, we jumped another valance and I can't get enough of her. We're kind of in love and though I have lots to accomplish in a day, she's free as bird and is ready and waiting for our next activity together.

Pippa is up for anything anytime. If you want to rest, she'll nap. If you want to go outside, she'll romp around. If you want to play, boy will she play. She's got heaps of energy. There has yet to be a moment where she has opted out of an activity. She is very fast and loves to run and outrun and chase people, dogs, and squirrels. She also chased Bobo one day, caught him, and then let out a piercing shriek. Bobo scratched her right between the eyes and she's been a little more cautious around cats since then. But for all this high-speed, brazen living, she's a skittish mama's-girl and tends to be somewhere close to my knees if anything is unfamiliar. She likes to sit in my lap during down time and enjoys sleeping in a lumpy pile on top of my legs or chest or head. Her elbows dig into my side as she tries to curl closer and closer into my bones. She hurts a lot and sometimes she stomps on me in a effort to make herself more comfortable. If I'm sitting in a chair, she is on me. If I'm laying in bed, she's curled up between my knees. She watches me eat, shower, type, and clean and then looks all heartbroken when I leave her home to run errands.

Oh but there's more. She let's me sleep-in but she can tell if I'm sleeping or just laying in bed and she's less tolerant with laying. She paces around the bed and clickety-clacks her little nails on the floor so I'll get up. She likes to bark at joggers and play-attack other dogs (I make lots of apologies to other dog-owners now) and even though there's an entire empty house available, she sits at my desk with me while I work. I started to take a picture with her in my chair every morning but I felt silly taking photos of myself. She'd never look at the camera.

Yesterday, she hurt her paw and hobbled over to me to take a look at it. My heart almost popped.
Pipsqueak still doesn't bring anything to the table. She's expensive and exhausting and has ruined lots of my furniture and somehow I realize that I don't even deserve her.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Running From Nothing

Since the beginning of time, the month of April brings one particularly awful weekend to the little town of Charleston SC. It’s Bridge Run Weekend and if you are not familiar, it means 40,000 people come to town to run across a bridge that is always open to joggers on a daily basis. Since joining the beastly wedding industry, Bridge Run Weekend has developed into an even larger obstacle in the already time-sensitive hustle to drive flowers to venues and get things set up on time. They close The Big Bridge at 7:00 in the morning, displacing lots of everyday cars to alternative routes creating traffic jams and high-pressure wedding situations. I once had a groom be late to his wedding because of the traffic on this day.
I was delighted to have weaseled out of my only floral obligation for this weekend this year and sat back ready to stay home, drink coffee, read a book…who knows! A free Saturday void of transporting goods or even changing out of my jammies. In addition to the 40,000 foreigners that pack into town a few days ahead of time, we also have a big tennis match that brings 90 thousand spectators and the Flowertown Festival, which also brings double-digit thousand people to town for one of the “SouthEast’s Top 20 Events.” This all happened yesterday, April 7, 2018. I’ll take a leap and suggest that the city event planners didn’t think ahead on this one nor did they bother to alert Royal Caribbean to the situation, as a cruise shipped also docked early yesterday morning to add a few hundred more fatties to the madness.
Count me out! I hate crowds, exercise, Yankees, fatties, traffic, porta potties, and all other temporary structures required for a mass influx of belligerent ne’er-do-wells.

Of course my friend group planned to partake in the bridge run. Last year Erik and Hayden scampered along with the’m’asses and they had the best time and had celebratory beers and showed up to Chris Union’s house to play games and eat snacks and sweaty Erik fell asleep on Mom’s white sofa. Naturally, they planned a repeat day but with Jenny and Brett and Ellen. No one even dared suggest that Big Lu come along because, let be realistic. And I supported my friends. “Y’all go and I’ll meet you at the finish line.”, I said, shimmying into elastic-waisted pants and setting the kettle on the stove. And I meant it. I’d love to come celebrate after.

Early last week Brett suggested that he’d enjoy the weekend much more if I came along. I said all the right things one should say as they move into a season of preparing for a lifelong marriage with that person. “I don’t wish to partake.” I said, “but I’ll do if you really want me to honey-boobear-cuddlebutt-snookums-jellyroll.” and then I looked at him with eyes of horror which he knows to translate as my real answer, which is “No crappin’ way.” On Wednesday he signed me up for The Bridge Run and I smiled politely at him and then excused myself to scheme plausible personal injuries before Saturday morning.

My friends were delighted by this news, not because they were excited about my presence that day or that the whole group would be together but because they enjoy watching me stagger through life. I am their lovable punching bag that takes the blame for most things whether or not I have anything to do with them. Was the night not a success? “Lu’s fault!” Did someone park too far away? “Lu did it!” Who’s gonna come in last place? “Lu will!” they shout in unison. I prepared for Saturday silently. I did not pander to my friends who hoped to see me frantic and looking for plausible personal injuries before Saturday morning. Instead I kept quiet and will now share with you the thoughts I had leading up to the day.

What if it is hot? Too hot? Am I healthy enough for a 10K? How far is a 10K? Does Kilo stand for a thousand? Is it 10,000 miles? Can a human even run 10,000 miles? Isn’t it only 3,000 miles to California? Kilo must not mean a thousand. You should just google ‘kilometer” and do the math. Where does the 'meter' part come in? Oh or google ’10K in miles’ that’ll give me the answer right there. But really what if it’s hot? I’ll need to bring snacks and water. I don’t have real running shoes. Wait a minute, I can’t run across the bridge! It’s three miles or something. Oh there you go, the bridge is three miles. Well that can’t be right either. Aren’t there two miles on either end of the race? Oh my goodness what about ISIS? It’s a perfect ISIS event. People everywhere. What if they blow up the whole bridge? What about a shooter? I’ll be trampled by the stampede if I’m not shot already. I don’t think I can do this. What if something happens to Ellen? No one’s hurting Ellen. I’d dive in front of the bullets. Whoa Laura, you’d take a bullet for Ellen? All of this is getting out of hand.

I woke up at 5:00 on Saturday morning, choked down some yogurt, and was standing outside in the chilly morning air with thousands of other people by 6:30. Everyone was very excited and I didn’t get it at all. I looked around for lone backpacks or people who looked suspicious. The volume of spandex present at the race was something that distracted me for a little while. I should sell athletic wear. Everyone buys it! Even fat people that don’t exercise… Brett and I spent a large portion of our wait-time looking at all the different shaped butts in the world, many of which should not have been adorned in spandex. I got hungry while we waited. “I’m hungry.” I said, “Let skip all this and go get breakfast.” This thought intrigued both Ellen and Brett. We were in the "walk/run" group because of Ellen’s knees (nothing to do with my athletic ability, thank you) and both of them agreed that it was a very different experience to casually saunter over the bridge instead of competitively race it. “You mean it’s boring?” I said and they agreed. I assumed this opened the floor for my intellectual observations on the matter which are “You know, you can walk over the bridge anytime any day.” And “I don’t think I get this.” Brett tried to explain to me the concept of personal goals and fulfillment as well as a sense of community and encouragement but it all went right over my head.

We walked that crappin’ bridge and Ellen struggled to not compete. “It’s killing me! I wanna get there first!” she would exclaim, but she said her knees were not prepared for a big run. Instead we people-watched. We saw people in costumes, an androgynous human playing an electric guitar, and also, a very large poo that seemed to have been dropped or thrown up against the side of the bridge. It was a large human poo and 18 hours later Brett and I are still working out the logistics of how one might shake such a poo out of an athletic pant-leg. Brett thinks it had to be fake but I reminded him of the fresh sheen it had and some slight skid marks in the surrounding area. I think Brett is in denial out of disgust rather than scientific evidence.

At the very end of the six mile race (10K is about 6 miles) Brett shouted a codeword and wrapped his arms around a startled Ellen while I took off, sprinting through the crowd. I would cross the finish line before Ellen and it would eat her up. Brett held on to that little bucking bull while I put mere meters between me and my first trophy. I crossed the finish line in an anticlimactic display of feeling silly (everyone around me was walking and pushing strollers) and I looked back to see Brett running too, maniacal “heehee’s” escaping from his lips as his long legs overtook Ellen’ stubby ones and he too, crossed the finish line before grumpy Ellen.

After all that we ate lunch as a big group and then went home. I felt no sense of accomplishment or skill and was only left with sore toes because my shoes are too small. I went to bed last night all achy and sore and fell asleep so fast that I don’t remember turning out lights or getting into bed.
That’s a pretty great feeling.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Posting Peeve

I’m worried that for the next little while I’ll only have house photos to show you. I worried about that when I got Pippa too. It's not fun when people get something new and exciting, like a baby or something, and that’s all you hear about for a long time. Often times people on Instagram will obsessively post pictures of their shiny, new significant other (along with mushy, embarrassing, sweet nothings that you wouldn’t catch me even whispering to a wall) and then, when the sheen wears off, they stop posting about that special person and you’re left to wonder about that relationship status. Two people in particular come to mind when I think about this subject. One is a girl I went to school with. She was dating the cutest surfer dude and they were always at the beach, looking for shells and hanging out at the Surf bar – so naturally I fell in love with the pair. But one day I noticed I hadn’t seen any new adventure photos in a while and when I went to check on them – she had deleted all of her pictures of him! I was crushed. What happened? Can we work it out?

The other is a girl I used to work with who was always single. Fella after fella didn’t work out and we all wondered when, when will the right guy come along. And finally last year, at 29 years old, she met him. And we knew this because she posted a picture of the two of them with the caption, “So there’s this guy…” Just moments later there was a frenzy of comments and questions from all of us that had been helping drag her through her "intolerable" singledom. The lot of us fell for the fella quickly. Cute, funny, outdoorsy – every weekend a new adventure and every afternoon, a photo of the two them looking foolishly happy. In fact, they were cringe-worthy, but they also made you smile. I loved this guy and I loved this couple. 
Six months in, his job moved him to Denver and she went with him. Up and left her life here because they were impossibly happy together. So the the group of us watched them build their new life in Denver. Mountain hiking on Tuesday, skiing on Friday, Sunday’s photo was them grinning at the breakfast they cooked. We were all so happy….
She hasn’t posted a photo of him in four months. I’m not just being silly here, I’m actually concerned. I think about them every other day or so. I just want to know what happened. Are they still together and she’s just not so infatuated? Did they break up? She’s still living in Denver. Does that mean everything is fine? I need some closure.

This is why I don’t post personal things on the internet.

In case you're wondering, the first girl is now dating a pompous jerk who flies her all over to vacation with him. She’s turned into a bimbo and only posts photos of herself posing in tiny dresses she must have bought at Baby Gap. The surfer guy dodged a bullet.

Anyways, here a photo of where I’m sitting right now… because I LOVE this house.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Move-In Weekend

Oh boy has it been big times in Lululand. We used our weekend to move all of my precious crap from one home to another. It’s messy and exhausting and I’m just not convinced that most houses are as dusty as mine. At the beginning of last week, Dad finished all of his jobs at my new house and he proclaimed himself “Done!” and he didn’t even come over for two days. That’s big for him. Brett and I did the furniture triathlon all by ourselves this weekend though Mom helped with a few car loads of books and dishes and Dad popped in to hang blinds and fuss over minute details.

I don’t know about Ol' Eisenears but I am sore all over. Brett loves the house so much that we got into a premarital bicker about home d├ęcor. It was hard to be so amused and so frustrated at the same time. Brett has wanted a home of his very own for years and this place has exceeded our imaginations so he’s just itching to move in and hole up forever and ever. In the time prior, I will utilize non-practical home decor modules for the sake of it pleasing my eye. For example, this house has no storage - but I used a whole bookshelf for plants. Mwahaha!

This messy house is just the best thing ever and I feel like a sixteen year old girl who just lent a pencil to the cute, groovy quarterback. Even these piles can't get me down!

This corner is my "office". Isn't that funny? Big Lu has an office.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Love / Hate

For a delightful southern girl who really does love everyone, I have a seething rage for other people. I mostly hate them all, even though I also love them dearly. My hatred for others started at an early age when adults forced me to participate in "fun activities" with the sniffling idiots that I had to share a classroom with for nine months. I never understood why these games were met with enthusiasm and excitement and sometimes found myself wondering if perhaps I was the idiot. I must be missing something here. Should I want to tether my leg to another human and then run for no apparent reason? I don't wish to wear costumes, run relays, sack race, jump over ropes, or waddle around the playground with an egg on a spoon. Don't you kids have bigger things going on in your mind? Turns out the answer was 'no' and I was left mostly alone to be outraged by cutesy skits and adults that spoke to me like I was a puppy.
One time in kindergarten the school nurse tried to catch me in a lie. I wasn't lying and I was so offended by her condescending assumption, that I outwitted her by creating a clever (albeit fake) backstory, out smarting her trap to make me admit my lie and hopefully, making her feel like an idiot. Do you think I'm stupid lady? Is it because I'm short?

So I started hating people early on. Don't get me started on Sunday School.
But this story has a happy ending because my disgust for the human race only goes as far as shallow judgements and light name-calling, and only when I don't know them personally. Then it escalates to disparaging slurs that I know are true or will at least elicit a laugh from bystanders.

Somehow I also deeply care about everyone, even the horrible ones like Hitler because I pity the way he must have felt all the time. What did Hitler need that could have made him love? Comfort food and bedtime story? How could you hate so much? I'm getting off topic.

I spend most of my time thinking about other people. I like to watch them do routine things, specifically things that take no thought - checking the mail, feeding the dogs - what are they thinking about while their body does these easy tasks? Mostly I look at people and wonder what they know. I wonder about the childhood of the construction worker buying a Gatorade at a gas station. What did he see as a kid? What hurts him? What's his happiest memory? Where has he been?
It's so easy to write off strangers as inconsequential blobs that are just in your way. Everyone in the grocery store is just making it harder for me to get my things. I'm always thinking about the people in the other cars in the traffic jam and how to them, I'm just a frustrating car that won't go. I'm just some young bimbo in line at Chic-fil-a. I'm consumed by the idea of my own anonymity in the world. I'm terribly amused by it. It delights me to be the stranger that pipes up with a witty comment, like an extra in a movie with one line that moves the scene along. You don't get to know that extra and they don't really matter to you at all but for a moment, they were there. You ever exchange an amused smirk with a stranger when something awkward happens nearby? I love that! I love these little connections because everyone is so self-focused and frustrated by other people all the time but we're all so similar and when something busts us out of our bubble, we spread joy.

I don't know where these thoughts came from. I've told you what happens when I don't plan out my blog posts.

I'll leave you with a photo. On this night, Brett was talking at length about politics....

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Texts From Burma

-Thursday, February 22nd
"Flight one of four."- Ellen

-Saturday, February 24th
"Flight four." -Ellen

-Sunday, February 25th
"We are in town getting items and exchanging money. We are alive and well and the kids are adorable. Dad's bunk mate's mattress deployed in the middle the night and Dad thought he had let one rip. He told me he almost "Laura cackled" but held it together until breakfast and told me the whole story this morning in tears. The guy wrestled it outside to reinflate it and then couldn't fit it back through the door frame. Yesterday our car got pulled over because I'm a 'suspicious character'. I'm the only white person around. I am stared at constantly." - Ellen

-Monday, February 26th
"Hey guys, I'm in town and have connection and wanted to say hello. We're having quite an adventure." - Dad

"We were in town for 9 hours today, running errands. I had to use a public potty and it was awful... We ate lunch at a Thai place and we were scared to eat anything." - Ellen

-Tuesday, February 27th
"Hello losers! As far as our diet is concerned, so many carbs. Minimal protein and lots of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I have a food baby from all of the processed foods.
Yesterday I spent the morning making bracelets with the kids. I have 2 little girls that have taken an attachment to me and as much as I love giving them attention, they drive me up the wall. Laura, you would hate it. They are constantly sticky and sniffling and scratching their heads. The hot water doesn't work so I've only been splashing water on myself to get clean.

Some of the men on our team resort to singing Christian songs constantly and last night, one of them found a harmonica. Need I say more.  
Dad has been nominated CFO and has had to deal with all purchases and money. At one point he had 1 million khat in his backpack as we walked through town. All the men were on high alert in case someone tried something. It was like a James Bond movie. Dad worked on some electrical wiring yesterday and almost shocked himself- much to the delight of all the other men.

This is a humbling experience and makes me miss regular food! Dad wants chicken wings real bad. We've got two more nights here so the team is hustling to get things done. The boys here will help the men with the work if you bribe them with candy." -Ellen

"All is well here. Miss you." -Dad

-Wednesday, February 28th
"Today is our final day at the orphanage. We are eating dinner with the kids tonight and finishing up work on campus. We gave the kids their presents last night. They were all so grateful. Some of them couldn't even sit in their seats long enough to get their presents.  Also, someone stole my towel and flip-flops. My feet are stained black." - Ellen

- Thursday, March 1st
"We are headed back to Yangon for our flight to Hong Kong soon. Glad to be leaving the orphanage but kinda just ready to come home. Haven't gotten to spend much time with Dad. Hong Kong will be nice but I am just exhausted. At the hotel, Dad called the 'khats' (Burmese currency) 'kayaks'." - Ellen.

-Friday,  March 2nd
"Hey guys, we finished up and are leaving tomorrow for Hong Kong. Everything went well. Ellen's been good, no meltdowns. Sad to leave the kids. She got attached to one in particular. Will try to call tomorrow."- Dad

-Sunday, March 4th
"Tea at the Ritz." - Dad

-Monday, March 5th
"Dad just attempted to toss a chip in his mouth and missed it entirely and it ricocheted to the ground. He's still laughing at himself. Dad has been making himself belly laugh constantly." - Ellen

-Tuesday, March 6th
"Last one. Coming home."- Dad


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