friendship


I cashed the check, and wrote them a newsy note thanking them and giving them life updates.  As many of you noted, I’m certain that they were not trying to be snarky jerks with the note, that it was just an ill-conceived and poorly executed attempt to reach out.  They are nice people, just a little brusque.  (My godmother, for example, once counseled against going to law school in Chicago, also known as the city where I grew up, because “God, Chicago is such an effing backwater, you might as well go to law school in Nebraska.”  Helpful!)

Am I the only one who feels like a total moron when writing chatty letters with life updates? It feels narcissistic, to assume that people are going to care where I went on my three-day weekend or what my plans are for this summer.  I know that family and friends want these updates, so I’m working on getting better about writing more regularly, but I struggle to write them without feeling life a doofus, is all I’m saying.

Speaking of feeling like a total doofus:  I had the first ticklings of a cold on Saturday morning, made worse by all the dust I kicked up doing our annual spring cleaning.  How did I respond to those tickings of a cold?  Did I take to my bed early, rest, push fluids?  No! Instead I went to a bar where a friend and I were cohosting a birthday party, drank more adult beverages than I have consumed in a single evening in at least a year, and ended the night with an embarrassing, if predictable, Very Serious Conversation with a friend, complete with crying from both parties.  Needless to say, I woke up Sunday morning with a full-fledged case of Death By Headcold.  If you need me, I’ll be the one snurfling into a kleenex and pounding gatorade.

I feel obligated to clarify after my last post:

Sharp knives are your friend! Do not fear your sharp knives! They are actually way less likely to injure you than dull knives, which have a tendency to slip or snag on food and slice your fingers off.  The only reason they served me ill in this case was that I decided to try to preserve the newly sharpened blade by using the dull side of the knife to slide under the box flap.  Dumb!  If I’d used the sharp side, it would have slipped through the glue no problem and I would not have a large (and, as of this morning, worryingly puffy) gash on my hand.

Also, we did briefly consider going to the ER, but our thinking went something like this:

  • This looks like it might need stitches
  • Yeah, it definitely needs stitches.  There is some serious skin gaping going on here.
  • Where does one get stitches at 8pm on a Saturday night?
  • The emergency room, that’s where.
  • Going to the emergency room on a Saturday night with a comparatively minor flesh wound seems like a recipe for a verrrrry long wait.
  • Also: ER on a Saturday night?  Could be kind of a crazy scene.
  • Also: our insurance blows.  We’d probably end up paying like $1000 for three stitches.
  • On second thought, this cut doesn’t look so bad.

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Also, I forgot to mention- mere hours before the ill-fated cereal box incident of ought-nine, I was at the first birthday party for this fetching fellow:

Good times- a large group of adults watching Theo try to eat all the wrapping paper while he studiously ignored most of the toys.

Also, since the people I knew at this party consisted of: birthday boy, mother of the birthday boy, and father of the birthday boy (all of whom were a little busy) I was SO delighted and relieved to finally meet Kristen and hit it off immediately, so that we could stand by the Fritos table and chat and I didn’t have to stand awkwardly in a corner by myself.  Thanks, Kristen!

Thursday, I flew to New York for work and stayed through the weekend. In my experience (and I’ve been to New York a bunch) there are two kinds of trips to New York: those that make you wonder why anyone lives in such a busy, crowded, dirty, frustrating place, and those that make you wonder why people live anywhere else.

This trip was the latter.  I actually sort of started thinking through in my head ways that John and I could swing a move.  (Answer? We can’t.)

I did a lot in four days, too much to recount in any way other than a boring recitation, which I’ll spare you. There were some tremendous highlights from the resumes of the hundreds of students I met at the career fair I was attending, which I might assemble into a separate post sometime this week. (Seriously, people, have we learned nothing from my past posts on resumes? DO NOT list your character and avatar and screen names for WoW on your resume! Just don’t!)

Some longtime readers might remember the summer of 2006, when I lived in New York and worked an unpaid legal internship and lived in a series of very grimy apartments. (Remember my roommate Jonas? The cockroach? What I didn’t tell you at the time was that I actually had a pretty robust debate with myself about whether I could afford NOT to eat the food from the roach-infested fridge. That’s how tight my budget was.)

This weekend I was that neighborhood again for two days, and it was a total delight to be able to go into the delicious coffee shop and order an amazing latte without stressing about money.  See also: delicious bagel shop, delicious deli selling delicious black and white cookies, delicious Belgian beer bar, and delicious eggs benedict at place where brunch comes with 3 free mimosas.

Um, so yeah- recommitment to healthy eating starts TODAY!  Or, more likely, starts tomorrow, after John and I finish the black and white cookie I brought home as a souvenir.  (WHAT? I like black and whites and you can’t get them here.  Don’t you judge me!)

Saturday night, to recover from Friday night’s Milk and Honey-induced hangover, Murphy and I decided to lay low and go to the movies.  We were waiting outside for the theater doors to open (this is apparently a Thing in New York: you have to wait in a line that snakes around the block to get into the movies) when this woman who looks AWFULLY FAMILIAR walks by me.  I do a double take, then whisper to Murphy “Did you see that?  That was Kelly Rutherford!”

“Who?” she said.

“Kelly Rutherford!  Lily van der Woodsen! Just walked by us!”

“Probably wasn’t her,” said Murphy.

We made our way into the theater, got our seats, and were chatting as we waited for the movie to start when who should walk up the steps and seat herself in the row immediately in front of us?  Lily van der Woodsen!  No question about it- it was her.  She was totally like 6 feet away from us!  And because we were seeing the chick-iest of all chick flicks, the theater was 98% women, all of whom probably watch Gossip Girl, and you could hear the buzz rising as everyone realized who it was.  The girls in front of us actually tried to strike up a conversation with her (“oh my god, we LOVE your work!”) which struck me as awfully rude- let the woman go to the movies in peace!

I am proud to say that Murphy and I were much more nonchalant, and waited until the movie was over and we were out of the theater to announce via Twitter and facebook that we were, like, totally besties with a famous actress now.

All weekends need to be three days long, because when weekends are three days long you are able to have houseguests AND go out of town for a wedding in the same weekend and still feel okay and almost well rested when you go back to work on Monday. Almost.

One of John’s best friends was in town with some other folks for the weekend. (Brief detour in this story: um, hi guys! if you’re reading this! Because you referred to me as “pseudo” all weekend, which makes me think that you might be reading, in which case the next time I make a typo or do something else embarrassing and you’re tempted to laugh, remember who it was who gave you beer and homemade turkey burgers and ice cream and very explicit directions on how to get back to your hotel on the el so you didn’t get lost.)

I love having people in town. Chicago is, I think, a totally underappreciated city, especially among people who live on the West coast. Our California friends come in town and are so surprised that there are, like, tall buildings and paved roads and stuff here, because isn’t the midwest just the region you fly over on your way to New York?

But because I love this town so much I feel all this PRESSURE to show people the BEST TIME IN CHICAGO EVER. When I have picked all the restaurants and bars and attractions that we go to, I feel completely responsible for whether my friends like the food, or are enjoying the activity. I find myself apologizing for things that are just a part of life- surly waiter, long wait for an el train, mysterious inability to hail a cab in an area that is normally cab central. I worry any little hiccup will sour their experience with my city, and they will go home to San Francisco and tell all their friends in their designer jeans and thrift store t-shirts that they were right all along, Chicago is just some hick backwater.

Which is, of course, ridiculous. After all, Chicago has its own entire neighborhoods populated by hipsters in designer jeans and thrift store t-shirts. Plus (yesterday at least) we have weather that breaks 75 degrees.* Take that, San Francisco.

* (I woke up this morning and it was 45 degrees. We’re not talking about it.)

Ten years ago, after much begging, cajoling, pouting, and crying, my parents let me go away for the weekend with my friends to Michigan. We had just graduated high school and were desperate to go be off on our own, unable to wait the two months until we went off to our various colleges to try living without our parents.

We were a group of boys and girls then, and this co-ed sleepover aspect was doubtless a big part of what made my parents so apprehensive about giving me permission to go. Ultimately, they realized that 12 boys and girls sleeping in sleeping bags in one communal living room was about the worst place for teenage sex, so they finally caved.

I got a horrible sunburn; the worst I’ve ever had. My then-crush threw my nice new sunglasses in the lake and was mad at me for being mad at him when we couldn’t find them. Princess’s brother had bought us pre-mixed strawberry daquiris in freezer pouches, and when we split the six pouches between the 12 of us, Murphy took two sips and asked, “Am I drunk yet?” It was an awesome time, an exhilarating freedom that I can still vividly remember a decade later.

Three years ago, the core group of girls from that trip decided to revive the tradition, and ever since we’ve had a girls weekend in Michigan every year. Horty flies out from Seattle, bless her heart, Murphy comes in from New York, and the rest of us, who are all based in Chicago, pile into cars with loads of beach crap and games and wine and tequila and head to Murphy’s grandparents house in Michigan.

So it was that this weekend I piled myself into Princess’s little Subaru and drove to the Third Annual Girls Weekend in Michigan. We drank too much wine, cooed over Horty’s newly-pregnant belly, skewered marshmallows on sticks and roasted them, and marveled that we’ve managed to keep alive, through six different colleges, three different grad schools, six totally divergent career paths, three marriages, two babies (one in utero) and two cats, this tradition of getting together every year for a weekend.  I’m amazed and blessed to know such an interesting, smart, funny group of women, and we’re all lucky to be able to make this a priority, to preserve these friendships that would be so easy to let fall by the wayside.

Our 10-year high school reunion is scheduled for some time this fall. They’ll rent out a bar, we’ll pay some absurd amount for open bar cocktails and a few hours of awkward chitchat with the people we knew back when- but for me, the real reunion, the one that matters- that happened this weekend.

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