Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Three years

Today, we've been married for three years.

Last weekend Harry and I went out to sushi. While we waited for our food to arrive, we started reflecting on the random memories of our wedding day. I'm sad to say a lot of it is a blur, but I do have some memory nuggets stashed in my brain. Thank goodness for the wedding pictures or I would have forgotten a few things entirely.

A few random memory nuggets:
  • The night before, Elizabeth gave me a lightning quick manicure and pedicure while I was still in my dress from the wedding dinner as we sat on the floor in the family room.
  • I went for a 3 mile bike ride with my Dad first thing the morning of the wedding, and vaguely remember my Mom saying, "Are you sure you want to do that right now?! What if you fall and break your arm??!" Thankfully, no injuries were sustained, and I'm convinced that little bike ride gave me a shot of energy since I slept for (literally) 3 hours the night before from all the excitement.
  • My Mom literally whipped up my hair-do that morning.  I had an idea of what I wanted and was trying to do it on myself, but it wasn't looking so great, so she pulled up a chair and went to work on my hair and that is what came out.  I don't know how she read my mind.
  • Before I left the house to go to the temple with my parents, my sisters dog piled me and gave me huge hugs.
  • During the wedding ceremony, I remember a few things really clearly: one was looking behind Harry and seeing family and friends beaming these enormous smiles. I kept thinking maybe they'd stop smiling so big after a minute, but they were just smiling so wide at me the whole time. Then I'd look at Harry and he just looked really happy and as cool as a cucumber.
  • I remember after we took pictures on the temple grounds and said we'd meet our photographer on Balboa Island for some more pictures, we got into Harry's car, and before he started the car, we just looked at each other for a second and were like, "So, we're married now!" It was a mixture of shock and glee.
  • Walking around Balboa Island with Harry taking pictures and feeling so so lucky that I married him. The weather was warm but breezy and it was nice to just hang out with him, just the two of us, since we had only seen each other once every two weeks the summer we were engaged.
  • Dancing with Harry at the reception, and then cutting a rug with Becca and the rest of the cousins, and then Dan getting on the microphone and saying, "We're gonna slow it down now.  This next song is for all you lovebirds out there."  I wish I could remember the song that came next.
  • My Dad playing the bagpipes.  I'm told that after Harry and I left, he broke out his steel guitar too and he and cousin James entertained everyone with some blues songs.
  • Tiffany going out to my car to get my clothes so I could change out of my wedding dress at the end of the night, and leaving a huge gift basket of food and drinks and some other goodies for us from all our friends. That basket saved my life since I didn't get a chance to eat more than a few bites that night.
I feel terrible that Harry is on day 2 of the 3-day Bar exam right now.  From what I can tell, this whole Bar experience can be likened to running a marathon while giving a piggy back ride to a mid-size sedan and reciting the periodic table of elements.  Oh, and the marathon takes place somewhere along the equator.   And it's monsoon season.

He's been a real trouper, and there's just one more day of all of this until he can have his life back.

So tonight it's filet mignon and smashed potatoes and steamed broccoli and a strawberry-celery smoothie and a chocolate croissant for dessert.  And I will swallow all my misgivings about shows having to do with extra-terrestrials and say, "Hey, I'd love it if we could watch some X-Files reruns tonight."

A little ditty, for all you lovebirds out there.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tomorrow my last day of work.

I cannot count how many times I have thought about this day. I plan to celebrate with a prance around my apartment bellowing "Mama Pajama" by Paul Simon and a few hitchkicks and the best night's sleep I have had in months.

I don't think that working in an office is the hardest thing a person can do. But for nine months, I have worked harder than I ever thought I could work at something. And I've felt like I'm constantly falling short. And this feeling turns into the worst self-fulfilling prophecy, and I become so filled with self-doubt that I can barely function. I've spent a lot of time on my knees in bathroom stalls asking for help.

At the same time, I have worked with wonderful people, and I have been stretched and pulled more in this job than in any other. I've gotten comfortable being uncomfortable with the amount of work on my plate.

And now that the month of March is far behind us, I think my wee heart has healed enough to tell a story that still makes me cringe, ending with a redemptive lesson of hope and the tying up of loose ends that we Americans love so much in our stories.

A few days after Harry’s birthday back in March, I got very sick. I came home Friday evening from work with a high fever and a cough that was beginning to rattle my insides. We had to cancel our trapeze adventure I had planned for his birthday, and --to add insult to serious, phlegmy injury-- without a refund, people.

I remained bed-ridden for four days. Harry made soup, bought saltines, and wrote down my symptoms and read the back of every box of cold medicine at CVS before picking the most perfect one and buying it for me (true story).

Thankfully I was able to get on some antibiotics, and by the following Wednesday I came into work, wheezing, woozy, and armed with over the counter cold medicine. I walked into the office that morning to discover that, while I was gone, an oversight had resulted in a problematic scheduling mix up. And long story short, it was my fault.

It was one of those mistakes where, when you realize what has happened, your brain gets mushy and you keep thinking that this has to be a dream, and that soon you’ll open your eyes in your dark bedroom, and see your cell phone plugged in on the nightstand and realize your snoozing husband has stolen the sheet and left you the quilt, and that it was all a dream. But it wasn’t.

The mushy brain feeling was soon replaced by an adrenaline rush of horror that remained with me for the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made errors on the job before (everyone does, as I’ve been reminding myself ever since that day). This one was one of a kind. I spent the day going from person to person, apologizing, fixing, mending the error, making sure everyone knew why and how it happened and how it won’t happen again. I felt about two centimeters tall by the end of it all.

Truth be told, now that I have some perspective, the mistake wasn’t life-threatening, or job-threatening, and thankfully, all affected parties were extremely gracious about it, but the feeling of disappointment and shame in the air around me that day was so palpable, you could whittle a garden gnome out of it with a pocketknife.

5:00 pm eventually came. Miraculously, I was feeling a little better because I had survived. I actually remember thinking to myself that I’d been strong all day long, and that maybe I wouldn’t dissolve into tears when I finally got home.

I got in my car and drove out of the parking garage. As soon as I was at ground level, I hit the power button on my car stereo. I don't listen to the radio here too often. It’s usually inundated with Katy Perry. Meaning, three stations at any given time are usually playing a Katy Perry song, and that gets old really quick. I was expecting my CD player to play whatever was in there. But the radio was on.

And suddenly, Imagine Dragons was exploding out of my speakers. I did a huge double take when I saw that the indiglo screen on my dash read “105.3 FM” for radio instead of “Track 15” for CD. My brother-in-law Dan was singing “It’s Time” on one of the Bay Area’s most popular rock stations.

I began doing eight things at once. I dialed Harry on my phone, cranked up the song, started bellowing, “DAN’S ON THE RADIO! LIVE 105! TURN IT ON!”, and trying to remember to steer and observe traffic laws. Harry was like, “WHAT?!” and “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” and “I’M TURNING IT ON NOW!”

To quote my SIL Annie, it was a very "That Thing You Do" moment.  (P.S. I love Liv Tyler's outfit in this scene.)

 I tried to cover my face so the other drivers wouldn’t wonder who the crazy girl was who was sobbing, coughing, fiddling with her phone, and steering at the same time. But there was only so much I could do. That moment, it was like the heavens opened and a giant clap of thunder erupted, and a FedEx shot down from above into my lap that said, “You’re going to be okay.  Your life is bigger than this job.  And it will get better.”

On literally the worst day of my professional life, I knew that someone was aware of me. It could sound dumb to think that hearing a song on the radio translates to “God knows I had a rough day and this is His way of giving me a reminder that He gets me,” but it did, and for me, it still does.

In the days since, things have slowly ("slowly" being the operative word) gotten better.  But they have gotten better, and I've gotten better at this job. Hopefully one day I'll look back on this and chuckle and wave my hand and say, "Ah, that one time!" and then sip some lemonade and rock in my rocking chair on my veranda as the sun sets.  And then I'll take my dentures out and go to bed.  

Tomorrow, it ends.  And "Mama Pajama" will never have sounded so good.