Tag Archives: friends

a beginning, a middle and an end.

25 Nov

i have been putting off this post for weeks.

instead, i’ve been rightly filling my time chasing the mouse-maybe-rat (thanks for nothing, 120 year old house), consuming oaked white wines and nourishing my deeply committed relationship with cheese.

and while i’d like to think of myself as almost a seasoned professional in my procrastination abilities, the time has come to face the inevitable. to walk the metaphorical plank, so to speak, to put my head on the guillotine whilst violently screaming: “vive la france!”

no? too far? anyway, point is – i need to wrap this shit up. and well, kittens, it’s been a real ride, hasn’t it?

like most things i do, you may recall that i was wildly unprepared to write this blog linked to my rando move to india.  in the beginning, i knew that i didn’t want to write about, like, all the creepy-ass goats i was seeing on the street and so on, highlighting 24/7 how completely different life was in calcutta. i mean – it’s a scooch implied that life is different in india – it’s f*&king india.

so i quickly realized that the best way to your wonderfully weird little hearts was by telling you some of my best secrets, trash talking the laundry list of jerks i’ve known in my 28 years and enlightening you on exactly how two bone fide crazy newlyweds make it through their first year of marriage -while 12,952 km apart.

and so it was: one long, swear-word encrusted (bedazzled, really) teenage telephone conversation – that sometimes referred to india.

but by the middle of it all, finally finding my voice simply wasn’t enough – it had turned out that randomly moving to india wasn’t so easy afterall. work became difficult, the thrill of living in the country of dust-turned-mud-turned-dust-again and spice had quickly worn off. basically, it blew. hardcore.

and frankly it was you, kind readers, who came to the rescue in so many ways. your mostly-insane comments, your revelations of devotion to this humble teenaged telephone conversation of a blog, your personal messages and – in some cases – your packages filled with booty (pirate, not ass – here and here too!) helped me get over my self-imposed exile.

(and let’s be honest here, the americans filled in the rest of the blanks with their exceptional taste in imported wine, unwavering devotion to western tv shows and propensity for hosting mexcian-themed murder mysteries. ole indeed, bitches.)

then just as quickly as i began this craziness, got over the fact that india – yes, all 1.2 billion of it – was a jerk, things were over. because for the many oh-so-complicated reasons, i left my work early for the homeland where the nachos are free range and the sewers are closed.

but doing as i have done leaves you different. even now – and probs for a while to come –  i am struggling to figure out what it all meant. working to convince myself that it’s ok to let this experience change me – even if it’s maybe not for the best.

this has been our journey together. and this is where it ends – for now.

listen, you don’t realize it, but you owe me. i’ve rarely preached to you about crap like “politics” and the “economic crisis” etc and so on. i’ve kept it to the interesting stuff  – like how i ditched my now husband while dressed like a pirate-hooker . the truly important discussions, ya know?

so now, you must listen to me as i take my moment to preach atop the metaphorical soapbox.

whoever, wherever and whatever you are – i am telling you that we are all able to do almost anything we want in this life. the path that is defined for us – whatever that path looks like in your world – isn’t always the way we have to play it.

it’s totes ok to take b.f.r’s (big f&*king risks) because not only do they give you mad street cred (“well when i was living in calcutta…” = kind of bad ass) but they are often the ones that are the most worthwhile. remember i told you once that nothing worth fighting for is ever easy? well it’s true.

i leave you with this: sometimes when it’s a bajillion degrees celcius during a 2 hour black out and you’ve just frantically stepped in a sewer that reaches your almost-knee-cap, whilst skinning your arm trying to protect your face from the garbage which you will surely fall into because of the whole leg-in-sewer thang, you enjoy a good old fashioned motivational quote.

this is the one that i repeated to myself that night, covered in shit, while being laughed at by probably 50 + indians:  “at any given moment you have the power to say ‘this is not how the story is going to end’.” and that’s a fact.

fact.

thank you, everyone. for everything.

xo al

the big return.

6 Nov

well, it’s been a while. (or is it “awhile”? who knows.)

the first thing i want to tell you is that i have kicked jet lag’s ass. no seriously, i have taken jet lag out into the metaphorical back alley, roughed it up a bit, and left it there to be found by some sassy tv cop who will surely spend days pondering over what exactly happened to poor old jet lag.

no joke.

so yes, i am in fact home. i travelled 30 hours through 3 airports to come back to beautiful fall weather, clean streets and this:

top hats and everything!

well, this is what greeted me at the airport as i walked through those big scary doors to yet another new beginning. while there wasn’t much twirling on my part (30 hours on a plane will apparently curb that desire), i was highly entertained.

top hats indeed. indeed.

and as i drove back to the humble little abode to tear open my large suitcase of indian goodies (who needs clothes anyway, sarees and scarves it is!) i was greeted by yet another ah-mazing occurrence:

a big warm welcome from the fav family

the fav family, of course, welcoming me home in their own special way. these lovelies don’t mess around – they wrapped the entire humble abode in a friendly yellow ribbon. it was almost as good as the canoodle i got from the baby who calls me auntie al – but more on that later.

and so, i must stop here for now – although there are many things left to say, kind readers. just know that i have safely returned and i have already enjoyed a few lovely oaked bottles of chilled chardy in celebration. naturally.

you’d better bring a poster.

14 Oct

well, i will be back in just a few short weeks. yup, you can still giggle with excitement over this – i am, bitches.

it’s an exciting time! the babies who call me auntie al, plates upon plates of nachos, crisp fall weather, good wine, the diabolical tap-dancing dog and my car named veronica all await me. anxiously.

i’ve been trying to envision what it will be like to walk back onto canadian soil after almost 7 months living in this insane country of dust and spice, but i really can’t figure it out.

i play different scenarios in my head. i put varying forms of theme music to said scenarios –  as i do for all the important moments in my life, let’s be honest here. (often ending up on ac/dc’s ‘thunderstruck’ – obviously) but this is tough nut to crack – i can’t figure out what it’s going to be like.

brenna said something to me a few days ago that go me thinking. she said that  i would probably be feeling slightly nostalgic about india in the coming weeks. i kind of scoffed at this at first, but then the more i thought about it realized that my darling brenna was right.

i was riding in an auto the other night and i caught myself feeling sad that i would no longer have to risk my life to get from point a to point b. and then i started thinking about the heat, and how, while it sort of tries to suffocate you every time you step outside, it feels kinda like a big hug from mother earth.

yah, i know, it’s totally f*&ked up.

but i guess this is the way it works. while we have something, we aren’t fully satisfied with it. and when it’s gone, we realize that maybe it wasn’t so bad.

or maybe it was really that bad, but it was still mostly worth it. yes…that sounds better.

so i have no idea what it’s going to feel like to be back in canada.  but i do have a sense of what it’s going to be like to say goodbye to india. probably 37% sad and 63% happy. i feel like that’s a fair assessment given that i spent half of my time here being angry at 1 billion people. so it goes.

actually lovelies, i lied – i do know one thing about my return to canada. when i get to the airport and see you all standing there (because you will be, right?) you’d better be holding glitter-encrusted posters and putting forth your best twirling efforts.

all together now: “weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”

yahoo bitches!

i’m so happy for you.

29 Aug

so the last week or so has seen me taking a break from india.  not an official break mind you, although i’ve been close a few times.  this small moment away is really for your sake because you’re about to get a shit-storm of indian updates when the husband gets here in just five days. five days bitches!

for now, we move on to other things.

i grew up – let’s be honest here – in a bit of a showy suburban community. and because i’m a product of my environment, i am always  keen to learn tidbits of gossip about the individuals who speckled my youth.

i recently heard, by somewhat shady means, that this uppity chick i grew up with got engaged. so, as you do,  i laughed to myself and thought “wow, wonder what her fo’ shiz tacky 2 bajillion dollar engagement ring looks like.  what is she, a kardashian? pfffft.”

my awesome insult aside,  i quickly forgot about her and moved on to more important things. things like chardonnay.

but a few days later the i noticed that she popped back into my head – despite me screaming “get out, out, out” in lady macbeth styles.  clearly, the fact that she – of all people – had found someone to actually marry her was causing subconscious distress.

setting the scene for a scooch, this girl was the holier-than-thou kind: she was loaded, pretty and smart. if she’d been a genuinely nice person, accepting her winning-the-lottery-of-life wouldn’t have been so bad. but she wasn’t – she was a total bitch.

yet, everyone, including me, still held her up as their own personal benchmark of coolness. as it often goes with the ones we love to hate.

i knew her for almost 15 years. so this got me thinking, could she really have changed so much that i actually believed that she could be humble and selfless enough to be someone’s wife?

now that was a thinker.

so last night as i listened to a little marvin gaye and got to pondering this whole idea of character changes – one of my exes popped into my mind.

this guy was quite possibly the living, breathing anti-christ. a liar and a cheater in the most flamboyantly creative of ways, i am convinced he is probably the worst person i have ever met to date.

but dudes, about six months ago, someone actually married this guy!

i mean, we were together a while, so i saw first hand what a terrible human being he was. (and yes, i realize this opens up a series of questions about me, but not now – jeez!)  how much could the anti-christ ex really have changed in the five or six years since we split up that he went from being a potential maniac to someone’s life partner?

come on now.

i frequently and  fully own the fact that i’ve been a real cough, see-you-next-tuesday, cough to certain individuals. these select people, when they learned that i got married through the suburban network of secrets and lies, probably wondered “who the hell would marry her? no seriously, who?”

and the truth is, i can’t blame them.

the moment i met the husband something clicked: i just wanted to be more than i was. i saw how good he was to his friends to his family to everyone he ever met and i knew i needed to unlock that part of my heart that was better – more than it was bitchy.

and thus began my real self. the real improved one, anyway.

so as much as i’d like to accept that the pretentious super skank and the psycho ex are still the same awful people they used to be, i have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

maybe now they’re tricked out versions of their former selves, more empathetic, grounded and sane, because of the love of a good man or woman. maybe because of this, they will make wonderful spouses.

and if that is so, then i am really-and-truly happy for them. well…89.54% happy, 10.46% insult-hurling.

so here’s to love. all consuming, life-changing, personality changing love. i hope these jokers have found it.

 

your secret identities.

11 Aug

you know, blogging is kinda weird.

basically being a blogger means you push your heart and soul out into a public forum, only to be found, analyzed and probably severely mocked by your worst enemies. ok, and maybe a few others too.

(um, so more importantly, in my version of these events my enemies are smoking menthol cigarettes out of those cruella de ville cigarette holder thingys, drinking amaretto sours and wearing fur hats. what? i’m pretty sure this is the truth.)

i am perpetually curious, so i’m always wondering who is actually reading this crazy never-ending teenage telephone conversation. but because i can never truly know, i often just tell myself that other than maximus and the diabolical dog (he can totally read), not a lot of other people really care about these goings-on.

but it seems i was a scooch wrong. i mean, lord knows i’m no oprah, but it’s been nice to learn as of late that i do have a pack of friends along for this ride. having you reveal yourselves, kind readers, has been a treat.

but more than just your identities, it’s a pleasure to know that despite my ridiculous stories, endless swear words and habit of accusing 1.2 billion people of asshole-dom, you keep coming back for more.

(by the way – totally ask yourself what this says about you. god, you’re so weird.)

i’m officially 120 days in now, and while it may not seem like it, this post is all just to say thanks. thanks to those of you who i now know are with me, and thanks to those of you who have yet to show yourselves.

in closing, because they inspired this post by revealing their kind readership, and because i did spend their june wedding day mostly moping for lack of not-being-there-ness, i should say congrats to the fav family brother and sister-in-law. you are loved.

happy to be able to share this with you - what a beautiful couple!

 

the things that change us.

8 Aug

when i first interviewed for the fellowship in india everyone was all up in a huff-a-duff because i was about to get married. oddly, they seemed to accept that i was qualified for the job (which was mostly untrue), but could not understand that i was 2 seconds away from being someone’s wife.

the guy interviewing me said the following:

“there are two times in my life that i have significantly changed. the first was my freshman year of college and the second was my initial year in india. how will you deal with this as a couple?”

what-ever.

so apparently 2 past fellows who were married ended up divorced after spending the year apart from their respective spouses. fine, that’s sad stuff – but is that any reason to be all wackadoo and newlywedist? (kinda like racist…but for newlyweds. no? not good?)

sigh. despite how crazy i think it is that this fellowship could break up anyone’s marriage – the interview-guy’s words do subconsiously stick with me.

i often find myself wondering – how am i changing with each day that passes? am i changing so much that the husband won’t even recognize me? or worse, that the dog won’t recognize me? ohmysweetlord.

but i guess if i objectively float outside my body like a really attractive ghost, i can see that i am changing. just a smidge.

i am learning to just go with the flow. (“oh – is that a giant disgusting puddle that i must walk through – oh – did my sandal just break and now i have to go through it shoe-less? so it goes i guess. onward!”) it’s either go with the flow or cry 23 out of 24 hours. and that seems like a lot of work.

i am getting better at relinquishing control – although it is an ongoing challenge. (may i casually remind you of my month-long fight with india. ahem.)  despite my struggles, i have given up trying to have a mind-blowing impact on my company.  instead, i am just trying to make a few modest – yet still important -improvements that might help in future.

i’m also learning that i have a temper. literally kittens, i had to give myself a time out today because i was totally going to punch several faces after a shit-ton of idiocy ensued.  it was a real-live ‘supernanny’ time out too – one minute for each year of my age. that’s 27.5 minutes on the balcony watching cows eat grass. praise be to ‘supernanny’.

finally, i feel like i am truly internalizing – perhaps for the first time – the most important things in life: family, good friends and of course the diabolical dog. at the end of the day, these characters are really all that matters. (nachos excluded, of course.)

so yeah, there is likely some validity to the interview-guy’s cryptic speech on life change – india or no india.  but guess in the end it’s all about how we choose to change.

will you do it by fighting to bring those you love along for the ride, or will you just slowly become a person who kinda resembles this other dude who everyone used to know.

i’m opting for the former, mainly cause i like a good ‘ol fashioned challenge.

here for no other reason than i wish i lived inside it a little bit.

nothing that you are.

3 Aug

when i was about 13 i wrote a letter to my 30-year-old self that went something like this:

dear 30 year old al,

hey, how’s the future? well all’s good here i’m just kicking it in 1996 at my best friend trish’s* house and we’re totes planning what our lives are going to be like. she wants to be a dinosaur expert and marry ray* and live in australia.

as for me, i want to be an advertising executive, marry greg mcdaniels* and live in a 4 bedroom house with a terrier named irish.

so self, i hope that no matter where you are that you will find this letter one day and it will help you stay true to what you once really wanted.

love, al

*names have been changed to protect the guilty. and also because it’s fun to make up fake names for real a-hole people and talk about them  publicly. hey, just saying.

although i don’t have the letter in front of me, i give you a money-back guarantee that this is almost exactly what it contained – save a few details about being best friends for life with trish and wearing our broken heart be/fri  and st/ends necklaces to the grave. classic stuff.

bff 4 life. not.

so fast forward just 5 short years later my lost 18 year-old-self wrote yet another letter to future al.

this time it was an attempt to capture myself at 18 – because apparently i going through some kind of crisis like the plot of the 1991 movie “hook” where figured i’d grow up, become a yuppie jerk and forget how important it is to follow your dreams. or something.

i found this second letter shortly before leaving for india as i was rifling around looking for my travel neck pillow. i opened the letter, laughed hysterically, cried a little (both ironically and seriously) at how ridiculous i was and then 3-pointered it back into the box.

(i then watched the diabolical dog do a jaunty tap dance routine to “i got rhythm” for about 12 minutes. but that’s a whole other post.)

anyway, what made me think of these letters is our only-human propensity to sometimes be  so “in it” we can’t see “past it”.

ok sure, in my examples i was just a stupid angsty kid, but the phenomenon itself can be applied to about a bajillion (real number) things in this life: break ups, jobs, friendships, family, and yes, even moves around the world to countries comprised mostly of mud and spice.

something sneaky happens when we are blindly passionate, scared or committed – our rational thinking takes an indefinite caribbean vacay and we’re left romping around lost in the cold with no snowsuit having to pee.

basically, we lose our ability to see what really matters through all the other crap.

and really, the only way to find our way home, so to speak, is to surround ourselves with honest and hilarious people.  sometimes we all just need to be told to buck up, get our shit together and focus on the big goal. all in a way that doesn’t make us want to put our heads in the oven.

as evidenced by the above anecdotes, i could have probably used a few of those good people in my life over the years. but now, as i quietly and carefully “approach 30” (it’s not real if it’s in air quotes), i have several wonderful people helping me stay focused on what really matters.

and more than this, i’ve learned how to be one of these voices-of-sanity for others. most days, that is.

i didn’t become an advertising executive (do they even exist) and i didn’t marry greg mcdaniels, (he was always kind of a douche anyway) and i will never punish a dog with the name “irish”. so i guess, in the end, i am nothing like the person my younger self had so desperately hoped i would be.

but then again, what did she know?

you are not alone.

31 Jul

it’s been a crazy week.  i am literally  not joking when i say i haven’t found a good opportunity to hit up the b-log (real word) and tell you what’s truly going on.  basically, as i hinted in my last post, i got a bit of a life this week and basically chose that over you. get over it.

monday was a write off (cause it’s monday, and they suck), tuesday i was in the field, wednesday i was drunk off sangria, thursday i was drunk and then at harry potter 7 x 2, friday i got food poisoning, saturday was still poisoned and then sunday (i.e. today) was still poisoned but drunk.

(hey, doesn’t alcohol kill germs? no? bueller? bueller?)

basically the theme for all of these events has been the americans – as their kindness and excellent taste in wine has continued to make my life good.

for example, miss jp often lets me take advantage of her driver, comfortable beds and hot running water when i need it. she’s very considerate of my situation – which is much different than her own.

and today was no different, as i was invited to brunch with a whack of consulate workers. i was all thinking: “great, greasy bacon and eggs and maybe a little toasty-toast thrown in there – just what the doc ordered.”

oh but no. no no. no no no. i knew i was in trouble when mrs. a and mrs. b showed up in dresses and i was in boyfriend jeans and a white t-shit. f*&k.

in response to my obviously horrified face at their outfits miss jp’s exact words were: “i knew if i told you that we were going to a 5-star hotel you wouldn’t come. you look fine. this is on me.”

needless to say my glorious bacon-and-egg theory was shot to shit.

the hotel was super fancy-pants and the food was unquestionably deelish. everything was tiny versions of itself – tiny asparagus, tiny sangwiches and tiny tartlets – which is how i truly know it was 5-star.

when the yum brunch was over about 4.30, most everyone decided to head across to the hotel bar to continue the booze-fest. i was, of course, excited at this because as you may recall: girls just wanna have fun.

naturally, on the way over miss jp told me that: “rounds 1 through 3 are on us, so just enjoy.”

and while i was starting to feel like a bit of a charity case, i do enjoy beverages, so i figured i’d repay them all in hilarious jokes, early 90’s dance moves (you can’t touch this!) and snide remarks.

of course, i repaid in full.

three indian-cosmopolitans later i’m pretty sure the alcohol had killed all the food poisoning germs still living in my body and i was feeling good. like batman good.

but it was time to go, as all good things – even afternoons of drunken debauchery – must come to an end.  as we stepped back outside from the fancy lobbies-and-tiny-food of the 5-star hotel to get into the car i exclaimed: “wow, i almost forgot that i was in india there for a while.”

and i totes wasn’t kidding. i had actually forgotten for a while that i wasn’t at home, hanging out with a bunch of friends making jokes and dancing to mariah carey. as you do.

but then something really weird happened: mrs. a started to quietly cry.

i felt really awkward, seeing as i was sangwiched in between mrs. a and her wife in the car and i had no sweet f*&king idea what had upset her. so, like a minx,  i just tried to casually keep the conversation going so she could gather herself. (because for serious, there is nothing worse than being uncontrollably upset and having everyone ask you what’s wrong. i literally want to punch babies when that happens.)

as i got out of the car at miss jp’s i asked her what was wrong with mrs. a – honestly worried about her unexplained upset-ed-ness.

miss jp said, and i quote: “she just really hates india.”

oh, just that, eh? sure. no big deal. (!!!!!)

now don’t get me wrong, this place is the armpit of india: it’s dirty, crazy polluted, technologically-stunted, vulgar and just generally hard to live in. but for diplomats – with their giant apartments, huge salaries and drivers – i figured that hey, life wasn’t so bad here.

but no matter who you are, what you have or what you don’t – it’s just hard to be in this situation. mrs. a is here as a diplomatic spouse, she doesn’t have her family, great professional opportunities, good networking or the ability to do all the things she likely enjoys. so yah, it probably sucks for her.

and i guess before today i never really saw all of that. i just thought – what the frig do these jokers have to complain about?

but i was wrong. and in thinking about her tears i couldn’t help but tell myself: “al, you are not alone.”

while i feel for mrs. a more than anyone, it’s good to know that, upswing or downward funk, the bottom line is still the same: we all miss our lives at home.

now, i’m off to listen to some 60’s rock and think about the husband’s arrival in exactly 1 month…

hannah told me this was a nice picture (of me, duh). and even if it is old, im vain enough to believe her and put it on my blog.

girls just wanna have fun.

27 Jul

no joke, i am totally listening to ms. cyndi lauper whilst i compose this piece of literary genius. i kid, i kid.  we all know that nothing i write is genius.

anyway, i wanted to pop on and say “hey ya’ll” because it’s been almost a week since i’ve posted anything.

actually, now that i think about it, you’re all kind of bastards.

this is the longest i’ve gone without posting and not-a-one of you  has inquired as to where i’ve been.  what, do you have something better to do with your time? do you really?

hey mother, i’m talking to you. for shame.

bitterness aside, my silence is not stemming from a lack of interesting content. (because clearly i can pull interesting content out of my ass if i really wanted to.)

no, what’s been going on is much more exciting – i got a life!

not that sitting around drinking wine and listening to dirty southern rock is not fun, because lord knows it’s among my top 3 fav activities (behind making fun of strangers and having in depth socio-economic discussions with my diabolical dog), but it’s nice to actually be out of my apartment with real-life friends at real-life places.   like a real-life person!

and while i can’t fill you in on all the deets right now, mainly because i’m casually trying to post this while making every effort to hide what i’m doing from my overly inquisitive co-workers, i have so much to tell you.

so stay tuned, kitties.

and for now i leave you with this kicky movie poster the 80’s sjp and helen hunt classic ‘girls just wanna have fun’. god, i just love her arabesque in this picture.

that's all they really want bitches!

“..when the working day is done oh girls, they wanna have fun. girls just wanna have fun!”

what we do to get by.

13 Jul

hannah told me a while back that you gotta do what you can to cope while living in a developing – or in india’s case, a transition – country.

(in hannah’s case this meant flashing the florida gator’s flag to every tanzanian, singing disney to herself and sneaking into the congo. you know, the typical stuff.)

for me, coping sometimes means drinking a bottle (or 46) of chilled chardy and then dancing around my apartment to 60s rock and roll.  sometimes it is allowing myself to feel brave, even if it’s just for a moment.

but mostly it means relying on the  the man i married.

the husband and i got into several good habits as soon as i landed in this crazy country of mud and spice. right off the bat we both bought tiny computers (1/2 because it was practical and 1/2 because he likes things that make him feel like a giant) and brushed off our skype accounts.

we committed to talking at least 2 times a day – at the beginning of my day and end of his, and at the end of my day and the middle of his. confused? sure ya are.

just carry the 2 and divide by 54.3 and you’ll deduce that what i’m trying to tell you is that we’re basically conversational wizards.  even if it’s only for 10 minutes at a time.

he's my #1

another thing we started a few days after i arrived was the ‘nighttime picture’. now i know this sounds like some kind of creepy sexual reference, but it’s not.  because that would be really awkward. for everyone involved.

anyway, l’epouse simply takes a picture of himself as he is wrapping up his day and sends it to my email. i usually receive it when i’m just booting up my computer at the office, so i always feel a little more connected to what he’s up to.

you know, seeing his face is not a bad way to start the day.

and our modest strategies seem to be helping me (and him) get through each day.  sure, we have our fights – lordy we’re both far from perfect – but we always figure it out. because that’s kinda the deal with the rings, i think.

so maybe it’s weird to lump the husband in with chardonnay and shameless self promotion tactics as coping mechanisms – but what can i say – he’s always going to be the #1 way i get by here.

but wine is a close #2.  (sorry sweetie)

about 90 days.

11 Jul

when i was 18 i put a countdown up on my bedroom wall noting the days until i was free from the evil grasp of high school. because my brain is full of random shit, i distinctly remember that this countdown started at 87 days.

i guess that at that particular moment 87 seemed like a lot of freeking days to be stuck hating your life every moment – as you do at 18. (wait – or was that just me? awkward.)

but as time has a tendency to do, my countdown slowly wore out, i graduated and then moved away for a very long time to recover from 5 years of self-inflicted emotional distress. higher education, jobs and a wedding happened – and soon it was 3,650 days later and i was living in india.

as of today i’ve been in this crazy country of mud and spice 90 days. and just like i did after graduating high school, i’m feeling pretty proud that i’ve made it this far.

(cause lord knows i never thought this whole “india” thing out very carefully – step 1: get a job, step 2: get on a plane, step 3: [crickets])

i am so proud of reaching day 90, in fact, that today when someone called me ‘brave’ – which i normally kind of hate – i secretly thought to myself: “dude, i am kind of f*&king brave! yeah! [insert end of the ‘breakfast club’ fist pump here please]”

but, admittedly, even with this perfectly fantastical 90-day milestone, i’m still counting the days – just like at 18. i’m really not trying to wish this year away, but i can’t help but be a pinch forward thinking.

it’s 51 days until le husband comes to hang out and 240 days until i will be toasting on canadian soil to my oh-so-super-brave year-long achievement. it’s 241 days until ill be driving around in my car named veronica to see the babies who call me auntie al. and it’s 241.5 days until i’ll be drinking a chilled chardy with said baby mamas. perfection.

my guess is that, much like my ridiculous tenure and subsequent escape from high school, on day 246-ish we will all be laughing about this whole crazy thing together.

me: “hey, remember that time i moved to india?”

you: “yeah…that was weird.”

july 11th is also 1/3 of team goodtimes - the italiana's - birthday. happy birthday darling girl! xox

the ones we try to forget.

13 Jun

this post has nothing to do with india,  so if india is all you care about well here is your update and feel free to move along:

i worked this weekend (balls) and then went with the americans on saturday night to eat pizza, drink imported chardonnay and watch saved! (god shouldn’t be taken seriously anyway, right?) on sunday i didn’t exit my apartment. and, um, frankly i only left my air-conditioned mecca of a bedroom to feed myself and pee – because i found a baby cockroach in my ensuite.

end scene.

so i feel like i’ve talked a lot about things that have happened over the years that were a little bit funny and a little bit failure.  but there is a column (c), a third party in the trilogy of awkwardness, a tiny footnote if you will, that i have not mentioned thusfar in our relationship.

oh hello, regret.

the idea of regret has been on my mind lately – as often happens when you have too much time and only bastard reptiles to talk to. in recognizing my need to bring it up, i have been carefully thinking about how to handle the topic with ya’ll – because i made an idiotic promise to be honest.

well the honest truth is that i lied.

simply put, as much as i know you’d get a kick out of my most cringe-worthy situations, i can’t unlock the these moments of deep regret for you with unabashed honesty. it’s like…archeology.  the details of my regrets are hidden away one on top of the other, each one changing the last, interwoven with 27 years of secrets and untruths. over time, i’ve even tried to systematically forget them. (and failed, of course.)

i will remain mum on the details, but i will say that my most heinous regret-inducing situations are thematic.  they all come together around one thing: a lack of compassion.

i know this will wildly shock you, but i am a little bit selfish. so while others may regret things like not following their dreams,  i’ve always been perfectly perfect at demanding better for myself.  it’s when it has come to demanding better for others that i have historically taken the back exit and slipped out unnoticed.

in other words: i sucked.

i’ve given friends their marching orders in terrible ways, i’ve disregarded love, i’ve said horrible things to wonderful people, i’ve not stood up when i knew something was wrong, i’ve let jealously lead to cruelty and i’ve been untrustworthy. a lot. and these are just the things i can remember.

and while im not – admittedly – upset with the outcome of most of these situations (for reals, i’ve had some totally shit friends who needed to go), the path to get there was all too often devoid of basic compassion. it’s this that i regret more than anything.

but you know, life is tricky, tricky, tricky and somehow it always finds a way to come back around with the good and the bad. or as some may choose to put it: karma’s a bitch.

about six years ago there was a a fairly life-altering, earth-shattering, mind-blowing (and other hyperbole hyphened words) incident that shook everything i thought to be right and true to the core. sadly, it involved some of the people closest to me, and was so devastating that i’m not sure i will ever be over it.

it changed me. full stop.

listen, i’m not saying i deserved said injustice, but i choose to think that i had a lesson to learn – and karma decided that this was how i would learn it.

i realized is that whether it’s the worst experience of your life or just some minor infraction – it feels completely hideous to be denied basic human compassion. just by way of all being people, we each have the capability to anticipate the feelings of others, but often do not have the kindness to apply it. if you think about it, witholding compassion is really a betrayal of the highest form.

so this is what i learned from my personal implosion: sure, kick the bitches and the losers to the curb, say what you think and don’t back down – but do it in a way that applies the golden rule. be kind, be empathetic, be compassionate.

while i have been taking my own advice for a few years now, i  still f*&k up from time to time when it comes to being compassionate.  so the regrets, sure, they still trickle through.

and i guess i’m ok with this – because i’d be really bad at attempting perfection:  i fall down too much in public.

and that’s a story for another day, kittens.

i googled 'compassion' out of desperation for a picture, and this is the first hit. enjoy.

how she is really doing.

6 Jun

so while i am living in self-imposed exile in this godforsaken country of dust and spice, life is continuing on quite vibrantly back home.  and though i’m mostly ok with the fact that people’s lives are moving on without me, there are days when my heart breaks a little bit.

mainly when i see things like this:

sienna elizabeth caroline - born may 18th, 2011

bootsy anne (with mom + dad!) - born march 13, 2011

the adorable babies in my life are just one of the many oh-so-sneaky things tugging at my heartstrings  from home. and while logic implies that these babes will never remember the 1 year absence of their auntie al,  i still miss them.

and sitting around missing the babies turns into missing my dog, which turns into missing readily-available toilet paper, sour cream, freedom from jc and nachos.  and then it’s all over.

so when bootsy’s mom asked my husband (who i also miss, calm down people) this weekend: “how is al really doing? because her blog only tells us hilarious stories and not really how she is feeling.” (i may have added the ‘hilarious’ in there for emphasis…although let me be straight with ya’ll: i am hilarious) – i could only think that maybe a few more of you were wondering about this.

and so i answer you that how i am really doing is ok. alright. fine. so-so. medium-rare.

are there days when the pictures of your daughters and sons make me both smile and sniffle? why yes.  but do i still understand why i’ve exiled myself here and why i have to stay in said exile? yes.  and does that sometimes suck? affirmative.

so like many other things in our crazy lives, how i am really doing is complicated.

which is why i choose to write about a mélange (you like that word?) of things on this blog: a bit of life in india, some friends and family and a buttload of stuff from my past that makes me so uncomfortable the only solution is to share it publicly.

and it’s this freedom to unload (usually pointless) shit on you, my kind readers, which is truly getting me through the complicated-ness of being so far from home. so thanks – and make sure to tell your friends about me – because i’m hilarious.

the moments that shock you.

4 Jun

as we have previously established, i wasn’t a fan of being a teenager. not only was i an emotionally fragile baby bird 95% of the time, but ‘life’s big realizations’ hit me a lot harder than most because i grew up in a verifiable bubble.

for example, the day i realized that people were actually having sex in my high school i was standing in a kitchen eating fried eggs and listening to a classmate talk about how her and her long-term boyfriend  had ‘done it’. a lot.

i remember thinking the following: i just turned 14 and that seems too young to be having sex. they’re only 14 too so how in the bejeezus have they been dating for so long? and f*&k, does this mean i need to find a boyfriend and have sex now to be cool?  (don’t worry mom and dad, the latter never happened. obviously.)

this day brought me from playing barbies to listening to my idiot friends talk about bjs.  and i was completely not ready for that – being as vanilla as i was.

further example: when i was 16 i had a brief flirtation with more-substantial popularity. so there i was,  was sitting in a study room with 3 bitches who were much cooler than i listening to them talk about making out. (at this point i still had no real first hand understanding of what that meant, to contextualize.)

bitch #1: “you know i really like zach*. i really like him a lot. i think i might  even love him.”  

bitch #2: “that’s so awesome.”

bitch #1: “we made out last night for hours. in fact, we made out so much  that my face started to hurt.”

bitch #3: “i know exactly what you mean.”

bitch #1: “have you ever made out so much that you get that white stuff in the corner of your lips?”

bitch #2: “oh yah. totally.”

bitch #1: “yah, we made out so much that i got that.”

bitch #2 (turning towards me): “you know all the guys like your boobs. they say you have the perfect amount – a handful.”

me: “WHAT?”

*name changed to protect the bitch. not that she’ll read this anyway – that bitch.

pretty much.

this whole exchange produced a couple terrifying realizations.first was that you could actually make out so intensely that you would produce some sick white subtance on your face. (frankly, to this day, this concept alarms and seriously disgusts me.)

second was that guys actually noticed what i looked like, and worse, that they were f*&king talking about it.

with this shocking new information in tow my typical 16-year old body images issues went into full-blown overdrive.

for the next several years i struggled with my ‘i’ll always be just a little bit fat’ self – trying to wear the right clothes and unsuccessfully lose weight to fit in with the bitches and the guys who liked to hold girls’ boobs in their hands…apparently?

but today after 12 years, fantastic friends, a promising career and a ballin’ husband who can literally kick asses – i don’t give a care about body image hang ups. actually, i’ve gone the other way: some would say i’m arguably too pleased with myself.

and now – as  life so ironically goes  – without even trying i am losing weight like crazy here in india.

while i’m eating enough, drinking enough and taking my vitamins, the combination and frequency of meals is doing a number on my drive-through curves without any effort on my part.

(somewhere in the sands of time my 16 year old self is literally punching a kitten out of anger.)

what’s shocking about this situation is that for the first time i am realizing that not only am i ok with my body, but i actively don’t want it to change. i love who i’ve become – i’m effing hilarious and my shape is a part of that. what a strange and wonderful thing to realize after so many years of wishing i was thinner and prettier.

so there you have it – and before i keep talking and this turns into a jenny craig commercial – i’m off to buy some indian-style sour cream and onion chips and oreos and sit on my (slightly less fat) ass.

sent with love.

31 May

there is a running joke in the team goodtimes family about hannah’s ability (or inability) to wrap packages for the mail.  to put it bluntly, upon arrival most of her packages look like a carefully-crafted letter bombs. awkward for everyone really.

since sending things to each other is almost a pre-requisite of being in our trio, hannah’s handicap (i use that in the most pc way possible, of course) has yielded many hilarious moments over the last 5 years.

however, i regret to tell you that i have never had the foresight to photo-document these incidents. this being the case, i sadly have no contrast for the package i happily received this past friday from hannah.

it looks like an adult sent it.

i hope you will take my word for it when i say that, in comparison to her previous works of ‘art’, this looks like an adult wrapped it and not a sugar-crazed toddler. even better than her wrapping job was the fact that it was chock-full of useful things for life here – like gator-gear (duh) and bug spray!

candy (my coworkers love!), itch-stick (i love!) and jello (for jello shots - everyone loves!)

to take blog notes?

attacked the ants, but they've only multiplied. bastards.

happy 1st wedding anniversary hannah + pete! thanks for the picture!

thanks hannah!

so thanks dear friend for abstaining from your typical mail bombing ways to make certain your love-filled package would clear indian customs!

hauling ass.

21 May

well it’s been a crazy week: i’ve been here there and everywhere. i’ve met with the americans. i hung out with our clients in their homes. i got told i was beautiful. i got told my nail-biting habit was dirty (it is). i rode a motorcycle for the first time.  i saw my first dog roadkill.

and while all this excitement has gone on, there has been one consistent theme to this week: hauling ass.

indians generally don’t move very fast.  they kind of like to linger when they walk, don’t much care if you’re trying to pass them and certainly aren’t worried about getting anywhere on time.  it’s stellar, really.

but there are some situations when it’s in your best interest to pick up your pretty little feet and move the hell outta the way. here’s a few from my weeks adventures:

1. when standing at the side of 4 lanes of traffic with 103495 people, 345 autorickshaws and 5049 motos, cross carefully taking one step at a time with your hand out. then find the opening. then HAUL ASS!

2. it’s sunny one minute and the next the sky is darker than you’ve ever seen it. the wind picks up and the droplets start to spit out of the clouds.  with garbage, dog pee, human pee and food covering the streets – the last thing you want is to get caught in the downpour and end up in pee/garbage soup. so HAUL ASS!

3.  you desperately need a ride to the market but it’s rush hour and all of india (yes, all) is looking for one too.  the line up for autorickshaws is huge – but – up in the distance you see one empty seat in fast approaching car.  out of the corner of your eye you see the guy beside you make his move towards the auto….duh – HAUL ASS!

so – while certain people and processes move slower than molasses here, i can confirm that without the tried and true principle of ass-hauling, i’d probably be screwed.

on a totally unrelated yet equally as awesome note:

birthday wishes from india.

thank goodness for americans.

19 May

it’s been a wild 24 hours but despite all the craziness of the last day, i have learned one key thing: thank goodness for americans.

here’s the rundown:

1. i got invited to a dinner with usa embassy workers here in kolkata: win.

2. i bravely planned to take the metro to dinner: win.

3. taxi driver didn’t know (or understand) the metro stop location, i yell, he drops me off on side of road at rush hour: lose.

4. new taxi driver thinks it would be fun to screw the white girl out of money, takes convoluted route to metro stop: lose.

5. metro is awesome, i find ticket, train and stop easy peasy lemon squeasy: win.

6. i find restaurant (italian place predictably filled with westerners.)  as soon as i leave metro station, despite rush hour traffic and near-death road crossing escapade: win.

metro ticket to prove bravery, and pizza to prove...hunger?

7. embassy workers are nice, inviting, unpretentious and incredibly welcoming: win.

8. trouble finding cab upon leaving restaurant, and when cab eventually located, driver drops me off in confusing spot in the market: lose.

9. panic, get lost and cry: lose.

10. get found, thank jesus and decide to keep crying: win.

11. get home, find out sienna’s born, cry again: win.

12. get no sleep because of #11’s excitement factor: lose.

13. try to find western union in morning, head to 2 banks, fill out 5 forms, get told after 2 hours you can’t send money from kolkata using western union: lose.

14. get home from work and find cable is out because of giant storm that prompted colleague to exclaim “i think we will have a twister-thing!”, fear for life: lose.

15. get an email from 2 new american embassy worker friends inviting me to birthday party next week that involves “libations, snacks, red velvet cupcakes with frosting and dancing at a club”, realize those are all my favorite things: win.

16. write this list, conclude win/lose ratio is preeeetty much even and decide to eat sour cream and onion chips: you decide.

spent.

things your mom and i have learned.

18 May

a note from al: i’ve had this post ready to go since may 11th – the original bean due date – and  i’m excited to say that i can now officially post it!

sweet one, you just have no idea how long we’ve all been waiting for you! it has been months – years even.  and some of us, i won’t say which ones, have been waiting a lifetime.

so after all this anticipation i’m sure you can see why today is just the best day.

while i can’t be there in person to welcome you, this doesn’t mean i don’t love you.  cause man, do i love you.

in my lingering absence i have spent hour after hour during these last few weeks thinking about how i could celebrate your arrival home – while i’m 12,000 kilometers away from home.

and then it hit me.

i’d be the robin to your batman! the watson to your holmes! i’d give you all the best things your mom and i have learned together from 27 1/2 + 28 1/2 years on this earth.

lesson 1: never ride alone.

steph + al horsing around

life is better with more than one: your troubles are easier and your joys are greater. (also…your pinot grigio is always colder. but this is a convo 19 years hence. 18 1/2 if you’re lucky.) build strong and enduring friendships – cause partner – the ride will get bumpy and you’ll want someone there who loves you to guide you home. giddy up.

lesson 2:  just go with the flow.

steph + al getting creative.

sometimes things don’t always work out how you planned. from bad haircuts (me) to broken noses (your mom) , you just gotta work with what you’re given.  embrace the unexpected early on babe, and you’ll always ride fast and high.

lesson 3: do your own thing, chicken wing.

steph + al looking smokin'

from this day forward people will tell you who to be – mostly with your best interests at heart of course! but if your mom and i have learned anything, it’s this: make your decisions for you and no one else. you may end up dressed to the nines in a room full of threes, but at least you will have worn what you wanted.

lesson 4: think not always of thyself but of others.

steph + al caring, sharing and daring.

it pains me to report that you will have bad days – very bad days. but always remember that  out in the mists there is someone having a worse day than you.  be compassionate, be kind and be sympathetic to those around you.  nothing feels as good as spreading the love.

lesson 5: love the ones you’re with.

wait...three? we're missing two.

while family comes in different shapes and forms, it is without a doubt the most important thing in life. embrace these (sometimes crazy) people – cause while family members can be the hardest to love – they will always love you the hardest.

so you see baby dearest, while i simply can’t be there shower you and your amazing parents with love,  i hope that for now you will accept these perfectly proven pearls via your ma and i as sort of a ‘hey! you’re here and i love you!’ thing. cause, let me say it again, man i love you.

welcome home,  sweet sienna. xo

pardon the interruption.

10 May

today i woke up feeling a little digestively challenged. all i will say is that i made some unfortunate vegetable choices last night and now i am off sick from work. of course, feel free to insert your own creative imagery here.

so as i sit quietly in my air conditioned mecca, i thought now would be the right opportunity to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with some goodtimes.  team goodtimes, to be exact.

i’ve mentioned lidia and hannah a few times now since starting this confounded blog, and since i promised to share my stories of friendship and friendship fail-dom, i thought team goodtimes was the perfect place to start.

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i met lidia and hannah in 2006 when i shipped myself off to (the developing country known as) france for my last six months of university. hannah was  loud, obnoxious, incredibly american and lived across the hall from me in our dorm.  lidia, on the other hand, was quiet(er) but had a wonderfuly quirky sense of humor.

i immediately adored lidia – but as for  hannah – not so much.

listen, i’m the first to admit that i can be a judgemental bitch. but hannah was really outgoing you guys, and that freaked me out. as enthusiastic as hannah was (is), i was (am) equally as stubborn when i decide something is not for me.

yet despite weeks of suffering through my prickly demeanour, hannah broke me down with her obvious sense of loyalty, compassion and kindness. sure, she was over-the-top about everything, but that meant the girl knew how to have fun. and i liked it.

so with our mutual love for lidia in tow, team goodtimes was born.

i asked hannah last night how the name team goodtimes came about because i guess the french wine had eroded my memory. this is what she said: “al you gave us the name. you said we should be called team goodtimes because…we always have goodtimes.”

and while obvious, i guess it gets the point across.  we’re fun girls.

sometimes it's exhausting being so fun.

friendship is tricky and sometimes (many times) i don’t always get it right.  but, what’s beautiful about this is that my many failures have brought me to the point where i know a good thing when i see it. and folks – team goodtimes is just that.

over 5 years has gone by since our first days together – and while we are all on different continents – my dear team goodtimes girls still find time each day in their busy schedules to warm my heart.

i guess that’s just part of our deal. and i love them for it.