Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Quick One

Sorry for the disappearing act. The computer situation in our house for the past few months has been thus:
One laptop with a broken screen,
One laptop with no power supply,
One desktop buried under a mountain of crap in the spare room,
And my laptop, which everybody uses, and I always feel guilty about kicking people off of.
Hence the infrequent updates.

But, for the past two weeks or so, the computer situation has been thus:
One laptop with a broken screen,
One laptop with no power supply,
One desktop buried under a mountain of crap in the spare room,
And one seven-year-old laptop with a completely fried RAM.
Hence the zero updates.

But Jeremy's work bought him a laptop this week, which would help me with my computer situation if only it didn't live at work with him when I am home and wanting to write. So I cleared a path through the mountain of crap today to the desktop in the spare room, and I had Jeremy hook up a mouse for me so that I could actually use it, and I squeezed myself in between the three currently non-operational computers that take up most of the desk. And everyone else is downstairs with Jeremy's laptop in the living room, with the distracting TV on in the background which always kept me from concentrating on writing anyhow. Okay scratch that, now everyone is crowded into the spare room reading over my shoulder and trying to drag me off to a thrift store to buy costumes for Jon and Rachel's 1920's-themed party tonight. Which is ironic, since the next thing I was going to type was, "I'm really enjoying having a private, quiet place to write, and I think this is exactly what I needed to get back into blogging regularly again."

Anyhow, work is going pretty well, I'm adjusting to my new store and they to me, and I'm extremely happy to be back in the people-serving business again. And now I am off to buy a costume, because whatever else I had planned on writing, I can never turn down the chance to go to a thrift store. Maybe, while I'm out, I'll buy a lock for the door to the spare room.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A High School Reunion and a Lot of Tangents

I was planning on writing a proper update this morning, but I managed to slice my thumb open cutting a grapefruit this morning, and my bandaged thumb may make typing more difficult. Although, now that I have just typed that sentence, I am realizing that I don't really use my thumb to type very much after all.

I put a Disney band-aid on my thumb, and now it looks like Piglet is hemorrhaging from his face. That probably wouldn't amuse anyone but me, but I wrote it anyhow, because it's my blog, and it made me giggle.

So, where did I last leave you in the Chronicles of Jule Annia? Ah yes, I was just leaving my sister's house and my adorable nephew and trying to figure out why oh why they have to live eight hours away.

Then I broke every rule of my Davis upbringing and actually got on the road several hours earlier than I had originally planned on leaving. It was surprisingly not too difficult. I had packed my stuff when I got up in the morning, and after lunch, baby and mommy were both ready for naps, so I said my goodbyes and left them to their sleeping. That whole "baby recentering your universe" thing? I guess it works on house guests, too.

I had planned on stopping somewhere for dinner on my way to Ottawa, but I have this nasty habit when I am driving alone of continually pushing my rest stops back. "Let's see, there's a town in five miles, and then another one in 25 miles. I don't really need to stop at this town, I think I can wait for the next one." Do that a dozen times or so, and bingo, you're at your destination!

My destination, for those of you who haven't been keeping careful track of my life, was Ottawa, Canada, where I spent the first 19 years of my life. I graduated from high school and moved away from Ottawa in 1997, which was precisely ten years ago, and yes, for those of you who are mentally adding 10 to 19, makes me almost 30 years old. (I feel the need, however, to point out that, as a January baby, I was one of the oldest in my class, and that Ontario used to have a fifth year of high school, and that is why I was 19 when I graduated from high school. I didn't fail the third grade twice, I swear.)

Wow, this sure is becoming a very tangential post. Where was I again? Oh yeah, arriving in Ottawa with a full bladder and an empty stomach. After resolving the former problem, I called up my sister-in-law, Trish, to see if she wanted to go out for dinner with me. (Uh oh, I feel another tangent coming on.) There is this restaurant near where Jeremy and I used to live in Ottawa called Joey's Only. It's a seafood chain, and back when we were living in Ottawa, it was our "bad day, emergency night out" restaurant. Sometimes you just need to get out, and the prices were good, the food was good, and the corn muffins were amazing. Jeremy would get some sort of formerly-swimming creature, and I would get the only non-seafood thing on the menu: rotisserie chicken. It was pretty good chicken, although not as good as Swiss Chalet. So I kindof surprised myself when, several times over the last year or so, I suddenly had an overwhelming craving for Joey's Only chicken. I eventually put two and two together and figured out that it really wasn't the chicken I was missing; it was the spontaneous dinner dates. It was knowing that we had a comfortable place to escape to when the stress of work was grinding me down, and I had no energy to rummage in the fridge for something to eat that wasn't sprouting tentacles. It was sitting and talking about nothing in particular and playing tic-tac-toe with the pink and blue sugar packets. The chicken was just a garnish.

Even knowing all of that, I was still craving Joey's Only chicken, so I asked Trish if she wanted to go there for dinner. She said that sounded good, so I picked her up and we headed to the other Joey's Only in the city, the one that is closer to where my mom lives - not the one where Jeremy and I used to go. They brought us our menus, and I scanned the menu quickly: no rotisserie chicken. I asked out waiter about it, and he said they only have it at the other location. I apologized profusely, told the waiter that really, that was the only thing I wanted, and we put down our menus and left. I felt kindof bad for walking out, but not bad enough to spend my money on something other than what I was craving. So we went to Swiss Chalet. Their chicken is better anyway.

In case you were wondering where Jeremy is in this narrative, he had to work during the week I was at my sister's, so he was flying up to Ottawa to meet me for the weekend. His flight arrived shortly before midnight on Friday night, and we went straight to bed. We're getting old and boring like that.

Saturday was a gorgeous day, so we went to the market with Benjie and Trish. We got shawarma for lunch, which is another Ottawa food I have been missing greatly since we moved away. In fact, the list of foods I miss from Ottawa or Toronto (many of which are international in origin) has grown to the point where I can only have a few of them in one trip, otherwise I would be doing nothing but eating the entire time I was there. Maybe with a little bit more exploring, I will eventually find good pho and pupusas in Philly, too. I have managed to find good Ethiopian, Moroccan, and Colombian, so maybe it's just a matter of time.

We met up with Sarah and her boyfriend Scott in the afternoon, and we had dinner with her family. Sarah was in my class in high school, and she is the only person from my class that I have managed to stay in really consistent contact with over the years. I am still occasionally in touch with most of the people I was really close to in high school, and it looked like none of them were going to be going to the class reunion. Sarah and I were both a little wary about going, but I'm more stubborn and had more romanticized notions about the importance of attending high school reunions (I blame Grosse Point Blank), so I convinced her to come. I just looked at my yearbook, and there were almost 200 people in my graduating class. Not huge by some high schools' standards, but big enough that you're not going to be friends with everyone in your class. The turnout for the reunion was disappointing, and sure enough, those who did show up weren't the people that I was really close to in high school. But, ten years is a lot of water under the bridge, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed catching up with the people I wasn't really friends with in high school. One of my favorite teachers even came out for the occasion, and it was really great being able to chat with him as two adults. All in all, a fun evening, and I found myself actually looking forward to stage two of the reunion: Sunday picnic in the park.

I guess the main point of stage two of the reunion was for all of the people in my class who have had babies to bring them and show them off. And I am sure that if I had a baby myself, I would have been just as excited to bring my baby and show him or her off to my classmates, too. But, alas, I do not have any babies of my own, although I believe I have established myself as a pretty decent Auntie. So I did what I do best at stage two of the reunion: I played with everyone else's kids while they talked about whatever it is grown-ups talk about while their kids play. I brought a kite and bubbles and face paints, and had a really fun time at the picnic flying kites, blowing bubbles, and painting faces.

I did spend some time talking with the grown-ups, and the highlight of my day was being told by a handful of my classmates that they really respected me for my career choice. Which I realize, as I type that, I have not yet made public on this blog, but it is finally official, so I can talk about it now. As of this week, I am the assistant store manager at a Starbucks in Conshohocken. And I am really, really happy about this. I love Starbucks and I love working in the retail/food service environment. It's not easy to change your career path after seven years of post-secondary education, but I've found something that I love to do, and that's worth a dozen graduate degrees.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Week With a Baby

I arrived at my sister's house late Saturday night. I was supposed to be there Friday afternoon, but a bunch of last-minute stuff came up that threw my plans off. Once I had done everything I could on Saturday, however, my awesome husband shoved me out the door (figuratively, of course) amidst promises that he would take care of everything else (which he did).

The thing that struck me most vividly about living with a five-week-old baby for a week was how irreversibly a baby re-centers your life. And you'd think that would be a bad thing, but it's really just different. For one week, I got to see what it's like to have a baby at the center of my universe, and what really amazed me was how much life still continued to move along pretty much normally around that new center. And I'll stop there before I start to wax too poetical. I'll admit that I got off easy, because I didn't have to get up for thrice nightly feedings, and my sister insisted that I shouldn't have to be on diaper duty all week. But I really enjoyed the rhythm of living with Alana and Eric and Nicholas for that time. And Alana took lots of pictures of us for me to post on my blog.

I won't go into a detailed blow-by-blow of the entire week. We ate three meals a day and evening snacks at night, Nicholas eating approximately twice as often as us. I did as much of the cooking as I could, vacuumed, did dishes, went grocery shopping and stacked firewood. While Alana nursed, I read. When Nicholas was fussy, I walked around with him and let him look at the world to keep him entertained.
nick looking around

When his neck got tired of twisting around to see what there was to see, I held him on my chest until he fell asleep (exhausted, no doubt, from the strain of trying to read the words on my shirt).
nick reading my shirt

Sometimes, he would sleep soundly, and I would rest him on my knees and send Alana to bed while he napped and I read (or just stared at him).
nick asleep on my lap

Sometimes, I would entertain him by reading him his dinosaur book,
me reading to nick

and sometimes, he would entertain me with his Dr. Evil impersonation.
nick's dr. evil impersonation

Other times, we would just hang out and let mommy do housework unencumbered.
nick and me

During the week I was there, I learned to tell his hungry cries from his bored cries, and he learned how to stick his tongue out for me when I encouraged him with laughter. (Sadly, there are no pictures of this, which is odd, since he did stick his tongue out an awful lot.) Alana and I both swear we saw him smile real smiles, not just the gassy ones. While I was there, Nick discovered his hands, and by the end of the week, he had developed a really strong grip.
nick holding my finger

We took walks with Nick and Eli (Nicholas' big, hairy, canine brother). We visited Alana's Taiko group to show Neko-chan off to Alana's second family. One night, Tim and Allison (a friend from college and his girlfriend) came to visit me and we played Settlers of Catan while Alana and Nick napped. We picked a whole bunch of tomatoes from Alana's garden and made sauce. We talked, we laughed, and we splurged and ate ice cream almost every night.

As I was looking over the pictures that Alana sent to me (and over them, and over them, and over them), I realized that not only was I enjoying how adorable my nephew looked in those pictures, but I was also enjoying how I looked in those pictures. I haven't liked very many pictures of myself in the past few years - I always seem to look old or tired (to me, of course, everyone else always seems to think I look fine). But since I quit my job at the law office, I have had several people tell me how much happier I look. And a week at my sister's, a week that for all intents and purposes should have seemed routine and boring, a week of living simply on a schedule driven by the needs of an infant, that week seems to have been the icing on the cake. I look at these pictures, and I like the way I look because I look happy.
me sans nick


Well, I'm back at home after spending a week at my sister's house in Vermont and a weekend in Ottawa for my ten-year high school reunion. I have loads to say, and, for the moment, have no idea where to start saying them. Until then, here are two more pictures from the wedding I went to two weekends ago (sent to me by my sister-in-law, who felt sorry for me and my lack of photos of myself from the wedding).

Jeremy and I, being silly as usual:

The Davis clan, now with a third generation!
From left: Jeremy (my husband), Jule Ann (me), Jill (my mom), Eric (my sister's husband), Trish (my brother's wife), Benjie (my brother).
Front: Alana (my sister) holding Nicholas (my nephew/her son).