Sunday, November 29, 2009

Messages in a Bottle

After 5 1/2 years in our house, we finally got motivated enough to unpack and organize the attic. It's pretty damp up there, with a lot of creepy-crawly things, so I was concerned about moving a lot of the stuff out of cardboard boxes and into large plastic containers. The long weekend proved a great time to get down to business, so up we went.

I complain a lot about how much of a pack rat Mark is (I'm the opposite...I get rid of everything that I'm not using or haven't worn in the last couple of years), but for once I as glad for his tendency to save because I located (most likely) every letter I wrote to him during the early years of our courtship, dated from December 1981 through August 1984, right up to the time I moved to Rochester.

After finding them, I did not have an overwhelming desire to read them, wanting to leave the past in the past, and figuring they'd be corny as heck. After 28 years together and 22 years of marriage, so much has happened (much great, some, not-so-great), I didn't feel like I wanted to travel back to those idyllic years when I was a young girl filled with teenage love. Call me cynical, or maybe just realistic, but the view from 46 was sure to look a lot different than the view from 18. But, my Libra curiosity and nosiness got the best of me, and I sat down, put the letters in order, and began to read.

Here are some things I learned about my 18-year-old self. Some of these memories are as clear as if they happened yesterday, and some I have NO MEMORY of:
  • I went out to bars with my girlfriends (a lot), and drank a lot of screwdrivers and "quarter drafts." I mentioned, more than once though, that I didn't drink "that night" because I was the designated driver (Wow! How 2009!).Most of my letters to Mark were written after I got home from going out. Usually after midnight or 1am. Can you imagine me staying up that late several days a week now?! I did have the good sense to re-read the letter(s) before I mailed them.
  • I had a really hard time finding a job
  • I couldn't wait until the next trip to "Roch-cha-cha."
  • Apparently my parents drove me crazy, especially my father with his questions about "where I was going." In one letter I was complaining that he wouldn't let me go to Frontiertown with Sue, her mom, and her cousin, San. That's craziness! I wonder why he wouldn't let me go! The fact that my parents drove me crazy is something I do not recall, but it makes me feel good that I complained about my parents much like I'm sure my kids complain about me.
  • I made my friends a lot of taco dinners. This, I remember.
  • One of Sue's long-distance boyfriends paid me to buy (and deliver) her a white rose.
  • There is some sexual innuendo in the letters. We won't go there.
  • I wrote A LOT of letters. Sometimes every other day in the summer. Wow!
  • I complained about the number of letters Mark DID NOT write.
  • At one point I apparently had a job interview at Alcoa, the aluminum company where my father worked. In the letter I write, "I hope I don't have to wait two hours for a 10 minute interview like Tim Bell did." I absolutely never recall an interview at Alcoa! I wonder how different my life might have turned out if had gotten a job there?
  • I also apparently took a civil service exam. Again, no recollection!
  • I missed Mark a lot during out time apart, "more than he could know." There was a lot of that kind of blather.
  • Etc. etc. etc.
I feel really fortunate to have found the letters after all these years, and am glad my kids can have them for the future. They really helped remind me of a simpler time in our relationship, and the less-mature love I felt for Mark way back then. Who knows, maybe the kids will make a major motion picture about us based on the letters!

Mark is continuing to clean out the attic stuff and just came down with the letters I had written to him. I didn't even know I kept them! There are substantially fewer of those, so I'd might as well get reading!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Annalisse-ism, 2009 Style

Here's a little nugget to get your Thanksgiving week started out right. I've posted Annalisse-isms before here and here, and here's a conversation we had on Saturday on the way to the mall to buy her friend a birthday gift certificate:

A: How much is a $20 gift certificate?
Me: How much do you think it is?
A: I don't know.
Me: If you had to guess, what would you guess it costs?
A: I don't know. Maybe $30?


Well, it turns out that a $20 mall gift certificate actually costs $22, so I guess the joke was on me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Travel Bug

Most of last week was spent in Boston for a two-day conference for work. I arrived early on Tuesday morning and had the day to spend as "tourist" until I had to check-in at 9am on Wednesday morning. I suppose it's a sign of maturity that I thoroughly enjoyed the short walk to Quincy Market, a longer walk on the Freedom trail, wandering around Chinatown and relaxing (by myself!!) in my hotel room. I remember back to 1991 or so when I went to my first professional conference, and was very anxious about the trip - what would I do at mealtime? And what it would be like to be all alone in a hotel room? These days, I really enjoy the solitude of short get-away from "real life" and the sometimes mundane routine that comes from family and work! Are we talking escape, here?!

One of the hot things going around on Facebook these days is the challenge to post a message every day about things we are thankful for. Of course, I'm thankful for the usual stuff: healthy kids, my husband, my home, my job, my extended family, etc. but one of the things I'm REALLY thankful for is that I have a job that allows me to travel to cities that I might not otherwise have the financial means to visit. As a result of trainings or conferences in my previous and current positions, I've been able to go to San Antonio (and Bandera, TX - the Cowboy Capital of the World), Scottsdale, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Denver, Boston, and New York. In April, if all goes well, I'll be heading to San Fransciso. Who could complain about that? Definitely something to be thankful for.

Every trip just reinforces how I wish I could travel more (read: all the time). I think we all have dreams of travel in our retirement but there are two things wrong with that plan: (1) we won't be retiring for quite a long time, and (2) chances are we won't be able to really afford to travel that much.

Remember Cam's trip to Greece, Italy and Paris last year? Well, guess what? Now he's going to Germany in June for an home stay/exchange program through his High School. I'm sure annalise won't be far behind with travel. I've told both kids they should take advantage of study abroad programs when they're in college...hey, maybe we'll finally get a chance to travel abroad to visit them! That's probably what it will take. I can dream, can't I?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sickness all Around

This was another "great" week of bad health for the Bakers. While I was feeling more myself and back on the track to good health, the kids still struggled all week with coughing, low-grade fevers, sore throats and headaches. Looking over the years, I recall that February is a particularly bad month for sickness in our family and others, so the fact that it's all taken a such a hold so early in the season makes me very uncomfortable and anxious for the winter.

Even our sweet nephew, Jackson, has been through the wringer this week with a double ear infection, pneumonia, and the H1N1 virus. Dave and Mandy have been in and out of doctors and emergency rooms with him for a week now, and Mom flew down on Wednesday morning to help out. Luckily, yesterday (after being in the ER for re-hydration until 4am the previous morning) he seemed to turn a corner and has been perking up regaining strength, and eating a little again. All of this does not bode well for a worry wart like me.

Next week I go for a two day conference in Boston, and that family joke is that every time I go away someone gets sick. My only consolation in all this is if everyone was sick this week, maybe I'll have a worry-free trip next week. Fingers crossed.