Friday, July 27, 2012

Honeymoon Part I: Lost in Translation

We made it to the Deep South and back, alive, in whole pieces, still married. Congrats to us.

Yes, my Deep South family did in fact greet us with celebratory balloons. Because they're awesome.

And yes, I did in fact gain the promised eight pounds, and Goose did in fact eat the promised second, third, fourth helpings. We even got Petrie and Pax to sit in the back seat for a record-breaking collective eight minutes.

I could write a book on the many things we discovered in packing up Mom's house, almost all of which included spiders, spelling tests and paint cans, but that is for another day. It was rough, and that's probably the sum of what I can say about it now. That, and the fact that I am O.V.E.R. sweating. Like, over it.

So, on the heels of our Deep South trip (which, by the way, for probably the first time in the history of my entire long-long-long adult life, I did not pack a pair of heels. Alllll flats, vomit.), I thought we could stray a little further south.

Like end of the world south. (In my mind, that is said in Captain Jack Sparrow's voice.)

Like South Africa south. (In my mind, that is said in Morgan Freeman's voice.)

I couldn't resist. Google Morgan Freeman pictures. It will make your day, swear.

Side note: Yes, I narrate through my posts as I'm writing them, as if this were going to be an animated movie. You're welcome.

Part I: Lost in Translation

Goose and I undertook honeymoon-destination location discussions for a while, mainly because I'm OCD and risk-averse, and he's a list-maker and travel snob. Eventually, we narrowed it down to two choices: Thailand v. South Africa.

And here's how I processed it: Death by Monsoon v. Death by Lion Consumption and/or Shark Attack.

Don't worry, that girl lived. I probably would not have.
After much self-reflection and assessment of my endurance skills, I figured I had a better chance of surviving a large mammal than a large wave. Is that weird that I spend many seconds of my day thinking those things through? No? Ok, then. South Africa it is.

At the start of planning, I requested we take a honeymoon that required little effort. I spent the last 18 months planning (with admittedly fantastic help) a destination wedding for north of 350 people, herding 20+ non-Houston, non-New Orleans vendors, taking over the care (and ultimately, estate) of a very sick mother and moving a Goose&Co. into my apartment, all while attempting to practice law without a bag over my head. When I say "little effort," I envisioned going somewhere with french fries, sitting, staring at the sky, eating hamburgers, sitting, and quietly and contentedly processing all of my risk-averse methods of escaping sure death.

Somewhere along the way, that got a tad lost in translation.

I said: "Goose, let's go somewhere easy."

Goose heard: "Goose, let's go somewhere where we have to take nine planes, three boats, a car, a van and a bus to traverse three countries and eight stops, none alike in climate, clothing or dignity. Oh, and make sure they serve french fries."

And so, this is how our honeymoon story begins. First up: Capetown by way of New Orleans, Houston, New York and London. Oh, it will be stellar. And probably a tad bit glittery.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not sharing the cornbread.

It probably comes as zero surprise to you that I have a strong dislike of road trips. And when I say strong, we're talking "I'm ready to throw myself out of this window as soon as I can self-contain my head beating against it." Although this isn't the point of this post, I'll share with you my self-diagnosed reasons as to why:

  • First, you must remember that I have three brothers. Although we (thankfully) didn't have to take many road trips growing up, we did undertake enough of them to scar me for life. Picture me, plus three stinky, snoring, touching-me-with-their-gross-boy-feet boys, and that's probably all the visualization you'll need. 
Three little brothers. Six stinky boy feet.

  • Second, I get really, really, really carsick. Goose thinks I make it up - although he's never been able to articulate a possible reason as to why I would - but heart-crossed, stick a needle in my eye, 98% of the time I'm in the backseat of a car, I'm praying I don't vom. (Learned secret over the years: sugar cookies and Coca Cola will distract you into thinking you're cured.)
Deathly carsick here after a Mexico City road trip. The worst kind.
  •  Third, I am TERRIBLE with direction, self-orientation, stargazing and compass-reading, which boils down to me getting lost, all the time, without fail. My dad used to get frustratingly baffled at my inability to get anywhere without calling him eleven times to guide me.  
I googled "Stargazing" and this is one of the first pictures. Naturally. You're welcome.
So, moral of the story, I hate road trips. Shocking, I've digressed. (While in digression, the very nerdy OCD attorney in me just catapulted with glee in finding that Blogger allows you to use bullet-points. Best discovery e.v.e.r. I envision many bullet-points to come.)

On Friday, me, Goose and our two yiddles are loading it into my (recently wrecked by husband) car and roadtriping it to the very, very, very Deep South. If we arrive there not-divorced, it will be our greatest married accomplishment to date. (Deep South family, if you're reading this, have the confetti and balloons ready to congratulate us on our feat; unless, of course, we're getting divorced. In that case, have a "Quick! Hide the confetti and balloons!" Plan B prepared and practiced.)

Did I mention that neither Petrie nor Pax will sit in the back seat? And if heaven forbid we attempt, Petrie is very vocal with her general annoyance with life and Paxter spends every waking second attempting to outsmart us with his escape route back to our laps. Evidence below.

Goose and I are going to pack up Mom's house. It will be sad. It will be the hardest thing I've ever done. And I will cry and look like a bloated zombie. But then I'll eat boiled peanuts and let my Ganny hug on me, and it will be better.

Although our cause is not to be overlooked, I am also very stoked to be going. I'm rarely at a loss of words (clearly), but describing to you the strengthening of my soul that occurs when I go back is almost indescribable. Almost.

First grandchildren are the best grandchildren. Obviously.

Let's lay it on the table here. I will gain eight pounds in the ten days I'm in Mississippi and take only loose-fitting dresses, most of which will be tight upon my return. I will eat cheese straws and pan-fried corn bread and boiled peanuts and grapes rolled in cream cheese and homemade fried chicken and I will like it. And I'll probably eat seconds. Minnie, the firecracker of a lady who originally cooked for my great-grandmother and then my grandmother before her retirement at a ripe old age of 90+, will make a pan of cornbread for me and I will not share it, even with my dear sweet Ganny. I will not lie in regret after big meals or lament myself for the three helpings of dessert I had. And Goose? Let's just say the man doesn't eat second (third?) helpings anywhere but the Deep South. 

Although I've never lived in the Deep South, I feel like I'm a native. And it is something I hold very dear. Double-names are the norm, and questions aren't answered with "What?" or "Huh?" but instead "Ma'am?" or "Sir?" When babies are born, you look back through the generations of your family for a name (which, by the way, you can track, because your family has lived in the same general area for the last nine generations), all of which are said with at least two extra syllables inserted. When men enter the room, they greet each female with a kiss on the cheek. Women still get their hair done at the "beauty parlor" weekly, and casseroles are exchanged by the truckload when a baby is born or a family member dies. The hills are covered in kudzu, which the rest of the country has shockingly never heard of.

Life moves more slowly. I laugh more and wear less makeup and talk with a very strong drawl, which sounds something between a terrible Reese Witherspoon "Sweet Home Alabama" imitation and the real deal.

Yes, my Da wears suspenders like a boss.
When Mom was a teenager, my grandfather packed her up and drove her to Austin, Texas to attend The University of Texas. She would stay for 25 years, but her heart never left the Deep South. Because of that, so many of my childhood memories are based there. Starting at just a few months old, I would spend a fair amount of my summers staying at Ganny & Da's house, digging in deep to the small-town way of life. Porch swings. Days spent at the Country Club, jumping out of the pool only to eat a quick lunch served by Mrs. Russell. Fire flies. Sweet tea. (And I've clearly transitioned into writing a cheesy romance novel. Which, reminds me, have you seen The Help? Filmed here. That should shore up your visual.)

Probably a good indication of my future legal career would be my "How long am I allowed to stay in Mississippi?" discussions I had with my parents growing up. Which, for the record, I normally won. Mom's family goes back literally generations in the area. Houses have been passed down from generation to generation. All of my cousins were raised in homes that originally held either my great-great grandparents or great-grandparents. The banisters and floor beams in my grandparent's house come from the Antebellum home that stood on their lot for a 150 years, the very same home that William Faulkner's Rowen Oaks was modeled after in 1844. There are historical markers for Civil War cannon fire. The streets leading off the square are still cobbled instead of paved. And there is something so very-deepening about that. Add a buttermilk recipe to the mix and you're sold for life.

Ah, and here it is. You knew I couldn't make it through an entire sappy post without my general sarcasm (that, my friends, comes directly from the non-Deep South straight-up-born-bred-and-raised in the Big City side of the family. Their time will come, and you will like it.). It is INEVITABLE that I will look like I'm thirteen while I'm there. Their water wrecks havoc on my face. In fact, people probably assume I'm in perpetual puberty, because by day two of my visit, I will have a breakout that is determined to rule the world and my face. Oh, and I sleep with nose strips on, because my Big City senses are in manual overload from the "this-is-how-air-smells-without-pollution" smells. Add that to the eight pounds of weight I'll gain, and the reason I didn't land a Deep South husband (much to my Mother's dismay) should be self-evident. (And for the record, I landed a Mexican one, and Mom loved him, and we speak at the same speed and have the same general cynicism for life, so we'll be ok. That is, assuming we don't kill each other on our road trip.)

Deep South water, attacking my head.

So wish us luck. Say a prayer (or nine) for us. Come visit. Ganny will have a well-laid table ready and waiting for you.

And I won't share the cornbread that's on it. Even if you bribe me with gold.

A Goose Graduated

When I first decided that my next post was going to be about Goose's graduation, a Travis Tritt song popped into my head. For the life of me, I can't remember what that song was now. However, seeing as how it was Travis Tritt, trust that it was an awesome one. Which leads me to think about the time that E, my bff of 20+ years, lost her s$*t because I was driving her crazy listening to Travis Tritt to and from work every day. Evidence below. But, I digress.
For the record, E is not flipping the bird. I managed to chop off her peace sign. I win.
Are you giving up already? Certainly not after those pictures. (Side question: Do they have the same haircut? Hard to say.) Don't worry, I'm getting there.

So, Goose moved to Houston. Then we got married. Then we went on an amazing honeymoon. Then we started our life. But, before all of that, an important event went almost unnoticed in my electronic thumbprint: A Goose Graduated. And this is that story.
About 2.5 years ago, Goose and I were at a crossroads. We decided we should either start planning life together (or at least generally in the same northwards direction), or we hit the high seas alone. Well, you know how that one turned out. Once we decided we were in it for the long, long, long, very long haul, we then shifted gears towards devising a plan that would return Goose to the U.S. of A. from his current station in Panama. I know, life is hard for geese. Wheels turning, wheels turning, wheels turning - aha! Let's send Goose to school.
I lie. That's pretty much not how it happened. Well, the first sentence is true. The second one too. And the third, perhaps even the fourth. The truth is, Goose knew all along that he wanted to go back to school to get his MBA. He waited it out, devising his triumphant return, because most MBA programs require a certain few years of experience before they'll let you come share your wisdom gained by same said few years of experience. We knew from the beginning that we would still be apart for those few years, seeing that Houston is low on the list of cities with a stellar MBA program (except, as crazy bff of 20+ years reminded me, Rice. Zoinks.). So, in August of 2010, Goose packed it up, loaded his stuff on a shipping container that may or may not ever make it to the States, and moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. (For those of you who were visualizing Goose manually lifting those boxes, let me help you. That didn't happen.)

Let me pause a bit to reflect on Charlottesville. This town, where The University of Virginia was built by Thomas Jefferson in 1817, is A-MA-ZING. Seriously, amazing. It's like the towns you read about in your picture books when you're a kid. (Forget the irony, please.) It is straight-up hometown America served on a spoon. Which, for a Mexican goose, well there's irony in that too. I know that Charlottesville and its surroundings (vineyards galore, horse tracks, Monticello, Montpelier, etc. etc. etc. Did I mention vineyards?) will make up a huge part of Goose's memories as time goes on. There, that's Charlottesville in a nutshell. Go visit, like yesterday.

Beyond Charlottesville and its charming Jefferson charm (double-use-of-word-in-same-sentence-please-ignore), more than anything, Goose came back to me with a dynamite group of Darden friends. I referred to them like that once to my attorney friends, and they were like, "Is that a secret society?" Which raises an interesting point: Have I married a man that people automatically associate with secret societies? Obviously. He has three last names, case closed.

Anyways, back to the friends, which I know is what Goose would want this post to be about more than anything. There's a group of about 25 men, who, like lost souls without lights in the night, found each other, held hands, and BAM!, created a pretty blinding, alcohol-smelling, intense fire pit. I have no idea what any of that means, but you get my point, yes? These 25 dudes (with a few female friends - but as many of you know, grad schools tend to be lean on that account) truly became the Goose's life over the past two years. So much so that I'm pretty sure two months out, he's still going through Darden-friend withdrawal. It isn't a pretty sight.

And I must say, these burly men are quite astonishing. Each of them is successful in their own right - these guys are the ones who will take over the world. (Spit over your right shoulder and turn three times.) Although I only met each of them a few times, they embraced me as if I had been along for the entire ride. They're kind, funny, charming, handsome, can drink you under the table and outwit you in the morning. They took care of my Goose - what more can you ask for?
Goose wants me to mention that not all of his friends are here. He's sensitive like that.
The graduation story would be incomplete without a quick rundown of the actual day. There's a "tradition" that graduates begin their day at campus bars. At 7am. I can bet you can guess where I was at 7am. Not at the campus bar. But Goose & Co., that's another story. I also decided to skip out on the undergrad graduation because, well, obviously. Instead, I ate some of my last pre-wedding french fries with two new but stellar friends (let's call them C&E). Side note: I almost missed one of our connecting honeymoon flights because I was stuffing my face with french fries. What can I say? I was deprived. Second side note: If I had a dollar for every time Pablo told me about a Darden "tradition," I'd have $3252320350 and two years of my life back.

Back to graduation day. Graduate graduation - showed up for that one. He graduated, without his cap. Sound familiar?

Graduation ended. Party over? Ha. Have you learned nothing? Don't worry, when I left to catch my flight on Monday morning at 5:30am, Goose & Co. were still going strong. Almost 24 celebratory hours later. "Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down. Down into my belly. Mm-Mm-Mm." That probably sums it up nicely if you multiplied it by eight.

And, because I know E would die if her very first appearance on the blog was just thug nation, here she is in the real world. She's legit. And yes, she does smile that much. And no, she doesn't have Travis Tritt's haircut. Anymore.

So, a Goose graduated. And he's in pursuit of the glitter. Or napping in his pajamas on the couch today, whatever.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The second is the hardest part.

For starters, I hope you just sang that title to the tune of Tom Petty's "Waiting is the hardest part." (And if you didn't then, you have now, and you feel awesome.) Moving on.

This week, I've been at a loss as to what my second post should be about. A certain level of forgiveness comes with a first post, yes? But the second, the second must be solid. It must affirm your decision to spend the time to come back. It must foster the beginning buds of your admiration. It must be articulate, thoughtful and, well, about something.

I suppose we can choose a topic by elimination. Yes, that should work. So, without further ado, let's discuss what this second post is not about. Surely, that will leave us with something for the third.

1. The Big Move - My parents moved out of my childhood home this past week. They've been in the process of this for awhile now - transitioning from the city to the, um, wilderness. A few years back, they bought a ranch in Walburg, Texas. If you know Randall and Sharon, this perhaps comes as a surprise to you. Here's how I can sum it up: Daddy was chopping trees down a while back (Can you picture it? The best dressed man I know, chopping trees? Baaahah.), and his brand-new, shiny chainsaw stopped working. What would a veteran, non-born, bred and raised-in-the-city rancher do? Hmm, perhaps fix it. Yeah, right. Randall trashes the first and buys a second brand-new, shiny chainsaw just to get the dang trees chopped. Oh wait, second brand-new, shiny chainsaw breaks too. Son-of-a-mother. Pause, pause, think, think. Fume, kick a few things, think, think. Inspect, inspect again. Well, that's the chain on backwards? Ah, and there it is.

That, my friends, sums up my parents selling their big-city house and moving full-time to their ranch. (They call it a "farm" - but to me, that conjures rolling hills. The farm/ranch certainly has none of those.) For the record, this post is not about the move. And this post is not about the ranch. Those posts will come in due-time. Trust me, that house has a lot of good stories to tell and great pictures to share. And tell and share them I will, just not today.   

2. See You Later, Sucker - So, Goose and I were married for about 23.5 days when he threw in the towel, grabbed his passport and hightailed it back to Mexico City. His parting words - "See you later, sucker."

Woah, or not. He did, however, go to visit his parents in the Mother Land. If you were at the wedding, I hope the lady-in-the-red-dress's constant "Mexico! Mexico! Mexico!" chant just overtook your subconscious. Only at our wedding, folks. But I digress. Mexico is in the middle of their presidential elections, and Goose is in the middle of his twilight summer. He's taking advantage of it by making the global rounds, beginning with Mexico City. Panama City, the Cape and New York City to come. I miss him. I don't miss having bathrooms with toilet lids up. He's like a ninja in the night, following me around and re-lifting them upon my bathroom completion. (Married ladies - when does this stop? Ever?) However, this post is not about Goose's travels. Nor is it about his toilet training.  

3. I'm THIS Car Person- I did it. I took the plunge. No, I'm not referencing my recent marriage. That part was a walk in the park. Even more scary than that, I bought a new car. I've never been a car person. They just don't make my clock tick. However, my loyal Land Rover is nearing the end. It's been a good ride together, literally, figuratively, mentally, haphazardly. But it's time. Goose bought The Rover originally over Christmas Break our junior year of college. He drove it until he moved to Panama, at which point I inherited it. It's seen me through the daily drives to class, it carted me to every single inteview, call-back and final round I had, it has gotten me safely to Austin and back countless times, and it has made several moves with me. She's faithful, but she needs a pretty intense facelift.

Goose and I had decided we'd both get new cars after the wedding. Wedding presents to ourselves, no Thank You Cards involved. We thought Goose would be first - after all, his car's A/C went out on the way to Houston from Virginia. About two hours in, with two days to go. It only blows hot air, and refuses to be turned off. Yeah, you can imagine what that smells like in 100-degree heat. But, Goose made his most husbandly-decision to date - he let me get the new car first. It's awesome. That's all I can say. I'm still not a car person, I'm THIS car person.

And don't worry. We kept The Rover. Perhaps we will sell it, perhaps we won't. We both love her. And in the meantime, Pablo has A/C again - Allelu-uh-uh-jah. If you're in the market for a silver car of some sort that comes with one mirror and hot air only, let us know. We happen to have one.

And double-don't worry. We picked it up on a Saturday. Pablo wrecked it on a Monday. But that's a tale for a different time. Because, this post is not about my shiny new car that I love oh-so-much or the subsequent wreck she endured at the hands of my brand-new husband.

4. Adios Master Closet Number 3 and Craft Armoire - Let's be honest here...I'm a freakazoid when it comes to organization and my master closets. Plural, indeed, because I have three. In fact, I rented the largest apartment my complex offered SOLELY for its closets. I had a nuclear meltdown a few weeks ago when I had to empty the third to make way for the random dude moving in. And not to mention emptying my craft armoire for same said-dude's dude-stuff.  How was I going to truly survive without my craft armoire? Oh, the terror. Oh, the SHAME. (Lion King anyone, yes?)

Well, we're a few weeks into it, and here's what I've learned. I like Goose living with me, even if I only have two master closets and my crafts have been relegated to a plastic set of drawers behind a curtain. We're making it work. All of our married friends told us the first few months would be about adjustments. And so they are, and we are adjusting-away.

5. Commas - Please recall my first post. I told you one of the things this blog would be about would be commas. More specifically, my grammatically correct discretionary use of them. Now, please re-read all of the above, and you will find commas are my favorite punctuation mark. I'm a comma nerd, I confess it and emphatically embrace it. And here's a secret: Be afraid to write me. I'm judging you and your ability to use commas. But, alas, this blog post is not about love of commas and 76% of the world's inability to engage them properly.

6. Go Forward and Know That I Am With You - I don't want my blog to be about sad things. Even when I'm sad. But I want to share this with you, because I know so many of you have shared the sad things with me these last six months. I pride myself on not being a pack-rat. I toss things like it's my job. However, I've always saved cards I've received. In fact, I can probably squirrel together the map of my life through cards you've sent me. Goose thinks its useless. Up until now, I couldn't really justify my single-item hoarding. I'd just harumph and save away. But here's why I'm thankful I did. In packing up my childhood room last week, I came across a box of cards, including those that I received for high school graduation. Tucked amongst them was one from my Mom, and here's what it said: "I am so proud of you. Go forward knowing that I am with you."

It's like she wrote that card all those years ago (about ten, to be exact), just for this time. For me to stumble upon. For me to know that she's still with me, her spirit in my heart, even when she's gone. More than sad, the card makes me peaceful, something I have not been since she passed away. And that's all I can ask for. But, alas, this post is not about Mom. She'll wait with me for another day and another post.

Still with me? If you are, you deserve a medal. Phew, that was long, rambling and lacking of any central thought. Apologies are due. The Second Post (as you see, it has now warranted its own capital letters) is admittedly about nothing. I trust that it is the hardest part. Maybe I've discovered a rhythm worthy of a third blog post. And that post, I promise, will be about something. Something in the singular, less-rambling and shiny.

See you, covered in glitter, then.