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Giving Thanks Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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My back driver’s side tire picked up a nail.

I was proud as punch of myself: I got the car jacked up, took off the injured tire, and was most of the way through getting the spare on when Fearless got home from work.

After taking a look at the tire he cracked a joke about me trying to do his job. Still in his greens, he suggested we take the tire to get repaired in his car, saving us from having to get the spare on and drive it over that way.

I asked if he wanted to change, maybe shower, before we went, knowing that those things he feels are pertinent to do after getting home from work.

He said we’d do that after we finished the task at hand.

After we dropped the tire off at the store where I had bought it, we had forty minutes of time to burn before they said it would be done. So we set about meandering through the whole sale store, window shopping (is it still window shopping if you’re inside the store?).

We stopped, looking at a stand alone winch (or something, haha) and he was talking about it, adding it to the mental list of things he’d like to have. It would be so useful.

Someone stepped up behind us, and thinking that we were impeding his way, I reached for Fearless’ arm, to perhaps pull him out of the way. Before I got to him, the man stepped in between us.

The stranger took his hand and shook it. Thank you for doing what you do. God bless.

He turned and smiled at me, and then walked away.

Fearless felt kind of awkward about it. Saying, I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even been overseas.

Still, in a time when all too often men and women in uniform are regarded with a certain wariness, disrespect or even spite it was a nice thing to witness.

To any of you people in the services out there, it isn’t said often enough. Thank you, really.

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Dazed and Confused: Wait… A What? Thursday, February 21, 2008

Posted by Grace in la famiglia.
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A new term has entered my lexicon, thanks to the boys. I’m wondering if they’ve created it, or if anyone else out there in the sphere has heard of it?

Pseudogirlfriend – that female friend that males spend a lot of time with, who at times behaves ‘girlfriendly.’ For example: making them chicken soup if they’re sick, offering massages for sore backs, etc. Further, it’s that friend who the real girlfriend tends to mistake as moving in on things, when in actuality, they’re just being a friend like they always have been.

Apparently, as I’ve been enlightened to it, I am one.

It’s true that my closest friends are ‘the boys.’ And I have been regaled with the story, sadly more than once, that Recently Ex-Girlfriend had mentioned something along the lines of “Well, if you like Grace so much, why don’t you just date her?”

I really don’t think that I get in the way of their relationships. I’m not the female friend who makes moves to cut out the girlfriend from the picture, I tend to befriend them as well. I’m not the female friend who points out new girl’s faults, or gets angry when one of the boys starts seeing someone. I just happen to be that girl that their boyfriend is really good friends with.

So I’m told, it’s not that I get in the way, it’s just that my position is rarely understood. From my insider’s point of view, the boys are my closest friends. I do things for them that I do for anyone I’m close to: if you’re sick you’re going to get some home made chicken noodle, if you’ve got a sore back you’re going to get a massage (it’s one of my talents, why wouldn’t I use it?), if you have something you need to get off your chest I’m going to be there to listen. It is like that with any friend, male or no. As a circle of friends, we have been through a lot together, and so are rather tight knit and pretty fiercely protective of each other.

I’ve been asked to try to understand things from an outsider’s point of view, though. And from an outsider’s point of view, I can understand that seeing a group of young men, plus me is maybe a little bit strange. With the common point of view that girls and boys can’t be just friends, added to how protective they are of me, and the things I will do to make them happy, I can kind of understand. I’m that friend who the actual girlfriends never really understand how her man’s and my friendship works.

But, I’d like to add another term here for the boys, because the reverse is also so true.

What is a pseudoboyfriend? It’s that male friend a girl has who she spends a lot of time with, who she can tell things to that she can’t normally tell people. That friend who is very protective of her, and tends to find faults and reasons to dislike men she gets involved with. A pseudoboyfriend is that male friend who the actual boyfriend never really seems to understand the ways in which that friendship works. In short, a pseudoboyfriend is that male friend females have, who sometimes behaves ‘boyfriendly.’

And to the boys, ma famiglia: you are them.

Song of the Day: Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin

Any Other World Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Posted by Grace in blue doves.
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People seem to be not enough for each other anymore. What you have with who you’re with seldom seems to be enough for a lot of people you come across. There is just this constant search for something better. As soon as anything begins to go wrong, people feel better to cut away that they do to put effort into fixing things. It fits well into our consumer technology. As soon as a person doesn’t get what they want how and when they want it, they are quick to discard and find anew.

I’m not saying that settling for less is a good thing, nor that being unable to let go of something that cannot be fixed is healthy. It is just that love, like life, is not always easy; taking the easy way out as soon as any obstacle comes up can lead to missing out on really great things.

Call me a romantic, I am. Call me idealistic, that’s probably true too. I just don’t understand why some people are so quick to cut down, berate, or discard people that are important to them. They can’t support each other, they tear each other apart. It’s just completely foreign to my sensibilities.

(I’ll step off my soapbox now…)

Song of the Day: Any Other World – Mika

Roses From My Friends Friday, February 8, 2008

Posted by Grace in until the wheels fall off.
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When TM was in the hospital, as happened often, he had a habit of making phone calls while really messed up on whatever drugs he had running in with his IV. His voice would have a smile in it, like he was on the cusp of laughter, even though when he got sick, he tended to get really dangerously sick.

A good portion of what he would say would make very little sense, like how he figured that giraffes were just horses that let their curiosity get the best of them; but still have a line of logic to it, they were the ones who just needed to know what leaves tasted like. He would just find these ideas and get stuck on them.

On one specific phone call I remember quite clearly, he decided to let me in on his plan on roses.

When I die one day, I’ll make sure there are white roses. They’ve always seemed to be the most sincere, so I think they would be the ones who would do it for me.

He was always very upfront and honest about mortality, but didn’t often just come out with it like that. When I die one day…

It says red in the plans, but they’ll be white. They’ll let you know that I’m somewhere out there, and that I’m alright. I’ll do it, I promise. Okay Grace?

At that time, I really had no idea what to say to that. My best friend in the whole world was talking about dying, and promising to have flowers sent so that I’d know he’d be all right. There isn’t really much you can say I don’t think, especially when they are in the midst of a drug induced floatiness. So I told him, “Okay TM, white roses it is.”

And then he proceeded to tell me about how he figured the nurses at this hospital were vampires. As someone who had had a blood test every two weeks for his entire life, he was sure he of all people would know, and because he’d had so much blood taken in the past couple of days it just had to be true.

He babbled on and on in the way that he would, winding in and out of ideas, memories, and stories of things; and I would try to keep up. Through it all, in those phone calls, there tended to be a general message he was trying to get across, but sometimes had issues with because of the automatic verbal fire he was going through.

In the days that followed, he fought through, he got better, and like always, the survivor got to go home. Much more time was spent laughing with the boys, cooking giant batches of spaghetti, getting whispered mixed up messages by a smiling voice from the hospital, and just being us.

At the memorial, the roses were red.

Being in the disbelief I was in, I took it as a sign, if they were red it meant he wasn’t gone. He promised white and he didn’t break promises. In the time that followed, those roses being red were really hard to accept. If they were white it was supposed to mean he was somewhere and he was alright. What was red supposed to mean?

But in the time that’s followed, white roses have found their way into my life. First gave me white roses before he left. My mom decided to plant a rosebush and showed me pictures of the pretty pink blooms it was supposed to have. It must have been mislabeled, because all summer it bloomed white. The eight-year-old boy from down the road caught me picking up the mail today, handed me a package, and asked to be my valentine. When I looked inside, it was a single white rose (his mom runs our town’s flower shop).

In some way, I like to think that that isn’t all coincidence; that it’s him telling me, I’m somewhere out there, I’m alright. Like from somewhere he’s reaching out with those hands like dinner plates, and changing details that you can notice, if you only look.

Song of the Day: Roses from My Friends – Ben Harper

Splish Splash Thursday, February 7, 2008

Posted by Grace in graceisms.
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After a long day which included: a midterm, two labs, the gym, regularly scheduled classes, and a stop to the hospital to see Placid and Lily (she’s doing a lot better now, at least physically) I am feeling rather exhausted, and thanks to the gym, sore.

Nothing right now seems nicer than to pick a book from off the shelf that has nothing to do with organic chemistry, make a cup of tea, get out my luscious smelling satsuma bubble bath, and take a couple of minutes to relax.

Any normal day, I am a shower person, but it just seems so alluring tonight to have a good soak.

I think I’ll start rereading Brother Fish by the always wonderful Bryce Courtenay.

Song of the Day: Splish Splash – Bobby Darrin

Blown Wide Open Friday, February 1, 2008

Posted by Grace in la famiglia.
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My good friend Placid and his wife lost their baby last night, at 26 weeks gestation. There have been additional complications, and it is a little up in the air if she is going to pull through alright. We’re all just playing that waiting game. If anyone out there has room for them in their thoughts, it would be appreciated.

I probably will be absent for a day or two until their family has the chance to fly in.

Song of the Day: Blown Wide Open – Big Wreck

Stuck in the Middle with You Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Posted by Grace in la famiglia, strange days.
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One of the few downsides of having mostly male friends is getting stuck in the dreaded middle seat. They do have a point, I am the smallest, and therefore fit most easily into that smallest of seats. The majority of the time, I really don’t mind: the heating from the front gets to you first because it is blowing straight at you. (Can you tell that it is still frigid around these parts?) It’s just that once in a while, like today, I realize certain things about this seat which seems to be almost entirely mine.

The boys and I were headed over to 10 oz’s house after classes, and because the majority of people had bussed to in due to the cold, my vehicle seemed to be the only one available to get there (10 oz said he would have come and picked up people if there were more of us, but he knew that we could squish). Somewhere along the way, Lemon got hold of my keys, and explained that he would let me have a break from driving.

I told him that I would be just fine. Quite competent to drive us there on my own. This elicited some laughter at someone (lets remember, for his pride he isn’t named). Lemon still wouldn’t give back my keys. “Well Grace, if I drive then we’ll all fit into the car better.”

Everyone got quiet as I realized what he was suggesting. I was supposed to let him drive so that none of them got stuck in the middle seat. My car, not any of theirs! I conceded, only because it was cold and I wanted out of the wind. Lemon drove, The Resident Italian sat shotgun, Placid and Coach sat back, and I took my place in the middle.

As many others have noted before, the middle seat has drawbacks: it’s small, it’s a bump, people’s miscellaneous backpacks and binders miraculously find their way to your lap, and sitting between men is not always the most comfortable because they require some air space, therefore stealing your sitting space. Sitting in my tiny little car, though, broad shoulders seem so much broader, elbows dig into your ribs that much more, and their space requirements seem to increase with inverse proportion to the space available to them. Lest to say, it was cramped; it’s a good thing I love them.

Then someone else called, and asked if they could hitch a ride with us, he was on the way anyway. Of course we obliged; it often seems to be the full vehicles that are willing to pick someone else up. This raised an issue, I get stuck in the middle because I am the smallest when there is one person for each seat. Now we had 5 seats for 6 people. Ranking from biggest to smallest, smallest is me.

So even though it was my vehicle, and as a rule I get stuck in the middle, for the last five or so minutes of the drive, I got stuck on someones lap.

Song of the Day: Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealer’s Wheel

Nature Boy Thursday, January 24, 2008

Posted by Grace in la famiglia, strange days.
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Sometimes the dramatic irony of the world makes me wonder. I was riding in a friend’s car, we were driving into the city to go meet some people for dinner. This friend, who for the sake of his pride will remain nameless, lives in the city and does not tend to do a whole lot of rural driving. He just happened to be in the area and very nobly offered to shuttle me to and fro, even though I am quite a bit out of his way.

The highway we were driving had a few factors going against us: it is very hilly, prone to icing over, and wooded. For any readers out there who perhaps don’t drive in the types of winters we have, the first two conditions make stopping a more difficult task (especially when you have to do it quickly), and the third is of concern in this matter, because of course, the woods are where the deer all live.

It was dusk, the hardest time to see the deer, as well as when they like to be about, so I reminded him, “You know that there are going to be deer out, right?”

He scoffed and said something to the order of “Thanks mom,” and proceeded to remind me that he is perfectly capable of driving. I wasn’t debating his capability, I was just making sure he was aware, because living in an urban area, he is not one to often encounter deer.

So we drove along the highway, dark closing in, and I seemed to see the deer before him. I waited a second to let him notice, but it didn’t seem like he was even watching for them. I pointed it out. The fact was duly noted, and he slowed down, by about five clicks.

I didn’t want to keep pushing the subject, but it is a stretch of road known for its high deer density, so I asked if he would mind, for my sake if not his, to slow down just a little more when we were passing these skittish creatures. They will run out into the road even though they see you are there, not the most intelligent creatures of the bush. He pretended to listen. I could tell he was getting tired of me being on the subject. Behoove me to suggest anything about his driving.

As we came down over the ridge of a hill, a deer ran out into the road, maybe 300 meters in front of us, and came to a dead halt in the middle of the lane. He went heavy onto the breaks, not wanting to hit it, but the ice caused us to start spinning out. (Insert my mini heart attack here). Using his not-suggested-against driving skills, he kept rather good control of the vehicle, and it came to a stop in clear view of the deer, which had not moved from its spot, and continued to stare at us with dewy eyes.

He took a second to recollect, I took a second to start breathing again; and just as he turned to me and started to laugh about the close call -THUD- there was a loud thud and the whole car shook. His eyes went wide, as I’m assuming mine did too, and we both proceeded to peer into the darkness out the side of the car, as there are no streetlights in this stretch.

And to our great surprise, there was another deer walking a way. Another deer that had run into our fully stopped vehicle.

When we got to the dinner, we had to explain many times. No, we’re not late because we hit a deer. It hit us. We swear!

I was wrong to doubt his driving skills, though now I doubt his luck.

Song of the Day: Nature Boy – Big Sap and the Sugarshack

Life Is Wonderful Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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On any normal day, I would complain about the cold. I would gripe a little about having to leave the house so insanely early to make the gym before my labs start. And today, like it has been since classes started up again, it has been very cold (-35°C with the wind chill when I left the house), and I left my house at my regular 0530.

While driving, the beauty of it all hit me. The snow was twinkling with reflection from the streetlights, and it was that peaceful navy blue dark that you know is preparing to give way to sunrise. It was that point that there wasn’t any proof of it, but you knew it was coming.

After the gym, in my review mirror as I rounded the perimeter, the night gave way to day. The quiet tranquility I was moving across began to spring more and more to the hustle and the bustle of the day.

What a gorgeous morning, even in spite of the time and the cold. Things seem beautiful today, life is wonderful. I hope its wonderful for you too.

Song of the Day: Life is Wonderful – Jason Mraz