Little Lamb Leaves the Farm

Last week, my younger sister Jane left the United States to teach abroad in Prague for a year. Yes, our little lamb left the farm. For years, she had been talking about moving to a different country after she graduated college, but none of us actually thought she would do it. We just figured it was something she’d talk about but never follow through on, like how my mom talks about putting our family photos into photo albums, but we all know that will never happen. Of course we listened to Jane when she told us of her plan to move to Europe after graduation but in our heads we were all thinking, “Oh there goes the family nut job Jane rambling on about her ‘magical’ adventures again.” We all laughed because we all know there is no magic after you graduate college. Silly young and naive Jane! But when she booked her flight and paid the program deposit back in May, it was a reality check for all of us that this little lamb was serious.

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Me and Jane back in the day when she was content living in America. Mom: “Here Kathleen, hold your baby sister Jane and I’ll take your picture!” **Thinks it will be a perfect Kodak moment” Me: K. **Does not touch baby but just let’s her lean against me uncomfortably** 

We all reacted differently when Jane shared the news that she was officially going abroad. My mom was sad and told her she was not allowed to meet her future husband there, that she MUST move back to the States after a year. My dad immediately began to worry and asked if she had ever seen the movie Taken. He was not too keen on the idea that his youngest child was going to be so far away for so long. “Remember that little lamb, ‘Miss Kelly’ we saw in Dayton?!” My dad said, “That’s how I picture you in a foreign country! You’ll just be prey for all sorts of vultures! You’re too trusting of people!” It would be an understatement to say that he did not take this news very well. For my siblings and me, it was disbelief. “You’re actually leaving us?!!!!” I said, “I thought this whole ‘I’m going to move abroad’ thing was just one of your empty promises that you’d never actually follow through on! Like how you said you’d replace Bridget’s earrings that you lost a couple of years ago but you never actually did!” “HEY!” Jane responded, defensively, “I TOLD Bridget to pick out a pair and then I’d pay for them and she never did! Also, I’m offended that you thought I would never go through with my plan.” I just kept asking Jane the same question, quoting Gus Portokalos, the father in my favorite movie of all time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Why you want to leave me?!” I just didn’t understand why she was leaving me and fleeing the country.

After the initial shock wore off, Jane then announced that she would be a “miser” this summer so she could save lots of money for her big move. This was also very hard for everyone to believe and we all had a good laugh. We had no idea how much misers liked to go out to the bars and eat out on the weekends. Jane did get a job nannying over the summer so she was making and saving some money. She was able to do this because I, being the saint that I am, let her borrow my car while I sacrificed and walked to work everyday. My work is less than a mile from where I live but don’t try and belittle my sacrifice. It was tougher than people give me credit for. Do you know how many lemonade stands I had to avoid on my walk home from work everyday? Summer in suburbia means lemonade stands are on every corner like Starbucks downtown. It’s easy to avoid eye contact with children yelling at you to buy lemonade when you are in the comfort of an automobile, but when you’re on foot it’s a lot harder! And do you know how many sprinklers I had to walk around in the early morning hours on my journey to work? Sidewalks are for walking, not sprinklers! Plus, with all the extra exercise I was getting, I began to worry that I would get too jacked and people would not recognize me at the end of the summer! “Is that Kathleen Kelly or Jillian Michaels? I can’t tell.” People would say. I better get into heaven after all I went through. I will keep everyone posted on my canonization process.

Since Jane was living at home again over the summer, her and I got to spend a lot of time together. We no longer shared a bedroom but we still saw each other in the hallway and other common areas of Ma and Pa Kelly’s old maid sanctuary. We also had similar work schedules so we were usually up in the mornings at the same time and we went to bed at the same time. We had some great conversations while brushing our teeth together in our upstairs bathroom. Our “Kids” bathroom vanity has double sinks so we would stand next to each other chatting while brushing away, washing our faces or flossing. One night, after I had JUST cleaned our bathroom hours before, I watched Jane as I brushed my teeth and she washed her face. After a few minutes I paused my electric toothbrush and finally said, “Um, excuse me, Jane? I just had a quick question that I’ve been meaning to ask you.” She stopped washing her face and looked at me, thinking I was going to ask her about something very serious. “Yea, what is it?” She said, a little concerned. “Have you ever been to Splash Mountain in Disney World?” I asked. Her concern then turned to confusion. “No, why?” she said. “Oh, ok” I said, “I was just wondering. I wasn’t sure if you were maybe trying to relive your experience on that ride the way you are splashing away over there as if you’re Hayden Panettiere washing your face on a Neutrogena commercial, getting water all over the counter tops that I JUST cleaned.” She just laughed and rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you a little smart ass?” She said. She will definitely miss my sarcastic remarks while she is in Prague.
Another time while we were both brushing our teeth Jane was trying to talk to me about how she calculated the amount of time on average people spend on morning and night time routines. She was explaining how she came to her final number but honestly I could not hear her and I really did not care. I’m hard of hearing and I had just replaced the battery in my electric toothbrush so it was louder and more powerful than ever! I finally stopped my toothbrush and cut her off. “Jane, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to stop talking. I just came here to brush my teeth and go to bed, not to solve a math problem on the ACT.” It’s like we get it Jane, you graduated college with honors.

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Nothing makes you feel more like an adult than brushing your teeth everyday in a bathroom papered with hippos.

As the summer rolled on and Jane’s departure date got closer, my parents became more and more sad. It was crunch time for them to get everything in before Jane left. They threw her a going away party, we took our Christmas card picture and then we had NUMEROUS “Last Family” meals to the point where it was getting ridiculous. My Mom kept adding family dinners so everyone could say goodbye to Jane. It was starting to get awkward how many times we were all seeing each other. “Are we all going to have to meet again tomorrow for a ‘Family Snack’ between lunch and dinner as another goodbye meal to Jane?” I asked my mom sarcastically as we finished up our 800th family dinner. (She ignored my question and instead just called me a smart ass.) We even had a last family lunch at my parents’ favorite burger place in the neighborhood, Pappy’s. This lunch temporarily distracted Mike Sr. and Mo from their sadness about Jane’s departure upon their discovery that Pappy’s had switched from Coke to Pepsi products. Being die hard Diet Coke fans, my parents were LIVID that they could no longer drink Diet Coke with their lunch there. For the first time in many months we had a meal where the conversation did not center around Jane’s big move but rather how Diet Pepsi does not agree with my father’s stomach and how my mom thinks it tastes flat. Somehow they managed to drink the poison some people call Diet Pepsi, finish their meals, and make it home safely.

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We wore America hats at Jane’s going away party just as a subtle reminder to Jane that she was born in the USA.

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My very heartfelt and not passive aggressive at all sign I made for Jane’s party.

Before we knew it, it was time for Jane to leave us. My parents were sad but I reminded them that I will still be here and many people think I look just like Jane so there’s really no difference. Hours after she left, Duke moved his things into Jane’s room and took over her bed, but I’m sure he is sad that she is gone. (Don’t worry Jane, we told him about your “No eating Puperoni in bed” rule.) I was sad for Jane to leave me too. It was nice having another Millennial home with me to take care of the Baby Boomers and I will definitely miss our conversations while brushing our teeth. But I know that she will have the time of her life and I hope to visit her in the Spring. I’m sure the year she is gone will fly by and before we know it, our little lamb will be back on the farm.

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Wore my funeral dress to work and sent Jane this Snap Chat on the day she left. Unfortunately I could not find a black veil. 

 

 

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The Day the Tuesday/Thursday Pants Died

Each weekday morning, when my alarm clock wakes me out of my wonderful slumber, the wise words of a famous poet run through my head. That poet’s name is Alanis Morissette and the words are the opening lyrics of her song “I’m a Bitch I’m a Lover” when she states “I hate the world today.” It amazes me how she so accurately encompassed all my feelings in the morning before work in one song. Then after I get Alanis’ catchy tune out of my head I immediately think, “I can’t wait to go to bed tonight.”

Last Tuesday morning was no different. But things took a turn for the worse when I put on my black Tuesday/Thursday pants. A soon as I zipped them up I knew something was wrong, call it a pants-wearer’s intuition or what have you, but I knew something just wasn’t right. I would have explored the unsettling feeling further but it was already 7:08 and if I’m not downstairs by 7:09 to eat breakfast and finish getting ready, I will be late. Right before we left for the train I decided to stop in our first floor bathroom to powder my nose (pee) but I was unable to do this because my zipper was stuck. Now, although these pants are comfortable, the zipper is on the side which I am not a fan of. I tried with all my might to zip them down but they would not budge. My first thought was “shoot, if this zipper is broken, what pants am I supposed to wear on Thursday?” Panic began to set in. I rushed out of the bathroom to find my mom because that is what you do when you are 23 and need help in the bathroom. Frantically I screamed “Mom I can’t get my pants down! What if they are stuck all day and I can’t go to the bathroom?! How am I even supposed to get them off?! They are stuck at the top!” My mom tried to zip them down, then my Dad, then 2 of my sisters. No one was able to get it. “Here take this bar of soap and rub it on the zipper” My mom suggested. So I did. And it completely backfired. “Mom that was a terrible idea now I have soap particles stuck in the zipper and it is jammed even more!”

I spent the majority of the morning at work rubbing a graphite pencil on the zipper and trying to get shards of soap removed from the zipper’s teeth. I Googled everything I could about zippers, seeing if I could find anything that would help me escape the prison my pants had become, but nothing worked. Here is the actual text conversation that took place between me and two of my sisters who also work downtown:
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text 2
(First grade incident will be explained a little later)
text 3
text try 4
text try 5
text try 6
text try 7
text try 8
text try 9
Later that day they were nice enough to check up on me:
Final text
What traumatic first grade incident was I referring to? Well, in first grade we were allowed to wear our “summer uniforms” when the weather was warm. This uniform consisted of blue shorts and a white polo. I was small for my age, and being a middle child, my parents did not think properly fitting clothes were worth the investment on me. So I was wearing an old pair of shorts from my older siblings that were slightly too big, thus, requiring a belt. If you think my parents were going to buy me a brand new belt to make up for my ill-fitting clothes, you are sorely mistaken. The belt was an old belt of my brother’s, and it was broken. When it came time for the first bathroom break at school in the morning I went into a stall and tried to undo my belt but it was jammed. I asked the other girls in the bathroom to try and get it, but no one could, not even the strongest girl in the class! Too embarrassed to ask the teacher, I went the whole day without using the bathroom, subsequently, also not eating or drinking anything. When the bell rang at the end of the day to go home, I ran home crying. For several minutes, but what felt like an eternity, everyone at home tried to get my belt off but no one’s strength could match that of the old belt. Finally, my oldest sister, Maggie, was able to free me and I could go to the bathroom. Although she was never properly tested, to this day we still question if Maggie had been using steroids at the time.
At 6:15pm that Tuesday, the Tuesday/Thursday pants were laid to rest. It was a private, intimate ceremony, just me and her (the pants), where I shoved her in the garbage can in the kitchen. She never looked so peaceful as she did at that moment. I have since replaced the Tuesday/Thursday pants but they are not the same. Plus we got off to a bad start since the coupon I planned to use in her purchase could not be used.
Many people foolishly take for granted the simple action of pulling their pants down each day to go to the bathroom. Since that fateful day I have cultivated a greater appreciation for pants that have a working zipper. I also learned I go to the bathroom way too much during the work day. After a full dinner conversation where everyone discussed how many times they go to the bathroom during the day and their liquid intake, I realized I should probably go see a doctor. Rest in peace Tuesday/Thursday pants.

23 Going On 83

One day last week, I was not having very good luck. First, while brushing my teeth before work, I was rinsing my mouth when a drop of water escaped the palm of my hand and rolled right down my arm into my sleeve. I shutter to think of it even now. There is no feeling worse than that. Then I found out we ran out of Triscuits. What the Hell am I supposed to bring for my afternoon snack then?! But I powered through because that is what you do when you’re a grown up. Then, while at the office, I was catching up on some 3 hole punch work when this happened:

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Oh. My. Gawd.

Calm down, I thought to myself, I can still make this work. I can still safely secure this piece of paper into the binder with 3 holes punched into it. So I tried again. And this happened:
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Is this some sort of sick joke?!

“Oh no. This is my nightmare” I said out loud. There is literally no way this paper can be properly secured into this binder. What am I supposed to do, tape the paper back together?! What do you want from me 3 hole puncher?! What have I done that is so horrible that I deserve this?! Then I just lost it. I knew being in the working world wasn’t going to be easy, but I never imagined it would be this hard.
In the little over a year since I graduated college I have turned into an old lady. I used to be a party animal in my college years. Going out on a Wednesday or Thursday night is easy when you have your alarm set for 11:30 a.m. the next morning. Now if someone asks me if I I’d like to get drinks during the week I’ll still agree-just as long as I am home in time to watch the 10 o’clock news and be in bed 10:30.(The weather comes on at 10:20 so I have to stay up for that, it helps me decide on an outfit for the next day). These days the most excitement I have during the week is when the Amish people come to the train station in the mornings and pass out free donut samples and sell baked goods. (They really are quite delicious so I have reason to get excited)
When you’re in college, weekends are for fun. Once you’re in the work force they are for errands and doing all the necessary things that you had no time for during the week. Go out on a Friday AND Saturday night on the weekend? No. One of those nights has to be used for lounging and catching up on sleep. Needless to say because of this I don’t have much news to report to my coworkers on Mondays:
Coworker: “Kathleen, how was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?”
Me: “Oh man yea it was insane! Friday I did laundry-was able to squeeze in a load of whites AND darks before calling it a night, so I’m quite pleased with myself. Then Saturday went to the eye doctor and got my eyes dilated so that was pretty trippy. I stayed inside most of the rest of the day after that since my eyes were so sensitive to the light. Then I went to Target to pick up some deodorant, lotion and a new toothbrush. It took me a while to find one approved by the American Dental Association but I was in no rush so I found one. How was your weekend?”
This summer working in the city has been especially tough for a 23 going on 83-year-old such as myself. The sidewalks are overcrowded with slow walking tourists and their wheely suitcases, strollers and worst of all-children. As if the sidewalks aren’t already crowded enough during the year with slow walkers and all the what I like to call “Horizontal Arm Swingers.” These are walkers who take arm swinging while walking to the extreme, using their arms like helicopter blades instead of keeping them a proper distance from their side making them impossible to pass. When attempting to pass these people I have to ask myself many questions before making the move. Many things go through my mind: “Can I squeeze through the opening between the Horizontal Arm Swinger and that gigantic potted plant?” “Is there enough space for me to zip by? What is my waist size? Wait, I have a purse on my shoulder so the circumference of that needs to be factored in.” Every day is a struggle. Don’t even get me started on rainy days when everyone is walking with an umbrella! I just really can’t stand it when I’m out on my lunch break and hangry (Hungry therefore angry for those of you who aren’t familiar with the word). I have no patience for these people. Don’t they know that I am in a rush to go sit on a bench and eat my lunch by myself?!
The warm days bring all of those meddling high school kids from the suburbs to the beaches downtown. Thus, overcrowding my train ride home. Is it so much to ask to want to sit in my air-conditioned train car and look through Buzzfeed on my phone without having to listen to those brace filled mouths chatting and being obnoxious?! Sheesh! Why don’t you go get a summer job so you can support your Limited Too and Claire’s spending habits you children!
My building at work actually overlooks Lake Michigan so I can see all the beach-goers having their fun. It’s a nice view, most people think it’s peaceful watching the sailboats on the lake. But for me it just makes me confused. “Don’t those people have jobs?! Why are they out sailing on a boat in the middle of the work week and I’m in here?!” Life just isn’t fair.
Upon reading this you might think I’m an old grouch. I swear I’m not. And if I am I’m only grouchy the five of the seven days of the week I work so it doesn’t really count. Plus this whole work thing is only temporary-only about 30 more years until I can retire. Let the countdown begin!