Monday, March 31, 2008

In Matters of Life or Death

I came home from work last Friday. It was sunny. I was happy. After a grossly stretched out work-week, the prospect of two days of nothingness in front of me was almost overwhelming. But in a good way.

In the lobby of my apartment building, I stopped to check my mail, pulling out a big envelope that was shoved into my petite mailbox. It had an official address label from a law office that I recognized all too well; I wondered what my dad had sent me this time. It could be anything, really, but most likely it was credit card applications and other random bits of junk mail that still went to my parents’ house, and Dad sent along to me, not ever wanting to open mail that wasn’t addressed to him, and not knowing what was important or not.

I tucked the envelope under my arm and flipped through the rest of the mail. Junk. Junk. Magazine. Junk. Peapod coupon. Junk. Heaving into my apartment and throwing bags and my coat down, I flopped, as one does at the end of a long week, on the couch and opened up the envelope. I quickly scanned the cover letter on Dad’s official and very serious law office letterhead asking that I look over the following forms. It was signed, “Very truly yours, Dad.” I pulled out the sheaf of papers behind it.


So here’s something I should do before I’m 30: Pick someone to pull the plug on me should (God forbid) I end up on life support.

I guess now that I’m almost 30 I should have Very Important Documents like this. Everyone should, really. And obviously, if anyone is going to help me with these Very Important Documents, it’s going to be my dad. Even though Dad has told me numerous times that I don’t need the Very Important Documents of, say, a Last Will and Testament.

“You don’t have anything,” he always replies calmly when I implore him please, pleeeeease can I have a will? Pleeeaaaaaaaasssssseeeeee, Dad? “You have debt.”

Maybe he’s right. But I don’t think he understands that should I die there is going to be major in-fighting over who gets my hair products. And my recipe collection. So you know what? Fine. Don’t write my Last Will and Testament for me. Go ahead, let the mayhem ensue. What will I care? I’ll be dead. I’ll just be watching from the Hereafter as friends and family furiously search and search for my oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe that they will claim I drunkenly willed to them on Arbor Day in 2006. And in the Hereafter I will laugh and laugh, because they will never find it. And do you know why they won’t find it? Because I’m taking it with me.


I scanned over the document, then immediately got on the horn. When Mom answered, I didn’t even say hello.


Let the record show that I do not ever overreact.

“Not that I know of.”


“Technically, Mom, we’re all dying.”

“Well, true.”

I explained to Mom that I had gotten these papers from Dad out of the blue, and that I had to fill them out and why was he sending these and did she know that Dad had appointed himself in charge of pulling the plug on me? But I still had to pick a #2 person to do the job, should Dad, for some reason, not be able to.

“So should I have you as my secondary?” I asked.

“You could,” Mom said.

“I feel like I should pick one of my sisters,” I said.

“Yes, but how well do you really know your sisters?”

There was a moment of quiet as we pondered.

“Anyway, is Dad there? Can I talk to him?” I asked.

“No, he’s at the hardware store.”


“Yes. And then he’s going to come home and watch the Weather Channel.”

“Fine.” Heavy sigh. “Can you ask him to call me when he gets home?”
I hung up with mom and sat for about three seconds on my couch debating who should be my #2. Who would be my Danny Zuko, if Kenickie couldn’t drive? I can’t lie, it wasn’t a hard decision. My sister, Elizabeth, was the obvious choice, the decision made simply on the Maid of Honor Principle.

Somewhere along the line it was decided among the four of us that when marriages occurred, Nancy would be Annie’s maid of honor, and vice versa, and I would be Lizzy’s maid of honor, and vice versa. So, applying that same formula, if I fall into a (God forbid) coma before I’m married, Lizzy will pull the plug on me, and if she falls into a (God forbid) coma before she gets married, I will pull the plug on her. But just like with Maid of Honor duties, you can’t just assume, so I thought maybe I should out of courtesy ask my sister to go ahead and let me die before I signed her up for the task.

Except she didn’t answer the phone.

So I called another sister instead.

“Oh, hello. Do you think Lizzy would pull the plug for me? Like, if I was in a horrible, unrecoverable coma?” I asked.

“Oh, sure,” my sister Annie replied, without hesitation. “She’d probably try to kill you before you even went into a coma.”

“Cool. She’s going to be my #2, then.”

We hung up. I debated calling my dad on his cell phone to talk to him about all of this, but thought maybe he wouldn’t want to talk about such matters at the Ace. So I put in a movie and made some dinner instead.

Lizzy called back a few hours later.

“What did you want?” she asked.

“I have a very serious question to ask you,” I replied.


“If I go into an unrecoverable coma, will you pull the plug on me?”


“Okay. But only if Dad is incapacitated.”


“Annie and I thought you would say yes.”

“When did you talk to Annie?”

“Earlier. She said you’d probably try and kill me before I even went into a coma.”


So I had my people in place. Very Important Things That Make People Squirm were talked about, even though my dad never called me back. I’m all grown up! I can make important decisions on my own! Hooray!

So I called Dad again the next day.

“You didn’t call me back yesterday!” I shouted down the phone.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to,” he said very calmly. For the past 40 years, there has been anywhere from one to five women shouting around him, sometimes at him. He is immune.

“I called, and Mom said you were at the hardware store, and I said for you to call me back. IT WAS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH!”

“No, it’s not.”

“Oh really? How is it not? How is whether or not I want the plug pulled on me not a MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH?”

It’s like I can hear my dad rolling his eyes over the phone.

“Dad, did you send me these forms because I’m almost 30 and need Very Important Documents like this?”

“No. We were talking about it when the girls were at the house last Sunday. So I sent out papers to you and all of your sisters and brothers-in-law.”

“Well that’s pleasant conversation to have over corned beef sandwiches.”

He ignored that. “You just have to decide what you want in case something happens.”

“Well that’s why I’m calling! So I can make sure I fill out the forms correctly!”

“Well, pick what you want, and then call Mary and tell her.”

(FYI, Mary is my dad’s secretary. A very kind, nice, and patient woman.)

“Well I don’t want to be a vegetable, Dad. I told Mom yesterday, just pull the plug.”

“So you want the first option, no life support.”

“Yes, I would like Door #1.”

“The first option.”

“Yes. Door #1. I don’t want to be a vegetable, Dad. That is no way to live. Like I told Mom, just let me go. I’ll come back and visit, don’t worry.”

The cacophony of eye-rolling and eyebrow-raising is astounding.

“Then just call Mary on Monday, and she’ll fill in the information for you and send you the document.”

“But I have the document here.”

“That’s just a draft.”

“What do you mean it’s just a draft?”

“Does it not have the red ‘DRAFT’ stamp on the side of it?”

“Well, yeah, but what do you mean this is just a draft? You’re saying I have to go through this all over again? With the ‘official’ document? I don’t really want to go through this thinking process again. This is all very taxing on my mental faculties, you know.”

(Long pause from Dad. Very long pause.)

“I’m just going to leave that one alone,” he finally said.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beware the Ides of Merlot: The Looking Fine at 29 Kick-Off Party

A few weeks ago, my friends JMac and Turner and I were sitting at Tono Sushi having dinner.

“What do you want to do for your birthday?” Turner asked politely.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I replied, shrugging my shoulders.

“We’ll have a party,” JMac declared. (Which is a completely normal response from anyone, of course. Though if you knew J, you’d know that having a party is her response to everything. It’s your birthday? We’ll have a party. You broke your leg? Let’s have a Get Well party. You’re becoming Catholic? We’ll have a Foods of the Bible party. Having trouble with your manfriend? We’ll have a party to take your mind off of it. You did your laundry? Well done, let’s have a party.)

“We’ll have it at my house!” Turner chimed in.

Okay! So, party established, we decided that it needed a theme. Prom, we said. Better yet! Prom Revisited!, Prom 2.0!, would be our theme, complete with spiked punch, cat fights, and JMac even agreed that she’d give birth in the bathroom. Oh, and dresses. There would of course have to be dresses. Frilly, foofy, marshmallowy dresses that make you feel like a prom princess, when all you’re missing is the tiara. It was all coming full circle, we thought, as months ago, at another party, the DC gals and I had been talking about having a party where we would all dress up in former bridesmaid dresses just so we could finally get some use out of all those silly, frilly dresses that the various brides swore up and down we would be able to wear again, with the added bonus that “the dresses totally don’t even LOOK like bridesmaids dresses!”

As an aside to my friend Olivia – Hey Liv! Look, I actually DID wear the dress from your wedding again!

So this past Saturday evening, on the Ides of March, to be exact, we celebrated. We celebrated my birthday, and I also decided that we would celebrate this blog, and this party would double as the kick-off to a year of adventures, challenges, and mayhem. While it wasn’t a requirement to wear a former formal, it was highly encouraged. If it was prom-wear circa the 1980s, even better, extra points to you. Turner even went out and purchased a balloon bouquet so we could have a background for pictures, though she originally wanted to do a balloon arch.

“But then I thought maybe that was a little much,” she’d told me earlier. “And besides, it wouldn’t fit in my apartment.”

“Understandable,” I said. “Maybe for my 30th. I feel like a balloon arch should be saved for my 30th.”

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
So, Interneters, here for your viewing pleasure, are a few photo highlights from The Party That Was. Or The Party That Kicked Off This, My 29th Year. Or Prom 2.0. Whichever you prefer. The dresses were amazing. The fun was outlandish. JMac and I even got into a fight and decided that we cannot room together at college next year, even though WE’VE BEEN PLANNING ON THAT SINCE SOPHOMORE YEAR AND WERE EVEN GOING TO HAVE MATCHING BEDSPREADS. She thinks she is soooooo cool and she still has not apologized, and our friendship? Is Over. And JMac, I’d appreciate it if you’d give me back my Sarah McLaughlin CD. Oh, and BTDubs? Jeremy P. doesn’t even like you. He’s only talking to you because he thinks you’re easy. He told me so. In study hall.

Pre-Prom photos. Note my corsage, particularly the baby's breath. That Scalzo thinks of everything! Also, JMac, in the black, wore this dress to Homecoming in 1994.

I think Turner's dress, in green velvet, is particularly fetching, even though our friend Lindsay said her mom wouldn't let her get that dress claiming it was indecent.

The morning after Prom, Scalzo woke up on my couch moaning about a throbbing headache. "I think someone spiked my Prom punch!" she wailed. I didn't say anything for a moment, remembering, and thanking God I didn't actually drink the Prom punch, and then piped up, "So, yeah, I was in charge of making the second batch of punch, and we didn't have enough Malibu, so I poured in some tequila that was sitting there, too." If Looks = Kill, Me = Dead. But only until the other night when JMac 'fessed up that she'd thrown some tequila into the first batch as well when no one was looking. So we're not at the top of Scalzo's hit list right now. No. Not at all.

This isn't just practical and me trying to be good to my joints and not wearing high heels for once. This is also an homage to the Saint Mary's College Freshman Formal. Smell, this one's for you, darling girl.

JMac and I are THROUGH being friends. FINE. She can go off to Northern with her precious little roommate Scalzo and WHAT. EVER. I am soooo not speaking to her anymore.

The clear winners of Best Dressed Couple. It's the peach satin that really makes it, no?

Whatever it was, it was funny.

It was inevitable. You knew there would be swinging arm motions and wine spilled, and you knew it would be on the dress that I fondly refer to as The Creature. In this, my 29th year, I hope to rid myself of my klutziness. However, things aren't looking good on that front. But I still hold out hope. Someday.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday

My friend Beth from college has a birthday in December, and hence was one of the first in our group to turn 22 years old during our senior year. We were all a bit wary of 22, because it meant we were no longer 21, and being 21 Meant Something.* But 22? What was 22?

“It will be a kindler, gentler, 22,” Beth’s mom told her, which Beth immediately relayed to the rest of us, and which we promptly thought was a fantastic slogan for the year. Any time we were asked our age, the response was simply, “I’m a kindler, gentler, 22.” And after college the trend of assigning a slogan to our age continued. 23 was the Cornucopia of Goodness; 24 was The Mother Load; 25 was the Quarter Life Crisis, or the Quarter Century Mark, depending on the day; 26 was Sexy and Sassy 26; and 27 began the rhyming phase – 27 is Heaven, 28 is Great.

And now, this year, we’ve reached Lookin’ Fine at 29.

(And by “we” I mean “me” because I think I’m the only one who still thinks in these terms.)

It’s My Birthday, Too, Yeah
As 29 approached, though, I thought to myself that a great rhyming phrase wasn’t enough to do justice to the last year I’ll ever have with a 2 in front of it. I felt I should mark the occasion in an exceptional manner, just like I marked the occasion of leaving my teens behind when I turned 20. But shoving a tower of Italian donut hole pastries smothered in chocolate into my mouth by the handful—which is how I marked that occasion—wasn’t exactly the manner I was going for this time.

So I came up with a list.

It’s a list of Things To Do Before I’m 30.

Over the past few months I’ve asked friends, family, and random strangers I’ve met to help me compile a list of interesting adventures I should have before the numbers change. I’ve gotten some great suggestions, and some awful suggestions**. And then I decided that I shouldn’t keep all of the fun to myself, and that I should, for the greater good of all mankind, share it with you all.***

My original plan was to post the list so we could all have a good caucus about the funny things and random things and silly things and weird things I would take on and then write about. However, I’ve decided against that, and instead you’ll just have to wait for the post and be surprised. Because otherwise, I know if I posted the list, and then didn’t get to one or the other of the things on said list, some of you would be all, “You didn’t do X, Y, and Z! Why didn’t you do X, Y, and Z! I thought you said you were going to do X, Y, and Z!” And then I’d have to be all, “Listen, Yo, I am not Supergirl, and I have limitations, you know.” And then there would be sulking and disgruntled mumblings on both our parts about how I never finish anything I start and how you have unrealistic expectations for the website relationships in your life. Pretty soon we wouldn’t be speaking to each other at the dinner table or class reunions and when forced to interact we would resort to awkward head nods.

So I’m not posting the list. Sorry. You’ll just have to be surprised.

I should mention, however, that the list is ever-evolving, and if you have a Great Idea of something I should do before I turn 30, please email it to me at I should also mention that if I use your Great Idea, you will earn a Major Reward****. Questions, concerns, and general comments can be directed here as well, or you can post them on this site. And don’t forget to bookmark this page so you can check back to see how I’m doing. Check early, check often.

Needless to say, the next 12 months will be filled with wondrous adventures! Exciting escapades! There will be thrills and chills! You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! I’ll write about it all! There may even be pictures! I SHALL CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY IN THIS, MY 29TH YEAR!

Or maybe I won’t.

Who’s to say what will happen?

We can’t really know, can we?

But I can tell you it will be interesting.

So here we are.

Hello! And welcome. And thank you for coming to my party. It’s great to have you. I hope you have a good time. I know I will.

Happy birthday, Me. Welcome to 29.

*It meant you could go to the bars. And not just in Europe. You could go to the bars in the United States. Legally.
***This will also help me to better answer the oft-asked question, “So how’s Washington?” It will be nice to have a more interesting answer than, “Emm….good! It’s nice!” Which is about how I’ve been answering the question since I moved out here 2.5 years ago.

****Not to be confused with a Major Award.