Tag Archives: memory lane

Our McChristmas Fight 2009

It was epic.

The McChristmas (Tree) fight of 2009.

A battle of traditions. And a quirky couple who had to merge two very different traditions. Specifically ornament traditions.

You don’t mess with me when it comes to ornaments.

<—- just look at those beady red eyes. I’m holding last year’s ornament.

THE ornament given to me by my mother each year.

Thematically gifted for each year that passes.

See? That ornament has a picture of the Country Club Plaza on it. Which is where I moved after my divorce. (Because I had always wanted to live near there. And because I could. And why wouldn’t I?)

Isn’t my mom clever? (Truth be told: she had to regift that ornament from her own tree because she looked high and low for a Plaza ornament but couldn’t find one. But STILL. It’s the tradition that counts.)

Every year. I own an ornament symbolizing every year of my life since seventh grade.

The moose playing volleyball? Eighth grade. Only I didn’t play volleyball. I um, didn’t quite make the team. But I was the manager and that is a VERY important roll….

Backpack? No, not Kindergarten. It was my senior year in high school. (Because every high school senior caries a backpack with a bear and a pencil in it.)

Corvette with gifts? I think even my mom will admit that one was a stretch. But it was meant to symbolize 2000. The year I graduated from college and struck out on my own as a reporter in Rocky Mount, NC.

But let’s not be selfish here. It’s not like my mom won’t give one to the fiance each year. This is the tradition that keeps giving.

And so, I had visions of our first Christmas tree. Decked with white lights (the only acceptable lighting in my opinion) and the lot of my sentimental ornaments.

It would be so sweet. And as the years passed, we would add to it with the ornaments collected together.

My vision was brought to a screeching halt.

Someone else had an ornament tradition. 10 years ago, a young 20 year-old bachelor decided he would enlist his buddies to help him deck out his Christmas tree.  So he did what he did best: he threw a party.

And invited all of his friends to bring him an ornament for his tree.

Oh, they brought ornaments. Every year. (hmmm….notice anything familiar?)   Some more “appropriate” than others. Most very funny and light-hearted in nature. Many hand-made, including the beloved McRib ornament. Crafted so cleverly from several boxes of the elusive McRib.

It was time to set a date for the 10th annual ornament party and we had a big problem.

How could we put my sweet little moose playing volleyball on the same tree with McRib boxes? These two traditions just weren’t going to work. We needed a solution.

Him: Well, why don’t we pick from the best of my ornaments and then put yours on too?

Me: OR, we could have a special tree for the “adult” ornaments and then have a family ornament tree?

Oh, that didn’t go over well at all.

He heard: Your ornaments are crap and need to be separated.

And so the fight began. Somehow, I missed his first offer to compromise. (I’m a little silly about listening at times.)

All I could think of was how could we manage years and years of both traditions? And what about when we have kids? Some of his ornaments might not be child-friendly. And I wanted to be sure there was room (in our lives) on the tree for children.

He persisted.

I persisted.

He threw up his hands and said we’d cancel the party.

But that’s not what I wanted. I just wanted a compromise (remember, I didn’t quite catch that first offer.)

Tears were shed.

I told him not to cry.

I’m just kidding. It was me.

And finally, in a moment of clarity, I suggested that we take the best of his ornaments and all of mine (because there are many more of his than mine.) And he laughed because it’s exactly what he had suggested in the first place.

And I ate a little crow, but it’s ok.

Because we figured out how to merge two very different traditions. And, at the same time, offering a hard-core challenge to our friends (because mine are invited too.) May the best ornaments win a permanent place on our tree.

So bring on the McRibs this year. I’ll be happy to place the best of the best right next to my little moose.


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The Ghost of Christmas Past

In this edition of Memory Lane Monday, I’m reminded that it is Christmas. Due to a lack of space in my apartment, there is no tree, there are no ornaments. Quite frankly, it feels a  little bah humbug.

Although, I’ve finished my Christmas shopping and I have to say, I do feel pretty good about my gifts this year.

But at the same time, I’m also reminded of all the different Christmases  since graduating from college in 2000.  From Rocky Mount, NC to London to Kansas City, it’s been an interesting mix.

But if Ebeneezer Scrooge learned anything during his reflections, it was to stay in the present and appreciate what life has given you. In honor of the Christmas spirit, I’m scratching Memory Lane and celebrating Christmas 2008!

So from the Ghost of Christmas Present, I celebrate:

  • My wonderful family
  • A terrific dog
  • A warm, cozy apartment
  • A fabulous boyfriend!
  • His fun-loving family who accept me into their fold
  • A solid job where I am appreciated
  • Friends, friends, friends – Thank you to all of you. I couldn’t have made it through this year without you.

To mention a few (in no particular order):

  • D, you allowed me to crash at your place several times this spring with my dog. You have seen me through tears and laughter.  (Sorry about your couch. 🙂 )
  • Justin, you have been a constant friend and a source of both professional and personal advice. Thanks for keeping me laughing. I have enjoyed all of our adventures and am thankful for our shared world view!
  • The work girls – you have more than put up with my mood swings and listened to both my rantings and my celebrations.
  • Stephanie, thank you for visiting me for my birthday this fall and for being there for me this year all the way in Virginia. I’m so glad you walked into the Rocky Mount Telegram all those years ago and that we share the most awesome name ever.
  • Shannon, it was great to see you this year and thanks for listening to me on the phone. You exemplified your role as “maid of honor” because you were there when I needed you most.
  • J, you don’t read this but thank you for your support — even sticking with me when it was really messy and for sharing my love of Mexican food.
  • Mollywolly, I’m so glad you have found the love of your life this year and thank you for being there for me over bri, answering heinous phone calls in the middle of the night, sharing your family and finding me wine when I needed some.
  • The lunch bunch for all the great laughs and for always making me feel like a princess whenever you see me in real life. Your constant compliments flatter me.
  • Facebook friends of old: I’ve so enjoyed reconnecting with so many of my friends from Jr. High -College and North Carolina.
  •  And of course, there is a special place in my heart for all of my new friends – Christi, Crystal, Jeremy, Ian and the whole gang.

And finally, blog friends, thanks for reading and helping me find my voice this year.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!!

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Memory Lane Monday

I thought I’d try a new feature on Queen of Quirky. Memory Lane Mondays. It’s when I will wax poetic about something from my past.

As a tribute to this blog, I thought it would only be fitting to remember what started this journey in the first place – my marathon.

Some never-before-shared facts about that day (you read them here first!):

  • I started my period the morning of the race. While publicly at the time, I blamed the barfing on the Power Aid, I think it’s time to fess up that my upset tummy probably had more to do with hormones than electrolytes.
  • I threw up on the way to the hospital outside the Cashew, a bar in Kansas City. Is it bad that I proudly refer to it as the only time I threw up outside a bar sober?
  • I have never felt more loved than I did crossing the finish line to meet my friends and family. It was a beautiful moment. Thanks to those who stuck with me that day and made it so special.

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As the weather cools, it’s finally starting to feel like fall. And to kick it off, I’m making Chili tonight for the boyfriend. Yum.

But early this afternoon I was remembering a year ago today. It was my last day at a job that I hated. I was leaving to look for new opportunities and I was terrified, but at the same time elated.

Today: I have two business trips this month and I’m just elated.

I was planning the cooking demonstrations with the American Royal Barbecue for the first time.

I’m planning them for the second time, and I’m probably equally stressed, but not for the unknown…

Did I mention I was looking for a job?

Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

I was living in a big house in the suburbs with my two dogs.

It’s just me and Gertrude now.  In our closet-sized apartment. And it sure isn’t in the suburbs.

I was running sporadically.

I’m running three to four times a week now.

 I was married.

You should know by now that I’m not.

I was in desperate need of a cut and color.

Oh, ok, some things never change.

So bring on the fall. Let’s make some new memories!

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Dear me,

One of my new favorite bloggers just inspired me to a little creative writing meets therapy project.

It sounded like fun, but like any good plagiarised idea, I thought it needed to be Stephanieized. The concept (for those too lazy to link away) is to write a letter to yourself at age 18. In honor of my upcoming 31st birthday, I thought it would be more appropriate to write a letter to myself at age 21. After all, it’s been a busy decade. Little 21-year-old Stephanie has come a long way.
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s go…
Dear Steph,
You are 21 and beautiful, so why do you insist on dressing like a 40 year-old soccer mom? I know you went to Europe and the little silk scarves around the neck were all the rage, but that look just doesn’t translate well in the U.S. of A. Also, no one should be allowed to wear Laura Ashley clothing after 12 and before 40.
Pay attention to Shannon at school. I know you barely know her and you only really know your parents were friends, but you won’t believe how close you guys will be. She’ll even be your maid of honor in your wedding (we’ll get there). Why not get started on your friendship sooner rather than later?
Don’t date the Norwegian guy in D.C. during your internship next summer; it’s a waste of time. Just focus on your writing and have fun living in the city. Speaking of that, try to give your editing class next spring more than your usual 10 minute attention span. There are important things you need to learn such as A.P. Style. It seems lame, but it will haunt you.
Do date the intern at the first paper you work at. He’s hot and he’ll break your heart, but you are going to need that experience in your life. Just go with your heart and enjoy it.
When you are dating him, if you go to Virginia for a weekend and it happens to snow that weekend and you have to stay over on Sunday night, it would behoove you to go straight to work when you get back in town and not stop for lunch with your roommate. You guys will have plenty of fun adventures together, you don’t need to piss off your editor by being even later that day.
Anyone named Stephanie is a good egg. They make good roommates. Be forgiving when she’s too drunk to console you when the intern breaks up with you. She’ll be there in plenty of ways in years to come. You may want to remind her that tents go outside, not inside.
I know your first job will be stressful and all, but if there is any way you could not smoke, that would be really great. It would also keep you from lighting your hair on fire with a match when you are on deadline. No one likes the smell of burnt hair in the newsroom.
Speaking of smoking, if you don’t smoke, you can possibly avoid meeting your future ex-husband. But I’m not sure I want to prevent that from happening. Just know whatever happens in the end, you’re going to be okay. You guys are going to have a great time together and share lots of love. But put your foot down early about that word. You deserve better. Also, your instincts to not want children with him are right on. Birth. Control. Please.
When it comes to your career, the main thing I want to tell you is that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. But you are going to need to learn some of that on your own. Set goals and meet them.
Don’t be so snobby about the sales side of the newsroom. You aren’t any better than them just because you are a starving journalist. And the same goes for public relations people who call you. Be nice.
When you run the marathon and you start puking, just keep going. You’ll live.
Harry Potter books are actually really good.
Sephora is just a bad habit and it will suck your money.
Stay away from cowboys in bars.
The night before you go to London, don’t let Sarah bring you that last glass of wine. It ends badly for you.
Don’t ever run after you’ve eaten shell fish. You get hives.
And here is the most important thing — every day over the next decade, even when you are at rock bottom, just take one minute to be thankful. Because you have a stinking awesome life.

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Impulse buying

So why was I so embarrassed when I had to pay a visit to my local hardware store to buy a toilet plunger yesterday? 

It happens. 

Toilets get clogged.
Girls clog toilets too.
I know this.
Then why did I almost choke when the helpful store clerk asked me if I was looking for anything specific?
Um, not at all, I’m just going to wander around and see if anything grabs my attention. You know, impulse buying….Oh hey, whadaya know? A toilet plunger. Now that might come in handy. Fun! I’ve always wanted one anyway.

And then I bought some candy (impulse buying) and a nice little herb garden for my porch (impulse buying…. HEY question: does anyone know if herbs die in extreme heat? I certainly don’t want to kill these herbs…) Oh, and it was hot so I needed some water. A regular old nice trip to the hardware store on a Saturday.
Side note: one year, my parents got by little brother a small toilet plunger as part of a plumbers toy kit for Christmas. The child ran around with that thing for months, making it almost cool to be seen sporting a plunger. That is, until my mom caught him actually playing with it in the toilet. Then he wasn’t allowed to play with it anymore. 

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Oh to be young again…

Deep down in the archives of my hotmail (*gasp!*) account, I found an e-mail I sent to my girlfriends – the SB’s-during that surreal week in my life between graduation and my first job.

Backstory: I landed my first job as a reporter in Rocky Mount, NC. I knew no one, but it seemed like the great adventure. My mom and I went down for a week to find a place for me to live, but we stayed in Raleigh, because well, it was Rocky Mount. I mean, it was fine for me to live in, but Mom wanted to stay somewhere with restaurants and shopping. I can’t blame her, she lived in London at the time and well, Rocky Mount, while uniquely charming, isn’t exactly a stateside destination spot for ex-pats. Anywho, this e-mail accuratley captures my life back then (bad spelling and grammar included. Yes, I was a reporter, but it wasn’t for my attention to detail — more my ability to connect with people and tell their story.) And while life seemed so complicated at the time, it was really quite carefree. Ah, to be young…

Dear girls,
Hello to all of you. I’m still alive and am in Raleigh at the Embassy Suites Hotel by the Crabtree Mall. No luck finding an apartment but I am considering renting out a room here since it is so nice and all. Free coctails from 5-8. I can see me now…”Sorry boss, I’d love to stay and finish this story, but I have a free amaretto sour waiting for me in my hotel lobby.”) And it WOULD be awfully nice to not have to worry about making my bed and washing my towels every day. hmmmmm…

In the real world, I found a cute little house today that I am dreaming of renting and fixing up. Sarah, it is near Chicos and that part of town. It is 475 a month, but that is reasonably cheap considering I’ve seen one bedroom apartments for 550. It has two bedrooms and a living and dining room plus a fenced in yard for Katie. [Katie was my dog at the time] My mom isn’t sure. Its not the cost but just the worry of me being in a house with all the responsibilities of a house. Plus they’d have to buy me a fridge and a washer/dryer. Its really old, but really cute. It has white walls and dark hardwood floors. No apartments yet. They are either trashy or too expensive. [It’s, Stephanie, it’s. No wonder you drove your first boss crazy!]

I cried today in front of my boss. Yup. This is the girl who can make it through graduation and saying good-bye to her best friends without a tear or even a wimper, but put her in front of a telephone,a conference table, people telling her she can’t rent, and her boss and she goes hysterical. I was mortified, but I couldn’t help it. I just cried. Then once I started crying about that, I started thinking of everything I had lost and how lonely I was.

Write soon so next time I come down to the public access computers at the hotel I have something to read after a [crappy] day like today. 🙂

Much love!
Natalya, if you read this, I love you and hope you are having fun in Russia.
Sarah, I haven’t had a [crap] in four days.
Nat, I wrote you seperate.
Shannon, I went shopping last night with my mom and got a shirt at abercrombie. I wish you could borrow it.

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Cleaning House

Yesterday I spent the afternoon cleaning out the house I lived in with my ex-husband. It was physically and emotionally grueling. A the end of the day, I felt drained and yet cleansed. It’s a task I’ve avoided since the divorce, but something that needs to be done. Unfortunately, there is a second house that needs to be cleaned out (long story as why there are two houses, but just take my word for it.) and so next weekend will involve more cleaning. Houses are just houses, but it’s amazing the energy they take on from the time spent living in them. This house was particularly rough because the end took place there. I felt some of that old energy grip me as I cleaned. So I’m glad it’s done.

By the way, I have a computer desk, a bookshelf, printer, lamps, an exercise ball, oil based space heater, two baby gates and some random dishes for any takers. E-mail me…

There was something that my ex-husband left at the house that I needed to get back to him, so I took it to our former best friends’ house. The husband of this couple was out in the garage. Suddenly I felt like I had been hit by a tank. And I couldn’t’ talk. He asked me what was new. The answer “everything” seemed appropriate. I heard myself trying to tell him how happy I am now and that I’m doing really well, but it was out of body. He looked at me with a look of pity and possibly a little judgment and I was wiggling in my skin. I rambled on for a little bit longer, handed him the thing and left, sending greetings to his wife and telling them to call me for a drink if they were in my neighborhood. (I’ll be surprised if I hear from them.)

After the awkward delivery, I needed some time with my friends. The friends who have been there for me to help me clean up this entire mess. I called the one friend I know I can always go to.

What are you doing?


Beer in two?

And beer and yummy Mexican food later, I felt the energy from my new life return with a big ‘ole virtual bear hug.

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Riding Old School

I’ve sorted out the “totalled car” situation and to make a long story short, I’m driving a car, the car, I drove in college and throughout the first part of this decade. It’s a little surreal to be back in this particular vehicle, but I’m proud of myself for this decision. This car has been with me for a long time. It’s seen me through college, first jobs and been with me in five states. There is something comforting in that.

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Beads for the ladies

My bachelorette party was a small affair. My maid of honor, Shannon and my other Stephanie took me out in Wilmington, N.C. On the whole, it was pretty calm. No naked men, male genitalia cakes, no games etc… I liked it this way. Shannon did bring with her some Mardi Gras style beads. She intended for me to hand them out to young lasses, but apparently I had my own idea of what I should do with these beads. Two bars into our crawl, I became appalled at the amount of young college-aged women grinding up on guys who could care less about the brains attached. These women needed saving. They needed beads. I began distributing the beads, with the advice, “Stay in school, don’t trust men and focus on your career.” It seemed everyone wanted some beads to wear. Soon, girls were coming to me asking for the beads. Now remember, even though this is a calm affair, I’m still a bachelorette and I’m wearing a veil on my head. Advice+veil did not match.

My friends dubbed me the “Bride Mother Teresa.”

And since the marriage didn’t work out, I can’t exactly wear that title anymore. Out of respect for Mother Teresa’s faith, I will not go with “The Divorced Mother Teresa.” Making her a bride was bad enough.

But my intentions to save others remain the same, so I’d like to present Stephanie’s rules for divorce — for the ladies in the house. Kindly note, these beads of wisdom are not intended to meet everyone’s specific divorce situation. For example, I didn’t have children. Take my ramblings with a grain of salt. However, unlike the last time I dispensed beads, I am sober.

The Beads:

  • First and foremost: Take care of yourself. At this point, your marriage is over. You are not a “we” and you must start to think like a “me.”
  • Find a place to live where you are completely at peace. This is going to be your retreat, your refuge and your new life will start here.
  • Try, try not to go down negative paths with your ex or his family. You will slip and fall here. You will do and say things you regret, but be strong and use as much self-restraint as you can.
  • On that same note, DO NOT engage in ANY communication with your ex’s new girlfriend. (If you are so lucky to have an ex with a new girlfriend.) Even if she tries to engage in diaglogue with you, be the bigger person and don’t, don’t, don’t lower yourself to that level.
  • Find your true friends and lean on them. They will rise to the top. They will be the ones who answer the phone at 2 a.m., who bring you tissues and junk food, who allow you to text thoughts intended for your ex, who will celebrate your triumphs and most of all, who won’t judge you.
  • At the same time, find your inner strength and know you can make it on your own. Slowly you can start to wean yourself from the dependence on your ex, your friends and your family and you will find a powerful new you.
  • Date when you are ready. It’s ok to pull the cord on dating if you decide it’s not for you, but if you even have an inkling to date again, go with it. It can be a lot of fun. It can also provide some perspective on your situation.
  • Use retail therapy with caution. A little can be ok.
  • Take life one day at a time. Time is your enemy and your best friend.
  • Read anything that makes you feel better. Not every divorce guide book is for you, but find a few that you can glean some nuggets from. It will make you feel better to…
  • Know you are not alone. E-mail me if ever want to talk.

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