Nothing But Blue Skies

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” —  Stand By Me

This has been one of, if not the best, week of my life. Excepting wedding day and the Births of The Fabulous Square Children.

Where to even begin?

Let us begin, as good things often do, at IKEA. I have been to IKEA quite a bit lately. My love-hate affair with IKEA has mellowed into a deep, intense love. LOVE.

Some of it for the new office of Undead Labs. Some of it distinctly…..domestic. Interesting, no?

What all good IKEA furniture needs is a place to go and by the best of luck, the sweetest of coincidences, our neighbors across the hall found a house after years of looking and moved out of the condo and offered it for rent to us. It all happened so fast!

This is sweet for many reasons. We couldn’t afford to buy it right now but we can absolutely afford to rent it. Last year it would have been laughable to think of doing anything like this but our sales of State of Decay have continued to be strong, our upcoming new game is testing exceptionally well in focus groups, and we’ve almost finished the costs of the new office so we have jumped that big hurdle.

So financially the timing was perfect.

Also, it’s getting to the point where we want our parents to visit more often. We want my brother, sister-in-law, the world’s cutest twins and Babycakes to visit. We want out-of-town friends to visit. There was just no way to comfortably accommodate extra people in Casa Square. We are cozy but there’s no extra room.

But now…The Hilton!

It has nice bones but was really shabby. It hadn’t been painted in forever and had dirty windows and old grout. Mangy old window coverings. Nothing terrible, just a young couple saving for a bigger place and not wanting to put money into upgrading of a future rental.

Also, they were very into beige. I have a hard time with beige. I find it depressing.

I went in like a banshee. The Hilton has pretty much taken over my life. I am painting everything, cleaning windows, scrubbing the bathrooms, cleaning carpets, and polishing floors.

Furniture, IKEA naturally, will be next!

With paint splattered fingers, I went to pick up yet another exciting event.

Yes. It’s a Mini Cooper. My dream car.

Isn’t it ADORABLE? Can you see the back of the side mirrors there? Snazzy, huh?

It’s a four door mini with…cough…Ezzy colored interior. No, that was not an accident.

Anyway, it’s the perfect about town car with room for five and some backpacks and still easy to park. Shockingly, Mr D will start student driving this fall so we’ll need this extra car.

Oh!

My!

God!

Did I really just write that?

Mr D at the wheel. Can that be possible????

Gratuitous Hilton and Mini shots.

Oh, and in basketball news, Garfield won state in boys basketball.

STATE! GO DAWGS!

Speaking of dogs, I had the great fortune to attend the Seattle Dog Show with one of the Bad Influences. You haven’t seen the Bad Influences much lately but they are still around and still delightful. Truly a remarkable morning.

Bad Influence #1 is in the market for a baby basset hound. Aside from Ezzy, the basset hound is the finest animal on the planet so naturally I had to go along.

Putting the “bad” in Bad Influence, I was subjected to the most excruciating cuteness from dozens of unbelievable basset hounds and when we found a great breeder with a litter due next month, I was *this* close to putting down a deposit.

Because…basset hounds. It’s like the purest, most serene kind of love. They are special. Dumb as a box of rocks but with hearts of gold.

I offered to drive the Bad Influence and her husband in the new Mini to the basset hound breeder next month to see the puppies. I will not buy a baby basset hound no matter how cute.

I will not buy a baby basset hound no matter how cute.

I will not buy a baby basset hound no matter how cute.

I am assigning myself to write that phrase 100 times before I go up there.

As for Square Children, things are busy in a happy routine sort of way. Jman has a best friend, the most delightful little guy. Teddy has been perfecting his necessary pre school skills like using the potty (!) and getting his own shoes on, etc. I think he’ll be heading to school in the fall.

Which will be a big change for me. Kind of scary but kind of exciting too.*

*Assuming that Baby Cinco does not elect to come into our lives. More on this in the next week. My body is cooperating with the pre transfer cycle, after several false starts. This might be it, people. SHOWTIME. **

** It probably won’t work. The statistics are horrible.***

*** But it might work. Because miracle Square babies have happened before.

Teddy showcasing some snazzy new underwear and me showing off a snazzy new sunhat.

Sunhat, you say? Why would I need a sunhat?

More on that in a minute. First, let’s see what’s happening over at the new Lab. Ah ha. Progress of various kinds!

Right on the cusp of finishing the last .5% of the Lab, Jeff and I had to leave town to go to San Francisco, which was infuriating because I now know that the final week is the victory lap of surviving the torture of any construction project. Anyway, we left it in the capable hands of the contractors and the architects and headed south to the Game Developer Choice Awards, kind of the Oscars of video games.

Okay. That’s kind of a stretch.

Anyway. There were awards and the Lab got nominated for “Best Debut”.  We were pretty sure we weren’t going to win because it’s kind of a clubby scene of game developers down in San Francisco and we are here in the wilds of Seattle but it was still a great honor to be nominated.

Jeff had meetings. I read (!) and drank these lemongrass coolers at the hotel until it was time for the awards.

As expected, we did not win. However, it was still LOADS of fun.

We went home early because Jeff had tons of business the next day and I had business of my own.

My business was my one of my oldest and dearest friends, someone you’ve never even seen here on Pioneer Squares.

That fact astonishes me, truly, because my friend is as much an imprint on who and what I am as anything or anyone in my life. Our friendship is so close that I think of her more as a sister and, like sisters, we can squabble and our squabble lead to a quieting of our friendship that I always thought would just restart once our kids were a little older and so on.

Until one day when another mutual friend texted me to say that our friend had very serious breast cancer, had undergone a full mastectomy, and that she was undergoing chemo and radiation. She’d lost all her hair, her eyebrows, she needed reconstructive surgery.

That news was like being kicked in the head repeatedly. I couldn’t write about it here because it was just too much to write down. Eventually I was all…fuck that “sister” shit. We’ve got to fix this. Life’s too short for squabbling.

And we decided to go away for a girls weekend, somewhere sunny and fun, because there are no friends like old friends.

We went to Miami.

To say that it was fun was understatement. It was sheer joy.

Halos, meet Aunt France.*

*not her real name

We started talking as soon as we met in the airport and we basically never stopped except to text Jeff, who knows and loves Aunt France almost as much as I do. She was a constant presence in our early married life, we introduced her to her husband, and she is Miss M’s godmother.

Fear of dying in your early 40s with two small children depending on you changes the way you and everyone around you looks at the world. Aunt France is in remission but with her kind of cancer, if it recurs within five years, the prognosis is very bad.

While that sounds like a heavy load, that situation seems to have set Aunt France on a lighter path than most of us. The sun feels brighter, the champagne is tastier, a good night of sleep is a gift.

We ate fresh key lime pie, drank mimosas, shopped for new lipsticks, got massages.

We took walks.

We slept with the balcony doors open, even when the ocean sent thunderstorms over us in the middle of the night.

She showed me her new boobs with nipple tattoos from the “Michangelo of nipple tattoos”.

I showed her pictures of Baby Teddy on the potty.

We stayed up until midnight.

We did lots of laughing.

Now I am on my way back to Seattle. I got miraculously upgraded to business class for the flight (!) and they just gave me lunch with a real cloth napkin and a real glass and a little fancy chocolate cookie.

Tomorrow, the Lab begins business in the new office. Truly a new era.

As always, I hope for blue skies over the head of each and every one of you,

Annie

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