December ’10 is…

December is all about ME this time around. I am going to be taking care of my health, my family, my friends, my marriage, my house,  my education, my employment…in other words, my life! My well-being is up to me, myself and moi starting in the month of December. Why December? Why not!

For books it is:

  • Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress ~ in honor of Alabama becoming a state
  • Made in America: an informal history of the english language by Bill Bryson ~ in honor of Bryson’s birth month
  • Best nightmare on Earth by Herbert Gold ~ in honor of December being one of the best times to visit the Caribbean.
  • Apology by Plato ~ in honor of the first Chief Justice (John Jay) of the United States. John Jay was born in December 1745.

For ME it is:

  • Running
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Cats
  • Marriage
  • House
  • Health
  • Cooking
  • much, much more!

**Edited to add: I just received word that I also have a LibraryThing Early Review selection! It’s called My Nine Lives by Leon Fleisher. It’s his memoir about his music career and dealing with focal dystonia. I’m really excited. This will be my 46th book for the Early Review program. While I am really, really honored I also feel a little guilty for being “chosen” so many times. But, here’s the thing – when people ask me why I request books (if I feel so guilty) I tell them it’s the only way I can read something NOT on the Book Lust Challenge list!

Bob and the Vandals

I would have liked to have known Bob Dylan in 1962. Right before things started to get crazy for him and even crazier for the nation. I would have liked him as a friend. Maybe less for his music and more for his personality. I liked his sense of humor and can’t help but wonder if he has it still. Are you still funny, Bob? Are ya? I liked his unwillingness to be painted into a corner or labeled like a cheap suit doused with cheaper cologne. I admired his tenacity to keep singing when so-called fans started to protest against his electric sound. I laughed at his ability to dodge questions about being a protesting artist with a hidden agenda or unclear message. What are you trying to say, Bob? ‘I don’t know’ seemed like the perfect answer and he used it all the time. He put everyone from reporters to Joan in their places. Take that! All that was left was (and still is) the whining about how they didn’t understand him (and still don’t).
Imagine being able to write lyrics so crazy good that they flow out of you nonstopping, unstopable. You write so well you can’t keep your own sentences straight. Can’t remember the difference between what you wanted to say and what you actually did say. Don’t even recognize yourself on the radio. I would give anything to write like that for just one day. I’d write the perfect letter. I know who I’d send it to. He’d have to read it because of its perfection. He wouldn’t be able to help himself. Since I can’t write like that, I won’t. Instead, I will listen to Bob. I’ll listen to the vandals take his words and run with them. Tangle them up in blue, steal them for their own. Brilliant by default. Brilliant because of Bob.

Confessional: I wrote this back in August (on the 6th to be exact). I am reallllly pressed for time today so I’m cheating and sending this one up – unfinished.

Had To

Someone pointed out to me that I’m a sucker. She got in my face and said “a deal’s a deal.” Said I went soft on a bargain. She’s right. It’s not that I went back on my word. It’s more like I jumped the gun. False start. Penalty for pushing it. I made a promise before the ink was dry. Signing my life away before reading the fine print. Making promises I can’t keep.

I really admire people who are true to their word. Say something and mean it. Say something and follow through with it. Know what I mean? I think I admire them so much because I have trouble with that “just do it” attitude from time to time. I’ll buy gifts for people and then forget to give them. I’ll write letters to people and then forget to mail them. I’ll buy expensive goat cheese and forget to cook with it. I’d like to think I have good intentions, but if I don’t follow through it’s just as bad as not intending at all. At least that’s the way I see it.

I’d like to get back to that Just Had To – as in “Just had to send you this gift because it had you written all over it,” “just had to call you because…” “just had to say hi because I missed you.” Find that good intention and make good on it. Seriously. 

So back to that jumping the gun thing: See, so I admire those people who say what they mean and mean what they say. I really do. Those industrious, get-it-done people. I made a deal with someone, they fell short. Should I sucker up my end of the bargain because they didn’t mean it in the first place? What does it mean when a deal’s a deal yet there’s no deal in the end? Maybe they should find that Had To attitude, too.

Just had to ask. Just had to.

counting them up

When I recited the exact date of when I met a friend she chided me, “…speaking of demons! You can’t let go of yours!” I had to laugh. I was ready to blurt out the old caught in the act, “it’s not what it looks like!” Because it is true. For all intents and purposes it doesn’t look like I have let go of anything.
But, as I explained to my friend, I have good demons. I keep them with me to remind me of how my life could have turned out; where I could have been. I think of her brother and know that I am not vain enough to think I would ever have any impact on his life. So, if our relationship had worked out I would be a puzzle piece in his very complicated life. Fate has run its course and everything would be as it is today. There is a demon and his name is Care, because I still do.
Then there is the demon Gabriel. He is the angel of hurt and pain. He exists to remind me of of troubles far deeper than anything I live with today. Liked a drowning survived I have surfaced.
I cannot forget the demon of Humility. I cannot forgive myself for the pains I have caused others. My selfish need to be the center of someone elses world at a loved one’s expense. I never, ever want to go down that road again so I cannot let myself forget.
So many demons to keep for so many reasons. I love them all, need them all, want them all.

And yet. My friend is right.

I was having dinner with someone the other night. We sat stabbing pasta and fiddling with drink straws while discussing family and the expectations bred within bloodlines. Something she said struck a nerve, rattled a belief, and disconnected an age old longing. Just because you are tied by genes doesn’t mean you have to be tethered. I thought I wanted that tell-all, close as shadows siblingry – the first to know, the last to let go kind of relationship. In all actuality I have never known it or needed it. Another demon to let go of.

Lending and Learning

This weekend was a chance to help. Myself. Saturday was all about carving a pumpkin to make me happy. Sunday was walking 5 miles for Baystate’s Rays of Hope Breast Cancer Charity Walk then having good girl time (as opposed to bad?)…

I am making a vow to walk the Rays of Hope every year. I may not walk as part of a team again (too much pressure to want to stay together), but I will definitely make this an annual thing. I will never, ever call attention to myself for the hurts I have faced but I am proud of the healing just the same. This walk was just what I needed. Maybe a certain someone will want to join me next year (what do you say, Smiley?)… So, anyway, this is a picture of me waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. I sat on my car and watched the others roll in. I won’t admit to how ridiculously early I really was, but it gave me a chance to watch walkers unite, hug, cry. Out came the pink ribbons, the pink balloons, the pink hats, the pink face paint (yes, yours truly smudged hers within moments of application), pink pink pink. Everywhere. I own so much black I actually had to go out and buy the pink shirt in the pic!

This was a day of coming together for the cause. Coming together period. I didn’t think of anything me, myself or moi. I wore no name except for that of my Team. I was not one person but an army of ones walking. I think that’s what knocked me silly on this Sunday. Running, you run for yourself. You lose the crowd. Everyone spreads out and becomes their own warrior. Walking binds you to the footsteps in front of you. Makes you move as a group. We were pretty in pink, proud in pink, perfect in pink.

S~ Thanks for hanging out later. While we didn’t talk about this walk all that much, it was nice to have that gabby, girly time. After the day I just had, it was perfect.

The Bug and the Butt

I have a bug up my azz. I will admit it. I won’t sugarcoat it. I won’t play nice. If you read my “about me” page you know you have been forewarned, I won’t shirk from the truth as I see it. This truth is about work ethic and being an adult and having a little consideration. Bottom line: the fact that some people do not understand the word “responsibility” is the current bug making a beeline up my behind.

To the people who consistently refuse to go above and beyond: Your work ethic sux. You do the bare minimum of work and then have the gaul to ask, “what’s in it for me?” You watch the clock like it owes you something. Like it would kill you to work two minutes over your eight hour shift. I have a strong desire to put you on a time clock to see just how many hours a week you do work. For real.

To the people who don’t understand the word busy. You spend all day on the computer. You write 100 emails and get mad at me when I can’t answer every single one directed at me. Chill out. Despite the fact I don’t have children, I do consider myself in a family. I have two jobs. I love my friends but I’m a loner by nature. I don’t need your “Are You Dead?” emails to remind me that I haven’t answer the last 50 messages you sent.

I could go on, but I won’t. Obviously I am having some issues with people wanting too much from me right now. No. I take that back. They don’t understand what it means to negotiate life. Someone calls out sick – someone else has to cover the shift. Plans change. I can’t stop cancer from taking the people I love so I’m not going to bitch about their “bad timing” of a relapse. Remission is just another word for wait. Life is one big swirling mess and I just pray to the powers that be that people chill out. Give me a break.

My Papa

Before my father passed away – like right before (eight days to the day) – we had this talk. I asked him if he wanted to become a grandfather. I mean, was it something he was really looking forward to? I’m not sure why I asked. At least, not at that moment. He cocked his head to one side and started to remind me how he already had grandkids. Like I had forgotten or something. He smiled like it was a joke. Ever his impatient, serious, can’t relax daughter I rudely interrupted, “daaad…you know what I mean….” My voice trailed off, pathetic. It was then I think he realized the weight of my question for his answer came slowly and metaphorically. Like all good conversations it meandered away from the hypothetical and soon settled on here and now more important things. I was leaving home in a few days. We ended up talking about so many different things.

I never did get a solid yes or no out of him. That wasn’t his way. He spoke like a Sage, mixing words with wisdom and allowing me to sort it all out. He didn’t like to do all the talking so he showed guidance by asking a lot of questions. Take away what I needed to take. Making me answer myself. Making me think. He always made me think about things from a different side, from the other side. From not my side, no matter which side I was on, or thought I was on.

To this day I haven’t forgotten that conversation. Not because it brought me closer to adulthood. Not because it brought my closer to my father. Those things happened after the fact. I remember that conversation because it’s the last lecture. The last good talk I would ever have.

“But what I do know is this. When people die, what we regret is, not having talked to them enough” (Lessing, Doris. The Diaries of Jane Somers. New York: Vintage, 1984. p 62).

“I quote my father to people almost every day…Of course, when he have someone like my dad in your back pocket, you can’t help yourself” (Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. New York: Hyperion, 2008. p 23).

Strange How the Mind Works

I was silent all day yesterday because the mind was in overdrive. Funny how that is. There are some days that are stickier than others. Why is that? Why do I remember everything, every little detail, like it was yesterday? The details are stuck like flies on the fly strips of my mind. Twisting and turning, but never completely shaking loose. I can remember the color of your shirt. The way your boots were left untied. The stillness of the room when it was all over. The heavy door closing with a quiet click. The leaving.

There are four days in September that replay like a movie in my head. Anniversaries of a different kind. They pull me down, wear me out. Curiously, each year my reaction to them is a little different. Some years they are as insane as a Stanley Kubrick film – images and memories too bizarre to handle calmly. I succumb to fits of crying, fits of rage. Other years I am dispassionate and objective, surveying the scenes with a cool eye and a cold heart. It’s not that I don’t care or that I’ve forgotten what these scenes mean to me. I’m just able to turn my head from them a little easier. They can’t touch me.
This year I surrounded myself with distraction. Little Miss Socializer. The Big E with all of its glutinous overloads. Greasy food. Flashing lights. Throngs of people. Crazy carnival music. IM’ing for the first time in three years. TalkTalkTalking on the phone. Sitting down to do nothing. Still, the scenes played out – like a movie half ignored. Something flickering in the background. Even when my past came to visit me I couldn’t admit to the memories. I played dumb and talked about the breakwater, ever repeating ‘you were the only one.’ Because that was what mattered then. Matters still.

Now it’s the day after. The clouds have all blown away. Someone has removed the fly strip, thrown it away for another year. There are other memories to come, but those will be met with predictable ease. I will look them in the eye, recognition comes with a nod and then, then I move on. Strange how the mind works.


When it comes to music I need advance notice. I need a schedule. I need a plan. I think that’s why last month’s trek to Worcester was so weird. It’s really rare when I catch a performance on a whim, when I don’t know the whole game plan. It’s like a perfect storm – everything needs to be aligned – conditions exact.

Why am I saying this? Where am I going with this? Sean Rowe. I caught his live radio show completely by accident. Here’s what happened:
Today was a farm day. Depressing. Everything is started to die. Damp, sour, rot. There is decay in the fields. Tomatoes and tomatillos lie dirt bound, their green leaves history. A quietness in the raspberry bushes. They no longer buzz with the frenzy of bees and butterflies. It’s getting too cold. I didn’t stay long. I stocked up on carrots, purple onions, bok choy, spinach, arugula, and kale. Carefully cut bouquets of basil, oregano, flat leaf parsley, thyme and rosemary… then sadly turned away.
At home the sadness hung off my shoulders, made me heavy and tired. Determined to get lost in sunny California I read The Nowhere City by Alison Lurie until sleep dropped my book and closed my eyes. When I woke I checked email and found Surprise and sheer luck. Sean was live in the 97.7 wnex studio and shock of all shocks, I hadn’t miss it. I had 2 minutes to spare, even. Shocker. I connected without confusion. Here’s the setlist:

  • Jonathan ~ did NOT expect to hear this one. It’s one of my favorites.
  • Wrong side of the bed
  • Surprise
  • Night

It was nice to hear Sean talk about the music. Don’t get me wrong, I like hearing him sing. But, But! There is something to what he says when he sings. There is something to where he is going with his songs. I like hearing about that, too. It makes the music move in different ways, if that makes sense.

So, thank you wnex, thank you Sean for the nice surprise. Can’t wait for the new album! It will be ‘Magic’ (pun completely intended)!

Going the Wrong Way

Clown car
Clown car

I got a ticket. A fukcing parking ticket. Only my third in my entire life. Only the second one that was actually my fault. Ironically, the two tickets that mattered were for the exact same thing: parking in the wrong direction. Go figure. Leave it to me to park in the wrong direction. I’m irritated. But, before I spit and spew and rant about the this newest ticket, let me take you on a parking ticket detour. Better yet, I’ll give you my whole freakin’ driving history and then maybe my irate manner will make more sense.

I didn’t get my license until I was 25. Don’t laugh. I didn’t need it. I got around just fine with the help of extremely cute boyfriends, generous girlfriends and the strength of my own two legs. When I got a license (finally) I proceded to be the model driver (according to the DMV). They didn’t know about the time I somehow got my Cutlass Cierra Clown Car stuck on the doorframe of my garage…or the time I crashed into a curb going 15 miles an hour with three sleepy passengers. Or the time I killed a frog. Splat.
My first recordable offense was parking the wrong way. A $35 fine in Morristown, New Jersey. I’ll never forget it. A friend was in town and we were going to see a movie. Cruising down a side street, looking for a parking spot I saw one on the other side. What would you do? I pulled a u-turn and parked. No big deal, right? Wrong. It was a one way street.
My second offense was a warning. A cop caught me pulling another u-turn. Illegally. This time in Chicopee, MA. I was horribly lost and horribly late to meet my rigid, watch-watching, pain in the azz, control freak boyfriend. Through tears and sobs I woefully explained my carelessness and lateness and lostness to the cop. He took pity on me and let me off with a warning. What I could have really used were directions. You know, one of those police escorts with lights? When I finally got myself home aforementioned boyfriend wouldn’t speak to me for nearly a day. Brat.
My third offense was a doozy. Accused of blowing a red light. I won’t get into it, but suffice it to say I crawled through a green-yellow-then red light, only to be pulled over. I fought the ticket and was found not accountable. So there!
My fourth offense (and second ever parking ticket) wasn’t my fault. Same schmuck of a boytoy borrowed my car, got drunk, got a ride home and got me a ticket.

Which brings me to my latest offense. Parking in front of my own house. Going the wrong way. $10. Seeing as how I’ve worn myself out ranting about the other offenses all I have to say about this one is: In the grand scheme of things is that really necessary?

But You Love Me Anyway

Rock Love
New love has quirks that are considered cute and lovable. Those things that a new lover says and does that are oh so different and revealing and disregarded. Those things are even adorable for a little while. Then, reality bites. Hard. There comes that time after the dust of desire has settled and new love matures into you and me, not one without the other. A given that you and me will be together. That’s when quirky becomes quite something else. Confusing. Contradicting. Infuriating. How we deal with these things that were once so lovable is a good indication of new loves maturity into real love. For me, adding up the quirks and realizing you are still with me is how I know you still love me. Regardless.

I was on the phone with a friend so I couldn’t quite comprehend the conversation occuring without me. I heard something about shoes. Something about a wallet. You were laughing. I knew you could only be discussing my quirks. With my friends no less. Some of whom have a whole wealth of stories on their own. I brought this on myself. I know I did.

It started innocently enough. It was last week. I was cooking curry turkey burgers and had somehow put the buns together wrong. Top with a top, bottom with a bottom. Still edible in my mind – just not pretty to look at. I’ve done it a hundred times before. You came down the stairs in time to hear me swear, in time to watch me try to flip bottom bun for a top. I turned to you and hissed through gritted teeth, “I will always leave my shoes in the middle of the floor. I will always misplace my keys. And. I will ALWAYS put the wrong halves of the buns together! So. You’ll just have to deal with it!” Instead of taking the bait. Instead of picking the fight I was wanting to have, you smiled at me and said gently, “I know something else you will always do.” Forgetting to be angry I dropped the fight and stopped dead. “What?” I wanted to know. “I’ll give you a hint” you replied as you proceded to close every cabinet door in the kitchen. What can I say? I was cooking like a fiend and didn’t have time to close cabinets!

I like tallying the quirks. I like seeing the oddities add up. The longer the list, the more I know you love me. Despite it all you love me anyway.
For the record:

  • I take my shoes off wherever and just leave them for kisa to trip over
  • I leave cups of half finished coffee in odd places, fully intending to finish them later (until they mold)
  • I lose my wallet, keys and/or phone on a regular, sometimes daily, basis
  • I leave cabinet doors open
  • I cannot put burgers together correctly
  • I hand material objects to random people and won’t remember it later
  • I have to cover restaurant food with a napkin when I’m finished
  • I cannot open resealable bags without somehow ruining the ziplock

To the love of my life. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being my lover. Thank you for making me strive to be a better person. I may have my quirks but my life is perfect with you in it. Happy anniversary!

Sunday Ticket

True to my word, these are my waking thoughts.
I have decided to give myself a Sunday ticket. I’m done house hunting. I’m done house talking. I’m done house pushing. This open mind for houses is now closed. My ticket to Sunday is the freedom to do whatever I want.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the effort we put into looking, because I do. I learned a lot. We spent a solid month opening cabinets, trudging down into dark basements, standing in backyards, peering out windows, talking the talk, walking the walk. Kicking the tires on a place called home. It was a learning experience, for sure. In every place I imagined trying to live there, trying to be happy there – asking myself what would it take? With 80% of them it was an impossible feat. It was all we could do to keep from running away. Laughing all the while, but running just the same. But, but. But! With three – only three – houses I found myself. I could see Bruno in the rocking chair. Zeke on the sun porch. Turtles lining the window sills. Cookbooks around the counters. House #1 had a foundation problem not worth looking into. House #2 had a driveway problem impossible to look into. House #3 had a price problem too tiring to look into.
So. All this looking has been fun. But, I want my Sundays back.


Dust sticks to wet paint

I was perusing someone’s photos the other day when I got that eerie feeling they were a bit stalkerish. You know, that ‘Wow, that is really intrusive’ feeling. My only problem was I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt that way. I was enjoying the photographs until I got to a certain one that seemed to go overboard, get too close. The next one was more of the same and so I stopped looking – turned away from the discomfort I was feeling. I don’t think I’ll go back.

My experience with the photos got me thinking about home and the levels of intrusiveness I felt there. Early in our vacation Kisa, the boys and I were hiking the island. We stopped to catch our breath at a very popular landmark, and to enjoy the view. Of course there were tourists on every side and their conversations were easily overheard. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to live out here,” one woman exclaimed. “All these people walking through their back yards.” I snickered and Kisa cast a knowing smile. For years he has been hearing my gripes about tourists taking advantage of such an unusual place. They walk across private porches, set up easels in the middle of the only road, have lunch in obvious backyards, let their dogs dump in vegetable gardens. This attititude of I can do anything while I’m on vacation has been long debated. I’m not bringing up anything new. But, it made me wonder – what makes separates fan from fanatic, tourist from terrible?
In the picture above a woman has set up her easel on the dock. Look for the hat by the door of the silver truck. This dock is where 3-5 trucks converge to pick up island supplies, luggage, etc. It’s a more that busy, hectic place. In the bigger picture another woman has set up her easel in the shadowed portion of the road. Not only that but she has chosen a dangerous corner where she isn’t all that visible. She and the woman on the dock are lucky they didn’t get sideswiped!

Got to Admit

I have got to admit I’m going crazy. Everything around me is making me madly nuts. But, I’ve also got to admit I have no idea why. I’ve seen promos for some new show about a guy who is actually two different people and I’m convinced that’s my problem.

Take this stupid wedding favor I received at the dreaded Hell Has A Name wedding. It’s a blue crystal and silver rose in a clear crystal pot. There is a part of my that despises this knicknackytacky trinket. It’s only 1 1/2″ high so it’s not in my way, yet there is a part of me that doesn’t know what to do with it. But, there is this part of me that has to do something with it all the same. On this side of my brain it needs to have a purpose, a reason for being in my space. Instead, it just sits there looking remotely pretty.

Then, there’s the other me. I think back to how the bubbly bride hunkered down beside my table and explained the gift to me. Earnestly looking into my eyes she said it came from her country (and everything) and was veryvery special. While she didn’t elaborate on what made it special she had tears in her eyes. There was no way I was going to doubt her sincerity. I predicted I would love it, promised I would keep it. I did all this sight unseen (it was in a box I didn’t open until I got home). Then, I think back to my own wedding and how I hand cut tags for our ticky-tacky bells, an explanation of “why a bell?” in each one. I glowed at the thought of honoring my father, gleamed at the idea of passing on some history lesson (I was a reference librarian after all). I was proud of the bells and hoped people would cherish them in some way. Mom has them hanging on her baker’s rack in the kitchen, but she has bias. Really, I have got to admit they were just as tacky as the rose I am contemplating now.

So, back to the rose. What to do with this thing? The sweet side of me says why do anything? It’s sitting on a window sill, minding its own business while the sour side of me wants it gone, gone, gone. Truthfully, I’ve got to admit I don’t think this pushme-pullme attitude has anything to do with the rose on my window sill…