So I’ve decided to do a Monday dump. The truth is, we go offline on Sundays, but really, for the most part we are kind of off line on Saturdays as well (other than my campaign for Jady Griffin to have 400 followers for his birthday.)

Needless to say, this unplugging means that a lot of things come up in reading or conversation and I thought this might be a good day to turn them over to you.

So the firs thing, is that if you are on Twitter and you like to be amused, you should follow Jady Griffin. His quotes of his son Tait are hysterical. His wife has a blog called Lark and Bloom that I posted for last mothers day. It’s a Christian blog, that has a lot of real life insight. You should check that one out also.

We didn’t directly celebrate Elvis’ birthday. But it’s widely known that Graceland

is a favorite of AM’s. Though I have to admit, I am not really sure that I know why… I need to follow up on that. Also. A line in the infamous Marc Cohn song, Walking in Memphis. In case you missed the horrific drama this post created. Anyway, peanut butter banana sandwiches for all.

Nope, this weekend we celebrated the release of AL from prison the hospital. We got an update Saturday morning on Justin’s Granddad, the lack of update since then probably means that Justin’s sister was in town. Hopefully we’ll hear something today. At last news he was doing better – breathing on his own. In our opinion no news is good news! We look forward to not frantically checking our phones to make sure that no one has called or texted with bad news. It was awesome to get the news that AL was going home! We offered lots of thankful prayers during prayers of the people last night for AL’s release and what we hope is Granddad’s continued improvement.

We LOVED this article in the Sunday Times. Be It Resolved. Seriously. So, for those of you who don’t know my AM, she has resolve of steel. She does most of these things naturally. When I showed her the calorie tracking app she has used it faithfully and her weight has stayed really consistent. It’s awesome. I, on the other hand, almost never use it consistently and I toy with 7 pounds like Sadie plays with boxes. I am going to be better about it though. I am resolved. Seriously. Anyway, it’s a great article and very pragmatic and scientific. So give it a read.

For humor. We live at the end of a dead end street. It dead ends into a cemetery. So people use our driveway as a turnabout. Once a month people yell at us or threaten to ram our car for waiting patiently while they use our driveway as a turnabout. Last night, after church, two cars were backing in to turn around and there were three cars parked in front of the fire hydrant so they couldn’t go there… There we sit. On the street. With two cars in our drive way. Three cars illegally parked at the end of the street and we backed up to let the cars out of our driveway so that we could get in, the cars, of course FURIOUS, thinking we’re backing up only to do the same thing they’re doing, not to park AT OUR HOME. I thought Justin was going to go postal. Currently there is a poster taped to a trash can in our driveway that says, Private Driveway NO U-TURNS. I think it got hit at least 10 times last night.

Warning – small political rant. I’ve never lived in a state where primary advertising is reachable. It’s something else. Anyway, there’s this ad out. I won’t mention the candidate. However, the indication is that faith=moral and non-christian/non-jewish/non-mormon faith=immoral. As I said earlier, we go to church. Yesterday after church, we were pulling out of our parking spot, a cabbie almost slammed into the left side of our car trying to get around us and the woman behind us tried to cut around us on the right – while on the phone, with the window down, screaming profanity. Clearly, I responded by rolling the window down and responding in kind. Moral? Probably not according to a man who uses the word zany as an insult. History has shown that both the atheist and the zealot’s capacity for morality and immorality are on parr, and the religious man is the very one who should carefully head how he yields his claim of piety. You would never find an atheist behaving in the same manner. I think it’s pretty dangerous to associate morality exclusively with three specific sects of faith, and statistics show that in fact that is EXACTLY what Americans do. Just something to mull around, and ask yourself.

So there you have it. The tree is down. Epiphany, Little Christmas is past, AL is home, Aunt Sue’s Chocolate Cake is almost gone, and the temp outside is finally above 30 so I need to go for a run. Happy Monday everyone. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget…


Catching Up

Since I last blogged… That one time from Vassar… When I was going to blog once a week from Vassar… A lot has happened.  I will catch you up quickly so that we may all move on.

I took two classes.  Once was Gender and Race: At the Intersection.  This was a life changing and humbling course.  I was not the class favorite.  I was not the teacher’s pet.  I was not the most popular.  I was gettin’ by on gettin’ by.  I also took Modernism in the City which I did not expect to enjoy, and loved.  My fellow classmates and myself (except for Harlow who was the class favorite and somehow managed to laugh his way peacefully through the program) worked our way through with tears, hard hard hard work and quit a bit of conflict.  I can honestly say that nothing I did in Germany compares with the interpersonal trial or stress I experienced in this program. I was very thankful that my Aunt finished chemo and I finished the program on the same day.  I will treasure talks on my bed with a wise and generous woman named Eddie, a dear counselor named Allison and my new brother from Syria – Hasko.  Whom I would like to keep in my pocket.  There were 29 students who went through this program and we will be forever linked by our experience.  I am grateful for each one of their stories, their accomplishments, their tenacity and their spirits.  Fighters.  What a group.

We drove home to Lady A and Architect A’s going away party.  Bum-mer.  We had a sweet weekend with them laughing and visiting and remembering a year of fantastic memories and laughter and friendship.  We helped them load their U-Haul.  Enter Super-Morgan, another lifesaver from Vassar who generously loaded A&A on and then loaded J&me in.  Saint Morgan.  No man deserved such pain.  You heard me.  I came home Saturday.  Said goodbye to A&A Sunday, started my math class Monday and moved that Thursday into their apartment.  Shoot me.  No seriously.  It was months before I unpacked.  I got my first B in the math class.  Forsook my 4.0.  NEVER. AGAIN.

I have started the fall semester with an Intro to Lit class that makes me giggle.  Thank you Vassar for your generous contribution to my ability to maneuver a “Lit” class.  Some Bio, some Psych, some Calculus.  I am exhausted.

We had a trip planned to Texas, which fell through very unexpectedly at the loss of my Uncle Al.  So we re-routed to Brooklyn and spent 4 days in a fancy Blue hotel room with a see through shower with AM&UK.  I am pretty sure that they did it on purpose so that we would go to Brooklyn Bread everyday while they showered and pick up delicious sandwiches.  “It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I am with you.”

When we got back I finally took the final for that math class from the summer and got my weekends back, unpacked my house.  Helped my dear friend with some shows while her husband Rico Schenck galavanted the globe making ships quieter. Having some major minor dental surgery and pondering why my CSA has so many effing root vegetables.  Seriously.  Why?

So there you have it.  You’re all caught up.  Now I am back.  I am pissed about that damn post on facebook where the bratty girl is holding up her sign about no debt, no smart phone and no 99% – and taking responsibility for all of her own actions.  I mean kuddos to her for all her hard work and for every single student like her.  However, I am a student, with a smart phone, and a cheap apartment and a couple of jobs busting my $%&, not blaming anyone, but thinking, should it be this hard?  I think I am part of the 99% – does that mean I am not taking responsibility for my finances or blaming people for my financial state?  I don’t think so.  And I am pretty sure that’s not what she meant to say either.  So take the damn post down everybody, the tone is condescending and not helpful.  We’re all poor.  Be nice.

Also. We have started the Breaking Ground campaign so J and I are begging for money for the orphans again.  Or at least we will be.  We are developing a strategy.  In between homework and cooking root vegetables.  Oh and shopvac’ing our apartment.  It’s true.  I shop-vac’ed the apartment tonight.  And people say I am OCD.  Please.  It’s normal.

Things we’ve loved lately:

The lovely world of Spotify

Speaking of music, at the beach AM would always play great peaceful Sunday morning music GM & RS introduced us to Antje Duvekot, whom we enjoy peacefully on Sunday mornings.  I particularly love the song about Judas lately, it makes me cry.

We joined the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, I’ve been twice this month and taken to calling the late Mrs. Gardner, “Izzy”

Speaking of things to enjoy in Boston, trying to enjoy the remnant of our tomato plants with Green Tomato Biscuits .

Not much to say about fashion right this minute, except that today, at TJ I found two of the most beautiful MJ (not even M for MJ) dresses for the most drastically reduced prices.  They fit beautifully and were magical and I felt like a fairy in them, they were more than 90% off their original prices.  I was ashamed at how disappointed I was to not have them.  But J and I just re-centered about what’s important.  And those beautiful dresses are not important. Education is important.  And so we re-focus and get over it.  There are plenty of seasons of lovely dresses to be had once I have a fancy pants job and he stays home and walks the dogs.

I’m including a picture from J&me at a recent free event that Shane hooked us up with.  It was so fun.  He danced like a mad man and we drank whiskey and ate cupcakes and I taught awkward dancing.  Poor Shane for being associated with us.  It’s not our most flattering picture, we obviously don’t really careBushmills        We are SERIOUSLY considering using it for our Christmas card.

Learning as We Go

Last year I got married. When I moved back from Germany the big question was what I would do. I wanted to go back to school, and I didn’t. I knew it would be an adjustment to go back in my thirties, but also knew that unless I did, many doors would remain closed to me.

So I enrolled, as most of you know. The first semester was comedic and exciting. Great professors with great quirks. It had challenging moments, but for the most part was a breeze. I nannied for a family with a newborn and though the newborn was fussy it was an easy way to spend my time and LOW stress. THEN Christmas came. I need to say that we stayed here for Thanksgiving and Christmas due to the extensive use of our vacation time for our honeymoon. Lady A invited me to come to the wholesale show in Atlanta with her and I was so excited to escape for a few days, but a blizzard came and she literally got the last plane out of town. I should have known then the Spring would be a long, cold one.

I took 5 classes this semester. I have no idea why. No idea. The mom of the baby I was nannying for made the decision to stay home. I was scrambling for a job in February. I found a job nannying for two boys… in Arlington. So I drive to Charlestown for school, Sommerville to pick up A from pre-school, Waltham to pick up E from homeschool co-op, back to Arlington to their house and then to Brighton to go home. Shoot me. I feel like I should drive a mini-van. I don’t want one. But I feel like I should. Did I mention that my car has some sort of nominal issue about every 6 weeks? The total amount of that work exceeds the amount we agreed to buy the car for (currently still paying for it) and the check engine light came on again today… A great feeling when you are carting kids all over the green earth. Somewhere in there the lady that I worked for last year that I am pretty sure thought she was paying me too much for nothing, called me and begged me to take her kids on Wednesday. I agreed, I only had the boys two days a week. Until their other caregiver quit, then I had them three days a week. That’s right. 15 hours of school. 2 hours of driving. And 20+ hours of work a week. I had over-committed. I was maxed. I stopped exercising and sleeping. Our house lived in cycles of chaos between school holidays or blizzards. And the winter just ended this week. Not. Even. Kidding.

I basically melted down about three weeks ago and explained to Justin that I had the capacity to study, sleep and work, that was it. He stepped up in a real way, and we made it. I managed all As and one A-. I am still negotiating on that A-. The class that I deserved it in I didn’t get it in and the class that I did not deserve it in, I got it in. Figures.

In the midst of this I was told that the big girl school I applied for could not really look at my application until I took STEM, Cal and Trig. Um. OK. They also conspicuously encouraged me to beef up on my science classes. Um. WHY??????? So I am. Then my English professor recommended me for a program at Vassar. In June I am moving there for 5 weeks. Yep. In the dorm. With a roomie. Like when I was 18. Then I am coming back and cramming that STEM class into the 6 weeks before school starts so that I can take Cal in the fall. I know. I know. I NEVER LEARN.

Can I tell you some of the amazing things that happened. We found some of the friends of our life in Lady A and Architect A. Our dear and old friends kept in touch with us and loved us well. My dad came for his first slumber party and it was drama free while he was here. I completed my first semester back at school with all As. The extra work brought extra money, which we were able to use for the various things that arose. For the most part there was enough, and that was a HUGE gift. I was accepted to an ENDOWED program at VASSAR! I had an incredible trip to New York over spring break. I found a friend and mentor and ally in the wife of one of J’s co-workers who went to the big girl school I applied to. She has become one of my absolute favorite humans of all time. She has a daughter named Magnolia. I find this magical. We have seen what we are made of, and feel encouraged. I had an incredible math professor who is willing to teach me STEM in 6 weeks at the end of this summer, you guys have NO idea how huge that is. I realized how DESPERATELY I need to work on my perspective and attitude, it is the most significant thing steering how fantastic or difficult our life is. I consider one monumental step when I realized that this semester had not been hard, hard was my time in Berlin, this was challenging, something difficult and intense but not emotionally threatening.

So this is what we ARE learning. That I am a door slammer. That Justin does well with detailed instructions. That I continue to be bad at saying no. That we are not making rational decisions about the car, time to do something extreme. That I need to leave for some place warm at some point in the Winter/Spring or I am attacked by seasonal depression. That we really do need to be up at 5:45 and asleep by 11 for our lives to work. That we absolutely love being together no matter what we are doing. That family is incredibly supportive, even when they are in the midst of some of the greatest battles of their lives. That part makes me cry. That we are going to be an Aunt and an Uncle and that is such a precious honor. That marriage takes work, and different kind of work than we thought. That large public schools are cheaper, but more frustrating. That buying text books is the black hole of money. That we want to start our own business. That we love to wander. Anywhere. Anytime. We are wanderers. That I am even more of an introvert and perfectionist than we ever really thought. Who knew people people could be so wildly introverted. That I love my professors whether I love their classes or not. That for the most part I really love class. That Justin is very ambitious and a sponge like learner.

We are learning as we go. We are trying. We are doing our best to love each other well, and be ourselves. I am learning to be supportive and kind. Justin is learning to help me draw healthy life boundaries. We both know nothing about long-term money and need help to figure out how to not just live to meet our budget and basically save. That we like the underdog (our car.) We are learning that we need dear friends (so thankful to have a small circle of dear friends here), that we have a much smaller capacity than we realized. We love to have people here and we love to entertain, together. We love and miss our families more than they could ever know. We are learning. I am learning. We are in process. We know less at the one year mark than we did the day we got married. I am still learning how to learn, and I need a lot of help there also.

There is no point where we arrive. As I am learning from AM, the most important thing we can do is call a spade a spade, look it directly in the face and then have the best and most honest attitude that you can. I am learning from her to give yourself a minute, or an hour or a day and then chin up and move on. We are never trapped, there is always a place where we can improve our attitude or our circumstance and we are victims of nothing. I know these things, but I am learning to live them. As I go. In process. Hoping that I learned a lot from the last few months. Here are some future goals:

October 2, Marathon.
August, Launch some small portion of the business.
Attempt a debt free life other than school loans.
POSITIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE perspective and attitude.
Quiet and Still time every morning to read, meditate and get our focus right.
Exercise before we start our day.
6 week break bad habits/focus on health from July 18-September 13th. thinking about going raw.
DE-CLUTTER!!! Minimize, minimize, minimize. Beginning with a garage sale in two weeks.
Make a rational decision about cars in our house, we need one, but maybe not two.
Make the best use of our CSA and meat share.
Attend church regularly.

I’ll keep you posted. This is quite a journey that we are on. Goals are crucial and attitude is everything. I realize that as this semester progressed it was easier to focus on the difficult than the good.

So now you are up to date. And we are moving forward from here. Looking forward to the best that is yet to come. And experiencing the great benefit from all the big life lessons that I learned during the challenge that was this Spring semester!

So When You Have Surgery on Your Nose You Need Soft Food…

Who knew?

So Boo had surgery on his nose. We’re not totally sure what they did, but he no longer breathes like Darth Vader and we have slept in the same bed every night for a week. SUCCESS! However, it never occurred to me that he would need some special food. I found myself cooking gravy, breads and serving up milk shakes. I am pretty sure that Justin thought he had entered food heaven.

I feel bad for him. He was in a lot of pain. He bled a lot and we woke up every few hours for a few days to take pain medications. Let me just say this, that walking back into the recovery room after his surgery the sight of him post surgery brought tears to my eyes. I knew he couldn’t FEEL the pain that he was in, but I could see it. Forgive me. We’ve been married for just less than a year, and this is the first time I have ever felt love like that for someone who I haven’t been related to for egads. Suddenly I recognized what love really means. I can’t even offer words other than to say that I know that you know what I mean. The care you feel for someone you’ve chosen, or who has chosen you. It was my honor to care for him as he recovered. I worried and fussed and got mad when he overexerted. Well, I was like that for two days, by the third day I was really over being a nurse. Ugh. But that didn’t minimize the unconditional love that I felt or the ability to do things that would otherwise be beyond me, it just meant I wasn’t really doing it with the same enthusiasm, I was doing them more like myself. Hahahaha.

I have to say that in the exact same time, another person that I love was experiencing their own loss. I felt far away and helpless, and was once again reminded of what love does. It immediately empathizes from the deepest place. This person was tended to and cared for in a far better manner than I could have, but I wanted to be there cracking jokes, holding hands and offering perspective.

We went to be early on Sunday night. To be honest I go to bed early most nights now. But I have been unusually tired the farther along we get into this semester. Today I took two naps. I am so tired. I slept through the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. As a news junkie this was a big deal to wake up to and I have been glued to the news since. I have such a strange sense of nervousness about this. I have no strong opinion about OBL’s death other than I think that we are probably safer, in the context of there is no longer a person who has both the dreams, the means and the experience to execute terrorism on a large scale. The death of one man has never been able to accomplish the world’s peace. Naturally Christians believe that the death of Jesus accomplished eternal peace for his followers, but it is arguable that much violence resulted from the cross. Cell based jihadist will not lay quiescent. Make no mistake that there will be retribution for this, and there is no possible way to know where or how it will come. I do not feel safer, I feel a little more nervous. Like we just poked a big ant pile and have turned our backs laughing. I will refrain from commenting on the vitriol that has broken out, but I don’t want to. I want to scream.

I will say this. It is easy to love the people that you like, that are like you, that sing your accolades. It is difficult to love when it requires something of you, when it comes at a cost. It is even more difficult to love your enemies. I am not saying anyone needs to weep for the man who is now dead but chanting about him burning in hell and giving God the Glory is not really the message I think you are meaning to send. I also want to say that Bill Clinton gave an incredible amount of energy to hunting down OBL, Bush made it his goal and Obama finished the job. He is not taking full credit for it, he is just the man in office that made some really tough calls and put his life on the line to do it. Bush was resting peacefully in Crawford when Obama was making these calls, and you know what, Bush was glad it was not him making the decisions. Promise. So stop bitching that Obama is getting all the credit. He is just doing what a president does, taking over where the last guy left. With Osama, as well as with the economy. You can’t pick and choose what you want to blame on the man and then keep him from getting credit for. Freely criticize, but do it intelligently and consistently.

All that being said. Just love. In this sick, hurting and broken world try a little tenderness. John Hiatt’s Have a Little Faith in Me has been playing in my head a lot today. Hang in there friends, if we all tow our load, we really can make this world a little better place than we found it.

I will be linking up this week, probably with this post. I will also be guest posting here at my dear friend Liz’s request on a VERY unexpected topic, as well Cankle has nominated me in this post for some sort of award where I need to do some posting. I am doing it because I love her and she’s leaving Texas this week for the Northeast, and as a transplant, I know that any time you are leaving Texas you deserve to get anything you want. So stay tuned. I’ll be a little more chatty than normal this week.

Schedule Shame

Thanks for all the love on my AM post. It’s funny, I go on and on about her all the time, perhaps the post was more spectacular due to the current circumstances surrounding our lives, it didn’t feel that spectacular to me. It was factual. That really is who she is, it’s not flashy. It’s just her. However, I appreciate all your love and encouragement.

So, I have a new topic. I am currently supposed to be working on homework, but I try to blog on Mondays. It’s the only day that I have time. Not that I really have time today, but I am going to do it anyway.

I was thinking on Friday about what a bad friend I have become. I used to be a good friend. I was great at cards, mix CDs, books with sweet notes in the front, encouragement, and surprises. I was brushing my teeth and thinking about how one of my best friends from high school had a birthday Thursday, I had a little treat for her and a card and it was going to go unwritten and un-mailed just like Liz’s socks, my sister-in-laws treats that I made for them at Christmas, a birthday card that IS already written to my grandmother-in-law, pictures from my wedding for my mom, a photo album for my mother-in-law, CoCo’s Christmas present is sitting on the couch, she lives a mile away and countless thank you notes that have still not been written. I haven’t seen most of my friends that live in this town, returned sincere and beautiful emails and phone calls from dear cousins and friends of our family checking in on me about something very specific. My father is coming to town this week and I am not sure when, nor am I sure where he is staying or what he is doing. I spend a lot of time snapping at J instead of communicating with him, and all I want to do is sleep. I am so, so tired.

Depression you ask? Nope. Life. School. Work. Laundry.

Here’s what last week looked like.

6:00 am Out the door for a run
8:30-1 AK, she’s 2 so we got donuts and we also ran some errands. I am almost sure that she enjoyed the donuts more than the errands.
1:30 rush around calling old schools to try to finalize transcripts to be sent to schools I am applying to, this has been a three month nightmare, which came to a raging tear-filled frenzy of groveling and begging on this day. Only to be told, “Oh my gosh, we’re so sorry. This was totally a computer glitch, we’ll release these transcripts right away.” HEART ATTACK.
3:00 Drs Appt
4:00 Home to start working on studying for Marketing quiz, rough draft due for English, and start flash cards for Management mid-term
7 J home, cook dinner
8:30 Finish paper/Work on Vassar summer program application
11 Bed

6:00 run
7:15 leave for class
8-1:15 Class
1:30 Pick up the boys
1:30-5:30 but normally 6 or later Two little boys full of energy and their friends
7 We had something this night last week but I can’t remember what, I just remember going straight from work to do it.

7 Late morning run
AM’s birthday – wrote blog, arranged a couple of birthday surprises.
Studied for Management mid-term and finished up second draft of English paper
Spent some time with Amy and Ellery, a rare and luxurious occasion. I also spent a lot of time on the phone with SDSU and MCC regarding the aforementioned transcript situation.
12 School to get in my hour of lab work for German and Math, also to meet with a professor regarding the summer program I am applying for at Vassar which requires, you got it, transcripts.
3 Pick third family’s kids up from school. Worked until 8.
8 Home to study for test and print paper

6 Up early not to run as planned, but to study
8 -1:15 Class
1:30-6:30 Boys
7 J provided dinner
8 Study for German test and work on Math homework
11:30 Bed

6 Up to study
7 Leave early for pre-class review
8-2:30 Class
1:30 Pick up boys – That’s right I miss an hour and 15 minutes of class every week so that I can work, which is why my math homework is so tedious and important
1:30-6 Boys
We went to Brunello’s on Friday night and had dinner. We were too tired to cook and had a lot to talk about, as we don’t get much talking done during the week.

Slept in until 7, ran errands, got groceries, did some shopping.
Family birthday party in Holden, late afternoon
8-2 am Back in Cambridge, babysat for the baby I worked with last semester
3 am – Bed

8:30 Up and At em, baked Frittata and made some Ranch Water (recipe to follow in next post)
10 Brunch with Amy and Ashley, trying to remember to make time for friends
Drove to Sommerville to get gas for 20 cents cheeper, went to Trader Joe’s for some groceries, couldn’t get what we needed, ran to Formaggio bought some fantastic cheeses
4 skipped church for the umpteenth time
5 Pulled some meat out of the freezer to try to prepare food for the coming week so that we aren’t stressed about eating each night and so that J has lunches to pack and take.
6 cooked dinner
7 dinner and caught up on The Office & Parks and Rec
9 Clean up and crawl in bed

It’s Monday and now I am starting over. And I am already behind. This morning I wanted to get my German and Algebra homework done. I also need to finish the final draft of a paper, I have an appointment at 4, Haley’s in town for dinner, so tonight is not an option. I haven’t been running yet, because I have been trying to take care of some emails about pretty important stuff, pay some bills, and catch up on my administrative life. None of this will include mailing those things I mentioned at first… So again, more behind than I want to be and German and Math will get pushed aside, as will running and showering.

All I know to say is that it produces shame in me. I always said that small groups were the life of a church, alas, I cannot manage to get to one because of my schedule. I don’t want to go to church because I don’t want to defend my last blog post or explain where I’ve been for the last few months. I want to call my friends but feel overwhelmed with how much and how little I have to say. It seems to create this cycle of shame that even though I am giving everything I am doing, everything I have, none of it is quite enough, and still the time I do have I am not spending in the best way. I am not quite sure how to get out of it. I want to celebrate my friends birthdays, their marriages and new children, I want to be a friend to them during difficult times, I want to catch up and hear how they are. I want to see CoCo, DTB and my cousin who live less than two miles away. It’s simply not going to happen. The things I listed above are more than I can handle, and I am holding on my the skin of my teeth to manage those. Much less the unexpected, like needing to pick up dry cleaning, go to the bank or grab something we forgot from the store.

So please be patient with me. The friend I was is no longer the friend that I can be, I am not sure if I will ever be that girl again. What you are getting is the best that I’ve got, and if it’s not enough, believe me, I understand, I underwhelm myself. But I beg, please be patient with me, I am trying to be patient with myself, and it’s much more difficult than I imagined.

Hope in the Darkness, Neck Braces and Cosmic Love

I’ve spent the day listening to this song

Enjoying this video, by a Boston based band

And relishing in my first official snow day from school.

The snow last night put us at 60 inches for January, they say there hasn’t been this much snow since the ice storm of ’05. Where it all came at one time and shut the entire state down for two weeks. This is more of a slow death. Currently snow banks are taking the places of yards and parking spaces.

And being my father’s daughter I’ve taken to leaving notes on people’s cars who steal our shoveled and 48 hour reserved space. This has led to some amusing incidents that I will not disclose here, but I realize that my genetic potential means that I need to be aware that my ability to write notes within reason is probably skewed by my genetic make-up. I mean I am the daughter of a man who keeps a dog log, sits in on local dockets to stay abreast, and patrols the park with an air rifle. Crazy runs in my bones. On the other hand, UK and AM seem to be able to run the Condo association with civility and pink flamingos, so one would think I would be able to maintain sanity. We’ll see.

Speaking of seeing. Here’s a picture of the brace

I know. It’s incredibly attractive. Apparently the muscles in my back are revolting in spastic seizures. Something to do with unknown forces, posture, and stress. The stress is probably from people stealing my parking space. Anyway. I am wearing this brace. I am pretty. I know.

I am also really trying to figure out what the *&%$ all this guest blogging crap is. Jrad sent me like 20 links and then some lingo and some instructions and I am working through a medication induced haze to figure out how to write people and tell them I want to sell something on their blog, and that I am a really great mens fashion writer. We’ll see how this goes.

I need to lay down. I am cranky. Feeling a lot like I’ve taken on the personality of my father and the ailments of my mother which leads me to think I am in desperate need of psychiatric treatment. STAT.

Did I mention the car has to go back to the shop? No? Well I meant to.


Shooting Pain, Ordering In and ER

Sunday night Boo and I went to the ER because some back pain I had all day had elevated to a level that was threatening sleep. However, I’m pretty sure if I’d just stayed up until 3:30 when they let us leave the hospital I could have gone to sleep on my own. Monday I stayed in bed all day. Tuesday I went to class. More on that later, definitely some good stuff. Then today I woke up back to a sickening level of pain. So. Back to the Dr for me. Everyone keeps commenting on how “tense” my back is. Um. Yeah. It’s tense. That’s why I’m here. I don’t normally march to the Dr because my back is a little achey. I march to a massage. Anyway. DrC wanted some pictures because it sounded like spinal compression to him… Um no. I reject that. Then he asked about a knot somewhere else. Sent me to a specialist for that. Also sent me upstairs to PT and told me to start first thing in the morning. He said he should know by then if it was a spinal problem. He then prescribed another thing to relax my muscles. Which lead not to my back feeling better but to me sleeping for at least 5 hours. I woke up to eat and work on our taxes and now I’m going to sleep again. I have an appt at 7:30. Then class at 8:30. Eeeek.

OK. There’s your update. Thanks for the texts, calls and messages. It’s nothing serious. Just an inconvenience.

Heather Armstrong/Liz Lambert, It Gets EVEN Better and Breast Cancer

Kendall Gayle is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Her blog is my second favorite blog of all time (dooce.com wins #1) You can find a link to Kendall’s blog here. I need to warn you that reading it today, the two year anniversary of when she lost her mom, might make you cry. Normally her blogs make you laugh, but this, this loss has been her most difficult journey. One can understand why. Once Kendall featured me on her “People I Love” section. Today as I think and pray for her in this terrible loss of her mom, I remember that love never dies. People die, but love doesn’t and that’s the hard part. When from the beginning of your life you have been fashioned to love someone and then they are gone, then it’s kind of like having unrequited love, which we all know is the very worst kind. This week, reminded of Kendall’s mom Sweet, my cousin Missy who is fighting stage 3 breast cancer and my dear friend Maggie’s mom, SherBear who was just diagnosed with breast cancer, I feel sad that we haven’t solved the problem of this killer. But I know that love is sometimes painful, and that sometimes love isn’t enough to heal pain, but today I send love to my dear friends and pray for strength, comfort, hope and good girlfriends to take them out for drinks.

Heather Armstrong (Click Here) and Liz Lambert (Click Here) are my current heroes. I follow them on Twitter and promote them relentlessly, Heather aka Dooce for more obvious reasons, 1)She’s funny 2)She’s honest 3)She is in the stage of life all of my friends are in 4)She swears in her blogs, which I respect 5)She’s really pretty and makes me laugh out loud. But do not underestimate the power of Liz Lambert . She’s dating Amy Cook, and they both exude the kind of cool born of “I don’t give a *&#% what you think” security. Liz was an attorney in New York (of course I think she’s cool) but she left and bought a flea bag motel called The Hotel San Jose which through hard work, grit and allowing prostitutes and pimps to maintain residence and pay rent she turned into the hip place where JF organized a 25th birthday party (just 8 short years ago) and we gawked at Bob Schneider who was patronizing the bar… It quickly became THE place in Austin. She promoted all sorts of incredible live music and realized that the area needed some life so she opened this little place that we all know, love and have pictures at. Where do you go from pioneering revitalization of the SoCo region of Austin? Oh… How about Marfa? Boutique trailers and UFO spotting? Perfect. It’s like Texas’ little form of Sedona. Well it wasn’t enough. There was an old B&B on Academy back in SoCo. She bought it and turned it into a RocknRoll hotel, no really, unbelievable Rock n Roll posters in every room. This video was filmed there, oh… And this picture was taken there

This one too:

So was this one…

(incredible photography by normally exclusively Rock n Roll photographer MCM)
Needless to say, Hotel St. Cecilia played a significant roll in a big day in my life… But I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s breathtaking, you’ve never had this kind of service, or quality. Ever. And I’ve stayed some nice places. It just gets better, recently Liz opened up a hotel in San Antonio that’s getting rave reviews. Basically, I am looking for the perfect letter pressed stationary to send LL a handwritten letter begging her to let me work for her for free for my back to school internship – surely she’d want a 33.5 year old who is starting all over mid-prime? I mean, if I were her, I wouldn’t look past “free.” We’ll see. Maybe I’ll drop the letter off at Bunkhouse when I’m home next week, considering the fact that she ignores my Tweets (it’s not like I tried to her to tell Patty Griffin hi when she, LL and AC were in Paris last week, but I should have) I am keeping my expectations low.

HOWEVER – I did write HA an email this morning and ask her to write a letter for my It Gets Better series. This is what I realize, LGBT are on to something. Life is hard, making it is hard, we all need people who have done it to tell us how and that we can make it. Joel Burns is a freaking hero, but I consider these two women pretty incredible as well. They are ballsy, successful, creative and HAPPY. Both are in committed relationships, somehow balancing success and private life, and both continue to invest in the community and raise awareness on a broad level. We would be fools to not beg them to share their wisdom with us. So I did. I don’t have a lot of hope that Dooce will write a letter to her younger self or that either one of them will take me as an unpaid intern, but they should. I think we’d all learn a lot in the process.

That being said, one thing that I have learned in life that I want to pass on. ASK. If you see someone successful that you admire (male or female – I just happen to love these two ladies style and panache) gather your guts and think of a couple quick and concise questions that you can ask them about the things that you admire. We are here to learn. In my opinion all of us should have leveled relationships – people who mentor, peers and people that we are investing in. I have some great mentors, some incredible peers and currently I am mentoring Troll through daily hugs, the Gucci girls through Blog mockery and the little girl I nanny by playing her really good music that she otherwise would not know about. I mean how else would a 4 month old hear about Patty G and Lucius? Some MOPS group? Unlikely. She’ll thank me later when she’s cooler than all of her friends.

In other news, I ran 11 miles the other day. I started at the park and then I ran to the salt and pepper bridge, I listened to Bill Simmons 2nd to last podcast which was something with “Cousin Sal” it was an hour of picking the lines in NFL – shoot me. I thought it couldn’t get any worse until I turned around and ran 5.5 miles into the wind the entire way home. I did listen to two 30 for 30 podcasts, which were more helpful, except that I wanted to die and have literally been STARVING for the last two days. Seriously. Don’t get near me I may eat you.

That’s todays update. No recipes. If you’re hungry you can check out Liz’s brother’s restaurant Lamberts Apparently, much like myself, being awesome is in the Lambert family.

Laptop Rebellion, Restoring Sanity and Thoughts on My Younger Self

For some reason my laptop has stopped charging, occasionally. And by occasionally I mean, like every 2 or 20 minutes it just stops charging and gives me the “warning” screen that I have .064 seconds until end times shutdown. Geez. I don’t know how to tell the laptop this, but if he dies we’re not going to be buying any new laptops, so he’s going to need to go ahead and hold on, because, well, it’s the only option.

Ummm, did anyone see this? WordPress is rejecting posting it, but you can follow the link. It’s John Stewart at his best. You can skip the first few minutes of niceties. The rest is an intelligent response to the horror that has become the current political environment. Watch and be comforted.

Have I mentioned how cold I am? It’s currently 36 but feels like 29 – I am pretty sure it’s 19 in my house where for some reason my husband refuses to turn on the heat NO MATTER HOW COLD I AM OR HOW FROZEN MY FEET ARE. I am sitting under a wool blanket frozen. The weather is promising 47 degrees today, I think I’ll wait until we peak there to run.

So JL’s mom Cindy sent this in response to Penny’s letter:
Penny, I’m close to sixty also. How beautifully you articulated those truths. It’s so strange to have never had a conversation with any one older or younger about what life looks like at this stage. Thanks Stephanie for challenging us to think about it, even to write it down. I plan to write more. Penny said it well to enjoy Jesus and let Him enjoy you as you would one of your children. I heard Graham Cooke say our mistakes are like a child trying to walk and falling. The Lord picks us up and kisses our tummy and sets us back to try again. I agonized over trying to get it “right” with marriage & child-rearing. The Twelve Steps have helped with some perspective on turning my life over to God one day at a time. Offer your life to Him in the morning for His service and then thank Him at night for all of those blessings. Life is made up of moments. Mary did the better thing by sitting at Jesus’ feet. You’ll have to fight for it. The world has totally different values.
Jesus talks a lot about the poor. I wish I would have spent more time up until this point serving.
Blessings and love to the thirty year olds and sixty year olds and those in between.

Now, I know these letters have a very Jesus theme. But I want to encourage you that I think spirituality is a really important part of peace. Whether it’s taking time to get quite and reflect, journal and be still. Reading Gandhi or Mother Teresa, or pursuing the presence of God. It’s important for the deeper parts of us to come in contact with reality, life away from little worries and burdens and the peace that passes understanding. I look forward to letters from more women with wisdom on life, from all different perspectives and directions.

As for me. I was thinking about what advice I would offer. Obviously, none on marriage. Since here, 5 short months in I feel like we know less than we’ve ever known about love and are just learning what thinking past this moment into “lifetime.” I still contend that marriage counseling should talk less about the inevitable “sex and finance” conflict and more about the CONSTANT “driving and little shit” conflict. However if I could go back and tell my mid-twenties self anything (we all know there is no point, you can’t tell someone in their mid-twenties anything) these are some of the things I would say

1 – Worry less about your weight and more about your health. Get healthy and stay healthy. This is the easiest time in your life to get on it, it’s not that easy later.
2 – Life really is your oyster, travel, play, work at a cafe in Italy. There won’t be time or luxury to do it later. And in this day and age, it won’t affect the kind of job you get later. Promise.
3 – Don’t minimize your need for something to believe in and something to fight for. My faith is not a crutch, my faith is a part of me, and the decisions I have made to work internationally have been partially as an outpouring of my faith and partially because I needed to do it for me. To remind myself that life was bigger than my overdrawn bank account, and latest failed crush.
4 – Stop worrying about who and if you’re going to get married, and working so hard to make it happen. When you find yourself dressed in white, you’ll know, it was Goodness that led you there, not games, worrying, over-analyzing and drama. Sit tight and enjoy life, it’ll be gone before you know it.
5 – A long time ago while running in Central Park I asked my most trusted mentor, AM some questions that I had spent a long time thinking about: The first was, Is this where she thought her life would be at 50? She VERY honestly said that her husband and her BELOVED (emphasis added by author) CC were fantastic, but truthfully, she looked up and 30 years had passed, and at that point, had just kind of happened (I don’t find this to be totally accurate, but I understand what she meant.) She encouraged me to not let life happen to me, but to make decisions and take action. She reminded me that you can’t make a decision, just make a decision and if it’s not the right one, make another one.
She also told me that the healthiest relationships are ones that have an outward focus. They didn’t get me until I was 16, but they had only been married 5 years at that point. However, she realized even then that if you live a life totally focused on you – it implodes, and a relationship cannot bear the weight of so much self-focus. I am almost 100% sure that she’s right.
It’s some of the best advice I ever got. So two things you can take from that – Be brave enough to ask your heroes questions, they know things. Also, listen to them. They know things.
6 – My last piece of advice is similar – It always gets better, and it can also get worse. Be thankful and hopeful. Like AM says, “People love to be around a positive person.” And hear me, she is no BS optimist. She is real, sincere and funny, but she is always on the sunny side of the street and it’s because she has the wherewithal to cross over to it. We should do the same.

Now to watch the temperature so I can fit this run in at the high temp of the day. Maybe I’ll have a little piece of half-birthday cake while I wait. THANKS LADY A!!!!!

Zumba and Decorating

Today I went to Zumba. I love the Thursday morning class. It’s just a different crew than the night classes. a lot of men with long hair. I have no idea why. But they are there. At the end of the class they, their long hair, and their high socks look giddy from freeing themselves in the intensity of cardio/latindance/shakira fusion. I just shake my head and hope they don’t talk excitedly, I have know idea what the estimates projectile is for sweat from a man’s long hair, but I am not taking any chances.

Also. On Jordan Ferney’s blog I saw a picture of this bedspread:

WHERE CAN I FIND IT??? Does anyone know? I love it. It’s so not the style of our room right now, but I really adore that bedspread… Did I mention how many other things we need that are SO much more important than that? This is the problem with adoration.

We’re having dinner with an old friend from Austin tonight. I have been humbled lately by how many old friends I have actively around in my life. This friend is not one of them, but it’s on theme. Seriously. I am moved by the length and depth of some of my friendships – despite me. Despite my flaws and failures, despite my inability to answer the phone or return calls or keep up in a socially acceptable manner, despite the fact that my well intended notes, cards and treats never get mailed (eeek) my friends are precious and happy to pick up where we left off. What a gift.

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