We’ve moved…

http://stiflingtrivialities.com/. Come and see the new blog… I think you’re going to like it.

Losing to the Patriots does not constitute a trial

I can hear it now. Twitter and Facebook will be afire with the post-game interviews with quotes of Tebow’s incredible humility. That in light of this incredible trial, we should all be deeply inspired by Tim Tebow’s incredible faith. Not me. This is football. He’s been through this before. In high school. At Florida. It’s football. He’s a 2nd year pro player against one of the top quarterbacks and top coaches in the NFL, there was a solid chance he was going down. This was an incredible opportunity, a fantastic learning experience and I would hope as a young boldly Christian player with James Dobson ads running explaining his 3:16 reflectors he would be humble. But this is not a trial. It’s a football game and it’s a loss. And in the infamous words of Matt Chandler to the St. Louis Cardinals, “No matter how much they pay you or how much hype you get, your still just dudes getting paid way too much money to throw a ball – that doesn’t make you a hero, it makes you blessed.” (Patterson – Garbage or Glory – The Village 11/13/11)

I am no Patriots fan. I mean, the Patriots are fine. I am a Jets fan. And I am no Tebow hater, Tebow is fine. He’s a nice kid, raised by Christian parents who “trained up their child in the way he should he go” and he has not departed from it. He loved Jesus in high school when people hated on him for breaking into their school district. He loved Jesus in college when people hated on him for being so good. And he has loved Jesus in the NFL. His family supports him, from what I can see it’s been a generally agreeable life. There is not one thing wrong with this. However, I am not quite sure that this is something that we need to lift up in front of an entire generation of people and say THIS IS INSPIRING. Particularly when the majority of the real world will never know this kind of life. Now, I do have some dear friends who are currently home furloughing and I bet their kids, who live at the ends of the earth would tell you that this is no easy life. And I guarantee you that the children of my pastor in Waco would argue that their life as the children of a couple establishing a growing mega-church was not trial-free. However, I am thinking of one of my heros – one of the girls I admire the most in the while wide world…

She is a real human. She was living a beautiful life, the youngest of three siblings. Beautiful Christian home. Until her mom told her her Dad was not her Dad, but her Dad was a student of her Dad’s that she had an affair with… and that they were leaving… and that her brother and sister were going to stay with their Dad, not her Dad. So they left. They started over. It was actually beautiful. Her Mom and Dad started over, they committed their family to faith and they worked hard at family. They went to their old university for homecoming and my friend’s mom was able to talk to her son and have a beautiful reconciliation. And then the son came and shot my friends Mom and Dad, while she was upstairs hiding in the closet, then he shot himself. The police walked her out of her house with a t-shirt over her head. She came to college at the university where her original Dad taught. She dated a tool. She was more committed to her faith than the tool. Then she started dating another guy… things happened. Let me just say that despite their love for each other, their commitment to each other, their marriage, their kids – their marriage has been no easy task, but they put in the hard work, they chose each other, love, and laughter. Four children and many years later, they have found a beautiful rhythm of faith and love.

That is a trial. That is trial by fire. That is the kind of person that deserves tweets and accolades and sermons and books and stories.

Not someone who grew up with Christian parents, went to college on a scholarship and then signed with the NFL – living the dream. That’s awesome. And I am happy for them. But like Matt Chandler said, that’s doesn’t make you a hero, that makes you blessed.

I wish we lived in a world of Tim Tebow’s where it all went right for everyone. But it doesn’t. It also doesn’t always go as wrong as it did for my friend. Heaven knows if I would be half the woman that she was, or half the man that her husband is. I hope that I would be, but I doubt it.

They are my heros. Not Tim Tebow.

And I wish that we would spend a lot more time encouraging the people like my friend. People who don’t have the cushion of millions of tweets and dollars to soften the blow of the horrific trial of the loss of a post season game…

On Mother’s Day millions of tweets don’t go out about my friend’s amazing strength as a mother, while she aches for her own. On her anniversary no one gets on the nightly news and goes on and on about how her faith could be a part of defying 50% divorce statistics, despite the chaotic picture of marriage that was portrayed for her. And on the darkest day, the anniversary of when it all happened, no one, no one remembers but her family and a handful of friends – and even at that – there is little on this side of heaven that can comfort that kind of horrific tragedy, trauma and loss. No accolades for her. Just runny noses, dirty diapers and bills. There is certainly no time for tweeting.

These are the people that we should allow to inspire us.

This doesn’t mean Tim Tebow is not inspiring, or heartening, or that we shouldn’t hope for such a life for our own children – but he’s not my hero. And tonight’s loss was no trial.

Two Years Ago This Week

I got engaged. I never thought I’d get married.

1) I didn’t want to get married. I wanted to travel. And lay on the beaches of Greece and float like a leaf in the wind.
2) One of Justin’s favorite bragging points is his proficiency with dates. This one came and went without his brain ever recalling it. You can just call me UK. And believe me, I’m not the sentimental one of the two of us.
3) Getting married has made me horrifically sentimental about love. A dear friend is getting married at the end of the month and due to all the health situations currently we simply cannot make the trip. I. Am. So. Bummed. I just love celebrating love. There’s nothing better.
4) There may be no decision in my life that I am more proud of than my choice of life partner. This is a make or break. I could have chosen to settle or chosen to be alone, but allowing myself to love and be loved by this man is one of my greatest moments.
5) Making him commit propose on demand until death do us part is perhaps the thing I’m second most proud of. It was a genius commitment to require and it is the gift that keeps on giving. You may not be able to keep having weddings, but you can get engaged (again) anywhere. The world around you is none the wiser.

New Year

2012.

We toasted nightmare 2011 away.

AM&UK were here and we celebrated the passing of the hated 2011, the year of cancer and loss and and and…

Well, 2012 started with AL in some critical care heart floor and Justin’s Granddad in ICU. EEEEEK. WHAT????????? So much for all that toasting.

We went to the Audubon before church Sunday (yeah, we’re attempting re-entry, we’ll see how it goes, all the “It’s been EONS since we’ve seen you” were off-putting, but all the sweet hugs and warm “it was so fun to see you!” emails we got made it bearable) and kind of wrote out our year plan. We can only really plan in semesters. We can REALLY only plan in semesters since this will be my LAST semester at BHCC – WHAT WHAT???? I know. I started applications out, I mean, I started applications to transfer. Sweet. Also. FIRST SEMESTER WITHOUT MATH. Thank you Sweet BABY Jesus.

Anyway, year plan. One day a week unplugged. Yep. Totally. Completely. UNPLUGGED. We did it Monday and we didn’t even twitch. We read and cooked and walked and were fine. New rules about how late we look at our phones (not past ten), when we look at our phones (not with friends or family), and goals of when to just say enough is enough to school and work. We’re taking our lives back! CHARGE! So far, so good.

Also, we’re working on perspective. Hoping for a little more rose colored and a little less cynical. All this cold weather is chilling my blood. As if it needed more ice. So, we’re working on perspective. Remember this is my favorite blog post of all time WARNING – DISCLAIMER – FOUL – CYNICAL – BAD WORDS – NOT FOR CHURCH FOLK. When asked by Justin what would help me be less cynical, kinder, gentler, a little less – you know – snarky (NOT HIS WORDS), I naturally answered, “If all the people would leave me alone.” Needless to say, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Needless to say there is some life coaching involved here. One of my assignments was an address or letter to myself now from 5 years from now self. Sans self-deprecating humor, negativity or any such tone. Um, OK? Anyway. After a week or more of paralysis. I finally just made myself do it today. And where did I end up? Here – Kyle Lake’s last sermon:

“Live. And Live Well. BREATHE. Breathe in and Breathe deeply. Be PRESENT. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now. On a crystal clear, breezy 70 degree day, roll down the windows and FEEL the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun.
If you run, then allow those first few breaths on a cool Autumn day to FREEZE your lungs and do not just be alarmed, be ALIVE. Get knee-deep in a novel and LOSE track of time.
If you bike, pedal HARD… and if you crash then crash well.
Feel the SATISFACTION of a job well done—a paper well-written, a project thoroughly completed, a play well-performed. If you must wipe the snot from your 3-year old’s nose, don’t be disgusted if the Kleenex didn’t catch it all… because soon he’ll be wiping his own.
If you’ve recently experienced loss, then GRIEVE. And Grieve well. At the table with friends and family, LAUGH. If you’re eating and laughing at the same time, then might as well laugh until you puke. And if you eat, then SMELL. The aromas are not impediments to your day. Steak on the grill, coffee beans freshly ground, cookies in the oven. And TASTE. Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of Life. Because-it-is-most-definitely-a-Gift.”

The point? Life is now. Not in five years. Not in a semester. Now. Today is what we have. And the best way to see it with roses instead of licorice? Realize today “is-most-definitely-a-Gift.”

Now, don’t start expecting lots of those month long thankfulness posts on Facebook from me or some crap like that. I’m still me. But I am going to work on the taking everything so damn personally. If someone is trying to nail me, or if I THINK they are, I am going to pick up my rosy lenses and chant to myself, “you is kind you is smart you is important.” And I am going to remind myself what Jimmy always says, it’s highly unlikely that that person is trying to personally attack me, they are too busy thinking about themselves.

It is also a personal goal to make sure my husband laughs a lot more. His life is far too serious. He works really hard, and really late. And I am really funny, REALLY funny [you hear me Lorne Michaels? Tina Fey is getting old and has a lot of babies – I am young and baby-free (not to mention kind, smart and important.] I realized that when we’re out, one of his most frequently asked questions is “Do you just laugh at her all the time?” Ummm no, he’s too busy ducking snarky comments or marshmallows. Kidding. I would never waste a marshmallow. But I am serious. What more fun thing in life than to make life fun for the people you love? It’s not altruistic but its cyclical right? Let’s give it a shot. At least for this week.

And don’t forget to check out the Anchor & Key blog. We’re booking. We’ve had our first appointment this year. We’ve got two appointments for February. Two for March. So keep us in mind. We love to take pictures!

Oh and ONE MORE THING. If you didn’t know. I am running the Boston Marathon. In honor of AM’s awesome and valiant battle and conquering of cancer. As well as in honor of a 17 year old named Nikolas who is currently battling Cancer. As I’ve been raising money, I’ve been collecting names. My Aunt Molly who beat breast cancer, Justin’s Grandfather who didn’t, Justin’s great aunt Mary Sue who died of Leukemia at 16, my dear friend Millie Roden, my friend Luci’s Daddy, and Maggie’s mom, and Annie’s victory, my friend Scott’s dad who was just diagnosed, my Uncle Michael who just conquered, my Uncle Brian who is living with… We all have a long list of people we know impacted by cancer don’t we? If you want to be a part, please feel free to send me the name of the person you’d like me to run in honor, memory or POWER of – you can send me a little word of encouragement – or you can even donate to the cause by going to this website and giving. Thanks. I need to go put on my rose colored glasses, and cook Justin dinner. It’s 8:12, I’m 12 minutes past our technology deadline!

Another Monday Another Post

Back to the Series with the Q&A Series.

I am not going to lie, I was thankful for that weekend break.

The blog assignment is a little harder than I thought.  It’s good to remind people that being a writer is not all the romantic excitement we make it out to be…

So today the questions of Aunt Diane! She had some really great ones.

1. Grocery shopping: are you a planner or a spontaneous shopper. List or no list? Menus for the week or winging it day-by-day?

It depends on the situation.  Sometimes I have a plan and the day gets away from me and my plan for dinner gets stolen, so I have to run into the store and wing it.  For the most part I am a planner.  I love cookbooks.  The Levacys gave me the entire Cooks Illustrated anthology for my wedding and I use it religiously.  But I am kind of a cookbook Junkie.  Brigette gave me one that I love, my friend Michelle just recommended one that I cooking from like mad right now with no -knead bread recipes.  Also we are a part of both a CSA and a meat share, so there is not really much shopping to be done… Except for wine.
and marriage (sort of):

2. Tell all about your new house. What’s your favorite thing about it; what’s your least favorite thing?

We love the new apartment.  We live next to a famous old cemetery and we call it the tree house because you literally feel like, when you look out the windows, like you are in a treehouse.  We are at the end of a dead end street and people use our driveway as their personal u-turn spot, that bothers us.  Also, there’s a dude across the street that parks his Texas size commercial truck directly in front of our door on a daily basis.  Grrr to that man. However, you might have noticed that I said driveway, which means off street parking.  HEAVEN.  I think winter is going to be much less filled with anger.

and marriage again (sort of, again):

3. Are you guys really going to use this picture as your Christmas card, because I think that would be awesome; it looks like an album (yes, album, I am old) cover. The picture is on our Christmas card. It has been ordered.  It is awesome.  Here are a couple of pics of the LR, the DR and the kitchen

Florence + the Machine – Shake It Out – my anthem for Fall

Vassar: Exploring Transfer & a trip to Paris (via Oh Happy Day)

As most of you know, I’ll set off on a grand adventure Thursday.  I’m driving to New Jersey to spend a final evening with J and then checking into the dorm on Friday for 5 weeks. I’m all packed.  Two bags.  Two fans.  Lamp.  Laptop. Printer. Good case of nerves.  I cannot believe that I am going back to college, like for real.  When I started school again the best thing about it was the fact that I didn’t have to live in the dorm and coud legally buy alcohol… These were perhaps the two things that also lead to my demise at SDSU.  Hard to tell, it was so long ago it wasn’t even in this century.

Many of you are boggled by what in the world I am doing.  I am one of 30 students participating in a 5 week program at Vassar.  If you, like me, have never heard of any colleges north of the Mason Dixon, Vassar is in Poughkeepsie, NY.  It’s a liberal arts school. Apparently one of the best.  Unfortunately the infamy was lost on me.  However I have been accepted to what I now refer to as an all inclusive academic boot camp.  I will arrive Friday.  Move into a dorm room.  Ahem.  A DORM ROOM.  Then we will have some sort of opening ceremony, no doubt ice breakers will be involved.  How I love college bonding games.  I will go sleep in my DORM ROOM.  Take a shower in a COMMUNITY SHOWER, go on a campus tour, be handed my class schedule, books and kiss my life a Gone With The Wind worthy kiss goodbye.  I found a ladies blog who participated in 2008 and she essentially blogged the first three days and then typed 10 fleeting posts about lack of sleep and work as she had never known. I will take two classes, we had three options and we’ll see if I get my picks.  I took one with the director of the school because when I interviewed with her I knew that it didn’t matter what she taught I wanted to take it.  We finish July 22, and I am expecting to want to do nothing but sleep when I return.  I can tell you now that sleep is not in the cards.

I am turning off technology while I am there.  I just know that it will be too tempting to put off work to catch up on status updates, baby pictures, and political rants.  I think I will miss Words With Friends the most.

Let me just say that being an adult and going back to school has been one of the more challenging things that I have done.  It is also forcing me to learn boundaries.  To say no.  To meet my limits.  School has been academically invigorating and exciting, but it has also meant that we have had to give up our social lives, the ability to initiate with friends, be perceived as on top of things.  It’s been a financially difficult decision, 2 incomes are better than one.  However, I have to say it has been one of the best decisions of my life.  My family has shown me a level of support that I find both humbling and unbelievable.  Honestly, I thought they would be a bit ‘over’ my attempt to go back to school and abject poverty… Nope.  They are so proud and nurturing and helpful.   I am so deeply grateful, please hear me when I say I would not be as successful in this as I am if it were not for the sacrifices and considerations that J has made and for the generosity and encouragement of my family.  It is a gift that so many of my fellow students don’t have.  What a gift.  This may be a challenge, but it is also a thrill.  And as I am learning from AM, attitude literally changes tragedy into adventure!  So here’s to the craziness of the unknown adventure ahead!!!!!

I also wanted to let you know about a contest going on over at Jordan Ferney’s Oh Happy Day.  (You can follow her on Twitter – she and David Liebowitz are my favorite and they are both in Paris!) She has a Facebook Page for Oh Happy Day and the website is having a sale on GORGEOUS letter press business cards right now.  Anyway.  She’s celebrating her blog’s birthday by giving away a trip to Paris.  And let’s face it, who couldn’t use a trip to Paris.  If not just to stalk Liebowitz’s favorite restaurants and the Ferney Family?  So head over to Oh Happy Day and check in on Jordan on Twitter (her husband Paul is also on Twitter and is an incredible artist!) like her on Facebook, and spread the word.  Everyone deserves a shot at Paris, and if you don’t win, I promise that Oh Happy Day will be a nice addition to your life no matter what, we can live vicariously through the blog…

They say it’s your birthday…

This guy turned 55 today.  I know.  Seriously.  That’s what I told him.  Double numbers are lucky.

I never knew what a difficult job he had until I got married.  He fell in love with AM suddenly one night, and then the next thing he knew he found out it was a package deal.  5 siblings, 6 nieces and nephews and a maltese came with the deal.  Little did he know that one of those nieces would make herself quite at home in his life.  Suddenly he went from having one woman, to two.  And having transitioned from him being the main man in my life, to adding J has required some skill I did not realize it required.  I also realized how good he had it when both AM and I were devoted to only him…

Old double fives is a native of Brooklyn.  He recently told me Poughkeepsie is upstate New York.  I am pretty sure that he believes that.  He’s the baby.  Two older brothers.  I tell myself this is why he loves busting chops so much.  His dad was a fiery longshoreman, and I believe this is why my Uncle is such a stand up guy.  You have to be a stand up guy to incorporate  a 16 year old into your life.  He runs marathons.  He loves AM more beautifully than any other love I’ve seen in my life.  I hope we grow up like them.  He is funny.  He turns red when he has too much to drink.  He is an incredible system of support.  He has been known to finish marathons and then come back and help me finish mine.  He spent plenty a night mediating tension between his two women. He sees random friends in Paris, has a friend named Juggy in Florida, and when we walk into his favorite neighborhood bar in Brooklyn they still yell “Effing (edited for those of pure ears) Kenny W&*#^@!!!” I love it.  When people die, like big people, he and his friend Bobby R race to be the first to call and ask for the dead person.  It might sound irreverent to you, but I think it’s hysterical.  I try to play, but I never win or I feel like a jerk for delivering bad news.  I don’t know.  I just don’t have his comedic timing.

I know that I am married to the man that I am because UK showed me what real men are.  He’s no nonsense.  I kid you not.  But he is always generous with the kleenex when AM & I are watching Extremem Makeover: Home Edition.  He loves the democrats.  He can laugh at himself.  He laughs through tears, ours and his own.  He wasn’t afraid to expand his heart to a teenager.  He loves his family.  He has been one of the most supportive and generous individuals I have ever met.  Twice in my life he has taken the time to tell me how much he loves me.  But you know what, he is who taught me that you don’t have to do that.  When you live right.  When you love right, you don’t need all those words.  He shows me every day in every way that he loves me and he is looking out for my best.

But what he does the very best, is love AM.  He calls her Blondie.  He takes care of her.  She doesn’t often need taking care of, so he figured out how to love her around it.  Then, one time, she did happen to need some support he has been the most incredible support structure I have ever seen.  He makes her laugh.  He is her best friend.  He is patient, kind, constant, steady and snarky.  He has been the kind of husband and friend that my friends and I have remarked we always hoped we would find.  He goes to movies like Bridesmaids and watches the season finale of Oprah.  He taught her to love NY.  He took her to Paris and he will take her to Italy.  He hold her hand, he gives her kisses and he never once cramped her space – she is her own woman and he doesn’t resent that he empowers it.  Like TLC sings, “What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man…”

As far as songs go… When I got married he picked a song for us to dance to.  He picked the one in the video that I am putting at the end of this post.  It is true.  If I would not have fallen, he would not have found me.  His love has been one of the most stabilizing, healing, self-esteem building things of my life.  He proved to me that someone who didn’t share my blood would choose me, just like I was.  AM’s love grew me, nurtured me, inspired me, and pushed me forward.  UK’s love truly helped heal me, but it never held me. He has lived to see me “up” rather than “down.”   He held me with open hands, and even though I’ve flown away, I know that even though home has to be somewhere else now, I will always have a safe place to land.

Happy birthday to you my UK.  Thanks for showing me perfectly how to go from a main man, to my mens.

Fighting Cancer and Bell Ringing Celebrations

Like many of you I have been wondering how AM was really doing. It’s been a few long months since her diagnosis and it’s been a struggle to be far away when I want to hover and check in and see what the hell is going on with my own eyes!

So for all of you in my shoes here’s my brief take on the haps around here. When I got home and saw her in person the first time, I cried. For a couple of reasons, one because she looks beautiful. Absolutely beautiful, she is bald, with little patches of hair that grows back in between chemo treatments. She has incredible color. I watched her like a hawk and in as much as I can tell she is strong as an ox. I am not even kidding. The first morning I was here we went for a run and I almost died and she slowed down for me. We ran three times this week.

She’s definitely different though. Her strength is chosen and forged. She has three wigs, a sundry of hats and scarves for when her head gets cold. And though the bald head is novel, she is anxious for when her hair will return, an obvious sign of normalcy. She lives her life like normal, amidst all this abnormality. She goes into work, she schedules her appointments around phone conferences and managing programs. She eats out with her friends, mails birthday cards on time, cooks dinner, chats on the phone, surfs her iPad… But life remains anchored to the rhythm of this treatment. There are no weekends away, there are entire weeks that she has to take it easy, not be where sick people or germs are. She hears dates according to how they fit into her treatment schedule. This is not an inconvenience or a burden, this is the silent reality of cancer. She looks great, for the most part she feels great, she is carrying on with life with enthusiasm and optimism, and for four hours today they poured poison into her body to kill this impostor, chemicals that kill this disease.

And that’s the hard part of it all. I love her more than I ever have. She is empathetic and kind to her fellow sojourners. It’s obvious that her doctors and nurses love her. Her friends have rallied beautifully by her side and UK is a steady anchor in the storm. She has her bearing, it seems she never lost it. She is her same optimistic, positive and pragmatic self. She knows the situation and feels a deep sense of relief that she has been so incredibly fortunate. She may have cancer, but she is not a victim. Her life may be upturned, but she just turned it right side up and has created a new normal. This may be ‘hard’ and ‘unfair’ but she simply sees it as incredible fortune that this is the first major bump in her road.

This was most beautifully represented today at her last chemo treatment. It’s a four hour process, she’s in a room with about 8 other patients and their family. They re-scheduled it late yesterday, so she resigned herself to re-scheduling a phone conference and declining another. Then she just moved right along. We arrived, I nestled in next to her. They hooked her up to bag after bag of clear liquid and as each one emptied I could see her excitement build. The patients there have an unspoken bond, and she and the lady across from her were each other’s quiet cheerleader. They competed to see who would finish first. The other lady did. Then, knowing it was AM’s last treatment, she explained to her husband that it they were going to wait to leave… They needed to see her ring the bell. So the woman sat patiently and waited for AM to pick up a bell that sits on a well displayed shelf, the bell you get to ring when you’ve completed your final round of that treatment (she’ll do it again at the end of radiation.) AM rang it joyfully as a room full of people receiving chemo cheered her on. She cried and I cried and my heart felt ebullient for her. She glowed. She had made it. Well, she’s got a few days of side effects ahead of her, but the worst is behind her. Her chemo friend walked out behind us and joined us in the elevator down. She gave me a loving squeeze as I tried to calm my tears down. As we left we wished her luck and celebrated with her when we heard her next treatment is her last!

If you want to know how AM really is, better than ever. Better than ever. Her body may be in a battle, but she is a stronger, deeper, more empathetic, energetic, optimistic version of the woman we all know and love. Just when you thought she couldn’t get better, she did. She even makes cancer something good.

Enough tears and blogging, I have to them cook dinner. You know, she does have cancer…

Smiles & Sunshine

Some people think that happiness is, ugh, I do not know…

Leprechauns?
Grandchildren?
Inner-peace?
Salvation or for arguement’s sake – invisible rapture?
Fairies?
An orchid blooming the second time?

This morning on my hike I thought about the things that make me happy, and I knew this would be of the utmost interest to you and the blogosphere… Naturally.

Happiness is (obviously)
Temperatures that nestle between 90-100.
Headaches from sangria margaritas.
16 straight episodes of Parks and Rec on the couch.
Broken benches and laughter.
Having your chops busted by your family.
The last round of someone’s treatment, second only to the day in October when it’s all really over.
Meeting your friends babies.
Puppies.
The Economist.

There you have it.

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