Q&A Series Kendall & Kat: Lil Wayne, South Dakota, Siblings and Me
























Kendall’s questions are first and I am aswering as honestly and vulnerably as I can, especially in regard to Lil’ Wayne. Kendall is one of my most dear friends and one of the most honest and hysterical bloggers I know.  I either weep from laughter or from being moved at her blog – it’s much like being with her.  When she and AML came to Berlin it was one of the highlights of my time there.  Last year she posted the only known tribute blog to me.  I am pretty sure AM will be horrified by it and my Grandmother would faint, but I cried and was so deeply honored, and so when she sent questions you know I was going to answer,  

A.) why do people love the song “walking in Memphis”…even if they have no connection or love at all whatsoever with Memphis?

If I had to guess it has to to with one of two things?  Either the video – which I think, after watching, we can all agree is compelling.  

Or the reference to having seen Elvis. Especially when he says it was down in the Jungle Room.  Cool.  Where is that?  I so want to go there.   

Personally.  I once saw Marc Cohn live in concert and he made a snarky remark about how annoyed he is that everyone expects him to play this song…  Umm – ya think? No one even knows he has other songs.  

Did I mention the concert was in Waco, TX?  In Waco, TX we don’t hear a lot of the Marc Cohn B Sides, I mean I did when I rode in James Mark’s car in ATS, but not much after that until I got an iPod, TEN years later.  So pretty much I only knew THIS song.  

Needless to say I was bored and disappointed that he refused to play the only song I knew and loved of his.  

Later, when I learned the rest of his songs I felt sad that that was the only song that I wanted to hear, especially when Walk Through the World With Me is so incredible. But seriously, I think people just really like this video. Thanks VH1 – are you still on TV?  


B.) reflections or commentary on lil waynes interview with Katie couric 



There is a lot to love about this interview with Lil’ Wayne.  

Most of all it’s the old school Katie Couric that we all really liked.  

Not the current one who is all Anderson Cooper-esque – without the whole Vanderbilt je ne sais quoi.

I would say that Wayne fails when he says, “I don’t take nothin from nobody and I’ll do that until the day I die and the day I can’t do that I’d rather just die.”  I find that rather conflicting with his later assertion of deep Christian faith…

However I did love when Katie said what you see is not what you get, because her interview showed a beautiful and rare glimpse of a man who was given nothing, maybe less than nothing.  Who was born in New Orleans, told someone he was hungry, was handed trash and made gold.  Magic.  

Obama is right, we will not all grow up and be Lil’ Wayne’s and most of us don’t have half of his talent, intelligence or drive, but we can learn a lot from his determination – and I am pretty sure both Justin Timberlake and Katie Couric have a crush on him.

C.) what would make you move to south Dakota? If anything…. 

Well.  the cost of living and the accent would be the first things.  

Also.  I think Aunt sue was born there and I love her chocolate cake. But that’s just between you and me and Anne Marie and the graham crackers that are baked inside the crust.  

Also I think you may have ignored some well known fact about South Dakota, like the fact that it is in fact “Illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory in South Dakota.”  Someone should mention this to Herman Cain.  This should be a part of the 9-9-9 tax plan somehow.  

You might have also overlooked when asking me this question some famous South Dakotans – not only Tom Brokaw, but a circle of his peers – Calamity Jane, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Also, I am sure you know this one, but a prospector in the Black Hills named a promising claim after his neighbor’s daughter, calling it “The Little Allie”. The prospector’s wife got angry because he had never named a claim after her and she demanded that the mine be renamed in her honor. The prospector agreed and renamed the mine “The Holy Terror” which is what it is still called today.  

So yeah – I mean, I am pretty sure most of America is about to head over to the SD.






D.) what is the one thing that people who you call your best-est friends inhabit

I would say the characteristics of a unicorn. They are magical and difficult to explain. 

They also tend to guard my story fiercely, love my family passionately, believe in me more than I believe in myself and they must be willing to accept sarcasm as one of the “official” five love languages. 


From Kat, who was a fellow student at Vassar, is becoming a friend in an unexpected way, she is a passionate writer, a raging academic, a former executive and a proud Naturalista. 

1) what was the catalyst(s) that propelled you back into student life? There are usually a number of events leading up to making these big choices, share.. :-)

The conclusion of my life in Berlin forced me to decide what my next step was.

My family and I knew that I needed to be in either New York or Boston because really, I couldn’t live in Austin without a car and I couldn’t move home in my financial condition and buy a car.

So I came to Boston.  I started subbing at a private school in town and dating Justin and realizing that Boston was not a networking place like the South.  In Boston it’s your family line, not who you know.  I moved back to the states into a totally different economy than the one I left.  I looked at Starbucks, Wholefoods – and I thought about teaching, but I just don’t think that teaching is a good fit for me long term.

I realized that my fear of being poor and failure were keeping me from even trying school.  That and the incredible amount of administrative work it takes to sign up for even community college – which is really hard for me.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, I was sure Justin would not take a relationship with me seriously if I could not financially contribute at 33…

Instead of letting my fear of the mountain overwhelm me I just did one thing at a time.  I still do one thing at a time.  It is really really hard for me.  Especially the administrative part.  But I am trying.

2) do you have siblings, how big or small is your immediate family?

Just me.

My parents divorced when I was about a year old.

I was very fortunate to grow up in a family that is not only very close but also loosely defined – I have a lot of family that I believe with all of my hear is family and would defend to the death as my family, but may in fact have absolutely no blood or marriage relation to me – this is really just the way my family works.

My Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, Neighbors, Youth Group Leaders, Friends, Friends Parents, Hole in the Wall Gang, Aunts’ and Uncle’s friends… the Village truly have all raised me and been VERY engaged and involved in my ENTIRE life.

I have had a lifelong,  special, unique and inexplicable relationship with my AM and UK who took me when I was 16 and thankfully, never let me go.  When I married Justin they began holding both of us, and we feel fortunate to have them.

J has two sisters, both younger and his middle sister just had a daughter last month.  We are thrilled!  As an only child the addition of J’s family, and the ability to be an Aunt is a dream come true.  It feels like “the highest” calling in many ways to me.

3) how would your friends describe you?? what’s your personality type?

Personality type  is tricky- I am a deeply, deeply private person, with a loquacious and gregarious facet.  An ironical objective to an introverted personality.  I am in fact an introvert, significant introvert, with excellent people skills.  I blame the South for my personality often incredulously demanded to be extroverted. My husband would ASSURE you that if left to my own I would not talk on the phone, or talk period, I would not answer questions, especially consecutive ones, and I would prefer not to leave the house except to run alone in the cemetery.

My friends would probably say that I am not an easy read, that to know me it is very important to know my story and that I am not very quick to tell my story.  I am relatively “open” about stating facts, but hold my heart close.

I think most of them would also say that I love to laugh when they laugh, I want to grieve when they grieve and that I would rather know debt than to see them in need.  That once I love, I love for life and though I am not great at keeping up daily – weekly or sometimes even yearly, I never, ever put a friend down, if I love someone I love for life.

I think they would also say that I am a communicator, that I am a straight shooter.  That I want to know where I stand and that I don’t mince words.  I may not see clearly, but you know what I see.  I think my friends would say that I would rather be corrected, rebuked, called out or stood down than to continue in the wrong direction toward falsehood, lies, untruth or my own rationalization.  My friend Chris would tell you that I am after truth at all cost no matter how painful it is.

Before I was married I would have liked to believe that many of those things were true.  Marriage has brought a little clarity to my lens.  Vassar, J and a situation some dear friends of ours are going through have been teaching me what I say to myself again and again – WE ALL THINK WE ARE RIGHT.  THIS IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY.

So there it is with the K&K Q&A, I am a little sick, a little emotional, and ready for bed.  Thanks for all the love, the encouragement and the positive feedback over the past few days. I have been blown away and I really appreciate your comments and posts.  I am trying to get the readership up so please keep passing things along as they mean something to you and keep giving me feedback.  I read and think about every single bit of it.


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!

Motherhood Post

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebool, Tumblr or Twitter. I guest posted today. Read and laugh.


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.

The Birth of Coco

Coco is one of my best friends in the world. She lives a little over a mile away and I haven’t seen her since right around when I picked her up from the airport after Christmas break. I am not even kidding. She’s in her final semester of grad school, she’s been busy falling in love and causing hell with her roommate. I’ve been drowning in the busiest semester of my life. I don’t love her any less, I miss her like crazy and I am so thankful for her.

I met her the first time in a car in Waco, Texas. Later she came to Berlin, where I begged her to move in with me. She did. It was wonderful. Then she moved back to Chicago and applied for grad school. I struggled in Berlin. She got into BC and then I moved to Boston. Life could not have been more generous to me. Coco did all the hard work to find a church, we followed her there. She goes every week, we go when I am not panicked about homework, housework, or just work. She was incredible when I was engaged. She is amazing when I cry. She was resilient hobbling through an unjustly broken foot. She was patient letting me help her around.

(This one is for Maria who is in town, undoubtedly making Coco’s birthday magical)

Courtney is one of the most beautiful friends I have ever had. She is honest. Real. Loyal. Patient. Kind. Funny. Brave. She has been a safe place for me in some of the most dark moments of my life and a beautiful reflection of love in both the dark valleys and high moments. I honestly feel like being able to live in the same city with her three times in my life was more than providence, it was Providential. It was more than what I needed, it was beyond what I could have asked for. I have to say that in moments it felt like it was a lifesaver.

She has conquered grad school and teaching. She has fallen in love with someone that I have never met, but have every confidence in. Her standards are high, mostly for herself and I wish I was more like her in that manner. Today, I celebrate one of the greatest gifts of friendship I have and I pray that as this dreary rain falls heavy on Boston she is feeling loved, cared for, appreciated, enjoyed, warm and ebullient. I have no doubt that Nick and Maria are looking carefully to it.

Also, if you’re in the Boston area and you need an English professor, I know a really great one who is looking for a job…

Fancy Ranch Water

A “friend” from high school has started this blog – Not That Martha.  I say “friend” because we definitely had interconnecting groups of friends, and I thought M was both incredibly beautiful and overwhelmingly hysterical but we definitely never called each other on the weekend.  We’ve had awkward “catch-up” chats at Patty Griffin concerts, but until this blog started I wouldn’t have really claimed a friendship.  However, as blogs have the ability to do, since she started this blog and I have begun stalking her professionally, I feel a bit more like we are establishing a legitimate acquaintance.

Let me just say, her blog is fantastic and her business is something I have a deep admiration for.  I won’t tell you the whole story here because it’s all on her blog but she and her partner are going a year without buying anything new, they are not eating out and they are farm-to-tabling it like masters.  Her recipes are incredible, but the ingredients she uses, the things she finds and the local Texas stuff that she knows about are fantastic.  I have a feeling you guys will become as addicted to her blog as me.  I hope as well you are inspired by her lifestyle.  I so admire the steps that she and her girlfriend are taking to respond to the current state of our habitat.  I appreciate their commitment to not participate in over-consumption, appreciate the small things in life, be honest about the sometimes difficulty and celebrate their big and little victories, they are shameless promoters of local farmers, producers and distillers.  There is a lot to admire and learn on one little blog.  Enjoy.

Here’s our current favorite from Martha’s blog, I may have been less productive Sunday due to a morning full of this!

Fancy Ranch Water.


God I love this woman. Who couldn’t? Look at her! She’s gorgeous. She doesn’t even look like this anymore. She has cougar hair. Seriously. Corrine cut her hair yesterday into this fantastically sexy short number, and I swear that she’s one of the only women I know who looks thinner with sexy short hair. I’ve been thinking about cutting mine off in act of solidarity with her, but I am afraid I’d look like a fuzzy pumpkin.

It’s her birthday today. The infamous AM is turning… Gotcha. No revealing her age. Try to guess… You’re wrong.

As I was running this morning I was thinking about how she taught me to run. And when we run, she teaches me about life. I cry EVERY time I think about my favorite runs with her. There are a few distinct ones, some that I’ve shared about before, but many that are so private, I only sometimes have the courage to tell her how much they meant to me. But she knows. And I love that about her.

Then I was thinking about what defines her. Well, I’ve been writing a lot of college essays lately and they like you to do a lot of self-defining. What defines me? Who the hell knows. What defines her? She is undefinable. I am not being kitchsy. This is really true. Here are the thoughts that lead me to this conclusion.

She has never let being a woman define her. She doesn’t look like it, but she grew up in an era where women were not even looking through a glass ceiling. She was a hippie, she was gorgeous, she played softball, she drank beer, she loved all the wrong men, and she kicked ass at the office. She was professional and a hard ass and she didn’t really let what people thought get to her. Her father, her co-workers, her friends, herself. She just took each day as an opportunity to give it everything she had. If she didn’t, she started over. She still does this every day and she expects you to do the same. She doesn’t fall to pieces or get depressed, she cries at Hallmark commercials and she runs marathons. She is a feminist in the most beautiful definition of the word. She is totally comfortable with herself and her gender in whatever way it expresses itself, and you better respect her for it, or she’ll make you. But probably not with her fist, she doesn’t believe in hitting idiots.

She has never let her work define her. This is a big deal, because she is a company lady. She worked for the same company for over 30 years in total. When she went for her interview at 19 they told her they only had a position that men traditionally held (see above paragraph), she said, “Fine.” Did it, better than her co-workers and made it look sexy. Years later, representing the company to those people, she would remind them that despite her current management status she had, in fact, been one of them. She changed jobs within the company every few years, to keep it fresh, and she never took a day of sick leave. To reward her, at the end of her career she got a string of pearls. I think she should have gotten majority share of some stock, but they didn’t ask me. I like that after she retired they kept calling her to come back. She finally had to go work for another company so that they would leave her alone.

She has never let marriage define her. I’d heard the story before, but she recently reminded me of the time she was married to a man named Linsey. It was annulled. To celebrate she and Emily (who is like an Aunt, but more than an Aunt) took a trip to Mexico, where they promptly got hit on by every man in the area. This was not because she didn’t respect the sacristy of marriage, this was because she knew that she couldn’t let the stigma define her, and she needed to prove it to herself. She always says, you can’t make a bad decision, just make a decision, if it doesn’t turn out, make another one and move on. After Linsey, she didn’t give up on love. One time, when my heart was broken and I was telling her that I was afraid I’d given up on my best chance at love, she told me about a time she took a big risk. She ended up in an apartment alone with a mattress on the floor, a telephone and a broken heart. She told me to never give up on love, and to let myself cry it out, and then to get up and move on, and to never doubt that I was truly loved. After over 20 years of marriage to UK, I’d say she won. They are a true partnership, best friends, and brutally honest. She still takes trips with Emily. One to Vegas where she called home and told UK that she’d spent an inordinate amount of money on glasses, he pictures crystal… they were instead this fantastic pair of green square shaped EYE glasses, that remain my favorite pair that she wears.

She has never let propriety define her. I went to the beach with the YaYas one time. AM&UK’s YaYa’s are their friends from college. They didn’t go to college together, but they are linked through the Schmidt family. Frank is UK’s bestie and Maggie his sister is one of AM’s. So at the beach the HITWG (aka YaYas) tells me about how they used to pre-game, put on wigs, make up names and go out as their other identity. When we used to watch Mad About You or Dharma and Grace or whatever that show was, we used to fantasize about going on a cruise and making up a different story about us to tell every person we encountered. When I was 15 I was in desperate need of a mother. She and UK had been married 5 years, they were living the good life in Houston with Harry, dual income, no kids, planning trips and kicking ass. They came where I was, and trusted me when I told them some day I would tell them why, but in that moment, it felt like “home” as it is normally defined was not an option for me. It took me over ten years to get the confidence to tell them some of my reasons. They never asked. They just made a place for me. I hid phone bills, wrecked cars, lied, threw parties, went into the negative, got kicked out of hotels, needed lots of bailing out. None of which they signed up for. All of which they gave freely, they also have lectures as freely as I gave tearful apologies. I had spent my life aching for some unconditionality, stability and assurance. Her name was Aunt, but she is undoubtedly a mother. She has honored and helped me love my mother EVERY step of the way, and she has taught me, that life is complex, and definitions unnecessary, the human heart hold plenty of room for the mother who bore you and the mother who raised you, and both are invaluable. This is perhaps one of the most significant lessons she and UK have offered me.

She has never let trial define her. She has led a blessed life. Mostly good, some bad. For every mile on the road, you spend two in the ditch, making the road that much lovelier. During a trial she was experiencing when I was in high school, she had a difficult moment right before we were going to see my grandmother. She said pointedly to me, DO NOT TELL YOUR GRANDMOTHER ABOUT THIS. In many ways I looked at this moment and I marveled at her strength, she was such a martyr, suffering alone. I missed the point completely. She knew it was a moment, a ditch time on what was a lovely road. She tells me a lot to have a good cry and move on. She is a woman of her word. In the face of what I consider one of the scariest things an individual could face, the promise of pain and a lot of unknown, she has been vulnerable, courageous, generous, thoughtful, honest and optimistic. This is not an act, it is simply how she chooses to be. It is a decision that she makes, not an easy one, but one that she accomplishes every time. And I love it.

It’s her day. This is her year. One of the hardest things in my life is being so far away from her, not because she needs me, but because I adore her, and being with her is one of my favorite things in the world. I am one of many, many people who feel this way. She told me this morning that this is going to be a fantastic year. Last year was pretty great, but I know that she’s right. In part, because if she has decided it, then none us of really have much of a choice, she is the boss. And she has no problem being defined as such.

When We Are Old… For Commander Occhiverdi

She waltzed into my life at a wedding. I’d heard of her, but never known her. It was instant. In the kind of way that can never be reproduced. We forged our friendship laying by the pool, her hiding from the sun and studying for a Biology test she would get a 100 on and me trying to hoard vitamin D for the coming Berlin winter. They say that Vitamin D is a good thing to fight depression. You know what else is? A friend whom you’ve known for only one week that books a two week trip to visit you in said city, three short months later. So we celebrated our first New Year’s Eve together. As Berlin light up (as if it was “on fire”) we brought in a New Year and confirmed what we had suspected those three short months earlier. This was a friendship that would last a lifetime.

I moved to Boston under an Eyore style dark cloud, with fleeting hope for spring. In waltzed Occhi bringing, hope, courage, laughter and dancing. She met Boo. She loved him. Which gave me courage to be brave and hope for something good. Even while she was watching her own energy slip through her fingers. We talked, cried and made some brave decisions. She left, and I cried.

She came back though, with her parents and that time… Boo and I were engaged and Occhi brought with her fun, excitement, and a list of delicious restaurants. That’s the way she is. No matter what’s happening with your or with her she is a breath of fresh air. She brings sunshine, and laughter and love and warmth. Seriously. She’s honest and deep and real without being HEAVY. You know what I mean? There are some friends you have who are intense and wonderful, but it’s heavy, OCCHI is NEVER heavy!

She was a dream in my wedding. After our honeymoon and in the first days of her med school career, we met her for burgers and presents. We forsook a day of our trop for the sake of just getting to see her one more time. I cried again saying goodbye. By this point she was used to it.

She had a difficult fall. She lost Ted. She was sick forever. And still. 4.0. She met someone. He’s Darling. Seriously. He’s Darling. She knew that we couldn’t go anywhere, so she came to us, one more time. She brought the Darling with her. And for the second time we rang in the New Year together. She’s like my favorite Barefoot Dreams robe. She is the softest, snuggliest place. She is wonderful. I love her more than she could ever know. In a time of life when I am terrible at keeping up she has been patient and understanding and willing to participate in the best kind of friendship, one that is mutual. Sometimes and some years one friend has to give more, even when they feel like they don’t have it to give, and sometimes the other has to do the same. To be honest Occhi has given more than she’s gotten, but show doesn’t seem to mind…

So here’s to Occhi’s 28th. It was yesterday. She had school. And burgers. And we were far away from her. But she, and the life that she brings to our lives were on our minds all say. And today, the day after, I dedicate this post to her. I hope that when we are old (I am older than her) we travel on busses like these ladies, drinking, cheering and causing a ruckus.

Love you Occhi. The best is yet to come…

Lady A Blogs About Advent

Lady A sent me an email the other day, that I can’t even really process. In response I sent her pictures of baby pandas. Equal? I think so. errrrr…

On our church advent blog she posted a really beautiful post. I wish you all knew her. She is gorgeous. She has the most beautiful couches. She taught me about Pumpkin Dip. We sit their house and drink Trader Joe’s wine, until all hours, even though EV doesn’t sleep in just because we were over late. She is a cheerleader, she is a giver of honest feedback, she helps me cook pounds of potato salad, she is seeking hard after what is True, she is an incredible mother, she is in an incredible metamorphosis as a daughter, and as a wife, I am humbled. She and Architect A are so in love, and they are a safe place for Boo and I as we embark upon this journey of love. They are real, honest, learning, growing, failing, succeeding, strengthening, uniting, and they are fantastic parents.

With that as a back ground, I hope you are able to see how much more beautiful LadyA’s honesty is in her own post. So please read and enjoy. And know, in this season of Advent, The Double A’s are leading us to Grace, Truth and Hope of the Good to come.

You can find her post here . It’s obviously got a Christian theme, as it’s from our Church blog, but I think anyone would be encouraged reading it.

Elizabeth Edwards a Gracious Goodbye

I am so sad. So very sad. She left this earth in the exact way she lived on it. Showing grace, courage and forgiveness. Even drawing her husband into the circle for the sake of her children as life left her body. What an incredible woman. What an immeasurable loss. Her thoughtful message to those of us whom she never knew, but loved her the same. She writes:

“You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces — my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined.

…There are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious. And for that I am grateful. It isn’t possible to put into words the love and gratitude I feel to everyone who has and continues to support and inspire me every day. To you I simply say: you know. With love, Elizabeth”

Prayers and love to those whose lives are truly impacted by this loss. Her children, family and most precious friends. I cannot imagine the depth of their loss.

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