Friday, September 30, 2011

on some pride

I had my first writing class on Monday night.  I was so irrationally nervous.  I knew this was supposed to be fun, that I was a willing participant, but I couldn't talk myself down from the nerves.  My face felt flush and I spent about twenty minutes taking deep breaths before the teacher finally came in.  It didn't help that I got there over a half hour early.  

I was most nervous about the in class assignments and of reading them out loud.  On the spot.  With no editing.  I have never tried fiction before, I've only ever written about myself.  But I tried.  And at five to ten I realized that I'd kick myself all week if I didn't participate, so I volunteered to read what I had just written.  And nothing terrible happened.  Instead, the guy next to me actually said, "that was good".  

As I get older I feel like there are fewer times where I am able to be really proud of myself.  Growing up there were recitals and big exams and school plays and graduations.  Now something good happens every once and a while at work that's my doing, but that doesn't feel like much.  Monday night I felt proud.  It may be a small thing, but I'll take it.

bird's eye view, random photo for a Friday

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

on summer in fall

It is unseasonably hot and humid today.  This morning NY1 told me that it will be cooler and clearer for the weekend, but for now it is thick outside.  I'm looking at these photos and willing fall to come.  I know that when we are trapped in feet of snow this winter I will wonder what I was thinking in hurrying the warmth away, but I'm ready.

from here
and here

Monday, September 26, 2011

on a house divided

In our house, fall doesn't mean crisp days and apple picking and digging sweaters out of the closet, fall means election season.  Mike is a Republican*.  I am not a Republican.  This makes things interesting**. 

It would be easier if we didn't care, if this didn't matter to us.  But we care, it matters.  The political world seeps into ours and it feels personal.  So personal that we've had to make rules to keep ourselves in check and when I tell people that I am "passionate" about politics, I really mean that I become so angry during light-hearted debates with Mike that I regress to name calling and whimpered pleas of "just think like me and everything will be better".  We are already making wagers on the political leanings of our future children (other people can make bets on how warped those future children will be because of this).  Mike is pretty confident that he will be the winner here but I can't imagine giving life to an Alex P. Keaton.  It's a little frightening to think that one day I may be outnumbered.  Thankfully, I have a few years to work on my campaign strategy, I mean, child rearing techniques.   


* They are not often spotted in the wild in New York City, elusive as they are, but they are here.
**Interesting.  I say this now.  Ask me in November 2012 how "interesting" things are in the lead up to a Presidential election and I'm sure I won't say the same thing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

on Will Dailey & The Rivals

In 1995 my brother Cris came home from college with a new friend from Boston.  New friend was dreamy and I immediately ran to the stereo to put on something cool, so new dreamy friend would think Cris had the most awesome sister on the planet.  I think I chose Nina Simone.  It said, I'm mature, but smooth.  I was neither mature nor smooth, which is why this memory is so embarrassingly hysterical.  The friend, Will Dailey, was a musician and had come back home with my brother to play a show with him.  They were good even then.

Sixteen years, several bandmates, name changes, and records later, Will Dailey released his latest album on Wednesday.  As one journalist said, "The album proves to be a landmark for Dailey. It's his first for Universal Republic Records, and it's not only his most inspired work yet, it's one of the best rock releases of 2011."  

My brother left the band a few years ago to be home with his amazing sons and to go back to school, but the album still feels like his history too.  Because I can't listen to the tracks without thinking of that first basement apartment in Boston*.  Of the years of hard work and effort and setbacks and letdowns.  And now of knowing that working like that can pay off.  That it can happen.  I love Will like a brother.  Proud is an understatement. 

You can preview tracks and buy the album here.
*who knew I'd have so many past posts that could fit into this one?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

on fictional comparisons

When we were little and my brother was being sneaky, my mom called him Eddie Haskel.  When I was acting out or emotional, she called me the first Mrs. Rochester.  I assumed Mrs. Rochester was another sitcom character, maybe one I wasn't familiar with, or maybe a teacher from her elementary school days.  

It wasn't until I read Jane Eyre and flipped the page to the scene where Mr. Rochester brings his almost bride Jane back from their would-be wedding to meet his first wife Bertha Mason that I realized who she was comparing me to.  Not Mrs. Rochester a tv character, but Mrs. Rochester the mad woman* who was caged in an attic, barred from the rest of the world due to her mania, Mrs. Rochester who burns down Thornfield before throwing herself off the roof:

"In the deep shade, at the further end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being one could not, at first sight, tell: it groveled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing; and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and face."
I think my brother got off easy with Eddie.

*poor Bertha, being kept in an attic for 15 years would turn me mad too...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

on the loss of what never was

I am mourning a loss that never happened.  A loss of something that was never created and so how could I possibly feel sad.  But I am.

I am a planner.  I stopped taking that small pink pill in April and had planned on July.  If it happened in July, we'd have a baby by next April.  And if it happened in July I'd be feeling pregnant by now.  I am well aware that these things don't always happen right away.  Or on a schedule.  Or when planned.  Or at all.  But I planned anyway.  

In July my foot was worse than it was in June and doctors told me to start taking the tiny pink pill again, that it wasn't safe to risk getting pregnant if I had to have surgery, or just being injured in general.  And so nothing happened in July and I am still the same. 

I can't explain this to most people and so announcing it to you (whoever is out there) seems strangely comforting.  I wanted this.  It is not happening now.  I know it will, later, future, sometime, but I was ready now.  Maybe I am being taught something about not being so wound up by dates, by this imaginary timeline, by planning.  Perhaps there is a lesson here that I am just not ready to learn.

my twin nephews before their birthday party

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

on a love like that

He came into the room with whole tears sliding down his cheeks and his lower lip trembling.  He looked around the room but looked lost, too many pairs of legs, too many tall grownups.  He found me sitting in a chair against the wall and slumped himself against me, rested his head on my arm.  I was sorry he was sad, but loved the feel of his weight leaning in on me.  Until him, I didn't know there could be a love like this*.

He nodded when I asked him if he was sad.  I asked why and his little shoulders shrugged.  "Are there just too many people in here?"  He nodded again.  I wrapped him up in a hug and whispered in his ear that there was no reason to be sad, that all of these people were here because they loved him and wanted to celebrate him.  I wiped a new tear away from his cheek with my thumb and kissed the top of his head.  He turned to look up at me, said "thanks auntie", caught sight of the pile of presents in the livingroom and broke into a run, sadness quickly forgotten.

My first nephew turned four yesterday.  I still count my brother bursting out of the maternity ward doors and announcing "it's a boy" as one of my favorite moments.  We went to Boston this weekend to celebrate his birthday and the birthday of his twin brothers who turned one last week.  The house was teaming and alive and happy and I was more in love with those three boys than I thought would ever be possible.  It was a good day.

I'd post photos of my three adorable nephews but am not sure how their parents feel about that...for now this will do.
*I can only imagine what it must be like when it's your own.

Friday, September 16, 2011

on little things

Mike wakes up over an hour before I do.  He leaves the light off and quietly moves around the room until he is ready to wake me up to say goodbye.  This morning I was mildly aware of him getting dressed on the other side of the room when I felt the cold from the fan on my bare feet.  I sleepily willed the comforter to cover them so I wouldn't have to wake up to do it myself.  Instead I felt Mike's hands around my legs pulling and then tucking the blanket underneath my feet as if he knew what I was thinking.  It's the little things.  I love that man.

And that is a very mushy post.

this is not my bedroom

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

on taking steps

I signed up for a writing class.  It is a step toward leaving behind the phrase, "I write, but I'm not a writer".  That excuse I hide behind (even in my profile on this page) so if a comma should be a semicolon or if no one out there thinks this is very good I can say, "well, I told you so, I told you I wasn't a writer".  I don't know why I am struck with this fear of becoming better at something and then having to admit that I have become better at that thing, but on September 26th I'll walk into a room and take a step towards coming out from under the I'm not good enough. 

I am thankful for the few of you who come here, you give me the confidence to try and be better, so thank you.  There's more to come because of you. 

from here

Sunday, September 11, 2011

on ten years

I tried to avoid most media today but failed.  Still don't have the words for today, but thought I'd post this photo from my walk home from a concert last week.  One World Trade Center, already the tallest thing downtown. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

on college football Saturdays

Mike is the proudest Irishmen I've ever known (well, until he took me to Ireland to meet his extended family that is, those are some proud people).  First generation on one side, second on the other, you can't talk to him for more than a half hour without hearing some fact about the country, story from his family, or rant about the English.

Mike was the first in his family to go to college and so, growing up, he didn't have any strong family ties to a college sports program.  Naturally that left him open to fall in love with the college whose mascot was a leprechaun.  Mike loves Notre Dame.  He loves their fight song, their history, the football team, all of it.

I didn't grow up with that kind of love, but I did watch Rudy.  A lot.  And so I might not have the decades of fan history that he has, but come on, you watch this clip and tell me you don't feel something as the music swells and little number 45 runs out onto the field.  I came into the relationship willing to take this on with him and because of my years of Rudy prep, I was an easy sell.

But somewhere along the way it stopped being about me supporting the thing Mike loves and became the thing I did on my own.  There is now space in my brain reserved for the mascots of most Division I schools (though I'm still not sure what a Nittany is, seriously Penn State?), of coaches and records and Heisman winners.  I'm not sure what has been pushed out to make room for it, but I'm hoping it wasn't anything too important.  Go Irish.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

on Ontario Street

on a whim the other night I googled the old address and, because google is creepy and all-knowing, this street view photo came up

This is my old apartment.  The one I moved into in May 2000 as I was finishing my sophomore year of college and the one I moved out of the week after graduation in May 2002.  The one with the creaky stairs and slanted porch roof that held us as we drank illegal bud lights and pretended to be adults.  The one I lived in with Jenny and our friends spread out over two floors and two years.  Two summers, four semesters, it's amazing how much can be filled in just six rooms. 

I don't know Jenny anymore.  I get facebook updates from time to time but we haven't known each other since the fall after graduation.  She thought I wasn't being a good friend.  I thought she wasn't being a good friend.  The particulars have faded over the years.  And now when this song comes on the radio or the ipod shuffle I think of what we had there and because I don't know them anymore, I hurt just a little.  But more than that, I think of all that one place can mean, can hold, and I love it.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

on a wedding graduate revisited

In March, my piece on loss and a wedding ran on A Practical Wedding.  Soon after I was emailing with Lauren, APW's assistant editor, and she asked if I would be willing to come back in a few months and write an update.  The update, a part of APW's "wedding graduate revisited" series will be going up today.  I am nervous and anxious sitting at the desk in the living room hitting refresh and waiting for it to appear.  Lauren asked for honest and I wrote honest.  But now I worry about what I might sound like to the readers out there who don't know me.  That I'll sound selfish for that line about mourning feeling like a setback.  Last night Mike was telling me not to worry, that honest is ok, that everyone feels things they don't like admitting.  That it's the truth, and the truth is worth sharing.

I just hit refresh and there is the photo of Erin at our wedding and my words below it.  Here's to sharing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

on the mouse defense part II

Dear Mouse #1 and Mouse #2 (updated to include Mouse #3),

You were formidable foes.  I am sorry it had to end this way.  But Friday night when Mike's frantic texts forced me to leave the bar to help him back home on the front line of defense, I realized there was no other way.  We gave you every opportunity to go peacefully, why did you have to make things difficult?  Believe me, it hurt us just as much as it hurt you (ok, this is probably not true, but really, it kind of feels that way).  We had been thinking of moving within the neighborhood for a few months now and your presence has made the decision for us.  So I guess thanks for that.  But not for everything else. 

Not so fondly yours,


Friday, September 2, 2011

on a summer trade off

My Dad taught English at my high school, my mom taught English at the high school in the district down the road from ours.  By the third week of June when my brother and I were finishing school, so were our parents.  It was years before I realized that some grownups had to work in July and August and that I might have to be one of them.

In high school I took a job as a lifeguard at our town beach.  It was a job, but sitting in the sun every day of the summer could not be called work.  Then, after my sophomore year of college, it was decided that it would probably be best if I stayed in Albany rather than come home, so I gave up the beach.  I had worked during the school year as a second shift employee at the New York State Office of Unclaimed Funds* and decided to stay on there for the summer.  I thought I would like feeling responsible.  Instead, I remember that first summer day commute, getting on the number 12 bus at 1pm on a gorgeous June afternoon and realizing that I would never again have a summer outside.  It was kind of terrible.

But the downside of my parents' summers was Labor Day.  As the last days of August ticked by the house would feel tense.  The words "lesson plans", "department chair", "first day", began to creep into their vocabulary and our world changed.  The feeling was so palpable that even now, years later, I feel anxious as this weekend approaches.  I look at the calendar with a small sense of dread as if I too were heading back to school. 

So the happy trade off of these summers in the office is that there is no official end for us.  Labor Day can just mean a long weekend.  If it's warm in September than it can still be summer for we non-teachers.  And even though I'll be jealous of them in June, for now, I will take my stress-free** Labor Day weekend and love it.

my life guarding beach through Dad's camera after I went away to school

 *oh, there is so much more to say about the Office of Unclaimed Funds. So much.
**Mike wasn't able to find a teaching job for this year but maybe next year we will be able to feel stressed for good reason this weekend.