Thursday, December 30, 2010


It's time for my annual list of things I'd like to get done in the upcoming year.
I predict I'll do at least two of them... Maybe...

1. Reduce the Clutter
 I am a pack rat. I blame genetics and my love for all things inane and trivial.
Despite my recent lodgings transfer and massive downsize, I still seem drawn to the five unneeded Rubbermaid bins I see on clearance at Target, the Japanese sushi eraser 12-pack I saw at the Party Outlet store and the yards of kitschy material on sale at JoAnns. I save these things knowing some day they will be of use. But this year I resolve not to take something, even if it's on super-massive-closeout-clearance-sale, unless I'm going to put it to immediate use. This may translate into more frequent last minute stops to the superstore but will hopefully also cut down on clutter underfoot.

2. Take more pictures
 I'm not gonna lie here, I take a lot of pictures. But I've slacked off recently, and this is unacceptable. Never will my children be this age again. Never will they be so willing to climb into my lap and pose for cheesy pictures again. I will not have this moment back 20 years from now. And so often I'm torn between reveling in the moment and capturing it on film to revel in later... So perhaps this resolution should be not simply Take more Pictures...but Take more Pictures that Count.  I don't need to be a shutterbug, but I don't want to miss the important things.

3.  Dance More
Didn't think it was possible did you? And yet, besides the sort I do in my living room (or Beccah's living room, on the Wii) I don't do a lot of dancing. And no, I don't mean just mindlessly grinding and gyrating on a dark club floor (although that IS fun, don't get me wrong!) I mean dancing. I used to love to go swing dancing and salsa dancing and have even done a titch of ballroom in my former life. I'd like to get back to that again... even if just for an evening or two.

4. Celebrate More
 It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of life and forget to celebrate the small things: A lost tooth, an A on a homework assignment, a week where no one had an accident... You get my drift here. I'd like to try and place less emphasis on the hugely commercial holidays that require a ton of legwork and $50 in pre-made storebought decorations; and more emphasis on celebrating in small ways, like a batch of someone's favorite cookies if they have a good day, a dinner out after a promotion (please, god) and the like. Sometimes it's nice to step back from your own life and be thankful for the small little Wins in the every day.

5. Take a Family Portrait

 I have enough friends that are professional-grade photographers that it is absolutely a sin and a crime against nature that I do not have some decent, not taken by myself at arms length, photos of the Munchkins and I. This should probably be moved up to #1 on the list... this one HAS to happen soon...before my kids are too cool to smile for the camera.

6. Go South for the Winter.
 Really this is just a fancy little way for me to say I. WANT. A. VACATION! A real, honest-to-god, lay on the beach, drink during the day, eat seafood fresh out of the ocean, stay in a hotel vacation. It doesn't have to be a long vacation. It doesn't have to be outside of the contiguous 48. But as god as my witness I WILL leave Indiana in 2011 for warmer climes.

7. Get More Crafty.
 I'd like to think I'm already pretty darn crafty, but I tend to pick up side projects here & there and not really focus on any one thing. So, initially for 2011 I'd like to pick A craft a month (crochet, knit, decoupage, embroidery, etc) and really focus in on each one, try & put a little perfection onto it and not get distracted so quickly by my overflowing, ever-growing binder of projects-I'd-like-to-try-and-recreate.

8. Get More Sleep.
Well, a girl can dream can't she?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Mortifying...

So I ran to Kmart on my lunch break because I needed, among other things: milk, donuts & trashbags. And this sort of thing is best done on my lunch hour rather than with three small munchkins in tow.
(this is the least interesting part of my story)
While there I found myself stuck behind a slow-moving human barricade of flannel and fun.

Three men built like WWF wrestlers were shuffling up the aisle in front of me, all of us headed to the check out lanes. There was no way around them, the store being ridiculously busy for noon on a Wednesday.
Two of the three man mountains wore flannel, all three had mullets. It was one of those moments I would have given ANYthing for a camera phone. Several times during the slo-mo-shuffle they stop. for NO apparent reason other than to ogle the 35% off Seasonal decor.

So, finally, after several unsuccessful attempts to alert them to my presence hot on their heels (coughs, ahems and muffled sneezes to no avail) I say:

"Excuse me."
"Excuse me?"
"Excuse me! Sir! Can I slip by you please?"

They all three turn around as one.

SO not a group of men.
So SO SOOOOOOOOO not a group of men.

I was mortified.
I mumbled an apology and very literally turned tail and RAN down the aisle, afraid the three largest women I'd ever seen were going to chase me down and beat me up.

My face still flames hot & embarrassed just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Filling a Need

I hate money. Hate it.

I hate the thousand dollars that was just in my checking account before I paid my rent & bills for January, and I hate the $3.97 that is in my checking account from now until next Friday when I get paid again.

I hate feeling helpless in the face of mounting bills and after-school care and daycare tuitions and ever-increasing grocery bills. I hate that I've had to accept charitable donations from a variety of institutions over the past year or two just in order to make ends meet. It leaves a metallic taste in the back of my mouth from biting the inside of my cheek to keep back the protest that I don't need help, that surely there is someone more deserving of aid than our little family. 
And yet, I couldn't be more grateful than I am right now.
I am so incredibly blessed and lucky to have people in my life that recognize both my level of need and my level of inherent stubbornness and determination to prove myself, and people who have found a way to overcome both. I've learned that accepting charity, when necessary, is best done with a quiet smile and a sincere thank you. Any more effusive and you embarrass both yourself and the giver. Too many protestations and, again, you embarrass both yourself and the giver.

It does make me wonder, though, if history's greatest philanthropists were, at one point in their lives, scratch-in-the-dirt poor. I like to think of the Rockefellers and the Carnegies of the world as stubborn independent people just trying to make ends meet in their early years; determined that, when they made it big they'd pay everyone back ten-fold.
It's what I intend at least. Everytime I accept a hand up, it's with a silent promise to myself that one day I will ensure that I will be in such a position to pay each and every accepted kindness forward with interest. That when I have passed the point in my life where I am unable to stand on my own, the strength of each of those helping hands and the foundation they helped to build will granted me the wisdom to see need in others and fill it, even if they are at first too stubborn to see that need for themselves.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Optimal Conditions

Most people fail due to an undecided heart.
Should I? Shouldn't I? Go back? Go forward?
When confronted with a challenge the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart just searches for an escape. A committed heart does not wait for conditions to be exactly right. Why? Because conditions are never
exactly right.
You know, it's funny. In the past I created relationships and friendships based on potential. I saw something, some kernel of possibility in what that person could be. And, ultimately, was always disappointed that what I glimpsed never really became reality.
And now that I've stopped doing that, stopped basing relationships and such on a possibility, of happiness, of success, of whatever; but rather on the presence of goodness in others? I'm never disappointed. Life, I suppose, is simpler when you deal with what's there instead of with what you desperately want to be there.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Janitors and Alleycats...

a nice little tune to get you through a few minutes on the Eve of Christmas Eve...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Everything about this photo makes me happy.

And this is TOTALLY going to be my tree next year:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Train Wreck

Sometimes a song can pull you back to a single moment.

It can suck you in in an instant, in the first few bars, in the first strains of violin.

And I remember an afternoon, years and years ago; sitting on the creaky hardwoods in the kitchen, cold air seeping through under the back door. And I count myself so lucky to be there for the beginning of a process.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010


I live for family dinners.

And it's not so much even the dinner as the fire up beforehand and the huddling together, stork-legged and hunched over coffee afterward.

The dinners where all the siblings fly in, drive in, walk over, and crowd around the tiny bar in the kitchen instead of spreading throughout the house as we ought.

The ones where Frankie & Deano are playing in the background on Pop's iPod and everyone is shouting and gesturing wildly and the kids are tearing through the house like I poured sugar into their veins before we left the house. The evenings where we empty multiple growlers from Sun King and line up the bottles of wine like little tin soldiers on the counters.

The ones where I laugh so hard my cheekbones hurt.
The ones I don't want to end.

Jane was in from Vermont for the weekend (sans Matt who couldn't get away from work). Tony and Kelly drove down from the Northside. Vinny and Jackie rolled in. Mimi and Aunt B drove over from Ohio. The kids condescended to wear tights and ties and button downs and sweater vests. Mom made reservations. Pops put out crackers and cheese and started opening bottles. The house smelled like Christmas. And, as I unfocused my eyes and let the bokeh on the tree take effect, I could feel it all roll over me in waves: The smell of the coffee brewing, the soft warmth of the wine as it slid down, the way everyone's laughter all melted together. It was my childhood and my adulthood all rolled into one. It was home.

And all through the fire up, and full on Italian dinner out, and subsequent coffee and presents Saturday I soaked it up.

And all through mass Sunday morning, the smell of incense and Latin murmur of the congregation as sharp a reminder of childhood and home as almost any other that weekend, I soaked it up. A sidelong glance down the pew revealing a perfect line of legs and laps and clasped hands.

I didn't even pull out the camera [much] this weekend. I just wanted to hold on to every minute that everyone was together, in one place, for those few days.

We did manage to take some phenomenal group shots Saturday somewhere between the wine and dinner...which I still need to snag from Mom's camera. We pulled out the tripod and set the timer and have the pre-requisite half-shots and nearly-ready-shots and eyes-closed-shots. And the mishaps are glorious. And perhaps better than the finished product because it catches so many of us in our classic poses. 

[practice shot - take five - several of us are behind the camera on this one...

It's weekends like these, the ones that are too few and far between, that sustain me when we're all apart.

It's weekends like these that make up for infrequent phone calls and letters and visits.

It's weekends like these that remind me how lucky I am.

Seriously. How awesome is this?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Losing a little piece of myself?

And the middle of the night...I can't sleep for want of your arm thrown over me, or the hotter-than-the-sun waves from your skin seeping over into my side of the bed. What IS that? When did I lose a little of the love of an empty bed? I used to revel in my ability to do snow angels in my sheets. I'd roll over twice just because I could. And now, the neon green of my clock numbers scowl at me in those early dawn hours when I should be curling into your warmth. My fingers itch to trace whorls on your shoulder blades without waking you up...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

little tree

We brought the Christmas decorations out last night.
Giant tubs full of lights and carefully wrapped ornaments in yellowing parchment paper.
the nativity set passed down and the manger scene.

Bing Crosby echoed through our new little apartment.
And I dropped peppermints into everyone's hot chocolate.
And White Christmas played in a loop on the tv... Twice through before we were almost done.
Ohhhhh Bing...Ohhhh Rosemary Clooney.
It's my quintessential Christmas movie. Well, that and the Bells of St. Mary. Well, okay, and A Christmas Story - but only that on C
hristmas Eve - and then for a 24 loop on Channel 6 usually...

It was a fucking Hallmark moment.
Until we realized something very important.
When calling to transfer utilities into my name earlier that day, somehow the Water Dept. missed a step... and my water was shut off not simply transferred into my name as I'd requested. Meaning the toilets wouldn't flush. Meaning the dump the size of lower Manhattan that my son had just left in the bowl would need to be scooped out & thrown in the dumpster lest the entire apartment go from smelling like Christmas to smelling like poop.

I'm sure there's a lovely life parallel to be drawn here...
Something about Christmas and poop and taking care of your business...
But for the life of me I can't quite think of what it should be.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ohhhh, Nietzsche...

For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wake Up!

Sometimes music is just the thing.
Strike that.
Music is always the thing.

Especially this.
Especially this morning.
It's John Legend covering Arcade Fire.

Hear John Legend & The Roots cover Arcade Fire Here:

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