Yes, I recognize that the balloons in the living room are more blue than green. I did not appreciate that realization at 11pm last night.
Kids sleep through vacuums, thunderstorms, and house alarms, but drop one balloon softly into their room and they will stir and thrash in their blankets while I cower in the hallway. Leprechauns don’t get caught making mischief. They just don’t.
I continue to be very Irish and very much not into Irish foods. Even Irish soda bread, the one thing I’m sorta okay with, tasted less than okay this morning. What is going on with that, I ask you.
She: has pulled out every article of green clothing she owns. Gold ribbon in hair for golden coins. He: is uninterested and possibly, influenced by school and the concept of cool. Orange shirt and jeans.
Just yesterday, I entered the 7th circle of hell (PartyCity). I found myself running amok, placing strand of beads and shamrock headbands into a basket. Plates, cups, napkins. Green, green, green. $62 worth of festive.
And for what? For whom? For why?
Is this the new normal? These little holidays holding joy that allow us tiny celebrations in an era that has felt hard to celebrate? I thought about this as I considered our later plans: green milkshakes, spun in the blender, crushing ice into cream. Everyone’s tongue will be green.
This morning? Her little footsteps hurried to the top of the stairs. A gasp. Wonder. Awe. WOW.
(today I participated in a workshop through Off Campus Writers Workshop and there were some brilliant grief prompts presented by Chen Chen, who served as instructor/moderator. Here is what came out)
Dear ambitious scholar,
Grief is my dog’s collar tucked away in a box, high on the shelf in my closet.
My favorite shirt, the chambray button-down from that classic secondhand store, is fading away. I found two more holes this morning, one of which was hiding in plain sight near my elbow. It won’t be long now. I used to think it would crush me to lose this shirt- not the jewelry in velvet boxes or the designer trenchcoat- but this, this faded, tattered shirt with the heart-shaped pocket. It’s lesser now, the crush of it all.
I have been furious with my writing lately. It’s never been easier or harder. I’m writing everything: poems, fiction, nonfiction, and sex. Yes, sex writing was a whole class. The hours are long in the writing chair, in front of the writing screen.
All this writing has allowed me to manifest though. To bring out the grief without yelling at my kids or pulling at my hair. I continue to tread water in an angry sea. Yet I force the handholding of language and grief. Say it out loud or it doesn’t count.
What am I to do next and how can I do all of it? Everything within me is desperate to come out. How do I know the way? How do I know the path without directions?
Ambitious scholar, take notes and take your time. You will get there. You will get there.
The new year has rolled out and the rollercoaster has begun. In just the first half of January, there have been dramatic shifts and prods within social media, government, law enforcement, D.E.I., journalism, and more. Brad Montague touched upon the enormity of this time as ‘toomuchery.’ The world keeps changing, the world keeps staying the same. Routine mixed with chaos, stirred with uncertainty. What happens when our very democracy is under violent attack and my child approaches me and asks for help with homework? He’s working on calculating area. Length x width.
The other day I impulse bought a set of clearance rack barrettes from Target. As if that would help anything. As if it would lessen the anxiety. But they sparkle on Zoom. They shimmer under the light of our dinner table. They help hide that awkward hair length I’m at- the growing-out-phase. But really, there is no help for moving through uncertainty. Sparkle is merely a distraction.
Family continues with distance and technology, and the occasional freezing cold walk at a forest preserve.
Our dog, Putter, continues to burrow on our laps and spread the warmth wherever she goes. In the ever-chill of a midwestern winter, I don’t really mind it. I’m just not always ready when I’m sitting down with coffee and a furry bundle leaps into my startled lap.
On Tuesday, Fitz cracked open an Ina Garten cookbook and made the fanciest comfort food he could find: lobster BLTs. They were sensational. A hall-of-fame kind of sandwich.
Clean, purge, donate. Every year this happens. The doling out of holiday decor, the sweeping removal of it, and my insistence at stripping things down, down, down to necessity. In a world of no control, I have to stop myself from pacing or organizing. In doing so, Fitz dug through office drawers and uncovered a treasure among relics (a rolodex! ancient biz cards!). Before the world changed and tilted, he had purchased a pair of earrings on Etsy for me. My initials. The two letters that have been singular in my identity for so long. A really lovely, thoughtful gift. It reminded me of that moment in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Clark is in the attic, attempting to discreetly hide presents…until he uncovers a dusty Mother’s Day gift from 1984. Oops.
I picked a helluva time to start school again but the program was just too good and the Instagram ad hit at the right time. Despite the chaos of schedule, I have really enjoyed eCornell. I’m studying Diversity & Inclusion.
Every day is still fresh. Every opportunity is still present. Yes, this year has already been too much, but many days lay ahead. Many days lay ahead. Start me up.
Fitz and I will be celebrating our wedding anniversary this month. We’ll be heading back out to wine country (where we were hitched in 2009). Fun fact: the morning of our wedding, we wine tasted at Silver Oak Winery. There were so delighted to hear that we were getting married that day that they handed us a bottle and said, “Congrats and cheers!”
I am really missing having a dog. Is it time for us to adopt one? Maybe. We went through MWBTR when we rescued Theo in 2010.
The last time I went to a concert at The Riviera was a lifetime ago. Truly. I think it was 2004. I hadn’t even met my husband at that point.
The concert I attended? The Killers…who were baby famous at the time (remember Mr. Brightside?). The music was great but what stuck with me most was how insanely cool the venue was. I felt like I had been transported when I walked inside and looked up at the gorgeously ornate ceiling above the bar, its paint peeling off in thick, curled wedges.
It’s beautiful. It’s ramshackle. It’s standing room only. Your shoes might stick to the floor but the vibe is super chill and the bathrooms stalls are scrawled with funny quips. Basically heaven!
What I learned a lifetime ago at The Riviera was that I am a lover of small venue concerts. Sure, I’ve done Buffett and Dave Matthews shows at Alpine Valley (important: I’ve since retired permanently from Dave Matthews). I’ve sang my heart out to the Rolling Stones at Wrigley Field. I had the time of my life seeing T-Swift during her Reputation arena tour in Indianapolis. But there is something so mind-blowing about hanging out with your person, listening to incredible music in an intimate venue that resembles someone’s cool, old basement.
We saw James Bay (Electric Light tour). I was in heaven.
I had really fallen for his stuff since his debut on Saturday Night Live. As I finished the draft of my second novel, I looped some of his songs on a playlist that kept my motivation high as I typed away and edited. I knew every lyric, every chord change. His music sent me down a rabbit hole of bliss, lust, persistence, and fun- precisely what I needed to tap into as I wrote.
On the train ride home Fitz and I were recalling our favorite parts of the show. “I can’t get over The Riv,” Fitz said. “I’d go back to that place again and again.”
Green doughnuts just seemed like the ideal breakfast option this morning (I get them right as the store opens so they’re piping hot).
I’m working on some inclusion projects with my church and within my hometown so I was delighted to swing by Youth Services of GlenBrook. They had the most cheerful conference room, complete with whimsical, joyous paintings.
And just in case you need to laugh, here is a photo of a jumping goat featured in an ancient National Geographic magazine from my childhood. My sister and I always found the goat’s expression hysterical, and I laughed even harder when my sis tracked down the image and texted it to me the other day. Why is silly humor the best kind?!