Category Archives: life

Decision:

We got our lease renewal in the mail today.

Up until about two weeks ago, we were thinking of potentially breaking our lease early to find a place in the wild where we could live amidst nature and barbecue our breakfast and play catch with our dog (which we would finally be allowed to have) without having to walk 3/4 of a mile to find an open space to do so. But, things change, and now it looks like we may be here another two years.

Billy is starting a nutrition studies program this semester so he can finally get out of the retail rut and do something he enjoys. While he could probably finish in a year, it’s probably best to do it in two, particularly since we sort of need his income and being in school full time and working full time is just crazy. Since the school is here in Queens, it looks like we’ll be sticking around for another couple years.

In all honesty, though, I may be disappointed, but this does give me more time to make the case for moving somewhere warmer instead of somewhere colder.


New Old, Same Old

At this time of year, there are lots of people taking assessments of the previous year and planning adjustments for the coming one. Initially, I had been resisting that urge, but as I’ve given it some thought, I realize that there are some reflections worth noting now, whether it is the start of a new year or just a new day.

This Christmas was a really good one for me, and also a very hard one, which is just to say that I had to work really hard to make it good. But I did it, and I’m glad. One of the things I did was go to church for the midnight service on Christmas Eve. I haven’t been to church in a very long time, mainly because I’m not exactly the world’s most religious person. Spiritual, yes. Religious… not really. But this year I think I wanted a little push in the right direction, to wake up the spirit in me.

One of the things the pastor talked about was this idea of pure joy, and the fact that it’s one of those things that is only accomplished when we find ways to fill up the God-sized hole left in us when we’re born. His message was that God fills this hole up for us, and that the birth of Jesus was his Christmas gift to us. (By way of disclosure, this is all just my interpretation of his sermon, but honestly, my point is less in what he actually said and more in how it moved me.) I sat there thinking about it, honestly feeling a bit disappointed. Because I’ve done the church thing, and I’ve really believed in Jesus and tried to let him fill that hole for me. And you know what happened? I inspired a lot of people while my hole just got bigger. There were many nights I showed up to church completely drunk, led worship, had people coming up to me saying how inspired they were, and then slipped off to the graveyard behind the church to sob because no one could see how empty (and positively wasted) I was.

So what does that mean? Did I pray wrong? Do I not believe enough? Am I the exception? This was not the Christmas message I was hoping to get.

But I’ve given it some thought, and I think that maybe not everybody finds God in a church. There are other things that fill me up in the way God fills up our pastor. Things like going on a long hike up a mountain and sitting at the top, enjoying the silence in the clouds and an incredible view. Or the thrill of riding a really fast roller coaster or jumping out of an airplane. Or creating something – a short story, a photograph, a knitting project, a drawing. Traveling to places I’ve never seen before, getting to know and understand a new culture, visiting old friends. Helping people. These things are my church, and even though I know they fill me up, I let them go, every day, in the name of Routine.

I read this blog post last week and it really inspired me, especially the last paragraph:

For me this year in 2011 I am going to focus on what it means to live this life. To be alive. I want to reinvent what living means to me.

And I think that’s what I want, too. I don’t want to change who I am, or lose weight, or find my way from point a to point b (though those things would be nice side effects). I want to find ways to augment the things in my life that fill me up.

There are specific things I’ve come up with to accomplish this. I don’t know if I’ll follow through on them all, but the beauty is that I don’t have to do these specific things. It could be anything that accomplishes the same goal. But here goes, because lists are a nice way to look and see what specific accomplishments have been made.

  • I joined the Appalachian Mountain Club and plan to attend their backpacking seminar so that Billy and I can go on our first backpacking trip ever this spring, summer, or fall.
  • I filled out an application to volunteer for Free Arts NYC, which will allow me to work with underprivileged kids on art as a way of coping with life.
  • Billy and I are hoping to go to meet Siggi and Brett in Germany this summer, so I’ve been attempting to learn German on my own. So far I’ve gotten to where I can say to Billy, “Du bist ein affe!”
  • I’m thinking about writing a book. This is actually a really huge undertaking, and I’m not positive it’s something I really want to tackle right now, but I’m thinking about it, and I’m saying I’m thinking about it. That’s a good first step for now, I think.

So is this a turning point, as we turn the page from 2010 to 2011? I don’t know. Probably not. I think all of life is about little turning points and big ones, and they don’t always coincide with the numbers on the calendar. But it’s probably as good a reason as any to think about it, and so here we are.


This year’s Christmas menu

Breakfast: bagels and lox with capers and homemade scallion cream cheese

Lunch: garlic and cheese fondue with French bread and apples

Dinner: Thai pork skewers with peanut sauce, coconut rice, and improvised Thai salad

Dessert: peppermint brownies and peanut blossoms


Ho Ho Yo’ mama.

You know you have created the ultimate holiday playlist when the first song that comes on is “Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley. I know it’s arrogant of me to say so, but I honestly think that people who don’t appreciate my taste in music (and my interpretation of holiday songs) are crazy. Everyone should blare my playlist as loud as possible as often as possible AND LOVE IT.

Maybe it has something to do with denial over the utter lack of holiday cheer in my cold, black heart these days, but I have been trying to play up the Santa bit lately. I’ve created a holiday songlist that includes Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face” and pulled out glitter and glue to make holiday cards. I even plugged in the piano for the first time this year so I could try to remember how to play B-flat-maj7 in “Silent Night.” I’m knitting like mad and planning my trip to the post office to pick out this year’s letter to Santa to answer.

It’d all make me puke if I actually believed it was making me happier. I don’t want to accept that I’m unhappy. Again. Better to live in peppermint bliss and gingerbread-scented ignorance.

For brief, hazy moments, I even find myself thinking it’s actually working.


On thinking young.

It’s Saturday morning, I’ve been up for an hour, and it’s still dark outside. When did I become a morning person?

OK, not only that, but it has been 85 days since I last had a drink. People who know me must be looking at me and scratching their heads wondering, “what the fuck?” I know I am.

I’m trying to see this as me opening myself up to new opportunities. Do you know how much you can accomplish between 5-8am when you’re not heaving into the toilet with a hangover? The world is so quiet at that hour, even here in Queens. I can have a simple breakfast and catch up on some knitting, or bill-paying, or correspondence. I am going to make a great little old lady when I grow up.

Just for the record, I am still very much a thrill-seeker. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.


Blowing the dust off

I’ve only got about 10 minutes before I’ve got to head out to work. I haven’t done much writing lately. I guess it’s redundant to say so, since it’s pretty obvious if you look around here that there’s nothing new posted. It’s the same old story, I guess. I’ve been busy, blah, blah, blah. Add it to the cacophony of other folks out there saying the Exact Same Thing. (I’m sure I could find examples if I had the time to look.)

I kind of miss being able to sit down every day and put some thought into writing something witty, something interesting, something fun, something honest. It’s been years since I’ve done it with any sort of regularity. Maybe this is part of getting older? I don’t want that to be an excuse, though. We aren’t victims of our age. We’re victims of our excuses. And I regret that age is so often used as an excuse to languish rather than a reason to flourish.


Musing

I have spent a lot of time on this blog not writing about my mom. Mostly it has been to protect her privacy. But I feel now that if I don’t get through this post, all the things that follow without it will be a fraud.

Right now, I’m pretty sure my mom and I are not speaking to one another. It’s been about three weeks since we last spoke, and when she joined Facebook a few days ago, she friended everyone in my family… except me. Having leaned on each other most of our lives – though I am only speaking for myself – it’s not exactly been the best couple of weeks in my life.

If I had to guess, it probably has less to do with the sum of money I wouldn’t lend her and more to do with the way I told her I wouldn’t lend it to her. I probably could have been gentler in telling her no. But I also think I deserved a bit more respect than I got in response.

The details of our argument are not worth getting into publicly. It’s not about taking sides, or getting in the middle. I wouldn’t expect that from anyone. But I think it’s also fair to say that we’ve both suffered a loss, here, and a significant one. And whether it’s real or only my perception, I’ve really felt quite cut adrift from the rest of my family as a result. Maybe I deserve it. I don’t personally think so, but then I’m probably a little biased.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is try to look forward and focus on my own life, the one I’ve been neglecting in my worry over my mother’s well-being. I’ve turned around and realized I’m 31 years old and hey, I’m married, too. When did that happen? To say that Billy and I are reconnecting is an understatement. It’s been wonderful and difficult all at once, and that, I suppose, is marriage.

We’ve assessed our debts and come up with a plan to pay them off in their entirety within the next 10 years. It involves sacrifice and dedication, but so far in the last two weeks, we have made incredible strides. Eating home-cooked meals has helped. Not drinking has also saved us heaps, in more ways than one. Because, yes, I am back on the wagon, and it has been great.

My job is blossoming into a career, and although most days when I get home I need an hour or two to lay in bed and recover from the mountains of stress I encounter at the office, I have to say that it’s a job I do truly enjoy. It’s challenging, and always pushing the bar, and I feel like what I do makes a difference. And, it helps to pay our debts. Right now, I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Billy and I are considering a move in the next year or so. New York City is one of the best places in the whole world, no doubt. But it has a way of churning our souls, and after nearly 15 years, our souls are ready to sit back on our porch in the country and watch bees buzz amid the daisies. Right now, it’s hard to say what we will be able to afford, both financially and emotionally, but a front-runner is Ithaca, NY. We are also looking a bit closer to home, but nowhere specific. It’s nice to finally start seeing plans take shape, though, and to know that we have choices.

And as I think of the family I have lost and potentially lost, between my father’s death and my mother’s illness, I can’t help but think of the possibility of starting anew with a family of our own. It doesn’t seem as farfetched as it did several years ago, somehow.

Even with all these developments on the horizon of my own life, I can’t help but resist the change a bit. It’s always been my affliction – wanting my world to change, but being afraid to actually change it. But, now is the time. As they say, when a door closes, a window is opening. And maybe I’m ready to seize the moment after all.