Monday, August 14, 2023

The Leaving

It is a rift. 

A tear, 

a palpable shift

in the delicate equilibrium

that keeps us 


She is my tiny raw-hearted owl girl. 

She sobbed

and clung  to me when I left her

at daycare.


I am haunted by her grief.

Mine. Ours.

We parents have all known the agony

of peeling those tiny fragile fingers off 

of our bodies

still warm

from the rushed desperate clutching.

This is the same


terrible truth.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Don't put up with it. Take Cyanide Instead.

WARNING: This post talks a lot about feminine medical issues, so you men may want to move on to other more manly things related to your interests. 

I had a weird lump and burning pain in my right breast a few months ago (it's already TMI - you can't say I didn't warn you) so I went to my OBGYN to get it checked out. It was inflamed and sore and my doctor was extremely concerned and sent me to the Cancer Institute to get a mammogram and ultrasound. I googled all my symptoms and I obviously had fewer than five years to live. 

Damn it. I really like my life and my people and sunshine and lavender and those Brussel sprouts from Tolon. So I did all the things, spent all my HSA funds and two days later it was cleared up. What a fluke, they said. Everything's normal. 

Two weeks later, I went in for my annual and told my OBGYN that the breast thing was resolved, all is good. Deep down I thought she was a quack for rushing me to the Cancer place when it was obviously nothing. But, as she was doing the dreaded exam, and mentioned that I was bleeding, I told her that I've been bleeding/spotting for about two years. I figured it was due to perimenopause and my fluctuating hormones. Again, she was horrified! "Calm down," I thought. Everything's FINE.

I have gotten used to this. I don't have time for this.

"That's not normal. You put up with too much," she said, with a sad smile, so disappointed in me and typing furiously on her computer.

You put up with too much. 

She sent me back to the Cancer Institute for an ultrasound. It turns out there was a 4 cm mass on my cervix, so OK, she was right this time. Long story, short, I went under (blissfully) and the surgeon took out the thing (most of it -- there was a complication and he couldn't remove the entire thing) and thank goodness it was benign. I was lucky. 

One week later I went to my dermatologist because I had a weird growth on my lip. I KNOW. I'm falling apart. While I was there I mentioned a scabby thing on the side of my nose. The lip growth was just a thing people get when they get old (me, party of one.) She froze the hell out of it and it was healed in a few days. The scabby thing was more concerning so she did a biopsy on it and it turned out to be skin cancer. JESUS. I got the cancerous thing scraped off and feel like I can finally get on with my life. Right in the middle of this saga, I turned 50.  It's been a whirlwind of doctor's appointments and thinking I'm probably dying. In between bouts of anxiety, I've been drinking celery juice and eating apricot kernels laced with cyanide. True story. 

The point is: don't put up with it. If your body is malfunctioning, get it checked out. Don't wait. We, women, tend to put things off (men, too, I suppose), for years sometimes, and then it's too late. Get checked. Even if you've become used to your symptoms. Even if you're too busy. You're not too busy to save your life. You are loved.   

Now that I've met my insurance deductible and I'm close to my out of pocket maximum, I decided to schedule a colonoscopy. Who knows what could show up in there. 

Good Lord, I don't usually talk so much about the inside of my body.  

But my body is fine and it's mine and I'm learning to accept it. It has taken such a long time to cherish it. 

Maybe this is what it's like to want to continue...

Peace out. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Quarantine, Hot Flashes, and Stolen Wine

It's been 7 hours and 36 days since we've been quarantined.

Fiona has finally stopped asking if we have any plans for next week. Cyd has learned to drink water since we keep running out of milk. She likes it with cucumbers and raspberries.

The first couple of weeks were weird but everyone was taking everything well. We (I) baked bread and ate a lot of pasta. We got used to working from home and eLearning. I'm a homebody so I enjoyed spending so much time in our tiny cocoon but the anxiety was bubbling, as it does, quietly, fiercely.

It's all fun and games during the day (it's not really fun and games, it's working and making food for everyone every 10 damn minutes, and washing all the dishes, and cleaning up the ketchup on the couch and telling Cyd to get off YouTube and do her homework) but the nights are a true reflection of my psyche. I've been waking up in the middle of the night, covered in sweat, heart racing, thinking I must have the Corona fever.

Here's an inconvenient truth: I think I'm starting to get menopause symptoms, what with all the night sweats and the sudden feeling that my body could ignite at any moment (though it's probably only perimenopause considering how young I am). So, I'm either dying from COVID-19, or I'm just getting old and burning to a slow, silent death. Either/or.

Here's a short little tidbit to brighten your day. I haven't told anyone about it because I still feel a bit guilty about the whole thing. It was week number two of staying home. I decided to order our groceries for delivery via a store which will remain unnamed in case there are repercussions. The day of the delivery, I received a text from the nice woman filling our order asking if we needed anything else added to our order. Yes, I texted back, could we add 3 limes? She immediately texted back: "Sure, no problem! Anything else?" I was so happy about the limes and her friendly demeanor that I asked: "Any chance you can add wine to our order?" She texted back, "Yes, what kind?" WHAT KIND? WHAT? So I told her a Chardonnay, thinking that we most likely wouldn't get it since I didn't think it was allowed. Long story short, she delivered our order and about half of the items were missing. We didn't get Clorox wipes, but we did get the wine. I checked the receipt and the wine wasn't listed so I felt kind of guilty that she stole wine for us. This was a big chain store, not locally owned, so I got over it. But I gave her a really good tip even before I knew about the illegal wine transaction. This is just between us. What happens in a pandemic, stays in a pandemic.

We've been doing a family challenge every Sunday with our family in southern Indiana. The first week was a family Tik Tok. Next was a fashion show, followed by an art challenge, among others. This weekend we had to recreate a famous work of art. Here's our submission.

I think Laura nailed it!

This week, we will focus on healthful eating and staying active by going on runs/walks/bike rides on the trail.. Fiona is our fearless and strict leader with the abs and strength training workouts, which are excruciating. But as they say, you're alive if you're in pain. Something like that.

Peace out. Stay safe.

My baby tomatoes are growing!

Betty is doing well. Thanks for asking. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Oh, Gregory

My earliest memory of Gregory is watching him all decked out in his Zorro costume, complete with cape, eye mask and sword, jumping off the highest perch he could find in hopes of flying. That pretty much encapsulates his life mission: to soar, a masked hero, destined to save the world from harm, at all costs.

I thought he was brave. My parents thought he was out of his mind.

He fell down a lot. And he got lost. ALL THE.TIME. There was that one time when we were on a family vacation in Tunisia. The recurring refrain was "where's Gregory?" He would wander away, easily distracted by shiny trinkets and adventure. They didn't have those kid leashes back then, otherwise he would have been a prime candidate.

He was the personification of a free spirit from the beginning until the end. He wasn't tied down by societal norms. In his case, that resulted in a genuine self. No one was more Gregory than Gregory himself: a spoonful of quirky with an overflowing cup and a half of kindness and a teaspoon of recklessly spending all his money on renaissance armors, swords and musical instruments.

His sweet sensitivity and empathy, which shone so brilliantly within him as a child, remained with him through his adulthood. He befriended the underdogs and black sheep of this world and gave them everything he could to uplift them. He gave so much of himself. His gifts to the world were selfless, free, always.

While he didn't always play by the rules, he was always kind. And definitely always funny. You never really knew what would come out of his mouth at any given moment. His lack of filter made him an eccentric in day-to-day life and was instrumental in his creative endeavors. He poured his unfiltered heart out in poetry and music.

The fact that he never found his soul mate to settle down with is a mystery. He would have made a great husband. He not only cooked, he also did the dishes. He was charming and big hearted and his smile could brighten up the rainiest day.

As our grandmother used to say, he was a treasure.

Most of all, he was a good man. He stood up for his country, his beliefs, his faith, his family, his friends.

He was beloved.

Peace out.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Written by my Brother for our Mother

Memories of my mother
by Grégory Gochtovtt
Once in my life, there was happiness. Peace.
I can't remember. But I can't really forget.
My childhood is gone. Or hidden, scared of what I've become.
I remember bits of pieces of my days in France. My earliest memory of my mother was of her sitting on the edge of my bed in our estate in the south of France, Les Agates, and scratching my back lightly with her fingernails to put me to sleep. I would always ask her as soon as I got in bed, "Maman, tu peux m'gratter le dos?" I would lie on my stomach, and her nails against my back were like an ocean of peace washing over me. Sometimes she would massage me. As her soft palms rubbed my shoulder blades and back, I sank into the mattress. Her touch was enough to rub away all my worries, all my fears. But I liked the scratching better. It was more gentle, more light-touched, more tender and soft. I would ask her not to stop... "Non, arretes-pas!" but she would just say, that's enough, cheri, go to sleep, and she would stroke my hair and kiss me.
I found out later from my dad, when we all gathered in the church office around the priest at the conference table to plan her funeral, how they had met. She had first seen him on a plane and he had an unlit cigar in his mouth. According to my dad, she had asked him to “get rid of this nasty-smelling cigar.” They met later at a soirée (party), had started dating, and soon afterwards got married. My mom once told me, “As soon as I saw him, I knew he was the man I was going to marry.” I have been trying to find love at first sight ever since, and have failed miserably.
Even then, in the early days of her dating, she was scared of his driving. She told me once of an incident when she was on a date with him and he was driving so fast that she thought he was being chased by another car. My dad was the crazy American action figure, she was the frail Snow White who would put bird feeders outside our house on trees and throw breadcrumbs to the squirrels. It was because of her kindness to animals that I once took a bird inside our house as a teenager in Florida, put it in a box, and tried to nurse its wing back to health. (I even put a piece of cloth over its shaking body, thinking it might get cold at night.) It died the next day. When we lived in our little apartment in Paris, I remember that she had a canary. She opened the door to pet it, and it flew out. My grandmother and she chased it all around the apartment and finally watched it fly out the window into the streets of Paris.

When I read books of poetry she had written later in life in the States, I remember the passages where she felt depressed, disappointed in life, and wondering what would have happened if she had continued her career as a French singer. Yet when I once asked her if she was happy, she told me, “I couldn’t be happier. I watched four beautiful children grow, I have a husband I love, and my life is complete." Yet I knew, from all the times I saw her retire into her bedroom to “take a nap,” that somewhere inside her, she felt like a caged bird who was witnessing the cruelty of people against each other in the world, and she wanted to escape this world, and maybe she was still running around trying to recapture that freedom and watching it fly out the window.
I try to recall our summer holidays at Club Med in Tunisia, when we still lived in France, but it's blurry, like seeing my life under water. The happiness I had back then might be too much for me to bear, knowing I can never have that happiness again, that I have blocked it out of my mind altogether. It's too painful to remember something you can never regain. Like what the garden of Eden was before you got kicked out. But sometimes I have flashes. Her hands rubbing aloe on my skin, bubbling with heat blisters from the Tunisian sun in our Club Med hotel room because I was making sandcastles near the waves, as I yelled in pain "aille, aille, aille!" Or my brother's light blue djellaba embroidered in front and on the sleeves with while cotton twirlies. (I was always jealous of it because blue was my favorite color). Or snorkeling in the Tunisian ocean, while my father pointed out multicolored fish to us. I remember the joy I had carrying my brand new flippers and mask that my dad bought me, still smelling of new rubber, and the olive green speedo bathing suit I was wearing when we walked from our white stone-Tunisian hotel room to the beach.
I remember the Zorro outfit I got for Christmas in Switzerland, but I don't remember how I fell down the stairs in it, and the only thing that still reminds me how clumsy I am with life is the video of it that my sister still plays to my nieces. I remember the shiny blue ski helmet with the white stripe down the middle, and the ski outfit I wore so proudly on the Swiss snow, my brand new walky-talky in my hand, feeling like I was an astronaut. (I lost it within two hours of taking it out of the package). I don't remember the girl in the photo taken at our hotel in Switzerland with the white turtle neck under the bright orange jumpsuit and her shiny gold hair, or the first kiss I apparently ever gave a girl while we danced in the hotel lobby. But I do remember walking outside with her and giving her my gloves because her hands were cold and she had none.
Words for my love
Sweet, clear,
Sun burning in winter…
Wild perched bird
Clinging to clouds with all its fingers,
Velvet silence,
Forest filled with music,
Where two people disappear without fear,
and hand in hand.
You must live quickly
What do I know
I say yes but I think no
Listen to the silence
My mother’s records with her songs in French (written and sung by her)
It's mostly the little things I remember about my mom after we moved to America. She always wore a new djellaba in the house and her toenails were always painted. (I brought her some djellabas from Iraq, she loved them, merci cheri.) She would always eat matza and watch Touched by an Angel or Murder, She Wrote. She had a crystal ball on a brass base of three adjoining dolphins on the coffee table in the living room, and little Pierrot marionettes on her antique secretary's desk with the roll-down ridged wooden cover and the brass knob. She would always bring her favorite chihuaha, Gringo, a stuffed toy from the quarter claw grabber thingy machine at the mall, upon which the dog would proceed to either shake it back and forth between its teeth, or hump it. When she drove me back from work at the mall in her red Ford Escort, she would always have a cassette of Native American flute music, or Enya, or dolphin music. She drove too slow because she was terrified of driving on the highway. When my dad drove too fast she would reach out and hold the glove compartment as if she thought we were going to crash, and my dad would make fun of her and say "Oh you're stroking the glove box isn't that nice...good glovebox, gooood glovebox."
I remember the excitement I felt when she and my father would do the Ouija board. This seemed to be one of her little joys. She would light Indian incense. Not the cheap kind, but the real kind that smelled like an Indian temple, musky and thick. She would light candles. And as her small hand lay under my father's big strong bear claw, she would speak out the letters as they were revealed in the little round window of the heart-shaped plastic tray that moved over the shiny lacquered board. As she lay in her bed wearing one of her Moroccan djellabas, her two chihuahas laying next to her on the bed, my brother and sisters all sat around her and my father on the velvet multicolored quilt on her bed. When it was my turn to ask a question, I would always ask questions like "Will lightsabers ever exist?" (I tried to figure out how to build one once by looking at a book in the public library, but gave up when I realized I had no access to lasers, crystals, or the knowledge of basic circuitry); or "will I ever meet an alien?" (because I was hoping one would throw me a superpower suit from his ship so I could fly above New York at night.) My dad always asked when his next contract would be, or if more money would come in, or if they should move to another state where business might be better. My mom would ask if her mother, mammy, was there, and if she had a message for any of us. Mammy, my maternal grandmother, died right before we left France. Mom told me as I woke up in our apartment in Paris, as she was crying and she took me in her arms,"Mammy est morte." Mammy is dead.
Sometimes, we talked to Mammy through the Ouija board, and my mom read out aloud the words that spelled out Mammy's favorite pet name for me: mon trésor. My treasure. That's when I knew it was mammy. And I would exclaim "Mammy!" One day we talked to Napoleon's brother, who said he felt sad for the way his brother Napoleon had turned out. Other times, we talked to an ancient spirit who said he was one of the disciples of Jesus. One spirit even told me I had been a knight who had murdered an evil man with a dagger to free the people from his tyranny, and he saw me sitting on a grassy mountaintop, my thigh-high booted legs crossed Indian-style, my cape behind me spread out on the grass, my dagger in my hand, and he felt how content I was of having liberated them. I had been killed for a woman in a jousting tournament. It was around 1400, in Britain. I knew it, I yelled out, I was a knight. YES!!
I remember, when I was a teenager, all the times my mom and I went to the new Age expos in hotels like the Radisson. She told me a story about how one day she was lying on the beach, on her honeymoon and she had an out-of-body experience and she could see her own body lying on the sand, and she was floating above it. She described the scene as eerie, and she felt free and totally at peace. I think that’s what stirred her interest in the New Age. She was always reading an Edgar Cayce biography, or books about “the lost years of Jesus,” which referred to his years after his childhood and before his ministry where he traveled to India and, according to the authors, learned to “develop his psychic gifts.” At these New Age conventions, she would go straight to the tarot card readers, and I walked around, wondering what else I could waste my money on: shiny crystal pendulums, white candles which, once I lit them, would attract money, or the talismans which were engraved with Solomon's seal so they would attract the perfect soulmate, or the book that showed you the same rituals the Merlin the Druid used. I would always ask my mom to make sure she asked her psychic if I would ever meet a girlfriend. She would always come back and tell me I would have a wonderful life, full of kids, and a wife who would adore me. If nothing else, we shared that in common: our love for tarot, crystals, angels, the Ouija board. But no, so much more...
She gave me my first pipe on my sixteenth birthday, and a nice leather pouch and some pipe tobacco. I thought that was the coolest gift any mother could give her son, and I thought I had the coolest mother in the world. I had often seen her, in our apartment in downtown Paris, smoking her long curved Irish pipe, and it was like now I was part of the secret pipe club, the hip artist club that no one else could understand. It would be the beginning of my days in Irish pubs and coffee houses (back when you could still smoke indoors before the nonsmoking Nazis ruined it for everyone), when I lived on my own, smoking the most exotic pipes I could find on Ebay, pipes from Sweden with hinged lids, or Irish long curved pipes, as I sat by myself doing tarot card readings and hoped that a beautiful woman would approach me and ask for a reading (none ever did.) I always felt like no one else could understand, or love me, like my mother loved me. Sometimes I would do tarot readings for my mom, and she would tell me I had the gift, and how good I was at this. I would teach her new tarot spreads, new ways to read the cards, and I proudly showed her when I came home from college the binder full of different tarot spreads my Jewish tarot teacher had taught me (the same woman who told me I had to "reinvent myself," and almost convinced me to change my legal name to Emrys Navarre (Emrys, the gaelic name for Merlin, which means hawk, and Navarre, the name of my favorite character in the movie Ladyhawke. If it wasn't for the furious rantings of my dad over the phone as I called home, and the pleadings of my uncles and cousins through email all the way in France, begging me not to toss away a family name which dated back to the 1400's, was part of royalty, and even bore a family coat of arms, it would have almost worked. To this day, searches on my public identity still show an Emrys Navarre floating in history.
When we lived in Florida, she was always writing. She had dozens of legal yellow pads filled with her black slanted cursive handwriting, always working on a new romance novel. On the bookshelves in the living room were dozens of copies of the thirteen French romance novels she had already written under her pen name, Chris Gordon. She would sit at her little laptop that my dad had given her, transcribing all her handwritten notes, and I still have copies of the typed manuscripts she had typed, some over three hundred pages.
When she was happy, she had that fierce laugh in which she would throw her head back and laugh without reserve, without inhibitions. She was never one to laugh half-heartedly. I remember getting back from Iraq and finding my mom in the hospital (with the onset of the disease that would kill her later, frontal lobe dementia), in 2008, and being so heart-broken of finding her so weak, thin and feeble under paper-thin hospital linens (bastards), that I broke down and cried on my knees in front of my father, brother and sisters, as she stroked my head and said "Don't worry, I'll be fine, don't cry, mon cheri." I don't remember if I dreamed it or if it was true, but she got better. Later, every time I came back and visited her in the nursing home, we would sit on her bedside. By then her illness was so bad that the words that came out of her mouth were nonsense. I tried so hard to understand. I kept telling myself, maybe if I listen hard enough I'll understand a clue and I'll be able to connect with her on some level. But strained as I might, I couldn't make out any words. The only clue i had that she still loved me, after all the worry and pain I had caused her as a teenager (I remember once as a teen we had an argument. I don't remember what it was about, but I remember she was so mad that she stormed into her bedroom and slammed the door shut. The noise was like a slap in my face), was that she was stroking my hand, and sometimes she would reach out and stroke my head. Once in a while, I thought I heard "mon cheri" come out of her mouth, but I wasn't sure. It's like when you thought you saw something from the corner of your eye, but when you turn your head, it's gone.
Every time I came back from National Guard drill to visit my dad and her, my dear mom, and she would pat me on the back and stroke my hair and keep repeating "I'm so glad you're here, I'm so glad you're here." She would always make sure the bed in the guest bedroom had plenty of pillows and blankets for me. She would make it a point as soon as I came in the apartment to go in the bedroom and check everything. Every time I was over, I would always do the dishes so she wouldn't have to after my dad cooked us dinner.
She would just say, "Merci, cheri," and I would say "De rien." And then we would watch tv on the sofa as my dad would sit on the yellow velour chair she got for him for his birthday. He would snore, the remote firmly clasped in his hand, and when she tried to wrench it from his fingers, and if she could even do it before he woke, she turned the channel to our favorite shows about alien discoveries and UFO sightings. Sometimes that was enough for my dad to wake up with a thunderous halt to his snoring and say "hey why did you change the channel, I was watching that?" (Fox News. Twenty four hours a day.) And I always kissed her good night, even as a grown man.
My mom died in a hospice in 2008. The last memory I have of her is struggling to breathe through her tube into her nose, her hair wet and sticky, her face gaunt. I remember taking the rosary nailed on the wall above her bed, kneeling down and praying for God to heal her. I remember the holy water from Lourdes that she had brought me from her last trip in France with my dad, and how I poured out every last drop on my hands and made a sign of the cross on her forehead, hoping that Mary would heal her. And as I sat on the couch facing her bed in her hospice bedroom, looking at her locked behind those cold shiny hospital bedrails, I fell asleep.
Thus ye have not been able to watch one hour with me?
And there she was, my mother. Not my mother. An empty shell. A dead body, lifeless. This was not my mother. My mother was gone. I would never see her again.
Sometimes I wonder if I killed her. What if all the worry I caused her, all the times I called her from college, crying because some woman had broken my heart, and asking my mom, why...I treated her like a queen, why? What did I do wrong? What if all this worry, all this pain I caused her, was what brought about her frontal lobe dementia? I blame myself for her death, just as I blame myself for mammy's death. When there is no love for you, what else can remain in your heart but hate for yourself?
(Much fear in this one, there is.)
There's not a day in my life I don't miss you, mom. My night prayers, for so long, had ended with goodnight mom and dad, or I miss you mom, I miss you mammy, I miss you dad. I miss you so freaking much. I'm sorry i haven't said it lately mom. I have been so caught up in my financial sludge and buying stupid shit to fill the void in my heart that i forgot to say it. I miss going to New Age fairs with you mom. I miss how you scratched my back. I miss hearing you laugh uncontrollably at the stupid jokes dad said over and over again. I miss you saying merci cheri every time I finish doing the dishes for you. Tears are falling down my face as I write this mom, because I'll never stop missing you. I can barely see through my glasses as my fingers are clicking on my beat up laptop, but I miss you. I will never find the woman that dad had, and I will never find a mother to my unborn children as kind and loving as you. Every day I live without you is like dying on the cross all over again, and sometimes I just want to scream,


Friday, March 16, 2018

Dear Tim

I miss seeing you around the office and I almost miss how you mispronounced my name. Actually, I totally miss that most of all.

But I got a call from some Republican today who wanted me to work on his media buy and I almost lost it. I mean, I'm a professional, so I took his goddamn call and I took notes and I know what I have to do but I didn't want to do this without your scribbled notes on your yellow pad of paper outlining what the budget was and the flight dates and of course we have to buy local news and Jeoapardy and maybe 60 Minutes if we can afford it. I suppose the demo is adults 55+. And there was no Media Req. (Not that there ever was one with you.)

Anyways, I miss those days. When we worked on political buys and I got to know you. And you bought me lunch from restaurants that were a lot better than Arby's.

You didn't always play by the rules but you knew what it took to get the job done. You didn't give a damn about "procedures", or "what NOT to ask in an interview." I have to say, I liked you from the day I met you, despite the illegal questions about my marital status.

That day I almost quit? I didn't really mean it. After I talked to you, my heart was so full and raw, because I felt like you knew me. KNEW ME. Not completely, but more than most.

You gave me the gift of belonging.

The other day, I was out in my garden and I saw my garlic finally grow into beautiful shoots and I thought of you. We had talked about growing garlic during one of our car trips to a client meeting, and your stance was that garlic is so cheap, what's the point? It made sense to me only slightly. Because I like garlic. And there's poetry in planting what you love.

But I get it. And really, I get you.

Peace out.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Grass is Green

The following photos are stolen directly from the house listing we saw and decided, "what the hell? Let's go check out this house, despite the fact that it looks like the little house on the goddamn prairie, without the rustic charm." 

This is the dining room. We tore that wall down. We don't believe in walls.

Still, we bought the house. We especially liked the curtains. Apparently.

I'm a whiny baby when it comes to electric stoves. 

When we told the kids we were buying it, Fiona threw herself on the floor and wept. Granted, she has a tendency to be melodramatic. Still, I felt a little bit like weeping myself.

But it was a solid house and it did have potential. And six acres, partly wooded, with a creek. And it didn't cost a million dollars.

"You have to have the vision," we kept telling ourselves. Laura has all the vision. She is more evolved than any of the rest of us. All we saw was an old lady's house with frilly curtains and the washer and dryer in the goddamn dining room.

The dryer, by the way, had an intricate ventilation system constructed out of pantyhose. True story.

And here we are. Two years later. And it's all coming together in the most perfect, meant to be way. Why? Because we dreamt the impossible dream, that's why.

We also had good  intentions, sprinkled with some crazy dust.

 LOTS of dust.


Positive thinking, paired with gratitude, equals our/your reality. I realize that I sound like a damn self-help book, but it really does work. Also, you can't always get what you want. At least not all of it, all at once. But having gratitude for "almost", for what is right in front of you, is the key to contentment.

The grass is green on whichever side of the fence you water.

Everyone who was involved with the reconstruction of our little house holds a special place in my heart (except for the first round of flooring installers - long story.)

Our contractor had been working with us for nearly a year, as we designed plans and then changed our minds and then changed our minds again. He stayed with us, shared some wine with us, and helped to finalize the vision that was, in the beginning, somewhat blurry. He truly was the BEST.

He listened to NPR as he tore down our walls. He patiently conversed with the children when they came home from school. He was nice. And it was a genuine nice. The kind you can trust. I wanted to hug him on his last day at our house. But I didn't. That would have been weird.

And then, we lucked out with our cabinet builder. Perfection, party of one. You should see these cabinets. They're works of art. AND, he and his wife raise bees. They gave us a jar of their honey and it was LIQUID, DELICIOUS GOLD. I'm only screaming because that honey is what all similes mean when they say it tastes like honey.

Our painter was also brilliant. He reminded us that ceilings do not always have to be white, even in small spaces. In fact, a ceiling, painted darker than the walls, creates an illusion of height. He was right and I'm so pleased with the way we broke all the rules and made it our own. Now, I scoff whenever I see a white ceiling. I've turned into an insufferable ceiling paint snob.

Dixie likes the grass on the other side of the fence. It is, in this case, greener.

Peace out.

p.s. The remodel is not completely done but, if I've learned one thing during this process it's patience. See, I've evolved a little. Or maybe all the dust and paint fumes have altered my propensity for crankiness. Either/or.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chestnuts: a Metaphor

Needless to say, I've had some emotions since the election. I wrote all about it but it was ugly crying formed into words, which is bad, BAD writing. So, I deleted the hell out of that and have been silent, simmering in a blend of sadness and dwindling hope, and frankly, more anger than I care to claim.

That being said, I'm not spending any more words on the presidential election.

I'm not here to trivialize what's happening in our world, but it's too big for this medium. There's nothing I can write that has not already been written that will shed light on what the fuck happened with our current reality. Enough.

Instead, let's chat about chestnuts.

They're hard to find in Fort Wayne. In years past, Meijer and The Fresh Market have had them in stock. The Meijer chestnuts are like avocados. They're stale and hard when they stock them before Thanksgiving. I buy them anyways, because CHESTNUTS. I roast them. I burn my goddamn hands peeling them and they're hard as a rock. I wait a couple of weeks and try again. Usually, by December, they're ripe and delicious. They remind me of my childhood.

In Paris, you can walk down any street during the holiday season and find a stand selling freshly roasted chestnuts, brimming out of newspaper cones. Chestnuts are part of the happy quadrant in my brain.

This year, I couldn't find them anywhere. Thankfully, I had a jar of them from Williams Sonoma from last year. Not the same as freshly roasted, but still, they made it into my Thanksgiving stuffing and I was content.

The other day, I had to run into The Fresh Market to spend a million and half dollars on triple cream cheese and a nice baguette. Lo and behold, there were a couple tiny bundles of chestnuts in the produce section.

I squeezed them and I knew just then that they weren't going to be good. They were solid. Still, I bought them because I'd been looking for them and there they were.

For eleven dollars. Eleven. I could buy really good socks with that eleven bucks. Or a pretty good bottle of wine. But no. I bought the chestnuts with hope in my heart. Because, as Michelle Obama said, "what else do you have if you don't have hope?"

I roasted them in our fireplace.

Most were rocks. The others were green with rot.

God. Damn. It.

Sometimes, you want something so much, you ignore the obvious faults. You choose what you think is best for your country. I mean, you choose a tiny bundle of fresh chestnuts that you know is not right, but you're desperate for something you love so you buy it anyway. And here were are.

If you're going to sell chestnuts, and the name of your store is The "FRESH" Market, please, merchandise them with the  refrigerated produce so they don't fucking mold before they're purchased.

I've made my peace with the chestnut scenario but not the other stuff. It's a damn good start.

Peace out.

P.S. Sorry about all the f-bombs in this post. You should have seen the post I deleted, though. Good grief.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Party was a Success and Nobody Got Voted Off the Island

I love celebrating the birth and life of the people I love. Part of me wants to celebrate in the grandest, craziest, lots of people kind of way. And another part of me wants to have a quiet dinner in a fancy restaurant and talk about books, cats and quantum physics. But this isn't about me. So, even though I generally dislike parties, I invited people and planned the surprise party Laura would want. Outdoors, with family, favorite friends, the woods, sangria, and, of course, gin.

While I'm glad I pulled off this surprise, I will never, ever do this again. Ever.

I'm a goddamn liar. I'll probably do it again when she turns 60. Because in the end, it was all worth it. And not once did I feel the need to cower in a dark corner, paralyzed by social anxiety. I'd call that a success.

She really was surprised.

It wasn't fancy but it was perfect.

I didn't take pictures of everyone at the party. When I'm in a social situation, my photography impulse shuts down. All my energy is spent on surviving the over stimulation and small talk. I'm more of a basket case than I appear.

I'm glad Laura's sisters and Fiona stepped in and took great photos of some of the guests, as well as the food.

We ended the evening at our house, with a few guests, a tour of the teepee and a very competitive game of Scrabble on our living room floor. And by competitive, I mean we had to use letters.


Every year, Laura and her sisters go on a "sisters' weekend" together. This year, it happened to be scheduled around Laura's birthday.

It's supposed to be for the sisters, without their spouses, but since I'm female, I get to go. This is one of the many perks of being in a same sex marriage. I recommend it to everyone. You can wear each other's clothes, use the same public bathroom, go on sisters' weekends together. IT'S GREAT. 

We had a wonderful time on Round Island, Sylvan Lake.

 It was a bird paradise.

Stine sisterhood.

On our final night, we toasted to the birthday girl, to the sunset, the island. Lake life is the best. It's even better with champagne.

I miss the island already. But I missed home when I was there. I missed the children and the routine of life. I missed brushing Cyd's hair into a ponytail every morning, and picking up Fiona after her cross country practice after school. I almost missed our crappy kitchen. 

I'm lying again. I didn't miss our stupid kitchen.

The moral of the story: even when you're missing a person, place or thing, you still have the present, which is everything that is worth celebrating.

Peace out.