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Monday, December 31, 2012

Dear You:

Dear You,

Yesterday was your birthday, if you are reading this and yesterday was your birthday then you know who you are. I don't even know if you read this. I won't use your name because I know you don't like big, showy, public gestures. Do you remember your birthday, years ago in Albuquerque, sitting on that snowy stoop outside your mom's house--drunk as a skunk. Or my 21st birthday, you had to pick me up from Danielle's house and I forced you to buy me jewelry because I thought that's what adults gave each other for presents. Do you remember when you picked me up from the train station in Rome and we hadn't seen each other in months and you felt like a stranger but I loved you anyway. Those silly little poems I wrote for you--I meant them. Those years filled with fighting or cooking or laying in bed or walking to class or sitting on trains, I loved them too. Even though it didn't work out for us, in 6 years not a day has gone by that I don't think of you in some way. And rather than write about a new year or resolutions I thought it was better to let you know that you are a constant. Whatever strange ups and downs our friendship seems to take, I will always care for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Cookies with Meme 26 Years In the Making:

“These need to be thinner,” my Meme would scold as she hovered over us little girls while we rolled out batch after batch of sugar cookie dough. This dough, this special concoction that had been passed down from generation to generation needed to be paper thin as we gently pushed the old, metal cookie cutters into the yellowy batter. “My little grandma liked them thin” our very own little Meme would tell us. Tradition meant homemade frosting and thin cookies. Almost the best part about making cookies with Meme was not making cookies but the ritual of sneaking into her hall bathroom closet to pick out which apron we wanted to wear all day, aprons covered in flour and powdered sugar and sprinkles. After hours of baking we’d become tired and carless and our paper thin cookies would become thicker and thicker in an effort to do less work. Meme would catch on every time, “girls, look at this,” she’d exclaim. “These are too thick!” I was always amazed that my miniature grandma could stand for hours at her sink mixing frosting and kneading dough without complaining, without sitting down.

Life is altered so much from year to year, feelings are fleeting, relationships are fleeting. Sometimes it seems like almost nothing sticks. But one thing that never changes is baking cookies with Meme every December. For the past 26 years we have baked our way through doubled and quadrupled batches of dough, and that is comforting. Now when we bake cookies she has to do a little less standing and a little more sitting but that’s ok because we are a little less messy and we roll the dough a little thinner.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Turkey Meatballs With Asparagus and Parmesan:

Tonight I made this delicious dish--the recipe can be found over at Ambitious Kitchen.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

To Land Where?:

I thought this picture was funny--me within me. But then I looked at it longer and I realized it explains how I feel. Me looking at myself looking at myself looking at myself for forever, for infinity. Am I supposed to stay in the dessert? Am I meant to keep searching for happiness here or am I meant to land some place far away? I always had these dreams of living in great cities. I saw a psychic and she didn't help me, she told me I wasn't meant to live around others but rather in nature. Is that true? If I sit in the bathtub for a million years will the answer come to me?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

An Open Love Letter to My Mother:

If I were fluent in fifty languages, I would still be lacking in words to describe how wonderful my mother is. This one is for you mamma.

Dear Miss,

 The phrase I dreaded hearing most growing up was we’ll see. Can I have this? Can I do that? Can we go here? Can she come over? Can I stay up late? So many questions would run through my little brain and the answer was always the same, we’ll see. That one tiny contraction contained everything in the world-- promise, hope, fear, longing, expectation, denial, anger, patience. We’ll see meant I never knew what would happen, something good or something bad or nothing at all. I was on the edge of my seat for 18 years. Back then I thought you used we’ll see as a shield or a stick, something to keep my constant nagging at bay. Back then we’ll see was this elusive answer that hung in the air and kept me guessing. Back then I hated we’ll see.

I have never been a patient person and waiting to see if something would pan out in my favor felt like you were asking me to paint a house and watch it dry or count the sand in an hour glass grain by grain. It felt impossible. I was stubborn, and feisty, and I pushed for answers, pushed for everything. At my best I was always pining for something and at my worst I was a child mule refusing to budge and demanding a “yes” even if the answer was “no.”

But somehow over the years I grew up, and I went from 6 to 26. And somehow over the years I began to see that you weren’t using we’ll see as a shield but rather as a tool. You were a crafty little mother teaching me patience all along. Sometimes life punches you in the stomach, it knocks the wind right out of your lungs. It makes your heart hard and your head hurt. During these times when I feel like I can’t breathe I think to myself, “what would my mother do?” and the same answer comes to me every time, just like when I was little—to be patient, to wait and see.

 You’ve taught me to let the universe unfold in front of my eyes, to let things happen as they will, to allow the beauty and the anticipation of we’ll see to linger.

I love you Miss


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Should Always Indulge:

Life should be lived in moderation. A little good, a little bad. Except where wine and laughs are concerned, then one should always indulge.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

When I am a Mom:

That sentence is funny to write, when I am a mom. It's funny to use the word when and not if. It's funny because when I was 19 and taking a women's literature class I thought I didn't want children. I thought having babies meant that you didn't love yourself and you didn't love adventure. I remember that professor, Judy I think was her name, she would stand in front of all of us with her Indian jewelry and deep red hair, she would always start a sentence with a finger over her lip and the other hand clutching a strand of hair away from her face, just holding it there out to the side like some sort of nervous habit. Don't all women want a room of one's own? What do you think the author is trying to convey with that wording? Women end sentences with a question mark because they are scared to make declarative statements. I thought she was stunning, old and stunning. I think she had children though.

Somehow I went from wanting a room of my own like Virginia Woolf to a room for babies. What is that called, a nursery? That sounds so old fashioned, a nursery. Not now of course, right this minute I want a room dedicated to winter boots. But someday I'll want a room for babies.

I was hiking South Mountain this afternoon and as I was climbing down I saw this dumpy looking kid off to the side of the trail. He had a tear stained face and he was yelling to his mom for her to come back. He said, "something startled me again." I don't know what could have scared him, an empty water bottle, a butterfly? I didn't, but I wanted to punch him in the stomach hard. I wanted to give him something to be startled about. In that instant I knew exactly the kind of mom I want to be someday. I want to raise kids who are not startled, I want to raise kids who will try squid but also like their chocolate milk. When I am a mom I hope I remember that pudgy boy on the mountain and encourage my kids to keep going, even when something startles them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movie Review: The Loneliest Planet

It's not often that I write about a book or movie. I would rather wax poetic for hours with a friend in person about my favorite author or why a certain sentence sounds so pretty. When it comes to movies I'm no good at judging anything--mostly because I like it all. I like to be entertained. I like to cry, I like to laugh, I like to sit in the dark and just take it all in. As I'm sitting here I honestly cannot think of one movie that I hate. I don't love them all, but I certainly don't dislike them either. Paramount should pay me to write movie reviews, they would all contain flowery language and praise for mildly engaging dialogue or pithy scenery.

One of the only things I've ever written about a book can be seen here.

I did take myself to the movies last night to see something I had been dying to catch for a while; The Loneliest Planet starring Gael Garcia Bernal. It looked so intriguing, a couple traveling through the mountains of Georgia, backpacking really, and discovering dark things about their relationship that would have remained dormant had the stresses of travel not unearthed them. [Edit: Also I would watch Gael Garcia Bernal in a brown paper bag, swoon]. So the movie itself was not great--but as you know I didn't hate it. Less for the acting and more for the actual story, it got me thinking. Thinking about travel and about varying personalities and about why when we see new places does it bring out the worst in us sometimes. Why do we let a missed train or an underwhelming dinner or heavy luggage turn us into characters we don't recognize? Is it because each in our own way, in our own minds, we have some mental prediction of the way a situation is meant to play out, and when the universe intervenes and our plans are foiled we become resentful? Is travel just a tiny microcosm of real life? We each have an idea of the path we are supposed to be on, and when that path becomes crooked or rocky that idea vanishes, it blows away with the wind and we become angry.

I am certainly guilty of feisty behavior, stubborn behavior. What I've learned recently though, is that if you are patient and you stop trying to control a situation or enforce pre-conceived stipulations, the universe will give you exactly what you need at exactly the right time.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Desert is a Charming Place:

Desert, deserted landscape
my sanctuary, my prison,
my house within
the confines of the valley walls,
the space between the molecules
of dust and sand; dry land.
The place where a bloom
is new and rare like a love
out of reach,
reaching within, keeping you in,
inside the petal, inside the forever.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wild Geese

I keep this poem on my refrigerator door because sometimes when you are having a bad day, it is nice to be reminded that you do not have to walk on your knees and you do not have to repent--you merely need to let the soft animal of your body love what it wants to.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Prettiest Thing Is The Dinner Table After a Dinner Party

When the last glass is poured and the last napkin thrown there you are, alone, at the center of the table, whether you truly are or not it feels like the world has turned in on itself and you are there looking out from behind a bottle of amber liquid that makes your head spin. When the last candle drowns itself in a teaspoon of wax so that the black stick stands alone, smoking lightly where the fire used to be. When the dishes pile up, shinning white on white, night on light. Perfect is nice but the beauty is better where wine is smudged into the wood and clam sauce dribbles down your chin and the music lets you in. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What It Feels Like to Be a Woman:

So let's talk about what it feels like to be a woman in today's world. It's confusing. Let's talk about what it feels like to be a woman who is on the fence in life. On the fence between wanting a man to come and sweep her off her feet but also wanting to pack it all in and travel on her own. On the fence between wanting to be a caretaker and wanting to be cared for. On the fence between wanting to pursue her passions but recognizing that her bills won't pay themselves. Let's talk about that disconnect between being assertive and being submissive. Which is it? Or how confidence comes in waves--it ebbs and flows. To be a woman is a powerful thing. A man couldn't do it. To walk around with the complexity of emotions that we carry every moment of every day and still have the strength to type an email or warm up a cup of coffee--we are like tiny ants carrying shredded pieces of leaves and it looks easy but the leaves weigh a million pounds and they are heavy but we do it because we are strong.

I turned another year older and with that year came clarity, and patience, and balance. It felt before like I was maybe floating a little in the air, maybe a breeze would pick me up and put me someplace else for a while. But the universe gave me gravity and some extra pounds and now it feels like I am tethered to the world--to do what and to say what, I don't know. But at least I'm here now, I'm not going anywhere.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

9 Days to 26:

A worry-wart, that's what some people would call me. Did I say the right thing? Am I going to get sick? Did I leave my curling iron on? Where are my glasses? What happened last night? Mundane little question marks used to punctuate my life--they would creep in like army ants and leave tiny black dots all over my mind. And just like army ants I would squish them, but the next day I would look down and there would be more black dots, more question marks. But there is something about turning another year older that has caused me to hate these little question marks. It is exhausting to run around like Woody Allen wondering what will happen next--I would rather embrace what is in front of me. I would rather embrace the avocado green walls of the machine shop where I work. And my chipped nail polish. And my tiny apartment. And the things I say that don't always come out right. Because life is not perfect and I am not perfect. I am learning that it takes far more courage to be happy with what is in front of you than it does to try and "fix" everything about your life.

In 9 days I will be 26 and I feel positive. I feel like I've finally settled into a good place at work where I know what I'm doing and I can joke with Pete about his giant beard or communicate with clients while holding my own. I faked it until I made it. I love my family, and my friends, and my alone time. I love the idea of visiting new places. I love the books I'm reading and the recipes I've made. I love seeing a different sunrise every morning from my window at work. I love Phoenix. Mostly I love knowing that while I do not know where I will land, I know that I am on the right trajectory for myself.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just Words:

When I was five years old my aunt asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I responded very resolutely, a cheerleader. That was the pipe dream of a toddler. When I was seven years old, another aunt gave me my first journal. It was deep purple with gold stitching and from that moment on I thought I wanted to be a writer. Slowly over time my courage to be a writer failed me but my love of writing did not. I continued to fill journal after journal, scrap of paper after scrap of paper with words. I buried them, I kept them hidden. But recently, for no reason that I can explain, I feel the strongest desire to let people read what I have to say. I feel a desire to acknowledge that little part of me that still wants to write, I want to wave at that little part of me and say "yes, I know you." 

One of my favorite things to do is to sit at The Biltmore with a coffee and a book and watch people. I like to jot down things that I notice about people. Like the three women walking through the grass, linked arm-in-arm. It reminded me of Italy, that's the way women walk through the streets there. That's the way to complete a proper passeggiata. Or the man with his little daughter. I caught myself staring at him, kneeling in the grass, getting down on her level. There is something attractive about watching a man become vulnerable. He stayed that way, crouched down, to straighten her skirt or tickle her belly. And I thought to myself that it's the same with adults, sometimes we need to get down on each other's level. Sometimes we need to look at things from a different perspective, maybe a little closer to the ground.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Travel Dreams:

I will continue to live in a tiny shoe box for forever if it means I can afford to visit these places:

                                                         Montmarte, Paris
                                                        Fall leaves in Vermont
                         Sleeping in an igloo to watch the Northern Lights in Finland
                                                 Lavender fields in Provence, France

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Walt Whitman and Car Accidents:

Yesterday on my drive home from work I witnessed a car accident. I was stopped at a red light and in slow motion a shiny, teal truck spun around over and over into the intersection. He hit another brown truck and they both came to a tumbling stop, crooked and mangled with bits of broken glass strewn about. It happened so slowly and so near to me that I could feel my hands reach for my mouth as I gasped and screamed from within my own car. Then the light turned green and as I inched through the intersection it seemed as though nothing had ever happened at all. Some country song was whining in the background and a man from the gas station was running across the street in slow motion. I stole one last glimpse as I drove on through the neighborhood. Everybody drove on. Humans are so resilient. You witness something that punctuates your otherwise monotonous day with a moment of terror, a blinding worry for everybody around you--and like a flash of lightning it is gone and you are driving down a sleepy street again.

I recently discovered that I really love Walt Whitman. He writes poetry about nature and the human experience and I like it.

Look down fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods on faces ghastly, swollen, purple,
On the dead on their backs with arms toss'd wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred moon.

I really want to get out of town, I really want to see something new--new nature, new grass, new rocks, new people.
I have these little adventures to keep me excited:

Fly fishing with dad in October
Freezing in Michigan in November
Sunning it up in Puerto Rico in November

Eating a baguette in Paris in December (this trip still haunts me, am I brave enough to spend Christmas alone in Paris?).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Open Love Letter to My Dad:

Dear Dad,

Sophomore year of college I took an aerospace engineering course as a science elective. I could have taken something easy like earth science or the coveted "dinosaur" class that everybody was always vying to get into--but instead I rode my bike across campus at night to sit in a giant lecture hall with lots of boys and listen to Russian teaching assistants stumble over words like "propulsion" and "aerodynamics." Math was already such a struggle for me and watching these men quickly and sporadically jot down something about lift and velocity made me feel like my life was in a tail spin. The kind of tail spin you learn about in an aeronautical engineering course. I took the class not because I loved complicated equations with missing variables but because I loved you and I knew that at 19 I was much farther away from you than I was at 9. I knew that I hadn't been fishing with you in a long time and I probably hadn't been very nice to you in a long time either. I took the class because you are a pilot and you love flight and you love airplanes and even if I don't love these things, I do love you.

Now I am almost 26 and working at an aerospace manufacturing company. It's funny how life comes full circle sometimes.

We have fought many times over but I know why. It is because mom often looks at you and then looks at me and repeats, "apple and tree, apple and tree." It is because we are so similar, I'm the little apple that didn't land very far from your branch.

I didn't learn very much from that engineering course but I have learned a lot from you. In no particular order, the best nuggets of wisdom you've passed on to me:

1. That smoked oysters with a little bit of hot sauce on top of a cracker is the best snack ever.

2. How to gut a fish.

3. How to do long multiplication.

4. What a funny move Airplane is.

5. How to use a metal pipe as leverage in case I ever need to change a flat tire because I am not tall enough to do it on my own.

6. What to look for in a good husband.

7. How to 'slouch' my socks. (Remember when this was popular in the 90's?)

8. That eating cookies for breakfast is ok (because mom left for work early and it was me and you fending for ourselves in the morning).

9. How to do a solid Rocky and Bullwinkle impression.

10. That a good dad will say "I love you" before hanging up the phone. Even if he is at work and everybody can hear him and he is surrounded by other men.

I love you too, Dad.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Antelope Canyon:

Sometimes everything feels like it is stuck in cement. Sometimes it feels like my words are lodged deep in the back of my throat under a heavy, heavy tongue-- like an anvil or a baby grand piano sitting comfortably on top of everything I’d like to say. And rather than come forward they start to tumble even further back until they are sitting in the pit of my stomach and I’m not sure if I’m meant to throw them up or forget that they even exist. And sometimes it is other people’s words that swim around my head, like I am under water and everything they say to me is muffled and very far away. I sit on the phone at work and all I can hear is the teacher from the Peanuts comic strip on the other end of the line, a loud wah wah wah sound that doesn’t even make sense.
Sometimes I feel like I am stuck in cement. I need to get out of town. I have never been the type of person to feel homesick when I am away. Rather, I feel homesick for places I have never been to.

I want to be in a place where the sunset in the sky mirrors the sunset in the rocks. I want to feel like I walked into a fun house of pinks and reds and oranges swirling around, making funny shapes out of sandstone. I want my hair to feel as dusty as my hands after climbing through the earth like a child on a jungle gym.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

I'm No Good at Naming Anything but Animals and Essays:

This is a poem I wrote several years ago in September. I thought maybe I should let it out, let it have some air before this September passes us by again.

On these summer nights
perrywinkle, pink
construction paper cut outs of clouds clutter the sky and
ohhh it feels right
like the right song
at the right time
cascading up with the heat towards a shadow box
of dark on light, lavender at first sight
or glance, a confusion of colors, a trance
where it's hot, sticky sweet in the sand
cicadas or a mesquite.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Open Love Letter to My Little Sister:

A few weeks ago I thought it would be nice to post my old journal entries from my time abroad in a series called "Destination." I failed miserably, I only posted a few entries and gave up. The nostalgia got to me. I decided that a better use of my time would be to compose open love letters to the people that matter most to me in the world. It is not often that we tell each other how much we truly care, how much we rely or depend on each other. I used to think that every man is an island but now I think that maybe we are more like a cluster of islands who long to reside near each other, who long to grow into bigger, interconnected islands.
Dear Silly,
Do you remember when we were little and you learned how to ride a bike before me or blow a bubble with your gum long before I could figure it out? One hot summer we were driving through the mountains up north with mom and dad, I’m sure sitting in the back seat alternating between torturing one another and laughing hysterically at dad doing one of his Rocky and Bullwinkle impersonations. I was feeling so frustrated that over and over again you’d chomp down on the pink bubble gum and puff your little cheeks together to make the perfect bubble and for some reason—I just couldn’t do it. But instead of teasing me you pursed your lips together and created a monster of a bubble and then whispered in my ear while you handed it to me. You said “Here, hold it up, show mom and dad and pretend that you made it.” You were my little sister and you were protecting me, lifting me up, making me a better person. And that’s how it’s always been. You’ve always been the quick learner, the first one to jump in, the trail blazer—while I chew on a problem and take my time to figure it out—you always seem to know instantly what to do. It’s almost as if you held out your arms and carved a path for us in this world, you pushed your way through the ups and downs, the hard stuff first and created a shadow that I could always follow. You are my little sister but to me you will always be bigger in heart, bigger in courage, bigger in your determination to take a hard knock and jump back up again.

I love you.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Summer of Something New:

Over the years, summertime, much like everything in life, has taken on themes. Years of blazing heat grouped together by my innocence, or lack of innocence, or by desires or even by years of productivity. I remember as a child summertime meant spending the days with my grandparents, it meant blackened feet immune to the dark asphalt we would trampse across, 75 cents to the local Washington swimming pool for afternoons that would turn into evenings in the water. In college it meant falling in love, traveling to Europe and learning how to navigate the trains or road tripping to California with friends. As I've grown into a grounded woman summertime grew into a time to experience the little things for the first time. To try my hand at new activities, to discover new passions.

Eating rattle snake

Shooting ranges

Bikram yoga

Preparing for a 1/2 marathon

Playing tennis

Fly fishing

They are such small pleasures.

This summer has felt like a tiny scrapbook, a hodge podge of 'first times' woven together by the verb "to try." And now, it is almost over. I read the season in the sky, now when I leave for work in the morning it is less firey orange and more cotton candy pink. Fall and winter will arrive, sedentary, heavy and warm. It was best to end the summer as it began, with trying something new, with fly fishing in the mountains with my dad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ahhh Parigi:

Parigi, the city of lights. For years I have been playing this game where I keep a momento of a city I am longing to visit. I keep the momento close-by to remind myself every day that one day I will visit such city. In college it was a giant poster of Tuscany that I hung above my bed--I eventually lived in Italy twice. After college it was a few black and white framed stills of New York City--after college I made my way to the Big Apple. Now, it is a coffee mug with antique looking Parisian buildings on my desk at work. I am so restless. I am longing to smoke a cigarette and wear all black and sip red wine at a cafe outdoors. I am hoping to book a flight for Christmas Day, the only present I want for Christmas is the present I can give to myself.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bukowski in Bed:

Everyday at work I feel a little bit out of place. Everyday I feel a little bit like I'm just biding my time but also like I really don't belong. I watch the men at work and they walk way around me, they think I am a tiny creature that will break if they come too close to me. They think I am fragile. The other night, getting drinks with friends one of them kept repeating "C'mon Driver, don't be so shy." I'm not shy. Shy and reserved are different. I only tell things to people who I want to tell things to. Maybe I didn't want to tell him anything. I was reading a lot of Bukowski in bed this week. I could lay in bed and read for forty years. The bed is an island. There is an old man at work named Gary. He works in shipping. He has a face that looks like it was molded out of red clay. It looks like you could push your fingers deep into the sides of his nose and reposition it like a Picasso painting. Upside down, a little thinner, a little to the left, to the right, angled toward his ear. He walks with a limp after having had a stroke and he makes spicy salsa. I like it. He has a girlfriend of twenty-six years who is battling cancer. He told me, "she will beat it." Every morning I ask him "how are you?" and he replies "I'm here, I don't know why." Today I said "maybe it's because you're not a millionaire yet" and he just said "humph." I walked away. Today is Sunday but tomorrow is Labor Day so I don't have to go back to work until Tuesday. So that's good.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Voting IS Important to Me:

Today at work, after I got back from voting, two of the men I work with began to complain that our voices don't matter. That all politicans are slimy. That we are wasting our time. I listened for a while but eventually I turned my chair around and began to tune them out. Their voices grew louder and soon it wasn't just complaints coming from their mouths but a full-on war against democracy. I quietly typed out emails as I caught bits and pieces of their arguement. The words I've never voted were followed immediately by rants about policy, law, political figures, and the economy.

I do not know every bill up for debate in the senate, or every character running for office, or understand all of the complexities of a struggling economy. But I do know that I am a smart human being who can think critically. I can look up information that I find pertinent. I can research individuals to get a clearer picture of their ideology. I understand that we all have a voice and the only thing stopping us from using it is ourselves.

Frustrations, exasperations, they exist. But the beautiful thing about living in America is that our worries and our concerns transform themselves into black lines on a ballot. Suddenly our abstract stresses are tangible pieces of paper that speak loudly for us.

Voting is important not because it makes you more superior, or smart, or particularly interesting. Voting is important because you make it mean something more. There is something lovely about human beings thinking for themselves. We should remember that we are not robots, not yet anyway.

So, I took my "I VOTED TODAY" sticker off my shirt and stuck it to my computer monitor so my coworkers can see how big my little voice is.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Love You and Be Safe

Last night I said goodbye to my best friend. She is moving to Michigan where her fiancee is starting his residency at a hospital. I held it together very well, a part of me was worried I would burst into little tears around Gayle and her mother and her future in-laws. But I didn't. I said, I love you and be safe. I got into the car and drove away and I still didn't cry. I just felt very numb. It is not the friendship I am sad for. I know that we will continue to be close. I hope that one day when she and Raji have beautiful little cappuccino colored babies they will call me Auntie Jess. No, it's not the friendship that is gone, it is our childhood, our youth. We will never be 16 again, sitting in parking lots eating ice cream and complaining about life. We will never be 21 again and walking into weird bars in Tucson for the first time.

Saying goodbye made me realize very suddenly and abruptly that we are all moving apart from one another, apart and onto new paths, new journeys. This must be how parents feel when their children begin to grow beyond them. Such an odd mixture of happiness and joy and excitement for their new adventures coupled with a tiny nugget of sadness that is dull and lodges itself deep inside all that you thought was true about life.

But I am happy for her, no two people in love deserve this kind of happiness more than Gayle and Raji. They are like two old bookends that wound up next to one another in an attic somewhere, now that they are together, I cannot imagine them apart.

Life goes on, people move around, we are all only human.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

As a wee teenager I took a trip to San Francisco with my parents. I thought it would be funny to post that old journal here and compare it to my most recent stint in the city by the bay. I was so much funnier back then-- I guess because I was reading a lot of Woody Allen.

For a long time I thought I was a silly girl. Maybe a bit of an individual just breezing through. For a long time I even thought I was an original. Then I took a little family vacation. 

San Francisco was lovely. I saw a dirty homeless man sitting on the corner of Haight and Ashbury offering his services. His services were none I liked to partake in. He wanted to massage feet for money, only women's feet. I kept walking.

Everywhere I looked there were scores of interesting people to gawk at. There were people drinking, smoking pot, being silly. I know handfuls of people back home who participate in all of the above. But they do it bad. They dont do it interestingly like these people do. They do it because they can. These San Frans do it because they are unique. Unique pot smokers. 

This is when I realized everything people do here is different. I am only different in the "I want to be different" kind of way. 

My favorite part of California was riding the city busses everyday. Not shopping, not spending, not eating, not relaxing, but riding. 

I liked that I almost fell down everytime the bus started. I liked that the crazy man across from me told everybody that "if this bus could just go a little faster, it could open up the doors and it would probably fly." You are probably right crazy man. Probably right. I liked being the square in a town full of crazies.

Ohhhh to be 16 again. 

Well this time I loved San Francisco just as much. This time I appreciated the very neighborhood-y feel of the city. It is so divided, a little 7 mile track of pocketed cultures. The entire city feels very lived in, like a great pair of jeans that have bounced around from place to place. Even as an outsider walking the concrete I immediately began to feel my feet sink in and I could imagine a giant sigh escaping my lips, an "ahhhh this feels good." I didn't take many pictures at all, in fact I'm surprised I even walked away with this many. I'm not very good at remembering to snap some memories, I typically find myself more lost in the place, forgetting to document anything. 

Next vacation destination, Chi town in November!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Destination: II

May 25, 2007

Today after showering we met Mike at the Piazza della Repubblica and went for breakfast at the Bar Duomo. I had a brioche and cappuccino, it was heaven. The pastry was filled with apples and the coffee was so smooth, no bitterness at all. We shopped for a while and then we went to school to get online and update our email accounts. We then shopped for hours and took pictures. At about 3:30 we went back home to nap until 5:00 when the supermarket opened again. We ran into Juliet and Professor Alfie and he warned us of the crabby store owner--he was crabby. We bought ingredients to make spaghetti carbonara and a caprese salad: spaghetti, eggs, pancetta, olive oil, parmesan, tomatoes, mozzarella, salt and fruit for tomorrow morning. We lit candles and drank wine and talked for hours and then went out again to walk the streets at night and to get more gelato...we tried a new gelateria this time, delicious as always! Of course we walked to the Duomo and ate our gelato on the steps while me and Gabby gawked at all of the hot Italian men walking by...and then as we got up to leave we found even more attractive men on all of the streets. It was like the men were on a silver platter for us, we were drooling. Domani, off to Firenze and wherever else the train takes me!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Destination: I

I have decided to post my journal from my first summer abroad in Italy, titling these entries Destination. Looking at pictures makes me sad but reading my own words and remembering how naive and innocent I was makes me happy. I'm heading to San Francisco in a week and perhaps reliving these travel memories will encourage me to write about the city by the Bay.

May 23, On the train from Roma Termini to Orvieto:

We ran around like crazy people searching for the proper ticket and time and binario...waiting on the platform we struggled and shoved against hundreds of people all vying for a spot or seat on the train. As I hoisted my luggage up the steps onto the train Danielle picked up my slack...inside the train Gabby's bag was too large to fit in the luggage compartments so I struggled to pull it in towards my seat and as I did, my foot got stuck. Flailing for several minutes it finally came un-done. On the train into Orvieto we sat next to a man named Angelo--he spoke NO english and so we attempted to speak with him for over an hour in Italian, lots of broken phrases were thrown back and forth. He sat next to Danielle and rubbed her back and told her she looked like Demi Moore the 'attrice'...ha! He told us he was an avvocato and we told him in English that word is 'lawyer,' he couldn't pronounce it. When we got off the train he waved Ciao to us as we ran past his window screaming his name, blowing us kisses and yelling ciao he waved back at us. I blew him a kiss right back. Alba's husband Claudio picks us up from the train station and drives us to our house or appartamento. As we drive up the plateau into Orvieto I am awe struck...greenery, villas, small shops and even smaller cars swim past us. The city is magic I know it, there is no other way to describe how such a thing could be so beautiful, so bella! Driving in a huge van through streets no wider than a closet, Claudio stops to see if we will fit down the side street, we scrape against some jasmine bushes on the way to our apartment and he says "Well at least they smell good!" And they do! They smell like summer and perfection, sweet and dainty like how you expect a small, hilltop town in Umbria to smell! As we awkwardly haul our massive luggage through ancient, cobblestone streets towards our front door it starts to sink in---I AM IN ITALY FOR 6 WEEKS!!! The apartment is astoundingly beautiful and more than we could ever have hoped for! Two bedrooms, all wood floors, our own walk in closet and master bath, a wine cellar, a brand new kitchen, living room and gorgeous dining room. There are these amazing doorways and ceilings that still have the old stone from when the home was first built, an odd mixture of past meets present. Alba came to get us and we walked to the Piazza della Repubblica which is near the center of town. The Piazza is lined with small clothing shops and bars and restaurants. We then walked to our school which is located directly next to the Duomo. How can I even begin to describe the Duomo, its massive walls are covered in mosaic tiles and the steps completely surround the church walls. Across the street tourists sit and gaze at the building for forever it seems, not really moving, hardly speaking, just sitting in front of the shops staring, mesmerized by how large and impressive the whole church is. There is a Star of David on the ground in front and a statue of the Madonna on the left. It is so large and awe inspiring it almost looks fake. After wandering around the city we get our first taste of gelato--chocolate of course! Then we walk back home and nap and shower and put on our new dresses before dinner, before we meet Mike back at the Piazza della Repubblica. We have pizza and a bottle of white wine at Pizzeria Charlie's and then walk the streets again. We take Mike to see school and the Duomo and then back to eat more gelato at Pasqualetti's. We got to see Mike's apartment and it's safe to say we wound up with the best one! I'm up this morning writing because I can't sleep now, it's very humid in our room. Outside our open windows with the wood shutters I can smell wood burning in a fire place and hear pigeons and birds landing on our balconies. The clock tower chimes...the walls between our apartment and the owner's next door are paper thin, we can hear them laughing and yelling in Italian, we can hear their t.v. at night and I love it! This morning we are going for espresso and a brioche at a local bar and then to shop and take pictures, oh Italy how I love it! I knew before I even got here that I loved it, I just knew it was for me! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Tyger:

William Blake was born in 1757 in London, England. He was a Romantic poet who wrote about innocence and experience in the 18th century. In 1794 Songs of Experience was published which contains my favorite poem, The Tyger. I've included the poem below because sometimes when I feel frazzled it makes me feel better.

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,

And watered heaven with their tears,

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Penne with Fried Sage and Butternut Squash

Attempted a new pasta recipe, I think it came out well enough. My tiny apartment smelled pretty good so I think that's a good sign.

Penne with Fried Sage and Butternut Squash


  • 1 box of penne pasta (please use Barilla, my Italian professors would shoot me had I done otherwise). 
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 butternut squash diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves
  • parmesan
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil
  • Blanch the squash for several minutes in boiling water to soften it, remove and set aside.
  • Fry sage leaves in olive oil for one minute, transfer to a paper towel when done.
  • Combine olive oil, garlic, and onions and heat for a few minutes until the onions become opaque. Add squash and 3/4 of a cup of water. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, boil the pasta al dente (to the teeth people!)
  • Combine the pasta with the squash mixture in a large bowl, mix well and begin to shower the dish with parmesan. When you think you've added enough cheese, add more. Then, add a bit more. Finally, sprinkle with the fried sage and serve it up.
Oh most importantly, eat this dish with copious amounts of wine! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Nostalgia

Recently I was talking with a friend about the idea of nostalgia, the idea of taking a peek into the past and why this little glimpse makes us feel so sad or so strange. As a child growing up I took comfort in "old things", I couldn't bear to throw the tiniest scrap of paper away. An old movie ticket, a birthday card, a feather I'd found in one of my many nature hunts outside. I hoarded memories and objects like a tiny pack rat, afraid that by tossing out that plastic toy I'd won in a vending machine that I was somehow hurting its feelings, neglecting its very existence. My closet and my backpacks were overrun with stuff, stuff that at the time felt very important and all consuming. As an 9 year-old that soft, checkered blanket with the bunny ears attached felt antique, an object from my past. But what is the past to a 9 year-old?

I used to revel in nostalgia, I would pick and prod and cradle old necklaces, retro Barbie doll clothes my aunt passed down to me, some old rocks I'd collected at the science museum. Even as a little girl I felt that all of these treasures somehow managed to tell my story, they were mapping my life as inanimate objects.

I grew older and I learned to love pictures the way I loved old playdough creatures dried out from the sun. Pictures from my childhood, my parent's childhood, my grandparent's childhood. I would creep into my mom's bedroom and open the wooden hope chest that was overflowing with photographs at the end of her bed, then thumb through each album one by one. It was comforting to imagine my parents as kids like me, then as teenagers who met and got married, then as young parents. It felt good to stare at my family, my history.

At my grandma's house I'd repeat the same process, beg her to drag the giant box of black and white photographs down from the laundry room shelf. Ask over and over again, "is this really you grandma?" "is this really dad as a kid?" A still of my dad in black framed glasses from the 60's or my Italian grandmother herself with big, dark hair that couldn't be tamed in the Florida heat of the 1950's.

There is something very glamours about black and white photos, life's imperfections seem to vanish under the grey tones. Women look beautiful and men look handsome and life seems more perfect.

Nowadays I feel less inclined to look to the past for comfort, I purged my bedroom long ago from my sticker collection and the shoebox of notes I'd passed back and forth in class with my friends. Now I find myself drawn to simple, clean lines. I want my life to feel more like an Ikea showroom and less like a warm space filled with weird odds and ends.

It is so easy to hop onto the computer and stalk other people's memories but now I try to avoid my own. I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting older but I find it painful to look at pictures of my time abroad in Italy, it makes my heart ache for a time that I can't have back. And maybe that is what is most beautiful and sad about our memories, we each long for a moment that has slipped through our grasp all too soon, and it was perfect.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Honesty Is the Best Policy:

It occurred to me recently that in order to get what you want, you have to ask for it. Getting what you want doesn't happen by sitting on your couch and waiting for "it" to blow through your back door and land on your lap like a tiny leaf separated from a bigger branch. Getting what you want means being honest with yourself, it means admitting that you are not going to settle for less.

I used to think that if I was a good person who worked hard and abided by the social contract, that good things would happen. Good things would rain from the sky like, well, like rain. And every so often some of those beads of rain would land on my shirt and I would catch them and think to myself "wow a really good thing just happened to me because I'm a good person." But that's not the case, in this world where everything moves so fast those rain drops can't catch up with you, they'll flutter to the ground next to you unless you stand up and force yourself into the storm.

There is something about getting older that makes you want to stand up for yourself. Lately I've had this overwhelming desire to do good things for myself, to make good things happen to me. I will never get a six pack by wishing really nice thoughts about the person next to me at the gym. I'll never fly to Paris if I keep lusting after imaginary flights. Sometimes, you have to make things happen.

From now on I'm going to make a real conscious effort to be more honest with myself about I want out of life, relationships, family....

Let's be honest it would be a whole heck of a lot easier if I could organize my life while lounging in bed reading Fifty Shades of Grey but that's just not going to happen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day today, I'm not going to get emotional, I'm going to get factual.

Tonight I bought my sister a birthday gift, ate dinner, scarfed down a few more girl scout cookies, watched Glee, drank a few glasses of wine, finished my Business Law paper.

Later I'll probably stalk my profile and see what's good out there in the dating world.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I want to be a flight attendant:

It's funny the things you'll admit on the internet. Things I won't even admit to my friends or family I'll openly discuss on here. I don't even know who reads this. Hello out there. Do random people stumble across this online just as I stumble upon theirs? I like reading blogs of women who live in big cities and post pictures of themselves in great clothing. Those are my favorite. I guess the only reason you divulge personal information on such an impersonal stage is because you hope somebody you know will read it and quietly file the information away and continue to know you, all the while knowing this one extra bit of information. You hope that this person somehow has some new insight into your personal life, some new understanding of why you are the way you are and that they will silently acknowledge this information and appreciate you all the more. But maybe that's just me.

I opened up a bottle of wine tonight. I wanted to drink the whole thing but I stopped at one glass.

They say you should write your feelings down to stave off depression. Well I've been doing this my whole life. My first journal was a story about a mouse. I wanted to be a writer. I have journals and journals full of thoughts and yet I feel the same.

I worry that every time I transpose the letters "a" and "i" in the word "said" that I am dyslexic.

I worry that my grandparents will die and it will send me over the edge and I will fall into a deeper sadness--and I won't be able to come back out. I feel like I'm teetering on the edge sometimes.

I want to be a flight attendant.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Dangerous Method

Is it sad or liberating to go to the movies by yourself? I used to think liberating. I used to think it was nice to sit in a dark theater surrounded by strangers. You can enjoy the movie or you can hate it, and it doesn't matter. You don't need to please anybody else. I thought I would feel the same way, liberated tonight. I thought I would take myself on a date because there is nobody else to do it.

But tonight I felt sad. I felt lonely and I was somehow instantly self-conscious of how pathetic I must have looked. One ticket. One drink. One seat. I usually try to brush away feeling lonely but tonight I was reminded of how desperately I wish I had somebody to go to the movies with.

It was a movie about a crazy woman and it made me feel a little crazy watching it.

Something about watching psycho-analysis on screen made me start to question myself. I realize I'm afraid of letting anybody get too close to me. I'm afraid of letting anybody in. I used to be like this, when I was younger. When I was younger I thought of boys as this blank space in my life, they didn't want anything to do with me and I slowly learned that relationships were off limits. I was scared to feel anything for anybody because I knew they would not return those feelings. I kept to myself and I pretended that I never even gave a thought to the opposite sex. Until I turned 18, after that me and boys, we started to mingle. I liked them and some of them liked me. But all of them didn't like me enough to stay very long; every person I've ever felt anything for dumped me. Every once and a while I put myself out there but the thing about rejection is that it hurts, every time.

So now I just go to the movies by myself, I feel like that same 16-year-old ugly duckling again, I feel too scared to even think about the possibility of dating. I don't even remember what it's like to be in a relationship, relationships are off limits again. It's such a pickle.