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For my grandma on her 100th birthday

Yeah, you read that right – 100th!

Holy crap, Grandma, that’s amazing. As are you.

It’s remarkable for anyone to hit 100. But my grandma is remarkable in many ways. For a long time I’m not sure I recognized it – she was just my grandma. I knew she wasn’t a stereotypical grandmother – there was no knitting going on, or wearing frilly aprons in her kitchen. The only apron I ever remember seeing her wear said, “BITCH BITCH BITCH” on it. That’s my grandma.

If you live around here, it’s highly likely you’ve crossed paths with her at some point. She’s been working for Fort Wayne Community Schools as a teacher and administrator and consultant for more than 50 years. She’s been a columnist for The News-Sentinel for decades. She’s been very active in the Jewish community, the arts community, the community community. She was the first woman to do a lot of things. She’s received many impressive accolades along the way.

Of course, she has made some poor decisions over the years. She did go to Ohio State.

But she’s also just my grandma. 🙂

Just my grandma?

Hey, Grandma! Happy birthday!favorite

This seems like a good opportunity to reminisce. Maybe say thank you for some things. Maybe apologize for some things. Like the time when I was, I don’t know, maybe 8-ish, and I was lying on the floor in the den on Old Mill and you were tickling the crap out of me. A lot. I was kind of thrashing around laughing. And I elbowed you in the mouth. Hard. It was absolutely, totally, 100% your fault, and yet I still feel bad. Sorry about that.

Thank you for taking me to my first Broadway show. (Pirates of Penzance – I know you know, that’s for everyone else.) We share a love of theater, and you have continued to help me feed my habit. You paid for my ticket to see Miss Saigon years ago when I lived in Michigan and it was coming to Detroit. And on my last trip to NYC you sent me with some extra money so I could pick up tickets to see a second show. (Kinky Boots, it was incredible, thank you!)

Of course, we also went to the Stratford Festival together for my Bat Mitzvah present, and saw some Shakespeare and some Gilbert & Sullivan, but it’s not the theater that I remember most about that trip. Nope, it’s the paddle boat you rented for Lisa and me to tool around Lake Victoria in. It was an hourly rental, and Lisa and I wanted to make sure you got your money’s worth. We didn’t want to upset you by coming back too soon and wasting it. In the meantime, we had disappeared, and you thought we’d drowned. Oops. Sorry about that, too.

We’ve definitely done some good traveling together. You took me to your favorite city, florenceFlorence. Don’t worry, it’s your birthday, I’m not going to tell that story again. But I could mention how you almost sold me to an African man. Or when we saw wee little Sylvester Stallone eating in the same restaurant we were at. Or hahahahahhahah, I forgot about this till right now, how about the lunch where you thought you were ordering something sensible like a salad and it ended up being a gigantic ice cream sundae. HAHAHAHAHAHAH. I’m sitting on my couch laughing by myself right now…I just woke the dog. We both love art, too, and there was a lot of it on that trip. The David, which blew me away with how enormous it is. The Sistine Chapel. The Medici Chapel.

I’m sure this was true when I was younger also, but I’ve become very aware over the last few years of how you’re one of my biggest cheerleaders. You go out of your way to let me know after you’ve talked to someone who has said something nice about me. You post comments to let me know you’ve read each and every blog post, here and on Beth & Wendy, even when my posts are silly. Or you call to discuss if it’s something topical. You save clippings when I’m in the newspaper, and then years later you give them to me. I have one on my desk right now that you gave me a few weeks ago, from about 8 years back. I can’t remember why this little profile was in the paper, but in it I talk about how my parents and my grandmother have been strong role models for me, particularly in the area of community service. Yes, yes you have.

Aww, and as I’m sitting at my desk writing this (up against my deadline, because I’m a procrastinator and your birthday is tomorrow), one of my favorite people just commented on Facebook (in response to Kevin’s great article about you in the News-Sentinel) that I “get my passion for life, the arts, and writing honestly!” I sure do. 🙂 (Do you do this too? Are you deadline motivated?)

I love that you have been a mom to my mother, even after Mom and Dad got divorced. Not every family can navigate that. Thank you for making it so. ♥

Speaking of divorce, after my own, my Christmas traditions changed. I love my new Christmas, going to the movies and dinner with you and Dad on Christmas Eve, and then another movie (this one adding in Kron) on Christmas Day before dinner at Rachel’s. Considering it’s not even our holiday, it’s one of my favorites. 🙂

Any 45-year-old would be fortunate to have a living grandparent still; my other three were all gone by the time I was 19. But I’m extra-lucky to have YOU as my grandmother. When my family was in France visiting Lisa during her semester abroad, I remember seeing kids playing soccer in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and thinking how crazy it was that they could go about their normal lives like that, and not just stand in awe thinking, “Holy cow, that’s the Eiffel Tower.” But now I find myself thinking maybe that’s what I’ve done, taking you for granted as “just my grandma.” Doesn’t everyone have a barrier-breaking, ceiling-shattering, tough-talking, community-shaping, change-making grandmother?

You set the bar so high for the rest of us, in so many ways – including longevity! 🙂 As I strive to live up to the example you’ve set, I’m happy you’re still here to encourage me, and talk things over, and tell me stories.

My favorite experience with you though, my very favorite, is when you get started laughing. You know what I’m talking about. I remember you and Dad and I had lunch after Eula Black’s funeral. I have absolutely no idea what we were talking about – I think it had something to do with pencils, which doesn’t really sound that funny. But it must’ve been, because I remember the three of us cackle-laughing in the middle of…Cosmo’s? Somewhere. Laughing till I can’t breathe, with my grandma. It doesn’t get better than that.

I am sure that as soon as I stop writing, I will remember something else I wanted to say. That’s ok, I’ll just call you. 🙂

Happy birthday, Grandma. You’re wonderful, and I love you, and I’m so glad you’re my grandma.

convertible-selfie-with-grandma

 

Catharsis

I woke up this morning feeling sick and exhausted and more hopeless than I’ve ever felt in my life. I was surprised by the waking up part, since I felt like I’d never slept. And when I did sleep, I was dreaming about Electoral College tallies. My head hurt, my heart was heavy, and the only reason I got out of bed was because I had a haircut appointment. I spent the better part of the day wandering around like a zombie.

I am a mild political junkie and I love Election Day and participating in the process. If you are Facebook friends with me, you might have noticed my ebullient posting yesterday, until things got grim in the evening. I was giddy when I went to vote, and felt optimistic all day that Hillary was going to win. I called my grandma to talk about whether she ever thought she’d get to see a woman president.  I was hearing from friends throughout the day, checking in to share excitement or see how I was holding up with the waiting, and I was feeling the happy glow of camaraderie. And then in the evening, I started hearing from friends filled with anxiety and confusion. What was happening? How was this happening? What are we going to do?

I have been emotionally invested in elections before. I was depressed when Gore lost to Bush, which seems ridiculous now. I was moved to tears when President Obama won both times. But nothing before has affected me like this election. I’ve never cried off and on all day because my candidate lost. And misery loves company, but it’s grueling to scan my Facebook feed and see how many of us are heartbroken and truly scared about our future.

My despair is very distinctly twofold.

I am ill that Trump was elected. I can barely bring myself to type his name. I hold the office of president in high regard. I respect the office even when I don’t like the individual. But I can’t bring myself to put his name next to that title. (I think I’m solidly in denial at the moment.)

I could rattle off a litany of people I’m scared for, but it’s easier to say just assume that if you’re not a straight white Christian man, I share your anxiety, and I will fight for you. I will fight for you.

But separate from my terror over the bigotry, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and on and on, is my heartbreak that Hillary lost.

When my sister and I were little, we had a book called “Girls Can Be Anything” by Norma Klein. It was about how girls can be, well, anything: doctors, pilots, judges, EVEN President of United States.

Except that book is a big fat lie. I had it when I was a child and I’m 45 and a woman has yet to serve in the highest leadership role. I knew I wanted it, but I didn’t know how badly I wanted it. I am self-employed and I live in a little bubble and I don’t have to deal with a lot of sexism in my everyday life, but I witness it horribly in my friends’ professional lives. And we have men controlling the majority of the governing and even though not all men are sexist, we need women representing us. If you think it doesn’t matter, you’re wrong. It matters. It matters. It matters so much. We need women representing us and we need women showing girls that women CAN be fucking anything, EVEN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. And when it started becoming clear last night that Hillary was going to lose, I cried. Because the most qualified candidate maybe ever lost to a narcissistic incompetent lying bigot. What do we have to do to get a woman elected??

And I feel so sad for my mom and my grandma. They are strong, badass women who have shown me that women CAN do anything and have done all sorts of hard things to make things better for me and women following along behind me. I was so excited for them to see a woman be elected president. I thought we were poised for a huge leap forward, and instead we took about 25 steps backwards.

I should be filled with rage. I’m so confused that I’m not. Instead I’m consumed with sadness, except when I’m completely numb. For weeks I’ve been clicking “angry” on most political posts, but today I can only click “sad”. And I kind of wish I was overwhelmingly angry, because it can be motivating.  You can channel anger into something positive. Sadness weighs you down and makes it hard to move forward.

This morning I cried and cried and cried. And pretty much anytime I talked to another human, I cried some more, and fortunately everyone I crossed paths with this morning knew where I was coming from.  I wanted to call my grandma, but I had to wait until I could hold it together, and when I did, she told me she hadn’t wanted to talk to me because she didn’t want to make me feel worse, because she knew. And then she told me stories I hadn’t heard before, like about when she got the Temple to recognize women as full-fledged voting members in their own right, not as wives of members.

I’ve been pretty lost today, and the only thing that has made sense has been connecting with people. So you might’ve gotten a message from me just telling you that you matter to me, much like I got messages from several of you asking how I’m doing. I’m profoundly grateful for that, especially for those of you saying it’s ok to lick our wounds for a day or so, but then we need to pick ourselves up and get back to it. And for those of you saying you don’t know what the answer is, but we need to do something, so let’s talk about what that might be.  She is right, we are definitely stronger together.

I hope we’re wrong. I hope things aren’t as grim as they feel. I hope I get actual sleep tonight and I hope I feel better tomorrow than I did today.  So somehow in the face of my own crushing hopelessness, I still hope.

And because I know this makes everything a little less bleak, here’s a picture of my dog. Goodnight, friends. Get some rest. I love you.

img_9230

Share the road, motherfuckers!

Of all the kinds of asshole there are in the world, I have decided that the worst kind are the fucking crazy kind.

Tonight my dad and I had just set off for a bike ride, enjoying the unseasonably cool July weather. The local trail system goes right past his neighborhood, so we jumped on and headed off, riding through a nearby park ready to cruise toward downtown. We had to cross a major road, but they have done a pretty decent job trying to make the crossing as safe as possible. The light was red when we got there. We waited for the walk signal, and then set off in the crosswalk. Unfortunately, the jackwagon in the monster truck also waiting at the light decided not to yield the right of way, and came alarmingly close to running me down in his impatience to turn the corner. I shouted and stopped; he stopped. When I realized it was safe to cross, I started up again. As he turned behind us, he yelled at us. The car behind him yelled at us also. When the driver of the truck yelled “fuck you” at us, my dad yelled it back. We had the right of way, asshole.

What happened next was truly frightening. Mr. Crazy Asshole drove across a four-lane road, off the road, across the grass, to cut us off on the trail, where he got out of his truck and approached my dad (who was ahead of me) yelling profanities. Are you fucking kidding me? I don’t remember what he called my dad…an old fucker, maybe? So, yeah, nice job respecting your elders (or just other humans). He definitely called me a fucking cunt. That’s an unspeakable word in my world, so to casually toss that off at a stranger, I’m thinking you have some issues. And perhaps the most insane part was one of the things he screamed at us was that it had been a mistake and what did we want him to do about it now? Um…how about not go completely insane and threaten us? At some point he decided he’d accomplished whatever he set out to do and got back in his truck and drove off.

I’ve had people yell at me on my bike before, but never anything like this. I just don’t understand why people get so angry at the mere presence of bicycles. We weren’t even riding IN the road, just wanted to cross it to ride on the goddamn trail. And unbelievably, when we were riding home and crossing at that same intersection, the oncoming turning car did yield the right of way (thank you, person!) and the car behind her leaned on the horn. What. The. Actual. Fuck. Fortunately everything in between was uneventful and fun.

I told some friends about it when I got home and one shared that she carries pepper spray when she rides. That’s really not my style, but neither is getting verbally assaulted by nutbags.

And I will say this: adrenaline makes me pedal fast.

Share-Road-Sign-K-4296

My dad defies the mold

Happy Father’s Day!

What a swell day. 🙂 I just spent the afternoon with my dad, which isn’t particularly unusual for us, but it was Father’s Day and it was just the two of us and it was lovely.

Even though Father’s Day isn’t for my dad. Or rather, my dad doesn’t fit the dad stereotypes.

I thought about taking him out for brunch at a newish place near me, but I read their menu for today and it was very meat-oriented. Dads love bacon! And meat! With meat! And bacon! Except my dad quit eating meat when I was about four. So instead I made a caramel French toast that he loves, and it yields lots of leftovers, so he can enjoy it for a few more days. Yum!

Perusing ads and Hallmark stores, Father’s Day seems to be about meat and beer and tools and golf and sports and grilling (meat). And maybe neckties and wristwatches. Oh, and cigars. And shaving. (WTF? Who is giving her dad shaving paraphernalia for a present??)

I did manage to find a Father’s Day card that talked about memories of puking on road trips, and that definitely speaks to my relationship with my dad. He has a favorite story to tell about my getting carsick on a road trip home from Canada, in the rain, right before we approached customs. And another version on an airplane. Good times. 🙂

I realized earlier this week that I didn’t have a gift for him – yikes! What to do? None of the above would do for my pops. I mentioned the veggie lifestyle. No tobacco either. He has a beard. He works from home, sans neckties. He doesn’t play golf. Doesn’t really like beer. (He also has an annoying habit of just buying things he wants, although I mostly have him broken of doing things like that around holidays.) I would have to go Father’s Day rogue.

Fortunately, I tidied up my desk Friday afternoon and found, buried in a pile of crap, a page I had torn out of a magazine, reminding me of something I knew would be perfect: a memoir in cartoons by the longtime cartoon editor of The New Yorker. Not only would he love it (and he did), it too seemed representative of our relationship. We have a long history of my dad loving New Yorker cartoons and me not getting them. (Sometimes I get them. Sometimes they’re funny. But sometimes, seriously, what the fuck?)

After brunch and presents we went bike shopping, which morphed into bike clean up and repairing. Us, fix bikes? Don’t be ridiculous! I know dads are supposed to fix things, but my dad taught me the value of having an expert address the situation, whatever that situation may be. Dad gave me the phone number of whom to call when my tree died and needed to be removed, and when the bats became too big a problem and had to be eliminated. And today we packed up our bikes and carted them to the bike shop to get them tuned up, and some tweaks made. We’re a little late in the game this year, but we’ve been busy, and better late than never. Plenty of good riding days ahead of us this summer.

All in all, a pretty good day. I’ve always enjoyed my dad’s company, but since his heart attack last fall I tend to cherish it even more, even though I don’t use words like “cherish”, and today was no exception. I have a number of good friends who have lost their fathers already, and I appreciate how lucky I am that he’s still here.

Happy Father’s Day to all, and to all a good night! Or something like that. 🙂 Hope your day was as nice as ours!

Ooh, and because the recipe is so good and so easy, here’s that, too. It’s one of those perfect recipes you prepare the night before and just throw in the oven to bake in the morning.

Caramel French Toast

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar (although I only had dark on hand and it was just as tasty)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 6 Tbls. light corn syrup
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half (except I don’t use half & half for anything so I buy a pint and make up the remaining half cup with milk)
  • 1 Tbls. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 slices french bread – 1 1/2″ thick slices (But I end up using more like 15)
  • 3 Tbls. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

In saucepan combine brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook over medium heat. Stir until mixture comes to a boil. pour syrup into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Arrange bread slices on top of syrup. Mix together eggs, half and half, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Mix 3 Tbls. sugar with cinnamon. Sprinkle over bread. Melt 1/4 cup butter and drizzle on top. Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Eat. Say “yum!”. 🙂

The giant hamster wheel of life

It’s Friday night. I’m on the couch in pajamas, eating pizza, alone, catching up on my DVR backlog.

If time-traveling 20-something Wendy were to appear right now, she would die. Oh, the horror! Friday night. At home. Alone.

Current Wendy could not be more content.

I used to consider it a failed weekend if I didn’t have something fun to do both nights. “Fun” = going out, unless I were having a party or some kind of social gathering at my abode. Now that would kill me. Or at least leave me exhausted and in need of a weekend. Today a quiet weekend at home with Ruby Dogwonkafonka is one of my favorite things, and if I go too long without one I get twitchy.

What a difference 10 or 20 years makes.

It’s convenient that I’m happy staying in, since at the moment I don’t have a lot of extra dough for going out. 20-something Wendy, I blame you – if you had stayed in a little more, maybe we’d have more cash reserves now – see, this is all your fault!

I’ve been contemplating age and aging and the giant hamster wheel of life for a while now. I feel like somewhere in my early 40s (which is where I still reside) I reached a point of clarity or something. I’m not young anymore, in spite of what people think. This is not a bad thing, even though when I refer to myself as “middle-aged” people recoil and assure me that I’m not. Hi, yes I am. In the US the average lifespan for women is something like 81 years, and I can do math. I’m also not old – I recognize this. The math thing, plus I have a 97-year-old grandma. She is old. She also reads my blog, so hopefully she isn’t offended by that statement. She shouldn’t be. Oldness has nothing to do with awesomeness, and the timing of this rambling contemplation could not be more fortuitous, seeing as tomorrow she is receiving an honorary doctorate from University of St. Francis. She is not your grandmother’s grandmother. (That makes me giggle.)

This awareness of what is and is not old seems to be one of the universal stupidities of young people. I remember saying things like, “I’m sooooooooooooo olllllldddddddd” when I was 25. Or 27. Or 32. And I hear/see on Facebook people in their 20s and 30s say things in this vein all the time. And now, I realize how stupid they sound. They’re not old. They’re aware of the passage of time for maybe the first time ever, but they’re obviously not old. And there’s no getting this message through, because they think they know everything.

Now that I’m in the middle and looking both directions, I don’t at all assume I know everything – that is one thing I have learned. You think you do, and then you get older, and you realize how stupid you were when you thought that. There seems to be a lot of realizing how stupid I was. It’s amazing that our parents don’t roll their eyes at us more often than they do. I can’t wait to see what I’m doing now that makes me laugh at 40-something Wendy ten or twenty years from now.

One pattern we seem to repeat is in thinking that our generation has it sooooooo much harder than any previous generation, and nobody understands our experience, and we are so maligned by the generation ahead of us. And then we get older and turn on the generation behind us because they’re whiny and they feel maligned and misunderstood. Except you’re not actually anti-the generation behind you, you just wish they understood all the things they could be learning from the benefit of your experience and hindsight instead of waiting 20 years for their own hindsight, but hi, they’re young and know everything. Hamster wheel.

I was reading a thread on Facebook last week with some millennials talking about how maligned they are by older generations (I really need to find another word for “maligned”) and it prompted me to send this note to another Gen X friend who I knew was also reading along:

Dear Millennials,

Here’s the thing…

It’s not about the label.

All young people are stupid. And not in their own way. In EXACTLY THE SAME WAY EVERYBODY ELSE WAS, BUT JUST A LITTLE BIT WORSE, because internet.

And someday you will get really, really, really old (like, 42) and you will realize what an idiot you were in your 20s, and you will see it in all the people who will currently be in their 20s, and you will laugh, and you will understand your parents better, and everything will be fine.

Love,

Gen X and the Boomers

 

I have a lot of friends who are younger than I am, and I hope you know that I love you, and I look forward to you pushing me around in my wheelchair someday. I truly don’t think you’re stupid except when you’re talking about being old. 😉 And this isn’t supposed to be a “young people are idiots” post. It’s intended to be about how great it actually is being in that dreaded over-40 zone. Or how funny the passage of time is. Or who knows. It’s possible I lack focus tonight. It’s possible this is because I’m also watching Say Yes to the Dress while writing this. It is Friday night, after all. (20-something Wendy is dying of shame right now.)

But my 40s are great. So far, anyway. Another cliché proves itself to be true: so far every decade is better than the one before. I’m not so hung up on stuff like what do people think or what everyone else is doing. I’m less concerned about “should”; I’m more interested in what makes me happy. I remember clearly the night that happened, too. I had been invited to a going away party for some casual friends who were moving. The time had come to get myself together and as I was walking upstairs to change clothes, I realized I didn’t feel like going, and then it clicked that I didn’t have to. So I didn’t. I stayed home, and it was so nice that I started refusing invitations more often. I got way more selective about whom I spend time with. If I spend time with you now it’s because I really want to. I’m not sure why it took me so long to catch onto that one.

I thought I had a funny cartoon set aside about aging or clichés or something along those lines to accompany this, but I can’t find anything in my “hold” folder. What I did find is this picture of snuggling lions. I have no idea what I saved it for, but it’s adorable, so what the hell. When I find the cartoon, I’ll save it for the lion post that clearly I intend to write some day.

cuddling lions

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Dad

Dad and I went to see Crosby, Stills and Nash the other night at the Embassy. I got tickets for his birthday; he’s been a big fan forever, and a little of it rubbed off on me – I like the greatest hits album in my collection. And, you know, it seemed like it would be fun. How can you not enjoy some good, live music?

Lately (and by “lately” I mean for the last five or ten years), going to concerts has made me feel old. (Drunken hipsters annoy me.) (So do drunken other people, and not-drunken hipsters. But I digress.) This concert, pretty much the opposite: I was the youngest person for miles. Or at least rows. I know some of my contemporaries were there, but we were definitely in the minority.

And you know what’s awesome? Older people sit down at concerts. Maybe because they’re tired or standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but I think it’s because they’re more experienced and they’ve learned that standing at concerts is just plain stupid. Honestly, most of us can see better when we’re sitting.

This doesn’t mean it was some staid, subdued affair. To the contrary, people were rocking out. Just, politely, from a seated position, leaping to their feet to whoop and holler their appreciation after every song, then wisely sitting down to enjoy the next number. They were into it, man. It’s always great to see something here that is a) sold out and b) full of enthusiasm.

And the fellas on stage – they aren’t spring chickens, obviously. Crosby & Nash are 72. Stills is 69. Um, hi. That’s impressive. Even more so when I tell you that they played for about three hours. No opening act (perfect!) just them, killing it, with a short intermission (yay, pee break!).

And don’t worry, everybody stood up for Suite: Judy Blue Eyes for the encore, singing along joyfully. They definitely knew how to bring it home.

Of course, musing about the generational differences in concert-going also leads me to some universal truths:

  • There will always be two (probably drunk) chicks off to the side of the stage or in the aisle, dancing, even when the song isn’t remotely danceable.
  • Likewise, there will be some person near the front waving at the band. Stop it. They can’t see you. They don’t know you. Just stop.
  • The line for the bathroom will be stupidly long. At least this time the men’s line was at least as long as the women’s. Yay, equality! 😀
  • Someone in your vicinity will be doing something annoying. This week I had two. The man next to me was the LOUDEST snapper in the world. I seriously could not possibly snap my fingers that loudly, and he was doing it for hours. Stop it, Dad! Oops, just kidding, it was the man on my other side. Oh, and he was just a tiny bit offbeat. GAH. Also, the woman across the aisle was screwing around with her phone the entire time. Texting, taking pictures, texting, answering at least three phone calls, texting, taking pictures – oh my god, just stop already!

Which brings us to tonight’s public service announcement. Anytime you hold your phone up above the heads of the people in front of you to take a picture (or, god forbid, record some craptastic video – who are you kidding?), you are interfering with the experience of the people behind you. Your pictures are probably going to suck anyway. And there’s no need to take so many of them. And as the person behind all of you, seeing lots of phones sticking up at any given moment is obnoxious. I was watching security; they were trying their damndest to get you to stop, but they couldn’t keep up. And this is something we think is a problem with kids, but clearly we older people are just as culpable. Be in the moment. Be in the moment. BE IN THE MOMENT!

Geez, it’s hard to imagine that I feel old when I go to concerts! Get off my lawn, you stupid kids!

Anyway, I feel like I took kind of an accidental hiatus in my concert-going a few years ago, and I’m glad to be back in circulation. I’ve had the opportunity to see some good stuff the last year or two. Here’s hoping I can keep that streak going.

Rock on, my friends.

2013, you were all right

A year ago it seemed that the idea of a “blessings jar” was circulating all over Facebook. It’s simple enough. Write down the special moments in your life as they occur, put them in a jar, and review them at the end of the year. I’m not really good at resolutions, goals, and the like, but this was something I could get on board with. Of course, I didn’t have a jar handy so I used a vase (which was a present from my dad and created by my artist friend Kristi Jo Beber, so it was already all kinds of good stuff) but for the purpose of this post we’ll just keep calling it a jar. (Aside: Kristy Jo’s stuff makes great gifts. Keep that in mind that for next Christmas or anything between now and then!)  I didn’t always remember to tend to the jar, but by the end of the year it was full.  I wrote on post-it notes and scraps of paper. I scribbled just a few words and once wrote a page & a half about a particularly interesting day. Many of the notes had happy faces and/or hearts drawn on them, because I use emoticons even when jotting messages to myself apparently.  Most of the time I remembered to date them, but not always. And because I was doing it my way, I put other things in, too. Concert tickets. Notes from friends. A fortune from a cookie. An envelope that made me laugh. A series of postcards from my friend Greg. And then last week on New Year’s Day I sat down and read through everything.

Here’s the summary version: I’m a very fortunate person.

I appreciated little things. I appreciated big things. I reconnected with people from the past. I made new friends. I put aside old hurts. I paid off some debts AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, bitchez! I reveled in my family. I took trips. I was reminded of a moment when I was able to use the blessings jar to make myself find a positive spin in a situation that was making me cranky. The overriding theme was contentment, and how can you beat that? Reading through them reminded me of small moments that would have been long forgotten and made me laugh a second time over funnies and sillies.

And because I took my own liberties with the game, next to the vase was a bowl. And in the bowl I put all the birthday cards I received, and more recently all the holiday cards that came in the mail. And I reread all of those too.

Now I’m going to take all of the scraps of paper and notes and cards and package them neatly in some sort of cute container and label it “2013”. Because the vase already has the first piece of paper for 2014 in it. I hope I do this for every year from now until the end of Wonkaternity. (I’ve decided 2014 is going to be a banner year for making up my own words for the wonktionary. Earlier I coined “napportunity”; I intend to seize every napportunity that crosses my path this year!)

I won’t share all the paper scraps with you, because some are too personal and some would bore you and there are really quite a lot, but here are a sampling for the reading.

  • 3/18: The world has the Mondays, but I feel awesome. 🙂
  • 1/17: I had both blueberries AND grapes on my Rice Chex this morning.
  • 3/6: Awesome snow day! Shoveled like a badass. Made a snow Ruby with Dan. Lots o’ fun!
  • 2/13: I tried something new – tap lessons – and I loved it!
  • May: I went on a fun, relaxing vacation with some of my favorite people AND I was happy to come home. 🙂
  • 8/10: Mourtney’s b-day at the lake was a super fun day.
  • August: I can afford to have the work done to bat-proof the house. (This was the one where I was trying super hard to see the positive in the boatload of cash I dropped to prevent any more good bat stories for y’all. Oh, and the rabies.)
  • 6/8-9: Super fun weekend in A2 with Klondike and the Laheys. 🙂
  • First weekend in June: I felt a satisfaction with doing everything I wanted to do with my weekend. And the new purple curtains made me feel happy every time I walked into the living room. I love my house! 🙂
  • 9/7-8: Such a wonderful weekend in Ann Arbor! All day Saturday bumming around w/Caryn, victory over ND, and ton of fun and excitement at the game! Sunday morning w/Brannie, then loading up on food goodies before coming home. Top down all weekend. Happy heart! J
  • I can take advantage of being self-employed to go for a bike ride in the middle of a Tuesday with my dad. 🙂
  • 9/23: 1:09 cake  [IT WORKED!!!] (Did I tell you that story??)
  • 7/23: Ruby finally healed from her incision! 🙂
  • 10/31: A WHOLE BUNCH OF PUMPKINS appeared on my porch! 🙂 Someone stole mine & now I have LOTS! And tap was canceled (kind of) so I’ll be home for Halloweenie!!!! 🙂  (two happy faces on one piece of paper)
  • I love my green sheets! 🙂
  • The day I wrote the long missive, I’d been to a funeral then out for lunch with my dad and grandma. One of the highlights was Grandma telling Dad and me that she had used up a pen, and when we asked what kind she said, “A pencil.” Which caused us to laugh and laugh, and if you’ve ever experienced my grandma laughing uncontrollably, you know it’s noteworthy. And also something a restaurant might not appreciate. And lest you be concerned about her answer, it’s a pen that looks like a pencil; she hasn’t lost her mind. 😉
  • And then there was this one, the most important one of. (Dad, I’ll stop talking about it soon, I promise.) dad survivedI draw a sucky heart, but you get the idea. And the little words surrounding it, which you probably can’t read, are the people who made it possible and helped us greatly: Doctors, Nurses, Friends, Family, Rachel, the Huffs.

 

Happy New Year, my friends! I look forward to your help filling my blessings jar!