Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I heard the news today, oh boy…

So, far starters, I have no money. I have three bucks in cash, and I'm hoarding the last remaining dollars like a squirrel. I have plenty of money in my account, but I've lost my debit card and I'm still waiting on the replacement. I could go to my bank, write a check to myself and cash it of course, but my bank is several blocks away and well, it's freezing here. Like, 9 degrees freezing.  So i've been really, really cold.  And never, at all, taking a cab since cab drivers have the annoying habit of wanting to be PAID.  Hopping from foot to foot on the street corner waiting for a bus has basically defined my week. How's that for exciting news?

Yesterday, I got to go to the White House Holiday Open House and that was so fantastic. I'd never been in there before, and seeing it all decked out for the holidays, and have the ability to go on a self-guided tour with no one rushing us was so fun. Most of you are on my Facebook and can see my pictures, but I'll post a few below here:

So, I'm going to be an aunt. This is the TENTH time I've been able to say those words. (I *technically* have 10 already, but one is a step-daughter of my brother and she just kind of appeared in my life. I don't see her, or my brother's other two kids much, but I count them in the line-up anyway). My sister is pregnant with her third, and I can't wait. I love babies, and I adore my nieces and nephews (like you didn’t know that already) and I'm so, so lucky and blessed with them.

This will be the fifth baby on this side of my family, and there's a big likelihood I'll miss the birth day of this one too. One of my funniest memories center around the birth of this particular sister's second child. Since poor B was baby number two, there was significant less fanfare around her birth. There were only a few of us around and at one point, only a couple of hours after she was born, I found myself alone in the hospital room, holding her. Events unfolded something like this:

Me, holding baby in the empty room, while my sisters are in the bathroom of the hospital room doing…something: "Guys, can I come in?"

Sister L: "NO!"

Sister B: "Steph, if you ever want to have a baby, you do NOT come in here."

Ho-hum. I didn't. I still don't know what they were doing, and I don't think I want to know. Soon after, I was dispatched to the Diary Queen to get the new mother a chicken strip basket. Life was good.

And things are good in my world too. My christmas presents are wrapped, and today is my one-year anniversary at my job. I did it --met the goal of the year, and despite ALL the hardships of this year, I'm glad I did it. This will mean very well for my career and ultimately, that was the whole point.

I have no idea what the future holds but today, that's okay. And hey, at least I know it holds another baby for me to love--and that's enough for me.

More than enough.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Elizabeth Edwards--Mother, Advocate, and Champion of everything you believed in.  We admired you.  You loved well.

The classiest lady whose hand I have grasped in my own.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

I am thinking of Madeline Alice Spohr, who would have been three today.

I am thinking of Henry Louis Granju, a boy whose life touched mine after he left his own.

I am thinking of all the children whose lives never got to be completed, and all the children whose lives are in progress in my life, and how I am learning to parent without ever parenting at all.

 I am thinking of the future children in my life on whom I may be able to use all this parenting practice.
I am thinking of my two best friends, one of whom I will spend my Thanksgiving with.  Whose hand I will hold before prayer, just as I have for over fifteen years.

And the one who will greet me at the airport tonight.

And the sweet faces I will hug to me this weekend.

I am thinking of my grandfather, who served in WWII, along with his six brothers.  Seven brothers went to war.  Seven brothers came home.  He wanted me to write a book about him and his brothers--maybe someday, I will.  I wish I could have just one more conversation with him.  

So here's to the veterans of war, the veterans of boot camp, the veterans of immeasurable loss.  And here's to the veterans who survived the wars of their own homes, the nightmares of broken dreams and broken homes, and to those who came out the other side with a slight limp in their step from suffered hurt.  To those who suffered the wars in their own minds from mental illness, and those who suffered the wars of addiction.

We are all survivors of something--veterans of the wars we fight on land, sea, air and in our minds.

Here's to them. Here's to us. Let's whisper thank-you to the wind, and hope it reaches someone's ear.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity 2010

These are worth a thousand words --it was a beautiful day.

It was, hands down, the most polite group of tens of thousands of people I've ever encountered.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A real update (with pictures!)

Gird your loins....this is a long one.

Washington is hot and sticky, and tomorrow promises to dawn cool and sunny and I think today is going to be the last day for sure that I can go to work without a jacket. I have been quiet on many fronts lately with absolutely nothing of excitement going on other than usual life-stuff. I am doing this deliberately, as I need to slow down, to heal, and to love those I love and not worry about anyone new right now.

It is utterly exhausting to be somewhere new all the time. One thing I've noticed this past year as I move into hitting my one-year mark of being here (seriously?), is that I've done an abundance of talking about me and small-talking. As I've settled into a new groove with new coworkers and new friends and new everything, it's been the SJ show as I answer questions like "What brought you to Washington? Tell me about your family. Where are you from? What do you like to do?" all the time. Dating wiped me out in that I got so tired of giving my little bio and talking about movies or whatever the hell. Can't get too deep, can't get TOO personal. But don't be too shallow, show some depth. But not too much. Same with new friends I guess --go easy, go light. Keep it simple, SJ.

Well -I suck at that after awhile. Luckily I've developed some good friendships here and a great repoire with my coworkers as we all share a slightly off-beat and colorful (sometimes crass...okay, often crass) sense of humor. But over the last several weeks that have turned into months, I find myself visibly relaxing in many ways. My stressor events are over. Now its just on to the holidays and I'll be traveling alot and going to parties and just having fun with it.

My parents were here two weeks ago. I scored tickets through work for a White House "Garden Tour" which I assumed meant we'd get to see a bit of the grounds. Um, no. We were at the White House front door. My parents LOVED it.

Here is the view with your back to the White House:

The Rose Garden:

The West Wing:

Michelle Obama's Garden:

Leaving...Goodbye Obamas!

It was a beautiful day.  My friend went with us, and we walked and walked around and couldn't have asked for better weather.

I am almost done with my christmas shopping, if everyone can freaking believe THAT! All 9 of my nieces and nephews are done, and I've got my Dad's present too. I have more to get, but I like having a chunk of it out of the way. Its so hard traveling around for the holidays and I inevitably will have to run to Walmart for my mother at midnight on Christmas Eve and grab up stuff for her to give away. She haaaates the holidays so she always puts it off and then panics.

It will be the first Christmas without my grandfather, and that will sting. I'm not sure how holly-jolly we are going to be, all things considered. It will be my first without my grandmother too, although she hadn't been "present" with us for a few years. But still, we won't make that trek to the nursing home and search her blue eyes for recognition of us. I miss them both every day. Every, every day. What a summer this was. I am so glad it is over.

I have my first date tomorrow night since August. I am slightly looking forward to it, as he is a deep thinker of a guy and a reader, as well as outdoorsy and I like that. I say "slightly" because you just never know how these things are going to go. We're going to dinner and I assume call it an early night.

Saturday morning, I'll be rallying with Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert with a few friends --I can't wait! I love that I can walk to these huge events in fifteen minutes. I am not looking forward to the mess of out-of-towners crushing the national mall, but oh well. We're planning to pack some coolers and make a day of it.

Sunday I am volunteering all day at DC Central Kitchen...time for me to start giving back to this community that for now, for better or for worse, I am a part of and it is a part of me.

Oh! I got a new kitten. Her name is Allie (for Alpha) and she and Charlie have developed an intense love for each other, well, as much intensity as a neutered/spayed relationship can have. It's hilarious and its been fun to have another little creature in the house to take care of --and with the amount of shit the shelter sent her home with such as parasites, botched spayings, etc-- she's been a tough one to take care of. She's good now. Here she is in her kitten cuteness:

At first, we had a rocky time:

But now, they are BFF.  Here they are simultaneously looking adorable....and creepy.  I leave you with this.

Monday, October 18, 2010

So many things to update you all on, but there will be time enough for that.  I've had visitors for the last two weekends, and this past weekend, my father and step-mother came to see me.  Last night, I needed to take the trash out.  To do this, I go down a small alley behind my house.  This disturbed my dad to no end --he hooked his flashlight on his belt and tucked his gun in his holster and we set out as though we were conquering a neighboring village.  Me in my pajama pants and he with his gray haired swagger.

When we returned, he tried to tell me he was going to leave his flashlight for me.  The dialouge went something like this:

Me: I really don't need a flashlight
Dad: What if your power goes out?
Me: I have candles
Dad: How will you see to find your candles?
Me: I just know where they are
Dad: But what if you don't?
Me: *smacks my forehead*

Dad can frustrate the life out of me sometimes.

They left this morning, and I came home to a still, silent house for the first time in awhile.  I went to my bedroom to change clothes and found on my dresser--the flashlight.

There was a note underneath that he had hastily scribbled:

"Find your way home."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Love is Patient; Love is Kind

When we were about...fifteen or so, she used to the writer. She still writes, of course, but now I'm the one with the love affair with words and a need to write.  When we were 25 or 26, I gave her a pen with an engravement on it --and told her to tell the stories she was meant to tell.  A couple years ago, she said that objective now went to me, and it was my turn to tell the stories.

We used to lay together on the floor. Sometimes my head would be on her shoulder, and we'd stare at stick-on-the-ceiling stars and torn-out pictures of Gavin Rossdale from magazines and we'd talk about the future.  Our futures are wildly different today than what we ever dreamed they would be.

And at 29, we're still figuring it out.  We have absolutely no idea what in the hell we're doing, half the time, but we know this--we know the other will always be there.  We've kept each other in our lives, come hell or high water and sometimes, both was involved.  She is a face that I know I will see for the rest of my life.  I have no doubt in my mind about this.

From the minute I fell off my bike when we were kids, and she ran back to get me even after everyone else was riding away...we knew.  It was us. 

Yesterday, she pledged to love another with her heart and soul, forever.  I gained a brother-in-law into a family I've had since I was 13. 

Happy Wedding Day Andrea

You and I forever. And so it was, and so it will be.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Something to Say

Honestly, I feel like I have nothing more to say here sometimes.  I love this blog; I've loved using this as an outlet for all these years.  I love looking back to where I was one year, two years ago and seeing how far I've come.

One year ago today--I was at a conference here, and people were pulling me into corners to "chat" and I came out dazed with job offers.  This set off a 7 week period of angst, of unknowing--all of which led me here.  Back to DC, back to the very same building I walked into in 2003 as a fresh-faced intern.  I've been here almost ten months.

Just ten months. 

In ten months --I moved in with a friend, found a place, made new friends, began a new job, survived my first month with the car here in June (a feat that no one outside DC will quite understand).  I made new friends. I joined a softball team.  I had friends visit.  I shook hands with Governors, with Ambassadors, with Senators.  I had my car ticketed for parking in a spot reserved for the Greek embassy.  I was on C-span, twice.  I battled through health care reform and struggled every day to keep up with coworkers FAR more advanced than I, yet making the same salary and with the same job title.  I struggled to keep relevance.

I dated, and struck out numerous times.  I went to Utah, to Washington, to Tennessee, to Rhode Island, to Missouri, to New Mexico and to Pennsylvania in the name of work.  And I think I went alot more places than that, but those are what come to mind right away.  I kissed an old friend at the waterfront in Seattle and brought him home with me that night.  I got a new kitten.

I've lost two grandparents, sandwiching my summer into a Memorial Day funeral and a Labor Day funeral.   I think of them both every single day.  I went home that weekend, and sat with my grandmother and let her show me how to make biscuits.  I held a brand-new nephew and cuddled all the other nieces and nephews against me.

I watched a movie tonight, and at one point there was a funeral scene and a 21-gun salute.  The pain of watching that flag being folded brought my grandfather to mind so heavily that I knelt to my floor and cried.  When I was done, I looked up and found both my kittens curled up beside me.

I am working through every day.  I am okay. 

For long you live, and high you fly, and smiles you give and tears you cry --and all you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be.

This quote has been a favorite of mine for so long--Pink Floyd. 

This past year has held the tears, the smiles, the touches and the million reasons tied up in my own personal meaning of life.  My friends have taken my breath away this past year -from getting on planes to be with me, to getting up at 3am to call me, to sitting outside my therapists office every morning with tea for me --they have been extraordinary.  My sisters have been, too.  I am lucky indeed.

With so much emotion rushing just under the surface, writing and reflection proves difficult.  I am reading; I am thinking of you. 

I just wish I had more to say.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Have A Little Faith In Me

No-makeup-me complete with PJ's


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

(Psalm 19:1-4; cf. Psalm 97:6)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

And Everything After.

A few minutes after midnight on the first day of August....a new man entered.

A few minutes after midnight on the last day of August...this man exited.

Time marches on, and marches to a drumbeat that sometimes I have trouble finding the rythym to keep pace with the beat.  Life catches me off gaurd, stumbles me to the ground, and I find that I am reaching out to those who mean the most to me and everyone else fades into the background.

He was the best grandfather I could have asked for.  Once, when I was about 8, my cousin and I were cornered up against a tree by a rattlesnake.  A few more seconds before that gunshot --well, I dont want to think about what would have happened.  And there was our hero, tromping through the woods and grabbing us by the arms and hollering like we'd never seen him before.  Never, never, do that again he screamed, and I cried, and Eric did too and we never told our mothers.  I doubt they know to this day.

For some reason, when I heard the news today, I thought of that snake poised to strike.  I thought about it over and over again, and of how he yelled for the hogs and the chickens to clamor around for food.  "Su-eyyyy" he would cry to the hogs carrying a silver pail across a field that even then, I knew was beautiful.

Of mine and Eric's little voices: "Su-eyyyyyy...." echoing behind his cry as we marched behind in his muddy footprints.

How fast time can strike us into realizing once again, family is everything. 

And I sit here, six hundred miles away.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

We interrupt this blog break....

August, my always-most-hated month, is drawing a close.  Whew.  Every single day this month seemed to hold a weight of some sort of significance, as if my senses were all on high alert.  Emotional highs and lows, the likes of which I've never experienced before and that's truly no exaggeration.

A few minutes into August 1, I got a brand-new nephew.  I went to Kentucky and had a wonderful time.  A week later, I went to Nashville for work.  Then, I had my incident-that-shall-no-longer-be-discussed, and two days later, went to Salt Lake City to spend a week prepping for an all-day presentation and workshop on healthcare reform to almost sixty people by the end of the day.  I was super nervous about this, and I had to really invest myself in my work in order to do it -and honestly, I kind of liked the challenge.  This stuff isn't as overwhelming to me anymore, and for the first time....I feel like I'm actually "getting" it.  God, that is a relief. 

Let's see...what else?  Oh yeah, that new relationship of mine?  Officially over. 

It's, um, been a long month.

Last weekend, I cried uncle.  I told my best friend S that I'd buy her a plane ticket if she'd come see me this past weekend because I needed someone with me.  I couldn't spend a weekend staring at my four apartment walls, or I would go nuts and I've never had someone be so consistently there for me and love me so completely for so many years.  Aside from Andrea, of course :)  Since that aforementioned incident, I've hated and dreaded being alone for long periods of time.  Not that I'm afraid, just a bit more lonely than normal and not quite as comfortable with my own thoughts for an extended period of time. 

She had a better idea -- to meet halfway and go camping in West Virginia.  I got off work earlier than expected on Friday, and when I got there, she and all of her kids were there with tents set up and marshmellows already flaming over the fire.  When I pulled up, all of them broke into huge grins and exclamations of how they didn't have to go to school that day (except for her daughter, who is out of school) -- S had surprised them with a day off instead of a half-day.  I asked S what the excuse was that she gave the school.  "Urgent family business," she replied.  I kind of laughed and asked what gave her that idea to use as an excuse.  "Because we had it," she said firmly.  "You are in this family too, and you are our business."

Stomach: drop.  I realize how much I'm loved.

Her two older kids are teenagers, and have been in various stages of difficult times, but both are thriving.  I told her son that he was a different kid now, and I was so glad he was "back" from the clutches of addiction he was battling.  He smiled and we toasted plastic cups of milk.  Never going back -we both agreed.

We hiked and spent most of the day in the lake which was almost completely deserted. The water was so clear, we almost couldn't believe it.  We skipped the bathhouse and shampooed and soaped up in the lake and took crazy pictures with shampoo in our hair.  Humiliating pics?  Probably, but as I said to S, we'll like them when we're old.
Funny --I haven't felt that clean in a long time.

So here I am --sunburned shoulders, dirty and a mountain of laundry.  And feeling refreshed.  I already miss them, though, but we will be back.

This weekend, I'm supposed to be in a wedding in Kentucky.  But, my mom called me today to tell me that my grandfather has been given a week, or less, to live.  This is news that -while somewhat expected- its always something I have been dreading.

I worry about my grandmother; about my mother.  I worry about the sadness and the reality of the situation as we face how our family will take shape going forward. 

If the worst happens, I can't be in the wedding.  Even if it doesn't, I may have to go home to say goodbye.  Priorities, and my family is at the top of this list.

I'm running another HUGE meeting this week.  And when it ends, I'll pack a red bridesmaid dress and a black dress in my bag, and fly off to either a wedding or a funeral.

Sounds like life to me.

We sat around the fire last night and talked about stars and found constellations.  Tommy, S's youngest, said that atoms make up every single cell in our bodies.  And he thought each star was maybe a single cell of God's body.  I was holding S's hand and we squeezed each others hands at the exact same time.  "I really like that idea Tom," I finally managed to say.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gone Fishin'

Both literally and figuratively =)

I am taking a semi-permanent hiatus from blogging, until I figure out the direction in which I'd like this to go. 

Maybe it's writers block.  Maybe it's the incredible amount of sharing I've been doing lately about some pretty personal things that have made me want to withdraw; to curl my inner self into me and shield me from further damage.

I'm off to the lake, bright and early with my best friend and her kids -I'm so glad to be spending a weekend cut off from everyone except for these people I love, our tents and our fishing poles.

Maybe I'll come back bursting with stories.  Or, maybe I'll still feel quiet for awhile. 

Until then -- I'll be reading you...in all the old familiar places.

Monday, August 23, 2010

When do you know...

That you're ok?

That you can stop tasting the blood in your mouth -that you can stop feeling the weight of someone gripping your arms?

Is it when the bruises fade?  Or when you can laugh again?

I want so badly to stop talking about ME.  To not have questions or "should have done's" hurled at me; to stop thinking about seventeen seconds of my life. 

And I think I've reached that.  I just want to laugh again.  I want to pick up the pieces of what is done, and arrange them into a puzzle that adds up into a better picture for me.  Move forward, ever forward.

I spent the week in Utah, for work, and for the entire plane ride -- all four hours -- I spent most of it staring at a single spot on the seat back in front of me.  "I think you're in shock," my best friend had said to me gently the day before.

When the plane landed, I realized she was right.

When I got there, I threw myself into my work.  I needed to, in order to run an important meeting a few days later, so I escaped into that.  I swam; I ran; I read.  I think I did some healing, staring at those Rocky Mountains in the distant, so different from the view I see in my daily.

I came home on Friday night, and woke up Saturday to a stomach bug.  Was it the shock of being back home?  Was I really sick?  I don't know -- but I barely left my couch all weekend, but luckily, had a good friend with me for most of it.

My best friend and I are meeting in West Virginia this weekend, and camping out.  "We will get back to the land!" I proclaimed tonight.  She's bringing her kids, and I'm bringing Oreos.  "Don't worry," she said - "We'll have plenty of time to talk."

I answered that honestly -I am done talking.  I want to stop talking about all of this, and just be.  I want to be fully in the moment, to let her be with her kids and let me be with God as I attempt to pray with a sky over me that I can look at and see stars.  And we will all sleep in a tent, too close to one another, and we'll kick each other as we turn over, looking for comfort.

We will hike, and we will roast marshmellows.

I will walk in a creek, and I will remember what it feels like to come home.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Thank you all for checking in on me, and noticing some posts were gone.

I've had one written, that I can't seem to publish....

Til then, I am thinking about you, reading your blogs, and praying to get the end of each day with the hopes of reaching the next in a sane and healthy way. 

Moments of sweetness have always come through -- nothing like hearing I love you's from so many.

My next goal?

To feel them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Here We Are

Scenes from a weekend-

A two year old white-blond girl, flowery floaties and a butterfly bathing suit, running across the yard at me when I pull up

Kissing the face off that baby up there

Waking a three year old boy up, carrying him into the living room, and he said "I seepin, Aunt Stephie. Lay down."  And we slept another hour together with my hand nestled in those blond curls at the very back of his neck.

A four year old girl snuggling up to me while we watched church on TV with her parents.  I was thinking of a hundred critical things I could say back to the TV preacher, when she laced her fingers through mine and sighed with content.  Click -and now it makes sense.

My best friend S saying...."it's time for me to focus on you" in the 6am light on the porch while I held my head in my hands and said I feel like I'm falling apart at every seam.  "We're going to deal with this," she said, in that abrupt 'fix it' way she has --she slapped the porch for emphasis and we laughed and held hands on the steps for a long time without talking.

My 12 year old neice and 11 year old nephew each took turns curling their long legs in my lap.  Logan said "why are you rubbing my cheek?"  "Because I like you," I said.  He grinned and turned his face into my shoulder.  Then punched me in the arm, because that's how 11 year old boys say "I like you, too."  

Mom tried not to let me see her wipe away tears whenever she looked at me.

I left this morning at first light, after S and I had tea and a devotion on the porch while the sun came up.  I watched the fog roll in over those Appalachian mountains as I drove along. 

And now, here I am.  A quiet apartment, a spazzy cat, broken cable and a floor that shows more and more signs of water damage by the day and I don't know what in the hell to do about it. 

There are moments when I truly can not see past tomorrow.  I have no idea what good I am to anyone, or anything, and I don't honestly know what exactly I'm living for sometimes.  To survive each day to reach the next?  It shouldn't be this way. 

And it won't, forever.  Somehow I know this. 

I do.  I hope.

Monday, August 2, 2010


It's been a hard day --one of the toughest I can remember.

I have a new nephew, though, and I will be driving to Kentucky to see him this weekend.  I will drive, and I will sing, and at the end of it I will have full arms of kids who request that their birthday presents be waived this year, and to visit me instead.

I will have sore arms from lifting and a sore place where my heart used to be because this boy, here, has stolen it away.

Leif Gabriel --8 lbs, 2 oz.  Every inch, perfect.

So goes for his big brother.

I need to get home.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


My youngest sister is in labor -- I am going NUTS wishing I was with my family right now!  This is the first time I haven't been at the hospital with my sisters as each of them were in labor. 

I am driving to Kentucky next weekend, come hell or high water....

Keep her in your thoughts.  She's got a big, big baby boy to birth and she's trying to do it all natural :)   One of the 30000000 reasons I love her.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

One Year Ago

I feel as though life reached out, grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me at warp speed through the last year. 

And I sit here rubbing my muscles from the impact; cozy at a small table at my new-old coffee shop that I used to frequent years ago, and now haunt again, on Sunday mornings.  I have an omelet and cold iced tea, and am sitting with hipsters and the the hippies of the neighborhood, and there are magazines on the shelves with titles like "Queer DC" and "Saving Sudan."  An Elvis poster is on the wall.  It's terribly overpriced, and terribly delicious.

Last year, I remember the summer was unseasonably cool.  This year, today, there is a heat index of 108.  Ah yah, as Ms Moon says...everything changes, babies. 

This blog title is from a Counting Crows song, from an album called "August and Everything After."  I explained this last year, and I also talked about the yearning and restless in my soul, the knowing that life was about to change for me --I  knew it deep down and I knew it so clearly that by the time opportunity knocked that September, I reached out and locked on with both hands. 

I remember writing these words, on my couch (that later sold for $35 at my local Goodwill).  I'm sure I had the TV on, only on mute.  It was nighttime and my screen door was open and my cat was climbing the screen (with claws he'd lose in a few months) to bat at moths by the porch light.  I felt frantically at peace.  I wrote "It's time.  It's time for August.  And it's time for everything after."

And wham bam, damn, if August isn't already upon us again. 

This is going to be a very, very difficult month for me.  I have to travel for work nearly all of it, and I'm not sure if this is going to impact my very new relationship.  My boss is making me conduct one of the meetings by myself, and this is incredibly intimidating to me, and then the week later I fly to Kentucky to be in a wedding of my old roommate, to whom I've barely spoken in the year since she asked me to be in the wedding.  So, I have no idea how this is going to go, as I spend hundreds of dollars on dress alterations and plane reservations...and the cynical but knowing side of me knows that I will barely talk to her again in my life after all this. 

Also, our contract at work (from which I am paid) is being hotly debated around the corridors, and I will know by Sept 15 if we will be renewed.  We will, I am confident, but in the meantime, there will be meetings and discussions and endless whispered conspiracy theories and....well.  None of it will be pleasant.

My family knows about my relationship, and they are pestering and poking me for information, for details, for pictures.  My friends know too, and one practically sobbed with relief when I talked about how much I liked him :)  She knows me, and knows that I am easily afraid of relationships and just frankly haven't had many (any, really, that were very serious.)   And when I said I was happy, and this one is different, she was over the moon for me.

I haven't seen him in a few days, and I'm just wondering if I made him up.

I feel anxiety creeping in as August approaches ---this is always my most hated month.  Having all these stressors that are going along with it doesn't help.

Sometimes I can't find anything good at all.
But hell.  It's time, I suppose, for August and everything after.  For fall to come, for cool air to remind me that everything changes and everything works together for a reason and that with every passing day, I am reminded of grace. 

Thank you for being a part of this journey, and the whiplash that comes with it sometimes. 

We can't blink.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


S is a military man --this is not uncommon for men around here.  In fact, a HUGE two year investigation by the Washington Post, released this week Top Secret America, outlines and details the thousands and thousands of people who work right beside me every day, but I don't know exactly who they are or what they do.

S is one of them.  He's not (as far as I know) a secret agent or anything like that.  He's a career military man though, working at the Pentagon.  I won't disclose more than that, and I don't KNOW much more than that. 

Life dating a military man is different than anything I've ever experienced.  In bed last night, I asked "what do you do all day?"  This is after I asked if he liked his new job (just started this week) and he said excitedly that he loved it. 

His reply? "Stuff and things."  I smacked his arm and waited.  He goes "I can't really talk in much detail about it....." and trailed off and got quiet.  I hastily said I understood and we changed that subject very quick.

He has a desk job. 

So, I wonder why his forehead is sunburned tonight and run my hand across the back of his head, feeling the sharp bristles of a brand-new high-and-tight haircut and wonder what those baby blues of his see all day long.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Every headline I can think of is cheesy.  Every text message I send S, my new .....boyfriend?  Dare I say it? is mushy, gushy.  We say things like "Oh, I thought about you all day"  Gag.

We have conversations that already crack me up and make me know that this is someone I can get along with during a ten hour drive or a two hour wait in line.  After just a few days, I know this.

Me: (upon explaining that my neices were texting me from church camp).  "I dunno....I mean, it's good, I just don't want them to get too....churchy."

Him: "Yeah"

Me: (Pause) "I mean, I guess it's better than crack cocaine camp."

Him: "Well, you appear to have survived crack cocaine camp"

Me: "I know, but I was so popular there.  It was really a burden."

Him: "Is that why you still hide crack under the floor boards?  Don't lie.  I saw it."

Me: (After showing him where I spilled nail polish on the rug and then dumped water on it after the carpet cleaner) "Look what I did before you got here."

Him: "You threw up?"

Me: "No! Why would I SHOW you where I threw up?  Or TELL you?"

Him: "You tell every fucking thing else!"

Me: "I know. Just wait."

Me, feeding my cat Charlie. 

Him: "Hey Chuck.  Get a job and contribute around here if you want that food!"

Sigh.  I'm smitten.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This week has truly been exceptional.  Badness and goodness wrapped into one and coming out in the form of sweetness, and delivering me into what is and what must be.

In that spirit, I will attempt to a Friday Fragments (on a Thursday night).  

**My best friend here was robbed on Tuesday night.  The same night as my flood--I walked in the door that night with Brian, a guy I had a date with, and we stepped directly into about two inches of standing water.  I wanted to cry, but didn't, and we just set to work throwing towels and blankets and basically anything around to get it stopped.  We did.  But it didnt stop me from crying on the couch later, with my head in my hands, wondering WHY things just seem to be so hard sometimes. 

I had strange, very vivid dreams all night.  Then, the next morning, I found out about Sarah's place as I hauled my fourth or fifth load of soaking wet laundry across my soaking wet floors.  But yet, anything that had happened to me in the past 24 hours flew out the window as I jumped in my car and went straight to her place.  I'd had such an odd dream about her the night before --it was like I knew.

We cleaned up. I brought her my spare laptop to use since hers is now taken, and another friend of ours sawed wood outside to fix the door.  We checked out the windows, secured all the locks.  At one point she layed down on the floor beside the dog.  I layed down beside them both and her roommate came in, and laid down too.  It was a sweet sort of moment, and then we got up and played Star Wars monopoly to keep our minds off the entire issue at hand :)

**I am sort of dating another guy, right now, although dating is too odd a word.  I dont know WHAT this is, other than he is new and he is there and sometimes I just need someone there.  I'm not sure what's going to happen.   Probably nothing, but hell, isn't this what dating is?  I truly don't know.  I suck at all of this.

**I know I'm a real, true DC resident tonight.  I was trying to find a parking space, when all of a sudden the police jumped in front of my car and the one beside me.  The motorcade went by with all its fanfare.  And my first thought was Come ON Barack!  Some people need to park and go home and eat spaghetti!

I have, um, arrived.

**I posted a depressing message on Facebook yesterday about how I was giving up.  This was shortly after the laying down in the dog bed with Sarah moment, and I announced to my best friend from home that I just wanted to lay down and never get back up. 

My phone didn't stop ringing all night.

**I had a conference call today with my old job.  It was the same committee I used to run.  I got so homesick all of a sudden.  And at the same time, watching my new boss speak on the call (she was the 'featured guest'), I felt pride again for where I work and what I do.  These days, that is no small thing.

**The following initials to the people who care and get me through my days sometimes --KJ, EHL, and AA.  Thank you for being a part of my day to day messes.

So there is me.  Dating and loving and living and walking the streets in the heat and finding out what love means and cooking spaghetti sauce for the men in my life, and for my lunches. 

Sweetness remains, even if sometimes I can only see it without feeling.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My apartment is flooded.  I had a shitty date.  Work is killing me.  My friends house was robbed last night.

(My dispatches from the week so far.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm Alive

And here. 

I have been reading, not so great at commenting.  I had a "secret" weekend where I went to Kentucky solely to visit a friend and didn't mention to anyone in my family.  I've had so much time at home, with them, but not at all enough time with friends since I left.  In fact, no one else even knew I was there except my sister, and I was able to sneak over to surprise my nephew for a few hours.  It was heavenly to get that boy into my arms for a little while, and to rub my sisters pregnant belly and feel a baby kick that will kick me in person next time I am near him.

But mostly -I relaxed.  I went to a baseball game.  I laid on the couch with my friends' arms wrapped around me and we ate pizza and watched movies. 

We had big talks.  Talks about our futures, and about things that are happening for us both.  Her life is complicated, and her story is not mine to tell.  We have been ingrained in each others lives for a few years now, and good god, have we been through some stormy times --affair(s), divorce, a move, a family fallout.  Everyday tragedies --keys locked in the car (twice), snowstorms, sicknesses.

Things on both our ends that we can't even discuss with anyone else and we press our secrets into each others hands with an urgency as we lay there, and with it passes an understanding that we are that safe place for one another.

But, safe harbors even have waves, and we've had a few of those lately.  We are entering a time period in which both our lives are set to change again, and our stories are way too deep to get into tonight.  I am pulling away while she grabs me back and reminds me that yes, things change, but they don't change love and when you have a safe place, you don't leave it that easily. 

We whisper reminders in the dark.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Grace and Peace

I'm listening now to the sounds of party revelers outside, and I've no desire to join them :)

I watched DC's fireworks through the back window of a cab tonight, as Sarah and I squeaked back into town JUST in time to get home before fireworks ended and the thousands that descend upon our fair city each fourth of July try to get OUT of it and traffic becomes mayhem and drunken craziness abounds. 

I had a weekend full of exactly what I needed: sleep, a lake, a float with a cup holder with a cold beer, a great friend and a family so like my own that it was eerie.  My friend invited me to her parents' lake home in southwest Virginia and as we neared the house and the roads began to twist and turn, and the landscape turned to haybales and barns and mountains in the distant, I was reminded so forcibly of Kentucky that it startled me. 

Somehow, I thought only these things belonged to Kentucky, but no, red dirt roads are everywhere.  From sea to shining sea -some may say.

Her mother and father, both adorable and have been married to each other and only each other, were refreshing in themselves.  Southern accents.  Babies.  Lake and mountains.  Several times, as I floated along in the water, I closed my eyes and soaked it all in. 

We caught lightning bugs.

This morning, I slept until almost ten.  I wandered sleepily upstairs to be greeted with sausage and biscuits, and then we had a birthday party for a two year old. 

(I think if I have kids, they won't be allowed to have birthday parties until they are old enough to be interested in opening their presents.  The end.)

This two year old is a special boy though, and so loved that it made me so happy to see this boy, born with special needs and still smart as a whip, so loved up on.  Around 5 today, Sarah and I decided to head back to the city.

Four hours and discussions about everything later, we are back.  I am relaxed.  I am happy. 

Max (Sarah's dog) was accidentally locked in the garage for a few minutes today and everyone was frantically looking for him.  When he was finally discovered, I grabbed his head and gave him a kiss and said "well, look who was lost but now is found!" 

Me, too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thanks to all who commented on my deleted blog -I just couldn't keep it up.  It felt too raw, somehow, and even though the words weren't my own, they were speaking my mind so clearly that I felt too exposed.

Things are...okay.  By okay, I mean I am waking up in the morning and getting through the days and the nights, and am trying not to let the feelings take over that whisper in my ear that my life lacks meaning.  I reach out to those who love me, and remember that yes, I am loved; valued. 

While there are small bright spots of sunshine --my mom's visit that turned out better than expected being one of those, and a trip I'm taking this weekend to a friends family lakehouse this weekend for the fourth of July -- the darkness has taken residence upon my heart and just comes along for the ride at this point.

This sound of silence is deafening, and keeping me from sleep.

But here --is a smile for you, from my couch on a Tuesday night, for those who read.  Thank you for doing that.

"In restless dreams I walk alone....narrow streets of cobblestone."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Remember how I had rats?

OUTside, though, remember -not inside.  My mother, who is here visiting, got extremely PISSED at the sight of a big nasty rat outside last night.

She stewed and stewed, and tonight after we cooked a delicious dinner of baked chicken and farmers market green beans and YUM garlic bread, and walked --she announced the thought of these big nasty rats anywhere near her precious little baby (that would be me, folks, at the age of almost-30). 

She is outside right now with a shovel, clorox bleach, a walmart bag and paper towels.  She is furiously shoveling in holes, covering them with bricks, cloroxing the patio....she advised me to go inside, have a beer, and leave her to her business.

She does not need to worry.  I would NOT cross her right now =)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Still breathing...

Shallow breaths :)  Walking through stress at the moment, work and life and all that entails.  Old feelings that have burst anew, and exhausts me with the weight of untold secrets and pressure to run around corners too quickly but finding I can't remember how to put this foot in front of the other.

It's hot.  Here's a true confession from me that I'm almost ashamed to admit: I hate summer.  Oh yes, it is true.  I can't stand the heat, seeing so many other people's feet (I hate feet), breaking a sweat just walking outside and my hair falling flat from the humidity.  It's so much more HUMID here in DC than I remembered, but that's just the way it is.  It's almost unbearable though, to run or exercise outside anymore for me.  I miss running, but running in the city is just different.  It's too hectic, chaotic and crowded.  And the public parks?  Too scary :)

I may have to break down and join a gym although having an extra expense every month makes me want to absolutely scream

I have paid the District of Columbia almost three hundred dollars in parking tickets.  This month.

SO -who wants to hear some good things?!  (I'm picturing all of you breathing a sigh of relief).


Oh!  My best friend from home is coming to visit tomorrow and is staying with me along with her fiance.  I've never met him, so we're all going to bond :)  We'll be doing the tourist thing, so I'll be a sweaty mess I'm sure, after we tromp all over the city, but it will be fun.   I'm excited to show them my little world here.

I went out for drinks with my boss and coworker the other day.  This is becoming an almost weekly thing and it's actually something I really like.  We compliment each other well, and even though my job makes me a bit crazy (an understatement), having good coworkers helps immensely to me. 

I also went out right after that with a few members of my now-over softball team.  I split a burger with one of the girls, drank a bit more, and we just had a good time hanging out.  I've had fun doing it, and I signed up for summer ball which starts July 11.  I can't believe I signed up again to play in the late-summer heat, but its just something fun to do and a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  So what the hell-

I feel like I'm getting a new best friend -across the country and someone who I never, ever would have crossed paths with- but she's getting me through my days sometimes, and you know who you are!

I went to the doctor last Monday for the first time in years and years.  I had bloodwork done, which I was nerovus as HELL about since I hadn't had it done in years and it was such a psychological bad thing to me.  But...it went FINE.  And I'm healthy as anything, and that's comforting.  My EKG also returned a verdict of a perfect heart :)

My perfect heart and I are off to do laundry now, and vacuum and make a presentable apartment for my friends tomorrow.  It will be good.

Stay cool out there.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Twisty Tangly Knots of Love

I have been turning over the coin in my hand, the one called love, and looking at each side again and again.  I look at one, and then another, and realize that this coin has three sides.  No, four.  No, five.  Maybe seventeen or three hundred.

It's been several years since I begun turning this coin.  When I began to realize that things aren't always what they seem -and that sometimes, with love, you can speak out of both sides of your mouth and be speaking complete truth at the same time.  That you can love beyond reason, beyond sanity, and that it can begin to grow something very deep and dark inside you sometimes.

And I learned pure, blissful love.  That uninhabited love that comes with someone loving you completely and irrationally --like a child.  And sometimes (maybe most times) that love IS from a child, who adores you beyond measure.

Mothers (oh, the many mothers I know in my life) often nod their heads and murmer in agreement when someone says that you can't know REAL, true love until you know the love of your own baby.  That its a love greater than anything --beyond all comprehension.  I thought I knew love, they say.  And then I had a baby.

Longtime married couples say that they never thought they could love someone more than the day they married, and yet they do.  They say that lasting love is more thorough and complete than one could have ever dreamed.

And I look at this, and I look at the coin in my hand.  What is my love, if it is not that of a mother?  Of a spouse?  Do I have that ultimate fulfillment?  Am I merely walking around with holes in my heart, awaiting those beating hearts that will fill them? 

Love, to me, growing up seemed like a weapon.  My parents loved me more than they loved their second spouses.  I know this for a fact, because, unfortunately they would tell me so.  I think that children intrinsically know and want their parents to love each other.  They want their parent to be happy, so that they can focus on their own happiness.  They dont want that cross on their back.  They want to be loved--oh, of course.  But THE main focus of the love?  It's too much pressure.

My dad and I pulled up the gravel road when I was ten and he stopped the car.  He pointed to the house and said "I love you more than anyone in that house."  That house, where my step-mother and step-sisters resided.  I think he perhaps thought this would comfort me.  But it made me feel strange, and more aware of my step-mothers resentful glares behind her glass of iced tea at suppertime.  I was loved.  More than her.  And she knew it.  It made our lives miserable for a very long time.

Fast forward to now --they are madly in love with each other, all over again, and everything has evened out.  But that memory cuts deeply in me.

I went through a phase with my mother around that time, obsessively asking her all the time if she loved me.  It started as a joke, but it was very serious to me.  I needed to know that she loved me, and my goodness, the woman DID.  She loved me more than she could rightly put into words and even NOW she holds back in her emotions and words to me because we both know deep down that she feels them too deeply to voice. 

Last week she bought me all new clothes, took me shopping for food, scratched my back in the mornings and cut up apple slices for me.  She pretends she is cutting up that apple for her, and then stealthily slips a slice into my mouth while I am talking.  To shut me up, and to give me nutrients at the same time :) 

The love I have in my life is tenfold.  I am tired of feeling inadequate, or that my life just simply doesn't hold as much meaning, as if I had the husband and the babies.  Don't get me wrong--I can't wait to have both in my life.  But the pity party that I throw myself because I have neither...well, this just has to stop.

Here is love to me, in the last two weeks.

"Everything I have is yours."  My best friend said this to me when I asked to borrow something or another in her house while I was flitting in and out of there during all this time at home, using her home as my own home base.  We were laying on the couch, sharing a bowl of popcorn.  "I love you so much--you must know this."  She said it with somewhat of an urgent tone, and I was reminded of the worried tone in my mother's voice when I kept asking her if she loved me.  I said I did, and that I loved her too.  She then tumbled into a story about her own levels and layers of loves.  And I wondered -how in this crazy world do people find each other and grow and connect enough to get to the point where you're holding hands on the couch and are able to form this completely comfortable friendship that a few years ago, wasn't even in existence.  It's a damn miracle, is what it is.  All of it.

My very youngest neice, Baylor, is two.  She kept saying "no no no no no" in a singsong voice when I was kissing her goodbye.  I said that i would see her in just a couple of days but she latched onto my arms and said "no no no no no" with insistence in her voice and a grip that kept tightening.  I have to forcibly remove her and her big sister from me when I am home.  I have to take them over to the kids at the playground, the birthday parties (sometimes they are THEIR own birthday parties...) and set them down and promise not to leave or go far while they play. 

Case in point:

"Me love you."  Baylor said.  Oh, and my god, how me loves her too.

My older neices and nephew....how can I even BEGIN to delve into that love?  My oldest neice is fifteen tomorrow and I remember pulling her out of her crib and singing that old George Straight song to her to try to get her back to sleep.  It was called "Blue Clear Sky" and the lyrics were dedicated to his brand-new "walkin' talkin' true love" --she was MY own new true love and I loved that girl beyond reason.  I love her little sister and brother beyond reason too.

They are as tall as me now, and they race to pull themselves up to full height beside me and exclaim that they are taller.  And yep, they pretty much are.  But, they still want me to hold them.  They clamor in my lap; ask to be carried to the car.  These 11 and 12 year old children, reaching for me with long arms as they did for so many years when we were all so very young.  I folded my 12 year old neice, Carlee, into my lap on Sunday and whispered in her ear about how proud I was of her, and requested that she please not grow up so fast.

I grabbed Logan, and his growing, gangly 11 year old body up and cradled him like a baby and play-carried him across the yard.  I nuzzled my face into his face and we both pretended like it was all fun and games.  But there was comfort there, for both of us.  "How in the world did I end up with the very best 11 year old nephew in the entire world?" I asked him.  He beamed, and ran off to spray me with a water gun, as 11 year old boys do.  It was a special moment for us.

My cousins and I embraced in desperate love and sadness over my granny's coffin two weeks ago.  I watched as Chris kissed his flower on his coat, and placed it on the coffin.  I held his waist and he locked his hand around my arm and we both shook.  Chris and I have barely seen each other two or three times over the last ten years.  But in that moment, we were completely and totally locked in and drawing comfort from another that is so like us but we can't explain it.  We just ARE.  It just is.

I'm not sure the point of this post, just missing those fingers that intertwine so well with mine as I watch my fingers grasp that coin.  Those smiles and voices and laughter that make up the fabric of my entire support system.  The ones who sustain me as I sustain them.

These are the stories of just a few.  Others abound.

Love, in its purest form.

Flip, goes the coin, let's find another side.