Sunday, January 31, 2010

Frozen Farmers Market

This pic is of my very small takeaways from the Farmers Market today, plus the enchilada sauce I had to get from the drugstore. We've got about 5 inches of snow on the ground here in DC, and I was a little surprised they still were holding it since its all outside. But, looks like everyone just bundled up and headed out, and there was a pretty good crowd out. Maybe cabin fever since yesterday it snowed and nobody seemed to want to leave their houses.

Anyway, I feel pretty lucky to have that right outside my door. And look at those eggs! The pic doesn't do them justice, but they're huge. Well, compared to grocery store eggs anyway, and I finally feel like I'm more at 'home' when I can get stuff straight from the grower like that.

I got a fresh onion, and it was the missing ingredient in Ms Moon's enchiladas I'm about to make.

I'll set the laptop on the counter, open to the recipe, and sometimes have to email her for help in the same way that I have to call my mother to ask her about things like if I really need to use fabric softener, and if so, how much?

And I'll be grateful to have found this little blog community, that shows me every day different ways to love, to look at life, and to create.

Even if it's just creating dinner :)

PS...what do people DO with red potatoes? Cook them like regular potatoes?


Veggies in the pan, and Ms Moon's post up beside.

The final product! Enchiladas with blackbean/cheese topping.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Re-charging my heart batteries

I'm sitting on a plane, about to take off after a weekend in Kentucky at home. I had a tearful moment after going through airport security, when I looked back to see my two youngest nieces with their hands and faces pressed against the window. Waving goodbye to them tore at my heartstrings, but I have no regrets about leaving again.

That said, it was a beautiful weekend with my family and two old friends that squeezed in time to see me.

Things I am leaving with:

A shirt, pants and an orange 'shamwow' washcloth from my sister, for reasons I still don't get.

A hundred thousand hugs and kisses from 8 of my 9 nieces and nephews, all four of my stepsiblings, all four of my parents, and two of my best friends ever.

A very likely head cold from all the little ones who wouldn't get, literally, out of my face for more than a few minutes ;)

3 new rings, picked out by two oldest nieces and given to me by my stepdad.

They're probably not worth much in value, but I"m leaving feeling like the richest person in the world, going home to a life that still feels like make-believe.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Leaving

"And if that's how you're going to leave, straight out from underneath, then we'll see whose sorry now..."

Most of my life has been spent waiting for the other shoe to drop. One good day would almost certainly be followed by a bad one when I was growing up, and this has led to a very tough time living "in the moment." For I am always thinking of what would come, and planning for the time the rug would be pulled out from under me.

Because it always, always was.

One excellent day with the family would turn into battles the next. As we've grown and evolved, this happens less frequently--but it hasn't stopped me from keeping one eye proverbially open on any given day, wondering when all the family harmony would turn on its head.

I've had many friends that I've loved dearly for years, one day stop returning my phone calls claiming life simply got in the way. As though their lives no longer included me--and I suppose they don't. For a variety of reasons--the babies came, a long distance move was made, etc. No matter what it was, it didn't include me anymore.

I recall the first wedding I was ever in--my god, it was hot. I stood under the sun, watching the two of them, and I knew it would last forever. Indeed, I have told her often that if they ever get divorced, I'm just done--hanging up the hat, and no pressure, I add. But please, please...just stay together. She laughs and assures me all is fine, and I believe her.

She hugged me as I got in the car when it was over, told me she loved me--and for a couple of years, things were the same. Now...we talk maybe two or three times a year. I think of the next wedding I was in--a girl (woman, I guess I should say now) I have known since we were very young. Friends in high school, as close as you could be through college...then, well, nothing. She had her babies, and quit calling. I tried, and then eventually stopped trying because after you reach out over and over and find no one reaching back for you, you have to stop.

I'm not trying to beat up only those whose weddings I've been in--only that it's metaphorical in the sense that until that moment, I'm someone there. Someone they want right next to them as they make a major decision in their lives, and I'm always there to hold their hand.

And then, they let go of mine.

It's making me pull away from my friends as I get older, I think. Because I know what's coming, what's just over that next hill.

Over, and over, I am the reliable friend. Ever waiting to catch someone if they fall and some of them do fall often--then, ashes ashes, we all fall down.

But what about when I need someone's shoulder to lie on? Often, I am left alone save for a precious few. If I try, I get empty answers of those who just don't care or understand. I don't want platitudes, and the "it'll all work out's". I need honest answers, real responses about what may be going on in my life.

This really isn't something that has been sparked by a particular incident or person, just something I've been kicking around in my head, as I ride the subway every morning and every night with 20 people pressed up against me--each of us as alone as the person whose arm we're touching.

And it occurs to me that perhaps, I need to be the one doing the leaving.

I need to be the one to let go of the hand, before it lets go of mine. My co-dependent nature does not often allow for this...I care entirely too deeply about other people, and their hurts and pains become my own. But when MY hurts and pains become a mere sidebar, or worse, something they don't bother to learn about, why on earth should I be there waiting for them on the other side?

This has been a disjointed post, and prompted by almost nothing and very nearly everything. I suppose I just miss the people I used to have in my life, the ones who knew every expression on my face. The ones who have since let go of my hand--and it's just time to let go of theirs.

Maybe being here is a fresh start in every sense, and I should sever ties with those who I know will not notice if I were to fade onto the outskirts of their consciousness.

Sometimes I wonder if they would ever even notice I was gone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What Goes Around

"What comes around, goes around, goes all the way back around..."

So, I have no idea why I'm still awake. Probably because I slept til nearly 8am today, since I didn't have to be at work til late, and then I got a second wind when I was cleaning out a bunch of stuff from the kitchen for the contractor to come tomorrow to put in my new stove and microwave.

My oldest nieces and nephew are my newest Facebook friends. It was a little strange at first, because at 14, 12 and 11, they haven't really been privy to my life outside of me being their Aunt Stephie. They've honestly had no idea who I really am, what I do outside of the occasional family cookout, etc.

It's honestly been refreshing for us all. I love them to pieces, and now I get a way to tell them anytime I want. If I post a simple status update, they are the first ones to respond. They send me messages; tell me about their days. When school was canceled due to snow last week, they all 3 raced to tell me first :)

In a way, I am also seeing their lives in a way I never would have before. Funny how well we think we know these little people whose diapers we've changed, long after they've grown away from us.

My big guys (what I call my oldest nieces and nephews) have had some tough rows to hoe lately. Their parents got divorced last summer, and both remarried so fast it made all of our heads spin. Their dad got remarried in the fall, and I noticed tonight that he had joined Facebook since he had commented on one of the kids' pages.

I clicked on his profile, and it was full-on a ride down memory lane. This is the same guy, who, when I was 12, took me swimming at the place where he worked and bought me chocolate milkshakes. Who threw me up in the air and let me do all kinds of twists and turns because he would catch me. I used to lay on my sister's shoulder when I was 13 and she was 17, and listen to them talk on the phone. They were so in love. Ryan--my very first brother-in-law, who became my very first introduction to relationships, through my sister's. As bizarre as it sounds, it's true. When we are very young, we watch those who are older to see how relationships should be.

And watch them, I did. Watched them have their first baby when I was 14, and they were 18 and 20. Watched as they got up with the baby in the middle of the night--I couldn't really help that since they put the crib in MY room. I watched as they struggled, and then had baby numbers two and three.

So here I am, 28. My sister and Ryan are both well into their 30's. Both remarried, both with stepkids of their own. I was looking at pictures tonight of Ryan's stepdaughter, of his wife, of his new life. Of how his own stepdaughter now has two families, and I knew how hard it must be for her when I noticed she had step-siblings now on both sides.

I saw how his wife "tagged" my nieces and nephew as her children.

But they're NOT her children. Where was she when Shelby wouldn't stop sucking a pacifier at 4? When Logan and Carlee wet the bed until midway through elementary school? Where was she when they were born, when they walked and talked and the time Carlee had a bad fall down the stairs and I think all of our hearts collectively stopped beating?

But they are not my children either. They are not even "real" nieces and nephews to me, and it struck me watching them move into having two families, just as I have done, how strange it all really is. We all shuffle and twist and turn to fit into families that are not what we were born with. We must grab onto our parent, and trust that they will put us in a new family with them that will suit.

I remember doing that. I remember hiding behind the couch when everyone would fight, and I remember telling people at school that I wasn't an only child anymore because I had new sisters. It's such a HUGE adjustment, and it's one that has impacted the course of my entire life.

For where would I be, without the eight loves of my life? My eight nieces and nephews who would be walking this earth as strangers to me, had my parents not given a second glance to their second spouses. I am telling the story of just three of them, and I could write novels on the other five.

My life has been forever changed. And, through an hour on Facebook, I'm watching their lives be forever changed. I'm seeing a tiny glimpse into their "other" life, and I know now that they will be forever lost to me in a way they wouldn't have been before. They will always be invested in another family; they will have siblings and aunts and uncles and babies I won't ever know.

It gives me a new appreciate for my mother, who I know struggles with the fact that I have another life soley apart from her with my father's family. Especially because there are new babies on that side, my little guys who I know I reference often on this blog. It reminds her of when there were babies on our side, and life was so different for us all then.

It all seems so fragile sometimes.

At Christmas, I didn't even get over the threshold of my grandmothers door before they were attacking me and trying to leap into my arms. Sometimes they forget they're now taller than me, and sometimes I forget I can't pick them up anymore when I fold my long-legged 12 year old in my lap. They love me, and I love them fiercely. And they know it. They'll know it, for as long as they want to know it, and I will pray that it is enough.

That these faint lines and thin strings that hold us all together, will prove stronger than we know.

Me, and the girl I used to rock to sleep, at Christmas this year. I can't believe we look the same age now!

"I close my eyes, I turn around, and you're almost grown."

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's a better day today. I got out and moved, alot, and that definitely helped. With no car here in the city (and that is still taking some getting used to), I walk a bunch more just in my day-to-day living as I did before.

This is a little bit different to me than the way I used to go walk/jog at the arboretum, which some may remember as a pretty regular habit I developed last spring and stuck through the summer until the cold took over --then I started packing moving boxes for my exercise.

I think the main difference is that I don't FEEL like I'm doing something good for myself by moving the way I did before. I'm not complaining about this or anything, it's just different to be walking to move from point A to B, than being outside with the grass, trees, and sunshine and making a conscious effort to MOVE while I'm outside. I would think about things, listen to my podcasts, and just feel good about being out there doing it. Now--it's just my new lifestyle to walk and I do it because I have to.

Perhaps those two mile walks every other day were my preparation for this :)

I walked out to go pick up a bagel this morning and I looked to my left and my jaw literally dropped. Before me, was the biggest Farmers Market in DC and there were vendors everywhere with fresh vegetables, salad mixes, fresh bread, organic meat and eggs....I may never, ever go to the grocery store again.

Walking among all those people and "home" feelings when I look at stuff pulled directly from the dirt of West Virginia, then driven to me early this morning --well, that's my kind of Sunday morning church service. I had already gone to the store yesterday, and I'm trying really hard not to spend any money at all on things I don't need so I just browsed. But seriously--I really may not go to the grocery store anymore for stuff like that. I would ten times rather give my money directly to the grower and know it's fresh and good food. And it's here every Sunday! I am going to love that.

So that was a nice surprise to start my day, and then I went shopping for a few hours. I got a new purse, new jacket and a really nice name-brand piece of luggage that was marked down to $59 bucks from $200 so I grabbed it up.

On another note, I had a few thoughts today about what triggered my emotions last night.

You know, everyone keeps telling me how proud they are of me. Off here on my own, trying to "do something" with my life, making these tough transitions and living in the big city.

Folks at home feel like I'm off doing exciting things, and I think when I have nights like the one I had last night--sitting in my pajama's watching TV--I feel like a double-loser. Because I'm supposed to be doing these wonderful things. I'm supposed to be drinking in trendy bars, laughing with groups of new friends, doing my glamorous work. Everybody's so proud of me, after all.'s just a job. And I'm still me, and I sometimes have nights where I want to be in my pajama's.

I've been here for one month today. Just one month. I haven't had time to make a ton of friends, settle into routines, or really anything at all. It will come slowly, and I need to remember that everyone is still proud of me even if things don't come to me overnight. And that the only reason they might expect it to is because THEY love me--why wouldn't everyone else at first sight?

So, it's a process. And the loneliness is just something that I will work through. The occupational hazard of moving somewhere by yourself is that most of the time, you will be -well, by yourself.

I knew it going in, which was why I wasn't jumping up and down screeching with excitement. A quiet eagerness for what will come, but I knew that quiet nights would precede anything wonderful that may happen. That I will be on my own for a bit, so to speak, before I find my tribe.

Tonight I'm going to play trivia in a bar with my friend, and a few of her friends that I've met. I'm freezing chili for leftovers, baking chicken for my dinners this week, and switching to my new purse and for some reason, that makes me the happiest of all. What is it about filling up a new purse that makes me so excited? I'm the least girly person you'll meet, but for some reason, I do like that.

Ok -off to keep living my glamorous life. I'll try to remember all the little people out there when I hit the big time :)

Thanks to you all for your comments on the last blog--I needed to hear them.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Just let me hold you while I'm falling apart...just let me hold you, and we'll both fall down."

It's not a very good night for me tonight.

I had a fine day--kinda good, actually. I got alot done, and my cable is now hooked up and I'm all caught up on all my errands.

I guess I just spent too much time on my own, and that always affects me this way. I wrote a long post, and then just saved it for later, deciding it was too depressing.

Why do we have such a need to alert others when we feel down? When we are depressed, sad, whatever? All it does is bring others down, and yet we reach out to those we love and try to use them as ladders as to climb ourselves out the dark place. But all we do is drag them down into the hole with us.

And we'll both fall down.

I am going to bed in a few, and hoping that tomorrow is a better day. I think the sun is supposed to be out, and I am going to walk even though it'll still be in the 30's. But I know myself, and I know my body needs to be in sync with my mind and we both need to move.

Today I didn't lean on anyone--no one needs to come down here with me. They don't need to feel this uncertainty, this loneliness, the fear that comes with just not knowing what the future holds. Will I ever find anyone? Will I ever get to the point where I'm close to the life I want to be living?

No one needs to be down here with me. But sometimes, I wish someone was.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Aftermath

I've written alot in the past months about the constant evolution that seems to be defining my 28th year. I feel myself experiencing a sort of re-birth, like I'm going through puberty all over again, and discovering things within me that I never knew were there at all. This is, in part, why this move is such a major step for me.

As some may know, this is not the first time I picked up and moved to DC. The last time I was 22, fresh out of college for one week before I came here to do an internship and that was all she wrote. I fell into complete and total dumbstruck love with this city, the people, the smells, the politics, the way that every single bar had some sort of name like The Caucus Room or Front Page News or whatever. For a then-politics junkie, it was like a sort of heaven.

It was the first time I'd ever really left Kentucky, aside from studying abroad to Denmark in college. I'd certainly never lived on my own, not really, outside the comforts of a dorm and parents an hour away. I loved my work, even though I had a boss who was absolutely from hell. I remember standing in front her, literally shaking, as she threw something I wrote back at me and told me never to give her shit like that again. When I was walking out, she said something along the lines of why she couldn't understand why she kept hiring such worthless people. I cried at the bus stop that night, when I finally left at 9pm, and decided I would quit after six weeks if I could last.

I stayed for another 18 months.

I defied that crazy bitchy woman and just...showed up. I just kept waking up and going, every day, and I know I've earned her respect because of it. When I took this current job, she emailed me and told me her congratulations. It made me stronger, made me work harder, to never accept mediocre when it comes to work I give to someone else. It taught me that after that, not much would frighten me or ever really seem THAT bad at my job.

I grew to miss Kentucky, and in an extreme nutshell, ended up moving back there for four years. I got comfortable. I had two nieces and two nephews born, I experienced my two families going through several re-births and re-arranging of all our lives. I got to connect with all my step-siblings in ways I never would have otherwise. I fell in love. I got proverbially kicked in the stomach repeatedly (or so it felt/feels) because of that unfortunate love. I gained weight, then I lost even more. I got complacent. I turned down job offers elsewhere, and spent a couple of years running in place with my life.

The job offers kept coming to come back here, and finally this one came and it was too good to pass up. And I was ready. I knew it was time, and I had a quiet resolve that this year, my life was going to change. Because I would make it change.

So here I sit, within a city block of that old rowhouse I shared with a friend. The house where I used to sit on the porch and drink beer, and where I first decided that maybe--this city this could be home, too. I could maybe have two homes, just like when I was a kid, shuttling back and forth between states with my overnight duffel.

This past week has been the strangest, longest week I've had in a very long time. My parents came and went, we survived an 8 hour drive in the car with my cat, and I finally am getting things settled. I've gotten my books all in the shelves, but I still can't find my socks...but, I am confident they'll turn up :)

I'm on day 3, and it's still hard to wrap my mind around this being home again. My friends here in DC keep gently correcting me when I refer to Kentucky as home with a response of "you ARE home."

And through it all, I need to think of it like that. I'm so sick of living my life with a limited window of time--thinking that next year, I'll do this kind of job. Or that in two years, I'll move somewhere else.

Home is where I hang my hat right now, and in the corner I see two old baseball caps hanging on a chair corner (see them below?). So this is home, for me, for right now.

And right now, is all that matters.