Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Holidays are a Bowling Alley Bar, A Juke Box, Tons of Tinsel, and Family

When I was a kid, my parents co-owned a bowling alley with another couple.  I literally spent every Saturday at the bowling alley, roaming the building, playing games, sitting at the bar drinking orange juice, and chatting with my parents' friends.  Some of the best lunches I had as a kid took place at the bar.  My dad would make my sister and I kielbasa, cut into tiny circles with a piece of cheese on each sphere.  Instead of forks, we used toothpicks to eat. Some of the sweetest moments between me and my mom took place at the bar counter as well.  I still remember cuddling up to her, my head on her chest, and her wool sweater itching my face, as she held me while drinking her grasshopper that my dad or Kathy, the bartender, had made her.  The people who worked at the bowling alley were extended members of our family.  Kathy would entertain my sister and I with a smile on her face.  I am sure we got in her way more than once but we never knew it.

Of all my favorite memories at the bowling alley, the ones that mean the most to me took place during the holidays.  The holiday parties blend together for me and I am not even sure how many I attended as a kid.  But the parties I remember left an imprint on me and influenced my interpretation of what a Christmas season should look like.  I remember the foods that people brought to share, especially the deli ham slices wrapped around cream cheese that were cut into pinwheel circles.  I remember the cookies and Scrabble snacks, the tinsel that hung around the windows that overlooked the bowling lanes, and I remember the Christmas lights.  I remember the laughter from adults and the matching sweaters and plaid skirts my sister and I wore.  I don't remember the drinks that the adults consumed, although I am sure the collective intake was voluminous.  When I think about these parties, they are saturated in blues, reds, greens and golds. It felt like one giant lit up Christmas tree and the colors are what stick with me.

To the right of the bar sat a jukebox and while I don't remember what songs were played, I remember a lot of Brenda Lee, Elvis, and...I am guessing some Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers thrown in there. "Marshmallow World" continues to be a favorite of mine, although I can't verbalize exactly why.

When I think of the holidays, two prominent images come to mind.  I always think of the bowling alley holiday parties and Christmas Eve at my grandparents' home.  My grandparents lived in a stone and brick home that sat on a corner lot.  When you walked through the door, you entered into the living room that was decorated with a Christmas tree, retro stockings, and tinsel that hung from the plastic tree branches.  The focal point, a red velvet couch that was trimmed in wood,  sat next to the front window.  I remember my grandpa's red, green, and black vest that he wore.

What I really want is to live in a 1940s or 1950s holiday movie, because it reminds me so much of my grandparents.  Deep reds, sparse and uncomfortable furniture, and lots of tinsel.  This is what I think the 40s and 50s must have been like.  Don't you?

When you're an adult, it's hard to understand sometimes why you are drawn to certain aspects or moments in life, except for that they remind you of a time when you were a kid, when you knew how to just be happy.

I always feel like my version of holiday happiness is elusive, not quite clear.  So, I decided to write a list of ways that help me celebrate the holidays and the joy of once being a kid. You may have similar rituals, or, you may think I am 100% weird.  Either way, I am putting it out there because I am the kind of kid who spent the holidays in a bowling alley bar and her evenings lounging on a red velvet couch.

My Holiday Rituals

1.  I fast forward through most of "When Harry Met Sally" and only watch the Christmas and New Years scenes.

2.  I sit in the dark, with only the light of a 2 foot tall Christmas tree, until I get a headache.

3.  I google things like "Christmas sketches on SNL," "holiday scenes in "When Harry Met Sally," "winter scenes in 'Funny Farm,'" "Christmas episodes of the 'Office.'"

4.  These 43 seconds from "When Harry Met Sally" are my favorite.  They have nothing to do with the plot but they are the visual image of what I imagine all holidays should look like.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVmGgQ9eUSE

5.  I did ALL of the above tonight...in just 30 minutes.  And, I have done this every night since last weekend.

6.  My husband is in NYC right now visiting family.  It is 50 degrees there but, in my mind, he is walking around Rockefeller Center, sipping cocoa, laughing gregariously, and bundled up in a warm scarf as he thinks about how much he misses me.  Longing and romance play a big part in the holidays for me.

7. I watch "The Apartment" every year and wish I worked as an elevator operator in the 1960s, who, upon being dumped by the married boss, falls in love with Jack Lemmon's character.

8. This!


9.  This is only Part 1 of my list.  Look out for more soon!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thirty-Five Michigan Thanksgivings and One North Carolina Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving morning and I am grateful.  The mountains outside the kitchen window are a shade of dark blue and a train whistles in the background.  My husband is baking bread and the cats are waiting for him to "accidentally" drop some goodies on the floor.  I am alive and I am happy.

But, this Thanksgiving feels awkward and a little sad to me.  This is the first Thanksgiving I will spend apart from my family.  I know that I am writing from a place of privilege and luck.  My husband has had to spend many Thanksgivings away from his family and in the last four years he has happily traveled with me to Michigan to spend the holidays with my family, even though he misses his family in New Jersey and New York.  I know that he has sacrificed time with his family to be with me and for that I am grateful.  I am lucky. 

When I was a kid we used to spend Thanksgiving at my great-aunt's home.  We ate Thanksgiving dinner in her orange and pine trimmed basement as Bing Crosby and Gene Autry sang in the background.  My sister and I would run around the basement and hide under the table as the adults played cards and talked about the turkey and upcoming Christmas holiday.  One year, when I was around five, my great-aunt accidentally poured me some wine instead of the kid friendly cranberry juice "champagne".  When I started to act more goofy than normal, my parents became suspicious of what was in my green cup.  Perhaps that was the year that kicked my holiday spirit and love of Christmas into full gear.  It may have been my most jolly of Thanksgivings as a kid.

As my great-aunt got older and my Dad learned how to smoke a Thanksgiving turkey on the grill, my parents began hosting the holiday.  Holidays with my family are loud with laughter, arguing, chatting, and the undeniable sound of the camera clicking as my dad takes photographs.  This is what I'll miss: the noise, the hugs, the bad jokes, the faces of my loved ones gathered around one table as my nephews run around the room and giggle.  And, of course, I will miss the ceremonial lifting of the turkey off the grill to bring it indoors.  The small things are what I miss most.  The fact that I have all of this to miss only shows how lucky I am.  I am extra grateful this year.

This afternoon we are celebrating Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's home.  We are packing the fresh baked bread, the bottle of wine, and our grateful hearts into the car to celebrate with other friends who were unable to make it home for Thanksgiving.  This, our new form of created family, is another reason I am grateful.  Grateful for the many shapes and shades of warmth, laughter, and abundance in my world.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Autumn Rain, Guns N' Roses, and Sinking Boats in Indiana Water



It’s the type of rain that makes your feet ache and your heart focus on all that you are missing.  This is the 8th straight day of rain and I am feeling tired. I used to believe that weather had no hold on me, that even in the coldest or most depressing of weather days, I could shine like a rainbow and pretend that I glided through the day on a magical unicorn.  Not anymore.

In reality, as a writer, I should love this contemplative weather.  The pause in beauty gives me time to regroup, gather my thoughts, and contemplate my past and present.  But, I am leaving out one key factor here, weather like this makes me lazy and sad.  In fact, weather like this makes me want to drink coffee in bed, eat a large amount of raspberry danish while wearing my pajamas, and sleep until 4 pm.  Then, get up, eat some potato chips, drink some wine out of a coffee mug, and fall back asleep.  The "Cycle of Healing," is what I call it.

When it rains during October and November, I always think of the epic Guns N' Roses song, "November Rain."  Often, "November Rain," makes me think of the field trips we had in elementary school at the local roller rink.  How, when the slow songs would come on, you'd grab a boys hand and skate in circles, without exchanging one word.  Then, I begin to think about my childhood, how everyone I love is getting older, that there is a lot to be scared of in the world, that my cats are almost 16 years old and...you see where I am going with this.  Life isn't pretty.


 


This has been my view for the past week...a rain soaked window that clouds my view of the mountains and the home of my neighbor, Jim.  As we left our apartment the other day, H rolled down his window to say hi to Jim and we chatted for a few minutes.  Jim talked about the weather, how the rain isn't supposed to stop until next week, how he hopes the creek over yonder doesn't flood, and how he saved a woman during the last flood from her car as water rushed over her by the freeway entrance.   There is something about dark skies, overflowing rivers, and saturated grounds that make me feel uneasy. I contribute this anxiety to a sailboat trip in the 1980s when my uncle took my sister and I out on his sailboat in Indiana.  It was nice spending time with my uncle and sister out on the water until our boat flipped over and I got caught under the sail for a brief moment.  When my head hit the fabric and I couldn't get out from under the sail immediately, I freaked out.  Ever since then, the idea of being surrounded by water or drowning makes me anxious.  

So, when faced with huge amounts of rain and the likelihood of flooding, I ask you, isn't staying in bed, drinking wine, and stuffing my face with potato chips the grown up and safe thing to do? 

I thought so!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Don't Want to Write About This

Have you ever tried NOT to write about something? The topic might scare you, it might seem intimidating or it might force you to face your own flaws.  I have been trying to not write about this for a few weeks now out of fear and resistance of facing the things I need to work on.  I have to face up to the fact that maybe I'm not as open minded as I thought I was.

When I was a kid, I assumed that everyone was treated fairly and with respect.  When I got older, I realized that viewpoint was incorrect.  I grew up in a suburb of Detroit that was very white.  When I was in junior high, the city decided to bus some of the students from the other side of town to our middle school.  This caused an uproar with parents, many of whom were white.  The kids being bussed in were of Middle Eastern descent and it was very clear that the fear felt by others was based on ignorance and discrimination.  Then, I went to college and majored in creative writing and women's studies.  I learned about the fragmented, racist and sexist history of our world's past, and I began to think of myself as a very open-minded, empathetic and compassionate person.  In other words, I patted my own back and told myself I was a good person.  And, I do think I am a good person, even today, but recently I learned that I still have so much to learn about this world, the world that I didn't grow up in, the world that I pretended didn't exist.

I've been with H for almost 4 years.  Most of our lives together took place in Pittsburgh, a town that is literally more than 10 times the size of the town H and I live in now.  As a Chinese American, H felt pretty comfortable in Pittsburgh.  There was a informal "Chinatown" that we frequented where he could get a taste of home, we had a diverse group of friends, and there was an element of art, culture, and progressive thinking that H and I felt protected under.  This is not to say that Pittsburgh doesn't have it's flaws, it definitely does.  Neighborhoods are still segregated, there is unfair treatment  and discrimination that takes place, and there are many who lead a difficult and challeneged life due to discrimnation and an unjust distribution of resources.  We know our former city is not perfect.  Looking back though, I can count, over a 4 year period, where H would turn to me and say he felt uncomfortable in the crowd or that he felt unwanted.  Once H mentioned his discomfort, we would leave or make a quiet departure.

As you may know, a month ago we moved to North Carolina, and since our move I've noticed a change in my usually free spirited and adventurous partner.  Before we moved we knew we would be in a sort of "shock" in regards to our way of life.  Even though the area we moved to is touted as being open minded and progressive, there are still very deep pockets where this outlook is not shared by the general public.  On a regular basis we see trucks and motorcycles waving huge Confederate flags, a flag that symbolizes to us, a pedagogy of hate, racism, and violence.  It jars us each time we see this symbol fly past our window.  And I think, we both silently wonder, if we made the right move.

Recently, H and I got into an argument.  I was frustrated that his happy mood had drastically changed, in the matter of 30 minutes, during our grocery shopping trip.  All of sudden he got uptight and on edge.  I took it personal and, to be honest, I was 100% selfish about it.  I wanted to have a fun day.  I wanted to laugh and goof around while shopping but I couldn't, the mood had switched.  As a white person, I have never had to ask myself if my presence in a public space would be welcomed.  I ignorantly assumed I would be welcomed and not judged.  My own ignorance on this issue has allowed me to live a pretty unassuming life and in turn, I subconciously turned a blind eye to the judgement, discomfort, and unease that H and my other friends felt.

Writing about my own privilege is scary because it means I have to face the facts.  The fact is I consdier myself to be a liberal and open-minded person.  I always believed that since I studied liberal arts and women's studies in college/graduate school, that I wasn't the problem but that I was part of the solution.  I was wrong.  The fact was I was hiding and, in many ways, a silent part of the problem.

I have subconciously known of my white privilege but have never fully acknowledged the effect of white privilege in my life.  Because of it, I have the feeling that I can move about freely in my community and country.  This sense of security is not shared by my husband and I've brushed it under the rug too long.  I don't know how to change this scenario, except to validate, listen, and talk with my husband about how he feels, about what his fears are, and how I can support him.  The first step in all of this, however, is opening my eyes and not turning away. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Moving to the South: Part 1

I'm not someone who deals well with drastic changes.  For those closest to me, they may re-word that statement and simply call me stubborn.  I'm ok with that because I know it's true.  I married someone who is always trying new things: new foods, new ways to be healthier, new techniques to be happier and more grounded in the world.  Part of what drew me to my partner is that he never stops working to better himself and his imprint on the globe.  But, it's also a trait that bugs me.  I like being lazy and staying in my comfort zone sometimes.  Hsiung challenges me to be better.  In certain aspects of life I am flexible and open minded; I love meeting new people, going to new places, and seeing how different experiences will change me.  But, the other side of me is the part that likes routine, likes to know what I am getting in to, likes to go to the same restaurant and order the same dish.  For a teacher that tells others to "EXPLORE! Try new things and see what happens. Change your life and see how your craft takes off" I realize I am a bit of a hypocrite.

About a month ago, Hsiung and I left Pittsburgh, a city of around 300,000 people, and moved to a town in North Carolina that has a population of about 8,000 residents.  When I looked out the bedroom window in my Pittsburgh apartment I saw parts of the city's skyline, freeways, and area landmarks.  There was a constant flow of energy felt when I lived in Pittsburgh.  Now, when I look out any window in my North Carolina apartment, all I see are trees and mountains.  In Pittsburgh, I could easily fall asleep to the sound of car horns, sirens, or the neighbor's party occurring below my window.  I could basically fall asleep to anything.  Now, when I walk out on our back deck in NC, all I hear are crickets and frogs.  In many ways, I'm really ok with that.  It's not like we live in a really rural area.  We have neighbors, stores within walking distance, and we are next to a railroad track.  As a kid, I loved listening to my mom talk about growing up in a small Ohio town and being able to hear the trains whistle as they went past her family's home.  As an adult, I still get it, I like the romantic feel of a train zooming past, but it's still a sound I'm not used to hearing.  Where are all the people?  Should I be worried that all of this "peaceful background music" will eventually drive me nuts?

Part of living in a small town is you get to know the people around you, even if you've never met them.  Take for example, Jim, the man who lives across the street from our apartment.  Our kitchen windows look directly down onto Jim's house.  In terms of appearance, Jim looks every bit the character of an older Southern man.  Jim loves flannel, looks angry all the time, and spends hours sitting outside with his dog, probably to get away from his cranky wife.  I made immediate assumptions about Jim.  I figured he was mean, racist, and ignorant.  I'm not proud of my assumptions but as someone who now lives in the south and is married to a Chinese man, I worry sometimes about our reception/place in the predominately white/Christian community.  But, one day, as we drove onto the road and waved to Jim, he waved back and yelled: "Welcome to the neighborhood!"  And, I was pretty sure he meant it. 

A few days later, Hsiung walked to the store to pick up some groceries and was gone for a long time.  When he got back home he said he had spent a good thirty minutes talking to Jim outside.  Hsiung now knew that Jim's first love cheated on  him, that Jim and his second wife raised their granddaughter because their daughter couldn't handle the responsibility, and that Jim also took care of his daughter's dog.  This is the black lab mix dog that we see Jim with every single day, chatting with as he stands outside, leaning against his car parked on the lawn.  At that moment, I knew a few things.  First, Jim was humanized and I wanted to know more about him.  Second,  I was reminded, yet again, of how complex and interesting every person's life truly is.  Third, I became acutely aware that I had my own prejudices and assumptions that I needed to work on. 

Last Saturday, as I walked down our driveway to the mailbox, I waved and said good morning to Jim and his dog.  He returned the greeting and I walked back up to our apartment.  Later that day, Hsiung went for a walk and on his way back chatted with Jim.  "You got yourself a good lady," Jim remarked to Hsiung.  Hsiung smiled and agreed and they both went on with their day.  When Hsiung told me about their conversation, I smiled and looked out the window.  Obviously, Jim knew what he was talking about.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Family + Friends = Framily: A Thank You to Our Amazing Loved Ones

Ten days ago we packed up our moving truck and left our home in Pennsylvania to make a new life in North Carolina.  During times of transition and stress, it can be hard to hold on to what matters most.  It becomes difficult to laugh when all you want to do is cry because you have 30 minutes left before you need to be out of your old apartment and there are still boxes that need to be moved and cats that need to be placed in their carriers.  It can all seem so overwhelming.

The past year has been full of "new beginnings" for us.  Our wedding was exactly 30 days before our big move...we like to cram all we can into one month in an effort to maximize stress. ha! In reality, we thought having our wedding right before our move would be a good way to wrap up our time in Pittsburgh.  And, we were right.  This morning, as I woke to a cat sleeping on my face, I began to think about the day of our wedding.  Thoughts of how much fun it was, how handsome my husband looked and how I loved having everyone close ran through my mind but I then became overwhelmed with gratitude and humility for all that was captured on that day.  A huge thanks to All Heart Photo & Video for documenting our day.

We were lucky enough to fill a room with some of our closest friends and family on our wedding day.  Loved ones from all over the country left their hectic lives for a few days to be with us in Pittsburgh and there is really no way we could ever say thank you enough.  Last night, H walked into the room and found me crying uncontrollably while watching our wedding video for probably the 1,000 time.  Lately, when we've been feeling out of sorts and lost in our new city, we'll pull out the video and watch it.  Instantly, we smile and cry happy tears.  Our happiness while watching is not only derived from the fact that we had our dream wedding but that there were so many huge hearts surrounding us throughout the day.  Friends and family played an important part in the day and the love we felt that day is still with us.  H and I keep looking at each other and say "We have amazing family and friends.  We are so dang lucky!"

When I look back on the day all I see is color.  I see loved ones surrounding us, bursting with love, laughter and dance moves that could make anyone smile.  I see brightly colored paper flowers hanging from the ceiling.  I see clear eyes, open arms and big smiles.  I see our guests, holding our rings in their hands to bless them before H and I placed them on our fingers.  I see friends in vibrantly colored outfits dancing and jumping joyfully to the music.  I see family surrounding us as we said our vows.  I see pure laughter, comfort, and no pretense.  I feel the love and guidance of loved and close friends who couldn't make the wedding. I see a room full of treasured, adored, loved and gentle humans.  I see a dedication to each other that was renewed, energized and strengthened. 

What I see is more than groups of people gathered in a room. 

I see framily. 

I see it clearly.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Upon Leaving a City and Community You Love

If you were to ask my husband or family, they would tell you that I have a flair for the dramatics.  Life is too beautiful, too painful, too much for me at times.  And, while I love that I can appreciate the moments in life so deeply, I also kind of hate it.  The confusing part is that even though I feel I am in touch with how I feel about change, I don't allow myself to express it.  Instead, I get nauseous, lose sleep, take multiple naps in a day, and watch a lot of Netflix.  At least I can now acknowledge my coping skills, right?

In 16 days, my new hubby and I will pack up our Pittsburgh apartment and move to NC so that H can attend acupuncture school.  When I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2010, I really thought I had landed in the city where I would always live.  But, life had other plans when I met and fell in love with H.  The South is now calling my name, ever reluctanctly and quietly.

We have known for a year that we would be moving to NC this summer and that has been both a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because it has allowed me to soak in and squeeze the people and city I love so much.  I take time to reflect on the city skyline during my morning commute, I am more present when slinging back a beer with good friends, and I am more aware of our friends' smiles and laughs.  I am continually reminding myself to "remember this moment" and to not take it for granted.  The downfall of knowing that you will eventually leave the city you love is that you know that you will be leaving.  There is no getting around it.  The date has been determined and a new apartment has been found.  Time, it seems, doesn't care that you want the days to slow down.

To help myself cope, I created a mini-guideline for moving out of Pittsburgh.  Here it goes...

Upon Leaving a City and Community You Love...

1) Spend as much time with friends and loved ones as possible.  And, when it's time to go home, go in for that extra hug.

2) Forget about the places you wish you had visited while living in the city.  Try to go to the places you love as often as possible.  In translation: Spend as much time at your favorite divey bar with great friends as you can.

3) Let yourself cry, especially when you're by yourself, sitting on the couch with 2 elderly cats, and watching reruns of Parks and Rec.  Go for it, you'll feel better.

4) Tell your community of friends and loved ones how much you'll miss them and write them sappy notes that explain why they mean so much to you.

5) Laugh as much as possible.

6) Ignore the fact that for the past 2 weeks you've been living amongst boxes and unorganized chaos.  The boxes will be there for you to pack when you get home or wake up from a much needed nap.  Somehow, no matter what, everything will make it to your new home.

7) Plan your wedding a month before your big move.  This may only apply to a few people but I am so glad we got married right before our move.  It made being surrounded by our closest friends and family that more special.  We still look at each other and can't believe how wonderful the night was.  We know some really awesome people, from all over the country, with huge hearts.

8) Remind yourself that you've done this before.  You've left a city of friends that you love and you are STILL friends with those amazing people.  Distance does make it difficult to hang out but you can always remain connected.

9) Remind yourself that this is life.  Life is built on change and adventure.  I'm a conflicted person that loves stability but gets bored easily.  If I didn't leave Pittsburgh, who knows if I would really dig into why I love this town so dang much.  Leaving forces you to look back on your experiences, the good and the really scary, and recognize that you are still standing here.  You're stronger than you think.

10) Take it all in.  The impromptu crying, the awe of the view out your bedroom window, the crazy Polish neighbor that looks into your kitchen from his window and waves, the cranky employee at the local bagel shop that is only nice to your husband. Take in all of the quirks, annoyances and beauty of the city and promise to remember it but also let it go.  There is a town of homemade biscuits, mountains, local pubs, bookstores and poems out there for you to conquer. 

11) Take a deep breath and jump in to your life as it is right now.  It's worth it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Am I A Human Robot?

I've been a detached human lately.  When life gets stressful and there are millions of unknown details up in the air, I tend to shut down and watch bad television.  When I lived alone this technique worked for me.  I could shut out the world, eat a bag of potato chips and watch endless reruns of good NBC comedies.  But, when you live with someone, you can't shut down and not talk about future plans.  You need to talk things through and strategize.  I am not the best at this.

To paint a picture, I am writing this morning before work, drinking coffee that H made and eating a piece of old birthday cake.  We are moving in 2 months, I need to work on job applications, tie up some ends for our wedding next month, and I need to find available apartments in NC to look at for our trip down later this week.  I am freaking out, but, I can't even put into words the emotions swirling in my head and heart right now.  I've always been an emotional person, I can cry for small reasons at any moment...a StoryCorps piece, a good book, and my gratitude for the people in my life.  Given the right moment, I could cry while watching a sports team win a big game.  This is all fine, but when it comes to real life stressors, I can't access my cry factor as easily.  So, last night, when my partner told me that he felt disconnected from me, I put down the bag of chips and tried to act like an adult. 

The part that is tricky, is that I have never really felt like an adult.  I recently turned 36, and to me, it feels like I am still awkwardly thrashing about life.  The day after my birthday, I decided that I needed to think about how I wanted my 36th year to look like.   I decided to unplug from the television and social media, as much as I can, and stare at the life in front of me.  This means completing tasks that are not glamorous or even fun, but, they are the steps I need to take in order to draft the way in which I want my life to look. And, while I have moments of pure doubt, stress and fear, I have a feeling that this robot will make a new life in NC this summer and find her path.

At least that is what I tell myself.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Slowing Down and Being Brave

I'm a person who likes to dream.  I usually dream of owning a small bar with my sister and living in Northern Michigan in a log cabin, possibly on a cherry farm.  But, as a writer, when it comes to entering writing contests, I freeze up and talk myself out of it.  I convince myself that it would be a waste of $20 to enter the contest because I clearly won't win.  This type of thinking has never helped me in the past and I always tell my students NOT to think this way.  So, when I recently read an article about a woman who is giving her Maine inn away for $125 and a winning essay, I froze with excitement and negative talk. 

However, at this point, I'm tired of the defeatist talk.  I may not have a good chance of winning the contest/inn, but shouldn't I try?  Because, how amazing would it be if I actually won?!?!?!

So, this weekend I will begin working on the "inn essay" and I will let myself really dream.  If you'd like to donate a few bucks towards the entry fee, leave a note below and I'll write you a personalized poem in gratitude.  And, if I win, those who donate get yearly free stays at the inn.  Let's dream!

http://happyplace.someecards.com/cool-hotels/if-you-can-write-a-200word-essay-you-can-own-this-maine-bed-breakfast/

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Slowing Down


Today, while curled up in an afghan my mom made me, I looked at a photo of toast that my dad sent me.  It seems like an odd combination but that afghan and picture of toast reminded me that I need to slow down.

I have a lot going on in my life right now.  And, while I tend to thrive creatively in chaos, I am feeling unnerved.  In the next 5 months I will move to a new state, leave behind a city full of friends that I adore, get a new job, get married, find a place to live, and somehow find a new writing community in a place totally foreign to me.  Besides getting married, I am scared and freaking out.  I am excited for all that is on the horizon but it seems completely overwhelming.

So, when I turned to my dad's photo and my mom's afghan it struck me that what matters most are the tiny moments throughout a day that make up a life.  Yes, we have a lot to plan for, but you can only plan so much for the future.  What happens now is what deserves our attention.

It may be just a red and orange blanket.  And, it might just be a picture of homemade onion bread.  But, to me, they are gentle reminders that I have been ignoring the simplicity of life, the sweetness in the cracks and the stories in the dust.