Showing posts from 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 th…

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 Crosb…

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


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 …

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 ha…

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 lov…

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 …

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 …

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 e…

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 r…