Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

Another year, gone.

As I reflect back on 2011, I am forced to put my humility aside and declare that yes, 2011 was truly a banner year; one to be immensely proud of.

The year started slow and stressful with Mike and I immersed in the housing market coming off our wedding in late 2010. In the Spring I applied to school and began searching for a new job, ready to move on from my current position after 7 years. We found a house and began making preparations then things moved at lightning speed and feel as if they have only slowed down now, just in time for the start of a new year.

A quick and lovely birthday trip to North Carolina to visit with my brother in May kicked things off. Then we were consumed by moving preparations and finances until June when we closed on our house. Then it was two weeks of living in two places and working around the clock to prepare the new house for moving into. Once we moved in the work continued for two weeks until we went on our annual vacation to Cape May with great friends. Somewhere in there we braved a BBQ, which was just lunacy in hindsight, but hey, people wanted to see the house.

We worked hard through August and I participated in the race of my life early September, my biggest accomplishment to date, which you can read about here.

I started a new job three days later, September 14, and got accepted to Saint Joseph's University within the week. Of course by now I was begging Mike to be careful every time he stepped out of the house and calling my Mother just to tell her I love her certain that the shoe would drop at any second. This run of good fortune was leaving me skeptical and nervous.

We picked up the pace on the house again so that it would be ready for our "Annual Oktoberfest Party in Honor of Mike's Birthday". It came down to the wire. We finished painting the dining room hours before the table was delivered, exactly one week before the party. Our first big party in our own home went off without a hitch, if you exclude my having possibly been "over-excited". Nearly every one of our greatest friends plus many more were there and after that the house felt properly christened.

Another race in November and a quick two and a half day trip to Cape May with my Mom to cross something off her bucket list and an extremely busy social life brings us to the present. Mike and I went to New York, together, for the first time in our relationship. We got to see the Giants destroy the Jets live on Christmas Eve.

In summary, 2011 was the year we bought a house, I switched jobs, got accepted to University, and ran the race of my life, which I am happy to say I will be participating in again this July. It's the year I joined a writing group, my Mom's knees were replaced, my best friend got engaged, and I went to my very last Harry Potter film.

Now we're feeling tired and eager to bring in the new year alone in our house playing a new video game. I'll wake up January 1, 2012 and participate in a five mile race to start things off strong. 2012 will be a healthy and fun year now that there's no wedding to plan, house to buy or career move to work toward. This year will really be about Mike, myself, and the two of us together (with Cooper). We both have big plans for ourselves that have had to take a back seat and now we're eager to spend more energy focusing on ourselves.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spartan Race Report - 9/10/11

A few months ago my good friend, Rudy really stepped up his work outs and started working hard to lose weight and get fit. He picked a goal several months out, sort of a culmination of his training if you will, and that is the super challenging 12 mile Tough Mudder obstacle course race in November. His ambition quickly became contagious and others around him began working out and eating better, myself included.

Because I have raced a whopping two races I considered myself more experienced and suggested to Rudy he do a race in advance as sort of a dress rehearsal. He had already planned to and found something called the Spartan Sprint, a 3.5 mile obstacle course. Although I have no desire whatsoever to take on the Mudder, this Spartan thing sounded reasonable so I decided to sign on to show Rudy my support and have something to train for in the meantime.

We didn't have much to go on. The Spartan is a touring obstacle course style race. There are three levels, each varying distances, culminating with the Spartan Death Race which boasts a 10% completion rate. We were told the Sprint was around 3.5 miles, hilly, muddy and that there would be about a dozen obstacles. There was no course map, no description of the obstacles - pretty much nothing but a location and a date.

Two days prior to the event we received an email with some crucial information like our bib numbers, etc. Also included was a note from the Race Director saying that the course was shaping up nicely and is 4.5 miles, 2.5 of which is up the mountain. We then found out the the PA Spartan Sprint is the longest and hardest of the lowest tier of Spartans. And that was only the beginning.

We arrived yesterday at the race and were immediately intimidated. We said it several times yesterday and I will say it again; thank God we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into, because we most likely would not have shown up.

We talked to some folks, including a women who quit a quarter way through, and watched the top five finishers cross the finishing line. All we knew at this point was that no one was actually running up this mountain, and that as we approached the finish we had to jump over fire, climb a wall, throw a spear into a target and do burpees as punishment if we missed (think jump, squat into a push-up then stand back up thirty times). Lastly, we had to face three incredibly fit people dressed as Spartans with jousts who hit you as you passed. Fun.

Ironically, at the peak of the mountain we could see some movement. The people up there were as big as ants to us at the base and we wondered what was going on up there. Little did we know this would be our toughest obstacle or that I would collapse up there in a few hours.

We queued up at the Roman style pillars for our 12:00 heat start and did our best to amp ourselves up. Our Spartan host informed us we would be facing "dozens" of obstacles. Rudy and I looked at each other with wide eyes at the word "dozens". What the hell happened to a dozen? We were about to jog into the unknown.

Before we knew it we were off jogging into what would be 2+ hours of torture we would often exclaim we actually paid $100 for (including the mandatory insurance of course). I was in way over my head.

The incline kicked my ass five minutes in and I was hoofing it gasping in air. Most people were. And oh look, a wall. I hoisted myself up and over the first wall then crawled under a second then up and over again and under. By the third wall (about fifteen minutes in) I failed two attempts and a man asked if I needed help and yes, I asked him to "shove my ass over this thing".

The incline was torture. The obstacles were just uncalled for and mean. Rudy and I mostly stuck together 2/3 up the mountain (about 1/3 of the race). As if walking straight up a mountain isn't enough they threw in some tunnels for us to crawl through for fun, I'm sure. If that wasn't fun enough at least Rudy threw grass at me and I tried to knock him unsuccessfully into the side of the tunnel. When everyone is suffering it's best to make your own fun.

To emphasize how steep the incline was - two parts of our course upmountain (uphill does this no justice) were so steep that there were ropes to help us hoist ourselves up. Rocks we used as foot holds gave out and trees we used to grab on to bent. This was no hike in the woods. There were other obstacles on the uphill that my brain blocked out.

I wanted to quit fifteen minutes in to this hell and caught up to Rudy as he was resting a moment and told him so. I also told him we can no longer be friends. (This was his idea after all). He admitted the thought of quitting was crossing his mind as well and he would if I did. I don't recall this but Rudy said after this exchange I took off running so he did as well so I wouldn't get a lead on him. We didn't speak of quitting again out loud (although I know I thought it).

We parted ways about 2/3 up the mountain. I just couldn't keep up. The last third of the uphill was excruciating. People were dropping off to the sides every where and some were even vomiting. I developed the chills and began to shake. Every hair on my body stood. But I could still see Rudy up ahead and I knew I had to keep going. But I grew increasingly nervous over my current physical state and finally told a man suffering beside me how I felt. He said I wasn't getting enough oxygen and that I should put my hands over my head and take deep breaths. We stuck together a few more yards (which took minutes) and I finally sat. The view was incredible. I was so high up the mountain that I knew I was far beyond the point of quitting. The top of the mountain (and I knew water would be up there) was within sight. I continued onward taking baby steps leaning forward. It felt like hours, but I made it.

I expected a water station, but I faced a hell far worse. Immediately to our left was the double diamond ski slope. I was told I had to fill a five-gallon paint bucket half way (men had to fill theirs 3/4) with gravel and walk 50 yards down the incredibly steep double diamond slope then back up with my bucket. I exclaimed "where's the water!?!" and was told it was after I completed this obstacle.

The slope was so steep that our buckets prevented us from tumbling forward to our deaths (if we were lucky maybe the finish line). All we could do was lean sideways and take a few baby steps and drag our bucket to catch up. If you spilled your gravel you had to scoop it back in. As I started my journey down I saw Rudy on his way up. He was a sight for sore eyes to say the least and I managed one "Yeah Rudy!". I didn't see him again until the finish line.

I collapsed on the upside. I had already walked up a mountain. I couldn't walk 50 yards up a double diamond slope while carrying a 30 lb. bucket. People were dropping like flies, apologizing to the people behind them only for them to say "it's okay, I can't move anyway". Finally, like an angel sent from above, a girl beside me said, "on the count of three we walk 10 steps." She counted the ten steps aloud and then we dropped. We rested and started again while she counted aloud. We did this at least ten times and together we made it to the top. I have no idea who she is but I may not have made it without her.

To add insult to injury there was a massive wall between us and the water. I was physically incapable of getting over the wall so I went around it. A volunteer told me to drop and do 30 burpees. I uttered a simple "no" and I guess by the look on my face he knew to leave it alone.

Finally. Water. And back down. I was half way there. I knew at this point that Rudy faced whatever I was about to face and he did it so I could too. I didn't want to see him. I knew the only way I would see him was if he got hurt.

After the water I had to lift a cinder block on a pulley up 25 feet and let it down slowly. This was surprisingly easy and I completed the task without incident. Now for the downhill and more surprises.

The downhill was incredibly technical single track. I trained on trails so I could navigate fairly quickly so I managed to pass many people who stepped aside as they heard me coming. But there was no running. This was far too steep and far too muddy. Many, many times I got too much momentum and had to grab a tree to stop myself from crashing. We spent a lot of time on our asses sliding far too fast down rocky mud using our sneakers as a steering wheel. I was constantly brushing my ass to make sure my pants didn't rip open. (Rudy mentioned he saw his fair share of girl butt LOL!)

I slid my way down a trail and saw a sort of opening. I rised, and my heart sank. Another godforsaken obstacle. This one a 20 foot cargo net to climb up and over. I have a fear of heights, but even a greater fear of faulty manufacturing. But I knew I had to do it. I made it to the top and straddled the top bar and froze a little. It took me a minute or two to swing my other leg over but the volunteer on the ground was very encouraging and told me to take my time. When I finally swung my other leg over I felt like a winner. I conquered a fear. (Later on Rudy will say that he was concerned for me as he tackled the net knowing my fear of heights. And I will smile and say I made it up and over and conquered my fear.) Rudy actually climbed the net so damn fast that the same volunteer yelled at him to slow down!

More incredibly technical single track lay ahead and it became abundantly clear that we weren't navigating actual "trails" but ways down a mountain that were created just for this race. We had to push trees and branches aside and do our best not to break our ankles (or our necks). (Many ankles were actually broken.)

I once again emerged to a clearing and saw a series of three foot tall totem poles to hop across. I made my way up onto the first one and froze. The next one was pretty far away and I did not trust my muddy sneakers. I could not step across. I had to jump across. Instead I hopped down and again refused to do the penalty 30 burpees. Fuck that shit was my attitude at the time.

After this the trail went uphill again and I was again cursing the sadistic person who developed the course. Again I passed people taking breaks off to the side. I heard running water and continued ahead to the sound of "head first folks!". A MAKESHIFT WATERSLIDE!! I didn't go head first but I jumped down onto the massive make shift plastic tarp water slide and plunged into an icy cold mountain lake and it was incredibly refreshing! I swam 100 yards to the exit making small talk with a fellow Spartan about how this was by far the best obstacle. (Yes, they put a row of barrels in our path so that we'd have to go under water.)

Little did we know we weren't finished with water. We emerged again to some sort of lake (mountain drainage hole?). We were told to grab a rope that was tied to a cinder block. We had to drag it down a hill, through waist high water and back up. By this point I have no shame in admitting I was looking for female advantages. I asked if they were all the same and was told they were. I grabbed a rope and heard "Hey dude, give that to her!" Apparently the guy a few feet ahead grabbed a broken cinder block so it was a "6" instead of a complete figure "8", He sheepishly handed it off and I was grateful for the slight advantage. The uphill was, again, a bitch to say the least.

After that more trails and then a "lovely" series of three hills (think motocross) all with waist high muddy water in between. I ran all three nearly plunging face first as I hit the water in between. This was also a little fun in retrospect. Little did I know that the second hardest obstacle lay around the bend.

I was greeted by nasty, wet thick MUD and two foot high barbed wire; VERY REAL barbed wire that my tired ass had to army crawl under. I stepped up into the mud and nearly broke my knee because my foot sank about a foot and prying it out took great effort and great suction noises. It was all hands and knees and then strictly elbows and feet FOR OVER THIRTY YARDS!! We discovered as a group about half way through after our elbows and forearms were bloodied that rolling was far easier. We turned on our sides and rolled slowly, being very careful not to snag the barbed wire. (The wire was so low that Rudy had to ball his empty camelback up in his first.)

I rised, dizzy, to face another massive wall. This was the same height I was physically incapable of getting over the first time so proceeded around it and exclaimed, "are you fucking kidding me!" because I faced another thirty plus yards of barbed wire. I made my way slowly rolling under the wire trying not to kick anyone in the head and fighting the urge to vomit. The mud had rocks in it and smelled like fertilizer. I couldn't help but think of the scene in Shawshank Redemption when Andy climbed through the sewage pipe to freedom.

I made it through, and rised dizzy, but thankful not to see any obstacles. The mud was so thick that when I shaked my arms out I head a loud "SPLAT!" as the mud hit the ground. The mud definitely added several pounds and I was completely encased. But for the first time I heard life other than complaints or heavy breathing; I heard the finish. I knew only fire, a wall, a spear and Spartans with jousts lay ahead.

I rounded the corner and I was right. There lay the spear toss. Of course I missed the target and by now I knew Rudy was waiting for me at the finish and may have spotted me even encased shoulder to toes in mud. I did the freaking burpees. Well, ten of the thirty. (We knew most people missed the target because we had watched so many heats finish. Rudy, AMAZINGLY, hit the target and applause erupted around him. I'm fairly certain this felt almost as good as finishing.)

I ran toward the U-shaped fire blaze and the heat hit me like a ton of bricks. I froze right before I was supposed to jump. Before the flames was thick mud and the black smoke was so thick and I couldn't decipher the width. I backed up for another running start and took off again and damnit, I froze again. The simple truth is that I didn't trust my legs at this point.

I ran around the blaze and got hit with a high pressure fire hose as punishment. I welcomed it at this point because it took off some of the mud. The final wall lay ahead; a slanted 8 foot pyramid with a rope to hoist yourself up and over. I ran and jumped, grabbed the rope and pulled myself to the top. Before I could get a leg over I slipped and slided down. I took another running start, grabbed the rope like my life depended on it and this time I got a leg over. I slipped down hard and crashed into a pile of hay and took off for the finish praying the Spartans took mercy on me.

By this point I was near tears from a mixture of exhaustion and accomplishment and the Spartans must have seen it in my face because one ever so gently tapped me in the belly and one tapped me in the back and they both whispered, "good job, honey". I crossed the finish to the sound of Rudy's cheers. Someone put my medal around my neck and I made my way to the water, shaking; shaking from fear I didn't have time to experience, adrenaline, accomplishment, muscle exhaustion, so many things. I did it.

I am Spartan. Rudy is Spartan. We are both incredibly proud.

*I ran the course in 2 hours, 15 minutes. Rudy ran the course in 2 hours, 3 minutes. I placed 36th out of 76 women in my heat and beat 58 men in my heat. Rudy placed 75th out of 156 men in our heat and 99th out of 232 overall in our heat. We both placed in the upper 50th percentile of our sexes. Will we do it again? I think we could convince one another of that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rainy Sunday Gratitude

I awoke this morning with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the steady rain, gratitude for the eleven hours of sleep I so desperately needed, and gratitude toward the snoozing little black dog pressed against my thigh for letting me have it.

Rainy Sundays are few and far between. They are also one of my favorite things. Blessedly, we have no plans today so therefore no obligation; a full day of anything we please with no pressure to do anything at all. Rainy Sundays induce in me a sense of thoughtfulness and reflection with a hint of creativity. My mind feels peaceful, a feeling I am sad to say is long overdue. I am absolutely relishing in the peace of my mind.

My mom asked me yesterday if our new house felt like home to me yet and I answered her, "no, not yet". I explained I wasn't sleeping well and hadn't settled in to doing all the things I enjoy yet. Ironically of course, this morning I feel more at home. It was nice to wake up to the silence of the house, knowing I could be alone for maybe an hour or two. I cleaned up the last remnants of my parents visit yesterday, made my latte with cinnamon sugar and now here I sit; almost dead center between the two massive windows that overlook our front yard on the left and our back yard on the right. The rain flicks the leaves of our dogwood tree and puddles on our porch. I can do anything I want.

Posted to 9:32 am 8/14

Friday, July 08, 2011

My Gratitude and Farewell to Harry Potter

Thursday evening I will attend my last ever Harry Potter midnight premiere.

That sentence alone leaves me feeling quite sad. Therefore I find it's only appropriate that I add my token of farewell and thanks to the ever-growing list of sentiments, and chronicle my personal story with the boy-wizard who stole my heart and the hearts of so many.

NOTE: Half Blood Prince spoilers ahead. If you've read the book, seen the movie, or don't care, proceed.

Harry Potter and the magical world of J.K. Rowling's creation came into my life late. Three books and one movie were already out. In fact, at first I rejected Harry Potter entirely. A boyfriend and I were very ill and had rented some dvds, including Sorcerer's Stone. I don't know if it was the illness or what, but we turned it off half way through.

Fast forward a year or two and I found myself in a deserted beach town mid-winter with no book. After searching everywhere for an open book store I was forced to concede and pull into a Wal-Mart. The measly half-aisle of selection yielded Romance novels, a few best sellers I had no interest in whatsoever, and Harry Potter. Many, many copies of Harry Potter. Out of a combination of desperation and the desire to keep up with pop culture (the buzz was palpable), I bought my first Harry Potter book.

I was instantly hooked.

The best thing about starting late was that I didn't have to wait for the next two books to be published. I feverishly consumed the first three and watched the two movies that were out, which I adored by the way. And then I waited. (Side note: I had a great fear of flying for a time and was headed out to Seattle. I managed to control my fear by the belief that God would not take me before I found out how Harry Potter ended. I felt strongly about this and took great comfort in it.)

Prisoner of Azkaban (Year 3) was the first movie to come out after I was hooked. My intention was to go to the midnight premiere, and every midnight premiere after that, lamenting the fact that I had missed the first two. I will never forget my first Harry Potter midnight premiere, but not for the reasons you may think.

My boyfriend at the time, whom I was obsessively and madly in love with, dumped me the evening of the premiere. This is entirely true. This break-up took a while, largely on my part (no need to tell this embarrassing tale). Lets just say it was rather late when I finally got the message. As I walked to my car desperately trying to maintain some semblance of dignity, the horrible man asked me if I would be okay and "where are you going"? I wiped my tears, turned toward him and said, "I am going to Harry Potter. I am not letting you ruin this for me." Then I turned and got into my car and drove to the theater for my first premiere. I was immensely proud of myself and grateful to Harry who was able to salve my heartache for several hours.

The fanfare of midnight premieres is great fun. There are costumes, HP theory debates prior to previews, and at the first note of that beloved intro music there is rapturous applause. The movie was brilliant, as Ron would say.

My memory of the book release of Year 4 is fuzzy. However, I recall very clearly marking my calendar for the book release of Year 5 and even getting one of those little widget count down things on my desktop for every movie and book afterward. I planned a personal day for Year 5. It came out in July. Although I lived in Philadelphia I clearly recall purchasing the book the morning after it came out (I had no interest in midnight book premieres) at the Menlo Park Mall Barnes and Noble so that I could immediately go to my favorite beach in Spring Lake, NJ. I made a day of it and it was very special.

By this time my Mom was enjoying Harry Potter too. I was so into it that I actually lamented to her how much I wished I had someone to share theories with. She went out and got the books and started reading them. I had picked her up Year 5 when I got mine. Later that day we went to a nearby dock and read quietly together. Once my Mom got into it I took her to each movie as soon as our schedules would allow once they came out (and always looked forward to experiencing each movie a second time with her).

The movie release for Goblet of Fire (Year 4) is also hazy, which I regret because I was dating my now-husband. I will have to check my ticket stubs to find out if this was his first Harry Potter movie in the theaters. I was still living in Philadelphia and we had a long-distant relationship so this would have been difficult. I know we had watched the first three together when we started dating. In fact, he bought me the third movie as a gift when it came out on DVD. I do clearly remember this. He always supported my love of Harry Potter, which is why we kept dating. ;-)

I am certain, however, that we went to Order of the Phoenix (Year 5) together at midnight. I missed the midnight premiere of Half Blood Prince (Year 6), but this was a very special year nevertheless. Mike, my husband who I was still only dating, and I were on vacation with dear friends and could not find a theater nearby with a midnight showing so everyone agreed to tag along the next afternoon even though most of them had never seen any movies prior to it. We went to the most dilapidated theater I have ever set foot in on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ. The arm rests were missing leaving rusted jagged strips of metal and your feet stuck to the floor. I recall my friend Knarr yelling "No horseplay!' at some excited kids running down the center aisle. Rudy faked a sneeze and dumped half his popcorn on Mike's head. We were a motley bunch and I am pretty certain they all tagged along out of kindness and to share in my excitement. Later, Dani confused her summer blockbusters and asked me if Dumblebee was really dead. I am happy to report though that since then Rudy has become a fan.

I was living with Mike when the Half Blood Prince book came out. By this point avoiding spoilers was nearly impossible and took great effort. I somberly cried at the death of beloved Dumbledore, and felt a sense of loneliness and fear. Afterall, who would lead us and give us the secrets of Voldemort's defeat? He was our hope, our light.

I walked into the living room, tears streaming, and asked Mike to hold me. He asked what was wrong. "I can't tell you," I sobbed. I'm pretty sure he laughed at me. He should have thanked me for not ruining the movies for him haha.

I bought the final book with a sense of sadness, knowing it was the end. The story ends magnificently, as I knew it would. The magical world Rowling has created for us lives on in our hearts. But I knew at the time that the real "this is the end" sadness was staved by the fact that there were more movies yet to be released. The news that Deathly Hallows would be split into two movies was ecstatically welcomed as a huge bonus. Part 1 was outstanding (and may very well be my favorite one yet). But now, much like Harry, we are very much coming face to face with the end. This saddens me.

Thankfully, J.K. Rowling in her infinite brilliance and compassion has given her fans Pottermore, e-books which will provide over 18,000 words of additional content including background details and settings. And there is more to look forward to. My best friend, Jess is FINALLY reading the books and we will watch the movies together, beginning with Sorcerer's stone Monday night.

And of course there will be the tremendous joy of visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL. And lets not forget the best thing; sharing this world with my children whom I eagerly await to read to.

J.K. Rowling and all of the actors in the movies brought such joy into my life. If there was no Harry Potter I would not know the difference, I know. But the joy it has brought me is tangible and can be measured. Every single Harry Potter Weekend on ABC Family excites me. That first musical note of John William's brilliant introduction brings a smile to my face. The books, the movies, the hype, the fans - it's all wonderful and so positive.

And best of all, it will live on. Thank you, J.K. Rowling.

Posted to 7/8/11

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Trunk at the Foot of my Bed

At the foot of my bed sits a trunk. It has sat at the foot of my bed, wherever that bed may have been, for the past fourteen years. In this trunk sits my memories.

This past weekend I tackled the arduous task of sorting through my memories. I feared opening that lid would be similar to that of Pandora's box. I worried that lifting the hefty stack of journals strewn across the bottom would result in my sitting back against the trunk, opening, reading, remembering. I envisioned laughing at my 12 year old self and her professions of love to boys I can't place, even after reading my own painstakingly detailed descriptions. I would cry for my fourteen year old self living too far from home in a cold condominium. I would resent my sixteen year old self for her cruelty to her mother. And I would fear for my twenty year old self and what lay before her in the coming year. Lastly, my breath would catch at all the thousands of memories I've since forgotten hidden amongst those pages. And I would inevitably alternate rage with tears.

There was just no need to face any of this. Not now.

So I approached the trunk with ambivalence, but also a sense of purpose. I flipped the pages of a random journal, my foreign handwriting looking insecure, as if it was only whispering its thoughts. I picked up another and read the inside cover and couldn't refrain from whispering a hurtful "fuck you" to the person whose left hand wrote the inscription. My penmanship in this journal was harsh, angry; like the straight edges of the words themselves could cut the reader. I didn't allow my eyes to form sentences, I only flipped the pages. I crossed the room to my end table to pick up my current journal. The hand writing is sloppy, rushed, but purposeful. My handwriting over the years tells a story in itself.

Journals stacked on the side, I lifted my baby blanket and found a large collection of papers sealed with twine in a plastic folder. With a sigh and a smile, I sat. For in that folder were my writings. Stories, poems, letters; it was all in there, even a few drawings. I don't have the heart to get rid of a single yellowed page, even though I understand it's just the musings of a young girl. I like to think one day a child of mine will stumble upon this folder, perhaps in an attic, and will get to see a side of their mother they didn't know.

Also crushed near the bottom was my brother's wide brim Bushmaster hat he gave me a week after my thirteenth birthday. Actually, to say he gave it to me is a lie. He told me I ruined it and should just keep it. You see, I wore it in the pouring rain while sitting on the beach watching he and his friends surf and the brim got all droopy. I wrote a story about that hat and the day for English class. It's in the folder of course with a large "A" adorning the top.

I sorted everything I kept from Mike and spent the most time looking at the letters, cards, ticket stubs, show flyers, as I knew they would bring me no hurt. I sorted notes and cards from my mother into a separate pile as these are equally important artifacts.

I was relieved to see evidence that I undertook this task sometime in the not so distant past as the most difficult sentiments (including those from past loves) were already condensed to a few special items, mainly for the simple sake of remembering. I recall I did this soon after Mike and I became engaged. It was clearly the time to let go so that's what I did.

Other random items include the brown and white plaid apron my childhood self wore as I waitressed my play food, my puffy painted name still intact; my sister-in-law's garter, which I caught the day she and my brother were married; my favorite pocketbook, worn beyond repair, which Mike affectionately referred to as my bag of death; a yellowed album of every card I received for my first birthday, now permanently stuck to its backing. I think of my Mom and how she was once the kind of mother who was organized and made this album. I believe it is the last of its kind.

And the pictures! My God, the pictures: the remnants of my mother and father's wedding album, the plastic sheets slashed by the razor my mom took to its pages. Boxes upon boxes of our childhood photos I believe I may have stole from my mother's basement in an effort to salvage history. All this and more lays within the trunk at the foot of my bed.

Everything is now safely tucked back inside, minus the few collectibles I have decided to sell. I completed the task unscathed, except for the persistent question growing in my mind of why I choose to keep this somewhat random sampling of my life.

I am reminded that the Buddhists believe a truly happy man is a man who can lose every possession, yet still be a happy man. I can part with possessions easily, but I don't view the contents of my trunk as possessions, but strictly memories that happen to exist in tangible form. Memory triggers?

At any rate, the contents of my trunk hold my story. I don't know what is in store for me, but I do not intend to stop valuing my experiences and relationships and therefore, the contents of this trunk which sits at the foot of my bed will grow. I only hope to be well thought of enough when I've gone, that at least one person will not view my trunk as a storage box, but as a treasure chest instead.

Posted to 4/18/11

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Insomnia at 3:33

In an attempt to stifle my incessant worrying I take to pondering the question of nightmares vs. insomnia. It's been five nights of nightmares now. In one, I lost my brother's dog in a park. But mostly, I just end up without a place to live.

Tonight, sleep won't come for me.

I roll over yet again and the time of 3:33 mocks me. You don't make wishes on obnoxious numbers. My thoughts shift to drink vs. Nyquil? It is Friday. A Friday night in which I was asleep by 10:00 in order to put a period on the end of this day of worrying about where to live. Little did I know that period was an ellipsis. For here I am yet again.

I have decided. Nightmares. Definitely. Because after all, insomnia is a nightmare when you can't escape your thoughts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Renewed Interest in Words

Two years ago I took a creative writing course hoping it would stir up my latent desire to write. I wanted to be forced to write, figuring it would get me back in the habit of things. I did some writing which I was proud of as a result of the course, but then I stopped again once it ended.

A couple of weeks ago I needed to choose my words quite carefully in a letter. I wrote again, and damn it felt good. Since that day words have been coming to me on my evening walks through deserted fields with my dog, Cooper. I think the quiet darkness is quite conducive to creative thinking. Ideas and words come during the other quiet darkness as well, when I'm just about to doze off. But now instead of silencing those thoughts, I listen, and scribble them in my journal which has resumed its post on my bedside table. In this short span of two weeks I find I've been able to make just a little more sense of things. Writing allows me the chance to reflect just that much more, to grab just a few of the thousands of fleeting thoughts that saunter by on any given day, and to confide in myself my own personal thoughts. Personal writing is mainly what I have been doing so far. I've learned through writing I no longer need to carry with me the thoughts I am hesitant to express verbally or confide in others.

Writing takes time. I love cooking so I make time for it. I don't love exercising, but I know it's important so I make time for it. I will make time for writing now. Because not only do I really enjoy it, but it helps to provide me with mental well being and a positive outlet. When it's time to write and I got nothing, I will spend some time reading my writing books I purchased when I was certain I would be a best selling author (the books are quite dated needless to say).

I cannot say how often I will write in this blog, although I do hope it is a little less sporadic. If my writing remains personal, well then it will remain private. I'm not going into writing this time with an idea or specific goal of writing a book. I'm going into this for the sake of writing this time.

However, you will see I've done a little updating to the design and added labels. I haven't gone back to add labels to every post yet. Damn, I wrote a lot of crap back when I started this thing! It's been both fun and embarrassing reading backwards. I look forward to choosing my words more carefully and honing my craft.