Saturday, December 23


When I was young- between 8 and teenage years (I was a pretty easy teenager, enjoying family and family friend events) my brother and I would head to Ali and John's (family friends) for cookie making and tree decorating. We would roll out gingerbread dough on counters sprinkled with flour, cutting out trees, snowmen, gingerbread men, stars and circles. Being careful to push hard, make sure the cookie cutters did their job and we got perfectly cut out shapes.

As they baked in the oven, filling the house with smells of warm sugar, we'd prepare the table with pastry bags of colored frostings, sprinkles, silver balls and colored sugar. As the cookies came out of the oven we'd layer them on the table and dive in. I'd use reds, blues and greens to make snowmen with scarves, male and female gingerbread people and circles of frosting layered with color sugar. We'd lick our fingers between cookies, admiring our work, wondering which we should eat first.

When all the cookies were decorated we'd move them to the counter, so we could admire them as we set the table for the next event- tree decorating. Ali would put her boxes of ornaments on the table as we lined the tree with lights and garlands. We'd take out each ornament, admiring it, asking about it. Some we recognized from years previous when we'd made pasta angels that were spray painted gold, or painted ornament balls at school. I took great care in placing each one, knowing to put the heavier ones on stronger branches and ensuring that the tree looked balanced when I'd step back and survey the work thus far. As I got older I often remember doing most of the tree independently as Ali would decide which ornaments would go on and occupy Sammy who is 5 years younger than me.

I always looked forward to this day spent in the Christmas spirit. Yet, I never missed having my own tree to decorate. Spending time with Ali in her Christmas world was enough; it was what I looked forward to and enjoyed doing. I remember years when we would arrive after lunch and the next we knew it was dark out and the tree lit up the room. I never even wanted my own tree, or really though of decorating Ali's as doing something Christmassy. It was more about spending time in her warm house and playing with ornaments and sweet frosting.

I look forward to a time when I can bring my children to Ali's house. To make ornaments that will be hung, cookies that will be eaten and watch them pick and choose where to hang each ornament, knowing that some were made in that kitchen by their mother. And in my mind it won't be about Christmas, it will be about family and friends and how the time of year can bring them together, to share warmth, love and traditions.

Friday, December 22

plan, plan, plan

I'm a planner. Its just my nature. I like to know what I'm doing and when. I usually have 2-3 social "events" planned each week so I know what I'm doing at night and I know who with and where. I also really enjoy quiet nights at home with myself, but even then I'm "planning" to watch TV all night or "planning" to cook myself dinner, read and do laundry. Its all planned out.

But life doesn't work out how you plan it. And sometimes that's hard to cope with. I'm planning to move to NYC in April and there are lots of littles things that I'm planning to happen then too, buying new dishes, buying things to decorate a new apartment with, lots of them involve spending money. But there is a huge new factor in my plans- I'm moving in with The Boy- its not just about my plans anymore- he's now a crucial part of them. He doesn't like to plan. He's also in law school and therefore doesn't have the same income as me. I'm going to have to be a bit flexible in my plans, and that's hard to cope with too.

I've also realized that some of the "plans" I'd created in my head maybe aren't really what I planned on. Sure The Boy and I are ready to take the next step, even beyond moving in together, I'm ready to wear a ring he presents to me. But do I really want it to happen ASAP? Maybe I've let other people's plans invade and weave themselves into my own. So when it doesn't happen when they've planned it to, which is now when I planned it to... what then?

Well... life doesn't work out how you plan it to. And you just have take a deep breath, maybe a klonopin to help you sleep that first night when you're figuring out what your real plans are, blog about it a bit... and move through it. Because, just because it doesn't turn out how you think and just because your plans can be shot to shit, doesn't mean you can't be happy with how everything turns out. Right?

Tuesday, December 19


I got mad in the car on the way there- I was trying to talk future, apartment, sharing and he wasn't agreeable to my ideas. I think I was literally pouting.

As we walked into the restaurant he asked if I was okay- of course I said "I"m fine." He responded with, "I know you'll be fine in there, but before we go in are you okay?"

We sat down for lunch, I was smiling, talkative, the perfect guest. I felt okay.

I got up at one point to use the bathroom. You had to walk down a steep flight of stairs and the bathroom was decorated like a classic powder room. I stared at myself in the mirror. I wasn't okay. I felt a weight, a hard, heavy weight on my chest. For a minute... no... more like a second, I lost my bearings. Where was I, what was I doing? I didn't want to be there anymore.

I put my smile back on for the rest of lunch, I had to, but the weight persisted, getting heavier with each forced smile. His mother had sat me so I could look out over the water the restaurant sat above. I had seen swans floating on the body of water earlier and now I saw seagulls rising and falling over the pond. Their belly's reflected the blue of the water, creating the illusion that they were blue. The blue seagulls rose and fell and I stared, perplexed. Their blue was reflected in my mood, or maybe the other way around. It just fit.

Later in the car, as we drove- to where I didn't know- I gave in to the weight. My body turning into itself, my tears as quiet as I could make them. He pulled onto a side street and stopped, I opened my eyes. It looked like we were going into a park. He reached his hand over and took mine, I cried harder and louder, I needed to.

"I don't know what to do." He admitted. "Just hold me," I said. "I do, I want to. Its kind of hard to do when I'm driving." I turned to him, "I know" I unbuckled my seat belt and leaned into him. "Where are we?" I asked.

Later we walked around the park, to a patio behind a large stone mansion. He pulled me close to him the air around us getting cooler, our eyes turned looking out onto the water. It was blue, but there were no seagulls.

Thursday, December 7

'Tis the Season

I turn a bend on a familiar road and I'm greeted with a new sight. Have they removed some trees? Was a building torn down. Then I realize, its the season changing, the leaves are gone and I can see past the trees that have always stood there. My view is different, my perspective shifting. Maybe its a metaphor.

We're moving into a season of cooler temperatures so you bundle more, but its also a season of necessary family occasions so you spend more time greeting, talking, exposing yourself, and its a season of change - the New Year, time for renewal, promises of the year to come, motivation to better something, someone. The trees are exposed, bare for all to see, their buds waiting inside to expose themselves in the new year.
I've been stripped down, my leaves have fallen off... I can't hide anything anymore. My boss called me into her office recently, it was obvious how unhappy I was, how hard I was trying. I couldn't hide it. I didn't want to say what we were thankful for at Thanksgiving, I didn't want to cry.

Its time to start looking beyond the trees, what's past them, what's been laying there all this time that I haven't noticed before. I'm open now, I'm stripped down too, what can I share, what can I soak up.
I drive past the new perspective and "hmm" to myself in thought about what I've realized. And it will keep happening, there have been many familiar roads I've driven with new exposed sight lines. It is a metaphor, and I've got to pay attention.

The family started to say what they were thankful at the Thanksgiving table and I couldn't hide it from it, I was sitting right there in sight. I said what I was thankful for and I cried. I went back into my bosses office later that same week and laid it all out- here's what I do, here's what I want more of, and don't bend too much because I'm leaving at the end of March. There is something beyond those trees in the metaphor- a new place for me to see and be a part of. New York City.