It's 7:30 on a Saturday night, and I am winding down and getting ready to go to bed pretty soon. Normally, this would remind me of how lame I am. But not tonight! I am going to sleep so that I can be awake and alert at 4:30am to finish packing the carry-ons and get ready to be picked up by the car service at 5:30am.

We finished packing the suitcases, and I must say I am totally proud of myself. Both suitcases are well under the 70-lb international limit (one is 48 and one is 59) and the garment bag is holding only our dress clothes and not also the extraneous things I couldn't jam into the suitcases, which is what I expected. I didn't even have to use the little extra zipper that expands the suitcase an extra few inches. I was tempted to pack more to fill them up, but instead I decided this way there is more room for any purchases I might make while in Ireland.

My parents and Bevie and Grandfather left about an hour ago on their red-eye flight, so they are well on their way! I just tracked their flight and it looks like they should be on time into Amsterdam to make their connection.

I said I wouldn't be able to blog while over there, but we did pay for the data service international plan on Mike's blackberry. It's possible I'll be able to check in once or twice, though blogging from there is not as easy as with the iPhone.

Tomorrow will be a very long day, so I'm going to finish up a few things and get some sleep.

Happy New Year!

*Just as I finished writing this and was about to sign off and post it, the building fire alarm went off. So I had to haul poor Mike out of bed (who has not been feeling well today, and needs his rest before tomorrow) and drag him outside. Thankfully none of the firemen looked particularly worried and eventually the alarm turned off, so we came back in. Probably just another idiot who turned on their new oven with the user manual still inside. (We had to go outside for a fire alarm for someone who did that when we were living in PA. Genius.)

merry christmas

Merry Christmas, a day late! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, if that's the holiday you celebrate. I had a fun day of eating, family and gift exchange. Lots of quality time with my sweet niece, Allison, and more of that to come today.

I definitely missed the pasta and rolls and hot fudge happening in CT yesterday, but I have been assured that plenty of food was consumed in my honor.

I've been playing in iTunes and the app store thanks to an iTunes gift certificate from my parents. So far, among other things, I've downloaded the soundtrack to Juno, which I love, and iBlogger. I'm using iBlogger now to write this post, and it makes posting on my iPhone much, much easier. So you will hopefully hear from me a lot more often. However, that is just in time for our trip to Ireland and I won't have data service on my phone over there. Only phone service. I know I have been absent from here a lot lately, but you will have to wait a little longer again.

But when I'm back from Ireland I should have lots of pictures and stories to share so hopefully it will be worth it.

We are still in PA now, and we'll leave here tomorrow late morning/early afternoon to go back home. We will finish packing, sleep for a few hours and then leave for the airport at 5:30 Sunday morning.

My cousin Mitra is getting married in Cork, Ireland on New Year's Eve. We are so excited for the trip and can't wait to spend time with family and see Ireland.

I'll try to get on here at least once more before we leave, but in case I don't, Happy New Year!

obviously, because what else would happen to me at 3am?

It is 4:02am. Mike and I are finally ready to try and get a little more sleep after spending the last hour moving electronics, placing pots and pans strategically on the floor and placing towels all over the living room. There is water pouring from our ceiling. It seems the hot water heater upstairs exploded. Of course it did. I'm leaving tomorrow for PA for Christmas, coming back saturday afternoon and leaving on an 8am flight Sunday morning for Ireland. So obviously, on our one full day at home for the foreseeable future, there is water pouring from our ceiling. I guess you could look at the bright side - we were here when it happened. It would be a much worse situation if we were not home. Now I'm going to try to get a little more sleep while listening to water collect in pots and before we have to get up to a full day of work, packing, and now dealing with renters insurance and carpet shampooing/water removal. As my mother would say, Oh via.

bad week

I'm still sad. It comes and goes, but this has turned from a bad day to a bad week. I am unhappy and every little thing is bothering me. I don't know how to turn this around. I have so much to do to finish getting ready for Christmas, and for my trip to Ireland, but I've done almost nothing this week.

I don't know how to snap out of this. I haven't eaten a real meal in three days. Please don't freak out - I am eating. But nothing tastes good and I can't choke very much down. I can't focus and I don't want to do anything.

I have the wedding of my very good friend Andy and his fiancee Cara tomorrow, and I will get to spend time with some people I love. Truthfully, part of me is dreading it. I hate feeling like this and I do not like who I am right now. But until this week, I have been really looking forward to the wedding. So now, I am counting on my friends to pull me out of this. I am dreading it and yet, at the same time, I think maybe it is what I really need right now, to forget my problems and try to lose myself in the love and laughter of some old friends.

bad day

Today is not such a great day. I can't even remember what triggered it anymore, but I thought about my brother on my way to work, and it took me too long to remember what he looked like. I know it's normal, and I know I still have the memories. But it's hard. The time since he's been gone is piling up too fast. And I'm feeling lonely and sad.


One afternoon last week, I found myself wandering around a bookstore. I had run in quickly, intending to grab a gift that I needed and get back to the office. I should have known better, as I tend to get sucked in when I'm in a bookstore. Time flies past and I have no concept of it. It was almost an hour later when I finally snapped out of it and realized I needed to get going.

On my way out, I passed a display of the Twilight series. I had been hearing so much about this book (and the movie), that I stopped to look at the first book, Twilight. I had heard a lot of positive, no, RAVE, reviews, but I had also heard the opposite, and everything in between. I was curious, so I added it to my pile and rushed back to work. I had to admit I was skeptical, though, based on some of what I'd heard.

The next day, on a bus ride up to CT, I started reading it. I couldn't stop. I didn't move a muscle except to turn pages the entire way. Late that night, when I finally crashed into bed, I started reading again. An hour later, I unwillingly forced myself to stop. I did the same thing, even later, the following night. And Sunday, on the bus ride back to the city, I was actually mad when the bus arrived on time at Port Authority and I had to stop reading. I had only about fifty pages left. I took the subway home, consumed with this book.

Arriving there, I greeted Mike, he went off to bed, and I sat down to finish the book. I dreamed all night about Bella and Edward. It was all I could think about, and I had to have the next book. I forced myself to wait until lunchtime yesterday, and went out with a friend to the bookstore. I bought all three of the remaining books, and started the second one last night. I am over 300 pages in and it is all I can think about.

These books are so descriptive, so vivid, that I can watch it play out as if it were happening before my eyes. I am in love with the main characters and completely consumed with what is happening to them. I don't want to do anything except read, but I am terrified of getting to the end of the last book and losing the characters.

It has thrown me into a flood of emotions and experiences that aren't even mine, but manage to be so real. In some ways, it brings me back into those enhanced, overbearing feelings of adolescence, but in other ways, shows me real, mature love and the power of mind over matter.

I feel utterly ridiculous at my strong response to the books, the level of obsession completely void of reason. But I can't help it. I am sucked in, absorbed, consumed -- I know I keep saying consumed but it is the only accurate description I can come up with. No words seem to match the power the story has over me.

Part of me wants to tear through these books as fast as I can read them; I have to know what happens. Part of me wants to savor them as slowly as possible, because I can't bear the thought of having it end. I know how strange I sound, believe me. I have to keep reminding myself to snap back to the present and remember to live my life. Not Bella and Edward's life. I just can't help but wonder how many vampires really are living among us, and how I might be able to find them.

what are we waiting for?

360 Paper Bottle

Have you heard about this new paper water bottle? It is 100% renewable and holds up to all liquids. It was designed by brandimage and won an IDEA (International Design Excellence Award) this year.

I heard about it this morning over here and have also found it discussed here and here. I still believe firmly in durable, reusable water bottles, such as Kleen Kanteen (my favorite), Sigg and Nalgene (even though Nalgene is getting a bum rap for the alleged chemicals in the plastic). These are by far the best choice for the environment.

However, since the majority of the US population insists on consuming over 60 million plastic water bottles per year (only 14% of which are recycled), the paper bottles would be a far preferable option. My only question is, what are we waiting for?


The concert was good music and great fun. Mike even got away from work early enough to attend. Am now exhausted and on my way home to crash!


My wind ensemble concert is tomorrow! I am excited about the music we're playing and I'm really looking forward to it. I know nearly all of you are not in this area, but in case anyone will be around and wants to attend, I have two extra comp tickets. Just email me or call me and I'll have them for you.

PHEW -- nablopomo is over. But here I am, posting the next day anyway. I am not promising I'll continue to post every day, but I will probably post a few times a week. I've gotten in the habit now and so I'll probably be here pretty often.

Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend!

we decorated for christmas today!

christmas tree

We got our Christmas tree today! I can't wait to decorate it tomorrow. Since we will be out of town from before Christmas through the first weekend in January (except for a couple of brief stops back home), we'll have to get rid of the tree early. So this way we'll have plenty of time to enjoy it.

We are still in CT, though. We were planning to leave tomorrow morning so we would have enough time to get the tree back home. However, it turns out it's going to be snow/sleet/pouring rain tomorrow, and we don't really have a place to leave a tree outdoors to dry out. With visions of a large tree drying out in our bathtub, we decided to get the tree up here, stuff it in the car, and drive it back to Jersey.

We actually got the tree at a tree farm where my brother used to work. Several Christmases, he and I went up there to get the tree, and got to walk up the hill to their private stock and choose a tree to cut down. It was nice to be there, but hard to see one of the owners of the tree farm, who was Greg's former boss and also the mom of one of his friends.

I think we are a little insane for driving a tree to Jersey in our rental car, but better that than picking out a tree in pouring rain. I'll post a picture of it once we get it inside and decorated!

black friday

Well, we survived black Friday... we just left the Kittery outlets and we're on our way back to CT. It wasn't as crowded as I expected, though that may have more to do with the economy than anything else. It was very busy all day, but not unbearably so. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done and there were some really good deals. Plus we ate a delicious seafood lunch, which for some of us (I won't name any names), included a 2-lb lobster. Now we are at the beginning of our three hour car ride home, and I fully intend to crash when we get back, which is why you are only getting this short little in-transit post today.

Did anyone else shop today? Was it crowded? Did you find good sales?

hot fudge sauce

This morning, Gram and my Uncle Richard stopped by on their way to the airport. They are spending the holiday weekend with my Aunt Jeanne in California. Last year, my mom and her sisters, and Gram, spent Thanksgiving at Jeanne's, and this year Gram and Uncle Richard are going. We had just made a fresh batch of hot fudge to go with dessert today, and mom opened the lid for Gram. She didn't waste a second and had her finger in the jar. Nothing like a scoop of hot fudge to start your day, especially when that day includes 6 hours on a plane!

They should be at Jeanne's by now, enjoying the warm weather and good company. I'm looking forward to hearing about their trip.

Now, though, I'm off to bed. I'll be up again in only a few short hours, and we'll be on our way up to Maine for a day of shopping and good eats. To quote my cousin Anna, "That should be fun and not crowded at all." Yeah. Something like that! Wish us luck.

Happy Thanksgiving!

i am thankful

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my loving and supportive husband. I am thankful for my wonderful parents. I am thankful to have such amazing grandparents. I am thankful for the 22 years I had with my brother. I am thankful for my beautiful new niece, Allison, who is 3 months old. I am thankful for her brother, Noah, who we only had to love on this earth for 11 months, and for the amount of love fit into his short life.

I am thankful for my extended family and my close friends, and for the outpouring of love they have given me over these difficult years since losing my brother. As I mentioned last year, this is a holiday of mixed emotions for me. It brings to mind the things I have lost, which threatens to overpower thoughts of the many things I still have to be thankful for. But I do have so many blessings in my life. This year, above all things, I am thankful.

it's a real car charlie brown

Mike and I rented a car for the holiday weekend, and I just went to pick it up at Dollar. Normally, we rent the cheapest category of car, which tends to be some teeny little toy car with almost no functioning systems, aside from the engine. Cars where you have to put the actual KEY into the actual LOCK to open the door. The kind of car where you have to use all your upper body strength to crank the windows up and down, and reach around on the floor of a car used by all kinds of people with unknown personal hygiene habits to move the seat back and forth. And several times, the cars have been filthy.

Once, when picking up a car, I told the girl at the counter that the previous rental had not been cleaned. She asked me when I rented it, and apologized and said some other employee had been in charge, but she checked the cars this time and I would find it clean. Believe me when I tell you, it was NOT. Some sort of film covered the entire interior, there was dust and fuzz and hair in places, and it smelled faintly of wet dog.

This time, we couldn't book at a daily rate; they were only booking weekly rates. However, this worked out fine, since we were able to rent a car from Tuesday - Tuesday at the same it would normally have cost for a 5-day Wednesday - Sunday rental. Bonus - I have wind ensemble tonight, so I can drive myself instead of taking the train there and calling a cab to get home.

We got their "lock low and go" rate, where they give you whatever car they have left on the lot that's at least an intermediate level car. So you could end up with anything from your average 4-door sedan to a minivan or some monster of a gas-guzzling SUV.

I couldn't be happier to report that I just picked up a Dodge Avenger, a real live car with functioning parts AND it's perfectly clean inside! While I am not a fan of American cars to own, since they tend not to last very well or hold their value, I am more than happy to rent this car. It's a nice car to drive, and it has a clicky door-locker thing, and electric windows and seats. And it's comfortable. And did I mention clean?

this might provide some insight into my cat's mental health issues

birthday celebrations

My parents and Mike's parents came for the weekend, to celebrate their birthdays. Their birthdays are not all at this time of year (they range from July to January), but we celebrated all of them. Mike and I decided to take them to see Jersey Boys for their birthdays this year. We got tickets and planned it a few months ago.

We spent Friday evening here in our apartment, eating fish in a bag (fish cooked with veggies rolled up in parchment paper, YUM) and chatting. Saturday, we bundled up and went into the city. We went to Macy's and did our patriotic duty to help boost retail sales. Then we went to Rockefeller Center to see the tree, which is up but still surrounded by scaffolding and in the process of being decorated. Then we peeked under the cloth covering the Saks Fifth Avenue windows, which will have their Christmas displays unveiled this week. This year it's a cute story about a snowflake named Mike who doesn't fit in.

We ate a relaxing and enormous meal at Carmine's, an awesome family-style Italian restaurant. And finally we went to the theater for the 8:00pm Jersey Boys show. Mike and I got to see it a couple of years ago, with discount tickets we got through NYU when he was a student there. We absolutely loved it, and knew our parents would, too. Tickets are very hard to come by, as it's one of the most popular shows on Broadway.

We finally got our act together this fall and planned it, and nobody was disappointed! We loved it as much as we did the first time, and my parents and Mike's parents, Carol & Renny, loved it too. I learned during intermission that Carol & Renny got to see the Four Seasons perform in Harrisburg years ago, before they were married. We were all so wrapped up in the story and that special magic only the very best shows can achieve, we didn't want it to end.

This morning, we went to the Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory, which is an awesome breakfast place near us (it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives a few months ago). None of us could believe we were hungry again so soon after eating ourselves silly at Carmine's, but somehow we managed to enjoy breakfast. We played a round of Mexican Train Dominoes, during which the most interesting competition was the fierce race between my dad & me for last place. And then everyone headed home this afternoon.

It was a great weekend, and I'm so glad to say everyone had a wonderful time.


As a completely unrelated aside, I just finished watching New Kids on the Block perform a mix of their new and old songs on the American Music Awards. I must admit, embarrassingly, that I totally swooned when Jordan sang I'll Be Loving You Forever.

100th post

Blogger tells me this is my 100th post!

I am sitting in the August Wilson theater, with Mike, my parents, and my in-laws. Jersey Boys is scheduled to begin in fourteen minutes. So excited! I've got to run but I'll be back with a full report tomorrow.


This morning, bundled up from head to toe on my freezing cold walk to work, I was thinking how much warmer and more pleasant it would be to gaze out over Yosemite Valley on a gorgeous 85 degree summer day, instead:

subway etiquette

There are several bad habits people exhibit while riding the subway, either because they are rude or because they are unaware of their surroundings. But I have one particular pet peeve.

Should you ever find yourself on mass transit, please do not hug the poles, lean against the poles, or otherwise monopolize the poles, making it impossible for others to hold onto them without touching you in inappropriate places. Don't do this ever. But especially don't do this during rush hour.

Consider yourselves warned. Practice proper manners on the subway or face my wrath.

a hoarse is a hoarse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a hoarse, of course

With any luck, our computer at home will be fully functional again on Friday. Mike spent the evening yesterday on the phone with Dell trying to find out what was wrong with the computer. After going through the issues with the Dell technician, who decided he needed a part shipped, he found out he accidentally called the Canadian service number and had to hang up and start at the beginning again with the US service phone number. He went through it all again, and it turns out our graphics card is kaput. To use the technical term. But they have to replace the entire motherboard, because it's all contained within that these days. Look at me throwing around these computer words like I know what they mean.

In order to replace the motherboard, the entire computer has to be taken apart. Which means a Dell technician has to come over and fix it. We are familiar with Dell technicians, since Mike's old Dell laptop was on its VERY LAST legs in his last year of law school. It broke every couple of weeks and we were getting to know the Dell technicians in Manhattan by name. They would call us, ask when a good time would be to stop by, and come on over at that time. It was pretty convenient.

Apparently, now that we are SO FAR OUT in the wilderness away from the city (an entire 5 minute train ride away in Jersey), things work a little differently. The Dell people left me a message this morning to set up a time to install the part. I have to be the one to do this, since Mike works long hours and can never count on being able to leave the office at a specific time. I called them back and gave the lady my service identification number and asked to set up a time to have the part installed.

However, I had to go through this no less than three times before she understood exactly who I was and what I wanted, since, just to make this extra fun, I have lost my voice. About 75% of the time I just sound like I'm whispering, and the other 25% of the time, my voice is going wildly up and down, between disappearing entirely and occasionally kicking in with this deep man-voice.

When she finally had my information, she cheerfully announced that the Dell technician would show up at my house sometime between 9am and 5:30pm tomorrow! Thanks for calling Dell!

I tried to say something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, but that won't work for me, since my boss doesn't like it when I blow off work to wait 9 hours for your technician to roll out of bed and show up at my house," but what came out was essentially a long wheezing sound.

It is not satisfying to express your displeasure with ridiculous business practices when you CANNOT FORM WORDS.

I finally got my point across that no, I have a job and cannot wait for you all day, and her solution was to act very disappointed in me and reluctantly narrow that window to only four hours on Friday afternoon, instead of 9 hours on Thursday.

I took it. What was I going to do, wheeze at her some more? I guess it could be worse. I'll get out of work early on Friday afternoon and work from home for a few hours while I wait for them. And at least we'll have our computer working.

But I really, really need my voice back. I am actually feeling much better today, it's just that I sound RIDICULOUS. This is getting old, fast.


There are snow flurries in the air!

I have already had one Thanksgiving dinner.

I've been eating the leftovers for every meal.

All this is putting me in the holiday spirit. I'm thinking it's about time to break out the Christmas music.


I was just reminded of one of the joys of getting older -- watching your little cousins grow up and become good friends. My cousin Amber (who I just told about this website -- Hi, Amber!) is seven years younger than me. She is the first cousin I remember being born, so I have memories of her all the way from when she was a baby. We have always been close, but in that older cousin/younger cousin kind of way. I always thought of her as a little kid and she sort of looked up to me as the bigger cousin. Over the last couple of years we have started to see eye to eye on more and more things. It always amazes me to realize that she is grown up now.

Amber was in my wedding last year, and I think that's when I began to see the person she is becoming. She was so helpful, creative and fun. We bonded in a whole new way. But life goes on, as we all know. Since spending so much time together doing wedding stuff, we've both been busy with life, work, school, etc.

I just got off the phone from talking to Amber for 45 minutes. I would have liked to talk longer, but between losing my voice from this cold and the monumental mess still waiting for me in my kitchen after yesterday's thanksgiving feast, I had to tear myself away. I talked to Amber as I would any of my close friends. We have a lot in common, and I realized how much I miss her. We left it open to talk again soon, and to stay closer in touch. And we will get to see each other on thanksgiving next week, which I am really looking forward to.

The feeling gives me an appreciation for what maybe some of my older cousins felt watching me grow up, and is just another reminder of how lucky I am to have such great family.

8 things

I have been cleaning and eating and cooking and eating and chatting and eating and eating all day, and am too tired to think of ideas for posting! We had a good Thanksgiving feast with great friends and I had a lot of fun. But I'm exhausted. So, I am going to steal Maresi's idea from her post yesterday:

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:
1. Lost
2. Heroes
3. Dirty Sexy Money
4. Grey's Anatomy
5. The Office
6. CSI
7. Two and a Half Men
8. The Daily Show

8 Favorite Restaurants:
1. John's Pizza
2. Light Horse Tavern
3. South City Grill
4. Bar Americain
5. Joe's Pizza
6. B&Co
7. Noli's
8. TJ Rockwell's

8 Things that Happened Today:
1. Made rolls
2. Vacuumed
3. Did laundry
4. Peeled potatoes
5. Listened to records
6. Arranged flowers in a little vase for a centerpiece
7. Washed dishes
8. Ate good food with good friends. What more could I ask for?

8 Things I Look Forward To:
1. Sleep
2. Thanksgiving
3. Having a computer that works
4. Meeting my goddaughter when she comes to CT in December -- and I suppose it will be nice to see her mother, as well :)
5. Katherine's baby shower
6. Andy & Cara's wedding
7. Christmas
8. Going to Ireland for my cousin Mitra's New Year's Eve wedding

Gregory and Mamie

My computer still isn't working, so you'll have to wait for the crazy picture of my cat. However, I now have Mike's laptop to use, so I was able to at least get to my online photo albums. This is one of my favorite pictures. Gregory and Mamie had a very special bond. He put up with and enjoyed all of her affection and love even through his awkward and embarassed pre-teen/early teen years, and even through his tough times fighting addiction. Greg was that way in general, he always loved being around family, but it was special between Mamie and him. I think I love this photo in particular because you can really get a sense of that from it.

computer issues

I had a great picture to show you today of what Mike did to one of our cats on Halloween, but unfortunately our computer is not working so you have to wait. Mike got home early tonight which was nice, but he was able to leave early only because he has to go into the office for the day tomorrow.

Now I'm going to watch The Office from yesterday with Mike. Hopefully the computer will be working in the morning so you can all share in the hilarity of my cat dressed up for Halloween.

rainy day

Today was a rainy and cold day, unlike the gorgeous cold and crisp fall days we've been having lately. It was a long day at work, with too much chaos and too many things way behind schedule. I have a lot of cleaning and preparing to do for a Thanksgiving feast we're having this weekend with a few friends, but I haven't done any of it because I have a nasty cold. My nose is simultaneously runny and dry, with that yucky burning feeling. I have a headache and a sore throat and I generally just feel run-down. So I'm forcing fluids and hitting the couch for the rest of the evening.

But before you start to feel too bad for me, you should know that while I'm on the couch recovering from my cold, I will be playing with my brand new iPhone!

here's to you, prop 8

Click here and here to learn more about why I did this.

Click here to learn more about Proposition 8.

veterans day

In early 1943, my grandfather, Irving, made the decision to fight for our country in World War II. He had wanted to join about six months earlier, but waited for his friend Leo to turn 17 so they could do it together (incidentally, Leo remains his best friend to this day). In 1943, you had to be just 17 years old in order to join the military. So at 17 ½ years of age, Irving enlisted and was sent from his hometown in northwest Connecticut to Parris Island for basic training. From there, he was transferred to Dover, New Jersey, for advanced training and work at an ammunition depot.

It was in Dover, New Jersey, that he experienced the highlight of military life; the only happy memory he has of those days – being allowed out on liberty. During these brief treasured periods of freedom, he met and fell head over heels for Florence, the woman who would become the love of his life. The woman who was still just a girl at 15 years old, but would become his cherished wife of more than sixty years; who was Flossie, trusted friend to so many loved ones; who was Mom, to her four beautiful children; who would eventually become our beloved Mamie.

He met Florence for the first time with a group of friends, and had actually been set up on a blind date with her friend Lynn. But he knew that first time that she was the girl for him, so on his next liberty, he went directly to her house to tell her he wanted to see her, not her friend. They had a whirlwind courtship and knew they wanted to get married. As they were both underage, they had to write back and forth to their families to get the required permissions. They were married and started their lives together in New Jersey, while he was still in training to be shipped overseas.

In early 1945, with the 6th Marine Division, Irving was transferred to California, and then Guadalcanal for final training before being deployed. He left behind his pregnant wife, who delivered their first child, Beverly, on February 10, 1945. Irving was in Guadalcanal when his first child was born.

On April 1, 1945 (April Fool’s Day, he pointed out to me when telling me his story), he landed in Okinawa. On May 20th, while with a group of 6 other Marines in his unit, they were hit with shelling. All six of the other Marines were killed. It is only because someone passing by saw him move his eye that he wasn’t left for dead. Irving was pulled to safety and rushed to the base hospital. He had been hit in his left knee, right thigh, his right side, and his left arm and hand.

He spent several weeks at the base hospital before being transferred to the Guam advanced hospital, where he was able to recover. He healed and learned to move and walk on his own again. He learned that it is possible to walk and function with a hole in your leg. The hole was filled with Vaseline to protect the wound and allowed time to heal from the inside out.

When he recovered sufficiently, he was transferred to light duty service in Sing Tao, China. He guarded British oil tanks there, and performed daily tasks that kept him moving and helped him regain full use of his leg and his hand.

In March 1946, Irving was finally sent home. He was reunited with Florence, and for the first time, met his daughter, who was more than a year old. Irving and Florence settled in his small hometown in northwest Connecticut, where they had three more children, my Aunt Doreen, my dad, Chip, and my Aunt Elaine, eight grandchildren, and to date, seven great-grandchildren. We lost Mamie in March 2006, but together, Grandfather and Mamie created a loving and close-knit family, including not only their descendants, but extended family, and also friends. Anyone coming close to those two was drawn in by the love they radiated and treated like family.

Irving is a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather. We know and love him as the person he is today, not as the soldier who earned a purple heart for his heroic service to our country. But it is important to remember that soldier is still a part of him, and deserves honor and recognition. Happy Veterans Day, Grandfather. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for serving our country.


In honor of Veteran’s Day, I would also like to thank my father-in-law, Renny, for his honorable service to our country in Vietnam.

Finally, I would like to remember my Grandpa Carmine. He was an Army Captain, serving in New Orleans during World War II. He taught soldiers the art of loading cargo ships carrying supplies overseas. I have never heard him tell his story, as he died when I was two years old. But I have heard stories about his honorable service, not the least entertaining of which involves my dear Gram and her fellow military wives getting together to spy on their husbands.

well, that was awkward

I just parted ways with my trumpet teacher, finally. I have been worried for a week over how to break it to him without being confrontational. I hate confrontations. For those close to me who are laughing out loud at that right now (Hi, Mom!), I know. I have no problem confronting people close to me. It's people I don't like/don't trust or people I don't know very well that I'm unwilling to confront. In the end, I decided to go with the economy excuse. You know, things are tough, we're tightening our budget, I'm really sorry. Which is kind of true. But not true that I don't still want trumpet lessons.

I had sort of decided to wait until the lesson was just about over to tell him. Fortunately, when he arrived, he gave me the perfect opening. Unfortunately, I now feel like an asshole. But I totally made the right decision.

He asked me how my week was. I gave him my non-response that it was fine. He then volunteered that he'd had a rough week; a family with two kids studying with him just canceled due to financial reasons. I said, "Well, I really hate to tell you this, but I'm kind of in the same boat." I told him I was really sorry, things were tight right now, and this being the 8th lesson in the package of 8, this would be our last lesson. I said again that I was sorry.

He sighed deeply and said, "Well, I guess God has other plans for me." And went on to beg me to give his name to anyone in the area I might know who needs lessons. On any instrument. We carried on with the lesson, but I ran it. I told him what we were playing when and what I wanted to work on. And he did the most helpful thing he's done the entire time I've studied with him -- played the keyboard to accompany me on something I'm working on to perform with Mom in church.

But he was constantly peppering in these sad-puppy-dog-eyes pleas to keep his cell phone number and recommend him to anyone I might know in the area. I told him I would. (I have never programmed his cell phone number into my phone.)

I feel terrible. I am too nice, and I had to work hard to steel myself against his pathetic response. It was hard. However, his reaction confirms my decision to discontinue lessons. It was completely unprofessional for him to do that to me during a lesson I paid a lot of money for. Even if I had been completely truthful and it was only financial worries keeping me from continuing lessons, that would have been enough to make me decide never to rehire him. That, plus the fact that he hugged me when he left and I couldn't move fast enough to prevent it.

That was difficult, and I feel guilty about it and sorry for him. But it was the right decision; I am sure of that. I am glad it's over. I wonder if the family with two kids was truthful with him about their reason for quitting.


After Greg died, one of the many horrifying decisions my parents and I had to make was where to have donations sent in his name. We came up with two organizations, one of which is the Appalachian Mountain Club. Greg was a member, and loved the outdoors with passion. He was into backpacking, hiking and rock climbing in particular. The Appalachian Mountain Club established a fund in his name to help kids spend time outdoors through their programs, to learn and gain an appreciation for nature. Kids who might not otherwise have these opportunities. Last spring, my parents were contacted about featuring him in their newsletter. They interviewed my parents, and then me. The article, published in their Summer 2008 AMC in Connecticut newsletter, was a fitting tribute to my brother (click the image to view it full-size):

you have nothing better to do, right?

Hi there. It's just me again, wasting your clicking time to conform with NaBloPoMo.

The Christmas Fair went really well today. There were a lot of people eating lunch and buying bake sale items, handmade knit things and crafts. I worked really hard in the kitchen, but also spent some time catching up with people I haven't seen in a while, which was great.

I spent some time this afternoon afterward looking at the beautiful handmade bags made by my Aunt Bevie. We talked about Etsy, and I told her she should open up a shop on there. She'd spent some time looking there recently, and may consider it. If she does, I'll pass along the link, because you really can't find prettier handmade bags (purses, tote bags, makeup bags, etc.) anywhere.

I also visited Grandfather to get some photos and information for a highlight this coming week -- on Veteran's Day I'll be paying a tribute to him and his service to our country. So I promise, there is real content coming soon!

Christmas Fair

I'm taking the bus up to CT this afternoon to spend the weekend with my parents and help out with the Christmas Fair at church. My mom, as usual, and to her credit, took on a huge burden of work and is making the food and is running the kitchen. This way people shopping at the fair can buy lunch to support the church and eat yummy food. And she needs my help! It will be fun, though; I'm looking forward to it.

Plus, I love seeing her in action -- when my mother takes something on, she is not kidding! Though I talked to her this morning and she was running around like a nut with a million things to do, I'm sure the food will be amazing and she will be organized and ready. But I guess I better nap on the bus if I plan on getting any rest this weekend... :)

Oh -- and you can blame NaBloPoMo for the waste of time it was to click over here today. Who knew November was such a long-ass month?!

big yellow glasses

As I mentioned on Saturday, my parents came to visit this past weekend. They came to celebrate the 3rd Annual MLM (Mary Liz & Mike) Birthday Weekend Gala. Or whatever it was we're calling it this year. Mike's and my mom's birthdays are a week apart, so we've started a tradition where we get together each year around the time of their birthdays to celebrate.

This year, our weekend included shopping in SoHo (much to Mike's and my dad's immense enjoyment, as you might imagine) and dinner at the Light Horse Tavern on Saturday. And Sunday we went to the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge to watch NYC Marathon runners arriving in Manhattan from Queens, around mile 16 of their run. It was an extremely inspiring and fascinating thing to watch, and I am so glad we did that. Then, in the afternoon, we went to see Mamma Mia, which we had gotten discount tickets for at the TKTS booth on Saturday morning. It's one of my favorite shows, so much fun and so full of platform boots!

When my parents first arrived on Friday evening, they showed up with big yellow glasses. Those of you who remember our Halloween Box may already know what I am talking about! Growing up, we had a large box in which any dress-up or Halloween outfits, accessories, etc., were kept. It contained everything from witch hats and capes, clown suits, wigs and glasses to suits ripped with holes and covered with patches (we dressed sometimes as hobos in those, and sometimes as clowns) and an old lady mask and matching dress, worn by my father one Halloween. And everything in between. We called it the Halloween Box, but Greg and I used it year-round, whenever we had a need for any type of dress-up or costume.

A favorite from the box was the enormous yellow clown glasses. There were two pairs, and they were well- and often-used. My parents chose these as the perfect thing to greet trick-or-treaters with at our door. It was a good laugh and it brought back so many memories.

Also bringing back memories were the two boxes full of records my parents brought with them. I now have a record player in my house; my parents gave it to me for my birthday. It does a great job with playing the old records and it's a fun, rich sound. I'm enjoying it. So my parents brought down their old records for us, and we listened to many of them while we were handing out candy, eating dinner, and playing Canasta. My parents were having so much fun hearing their old records again, they were inspired to dance.

yes we can

Today, we are a nation choosing to embrace hope and progress. We share this joyous moment with our neighbors and friends, and even with strangers we pass on the street. There is palpable joy in the air this morning. We have come together to tell the world we are ready for change and this is the man we choose to help us do that!

Yesterday we turned up at the polls in record numbers. Lines were long, and there was confusion, but we didn't care. We were part of something big and we did what it took to participate. Last night we watched with anticipation as state after state turned blue on TV. Battleground states Pennsylvania, then Ohio, then Florida, and finally Virginia, all turned blue.

We needed only to wait for the west coast polls to close. By 10:55, Obama had 220 electoral votes, according to most counts. The pundits on every channel were practically clamping their hands over their mouths to stop themselves announcing Obama as the president-elect before the California polls officially closed and they could count its 51 electoral votes. But that was all it took -- by 11:01, every channel had it out there. Obama started out strong and never looked back.

We listened to a solemn but positive and well-written speech by Senator McCain. He was extremely gracious in the face of such a defeat. He asked his supporters to get behind our president-elect, and he recognized the momentous occasion this is for our country. It was a complete u-turn from his campaign; it was a very good speech, and for that, he has my respect.

And then we turned our attention to Grant Park in Chicago. We listened to our president-elect talk about change, progress and hope. We focused on the success of our democracy, so many years after the idea was conceived by the founders of our country. We marked the progress of our country, which not so very long ago did not allow black people the basic right to vote. We watched with tears of joy as the man we have chosen to lead our country presented himself and his family to us with joy. We are ready for hope instead of fear.

Today we celebrate, and we deserve it. But tomorrow, there is work to be done. Don't forget that this is not the end. It is the beginning. This president-elect we fought so hard for now has to actually do the job. He faces immense pressure and unfathomable tasks ahead. We are handing over to him a country that needs his help. But without our support, and our continued participation in this democracy, he doesn't stand a chance. So remember this feeling. Remember the pride, the joy and the hope. Hang on to those feelings and don't let go. It is the best way we can help him lead us.

Yes we can!

i voted

Mike and I arrived at the polls at 6:45 this morning to get in line. They had opened at 6, but apparently I was wrong when I said yesterday that it was national that polls open at 6am and close at 8pm in a general election. It does vary by state. But either way, it remains true that you have the right to vote if you are in line by the time polls close, even if you are outside. So many people in 2004 were turned away because they didn't know their rights. And people still believe they can be turned away -- I heard a girl in front of us in line talking about how her brother was going to vote after work and he hoped he could be inside the building by 8, otherwise he would be turned away from the line.

Approaching the building where we vote, we were surprised not to see anyone standing in line outside, and expected it not to take very long. When we entered the doorway, though, it was a different story. We were immediately faced with mass confusion and lines snaking all through the building.

We vote in the lobby of a residential tower about a 10 minute walk from our building. The line started in the lobby, went around a corner, down a long hallway and out to a service entrance. From there, it did a u-turn back up the hallway, around the corner, then down another hallway into the mailroom. It wound back out of the mailroom and ended at the front door where we entered. This did not sit well with the security guards at the building, and nobody knew what to do.

It seemed like they had never seen such a turn-out and had no idea how to handle it. Voters were coming to the front door, being told to walk around the building, enter through the service entrance, and follow the line back out to the end, which was at the front door where they started. This caused two problems: the people already in line at the service entrance were getting hostile because they believed these people were trying to cut in line, and also many people being told to go around were confused and argumentative because they were supposed to walk all through the building only to end up back where they started.

After we had been there about 10-15 minutes, they finally directed the line out the service entrance, and wound around the parking lot outside instead. As we followed the path of the line out the door, I was able to count people. I think there were about 175 people in line in front of us. And getting longer behind us by the minute.

At 8:45, we finally reached the table where they could mark us off in the book and we could sign in and get our paper slips to hand over to the volunteers managing the voting booths. We were numbers 321 and 322 on the little paper slips, but there were two of those little books so I'm not actually sure how many people voted before we did this morning. When we voted and left, there were probably another 200 people behind us still in line, and people were still steadily arriving.

I felt a thrill to be a part of the political process this year. To be a part of this historic election. I am so glad that voters are turning out in crowds like I was a part of this morning, and I hope it continues all day, throughout the country. Not only was it crowded, but I would guess that easily half the voters in line were between the ages of 20-30. So, kudos to my generation for turning out, FINALLY! Rock the vote!

Did you vote yet today? Were there crowds? Tell me about your experience at the polls.

Happy birthday, Mom!

election day

Unless you've been living in an isolated hut in the middle of the uncharted wilderness of the rainforests for the last year, and hell, maybe even if you have, you probably know that tomorrow is election day. Please remember to do your part and go vote. If you are registered but aren't sure where your polling place is located, Google Maps has this handy little tool to help you find it. Just type in your home address and it will tell you where to vote.

I learned today that you can be banned from your polling place if you are electioneering -- meaning not only carrying signs or literature, but even if you are wearing a candidate's t-shirt, button, or hat -- you can be banned.

Be aware that unprecedented crowds are expected to turn out this year, so you may have to wait in long lines. Remember that the polls open at 6:00am, and close at 8:00pm, but if you are in line by 8:00pm, you have the right to vote. It doesn't matter whether you are inside the building. As long as you are in line by 8:00pm, you have the right to vote. Don't let anyone turn you away. Also, if for some reason your name isn't in the book, you have the right to request a provisional paper ballot. If there is an error, you have the right to be sure your vote is counted. Fill out the ballot. They will verify that you are registered and count your vote.

Mike and I will be in line first thing tomorrow morning. I hope that the crowds live up to expectations here and all over the country. Voters have registered in record numbers over the last few months, and I hope they turn out tomorrow. Show up, and let your voice be heard. It is your right and your responsibility.

I won't use this space to shove my candidate down your throat, because I know a lot of you won't take well to that. I will just leave you with this lovely picture I happen to like very much. Happy voting!


(update: I have no idea why the formatting is so messed up on this. I will work on it!)

On Monday last week, Mike and I carved pumpkins. We don't have a balcony anymore in our new apartment, but I insisted. I love carving pumpkins, as you may remember from last year's Halloween post, and I also love pumpkin seeds. We spent a few hours with patterns and markers and knives and scoops. It was so much fun. Here are the results of our handiwork:




Mike carved three of the pumpkins, but it took me almost as much time to carve the one I did - this Goblin Goodies pumpkin. I am quite proud of it! It was very intricate and complicated, even though it was a pattern. I even altered the pattern from its ridiculous complete pattern, which spelled out Goblin Goodies above the bat, and then "from dusk til dawn" underneath the bat, in even smaller letters. I quickly vetoed that as impossible, and did it this way instead.




We put the two larger pumpkins in the hallway outside our door on Halloween, with flashlight lanterns in them instead of candles. We got a lot of trick-or-treaters, and the pumpkins were a big hit with the kids. They inspected them, and their parents took pictures of the kids in front of them.



This morning, when Mike and my dad went to grab them and throw them out, they lifted the lids to find this:



Disgusting! Pumpkins definitely don't last long inside. It was worth it, though. Maresi also carved a pumpkin that didn't last long, but that's because she lives in Florida and they don't have seasons there. But they have also discovered the joy of patterns, and it's a really neat pumpkin. My goddaughter is a pretty cute pumpkin, too!


Hi! Welcome to the new site. It should look basically the same as it did yesterday (if you stopped by after I published the new design), only it has a new web address at the top. Remember to change your bookmarks to As of this point, you need to have the www in front. I'm not sure why it doesn't work without it, but I'll try to figure that out. If anyone has any insight, please share.

Halloween was fun last night. We got lots of trick-or-treaters! My parents arrived for the weekend, and we ate fish & chips, played Canasta and answered the door to hand out treats.

This morning we're heading out to the TKTS booth to see if we can get our hands on some 50% off tickets for tonight. And then we're going to SoHo to do a little shopping.

Tomorrow I'll have pictures of the pumpkins we carved this year. They were a big hit with the kids trick-or-treating!

a nice way to start the day

So, first of all - new design! This is step one in launching the new site, which hopefully should be happening within the next couple of days, at least in an interim version. Once it's up, blogger will re-direct you from this site to the new one.

Also, two new things coming up! First, I have committed to NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this year, which means for the month of November I will be posting something every single day. This doesn't mean I'm promising substantive writing every day - some days it may just be a photo - but there will be something here every day. And second, the anonymity will be coming off this blog as of tomorrow! Sort of. I'll be using first names instead of those annoying initials. My dear husband has agreed to allow his full first name to be printed here! But that's all for November and the new site. For today, on with business as usual.

This morning when the alarm went off, M and I were both too tired and we reset it for a half hour later. When we got up, we had to rush out the door because M had an email about some work he had to hurry in for. We didn't eat breakfast, and I left the house hungry and in a foul mood, expecting huge crowds on the train because of the time.

The WTC (World Trade Center) train pulled in, almost empty. It was a quiet ride in, and I read my book in peace. When I got out of the station on this side, there were two guys from Fresh Direct giving away free apples along with fliers advertising discounts on food for corporate events. My mood had lifted considerably, but the apple wouldn't be enough for breakfast, so I ducked into a deli to grab something else. The deli had little containers of sliced strawberries (my favorite!) this morning instead of the mostly-dried-out-melon mixed fruit they usually have. And behind the counter, the friendly guys wrapped up my salt bagel (also my favorite!) and cheerfully tossed it up in the air over to me. Though I eat breakfast at home almost every morning, they are now starting to recognize me in there, and they wished me a cheerful good morning on my way out the door. Yay (or should I say, Huzzah!) for nice people to help me start my day on the right note.

Happy Halloween!


Last Tuesday, I had my first concert in more than 5 years. I performed selections from West Side Story, with a local university wind ensemble and 8 singers. As I mentioned before, I was nervous about the music because it's difficult, I'm rusty, and also I've never played a show before, or played in a pit orchestra. I've done almost everything else - concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra, jazz, band, brass ensemble/brass quintet... but never played in a show.

The dress rehearsal went pretty well, we only ran about 15 minutes past the usual rehearsal end time, and I went home knowing I had more work to do before the concert, but also believing I could do it. I practiced the music daily, and I downloaded West Side Story on iTunes and started listening to it constantly.

Tuesday evening came quickly. I was ready for it! I left work early, met a bus at the university to take me to the high school where we performed. We had a quick sound check, and I had a good warm-up. The high school band parents were good enough to cook a fabulous meal for all of us, which I enjoyed very much. And then we were on!

I cannot remember the last time an hour and a half flew by so quickly. I immediately lost myself in the music and as soon as we began, it was over. It was a total rush to perform with a group again, especially a wind ensemble, and I can't wait for the next concert.

I did it!


adventures in trumpet lessons

Yesterday afternoon, I had my 7th of 9 trumpet lessons booked and paid for with my current instructor. I had really been looking forward to taking lessons again. I found an instructor who assured me he could teach on a high level, as my degree is in music. I was excited about finding someone who could give me the push and the motivation I need to work hard and get good again.

Since lesson number 2, I have been counting down until I can stop lessons. At least with this teacher. Bad sign number one should have been the fact that he didn't bring his trumpet to the first lesson. That goes against my entire teaching philosophy. But, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, as it was an introductory lesson. I asked him to bring his trumpet to lessons, and he agreed.

Bad sign number two should have been that he spent about half of the introductory lesson talking about himself. Again, I let it go. I chose to believe that he was trying to give me his qualifications as my teacher, so that I would agree to hire him, and assumed that wouldn't happen again. He seemed like he knew his stuff, and I really wanted a teacher, so I signed up for 8 lessons after the introductory lesson. Paid for and scheduled.

At the second lesson, he didn't bring his trumpet. I immediately confronted him, and he made some excuse about how he brought his mouthpiece in case he wanted to show me something, he figured he could use my trumpet. I told him that was all well and good, but we can't both play my trumpet at the same time. Asked him again to bring his trumpet to the next lesson. Which he did, and has been doing since.

However, he hasn't stopped the talking. He wants to chat, mainly about music-related things, but still, annoying and irrelevant to the lessons. Things like what he played in his senior recital in college about 40 years ago (every week he talks about this) and what his other students are doing (all of them kids, most of them on other instruments) and how if I ever want help with the keyboard he also plays piano (there is a keyboard in my spare room, where we have the lessons).

When we do get around to the actual, you know, LESSON, it consists mostly of me/us playing something, him analyzing each dynamic and explaining it to me, and then I/we play it again. I am honestly sick to death of paying $75 per hour for someone to explain to me what it means to play forte and then play mezzo-piano (there should be a difference? WHO KNEW?).

The only time we can focus and get some worthwhile work done is when I take charge and tell him what we're going to work on. And to top it all off, he's not much better than I am right now. Except for range. Which, let's be honest, my range was never my strong point even when I was really good. So it's not very difficult to have a better range than I do. Having said that, I don't necessarily believe that you can't teach someone to be better if you aren't better than they are. Some people are just good teachers that way. Just not this guy.

So do you get why I'm so frustrated about my lessons?

I haven't even told you the worst part yet. After the 5th lesson, he was leaving my apartment (he travels and comes to my house to teach -- not uncommon for music teachers) and he leaned over as if to kiss me on the cheek. Yes. You heard that right. I do not know this guy. That is NOT OKAY. I instinctively bent over so far back at the waist to get away from him that I very nearly fell right over onto the floor. It totally freaked me out. I do not think it was anything untoward, I am pretty sure he's harmless (I THINK). It's the kind of thing good friends do in this area, they kiss each other's cheeks when they meet up. BUT HOLY CRAP THAT IS NOT OKAY.

So, the following week, when I opened the door for him to leave, I quite literally hid behind it to get away from him. Apparently his acceptable substitute was to touch my arm inappropriately and say "Take care, sweetie. Have a good week." BLEECCCCCHHHH I don't know you get out of my house.

This week, I faked him out. I let him follow right behind me to my front door, opened it, and immediately backed away about 5 feet. This left him in the doorway and me far away. I said bye and he left. Now I have my tactic for the next two weeks until I can be rid of him.

I was going to transition from this story into what's GOOD about me and music right now, because there is plenty of that. But I seem to have gotten a little carried away (can you tell this is bothering me?) and this is extraordinarily long. So I'll end this for now and we'll talk about last week's concert tomorrow.

Also coming this week -- pictures of the pumpkins we carved last night. Four of them! I love carving pumpkins!

Happy birthday, M!

west side story

This week has not started out brilliantly. I complained over the weekend that I didn't have yesterday off; I wanted a three day weekend. I got my wish, sort of. I spent my day off sick. After having been up half the night Sunday night. I will spare you the details, but let's just say I spent some quality time with my bathroom. I don't know if I ate something bad or if it was a bug or what, but it was not pleasant.

I felt quite a bit better by yesterday evening and slept all night. I woke up hopeful that was the end of it. By some miracle, it was the end of it, because I went into the bathroom, flipped on the faucet to brush my teeth and nothing but a slow trickle came out. And no hot water, only cold. I dug out the emergency maintenance number to report the problem. I explained that we had no hot water. The lady on the other end of my phone asked me if I was sure we had any water at all, because "yeah, a lot of people are reporting that they have no water." Sure enough, when we tried the water again, it trickled, sputtered, and then nothing.

If not for our Brita pitcher, we wouldn't even have been able to brush our teeth & wash our faces. And let's not even DISCUSS the situation I would have been in had this happened yesterday.

At any rate, turns out a water main busted in Jersey City and they're working on it. I just got home and there is some water now, minimal water pressure though and no hot water. We're under a "boil water" advisory. And who knows when the hot water will be back. Right now I have water to boil on my stove, so I can then cool it off and put it through the Brita so we have some water to drink/wash/brush teeth/feed cats with. Ugh.

Not a good start to my week. So let's just hope it doesn't get worse (KNOCK ON WOOD). I have dress rehearsal tonight for wind ensemble. Our first concert is next week. We are doing West Side Story, but not the full show - it is wind ensemble and choir, in an arrangement done by the wind ensemble director. Tonight we have our last rehearsal, with the singers. Last week, we were given a warning that it wasn't good enough and that if it isn't up to par this week, we'd do dress rehearsal, send the singers home, and proceed to start working the entire thing front to back.

This piece is HARD. It shouldn't be that difficult, but it's a style I'm not used to playing. I have never played in a pit orchestra, and this is a totally new kind of thing for me. I'm getting it, but I'm struggling some. And my lesson teacher is no help. But that's a story for another day.

I hope this week turns around now and we have a good rehearsal tonight. I want to do well with this, I have practiced it a lot and I really hope I'm ready.

Plus, rehearsal normally ends by 9:30 -- if I have to stay later than that to keep rehearsing, I'll fall asleep. I'm getting old, I can't be out that late!


follow-up to the hypothetical question

I wrote last week about the hypothetical question Heather at Dooce posed to her readers. Her site is swarmed with readers from the online community who want to participate and offer up opinions. With the level of blogger fame she has achieved, that should be expected. She is bombarded constantly with supporters, members of the online community who want to offer thoughtful and engaged responses and participate in discussions, but also with plenty of assvice and malice. Again, to be expected. Her post of the hypothetical question drew almost 1200 comments in response.

Mine drew one. My very thoughtful aunt participated in the discussion and made an excellent point. In corresponding with her via email afterward, I agreed with her on most of her response and said that I think it's infinitely more complicated than it seems, or than I made it, and that I thought it was in all likelihood actually meant to be an analogy for something (the bailout, politics, etc). I decided to tackle the question at straight face value because of my past experiences.

Honestly, I fully expected the number of comments on my post to be zero. Only a handful of people who don't know me in real life read this site (as far as I know) and I knew that everyone would stay away from this question out of disagreement with me and/or a desire not to get involved so as not to offend me or hurt my feelings about my brother.

Truthfully, if I were to be put in that situation as it stands in the hypothetical question, chances are I'd donate. Only after pain and suffering in the decision-making process, but most likely that's the point at which I'd arrive.

Yesterday, Heather posted her follow-up to the question. Surprisingly, it was not an analogy. It was a real question, a situation she has been in. A situation we have all been faced with, but maybe haven't looked at it quite this way. Read what she wrote and you may realize that the hypothetical question isn't quite as hypothetical as it seemed. If you care to read my response on her site, mine is comment no. 83.

I think about G every day. I deal with the sadness and the hurt and the questions and the pain every day. Whether anyone else talks about it or doesn't talk about it can't change that.


what would you do?

Heather over at Dooce posted the following question on her website yesterday:

Indulge me for a second and consider this scenario: let's say you're given the opportunity to donate some money to a desperate family who would use it to feed their children, but were only able to do so if you donated the same amount of money to someone you knew would use it to buy crack. Would you do it?

It stopped me in my tracks. I scanned through some of the responses, which consist largely of brief and abrupt yesses. There are some mixed responses, but overwhelmingly people are saying of course they would, it's not their responsibility or their fault or their problem how the other person decides to use the money. I'm not saying I disagree entirely with coming to a similar conclusion. But these people with their flip answers have obviously not lost someone to addiction.

I decided to weigh in. This was my response:

My little brother died at age 22 from an accidental heroin overdose. He fought his addiction very hard, and ultimately his disease won.

I can't say yes to that question, but I will say it gave me pause. Addiction is a disease and the person has to be ready and strong enough to fight it every single second of every single day for the rest of their lives, or they will not succeed.

I still don't think I could say yes. But maybe there is a way around it -- something along the lines of give a family a fish, they eat for a day, but teach them to fish and they eat for a lifetime...

Mine wasn't a flip answer, but I didn't spend a great deal of time on it, either. My opinion might grow and change as I consider it. I find this to be an interesting question, and the many issues hidden within it are deep and complicated.

What would you do?

empty dreams

I have a cold, and have not been sleeping very well. I am wide awake 3 or 4 times during the night for brief periods, maybe 15-20 minutes. Normally when I wake up at odd times during the night, I remember dreams I've had. These last several nights, I haven't had a single dream - at least any that I've been aware of after waking up.

For about 6 months after G died, I dreamt about him every night. They were monotonous dreams, slice-of-life type dreams. I would remember only a few minutes or even a few seconds of the dream. He was always the way I remember him most recently, never younger. Always 22 years old. We would be watching TV, walking somewhere, eating a meal, having a conversation. Sometimes there were other people around, and the dreams would take place in all different locations. But he was always there.

Then the dreams slowed. I stopped dreaming about him every night, but it would still happen maybe once a week. That turned into twice a month, which turned into once a month. The dreams continued but got far less frequent.

I realized in the middle of the night last night that I've stopped dreaming about my brother. It's been months since I've had a dream about him. I don't remember the last one.

I think the dreams were helping me to keep him alive. When I was dreaming about him, I could still see him. I could picture him talking and laughing, walking and driving and eating.

I can't remember my brother's smile.

I can still look at it in pictures. It still looks familiar to me, and I still remember what he looks like; I haven't forgotten his face. I can't, I never will, because he is part of me. I look into the mirror sometimes and see him staring back at me, which is terrifying and comforting all at once.

But I can't really remember. I can't close my eyes and watch the smile spread across his face anymore. I can't remember the details of his face as he breaks into laughter. I remember certain things, but parts of him are slipping away. Sometimes I try to picture it but it's all wrong. It's not him, it's not quite right, and I can't get it back. Time is changing the details and taking them away from me.

Maybe I will start having the dreams again, and maybe the details are still under the surface. Maybe I will get them back. But I'm feeling off-kilter and lonely this morning.

I can't remember my brother's smile.

blue jay taunting my cat

First things first, though -- you should all please go here to see pictures of my gorgeous new goddaughter, Maria.

Yesterday when I got home from work, I was doing the usual, washing the disgusting subway germs off my hands, refilling my water bottle, putting on my sweatpants (yes, at 5pm, what's your point?), and I keep hearing this screeching bird. It was so loud, it sounded like it was in my apartment. It wouldn't stop so I finally went to see where it was coming from.

What I found was the funniest thing I've seen in a while (you know, besides this video from the Daily Show). My poor spoiled indoor cat with no instincts, terrified by a bird.

At the far end of my living room there are three bay windows, which start only about a foot off the floor. We're on the second level, and the building has a lot of trees, so there are branches within inches of our window. One of my cats was crouched underneath the windowsill, ears flat back against her head, trying to peer out over the windowsill. There was a blue jay on the closest branch to the window, screeching its head off.

The cat was trying very hard to watch the bird. She slowly lifted her head back up to windowsill level so she could see it. As soon as she got high enough that the blue jay could see her, it screeched at the top of its voice, and she flattened herself to the ground again. And slooowwwwlly sat up again, ears still flattened to her head. Again, as soon as she got high enough to peer over the windowsill, it screeched at her. I watched this happen 5 or 6 times, and then tried to grab the camera, but I startled the cat and the blue jay when I started moving toward them so I couldn't. I'm hoping it will happen again so I can get a picture of it.

better days

Another wind ensemble rehearsal last night, and I am still loving it. More importantly, so far I'm still in the group!

And not too bad of a day today, either. I am leaving work shortly for a company reception/lunch/party at south street seaport, and then heading home a little early. Plenty of time to practice, catch up on 90210 and The Fringe from last night and make some peanut butter fudge to send my grandfather for his birthday. Which is today. Better late than never, I suppose.


If you're not already using Pandora, you're truly missing out. It's the only way to listen to music on the computer. Free! Personalized! Commercial-free! I've got several radio stations created, but my favorites are Jack Johnson Radio and Miles Davis Radio. It takes the artists (or songs) you enter and plays those artists, mixed in with other songs/artists it thinks you will like. You can give each song a thumbs up, so it knows to include that song again, or a thumbs down, so it knows not to play it again.

Pandora has made the last month at work sharing a small, open space with three other people at work bearable. Today, finally, I am being moved to a quiet, more private cube with filing space for my work. But I will definitely continue to use Pandora. Check it out!

And no, I was not paid to advertise Pandora. As though someone would pay a blogger with a grand total of 10 readers for anything. As much as I might like to be, Dooce I am not. I suppose you actually have to post some worthwhile content more than once a month to gain readers. Probably can't count this post as worthwhile content, either, can I?

witnessing a brief truce during a heated and historic campaign

My office is just a block from the WTC site, and we have several windows that have a good view of about half of the pit. My colleagues and I spent some time yesterday at the windows, looking at the crowds, the congested traffic, the police securing the entire area. We could see the flags lining the access ramp into the pit, where families of the victims were allowed to go yesterday (and every anniversary of the attacks) to publicly remember their loved ones and place flowers into a reflecting pool at the bottom of the ramp.

Although crowds were heavy all day in the area, the most activity occured in the morning, during the ceremony where the names of all victims were read, moments of silence were held at the times the planes hit each building and at the times each building fell, and most families visited the site.

I had heard that Obama and McCain would be visiting the site sometime in the afternoon, but we assumed we wouldn't be able to spot them. In the late afternoon, glancing out the window, we could see two men on top of the next building, immediately across from our windows. They were dressed in black with bullet-proof vests and had large binoculars and sniper rifles with them. Glancing around, others like them dotted the tops of several buildings around us.

Assuming this meant the two presidential candidates were either already there or on their way, we kept watch. I could see the entire access ramp into the site, but my line of sight was cut off right at the bottom of the ramp. The access ramp emptied of people. Around 4pm, a long line of cops walked down the ramp, single file, about 15-20 feet apart (I'm guessing - they were pretty small from our vantage point). Right after that, a small cluster of about 4 people walked down the ramp together, and right after them, another line of cops.

We waited, and about a half hour later, more cops, followed by the small cluster of people, followed by more cops. We turned on a live news feed on and saw that it was, indeed, Obama, McCain, Mayor Bloomberg and Cindy McCain coming up the ramp. We watched them shaking hands with the crowd at the top of the ramp, comparing what we could see to the live news feed to make sure we could tell exactly where they were. A few moments later, they got in their separate cars and left.

september 11, 2008

After I get on the train in the morning to go to work, the train goes underneath the Hudson River, and arrives in Manhattan. To enter the World Trade Center PATH station, the train must first pass through an open air section of tracks inside the pit at ground zero. Normally, this is a good view of the site and construction work going on there, but few people on the train pay it any attention.

This morning when I boarded the train, the crowds and the hustle and bustle were as normal. The train car was jam-packed with people chatting, listening to ipods, rustling newspapers and generally shuffling around. The moment my train car hit the open tracks inside the WTC site, everything went completely silent.

Every person in it stopped moving, stopped talking, stopped rustling newspapers and stopped listening to their music. All eyes turned toward the windows. Nobody moved. The silence was overwhelming. When we passed back inside toward the station, still not a single person made a sound. Some heads kept staring at the dark window and some looked toward the ground. And it was still completely silent.

The train ground to a halt and the doors didn't open right away. A moment later, the ding sounded and the doors burst open. As though a switch had been flipped, the commute went back to normal. People pushed and shoved out of the car, talking, rustling, walking, hurrying. As though nothing had happened. All those who shared a brief moment of silence in a train car during a busy commute had dissipated into the crowd.

wind ensemble

I am in! For now, at least. My audition with the wind ensemble director wasn't very good. I chose music that was a bit too challenging for me right now. I had a good handle on it at home, but neglected to factor in the nerves that would take over as I auditioned for the first time in years. However, the director could see that I used to be good. He saw my desire to play. He did not mince words when he told me I am rusty and that he would be seating me last chair, next to a freshman trumpet player and that I wouldn't be much better, if at all, than that freshman trumpet player. He said that I would make 6 trumpets, and that he ultimately wants only 5. He told me someone will be cut, and that it may or may not be me. He expects a lot of growth from me.

It was all exactly what I needed to hear. Half an hour after that audition, I rehearsed with the wind ensemble. I had a blast. I didn't mind playing last chair at all. I fit right in, kept up easily with the group and enjoyed myself immensely.

The group's second rehearsal was last night, and I was upgraded to 4th chair and 3rd trumpet (instead of 4th) on the piece we rehearsed. It's a difficult piece (Johan de Meij's Lord of the Rings symphony) and I'm thankful that I played part of it in college. I sight read the 3rd trumpet part and did pretty well with it.

This wind ensemble is exactly what I need right now. It's at a high enough level where I feel like I will be challenged to improve but it's not so out of my league that I will struggle to keep up. It has given life back to my playing. I have felt exhilarated and motivated after both rehearsals and I am practicing every day.

Copyright © 2008 - not an only child - is proudly powered by Blogger
Smashing Magazine - Design Disease - Blog and Web - Dilectio Blogger Template