Sunday, September 26, 2010

Being a Human

It's not so hard, especially after you realize the following:

1. Don't deny yourself the chance to do the things you love, because you "have to do" other things. I mean - go ahead - make music videos and take care of homeless animals!

2. Don't ignore the people you love and care for the most, even if it's COMPLETELY unintentional. It doesn't take much to send a message or text, or make a call.

3. It's okay to be you, and you don't have to try to be anything else. I like chips and the color gray, and sleeping in instead of going to the gym and that's a-okay. I can go to the gym after work.

4. You can be or do anything you want, and you don't have to apologize for it. It's okay to be proud of what you can do, think and create!

5. Life will always move too fast. It's useless to complain about that fact.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life is like Grammar


And frustrating.

But necessary.

Every "rule" isn't really a "rule" because it sometimes has more exceptions than it had "rule" in the first place.

See, with commas, there are very specific instances in which you should use them. In lists, for example:
"I enjoy eating curry, sleeping in, and petting dogs."

But that only applies if I didn't present it with "I enjoy these three things in particular..."

Had I begun it that way I would have to use a SEMICOLON. Or maybe a colon. Frankly, I don't feel like pulling out the book to check.

It's like how you don't use your fingers to eat UNLESS you're presented with chicken wings and/or pizza. UNLESS you're in the company of someone who eats their pizza with a fork. Then you may want to consider doing so, as well, so as to avoid potential embarrassment.

And what about "'i' before 'e' except after 'c'?"

It works with most things like "receive" or "friend."

But what about "seizure" or "species," huh?

Maybe that's the same as when mostly you're supposed to wear clothes that look, I dunno, fresh and clean and new. But sometimes it's okay to buy jeans that already have holes in them?

And then there are the homonyms.  "Affect" is to influence and "effect" is to implement.  "Stationary" is not moving, whereas "stationery" refers to paper.

Mostly I think that's like how people with names like "Chelsea" or "Amber Lee" were likely born in the Mid-west to East-coast region, whereas people named "Chyelsiee" or "Embur Leigh" were likely born in Utah Valley.

And then there are the grammar-element personality-types. I know you know some.

Dash-people: always putting in their aside comments and silly puns.
"I told her I'd be there - but really I'd rather jump off a cliff! HAHA!"

Hyphen-people: long-winded folk who need a good excuse for a run-on sentence life.
"My brother's-best-friend's-ex's-mom's-favorite-baby-sitter is MY best-friend's-cousin's-cousin and I just found out that her favorite thing is under-water-basket-weaving and orange-mochan-frappachinos!"

Parentheses-people: Unobtrusive individuals who have their own thoughts, but you never really know it.
"Here's that report you asked me to do (even though it's not part of my job description) and I really need your signature on those forms I gave you (two weeks ago) and thanks for the chocolate birthday cake (even though I'm allergic...)"

Ellipsis-people: Melodramatic in nature. They leave you always wondering what they're REALLY thinking.
"You're wearing THAT?"
"What's wrong with this?"
"'s just...well...never mind..."

Is it not all the most true?

And amusing?

Oh grammar.

I guess I'd better get back to studying you, now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Extra Member of my Family

Have you ever met someone and they have a BILLION People in their family? And introductions at family events are something like this:

"This is my oldest brother, Arty, and his wife, Nellie, and their kids Ethan and Josie, but Ethan's dad was actually Nellie's first wife, Bill, who passed away 2 years ago, who was actually Arty's first college roommate and their dog - Neptune (point to dog) was bred by cousin Hamish. Now, Hamish is away in Afghanistan but his girlfirend, Tessa, always comes to stuff like these because we're pretty sure they're going to get married. And Aunt Jeanie here - - looks like she brought Abby! Abby is Jeanie's adopted daughter from Guatemala." ---Interjection---"Didn't I already meet Abby?" ---"Oh nooo! Haha, no no you met Allie, who was actually just Aunt Jeanie's foster daughter. It's so crazy, i know, but Allie was with Jeanie for like four and half years but her mom sobered up and got custody back! Isn't that great?! Now...uncle Luigi...."

And it goes on and on?

Well that's not really the case with my family. There are my parents, my sister, her husband, and me and my husband. My dad has one sister and three kids. She's divorced so I have a half-uncle and one of her three kids is married (or will be this Saturday.) My mom has 2 siblings - a brother with a wife and no kids, and a sister who is also divorced with two unmarried children.


Parents: 2
Siblings: 1
Sibling-in-laws: 1
1st Cousins: 5
Aunts: 3
Uncles: 1 and two halves

That's pretty easy. 

But every summer of my life, my family goes to Maine. And THAT'S where it gets intense.

The history of how my dad's side of the family got into Maine in the first place is a doozie in and of itself. Then there is the history of how it was built (started in 1964, $2000 for the structure of it, walls were just wood studs and sheets for a number of years, only ran cold water, no fridge, shelves willy nilly on the walls, didn't even put cabinets in until grandma's best friend died in 1979 and left money for cabinets, walls, carpets, etc.) And then there is the history of the STUFF.

This was from Polish great-grandparent's candy shop, but the hooks are from their BARBER shop, and this is grandma's father's carving, and this was grandpa's bookshelf in college, and that table was from Rose (cue best friend from 1979) and this chair was actually MOM'S grandpa's chair, but then the rod-iron tools were made by great-uncle John the blacksmith from New Jersey, but THIS tool - the fire poker - was made by cousin Bob, whereas the old comics, bobble-head dolls, and vintage Boston Red Socks pennants were dad's when he was a kid. Now the bed frame's are from great-grandpa Chuck's boy's camp and the table and chairs are from grandpa's high school and the couch was from a house (half) uncle Eddie bought - he thought we could use it - and the bell was from the one-room schoolhouse in Moffatsville where great grandma Minnie was from, and the hutch and bed-side table are genuine arts-and-crafts style furniture from great-grandparent's house in the 1920s.

I love coming to Maine for all of those things.

But, I submit, it's much more complicated than family dynamics :)

And I'm glad the husband and brother-in-law have taken to it so quickly.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Holistic Healing?

Hmm...Maybe not so much.

But close!

See - for years I've been into the idea of "natural" hygiene products. I don't mean that I'll go so far as to spend oodles of money on some sort of snake-oil. However, I have been known to smear bananas all over my face (a natural softening agent!!) or tomatoes all  over my face (their acidity and antioxidants restore something or other) or use cranberry juice as a natural astringent, and egg yolks as a moose-like curl booster.

Yes, I've made myself oatmeal masks, and stood over a pot of boiling water to open and cleanse the pores.

Go ahead - ask me. I know you're dying to know. Did any of that work, right?


But did I feel cool doing it?

You betcha.

But let's not be pretentious, here. No matter how good it felt to be using fruits and vegetables in place of chemicals, and no matter how much it made me feel like a do-gooding flower child, I only did them once or twice. Why? Well, because I didn't feel they worked any better than my large pump bottle of Costco Cetaphil.

But the other day I bought a "Family Circle" magazine because it advertised some really great slow-cooker recipes. And let me tell ya - they're really great. But another article in the magazine talked about some quick and easy beauty enhancers and you may as well cue the gospel choir now, because I found one that worked!!!


Hooray for my feel-good picture of honey!

That's right, folks, honey. It's a natural moisturizer and it's naturally antimicrobial. I'm assuming that means it really doesn't like microbes.

Anyway - just mix a pea-sized dollop of honey with your regular moisturizer (I do this on the top of my hand because it's less absorbent than the bottom part of the hand) and then you spread it all around your face like normal.


It actually feels like I've got moisture in my skin, and my face is supple and radiant (and if you're not careful, a little sticky) and did I mention that I LOVE IT?

Go ahead - be skeptical. But I dare you try it.

You'll like it, too.

And your face will smell really good.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Today I started my new job for Performing Arts Management on campus. It was a joy. I started at 8 and got done at 2 and on my walk home I walked the path up past a beautiful little stream that runs alongside the road. It's a popular place for "roommate pictures," engagement pictures, family pictures, and duck feeding. 

I loved watching the ducks this afternoon. Have you ever noticed that when they eat they stick their heads straight in the water and their bums straight up in the air? It's gotta be the darn-right cutest thing I've ever seen. Ever.

And when they sleep! Oh, when they sleep.

They cuddle into themselves in the grass. They sit down and nuzzle their beaks into their back feathers and close their eyes. I suppose I sort of do the same when I cuddle into bed. I snuggle the blankets way up under my chin and get all wrapped into myself.

I do think I rather like ducks.

And I'll pack an extra piece of bread with me for lunches, just for the walk home :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Did I mention my Grandma passed away this week?

She had a stroke on June 28th. It caused dementia to set in for her, but after a couple weeks she was back on the band-wagon, playing scrabble and such, though still a little confused.  About 3 weeks after her 1st stroke, she had another small stroke. This may as well have negated any progress she had made. She again lost some strength, but could still talk. Her mind was in another place. 

She got  a UTI around that same time. Turns out, while a young woman just feels the painful urge to pee 24/7 with a UTI, older women tend to go temporarily out of their mind instead. This was unnerving, but after the UTI passed, she began to "stabilize" once more.

Spencer and I were lucky enough to have planned into the end of our European adventure a visit to Grammy. We were going to spend the entire day with her. But, after her strokes, it became obvious that we could and should only spend a handful of hours with her at her care facility. 

So we went with my mom - who has been taking care of Grammy all summer - with lunch. We ate outside in the warm New York sun.  I ate Indian food, Spencer had sushi, mom had a sandwich and we got a roast beef on kemmelweck sandwich for Grammy. We got her an iced tea. She managed the bottle okay, but her hands were so unsteady that we got her a cup with a straw instead.  It was lovely to be with her. She seemed thrilled to see Spencer and me, and made conversation well enough, but talked herself in circles more or less the whole time.

This picture was taken only hours before she had her last stroke.

She was sweet to see. It was mostly the Grammy I've known my whole life, and that was enough for me.  While on that trip, we made the decision to move her out to Utah to be here with the majority of the family. Spencer and I came home, but my dad and mom stayed to pack up her apartment, and make arrangements to fly her out here and get her settled in a senior care home with "enhanced memory care."

About 12 hours before they were all supposed to come home, she had another massive stroke that disabled her left side (her strongest side) and her ability to speak.  All plans were cancelled. She went to the hospital immediately, where they ensured she would be in no pain, but they couldn't keep her hydrated or feed her because of her personal, legally understood "DNR" request. A day or two later they moved her to a lovely hospice facility and she passed away on Monday.

My sister and I made immediate plans to go back to New York. We flew out Tuesday morning, there was a memorial service on Wednesday morning, and we flew back Wednesday night. It was the most perfect service, and many of my Grammy's friends came.  

Thursday I jumped back into work. Same thing Friday. My parents and Spencer and I also had tickets for a Brian Stokes Mitchell concert on Friday. Saturday flew by - with tie-dye with friends, and tickets to "The Lion King" in Salt Lake City. 

We were sitting in our seats ready to start the show when, at the last minute, a woman and her elderly father came to sit in the two seats next to me. He was in a walker just like the one they gave my grandma at her rehab facility. We got out of the row for the man to walk in. He did so very cautiously, and his arms shook uncontrollably as he walked. His eyes were resilient behind his glasses, wrinkled face and white goatee. He reminded me so much of Grammy.

I realized, at the show, that in the rush of everything happening I hadn't really taken the time to absorb her passing. I was a puddle for the rest of the show. She would have enjoyed it so much, and I was overcome with sadness that she couldn't be there with me.

On the drive home, I lost it. And I cried myself to sleep.

My Grammy was an amazing woman.  She was strong and smart. She was beautiful and kind. She was spiritual and soft. She was hilarious, and witty. She raised my mom, aunt, and uncle completely alone, survived an abusive marriage, rose to the top of the chain in her workplace (first woman to do so!), and volunteered at charities, theaters and Ten Thousand Villages.  She dressed well, and always wore pink lipstick. She was almost 90 years old. 

I regret not doing more to be in touch with her. Now, the few calls I made and the emails I sent hardly seem sufficient. But I know she loves me. And she knows I love her. And I suppose that will have to be enough.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I frustrate myself with the number of ideas I produce in any given day. 
Over the last week, here are some of the things I've decided I must do:

Choose a career path in film - as a producer or director
Write a broadway show (I have a great idea. But it shant be stolen, so I won't speak of it.)
Expand my photography "career"
Begin teaching photoshop classes as part of said "photography career"
Try my hand with real estate investing; get pre approved for buying a duplex, buy one and rent it out
Get a masters degree in marriage and family therapy
Begin a flea market in the Utah Valley area
Start my own "Bridal Fair" like event like those that run rampant around here, but instead it's a "Wedding Photographer's Fair," for all the local photographers
Host and run a 24 hour film festival
Practice for voice lessons more often so I, too, can be a concert vocalist and broadway star like Brian Stokes Mitchell
Open a luxury dog "hotel" and "day spa"

There are more, of course. Those are just some of the most outstanding.
Any of them seem promising to you?