Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I talked myself out of shopping. Me: one. Consumerism: zero.

We did, however, put our Christmas tree up today. Tottie wasn't as excited as I thought she'd be. She did exclaim, "Tree!" but that was about it.
Audrey had enough excitement for the both of them though. She clasped her hands gently together and said, "Oh, Mommy. Isn't our tree bee-u-ti-ful?" She danced around to the Christmas music (thank you B98.5) and helped hang ornaments. She speculated which gifts Santa would bring her and made sure we knew what a good girl she's been.

I love lazy days like today. Tim watched the girls so that I could go to the quiet coffee shop all by myself and get some work done. When I got home, around four, Harper was still in her jammies eating makeup and Audrey was naked, throwing toys around. Tim had made vegetarian stew and had cleaned the kitchen. Awesome.

I need a whole week of days like today. I like this pace.

P.S. The holiday card is almost complete. If I don't have your address and you want on the list... shoot me an email!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Way Too Soon for This.

So, it was only a matter of time before we started dealing with these emotional issues.
The grass is always greener...
You always want what you can't have...

She four, y'all. Four.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me just tell you the story:

I'm on my way to the school to pick up the girls one day after work. It was a helluva day. (It's always a helluva day, isn't it?)
Anyway, get there. Get them. Everything seems to be fine.
I start up the car. Everyone's buckled. We're ready to roll.

I pull out of the parking lot and ask Audrey, just as I always do, "How was school today?"
There's a long drawn out whimper that suddenly turns into full-on uncontrollable crying.
I almost stopped the car, but thought I'd better get home.... and fast.
"WHAT is wrong, Audrey? Calm down and tell me what's wrong."
Sniffles and broken breaths.
"I'm not beautiful every daaaaaaaay!"

"What?!! What are you talking about! You know you are beautiful. Mommy tells you every day. (And then Mama Bear kicks in.) Did someone say you're not beautiful?"


What the hell? Seriously. WHAT THE HELL? Why is this coming up now? Do I really have to do this? Have this conversation? I didn't think this stuff would start until middle school, really.

"Okay, Audrey. Why do you think you are not beautiful. Think about it. Why do you think you are not beautiful?"

She thought.

And then she said this, and it broke my heart, it did:
"I want straight hair like you, Mommy. I don't want curly hair."

I was in shock. It's not like she's the only girl in her class with curls. Does she not hear all of the perfect strangers that gasp and gaze upon her hair and say, "Oh, I wish I had those curls."

I reminded her of all the million comments she's received. I told for the billionth time that she's the most beautiful person in the world. It still didn't make her feel any better.

I have no idea what transpired that day at school. I had have no idea what kind of an influence her pals have on her. I have no control. I can't be there for everything, every second of her life. I can't protect her from mean girls or teasing boys. Oh, how I wish I could.

I probably shouldn't have done this. Maybe it wasn't the right solution to the problem... but I wanted to give her what she wanted for just one day.
So, when we got home, I called her into the bathroom and while I was ironing her hair I told her that we would never do this again, just this once so that she could see what she looked like with straight hair. I could tell she was excited. I made her repeat it. She did.
I also told her that she was very lucky. She could have both curly and straight hair whenever she wanted when she was all grown up.
So, I finished the task, turned her around to look in the mirror and....


"Why are you crying now???"
"My friends are going to laugh at me because I look funny!"

Jesus. I told her that it wasn't permanent, that her hair would be back to normal after she took her nightly shower. At that statement, she turned to the mirror once more and gave her hair a good flip. A smile came over her face as she looked up at me and then she was off.... to go change her clothes and dance around the living room while watching herself in the reflection of the tv screen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jerry Fuchs - The Memorial Service

photo by david cubberly

I arrive alone. I’m a bit reluctant to actually enter the building because I see that everyone is dressed to the nines and I don’t recognize any of their faces. Am I in the right place?

Wearing dark denim, a striped knit shirt, leather jacket and no makeup I make my way up the few steps and through the doors into the lobby. I am second-guessing my attire now. At least I’m wearing heels. I should just go home.

The pit in my stomach is growing. I feel sick. The emotion is almost strong enough to make me turn around and run right back out to the car and get the hell out of that church. I hate churches.

I glance over to my left at a group of shirts and ties. Finally, there’s a familiar face. And another. And another. We exchange hugs, few words (as the lobby was particularly quiet and solemn) and then finish with hung heads. I am already having a hard time holding back the tears and the service hasn’t even begun. I knew this would be hard. I still can’t believe he’s gone.

His family had placed a memorial wall of photos over near the left of the entrance to the sanctuary. No way. I know my emotional limits. I’ll hold my spot in line and wait to sign the book before I go in. The photos can wait. I’m not ready for them, yet.

I’ve been here before, in this building with him, twice: Once for Christmas Mass and once when his sister married. It looks different than I remember.

A woman from the church enters the lobby from the sanctuary and tells us we’ll have time to sign the book later. Will we please come in and be seated. I’m not ready. My mind is swimming. Why can’t I just be calm?

The crowd funnels in through the doors to the sanctuary. I stop at the sign-in table and reach over someone actively writing to grab a program and postcard with his picture on it. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Just sit down.

I’ve lost my associates. I am alone, again as I sit down on a hard pew, next to a stranger. I attempt to breathe, to relax. I look over and a comforting face motions for me to come join the group once more. I’m thankful.

I sit down next to a friend and finally allow myself to take in a long deep breath. It’s darker over here. The sound equipment is to my right and to my left, a row of people I know and trust. I’m feeling a little more prepared.

My leg won’t stop shaking. I can’t keep my fingers from fidgeting. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. I hate churches. I try to distract myself by turning over the postcard to read the words. I make it no further than the fourth line and try to switch my focus to the people slowly sifting in. That works for a short while until we’re asked to stand and I see his family walk down the middle aisle, embracing each other, almost holding each other up as they approach the altar. My heart goes out to his entire family, but when I finally catch sight of his brother, hot tears begin streaming down my cheeks. I can’t stop them.

Some religious image appears on the large screen overhead with words to a hymn and a background of cloudy skies. People start singing. It doesn’t feel right to me, so I don’t. We sit. One of the preachers refers to his notes and invites his mother to come recite Psalm 139. His mother, she’s just as sweet and petite and soft-spoken as I remember her from years ago. She begins reciting the passage and I use my thumb like a windshield wiper as I listen less to the words and begin concentrating more on her face and mannerisms. I think about how incredibly strong she must be to keep her composure.

I see her influence on him.

We stand and sit and stand some more. Finally we take our seats and a preacher, I guess the correct term is father, isn’t it? A father comes forward and turns toward an oversized black and white photo of him, (same one that’s on the front of the postcard), and says, “That’s Jerry.” There’s a dramatic pause and then he says again, “That’s Jerry as he’s greeted by God.”

The more this guy speaks the more upset I’m getting. I find myself, in a bold way, looking around the room thinking, “Does anyone else think this is absurd? C’mon!” I don’t mean any disrespect to the father, I really don’t. I know he means well. I just cannot stomach the audacity. And I’m not talking about this father only speaking a sentence or two about it… he goes on and on. He crescendos when saying, “This is Jerry saying to God, ‘AWESOME!’ And God gives him 20 drums and 10 drumsticks and Jerry is really going to make a beat.” I’m paraphrasing now, but you get the picture. He was reaching the climax of his homily.
I started to shake my head. This is so wrong. And maybe I’m the one being presumptuous at this point but this is not what he would have wanted. He would have been pissed. He would have thrown something at this guy. And just as I’m thinking this, the best thing ever happens:

In an instant the church goes black. The mic cuts off and my wish, it comes true, the father shuts up.

It was phenomenally strange. It made me smile.

The father regains power and says, “That was Jerry,” which was followed by a nervous laugh.
Your damn right that was Jerry!
I leaned over and whispered to my friend, “That was Jerry and he’s pissed off.”

The nerve of that guy!

I don’t know what I believe in. I guess I’d say I’m a spiritual person, but maybe not a religious person? I will tell you this though: I don’t believe for a second that what happened was just some coincidence. I don’t.

His dad’s words were sad for me to hear for many reasons which I won’t mention, but I’m just thankful (for his sake) that he was able to meet and briefly speak to so many people that loved his son, that adored him and miss him terribly.

The best part of the service was when his older sister and younger brother took to the podium. They talked about the Jerry I knew- The one that was just as mean as he was sweet, just as sensitive as he was hard, just as removed as he was the center of attention, just as reserved as he was boisterous and just as funny as ever. I laughed really hard for the first time that evening. And I found myself wanting to share funny stories, too.

There was another speaker, Jerry’s long-time friend, roommate, band mate, Fred. He brought the tears again and the genuine words of someone that truly knew him. He told the story of how Jerry ended up in NY and how he became so easily rooted in the music scene. I knew one tiny slice of that Jerry and found myself remembering him in his first apartment during a week long trip that a few friends and I had planned. Good times.

There was communion and then a short silence as the presenters prepared the next part of the service.

The lights dimmed and a Baby Jerry was illuminated onto the large screen. I awkwardly sucked in some air and tried my hardest not to completely lose it. Watching the slideshow was awful in the best way something can be awful. And when it was over, I didn’t want it to be. I wanted more Jerry.

Monday, November 09, 2009

So, this is what 35 looks like.

Hello, 35.
My body is falling apart. I have no time to do the things I love. I'm tired all of the time and I have zero patience.
But life is good. I can complain all I want, but life is good.

Turning 35, I thought, was going to be uneventful. Little did I know that Tim had been planning my birthday for months.

When I got home on Friday, I immediately sensed the kids were missing. This alone was a birthday gift. (Not that I don't love my kids, but a day off is a day off!) With an eyebrow raised I began to inquire about what the evening had in store. Tim's only answer was, "We have some place to be at 4:30."
Do I have to change?
Am I going to see anyone I know?
Probably not.
Should I change?
Can we just go now?
Yes. Let's go.

So, we roll into a local strip mall.

Are we eating at Mellow Mushroom?
(Sarcastically) Yeah. We're eating at Mellow Mushroom for your birthday.

We get out of the car and he takes me into a spa/salon. Dood! A 30 minute massage? My husband RULES. I haven't had a massage in years. I think I might make a point to schedule one every other weekend from now until eternity. So nice.
I joked that I was ready for bed. (Well, I wasn't joking but Tim doesn't have to know that.) We traveled back home, got all gussied-up and headed out to dinner. The Livingston.
It's a newly renovated space across from the Fox Theater. Food was yummy. Tim was a sneak and while my head was turned looking out the window he placed a ring box on the side of my plate. Yes. Overboard? Yes. I really don't know what I did to deserve such a sweet sweet husband.
As if that wasn't enough...
We asked our waitress if we could go to the rooftop and she personally escorted us! Such a great view. Perfect way to end our dinner.

Tim blew me away on my birthday.
I have to be honest though and tell you- the best part of the evening wasn't the ring, or the massage or the fancy dinner- it was holding hands and walking together or tightly wrapping arms around each other and gripping each other's sides. One of us is typically holding a kid or strolling a kid. It was nice to just spend time alone together. We should probably do more of that. And since he finally quit his night job, we'll be able to make it happen.

I've missed my husband!

So.... 35. I've never thought this far ahead in life. I've pretty much done what I set out to do. (You know, when I planned my future at 22 years old.) Well, I've accomplished those goals. Now, it's time to set some new ones, I guess. I'm just not quite sure where I need to be going or how I should be getting there. It's scary when you realize you need a new direction, a new inspiration, a new five year plan. Jesus, in five years I'll be 40!!! Shit. I can't think about this right now. I'd better start learning how to put on makeup.

Tonight, the girls and I headed to La Fondie (Audrey's pet name for her favorite restaurant.)

Harper continues to surprise me with her self taught ability to use eating utensils with ease. Hardly any beans or rice on the floor this time! Progress people, progress.
And Audrey convinced me to let her enjoy a little ice cream afterward. That little voice she used tonight to sway me? I pretty much would've given her whatever she wanted.

And for the record, Superman ice cream is now Harper's favorite too.

The simple joys.

Halloween, Birthday and Tragedy

So, I've been hunting all night for the one photograph of Jerry Fuchs that I took. Seems like I should have so many more but those are just the snapshots of my mind. One print. That's all I have and it just happens to be from the last time I saw him in person. It's important to me to find it but I don't know exactly why.

I've never, really never, had anyone close to me die. And some people might scoff and say, "You haven't talked to him in years. You weren't close. You don't count." But I do. I know I do. We were very close at one point in time. We hung. We laughed. We talked. We wrote letters.

We laughed.

I don't know how Jerry might have felt toward me today or if we would've opened up the lines of communication without awkwardness after all this time, but I do know that he was special to me- always will be.

Today, after hearing the tragic news, I called two people I have not spoken to in years- years! And it was so good to hear their voice. And it put everything in perspective. And it made me look at Tim and my girls differently. It made me less irritable with my life. It made me happy to be alive. It's true. Our lives are short, even if we live them to the fullest.

It also made me realize that I need to blog more frequently.

One day, I'll enjoy reading about my (your choice of adjective here) life. The girls might get a kick out of it too.

Halloween was a lot of fun this year. Tim's parents held down the fort (and Harper b/c she was sick) while Tim, Audrey and I went trick-or-treating. We had well over 100 kids come to the house!
The Chadwicks, at the end of our street, did not disappoint this year. Audrey and Amelia ran screaming and holding onto their candy for dear life. I just love to scare the Dickens out of little kids and to see it be done is just as entertaining.

October is of my most favorite months of the year. Here are some random pumpkin patch photos:

This next photo, for me, was the best part of the day. They were OUT!

And in preparation for the big night, of course, we decorated the sidewalk.

I realize I'm bouncing around here, but it's fitting for today, this month, this year.
Actually, I'm going to end it here tonight. I just can't think clearly.

I'll tell you all about one of the best birthdays, ever in the next post. And don't worry, I know I still owe you the Audrey Gallery of Drawn Images. They're worth the wait.

I'll leave you with this photo b/c it too, fits with the random theme of the evening.