Somewhere over the rainbow.

It’s hard to believe it’s practically July already. I’m going to be twenty-six in less than a week. And that is even harder to believe. I still experience a strange sort of disbelief every year on my birthday. “Am I really that old?” It’s bizarre to me that I am nearly thirty. I’m not worried about it though. Being young and a twenty-something is over rated. Not that 26 is even close to being “old,” not by a long shot. But I like being this age. I’m enjoying life so much more now than I did five or seven years ago. It’s so much more interesting. I like planning my future and wanting a baby and thinking of where is the right place to raise a family and caring about politics. I like knowing who I am and feeling secure and not confused. I like realising that Kristi is more than my girlfriend – that we’ve been together for almost five years and she is more than a partner, more than a girlfriend. I like listening to music that’s older than me and doing it because I love it so much I can’t swallow; instead of how all the messy hippie kids did in high school when they listened to Phish and the Grateful Dead because they liked to smoke pot before art class. I like having life experiences and I like that I feel like I’m getting smarter as I go along.

I like being this age and I like that there’s (hopefully) a lot more years to come than have passed. I’m excited about sitting here four years from now and thinking about how cool it is to be thirty and how I can’t wait to see how much cooler than my twenties it will be. I’m excited to have another block of memories – good ones and even sad ones – and milestones to come to. I’m excited to have a five year old that I can explore with and learn with and teach and experience his universe. So go on and keep your youth; I’ll take experience and wrinkles like a road map of my life any day.

That turned into a bit of a tangent, didn’t it?

Earlier this month Kristi and I received a visit from my mom and her boyfriend. It was short, but a good visit. She’d just spent three months in jail for her previous indiscretions and I was happy to see how much healthier she looked. It was also the first time I’ve spent time with my actual mother since my Gramma died almost six years ago. I haven’t seen her sober and unintoxicated in a very long time and it made me feel good. I missed her. However, she gave me some news that was surprising in every single way. As it turned out, my great-grandmother, who I called Nanny, had died. Of cancer. A month before. I was baffled as to why my Poppa didn’t feel it necessary to fill me in on this information. In fact, the truth is, I’m still rather unhappy with him for it. But I digress.

After my Gramma died I spent a lot of time thinking about how much less broken I’d be if it had been Nanny that died. That’s the most horrible thing to think about someone in your family, I know. I have no excuses for such deplorable thoughts and the truth is I’m still ashamed of it.
When I was very little, Nanny and I were extremely close. I used to spend a ton of time over at her house. I’d sit under the butcher’s block and hit it with miniature tools; I spent countless hours in their big leather recliners watching Disney cartoons; I played my first game of computer solitaire at her house. I would stay the night and we would lay awake in the dark and tell jokes and stories and she would scratch my head with her long fingernails. Six years ago as I stood over my Gramma’s hospital bed and wept as I said my goodbyes, Nanny came up behind me and placed her hand on my shoulder. “That’s enough,” she said. The relationship all of us had with her had thinned immensely over the previous seven years for various reasons; but at that moment she had turned into a completely different person to me. Someone she’d never been to me before. I felt as though she was hurrying me through the hardest moment of my life and telling me to quit my blubbering. It was something that I never forgave her for.

The last time I saw or spoke to her, I’m fairly certain, was at my Gramma’s memorial service on October 26, 2004. I spent a lot of time in the following months being angry and most of my time in the following years forgetting she existed in my life at all. I used to think that when she died, it wouldn’t affect me – that it wouldn’t make me sad or that I wouldn’t shed a tear. When my mom told me, the initial shock and disbelief stunned a few tears out of me. But later as I sat alone at work and couldn’t stop thinking of it, it dropped down on top of me like a weight. Someone I knew and once loved very much was gone. She was gone before I could tell her that despite it all, I did love her somewhere inside me. She was still someone who meant a lot to my growth. There is a sadness because of it that permeates much of my moods lately. There remains a huge disbelief. I cried much more than I ever imagined I’d be capable of. I just hope that as her last thoughts of me came and left through her mind before she drew her last breath, that she knew I loved her. Even if the memories were twenty years old.

On the other hand however, we also received a fantastic visit from my Aunt Jenny and Uncle Don this weekend. They’re on a trip across the country in a van from New York and rerouted their plans to make room for a few hours with us. I’ve spent more time with them in the last two years than I have with the rest of my New York family in the last ten years. It’s something that saddens me a lot, but I loved so much having the chance to spend a few hours with them. Talking and laughing and hearing stories and learning about my family. I found myself missing my father, the rest of my aunts and cousins, my grandmother so very much that it’s just an ache.

Another thing I love about being this age is being able to interact with my family in a new way. Just sitting and talking with my Aunt Jenny about everything possible felt so good to me. I sort of feel like I barely know that part of my family (which I suppose is basically true), and it was sort of like learning about her from scratch. Although at the same time, it wasn’t. Because when I think back to my summers spent back east with my dad and the time I spent with my cousins at their house, I always remember my aunt as nurturing me.

I remember one particular summer when she bought me a sketchbook and some pencils. I suppose that was probable the last summer I was there. But I remember her caring so much about giving me this book and encouraging me to fill it. And I did. I did a lot of drawing in that sketchbook, that summer especially. I know it’s still floating around in my things – full of simple, shading free portraits of the people I loved then. One memory so vivid in my mind is that of sitting on the floor before my Grandma’s coffee table and drawing a picture of Jewel by candlelight because the power was out. Jewel’s cd Spirit and my Aunt Jenny’s sketchbook: those were the most important things to me the summer of 1999.

And still nothing had changed. The four of us sat at the table and talked about everything possible, but when the conversation came around to what I wanted to do and schooling, I was fifteen again. And she was encouraging me and telling me how achievable my dreams are. Even if I still barely know what those dreams are. She and I sat in the backseat of their van on the way back from dinner and she said to me, “I think if you decided to go back to school you’d find that you had a lot of support from your dad and us.” It was something I’ve always known in the back of my mind. But hearing her say it to me – it just made me want to cry from love.

I’m satisfied with where my life has taken me for the most part. I wouldn’t want change anything that has led me to Kristi. However, I wish more than anything that I’d always had that in my every day. I have this huge and incredible extended family and the fact that I hardly know them at all… it just literally breaks my heart. But knowing that they’re there – knowing that they’re mine – well, that makes it all a bit better, doesn’t it.

Tuesday, June 29th 10 at 2:57 am 1 comment

30 Days: Day 25

Day 25 → Your day, in great detail

My entire day in great detail? Well, that’s boring. Anyhow, I woke up at a few minutes to nine and stayed in bed a few minutes to check the bank and catch up on Twitter. After I got out of bed I greeted the cats, went pee and put on a pair of shorts before sitting at my desk to check/read LiveJournal, Facebook and Autostraddle. That took a while. But then I was responsible and paid my phone bill, our cable bill, made sure my insurance cards were in order and paid my Playstation Magazine subscription. I looked at ONTD for a bit while listening to Angus and Julia Stone. But then I remembered I didn’t post a picture yesterday so I looked at my WordPress stats and decided I’d better get a few of these down. After completing the previous one, I started this one while listening to the Eclipse soundtrack and eating a cold piece of pizza.

It’s nearly eleven now and in a little bit, I’ll take a shower and get ready to go meet Kristi for lunch at one-thirty. On my way I’ll get gas – hopefully I’ll have enough to make it up the street to the station. After lunch, I’ll go to WalMart to get a few things that we need urgently like cat litter and shampoo. Then I will definitely go to the Goodwill Bookstore where I will hopefully bring home a good loot of Stephen King books with which to build my book castle with. Maybe I’ll get my truck washed, it’s pretty filthy.

Upon my return home, I’ll clean up after the cats and be grumpy about it and also feel lonely while I wait for Kristi to come home at five. When she gets home, we’ll go to the gym where I’ll sweat and be tired and want to die, probably. Then we’ll come home and have something for dinner and lay on the couch watching Six Feet Under. Sometime around eight, I’ll take another shower and start getting ready for work. I’ll stomp around for ten minutes asking “What am I going to listen to?!” Then I’ll settle on something and leave for work at 9:30, arriving around 9:53 depending on traffic and lights.

Once at work, I will make lunch for my clients and feel grumpy and sad that I didn’t get the job I interviewed for twice last week. I will probably watch Jimmy and Doctor Who again. Maybe I will download a movie today to watch or maybe I will get some more reading done.  It will be a long haul until six am…

Thursday, June 10th 10 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

30 Days: Day 24

I have fallen quite behind here, haven’t I? Probably these should’ve been done over a week ago. But oh well. Let’s knock a couple out right now. 🙂

Day 24 → Whatever tickles your fancy

Autostraddle is going to Bonnaroo and they did a little Artist Spotlight with this  video. I’d never heard of these two but I’d been missing out horribly. Because their new cd Down The Way is positively addicting and beautiful. Between his sweet voice and her Bjork-like sound. Their lyrics are incredible and moving and make everything feel like a love song.

And then there’s this…

Another artist I’d never heard of and was introduced to via AS and am so happy about. This video is probably the saddest thing I’ve seen since the Swell Season video for Low Rising. I love songs that tell stories and I love it when the video goes along with it. This one is so lovely and sweet. And also, marionettes are cool.

Thursday, June 10th 10 at 9:36 am Leave a comment

30 Days: Day 23

Day 23 → A YouTube video

I found this wonderful thing by happy accident. I thought Ooh, what is this?! and as I watched it a series of things happened: I grinned ear to ear, my jaw dropped and I giggled wildly. Okay, probably it doesn’t mean much or matter much to someone without a rabid obsession with Doctor Who (read: someone who is not me). But for me, this video was four and a half minutes of pure joy.

Imagine my surprise and glee to discover that Chameleon Circuit is an actual band that has an actual cd and play a type of music called Trock. Which means “Time Lord Rock.” You guys, that means that they only sing songs about Doctor Who! I’ve listened to their cd several times since discovering it and look at me, I’m getting all excited as though I’ve just discovered this wonder!

Be right back, I’ve got an awful lot of running to do.

Saturday, June 5th 10 at 3:48 am Leave a comment

30 Days: Day 22

Day 22 → A website

Obviously. Click it, it will magically take you there. You don’t even have to type anything! That’s my favourite place on the entire internet. (the internet is big.)

Saturday, June 5th 10 at 3:33 am Leave a comment

30 Days: Day 21

Day 21 → A recipe

Okay, this is my favourite thing to make in the world. It’s super easy and super delicious and everyone should make it. I think, in the book where the recipe came from, it’s called “bell pepper stir fry.” But honestly that’s very boring and doesn’t sound too delicious, does it? So I call it Chicken Wonderful.

You need:

  • 1 c. of chicken broth
  • 2 tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 medium dill pickle
  • some curly noodles (really, this depends on how much you like)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 medium/large boneless, skinless chicken breast

You do:

In a bowl mix together broth, paste, flour and seasonings – set aside. Dice the pickle – set aside. Cut the onion and peppers into good size chunks. This is when I boil water for the noodles, add those when it’s really going. Cut your chicken into pieces. Over medium-high heat, saute the peppers and onion  in olive oil for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Cover for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, and cook all your veggies until they’re softened to your liking.

Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside. Cook your chicken over the same heat in some olive oil – season with pepper otherwise your girlfriend will yell at you for never using pepper. When the chicken is done, push to the edge of the pan – stir the tomato-paprika sauce and add to the center of the pan. Let it cook while stirring and the sauce will thicken. Add the veggies back to the pan as well as the pickle. Mix everything all together and give it a minute to heat everything. Serve on a bed of noodles.

Seriously guys, this is the best meal ever. It’s so easy and yet so very delicious. Even though it might sound kinda weird to put a pickle in, don’t even think about leaving it out because it is awesome. If you’re vegetarian I suppose you could substitute tofu for chicken. Kristi wants to try this but we haven’t yet, so if you try it with tofu, let me know how that worked. 🙂

Friday, June 4th 10 at 12:19 am 1 comment

30 Days: Day 20

Day 20 → A hobby of yours

I have a lot of hobbies,  I think. I really love when I have an opportunity to write something for Autostraddle; not only does it make me feel special to have my words, ideas and opinions featured on my favourite website, but it is immensely fun. Another thing I love to do with my time is play video games. But we probably all already knew that, didn’t we? I like games, I like television, I like music and I like to write things. But my number one favourite hobby has always been and always will be…

My most favourite thing to do is to read. I positively adore disappearing into a world different from my own. I like stories about great loves, unrequited loves, great quests and adventures and I love a good scary Stephen King book. There aren’t many great things about working the overnight shift but one thing that I’ve never been able to complain about, it is the abundance of time. I’ve done a lot of writing and a lot of gaming during my hours at work, but more than anything else, I’ve read. I love that I can sit here for hours on end and just completely lose myself in an enourmous story.

Someday I might not want to play video games very often anymore, and maybe writing articles won’t excite me anymore (both of these are, however, unlikely) – but one thing that I will always enjoy and always want to do, is read. Someday I’ll be my Gramma: I’ll slip into bed an hour early for a few chapters and fall asleep with my book open face-down on my chest. Every night.

Thursday, June 3rd 10 at 11:59 pm 2 comments

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