Walking in a Cold, Soggy, Windburnt Wonderland

I have spent all thirty of my years living in New England. For someone so very accustomed to winter weather, you would think I may have adapted by now. You would be mistaken. I hate shoveling. I hate slush. I hate having to bundle up (and re-bundle…because I ditch all my cumbersome cold-weather gear any time I am in an enclosed space). I hate my car being encased in salt and ice. I hate dressing my kids in super cute clothes that no one gets to see under their coats (this one may be a me problem). I hate my heating bill. But the winter isn’t all bad. Just like 95% or so.

Here are the very few redeeming qualities that winter possesses for me:

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Football. Fall always gets all the credit with football fans, and yes, the rush that comes from the beginning of the season is brilliant, but c’mon. Play-offs. Super Bowl. Pro Bowl (jk fuck the Pro Bowl).
Of course, being a Pats fan nearly always pays off come January, so I may have more of a reason to appreciate winter football than most.

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Christmas. You know those jackasses who start playing Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving? Don’t worry, I’m not one of those. I’m actually one of those even more annoying jackasses who starts playing it the day after Halloween.  This year, I’m pretty sure I spent approximately 5% of my life wandering through the holiday displays at Target and Homegoods, soaking in the magic.

 

 

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Hygge. If you’re not familiar with the Danish concept of hygge (unexpectedly pronounced (HEW-gah), it’s basically a hipster-y way of saying coziness. Yes, there’s more to it than that, but the pseudo-bastardized American version mostly means a plethora of blankets and socks and low lighting and greenery and warm beverages, all of which I am rather fond of.
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Quiet snow. There is something unbelievably peaceful about snowfall. I’m not talking about blizzards, which account for most of the snow we get around here. I mean the kind of snow that falls gently and muffles the sound of the world.

 

Signs of spring. This is a bit of a gimme, but there is something so hopeful about little hints that spring is on its way. Technically we only just past the halfway point Screenshot_20170409-175134of winter last weekend, but we all agree that winter sort of unofficially runs from December through February, and that March is like a transition into spring, right? Last Monday was Truck Day for the Red Sox, which means that baseball is just around the corner. Local photographers are already starting to book their spring mini sessions. We’re only about a month away from the start of Daylight Savings Time. It’s coming, guys.

Turning Two to the Power of Five, Minus Six, Plus Four

You can stop trying to do the math. Just as this post is bound to be, it is just a long winded way of saying that I’m turning thirty. Tomorrow.
So what? you’re thinking. People age every day. It’s better than the alternative.  Age is just a number. You’re only as old as you feel. Blah blah more cliches blah.
You’re not wrong. I’ve been aging for the last 10, 597 days, so I am reasonably well-versed in the process. A good number of those days have been difficult, but many more of them have been fun, or comfortable, or beautiful.
For reasons that I can’t quite place, thirty is especially hard for me to come to terms with.
Half a lifetime ago, I was a high school freshman, writing in my diary about turning fifteen and all of the hopes and dreams that were brought about by it. I wrote about switching out of my honors math class and how embarrassed I was because I had never struggled in a class in earnest before. I was hopeful that the new class would bring up my GPA. I wrote about I had just broken up with my boyfriend of three weeks. I didn’t say why, but I remember a huge part of it was that I had developed feelings for his best friend (as I did for most boys who I spent any amount of time with in my adolescent years) and I thrived off the drama of it all. It was okay though, I had assured my Microsoft Word document, written in purple Comic Sans. I had already set my sights on someone else. I didn’t say who, because I was vaguebooking before it was even a thing. I did note that I was wondering if he liked me back, presumably because it was the only question I felt was unanswered. Everything else seemed answered. Known.
I could fill an entire encyclopedia volume with the things I didn’t know on the day I turned fifteen. I didn’t know that mystery boy would not reciprocate my feelings. I didn’t know that I would hate the new math class so much that I would just stop going, choosing instead to wander the halls with a few friends I had recently made. I didn’t know that I would fail the class, and subsequently give up on my grades. I didn’t know that I was already surrounded by some of the most important people I would ever meet.
I mean, how was I to know that the quiet girl who sat next to me in World History and listened to me wax poetic about my sordid “love” life and sometimes talked about weird things like Dodge Neons and black and white TVs would one day become godmother to my firstborn.?
Or that the cute best friend of that ex-boyfriend, who wore his hat backwards and reminded me of Shawn Hunter, would be the person who awaited me as I walked down the aisle, nearly half a lifetime later?
Or that the same ex-boyfriend’s little sister would become one of my dearest friends, help me find my first apartment, and do a reading at my wedding?
Who would have thought that, seven years after I wrote that diary entry, my middle school nemesis-turned best friend would be happily in love with one of the guys who I used to skip algebra 1 with?
Or that a guy I had never spoken to in my French class, who I would eventually coerce into taking me to his junior prom, would later introduce me to the first person I ever fell in love with? Or that, soon after, he would begin dating one of my best friends and that they would stay together forever and ever, amen?
And really, I could not have possibly imagined that the random friend of a friend that I had hung out with once after school would be the first boy to break my heart, the person who saved my life when I believed it wasn’t worth saving.
Back then, I didn’t know  that any of these people would leave a lasting mark on me.
Fifteen

Looking back though the second half of my timeline and all of the things that have changed makes me equal parts nervous and curious about all of the things I still don’t know. What am I going to look back on five, ten, fifteen, or even thirty years from now and say “Wow. I never would have guessed.”?
But as my favorite philosopher once said, “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
I don’t have any math classes or ex boyfriend’s relations to set the course of my life on a different path as I write this equivalent of a diary entry on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, but I would like to think that my future holds a few more certainties than my teenage self’s did. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

The Gray

Like most little kids, I liked to collect things. Beanie Babies, Pokemon Cards, and for some inexplicable reason, Starburst wrappers, were among the list of items that I sought out, hoarded, and eventually grew bored with. The one thing that I never lost interest in collecting is journals. I am a girl who loves the sound of my own voice…the writing one, that is; I’m not terribly fond of how I sound in recordings. And since I’m not as creative as I like to pretend I am, I went through a phase where my favorite kind of journal was the fill-in-the-blank kind. Sort of like the precursor to Myspace surveys, I suppose.
Anyway, I have this oddly specific memory of one of those journals that I had when I was in the fourth grade that I had received as a hand-me-down from my teenage neighbor across the street in a box of books that she had outgrown.
Once I overcame my mild horror that someone would give away something as precious as a diary (like, what if you wanted to go back and read it someday? No? Just me?), I dove right in and began answering the prompts. When I got to the question “What is your least favorite color? Why?”, my poetic nine year old self spent a lot of time thinking it through. Orange? I wasn’t crazy about orange. But it was still a fun color, and besides, orange reminded me of my favorite band, Hanson. Black? No. Even if  I didn’t know it at the time, I had a goth kid heart. Black was beautiful. Yellow? It could definitely be too much sometimes, but it was such a happy color and I was a happy kid (in spite of aforementioned goth heart). I decided to go with gray. My reasoning was not well-articulated, but it boiled down to the fact that I believed gray kind of obscured the beauty of other colors. I was satisfied with my deep understanding of the world, and didn’t give it much thought beyond that.

When I first began working on my novel, I started jotting down ideas and memories that I could potentially incorporate into the story in a note on my phone. This memory of decrying the color gray as dreary and boring emerged while I was purging my closet a few months ago and I was momentarily amused at how much I had grown to love the color. I grabbed my phone and logged it, because I thought it was an interesting idea to explore. I have not yet hit the point in the book where I have had the chance to use it, but I did flesh out the idea a little bit more. And this is what I came up with.

Sometimes, the quiet gray comes creeping in, dimming all the other colors in its wake. And it can be sad, hopeless even, being thrust so suddenly into a world devoid of color. But if you can get past that, you will begin to see that the gray possesses a beauty all its own. You just have to remember to look for it. 

It may come off a bit weird without the context of the book, but so be it.

We received some ‘punch to the gut’ kinda news this weekend. We learned that this house that we’re renting, that we have made our own and grown to love, despite the weird ugly green counter tops and 70’s wood paneling and the terrible acoustics, is not going to be our home for much longer. Our landlord, who has always expressed that this was his favorite of his rental properties, has decided that he wants to live here. Obviously, this is his decision and such is the risk that someone assumes when they choose to rent, but it was devastating nonetheless. I spent a lot of time alternating between feeling sorry for myself and desperately trying to keep myself from going over the edge and free-falling into despair, as is my instinct.

During the usual morning chaos yesterday, I asked my dear friend Alexa what the weather was like and learned that it was going to be pretty dismal all day. I decked my kids out in their rain coats and galoshes and went sprinting out the door. Getting the kids from the house to the car and back again is not often a leisurely process, with the omnipresent threat of tardiness hanging over my head. Add in the bleak weather aspect, and it becomes pretty frantic. But once I dragged them out the door and yanked my four year old’s hood on again and re-zipped my two year old’s coat, and prepared for the mad dash to the car, I turned around and faced the dreary, gray outside world. And I was struck dumb by how beautiful it was.
I took the long way home from my son’s school, so as to pass by one of my favorite spots in my neighborhood, a tree with a tire swing that sits right at the edge of the pond. I stopped my car, rolled down the window, and snapped a picture, because who knows how many more times I’m going to drive by that spot?
I chose an Instagram filter and tried to think of a caption that captured how I felt about the picture and also about my current situation. I may or may not have even googled “quote about gray skies”.  Nothing seemed right. After breakfast, I pulled out my phone to add eggs to my shopping list and when I opened my notes, I suddenly remembered my own musings on the color gray.

Things are a bit gray right now and it is easy to get lost in it. It’s easy to despair when it feels like the color is being drained from everything around me. But I’m trying to remember that the gray doesn’t actually remove the color. It just masks it for a little while. The color is still there. All of the good things in my life still exist and it doesn’t do me any good to let this particular gray make me forget that. And, once I started to look for the beauty in the gray, I realized that my husband and I are at our strongest as a unit when we’re feeling vulnerable as individuals. And we’ve started researching buying a home of our own, for the first time in our lives, which in turn, has made us examine our financial situation in earnest. It has also driven me to step outside of my role as the comforting friend, and seek comfort instead, which has been cathartic and a little enlightening. There is beauty both within this gray and on the other side of it and I look forward to finding more.

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What Would I Do Without You?: A Letter to my Husband on the Eve of Our First Wedding Anniversary

Dearest, darlingest you,

Right around this time last year, we were running through last minute checklists, packing the kids up, rehearsing our grand entrance, and playfully squabbling over yet-to-be finalized vows and speeches. We were nervous and excited and stressed and happy all at the same time.
Also, at this time last year, we wrote letters to one another to be sealed in a box with a bottle of wine for us to fall back on when we had our first fight, or, in the unlikely event that we didn’t have a fight, to be read/consumed on our first anniversary. Since those letters are still locked up, I guess there hasn’t been a point in the last year where we’ve felt compelled to remind ourselves why we got married in the first place. I kind of doubt we’ll ever reach that point. I don’t remember what I wrote in my letter (guess I’ll find out tomorrow), so here’s another one.
Our life together has not been what most would refer to as “traditional”. First came the apartment, then the ring, then the kid, then the other kid, and then, quite a bit later, the official paperwork. Our wedding wasn’t the beginning of our life together; it was more like a really expensive dinner party to celebrate a program already in progress. So, in theory, our anniversary shouldn’t mean much. Yet somehow, it does.
When I met you half a lifetime ago, I had not an inkling that one day, you would be the person that I insistently woke at 1 AM because there was a spider on the ceiling, or the guy that I would be pointing to after telling my daughter, “Mama’s super busy right now. But you know who would love to read Goodnight Moon to you…again?”. It’s kind of crazy, if I think about it.  You are the glue that figuratively holds our family together, and that literally does the dishes and gives the baths and makes the money, all of which I’m quite thankful for.
In my vows, I promised to be the spice to your sugar, the bad cop to your good cop, and the yang to your yin. I didn’t do that to call attention to the many ways in which we’re different, but to emphasize that we are two halves of the same whole. Solid. No one will write starry-eyed love songs about our great romance. Our love is not  the stuff dreams are made of.  What we have is so real, so intrinsic, that it can only exist in this world. It’s the mortar between the long commutes and the diaper changes and the omnipresent piles of laundry that never seem to end up where they’re supposed to. It’s like background noise, always there, never too loud, and very, very comforting. I couldn’t go to sleep at night without it.
Before I start getting too wild with the metaphors, I’ll end this here. I love you. Happy anniversary.

Love,
Me.

From the the desk of…

I’m working at my desk for the first time! I bought and assembled this super cute desk from IKEA several months ago, during my ill-advised, post-refund check shopping spree. Not only did I set it up in my closet/office, but I bought a motivational print from Etsy and a sweet driftwood-esque frame at Marshall’s to decorate my new workspace. And there it sat, unused (except as a junk catching surface) and largely forgotten for months. My excuse? The cheap chair I bought to accompany this desk (that I just had to have) wasn’t comfortable. Womp womp.
Luckily, whilst helping a friend move last weekend, I complimented him on his comfortable desk chair and he mentioned that he could snag me one from his office, which was closing. And boom. Here I sit.
I told myself I wasn’t going to get up until I created a blog post, but that went to hell about thirty seconds into typing, when my two year old awoke from her slumber. My husband is home now, though, and my excuses have run dry.
Now if only I had an idea of what I wanted to talk about…

I am not a goddess (domestic, or otherwise).

As you may have noticed, the internet is chock-full of captivating, Pinterest-worthy blogs, written by people who have mastered the arts of cooking, organizing, DIY, and parenting. So, why exactly, do I, someone who is barely a Jack of any trades, let alone a master, feel the need to start a blog?
Well, the truth is, I read these blogs. I follow these tutorials. I cook these recipes. I pin these educational games and beautiful crafts. And I feel…well, kind of inadequate. Not in a melodramatic “woe is me; I don’t measure up; my life isn’t worth living” fashion, but in the sense that I feel like these blogs simply weren’t written for people like me. They weren’t written for moms who have coffee and snot stains on the yoga pants that they’ve worn for two straight days or people who count grilled cheese as a home-cooked meal or folks who don’t happen to have mod podge or vanilla extract on hand. They were written for people who sort of have their shit together…and I just happen to not be one of those people.

“I am a hot mess.
Who are you?

Are you a hot mess, too?”
-me, with some inspo from my girl, Emily Dickinson