Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY WEEKEND! hope you have fun when the ball drops

We are going to a one year olds birthday party this afternoon. (She was born on 1.1.11 - how cool is that!)

Then we are spending some very low key time with close friends to ring in the new year. We will stay in and play games and I have even been promised my own tiny bottle of champagne.

Hope you have a great time as you welcome 2012!

Below are the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne because I know you don't know them either.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne. 


Friday, December 30, 2011

Love and Missing Pieces

Have you ever read Shel Silverstein's "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O"?

Its a wonderful children's book about a little piece trying to find the circle that completes it. And in my humble opinion, its the most comprehensive book on relationships ever written.

If you're curious, here's the best youtube video of the book I could find (I believe it's a foreign language book because there are a few parts slightly a miss, but you'd get the idea)

If you don't have the chance to watch it (first of all don't tell me, it would break my heart), you should keep reading for what I feel is the best part....

The missing piece had already tried so many things out there that it thought would complete it (can I get an amen, ladies?) and then... "one came along who looked different"

"What do you want of me?" asked the missing piece. "Nothing"
"What do you need from me?"  "Nothing"
"Who are you?" asked the missing piece.  "I'm the Big O" said the Big O

"I think you're the one I've been waiting for," said the missing piece, "maybe I'm your missing piece."
"But I'm not missing a piece," said the Big O, "there's no place you would fit."

The Big O continues on by encouraging the piece to roll on its' own. "corners wear off and shapes change." it says (thats right about the time I start to get too emotionally involved in a children's story) 

Then the Big O says "perhaps we will meet again" before rolling away.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we gave this book to all 12 year old girls (and boys) and we told them to work on lifting, pulling, flopping through life. To form the best and fullest 'O' they can be, instead of laying in wait for another piece with something missing to try to fit with them.

And if I haven't lost you; if you're nodding along with me, here are some beautiful poems that concur with the idea of love being something that fosters an independence, and encourages you to grow...

The Meaning of Friendship by Caroline Davies
The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
Love is Not to Possess by James Kavanaugh

And the reason I've gone on so long about all of this is because on christmas morning I opened a gift from my husband that I couldn't wait to share...
It was a photo of the last page of "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O", when the piece finally has worn off it's edges and learned to roll on its own and it meets up with the Big O again. (and they roll together through life, very much in love, of course)

Then below the picture was card to our friend's tattoo shop and an appointment for today! So here it is folks. My brand new, "i love my husband so very much" tattoo:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Resolutions

On January 1st of 2011, I made some resolutions goals. I wanted to accomplish things that had nothing to do with healing and were not remotely pain-related. Here were the things I came up with:

11 Goals for 2011
1. Read 52 Books
2. Write 11 Meaningful Letters
3. Learn to Use a Sewing Machine
4. Kayak the Pittsburgh Rivers
5. Go on 12 Date Nights (One Per Month)
6. Take A Class
7. Learn To Play a Song on the Guitar
8. Work My Way Through Rosetta Stone: Italian
9. Learn to Like Black Coffee
10. Run Under a 10 Minute Mile Pace
11. (This is For Flirting with My Husband - No Internet Details Needed)

Now that the year is almost over I am checking-in and see how I've done...

11 Goals for 2011
1. Read 52 Books

Last year I almost got an e-reader but felt bad because I has sooo many unread books that I owned. So I promised myself that if I could read 52 books in a year, I deserved a Nook. (Where did I get this idea? Bartering for dummies?). Well I did it. This year I read 72 books, in fact. Thats right 72. Remember that when you see how I've failed at the others...

2. Write 11 Meaningful Letters. I didn't count thank you notes and I didn't count emails. That left me with a sad, sorry 5 letters. (Did I mention I read 72 books?)

3. Learn to Use a Sewing Machine. Thanks to my dear friend Kristin, I can say yes to this one. However I feel I still would need her close-by to fix my inevitable screw-ups. Things I made with new found skills: two small bags. one scarf. (so watch out Project Runway)

4. Kayak the Pittsburgh Rivers. I choose this goal because I long to own a kayak, but I fear I'll be a kayak owner that never uses it. This experiment is proof because I never went, not once. 

5. Go on 12 Date Nights (One Per Month). Our rules were as follows - it had to be just the two of us and it had to be somewhere at least one of us never ate before. I'm guessing it was because this one involved eating - we never missed a month! It was also nice because it meant we saved money by only going less.

6. Take A Class. This was one of my favorite goals. My mom and I took an Italian cooking class, where we learned to make pasta and then we ate a lot of pasta. I wish I could say it was more complex than that but it wasn't. 

7. Learn To Play a Song on the Guitar. It's still in the case. fail.

8. Work My Way Through Rosetta Stone: Italian. I don't know whether to check this one off or not. I made a little over half way through the course. I know enough now to know that the Italians opt for the dolce vita (sweet life) over studies and that's what I did this year. Soooo half success?

9. Learn to Like Black Coffee. You never know when you'll run out of creamer and you're head hurts too much to run to the store. Or maybe you want to impress someone in the wild west so you say 'I take my coffee black'. These things happen. So I switched to milk and reduced my sugar bit by bit until my brew was as dark as the night. Sure i still prefer it with a little sweetness, but I can handle like the real men can. 

10. Run Under a 10 Minute Mile Pace. When the year began I was running an eleven minute mile and to lob off another minute seemed impossible. In this year I kept running and training and if you can believe it I got faster. The picture below is of us Orbins at a 'Black Tie 5K' - I ran the 3.1 miles in 28:20. If you're counting, that's a 9 min 8 second mile! And if you're really counting, that was done in a skirt and evening gloves and pearls! And if you're really really counting (and apparently I am) that was done on a morning after a long night on Bourbon St - where the last stop was actually called 'big ass beers' 

11. (This is For Flirting with My Husband - No Internet Details Needed) - check

So my grand total completion rate is  6.5/10

Pretty soon I'll make my 12 goals for 2012 and I'm taking suggestions. (should I carry over my failures or start anew?)

What are your resolutions?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the blahs

anyone else still dragging from the holidays?

Its not that I'm unhappy - its just that I just feel a bit like this...

So for anyone wanting to drag on juuust a bit more. 

I present to you:
Iron and Wine's 'faded from the winter'

Sam Beam will always let you feel exactly how you want to feel. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Side Effects: Inappropriate Crying

So I've started taking yet another medication for my concussion.... (for anyone counting, I've exceeded twenty in three and a half years)

This is one is called topiramate. I was on it before and I'm trying it out again, so you'd think I would know what to expect. You'd think I would be prepared.

As I build the dosages I'm more sensitive to the side effects - which for me include - rapid heart rate, numbness in hands and feet, swings in emotion, and losing weight.... and crying. all the time. even when I'm not sad at all.

So here is a sampling of recent tear inducing moments (it's not comprehensive - that would be just embarrassing)

~ Seeing the Folders commercial when the son comes home for Christmas
~ Buying a gift at the apple store and finding it ten dollars cheaper at Target, then standing in the electronics isle at Target trying to decide if it's worth ten dollars to go back to apple and make the return
~ Getting oil based paint because its cheaper. Then trying to wash my hands and seeing that they still look like this...
~ Going to the Christmas Eve Eve Service. (this was a bad one. Penny sat next to me and bless her soul. At one point she leaned over and said. "honey, are you okay?")
~ Giving a gift
~ Wrapping presents with only double sided tape
~ Getting a thoughtful gift
~ Getting a gift I don't think I'll use and would like to return
~ Reading a Berenstain Bears book

.... and so it continues.

It reminds me of the McSweeney's list "Places I've Cried or Places Ludacris Claims He Had Sex in His Song "What's Your Fantasy'" (I can claim at least four of those as well, and I'm not proud of it)

Thankfully last night I got to my max dosage. Now I should level out and adjust and hopefully get normal again.

This is great news for Neil because last night I also found out the restaurant we had planned to take his brothers' to was closed (you probably could guess my reaction). Through a current of tears I tried to tell him how much of a stud he is for putting up with all of this.... because even if I'm a lot crazy, I am at least a bit self aware.

Funny Tumblr (part 2)

My friend Lauren recently showed me this gem of a Tumblr...

Hand Made Ryan Gosling

and its amazing.

there are a few entries I don't understand... that comforts me.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Funny Tumblr (part 1)

My friend Ryan turned me onto this tumblr, and for some reason I find it to be hilarious.
(I mean really really hilarious)

here it is:
The Same Picture of Dave Coulier Every Day

that's it.

and yet every day people post so many notes

and every time I scroll. hahaha

Friday, December 23, 2011

HAPPY WEEKEND! hope you see Santa

something tells me we won't be able to stay up for it.



The final week of advent is all about PEACE.

Sadly, I was not seeking world peace this week.

I was also not seeking inner peace.

I was seeking the peace you feel when you finish the stupid projects you set out to do and wrap the stupid gifts you buy and you exhale and heat up the cold coffee that was sitting since morning because you forgot about it. 

And when I got that kind of peace (the everything is done and now I can rest my mind kind) - it was a beautiful thing.

Drunk on the Christmas Spirits

We have a lot of family and step family and church family and  friends that feel like family to visit over Christmas. It gets a bit overwhelming, but in a wonderful kind of way (how can we complain when we love everywhere we stop).

Usually we are running around so much we can hardly relax and have a glass of wine because we're expected to drive to the next destination - and we don't drink and drive. To be clear, I'll laugh at a drunk person (scroll down for proof) but I won't give them keys.

This year something magic happened - families spread out the celebrations so we'll get a few evenings in one place!! To sit and relax and sip homemade Baileys! Yep. and it will be with wonderful people like this:

Q: what to give a brother-in-law? A: the gift that gives xs 24

If you don't have a Christmas card yet, feel free to borrow this beauty.

And one of my favorite traditions growing up was spending all of Christmas Eve with my Mom's family. We partake in the Italian tradition of the seven fish dinner and we drink our homemade wine and we play games and we watch football and we go for walks (okay, well not really the walks, but maybe someday we'll fit in exercise). And at the end of the night someone reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" as we pass around white elephant gifts - and at that point I have to admit the adults would be a leeetle bit sauced. This year I can't wait! And don't worry kids, we will be no where near as drunk as this guy:

funny or die: drunken night before christmas 
(seriously hilarious stuff)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

Today is Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year.

I'm celebrating by having my hands down, no contest, by a landslide, favorite beer....

Anderson Valley Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale  (I know right, its just so fitting)

If I uncap one before happy hour, BUT it's already dark, I don't have to feel guilty. right?

Enjoy the hour of sunlight folks, and don't worry, it only gets better from here

Lying - and other ways to celebrate the holidays

Right around this time of year I start acting very strange and very devious (and very stupid) - and its the worst with the people I love the most.

Here are a few of those Christmas specific behaviors I've noticed lately...

Hoarding - This is a new practice for me. Once Neil and I joined bank accounts I realized the one huge downfall - he can see where I buy his gifts. Shortly after that, I began squirreling away cash. At the grocery store: "I would like cash back with my purchase" and then ten dollars would slip into a drawer. And so on for an entire year. This seemed normal until he found the wad of bills and wondered if I had plans to run away from him in the middle of the night (in fairness, it did look a little bit abusive relationship-esque).

Lying - I think everyone does this. right? When he asks "what were you up to today?" and my honest answer would be "aimlessly searching through sets of headphones for ones that I think would work for you but I don't know because I don't want to spend a lot but the cheap ones break but how cheap is too cheap? and was it new headphones you needed? or did you already buy yourself some? ahhh!" but instead I come up with something like "you know. day stuff. it was really day-ish" (did I mention I'm a bad liar)

Subliminating - If I don't lie well, then I really don't do this part well at all. I call this Subliminating - where you sort of plant a message for you already got while searching for how they react to the mention of the gift. I usually don't care what I receive, but I care about how much someone likes what I give. Because of this I want to make sure and then reaffirm my gift selections. It makes for awkward conversations like this... "hey honey, remember that time when you said you would maybe want to wear a hat. In your mind, was it gray? just, like, hypothetically?"
      Then I do it one better - I clue hunt, strongly suggest, and poorly misdirect (in case they catch on to my subliminating) "Mom, honestly a table lamp would be perfect next to this recliner - like you said before, it would make the room look great - buuutttt I would wait till january to get one because there's no way you want to add lighting to the room before christmas - what with this tree in here and all."

Bulking Up - I don't mean putting on weight (although that happens. no judgement), I mean adding to the gift pile. I think I got this from my mom, and I used to hate it... and now I do it. When I was younger I would say things like "Mom, we're almost out of toothpaste." and if we were within the month of december, she would answer "Well, maybe Santa will bring you some." Now here I am, days before Christmas, and I'm wrapping gum. and cliff bars. Those are groceries people. groceries! I fear I'm a hair away from wrapping up food and pets like Aunt Bethany and it's not pretty....

So Happy Holidays - I hope you are as dysfunctional in your practices as I am (hey at least its all coming from a good place)!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let it Snow

Right about now I long of a dusting of fresh snow on the ground.

I know that in four weeks when I'm scraping my car I'll have a different feeling, but for now I want some snow!

Doesn't it feel so much more Christmasy when there's snow?

I guess until then I'll go with the ol' back up - virtual reality snow...

make a snowflake

shake a snow globe

shake a controversial snow globe

make a yeti run and jump

**note these websites have music background turn down the volume if you don't want people to know you're having fun.

p.s. if you only have the time to waste time in one place - make the snow flake. no matter how you cut it, it's so pretty

Christmas in Quotes

So much of the fun of Christmas time is revisiting the same things every year - be it songs or movies or recipes or family traditions.

Example: I wore grey tights two nights ago, and 
I wore these awesome white tights two decades ago.
(I also just keep getting bangs)

I think repetition is part of what makes the holidays so great. I know exactly what I'm going to do when it gets cold: make mexican hot chocolate and watch the first two Die Hards. (You may choose decorate a tree and eat cookies, but to each his own)

In the spirit of recognition of all those things we've come back to so many times - I'm giving you a few Christmas Movie quotes. I hope when you recognize them they make you smile.

"It's just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture" - Buddy

"Over here? Well this is nothin. But here, well if you if you dent this my hair just isn't gonna look right." - Eddie

"All right, listen up guys. "Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except... the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation." - Theo

"Then the Who's young and old will sit down for a feast. And they'll feast and they'll feast. feast feast. feast feast."  (I can get on board with that)

"Thank you. That will be nice. Yes is being my answer. Easy question." - Aurelia

"Buzz's girlfriend. woof." - Kevin

"I never thought it was such a bad little tree. Its not bad at all really. Maybe it just needs a little love." - Linus 

feel free to add your own.... and happy christmas movie watching (again this year) while you wrap gifts and stay warm

Monday, December 19, 2011

holiday excess

Is it me or is any car commercial ridiculous this time of year?

Lexus uses a particular red bow to suggest you give someone a really expensive car - usually after you've given them a slew of other gifts under the tree.

Now, Acura has finally gotten it right. They call for the 'Season of Reason' by humorously pointing out examples of extreme. They have ads with celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay cooking a family dinner and they have this ad with Bette Midler, hired to do the neighborhood caroling...

The voice over says "at a time when when it's easy to go overboard, Acura invites you to be smarter and over save with the 2012 sales event."

Here's the kicker. A 2012 Acura TSX (the cheapest one) still costs $31,000. That's the major 'over save'?

Do people actually that have gift list that look like this: sweater, season two of 30 Rock, kindle, a nice sedan, coffee maker

I think I just sound bitter this morning from staying up late to work on some homemade gifts for the husband because I want to avoid spending his money on him this year. Now I sort of feel bad. Its cool Acrua, didn't mean to drag your TSX into it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

HAPPY WEEKEND! hope you dance your butt off

Here is the Thom Yorke guide to breaking it down.

so do it.


move like all the guys.

then bag it up, take that show on the road, and have a wonderful weekend.

p.s. (maybe this will help you along)

Christmas songs that make me dance:
1. this christmas - donny hathaway
2. someday at christmas - stevie wonder
3. christmas in hollis - run dmc
4. merry christmas, happy holidays - n*sync (don't judge me)
6. merry christmas baby - otis redding
7. santa clause is coming to town - bruce springsteen
8. cool yule - louis armstrong
9. wonderful christmas time - paul mccartney
10. all i want for christmas - mariah carey (of course this one. always)

Happy Xmas (war is over)

John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote one of my favorite Christmas songs way back in 1971.

Maybe this is all too obvious and we all know the parallels by now, but the US was in an unpopular war in Iraq Vietnam. So John and Yoko repsonded by purchasing an number of billboards that stated:

"WAR IS OVER! (if you want it) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko"

the song (the one I find to be so catchy and hardly give a second thought to) has a chorus that repeats 'war is over. if you want it. war is over now.'

Now, forty years later, I'm reading this article titled


and the song has a whole new meaning. But the relief of hearing "War is Over" doesn't feel as sweet as I thought it might, because 4,500 american lives were lost and 100,000 Iraqis have died as well.  oh yeah, and we're still fighting another war.

But yet again John Lennon was way ahead of his time. His lyrics are both hopeful and sad, somehow fitting this mood quite perfectly.

"And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long."

There is a long road. And it's all really muddled. I've been thinking a lot about the sacrifice of the service men and women. I'm truly grateful for them.. many of whom will miss christmas with their families.
For the ones who came home with injury and emotional trauma, the war is not over. Its not simple. But then again there it is, in the papers. 'War is Over.' Obama said he would pull the troops out and he did. War is over. If you want it. Maybe in some ways it is that simple.

There's not really a way to wrap this up neatly. So I'll just have John take it away...

Thursday, December 15, 2011


This, the third week of advent, is about Joy.

As of today, I have had chronic headaches for exactly 43 months! (I know right. Happy Month-A-Versary. I'm making a cheese platter)

Aside from a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes without head pain, I have ached for that entire time.

I've heard people say things like happiness is a fleeting emotion and joy is eternal. And I've heard the bible say "be joyful always"  but how? especially when you hurt. and very especially when you hurt then someone cuts you off in traffic.

But this week is the week of advent where I meditate on JOY. So I thought I'd at least give it a bit of a try, because I take advent very seriously.

So I dusted off some old books I read about coping with pain, and one of them suggests a useful exercise. It says to lay or sit comfortably in a quiet place. (dim the lights if it helps, but don't fall asleep just yet). Then take your thoughts to a time when you were really happy. Imagine as many details of that place as you can. The color of the sky, the feel of the ground, the smells, the taste of what you ate. Slow down every moment until you can start to draw out these details. What do you hear in the background? What is happening around you?

And then something quite nice happens - you start to tap into that happiness from your memory. I'm not kidding, you feel joy. (and for those of you in pain out there, some of it lifts. not all, but some. for me it's enough catch my breath again... and for those of you with memory problems, this helps with that too)

While some of my most peaceful and happy times are simple, un-pictured moments, there are a few that I that I can share....

this day I spent in the middle of the serengeti 

and the dark hike to see a sunrise in arizona

and so many evenings in this darling place, the zoo

long dinners on the long island sound

a leisurely horseback ride in peru

a beautiful honeymoon morning

and a day I was stronger than I though I could be

See that, visual proof that I've been blessed with the sweet life (and that's not leaving out 1,300 days of pain).  I hope you sift through your memories too.. really go through the details of them. There is joy there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Travels with Teardrops

I long to get in the car travel all over this country. While we don't even own a home, I'm already dreaming of the other things we could own down the road, and this is one of them.

a teardrop trailer. (isn't she beautiful)

The first place I'd take her is Acadia National Park in Maine, during that first week in October when you fill a thermos with cider and snuggle under a blanket to watch the leaves change color. 

It reminds me of a novel by John Steinbeck called "Travels with Charlie". After John retired he hitched a trailer to his car and drove across the whole country just to get a feel for the people that live in different places. He had only the company of his dog, Charlie, and the people he happened to share a conversation with along the way. 

John Steinbeck with his awesome dog

He made this trip during the civil rights movement and found the difference in thought and opinion as he moved across the nation (east to west and north to south) to be striking. But no matter where he went, people had common ground and could still talk over coffee. He also noted a unique feature of our nation - Diners. No other country has these roadside communal eateries, and his love for them is contagious. 

(this little gem is in Erie PA, and it's delightful)

So today I'm day dreaming about the distant future. About hitching my teardrop trailer with my retired husband and my dog. Waking up early on the New England coast to the smell of percolating coffee on our bunsen stove. And after a brisk hike, making our way to a small diner for dippy eggs and hash browns and conversations with strangers. We'll probably have some worldly pains we sadly shake our heads at, and we'll undoubtably have some raucous stories that make us laugh. 

Killing us Softly

This is a video that speaks so well about an issue that should be discussed much more...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Puffin Revenge

In our home the most coveted cereal is Puffins

Those crunchy puffs are an endangered species in our household. If they last half a week its a puffin miracle. We have comparative eating with this food (well, I do. I don't want him to get more than half so when he snacks on them, I snack on them). None of this is normal behavior for food from a box but it may begin to explain the following exchange...

Me (going into the pantry to cereal snack): Did you finish the Puffins and put the empty box back on the shelf?
Orbin: Yeah, sorry. I just had the last few.
Me: That's the meanest thing you've ever done with Puffins.
Orbin: To date.
Me (laughing): Did you say "to date"? Did you puffin threat?
Orbin: I just mean I could do worse.
Me: Like what?
Orbin: Buy a box and hide it - eat it all with out you knowing.
Me: That would be terrible
Orbin: Or pin you down and sit on your stomach while I eat them.
Me: ok, that's the worst
Orbin: I know. Because you don't even have to be hungry. You would want them.

He is away in Ohio for work so I did the only logical thing... went and ate some mugs full of puffins without him. sucka!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Burning House

I have been wasting many many minutes looking at this clever little website

Its premise it simple, "If your house was burning, what would you take with you?" 

Then people of all ages and nationalities answer by setting up these items and photographing them for us to see. 

It's so intimate and so fascinating. Its also somewhat thought provoking for me because I have another tab opened to amazon. I'm shopping for christmas presents and I have a sneaking suspicion they won't make any one's 'save pile'. (it makes clicking on my cart feel a bit painful)

 Part of me would love to see the categorical break down of people's choices. What percentage really take their computer? (in all honesty I might, it has my photos) Or their passport? (pretty clever) What age group gathers the most? or What nationality collects the least? 

I'm also fascinated by the way people choose to display their possessions. 

I'm amazed by the things that seem replaceable - like a dvd or a pair of sneakers - what is it about those items that make them invaluable? What are the stories hidden in these piles? 

And honestly, I'm just plain entertained by it all....

I'm too busy leering at other people's things to make my own list, but I know at the very least it would include my engagement ring - a family heirloom. What would you grab?

(all photos unaltered from burning house)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Downtown Pittsburgh is a magical place to be this time of year.

There's so much to see.

yep. giant hoagie.

And absolutely no time to pose for a family picture.

(unless you're me... posing like woah.)

My brave little niece and nephew stepped on the ice for the first time. The toddlers stumbled and fell and squealed with delight (then asked to go around again and again). 


And the best thing to see downtown: my dear family, all of whom carved out time to meet on a friday afternoon - just to be together (and cheer for tiny ice skaters).