Celebration Hangover

Is it possible to have a celebration hangover? Luckily, I’m officially done celebrating turning 40. I spent over a week connecting with dear friends in California and Seattle. I love birthdays because it’s an opportunity to show up and celebrate people. Sure, we should do this every day but let’s get real, some days you’re more concerned about getting through the work day and not eating cereal for dinner. That chance to say, hey! I’m glad you were born and are in my life! is one I don’t like to miss. I am so grateful to all the folks who came out of the woodwork to help me ring in 40.

Mr. Darcy, a man who shies away from planning most anything and who is not a party person, stretched outside his comfort zone to throw me a birthday bash. I could not be more touched or more proud. So many of my close pals showed up to partake in cupcakes and beer and a pinata (yes, I love pinatas!). Here’s some photos from the party:

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Love hug! Me, my sis, Jeni Angel, and Finn

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Favorite people! My bro-in-law, sis, husband, and BFF Meghan.

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I’m pretty sure my nephew was more excited than anyone for cupcakes & singing.

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Lovebirds C & S.

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BFF Jenny Two Times drove all the way from Portland for the party. ❤

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Hand sewn garland and happy birthday sign thanks to my talented sister.

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Me & my pinata before I whacked it open.

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Meghan handled the meat (tray). There are many jokes in that statement but I’ll refrain. I love her.

Heather & Aimee (former college roomies!) stopped by to celebrate with me.

Heather & Aimee (former college roomies!) stopped by to celebrate with me.

2 friends both named Jen gave me the same awesome card. How cool is that?

2 friends both named Jen gave me the same awesome card. How cool is that?

Friends from work came by to partake in the fun.

Friends from work came by to partake in the fun.

Our wonderful moms. Mr. Darcy's parents flew in from New Jersey earlier in the week. How nice is that?

Our wonderful moms. Mr. Darcy’s parents flew in from New Jersey earlier in the week. How nice is that?

My nephew makes any party fun.

My nephew makes any party fun.

Surprise of the weekend? Tomato flew up from LA to be there! 23 years of friendship.

Surprise of the weekend? Tomato flew up from LA to be there! 23 years of friendship.

I always say this but I always feel it: I am so lucky to be so loved.

I already am convinced 40 is going to be fantastic.

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Wed

So, I have a husband.

That still feels weird to say even though it feels awesome to have.

We have returned from our honeymoon, tan in spots, peeling in others, travel-weary, and happy. The cats have forgiven us and there are bills to pay and thank you notes to write. It feels good to be home and to settle into our married life.

The wedding was, in a word, beautiful. I’ve never felt more happy or more loved in all my life. Actually, the entire weekend was like that from the moment our friends starting arriving from out-of-town, it was a total lovefest. There was a minute on Thursday night when I stopped and looked at my house filled with so many of our far away friends and felt my heart almost burst. Then in dance class the next day, the morning of my bachelorette party, I thought it might burst again. My teacher dedicated the class to me and used one of my favorite playlists. At the end she asked everyone to “send love to the bride” and I can’t really describe the feeling of having a community of people smile and send good energy my way as I sat there blinking back tears of joy. As if testing what my heart can hold, the bachelorette party was amazing- lots of sharing and smiling and laughter and singing. I’m pretty sure my sister and I reviving our old “Morning Train” act will always be a highlight for me though it is closely followed by Tomato, Dokey, and I belting out “Weather With You” or Jenny Two Times and I busting out with “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

The rehearsal brunch was so sweet. It meant so much to have everyone in our wedding sitting around a table, just getting to know one another. I started tearing up just practicing the walk down the imaginary aisle at the run through so I knew I’d be in trouble on Sunday. The good kind of trouble though. There was this moment later in the day on Saturday as Mr. Darcy and I stood together in our house saying our good-byes as he was on his way to his hotel room and later I would make my way to mine. It struck us that this was the last time we’d see each other before our wedding and we were both emotional. It was sweet and sentimental and I can’t quite put it into words- I was just so grateful and so in love with him in that moment. Everything felt full of promise and joy.

I have so many favorite moments of the entire wedding weekend, I’ll probably have to make a list. But the moment I turned the corner of the venue while The Local Strangers sang a cover of Joshua Radin’s song “Today” is hands down one of the best moments of my entire life. I caught a glimpse of Mr. Darcy before everyone stood and as I attempted to walk slowly up to the front I was smiling like a total loon and crying more and more at every beautiful face I saw looking back at me. So many people I love! In one room! We’re getting married! I can’t believe this day has finally come!

All the feelings. All the good feelings, overcame me.

The groom.

The bride.

And then we became husband and wife.

*****

I will post more about the details as I feel inspired but I also don’t want to overwhelm you with more wedding talk. I feel like that’s all I’ve talked about for so long now.

(I did not use my phone the entire night so I only have some stolen photos from the event. We probably won’t get our professional photos for a while, so apologies for not posting more.)

It’s Moving Day

Today is The Day.

Last night after packing for upwards of 8 hours (interspersed with a trip to our house and subsequently breaking our back door knob), I lost it. As in I broke down crying while attempting to help Mr. Darcy roll up a rug.

Seeing our apartment boxed up, the curtains taken down, the dust bunnies the size of Dash, shook me. I dislike chaos and miss the comfort of my routine. I spent 4 years making this apartment into a home and the prospect of starting over in a bigger place that we own is daunting. Eventually I will hopefully just feel excitement but right now I feel sad and a little lost.

I know it’s time to move on. Just like when I lived in The Cruz and decided to move here. It was hard to leave and I felt many mixed emotions but it was the best choice of my life. Look it where it led me? To this- engaged to a sweetheart, buying a house together, and planning our wedding. All my dreams are coming true. I’m so immensely grateful even while I am completely freaking out.

Resounding

For any of you who have been reading me for a while, you know that Mark Nepo‘s writing has had a profound impact on me. All you have to do is search “Mark Nepo” on this blog and see the many, many posts where I reference his words.

Last night I got to meet him.

I don’t even know how to express how I feel except to say, my heart is full. I sat in the front row with my sister and took it all in. He read from his newest book, shared yet-to-be-published poems, and dialogued with the audience. He was just as I pictured him- bright eyes, easy smile, welcoming demeanor.

I brought my battered copy of The Book of Awakening to have him sign. When I got up to the table I put the tattered book in front of him saying, “here is my well-loved copy” and we both smiled. I told him that his work changed how I see the world and thanked him for that. We hugged. Maybe it went down differently than that but that’s how I recall it. It kind of scrambles the mind to meet your emotional guru.

Here’s a favorite poem of his for you:

Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can’t be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

To My Nephew on His 5th Birthday

I’m sitting here typing this in the building you were born in five years ago today. It was hot that day like it will be here later. The sun is bright and the fans are whirling in anticipation. In a few minutes I will wrap your presents and later your uncle and I will drive over to your Grandma’s house for the birthday party in your honor. You’ll probably already be in your swim trunks, ankle-deep in the little pool, laughing with your friends. We will have cupcakes and sing and you will open gifts and it will be a lot of fun. It’s always fun with you.

You are a great kid. You make friends easily – you have a sweet openness, a friendly smile and adventurous spirit. You’re happy and loving and funny. You’re incredibly smart and insightful and inquisitive. You make us all better people just by being you.

There is no such thing as a bad day when you are around.

You will start kindergarten this Fall. How is it possible? It was just the other day I could pick you up and carry you around easily. Now you’re tall and lean and when you run to me for a hug I have to brace my muscles for the effort it is to lift you. You love superheroes and ponies and sometimes you quote Scooby Doo. Animals are drawn to you- you even learned how to take Tweety out of the cage and hold her. She likes you. But then, who doesn’t?

1st birthday, AKA The Year of Balloon Fascination

2nd Birthday and your first bike

3rd birthday, already upgraded from a tricycle

Now you can ride a bike all by yourself, no training wheels, no one holding on. Sigh. You are growing up so fast.

Finn's 4th birthday, AKA The Year of Superheroes

Mr. Darcy and I gave you that costume on the morning we left for New Jersey to visit his family and attend Dumpling & Jersey Girl’s wedding. You apparently wore it all day, up until you and Grandma were at a store and some bigger kids were making fun of it. You took it off and handed it to Grandma saying, “Here Grandma, hold this.” When she told me that story my heart broke. I wanted to protect you from the jabs and jeers of other kids who might squash your joy, your imagination and your free spirit. Don’t let anyone take away your uniqueness, kiddo. I will always remind you to hold steadfast to your joy.

You are fearless and love the water.

I bought you that robot t-shirt years ago but they sent the wrong size. Now you actually fit in it. Time flies.

You love to do anything athletic or adventurous. (Though your Pops is holding onto your legs out of sight of this photo, shh!)

You have awesome parents who love you with everything they have and who always put you first and a Grandma who moved her whole life to make you her life. And you have an Aunt, your Tee Tee, who loves you more than she ever thought it was possible to love another person and who would get you the moon if that’s what you wanted.

Happiest of birthdays, little blue-eyed wonder!

I love you,

Your Tee Tee

 

 

The Past Meets the Present

Here’s a story.

Back in high school my sister’s first boyfriend was in a band and in that band was a drummer named Phil. For years we’d all pal around, a mish-mashed pack of us, going to parties and coffee shops and seeing music- countless hang out sessions at my childhood home where my Mom kept the fridge stocked and the pool glistened in the backyard. Phil went off to the Air Force and I went off to college but we wrote letters and our friendship deepened. While he was in Monterey at the Defense Language Institute studying Arabic, I was neck-deep in my Women’s Studies/Lit major at UCSC. The distance between Santa Cruz and Monterey as about a 45 minute drive so sometimes we’d be able to find the time to hang out have long conversations about relationships and life and our futures. He was one of my best friends.

We’d always swap music. He’d send me tapes, many of them containing songs he’d written or had played with friends. A couple of them were about me. (Have you ever had someone write a song about you? It’s pretty dreamy. It’s up there with having a poem penned about you and having someone draw you.) The years kept passing and the letters kept traveling between our two distances. I was 25 when I hopped a plane to go visit him in Georgia where he was stationed. And during that week-long stay, we had a bit of a love affair.

It was kind of one of those situations where it existed in this bubble. It wasn’t something we talked about making work long distance. We were just two friends who had loved each other a long time and in that visit, we found a sanctuary in one another. The depth of feeling had a twinge of magic for me and still, years later, think of it and smile. Not in a way of longing, just that it was special and I’m grateful for that experience.

This is us circa 1998 where I did not have a clue how to take a self-portrait as evidenced by this horrible angle. And yet, this is the only photo I can find of the 2 of us together.

Pretty soon after that trip our friendship dissolved. Not out of malice or hurt or lack of feeling but he’d met a girl who didn’t approve of him being friends with me and out of respect for her wishes, he backed off. We do some crazy stuff for love, don’t we? It would be years before we would talk again. He’d get married, have 2 kids, move to Maryland, get divorced and I would date a bunch of guys, find my footing in my career, move to Seattle and meet Mr. Darcy. Thanks to Facebook we reconnected and have been able to catch each other up on our lives. But this weekend he came out to visit two of his best friends that live in Seattle of all places. And after ten years, I got to see him face-to-face and hug the shit out of him.

The Space Needle is growing from my head!

I got to meet two of his oldest friends from the Air Force, the ones he’d make music with and send to me on those mixed tapes. It was wild to meet them after all these years- and that one of them lives blocks from my apartment (small world!). I used to listen to their songs on repeat and I remembered most of the lyrics to a particular favorite, “Hooker With a Heart of Gold”. Friday night at a wine bar where they were playing an open mic they let me sing it with them (albeit, off key). (Click that link if you want to watch a video of said performance.)*

Phil & Talib strumming (I think this was when they were doing a bluegrass version of a Jane's Addiction song)

Doke & Phil, old friends

All this is to say, it was a great weekend full of remembering and nostalgia and catching up.

*Photo credit to my sister, Dokey

There is absolutely nothing that compares to an old friend.

 

*And no, “Hooker With a Heart of Gold” is not one of the songs about me.

Finding Joy, #2

There is something new awakening in my body. A body I have abused my entire life- berating it for being less than beautiful with its fatness, its shortness, its flub and lack of grace. A body I have spent more time loathing than loving. But something shifts when I step onto the dance floor of my Nia studio. It’s like my spirit takes a long, deep breath.

As we move from warm ups to more rigorous cardio routines that mix kicks and punches with dance moves, I feel more and more alive and centered. I can see myself in the mirror along with the other women but there is less judgement. We’re all different in shapes and sizes and abilities. We’re all there to express ourselves through movement, find joy in dance and get our sweat on. I am often the biggest woman in the class but I pick a spot near the front where I can see myself in the mirror and have a clear view of the instructor. Months ago, I was in the back. Me and my fear and shame were in the back row, ambling along, feeling on the outskirts. But now I am front and center and I get more out of the class in that position. And I do not feel like I need to apologize for my body. I dance my fucking heart out and love every minute of it.

Sure, there are times in class where I am not feeling my best- my rhythm is off that day, my energy is low, or I am preoccupied- but I stick it out and at the end I have accomplished something. I’m laying on the dance floor, limbs glistening with sweat, my face red and shining, completely spent and simultaneously so alive. It is an amazing feeling.

My body is getting stronger and my shape is changing. Maybe I am not dropping pounds as I would like but I can feel my leg muscles getting more toned and my abs tightening. I stand taller and move more freely. I feel good in my body when I am dancing and that is no small thing.

Finding Joy, #1

It’s been many, many months since I’ve tapped into my creativity. But last night as Mr. Darcy worked on his models, I pulled out my beads and made this-

I felt proud of myself after my hours of work (even after I accidentally dropped one end of one strand and the beads scattered across the living room and I had to start over).  But most importantly, I had fun. And goddamnit, joy is not overrated. I’m doing my best to relish in it whenever I find it.

 

P.S. It appears my custom blog design has disappeared. This happened once before. Please excuse the appearance while I track down a solution (or scrap it all and start over).

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