Twenty Four

It has been my 24th birthday for about an hour and a half now. I’m up because in my dotage, my tummy responds to normal food like wood responds to gasoline and a match: quickly and unpleasantly with burny nasty fumes. And thus I’ve been relegated to the couch before I kill my husband under a festering cloud. You now know way more about me than you ever wanted to know, but they say with old age comes wisdom and my sense of wisdom says that I should share my experiences candidly. So if my poor stomach helps the folks who read this that are the “farters” in their relationship, I’m glad I could ease the shame, considering I left my sense of shame somewhere back in Istanbul in 2004. Don’t mention it; I’m here to help.

I liked 23; truthfully, I liked 22 better and 21 better still. From my current perspective, the best 15-month period of my life started in Spain and ended with moving in with Tom: maximum fun combined with a minimum of responsibility, extensive travel, new love, first car purchase, good grades, and great times with friends and family. That was the end of twenty and the start of twenty one. Twenty two, the year of engagement, was awesome, but burdened with adult responsibilities. And this past year, the first year of marriage, was a smashing success coupled with a wicked ass-kicker of a career trip-up with a sprinkling of mental breakdown and then stabilization in for seasoning. So the second year of marriage is going to be the First Year of Auntie-Hood and the First Year of Hawaii and the First Year of Pseudo Self Employment and the First Year of Consistently Medicated Brain. Some of you may consider a medicated mind to be a numbing drawback; I say you haven’t found the proper calibration yet. I couldn’t bear the thought of going back to the way I used to be. So in general, I predict that 24 will be the year that things really start to get rolling on getting my adult life on track and the year that my protracted adolescence ends.

I think it’s going to kick ass. If nothing else, it’s going to be a ‘wicked pissah’ (tm Dad) of a ride. Can’t hardly wait to get going on the next step.

And with respect to my failing internal systems, I also think that tomorrow at my birthday dinner I will order the hummus and veggie platter at Quarry House instead of the 1/2 lb. beef burger.


Give a ‘lil bit

My aunt works in occupational therapy in the Portland, ME school district. Last year she worked with a little boy named Nick, whose story is too long and heartbreaking to tell. Suffice it to say that he’s in a group foster home this year for the holidays. His story, sadly, is one of many just in the Portland area, not to mention across the nation. So, in the sidebar, check out the “Donate” button. We want to make sure Nick has a good Christmas, but the other kids there that we don’t know deserve to have a good Christmas as well. All money donated will go toward fulfilling kids’ “wish list” items, as well as a check to the home itself for admin costs, etc.

You know your friends don’t need another scarf for Christmas. Make a little wee person happy this year.

Home Team

In planning the move to Hawaii, I’ve thought long and hard about what to do during the football season.  I love the New England Patriots; I have never had any interest in another pro football team.  Growing up, I had only had the vaguest awareness of Boston College as a football powerhouse and never followed any other college football team.  Never followed any college team at all, for that matter, with the exception of the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team.  Even then I didn’t really care all that much; it was just something to talk about during study hall.

Hawaii has no pro football.  Hawaii is also a six hour time difference away from the Patriots home country.  NFL Direct TV is an option, but I find myself becoming interested in the University of Hawaii Warriors.  Not because I suddenly fell in love with the idea of college football but simply because they are, in every sense, the only game in town.
So off to I go to educate myself in the ways of college football.  Hawaii plays in something called the WAC, the Western Athletic Conference, with a bunch of other state schools from California and a bunch of desert states I’ve never visited.  Imagine my surprise to discover that Hawaii has an 8-0 conference record!  And an 11-0 overall record!  They’re on the leaderboard with teams that I actually recognize, no small feat in my Patriots-centric universe.
My new love affair is off to a promising start.  I may have to buy a Warriors t-shirt.  

Letter To My Fellow DC Commuters, Part 1 in the Social Contract Series

Dear Washington, DC commuters:

I realize that the weather has been unseasonably warm this fall; today it’s in the low sixties. Guess what? The cold germs that your little ones are bringing home from school don’t care. Better for them that it’s warm; makes it that much easier to annex your sinuses while demanding safe passage to your lungs. A few pointers for dealing with the cold:

At EVERY DRUGSTORE IN THE COUNTRY, they sell pocket packs of tissues. Keep them on you. Snot rockets are hilarious, but only in the company of pre-teen boys on the playground. Blow your nose. There’s no reason to leak like a faucet when a buck will buy you a ten-pack of tissues from the CVS dollar bin.

Sneezing happens. Coughing happens. Sneezing doesn’t have to happen all over the back of my coat. There is no reason for my jacket to acquire a layer of lung tissue and slime because you cannot perform a simple procedure. Repeat after me: lift arm. Bring forearm to mouth. Sneeze and/or cough against it.

NO, NOT YOUR HAND, MY GOD. Please do not sneeze a wad of snot into your hand on public transportation. Do you know where that hand ends up? Escalator rails. Hand holds. Ticket kiosks. Your fellow commuters. Remember the germ revolution working south toward the lungs? That’s how it starts. Don’t you remember Mr. Rogers? I’m pretty sure he went over that.

In short, try to keep your snot to yourself.

No love and no sharing my tissues with you,


So monkeySee media’s blog and photo gallery are live. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll never replace Ansel Adams, but I think it’s a promising start to a small business. *Crosses fingers*

In the meantime, I convinced Tom to get an Apple laptop when he replaces the Fujitsu this winter. Woo!! Another convert to the side of Right and Goodness. We are also planning a trip for next summer, so let’s open it up: does anyone have any recommendations for San Francisco and northern California? How about Maui? Thoughts?

Overhaul and a letter to a baby

So much has happened since August.  I “left” my job, we got the official word on the Hawaii transfer, it’s just busy.  I’m doing a bunch of freelance work and Tom is in a tizzy about getting his orders.  So, to distract from the busy-busy-busy, I’m off to Maine this weekend.  My darling sister is having a baby boy this January (or in early February if he’s tardy) named Owen Joseph.  And so, the following:

Letter From an Absentee Auntie
Dear Owen,
As of this writing, you have caused your mother (my sister) to lose 15 pounds from morning sickness and then gain God knows how much in fetus.  Whatever else happens to you in your life, I want you to know that your mommy has never complained, or even so much as grimaced, at the discomfort of pregnancy.  She’s a good lady and you best treat her respectfully.  However, this does not stop me from enjoying the well-placed rib kicks you are delivering to her at 2am.  Way to go, kiddo.  That totally makes up for the time she whacked me upside the head with a baseball bat.
It pains me to know that you won’t know me, or have the same upbringing that we had.  You have a cadre of wonderful uncles on your father’s side, and my husband is determined to have fun with you.  But as of this writing, I am the only auntie you have.   Your mother and I grew up surrounded by family, weaving in and out of our cousins’ lives and taken in by our parents’ siblings like we were their own children.  Our aunts doubled as second mothers, some strict, some confidantes.  Because of our move to Hawaii, I am very sad that we won’t have the same chance to know each other.  As adults, we may grow close, but in children, it is familiarity that breeds closeness.  So for as much as I have–and will continue to–care about you, you will not know who I am aside from references your parents make and the occasional visit.  So in the future, please excuse my repeated attempts to buy your love and know that I won’t hold it against you if you don’t write thank you notes.  Use the birthday money to buy candy or a trashy video game.  It’s okay, Auntie says so.  
Anyway, here is my attempt to bond.  Because women are programmed to love tiny clothing, I have already purchased you the start of a small wardrobe.  Please indulge me for a moment while I complain–why, exactly, do they make cargo pants in size 3-6 months?  The cargo pocket is about 2″ x 2″, which is not handy for carrying anything but the following: a book of matches, a wad of singles, or a lone condom.  It’s the makings of a good night out, for sure, but I sense you are a wee bit young for the party scene.  I’m happy to take you out on your 21st birthday, but I’m not going to send you out with a condom pocket before you learn to walk.  You have uncle Brian for that.
At your first sonogram, which is when your Mama and Daddy learned you’d be an Owen instead of some chick named Morgan, they played country music at the doctor’s office.  Erika tells me that you “wiggled” along with the music.  Now, I’m told that a fetus can’t actually hear sounds outside the womb until much later along in pregnancy, but since you’re my nephew I choose to believe you are extra advanced.  Erika claims that this “dancing” to country music is a trait inherited from your auntie, who is your only blood relation to enjoy the musical genre.  Kid, I can work this to your advantage.  When you learn to talk, I’ll teach you all the lyrics to Alan Jackson’s “Chattahootchie.”  You sing it to the adults, and while you distract them I’ll sneak you Fig Newton cookie bars out of Great-Grammy’s cookie jar.  That’s what aunties do, kid–help you break Mama’s rules.
Right now, I am planning to move to Portland to assist your mama after you make your debut.  In the grand scheme of events, it is probably good that you won’t remember this time–fumbling adults trying to figure out which part of the onesie to put your head through, accidentally taping your leg to the diaper adhesive, cold wipes on your fanny and well-meaning strangers poking your Buddha belly and fat cheeks.  (I’m assuming you’ll be a portly baby, we grow ’em big in our family.)  You won’t remember the nights Mama stayed up to take care of you, or the nights that Daddy worked late to buy you a new toy.  You definitely won’t remember the tall blonde stranger who lived with you in the first few weeks, trying to figure out which end to insert the pacifier in.
But I hope a part of you remembers how much your auntie already loves you, and how much your Mama and Daddy grew to take you into their family.  I know you won’t–such is the curse of the child/parent relationship–but a part of me thinks you will.  You are pretty advanced, after all.
Now, come on.  I have three verses of Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends In Low Places” to teach you and then we can steal some cookies.