Tag Archives: love

everything


everything noun, the entirety of a specified or implied class

cooper_kiss

“I wasn’t exactly sure what had just gone on out there on that dance floor. Whatever it was it was crazy. It was confusing. It was dangerous.  And I really, really liked it.”

-Kevin Arnold

I’ve had this post in my for some time and since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, it makes sense to post it now…I think. Way back when I was a pre -teen, I (like every other girl I knew) had a massive crush on Kevin Arnold and obsessively watched the Wonder Years. I wasn’t technically allowed to watch it, adult themes and all, but I snuck it in on the little black and white TV I had won selling chocolate bunnies during the Easter fundraiser at St. Anastasia’s Elementary.

My favorite all time moment from the Wonder Years is this clip at the school dance….

I was probably around 13 years old when I saw this episode and it has been my favorite ever since. To me, this is the moment when Winnie and Kevin realize that they love each other…and all starting with the most messy and imperfect of moments at the school dance when the night seemed to have been ruined. Thirteen year old me didn’t know it then, but this is a pretty accurate depiction of love, particularly married love. The person that you’re with is everything and you are (or should be) everything to that other person….and that’s not always roses and sunshine.

When I say everything, I don’t mean it in some mushy romantic “you complete me sense” or that you have no identity and have been melded into one being yadda yadda. There is some of that I suppose, but I also mean it in the messy, inconvenient shit hitting the fan sense. Being everything to someone also means that sometimes they are your problem – the one you wouldn’t have if you were solo. They are the consistently unwashed dishes in the sink or the empty toilet paper roll left sitting in the bathroom.  They are the bickering about little things on the way to big events and the secondhand depression and sadness you experience when something has gone wrong in their life.  Being someone’s everything and having someone who is everything has no limits or bounds. When you love someone, you get the whole enchilada – the good and the bad that the other person probably doesn’t even entirely know about themselves yet. It’s stressful, scary and may even make you want to run for the hills at times.

But everything is also that connection that happens when Winnie and Kevin begin to dance…when the bad of what happened earlier transitions into a magical something else. When the talking stops and the music fills the space and all we hear are the Stylistics singing about “everything” but we feel so much more.

Too often we view love as a walk on the beach at sunset or the photo perfect moments we manage to capture at weddings and birthday parties.  Those things are definitely a part of being in love, but they are not everything. To me, everything is knowing how to fold your husband’s tshirts just so because he likes them that way. It’s the tension you can feel in the house after an argument, the burnt dinner that led to take out Chinese. It’s watching Anchorman while in labor with your first child and crying endlessly together for the dog that passed away unexpectedly.  It’s nights spent sleeping on the sofa because you can’t agree and in the morning forgetting what it was you were fighting about and going out for pancakes. It’s spilled milk, flat tires and strep throat – all on the same day. Love is excruciatingly everything when you are lucky to have it. It’s confusing. It’s dangerous…and we really, really like it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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maplewood


maplewood noun, a suburban township in Essex County, NJ

Shadows of children playing soccer are seen on a wall at street in Benguela

Even with all of the things that are so awful, if you walk into your yard and stay there looking at almost anything for five minutes, you will be stunned by how marvelous life is and how incredibly lucky we are to have it.

– Alice Walker

This year for my office Secret Santa I received a tshirt that said “I Hate New Jersey.” At first I thought it was funny and then I got to thinking about it and changed my mind. It actually bothered me after I thought I about it for a while. I commute everyday on NJ Transit, which is notoriously known for delays and inconveniences. It makes my life depressing most days and lately I haven’t had my heart in it. I do audibly complain about it at work, but people don’t know me very well there and only know what they hear the next cube over. Lately the world misconstrues opinions and preferences for negativity and unhappiness. For an opinionated person like me, that sucks. If you know me, you know that I much more than someone who complains.  The truth is, everyday,  I miss my son, my house, my husband.  I actually love New Jersey – Maplewood to be exact, but I’ve built my entire life in a way that often prevents me from realizing that I do. So the other day, after I came to this realization, I decided to list in my head the things I love the most so that I don’t forget them.

I love Maplewood…

…because of those little kids always playing soccer in the driveway of Cactus Charlies. Every Thursday or Friday I end up picking up beer at the liquor store on Highland Place in Maplewood Village. There is never parking and I end up trolling the block until someone pulls out of a parallel spot or pull over on the non parking side of the street and put my hazards on. It takes 2 minutes to buy beer and there aren’t generally cops looking to ticket. I usually park near Cactus Charlies, and there are always a small group of young boys – 8 or 9 years old, kicking around a soccer ball against the side of the restaurant in the driveway there. Rain or shine, winter or spring, they seem to be there having the best time. There are no overbearing parents coaching or standing around bragging, just these kids playing around. I never wish for them to be playing in the park or even on the grass. In my heart I feel it is the way that soccer is meant to be practiced – where  ever it’s convenient and natural. And I love Maplewood for this impromptu game of soccer that I always see in the driveway of the Mexican restaurant. It’s because it feels so natural and un choreagraphed, which can be rare in our affluent suburb.

… for my yoga music playing coffee shop that serves Tiramisu flavored coffee once a week. Whether it’s after a tough Crossfit WOD or a lazy Saturday morning after a restless sick toddler night, I walk into Village Coffee and am greeted by the soothing sounds of dharma chanting and a smile. I find buying coffee much more soothing and happy here instead of the trendy bakery down the block. No fuss or pretension. As a friend once said, it’s just normal, not fancy, and that’s what I prefer. Sometimes I’ll head there early before my train and sit at a table and drink my coffee for a bit before heading into the city. It’s peaceful and calming even when it’s crowded and it feels like home.

Speaking of Crossfit, I love Maplewood for that too – but not just because it’s whipped my ass into shape. For so long after we moved from Brooklyn, I struggled to find a workout that would keep me coming back. Flywheel spinning was great for a while, but what I didn’t realize is that having support from others is what was needed to keep me coming back for more. I’ve always been shy and not the most outgoing person in general, but on my first day at Crossfit, I had teammates that cheered me on when they didn’t even know me…when I wasn’t even in very good shape and couldn’t keep up. It reminded me of track practices from so long ago that were my lifeline during tough times. Crossfit made me open up and meet people – different people that I would have never met had it not been for our common interest in exercising.  It’s been nearly a year and I still go at least 2 or 3 times a week at the minimum, mostly at 6 am. I am part of a team. I’ve made great friends. There may come a time when I have to take a hiatus for a while, but I know I will always be back for more.

… for 1978 Arts. Never heard of it? It’s sad that many people don’t know where it is, but I think 2015 will be the year I try to spread the word to more people.  I knew a little bit about it from my neighbor from when I first moved. It’s a small artist community that exists on Springfield Ave in a small cinder block building that isn’t open a lot. The building itself was gifted to Maplewood by an artist and it is run by volunteers that live in the town. It is an undiscovered gem. For the past few months I’ve been able to use the space for life drawing and finally found the motivation to take my love for my AS220 drawing nights in Providence and make them a reality in Maplewood.  I’ve met talented and wonderful people from Maplewood and neighboring towns. People that were hungry for the same type of interaction and creative outlet as I was – a quiet, safe and beautiful space where for a few hours we can reconnect with that neglected, artistic, creative side that probably spends most days latent and brooding.

…because of my neighbors. Yesterday while my strep inflicted son napped, I went out to check the mail and found a cellophane bag of cookies and a note in my mailbox from our neighbor. The note was an entertaining account of their year and the cookies were delicious. On other occasions, different neighbors have delivered the food share when I had forgotten it was ready that day, or walked our dog while I was in labor with my son in the hospital. They’ve mourned the loss of our dog with us, weathered multiple hurricanes and shared bulk garbage pickups. Each year I look forward to the Memorial Day parade that runs down our block just to see everyone out in front of their houses, the first days of blissful summer upon us.  But most beloved of all is the space in our In our yard the shrubs that borders our neighbors yard separate slightly –  where our son and the neighbors children sneak through to visit each other. It’s like something out of an old novel or storybook and I think it might just be the best thing about living in Maplewood – the gateway – as I like to think of it. As I sit here writing this on the most gloomy, damp of days, I know in a few months the sun will be shining and there will be children sneaking into each other’s yards looking to play and enjoy the day.  Even if you took away everything else, I would still love Maplewood if only for this.

Oh yeah….and Garden State was filmed in Maplewood too 🙂

 

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petrichor


petrichor n. the smell of rain on dry ground

feet

It’s a rainy day. The sky is gray and the clouds are all smushed together, blocking the sun. The city air is embalmed with petrichor. As a lover of perfumes and scents, I’ve always noticed that “rain scented” perfumes don’t smell like petrichor at all – at least to me. It is true that they capture an essence of it, but I always feel that the imitation version smells much too nice. Petrichor seems to smell a little bit more like soil than the man – made versions do.  I think the world tends to glamourize petrichor with the high language of music and poetry, but quite honestly, there are some days where the rain on the pavement kicks up the scent of feral cat piss more than it makes me wax poetic about the odor in my nostrils. NYC  petrichor can smell like China petrichor to me – mildew and dirty. Suburban petrichor is a mix of cat piss, cedar chips and fertilizer most of the time. I would guess the petrichor of the forest is probably the best there is, the one closest to the imitated version, but couldn’t it be confused with mountain air or just the scent of the woods? In general, smell is an odd and wondrous thing not easily described or pinned down.

The other day my son and I were playing “pee-yew” feet,” which is mostly just me taking his nasty socks off after a long day at daycare and pretending to smell his genuinely stinky feet. He thinks it’s pretty funny for me to say “pee-yew feet” and repeatedly stick his feet in my face. We both crack up laughing over and over again. On our way to the kitchen to have the 3rd yogurt of the day, I started thinking about whether he understood the meaning of “pee-yew” or even smell at all. To my knowledge, he’s never complained of a smell to me. I wonder if he knows about smell. I know he can taste, so I am assuming he can smell as well. But how can I describe it to him? It’s not like sight or sound or even taste. Those senses seem so much more tangible. Smell is like the umami of senses. You just know, I guess, but it is frustrating to not have the words to describe since it’s actually quite an important part of life.

I remember the way school smelled on the first day of school. It was a mix of chalk dust, the teacher’s perfume and fresh paper. I loved that smell.  The smell I hate the most from my life are the medical smells – hospital cleaning solutions and iodine. I remember the pungent odor of chemo and alcohol swabs. I dread those smells the most and almost enter into a panic attack just thinking about them. When we were house hunting not too long ago, I always noticed that the houses smelled similar, as if there was a prescribed “clean” scent that they all achieved. It must have been some sort of Glade air freshener that was popular or possibly a mix of lemon Pledge and bleach. That smell means “clean house” to me now that I own my own house. The treasured chlorine reek of an indoor pool makes me warm and happy just thinking about it. I used to love swimming in that smell and then satisfyingly showering it off after as a reward for my efforts. But the smell of art supplies – paint, conte crayon, rollerball ink – these are among the most intoxicating for me. They signify freedom, relaxation and excitement for what I am about to create.

One day my son will understand what smell is and he will have his own opinion on petrichor. I will just give him time. For now he can enjoy our scentless game of “pee-yew” feet for everything but the smell.  I hope someday the memory of stinky toddler feet reminds him of me and our silly “pee-yew” game.

Smell

by William Carlos Williams

Oh strong-ridged and deeply hollowed 
nose of mine! what will you not be smelling? 
What tactless asses we are, you and I, boney nose, 
always indiscriminate, always unashamed, 
and now it is the souring flowers of the bedreggled 
poplars: a festering pulp on the wet earth 
beneath them. With what deep thirst 
we quicken our desires 
to that rank odor of a passing springtime! 
Can you not be decent? Can you not reserve your ardors 
for something less unlovely? What girl will care 
for us, do you think, if we continue in these ways? 
Must you taste everything? Must you know everything? 
Must you have a part in everything? 

 

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birthday


birthday, n. the annual anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as an occasion for celebration and present-giving.

???????????????????April 8th is never a good day for me. It’s my late father’s birthday and for some reason, every year, the day is tainted with sadness. No matter how hard I try to make it better, the day is just miserable for one reason or another. One would think that the anniversary of his death would be the worst day…or even the anniversary of his diagnosis…that I would remember how awful those particular days were and dwell on them. But I hardly remember those roughest of days. I think about them randomly from time to time, but they don’t haunt me the way April 8th does. I think this is because the father I remember was not the one that had a brain cancer for 2 years and slowly faded. Don’t get me wrong, there were many wonderful moments during that period despite his illness. But the father that I want to remember forever is the one that didn’t have cancer. The one that participated wholly in life and the world, was imperfect and not always the best but was always the rock I could depend on. I prefer the living version of my father instead of the dying one.

It makes sense to me that the birthday is the thing that hurts the most. It is, after all, a reminder that he is not here. Rather than a day to be celebrated, it is a marker of another year that has passed without him. Another season of holidays, weddings and births that he is absent from and there is nothing that can be done to revise the course of history to bring him back. It makes me think about the fact that my son and husband will never know him outside of my memories. That my mother is alone. That each year the memories of him fade a little and I wonder how much I have already forgotten. The forgetting is what bothers me the most. This April 8th was not the worst day. In fact, it was actually quite fine if I look at the actual day instead of my thoughts. I fear that I am already too deep into the forgetting.

Last night I was baking cookies and listening to On The Air on WNYC. It was a story about Kurt Cobain. April 8th is the anniversary of his suicide and I never realized that until last night. His death definitely had an effect on me when I was a plaid clad teen in high school. I used to spend rainy weekends at my friend’s house listening to Nirvana and writing down the lyrics, reading them like poetry and searching for meaning. My father thought Nirvana was crap and I wonder if I could have ever persuaded him to like their music if I had had more time.

One of my favorite Nirvana covers is “Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam.” It reminds me of my father. He never considered himself extraordinary, special or worthy of any particular praise. He was pretty selfless and tenaciously stubborn. I turn 36 in a month or so and the stigma of April 8th needs to go. I’ll have to remember to listen to this song and celebrate my father’s spirit instead of mourning the memories we didn’t get to make. My father may never have been persuaded that Kurt Cobain’s music was worthy of admiration, but I think he would have agreed that Jesus probably wouldn’t want him for a sunbeam either.

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LOSS


loss n. the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value

ImageEnjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

– Robert Brault

I can’t walk in the house these days without feeling a little bit like a stranger. Each night when I drive home I bite my tongue before I tell Graham that we’re headed home to her. When we walk in the door, there is no one there to greet us, no one there to be happy that we made it through the whole day successfully. No train delays or daycare biting incidents. We take our victory lap at the place we call home.

The red sofa is empty and you can see how ruined the leather is from years of hound sweat. That same sofa we were so proud of when we bought it to be the centerpiece of the living room in our first house 10 years ago in Rhode Island.  We would find her on laying on it as a puppy and would shoo her off only to find her there again soon after. I remember the day we finally gave up telling her to shoo because she looked so happy sleeping there. Now there’s just a mark, an indent where she used to lay. The sofa feels out of place without her on it and the spit stain she used to leave on the French door is still there just because I can’t bear to wipe away a part of her.   

We always complained about the dog hair tumbleweeds that littered our home, reminiscing of a time 10 years ago when our house was so clean, but dog less. We’d talk about how we’d rather have her than a clean house and then would hint at a day long into the future when the dog hair would be gone, not knowing that that time would be approaching much sooner than we ever wanted. We didn’t realize that all of the food that we dropped would litter our floor instead and that each time we had to stoop and pick it up instead of calling her name would remind us of her absence.

There were so many times she was there when no one else was. The nights when I was all alone in a tiny apartment while Dan was traveling and she filled his empty space in the bed. The times when things were rough and crying was all I could do. She was always the silent shoulder of support who would lick away my tears and stay by my side until I fell asleep. When I quit my job to stay home and care for my newborn son in a lonesome new town, she was my only companion and friend. Sometimes the only thing that got me through the day was the comfort of having her familiar and peaceful presence.

I’ve come to believe that the level at which loss manifests itself in your life is inversely proportional to how much you loved the one you lost. My life is like a curio box, a sort of frame work that is filled with all of the little moments and insignificant things I collect that eventually add up to the story that is me.  These little things are tediously important in ways I don’t understand and I sometimes forget how essential some of them are to my happiness and hope. Sometimes I change them or replace them when I feel the need to. But when I lose one or many unexpectedly, they are not replaced easily or in short order. The light shines through to mark the emptiness that asks to be repaired so that the story will make sense again and I am only armed with memories and time to begin the work.

 

 

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sponsalia


sponsalia noun engagement or marriage

 

When I was married, we had no money so I bought a dress on sale at David’s Bridal for $500 – including all of the crap that goes with it – and my sister in law did my hair. I bought the minimal flowers – daisies – a few bouquets and boutoniers from a flower shop just because I liked it’s name – “Consider the Lilies.” I found a photographer who taught at RISD part time and hired him on the cheap along with disposable cameras on the tables. We chose a wonderful old gothic church that didn’t need decoration and rented an old mansion called the Arcade in Roger Williams Park Zoo for the reception. When the rain poured down that day, we still had outdoor photos on the deck and micro brewed beer from Trinity Brewhouse, who catered for us. We hired our favorite live jazz band from the Custom House in Providence for music and everyone danced and even sang on stage. The day for us was a celebration of who we were together and all of the things we loved and shared in the place that we met and called home. It wasn’t about looking like a model in my photos or 2 inch thick paper stock invitations embossed with our signature logo. We didn’t prance through corn fields holding hands in the sun beams or stare into each others eyes under the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk for engagement photos either. We had no money so we had to be creative, and I am very happy for that..

The marketing of marriage is constantly thrust upon me, whether it is in magazines or Facebook, and I find it truly hilarious. I especially love looking at the glamour shot engagement photos. Everyone has the same shot in Grand Central and Central Park – you know you’ve seen it too. I would think the last thing I would want is a photo that looks just like everyone else’s – but alas, when I used to work at “the Blue Box” people traded bridal photographers like Garbage Pail Kids. I think it may be a status symbol here in the Big Apple, oddly enough.

And the dresses. My office used to be across from the famous Amsale on 5th Avenue so many of the girls I worked with would purchase dresses there for their big day. My poor little Gloria Vanderbilt whose lace hem I thought was so pretty and understated looks like some sad schmata compared to the runway Moniques and Veras I have seen, but I loved it nonetheless. It’s absurd that there are entire television programs devoted to wedding dresses – more than one! The Lifetime network probably has 3 alone. Women in New York also trample each other for off priced Vera Wangs on a certain day of the year. I’ve seen it on the evening news.

If I could do it all again and if I actually had some cash this time, I wouldn’t really change anything about our day. Maybe I would have nicer flowers or more champagne, but we created our own day and I haven’t been to a wedding like it before or since. When I look at our photos I don’t relish how perfect the lighting or staging is, I just marvel at how young and happy we looked. It’s been almost ten years, 2 houses, 1 dog and a baby later. We have wrinkles, have lost some hair and gained a few pounds. So maybe I didn’t look like the most awesome princess in the universe on my wedding day. I have never been one to want that in the first place. I can gladly say that as great as my wedding day was, my marriage has been far greater. I’d rather have incredible photos of each other from all of the places we have travelled then some schlocky picture post card I can send so people think I’m in love.

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cordate


cordate adj. heart-shaped

The first thought that came to mind with this word was Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” and how goofy it would be to sing a song called the “Cordate Box.” But anyway, the figural heart that we associate in love, affection, Valentine’s Day and religion looks nothing like our own internal organ heart at all. Our hearts have a vaguely similar shape if you turn it sideways, but otherwise it more closely resembles a steak. So I was curious and I looked up where the figural heart shape originates and it turns out there is quite a lot of debate about this subject. Apparently, it can be traced back to the silphium plant – which served as a form of contraceptive in Africa. I was going to post a photo of a silphium seed pod but it turns out that I cannot find one that actually looks anything like a heart – just a bunch of photos of coins with something that looks like a heart that is supposed to be the seed pod…so I don’t really buy this theory…and I don’t understand how NOT creating a baby means love…that would be the antithesis in my mind, but to each his own.

Other theories hold that the heart shape comes from Christianity, ie. the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Sacred Heart of Jesus. However, nothing I have found dates the depiction of this symbol back to an actual figural origin. Now, I have looked for all of 10 minutes so it might exist, but I still find it interesting how it is not very clear.

The third origin of the figural heart that I found in my brief searchings was its similarity in shape to the female vulva or buttocks. But then I also found reference to testicles…which in my opinion more closely resembles the heart shape than female naughty bits. Men have asses too so I don’t buy the female tie to the heart shape that is so often referenced.

The cordate symbol of love that we have come to know is arguably one of the most important shapes in our society. We come across it everywhere…and we don’t know exactly where it came from. Interesting…

Music

…and in lots and lots of logos….

The heart shape has it’s own holiday and is most likely one of the first drawings most of us make as children (well, girls anyway) and yet there is no clear idea of its origin. We know where the circle came from and can read hyrogliphics but something we see everyday remains a mystery. It symbolizes all of these warm, fuzzy cozy sentiments yet we don’t know who to thank for it.

Maybe just being something purely good makes us forget it is essentially a stranger as far as symbols go. It is a universal symbol of goodness, of joy, and in my opinion, there are too few of those in our world so perhaps it’s best to just cherish it and smile when we see it.

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