Friday, July 25, 2014

the reason why

Pictures from the Jersey Shore, Belmar
I wish I had some big reason for why I’ve been so absent and not writing. Because it’s true, I do love to write and take pictures. I still believe one thousand percent that life was meant to be documented and see no reason not to take a million pictures of food or yourself, and if you have trouble sticking to the 140 character limit on twitter, man I feel you.

But seriously. I’ve been writing. It’s just been bad. Whiny. Underdeveloped, Lots of meanderings about nothing in particular...and we all know I crave writing about nothing in particular so those writings must have been really bad.

I’ve been sparring you bad writing. You’re welcome.

And now it’s the end of July and summer is going to end. And then I’m going to go back to Michigan and to school and to an entire group of people I love who are going to kindly ask me what in the world I did with myself all summer and I’m going to have nothing to tell them. Because seriously, I’ve been so unproductive that maybe that’s why my writing has sucked! There is nothing to write about!

Ok, so that’s a little harsh. Because I came home this summer with the intention to take it slow. To study and sleep and just simply be around to witness the lives of my family, especially my siblings who are all grown. And I was excited about it, I am still excited about it.

This summer I was supposed to read more. I haven’t really. I’m trying to get back into it, but the jive just hasn’t been there.
I was supposed to watch Game of Thrones with Zach. Truth: I have only watched half of season one and he is done (he, my sister, my brother, and every other human being on the planet who has started that show and then eaten it up).
I really wanted to participate in community gardening. I haven’t yet because I can’t figure out the website.
I wanted to take pictures and write a lot. Duh. That’s a big no.
Save all the money. (freakin’ LSAT prep took it. )

But like all great plans, sometimes it fizzles and there is no use putting pressure of people; witnessing lives is about a lack of expectations, and about just being around to be around.

Here’s what I’ve done (not all bad at all, but I just want to be clear):
Watched so much Criminal Minds I think I should be hitting repeats at any moment.
Found out how to get to Target without directions (this is a HUGE win people)
Unsuccessfully taken the LSAT (BOO) and signed up for a tutor
Ran errands, grocery shopped, car washed, vacuumed, scrubbed and tidied all around
Shopped for three child birthday parties (bought adorable outfits, i am a HIT with two year olds)
Run. I run a lot. Not like a lot at one time, but often. I prefer to run in any season that is NOT summer so just being out there is good. Get’s me moving and stops the thinking.
Traveled. Every summer I usually spend all my money on a month of travel. That’s that happens when you have lived all over, you have friends all over. And while I miss those I haven’t seen so very much. I did get a quick getaway with Mamma C to New Jersey and a Fourth of July vacay back to Michigan.

See, so being a woman of leisure has it’s benefits. I get to answer phone calls and emails in the timeliest of fashions. I’m always home for dinner and nightly girly TV with Mamma (season finale of the Bachelorette is MONDAY people! get ready!). I get to sleep in and wear pjs all the time.

This isn’t how I thought this summer would be. This certainly isn’t how I thought twenty six would be, but I am going to try to put away all the what ifs and hopes. I am going to stop comparing my vacation with everyone else’s on Facebook (all you people at the beach and Paris…).

When I was in Peace Corps all I wanted was simple.Now I have it. Right now. So, if I don’t write for a bit, I’m busy doing nothing and trying to savor it because summer is going to end...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

and then you get a ferris wheel

some days can be harder than others. some days it's the internal struggle of whether you eat your feelings some more or you just sit in your bathroom in the dark and have a good cry, mascara and snot running simultaneously.

twenty-four hours just isn't enough. right now i need twenty-eight or thirty. thirty hours would be great. and i wouldn't sleep, i promise. i'd study more so my mom doesn't get worried and i'd run a little farther and i'd schedule a whole hour for meals, maybe i'd even see breakfast. and then maybe, in those small moments before bed i'd be able to read this book i've had bookmarked at chapter two for three weeks. or i'd stare at the ceiling and stretch my legs while listening to vinyl...i haven't done that in ages.

sometimes you have to schedule it. the scenic route home so you get one more song on the radio, the thanks that the person painting your nails doesn't speak English because then you can ponder the significance of russian navy nails matching the swimsuit you won't be wearing to the beach because it's too cold, and then get wrapped up in the documentary on the TV-- the Discovery channel, it's actually the coolest thing.

and you have to be grateful for that time, and not judge it against the time that could have been spent doing other things.

and you have to hug the people around you who force you to get out: to play carnival games and eat cotton candy. for the one who will sneak you out to see the ferris wheel before the kiddies get to it, only slightly judging you for taking 8 pictures of it and wanting to put them all on instagram.

this is a time of year when emotions are high, time is fleeting, and every moment counts. and i want it all to last a little longer. to linger.

but i'm ready.
the final countdown.
and, you know, a ferris wheel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


They all could be famous one day.

Those faces I see coming and going every day. Sometimes they are on stage in costumes and more makeup than I dare image. I see it crumbling off  hours later as they shovel in spoonfuls of ice cream. As they yell over each other trying to keep my attention from my computer screen.

They could be famous one day.

When they speak there are hushed voices. When they sing people stop and listen. With the standing ovations and packed recitals, they always stand center stage. You can see them in person or live stream it to wherever you are. When the volume is high every voice is distinguishable and individual.

They could be famous.

Because they have raw talent and educated minds. Because they are strong and independent and determined. Because they have big dreams and a plan to get them there. Because they believe that everything, even the fairy tale, is possible.

Someday, their name will be in lights and their autograph will be worth something. Someday they will be their own business with assistants and managers.

But that is someday.

Today. Well today they get to be seventeen.

They get to skip around outside hand and hand with their best friend. They get to have a major crush on the boy next to them in ecology. They get to learn how to skip rocks from their roommate. They get to lay on blankets in crop tops and short shorts with huge diva sunglasses and no one will bother them.

Today I get to witness their lives as they are right now. Delightful beautiful messes all of us. The drama of relationships and college and senior year. The question of which prom dress to wear, who is dating whom, what’s for dinner-- those are hot topics. I provide the never ending candy jar and a couch that is always open for long chats and semi naps.

That’s what I do. I witness lives.

One day we could all be famous. And live happily ever after.

Today, today, we get to be together.

mamma c: long may she reign

It’s amazing what time does to people. It morphs them and changes them. Each minute leaves a mark in some way. Nothing goes unrecognized.

From ever since I can remember she has been here. Right by me. Someone asked me once what my first memory of her was, but there is no way to separate her from me in my head, and in those early memories, there is just us. Together.

Time has not been easy on her. Those stories that spill out of her-- that I didn’t even know existed until late nights one summer when I was much older-- those stories tell a life that I can only imagine. One where the children were the grown ups and the faults of parents were too strong to ignore. I see her as a little girl with dark hair and a stern face. There wouldn’t be visible softness, just an inner light that would refuse to go out throughout any of that.

She says all she ever wanted was us. No matter how old we are or how dysfunctional we act, we were dreamed into existence by her. We are her softness, her smile, her hope.

There is nothing I am that is not because of her. She taught me to trust the world, to believe in goodness, to give more than I take, to love because it feels good, and to dream because all things are possible.

I am her biggest accomplishment and she is my biggest gift.

Happy (now belated) Mother’s Day Mamma. Long may you reign.

Friday, May 9, 2014

one grey hair at a time

I turned twenty-six this past Sunday. (Yay birthdays!) And, I was sitting at dinner surrounded by margaritas and queso dip and my dear friend Maggie, the queen of good questions and conversation starters, asks me: “So Mary, what was your favorite moment of being twenty -five?”

She was probably hoping for a good story. An all nighter. That one time I made out by the lake (which has NEVER happened mother, I assure you). Something juicy. What she got was probably much more representative of me. What she got was honest.

I said something like this:

I hated turning twenty-five. It seemed old. Solid. People who are twenty-five seem to be more put together, more direct, there is something about them that you expect just comes with the age. And I felt none of that. Plus, I knew that I would be twenty-five and working this small life in northern Michigan and I was terrified that I was somehow disappointing my sixteen year old self. That she was looking at me from somewhere in utter disbelief -- that all those late nights, the lack of social life, the grades-- had landed me here.

But instead, twenty five came, because I have absolutely no control over time, and nothing horrible happened. It became a complicated year. And somewhere between Thanksgiving and New’s Years I took a deep breath and let all that other crap go. Somewhere in there I became totally okay with being in my mid-twenties, no matter what it actually looked like. Because there is so much about coming of age and growing up that is work that never gets glorified or considered a success. No, I don’t have a husband, or a baby, or a small business. I don’t own my own home, I haven’t graduated from anything beyond undergrad. But I am here. I am strong and independent. I am getting better and better at being in my own skin, no matter what it looks like or how much it weighs. I have opinions and likes and desires. I can decorate and name my favorite band and give advice. I write and read and listen to vinyl. I bought a car and pay my own bills. I know how I like my eggs and my coffee. I have dreams and a way to get them. I am every bit my own person. And I built that. (Well, me and a village.)

And so that makes me feel good. That makes me proud and deserving of celebration.

It’s a beautiful thing getting older. It’s a gift not everyone gets. And no, twenty-six isn’t old. But it’s old enough. And wonderfully enough, it just isn’t that scary. (Next year...well that could be different…)

Friday, April 25, 2014

wait for me

You told me once you couldn’t do this without me. Sometimes I think about what it would be like without me here, without this relationship in front of us, trying to untangle the good from the bad, the me from the you. I sit here and stare into those blue eyes of yours getting pulled from whatever we are chatting about into visions of the sea, until I blink, and am pulled right back to this present moment; I smile up at you because you’ve always been so much taller than I am. And you squeeze my hand.

According to one life plan I wasn’t supposed to be here, where I am standing looking at you. Life was supposed to have something else in store, but then I took a chance and challenged myself again to face some personal fears. And God must have smiled on that decision because with that I got you. With you came a rejuvenation into my work and my love for the world around me. I began to see it all through you. It’s an adventure to you, it’s a world to be conquered, a world to love.

So I get you and those blue eyes. I love it when you call me by name, not a nickname like all the ones I give you, but something about my name rolling off those lips, the simplicity of it all. I blush when you seek me out, when you linger around to get my attention even if I’m talking to someone else. I love that we don’t really have personal boundaries and you stand so close I can compare my poor posture to your why-yes-I’ve-taken-a-dance-class stance. And every so often, when you sit down and I face you, our legs intertwine slightly and you play with my hands like no one else can see us. It’s nothing you say. Your eyes twinkle and you talk to me about your day and your work, meanwhile, our hands are pulling in and out of each other so softly it makes me tingle.

Despite all this, you say you want to hang out more, to see me, and something stops me. I delay you feeling like whatever this is, or could be, cannot actually happen. The timing is wrong I tell myself; it's all off. I cannot ruin this magic. Not yet. That risk is too big.

So I pause and I open my eyes and see yours starring back at me. Waiting for me. Waiting for whatever happens next.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Today is one of those days where you keep rolling over to hover in the land of sleep just a little bit longer. There is nothing, not even a snooze button, that makes sleeping just a little longer so heavenly as knowing you should be awake with the rest of the world, but choosing yourself, choosing the back of your eyelids and hanging onto one more dream just a little longer. No one really cares how late you sleep in. So you let it linger.

Today is a day where you smell of sleep and dreams and leftover perfume from the day before. There is no hurry to shower, but when you snuggle against the warm side of the pillow you giggle at the way pajamas smell against the cold air and it all seems to fit with the snow on the ground that daunts the outside world. Why bother with that when there is a book within reach? Now you can pause between paragraphs and close your eyes dreaming of the way New York is described and let your mind wander. Images of the people you love and those around you move around in your head. While you think of calling them, the thought of opening your mouth to say “Hello” seems like too much effort. So you sigh in a way that leaves your face in a faint smile and you shift sides because your shoulder starts to hurt. The thought occurs to you that while it is nice to have this bed all to yourself having someone next to you, judging the book you’re reading, wondering what is behind those sleepy eyes of yours, well...that would also be lovely in a different kind of way. But not today. Today is for rubbing your eyes awake like a four year old waking up, hair all around you, not caring about any of it at all.

It’s quiet today and you can hear the clock tick and the humidifier run. Sometime, though you’re not sure when, a tuba starts playing and it makes you realize that you are not alone in the world and that the day is happening at a faster pace for some. But not for you. It’s slow. The hours are still and afternoon turns into early evening and you may wonder if your to do list is worth looking at--really when does laundry need to be done? Who is actually going to care if your nails are painted?

That’s later. Right now there is a book needing to be finished and covers needed to be thrown over your head like you’re hiding. Because that’s really what you’re doing. You are playing hide and seek with the world wondering if anyone is going to seek you out, not really caring because the hiding is so much fun. It feels good being away. You can flee last nights awkward conversations that you can’t get out of your head; you can flee the cute boy down the street; you can flee the expectations and the ideas. You revert. You prove you introverted self correct and you hide. Not really wanting to be found anyway.

Tomorrow will come and none of this will be possible. Maybe even in a couple of hours you will decide to take a long shower and put in a load of laundry, turn on your computer, and enter the world.

Not now.
Now is for you. And the almost finished book in front of you.