Monday, May 11, 2015


I'm sitting here, curled up on the corner of my couch with Netflix on silent (really it's just taking forever because the internet cannot handle the tab requirements of teenagers). It's a rare moment of being in my room with nothing to hold my attention, so I drift into my own thoughts, and then I hear it. The soundtrack of the last three years.

There are muffled voices and shrieking hysterics and the running of feet down a hallway of upperclassmen girls, my babies. They close doors and drop down bags and turn on music. They laugh and tell stories with loud voices and I'm imagining big hand gestures, to further the drama no doubt. They move on, from one room to the next in an ongoing of homework procrastination. Music gets turned up a little higher, showers turn on, make up comes off. I imagine book bags sitting on the ends of beds and windows opening to let in the night breeze with no mind to the incoming mosquitos. They too want to hear the hustle of the outside as others rush to sign in, mindlessly laughing and skipping, already late, already not caring.

They take up so much life, my teenagers. They feel everything all the time and they exhaust me. But, man, are they wonderful. Their future scares and exhilarates them. They are embracing it arms wide open, jumping off the edge with full faith that the parachute will appear.

But right now, they are savoring all of the finales. The final tech week, the last project. The last time their boyfriend will wait for them in that secret spot that we all know about. The last whispers before they part from each other.

So they scurry and they run. They begin to lessen their focus on how much they may (or may not) need me and focus on their longing for each other. For simple, for predictable, for routine.

I sit and let it all circle around me. The beautiful wonder of it all. I sit here and know that downstairs sits a woman not too different from me who is trying to decide if this is a job for her. And I silently hope that she is in awe of us-- the people who know the names and the backstories, who call them "honey" and "love" because we can and they let us -- I hope that she is dizzy keeping up with it all. More, however, I fear that she will easily replace us, those of us leaving, and our memory will dwindle.

I sit and let the soundtrack swirl. And then Netflix loads. And my night off calls and I let go. I let go of the strings and the noise quiets.

For now, they are the soundtrack of my life. And soon, we will part. But not now. Now we dance together, blind to any interloper.

19 days left. Nineteen.

Don't blink.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

lessons from mamma c

Me and Mamma C // May 2014
There has been endless mother's day love on Facebook today. And it's delightful. More because our mother's make the eighties look so awesome and I really wish I could raid those closets for some real winning outfits (seriously).

I have a number of very good photos with my mother. But what makes her so awesome are those tidbits of knowledge she spouts in the middle of regular life. Bonding with my mom happened late nights, during the commercials of Gilmore Girls and Lifetime movies, and on the ride to and from school. That was our world. And now we text all the time. With emoticons. I LOVE emoticons. Anyway, it's only been about a million years since I wrote something on this little blog of mine and while there is a lot to catch you batch of people up on, nothing is quite as inspiring as the relationship between mothers and daughters. So, here are some nuggets of wisdom from the great and lovely Mamma C. Long may she reign. (And probably find a multitude of grammatical errors in this post.)

words of wisdom from mamma c:
make a decision. good or bad, at least the decision will be made.
just because no one sees your socks doesn't mean you can't like them.
never doubt for a single moment that whatever you're worrying or thinking about isn't important. if you're thinking about it, that makes it important.
running sucks. what sucks worse is not being able to.
always laugh loudly.
talking about nothing means everything to someone.
you will never regret eating chocolate.
target has it. if it doesn't go to anthropologie.
never expect someone else to make you happy.
everyone has the one got away. the cool thing is what you learn from that person.
people go to bed angry. that's ok.
always have your own money.
many women have worked so that you have been independent. that is a privilege use it wisely.
"motherhood was my dream. you existing is all i've ever wanted. that certainly doesn't mean you have to want to be a mother. you get to be you. that's enough for me"

yeah...she's the coolest. but don't worry. i share her :)

Mamma C, the Target dog Spot, Me #selfie style // Seattle WA, 2015

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…)