Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Of

2012 was a pretty good year for me. Other than the obvious - I moved into a retirement community and ended up with a spectacularly huge closet, duh - a lot of good came out of 2012. I felt it was well deserved since 2010 and 2011 were fairly awful, and I was happy that 2012 turned out to be quite the opposite. Here I am presenting my Best of 2012 list, complete with frivolities. Do enjoy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gray Bleeds into Black Bleeds into Gray

Last week I started writing about how much I love J.R.R Tolkien and all his stories about Middle Earth and how The Hobbit release was unleashing the nerd I so long have repressed. But things got busy and before I could finish it tragedy happened and it felt rather silly to publish something like that at this moment. But I also don't want to weigh heavy on Sandy Hook and gun control and the stigma this country gives to mental illness. I don't have answers, obviously, to gun control and mental health and how to prevent more of these tragedies from happening. At present lots of people think they do, and instead to coming together as a nation and supporting the families of victims, as well as each other, people are arguing and bickering and naysaying about who's idea is better, who's idea is right. In the words of Jack Nicholson from Mars Attacks!: "Little people, why can't we all just get along?".

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Christmas Baker

Christmastime is here again... I've just decided I'm going to try and incorporate as many one-liners from Christmas songs into this post as possible. Since I preeminently have decided to write about all the things I plan to bake for different events this season, that could be rather difficult. Due to my astounding ability to get decidedly off-topic, perhaps it won't actually be that hard.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cataracts - For the Win!!

I've begun measuring things in days:
8 days = moving to a retirement community (this is real)
60 days = Christmas
23 days = Utah v. Arizona at RES with Max and Andrew
28 days = Thanksgiving
388 days = "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
 224 = days since my transplant, days since my last surgery, days since I started taking prednisone, and days since I've had a dialysis treatment
2 = days since Dr. Winward told me I'm not legally blind, I just have cataracts in both my eyes

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Accepting Thirty: My Waring Twenties

Over the summer the realization that I was turning 30 on October 15th hit me. And then I freaked out.

The main issue I was having was that I felt I had accomplished very little in the first 29 years of my existence. Oh sure, I survived, but to me that isn't so much an accomplishment as a necessity. I did graduate from college, and have some wedding flowers I did featured in a magazine, and be honored on the field at the Utah Homecoming Game in 2009, but other than that I felt my life was rather accomplishment-less.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


One thing I love about September is it's sunflower season. Here in Salt Lake they grow along sidewalks and off-ramps, taller than I am - plus much more cheerful - and waving at passersby to brighten their days. My brother Tom loved sunflowers; he planted them up and down our lane and late summer always looked like him. Those sunflowers started to fade with waning years, a little like my memories, and soon the last one was stamped out by our new neighbor, a tiny in stature, medium in width man with rapidly diminishing follicles and a truck much too large for his height, because he "didn't want it to scratch the side of his RV". This hurt me deeply, and many a time I have resisted sprinkling the entire length of the lane with sunflower seeds in the night like a thief.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Touche, Thursday

Here's a real short post because I need to complain, but I'm morally opposed to and vehemently against complaining about life on the face-books, and since this is my blog I'm imposing my power of free speech and ownership of space to do so. That was quite the spectacular sentence, and a little run-onish. Whatever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

American Horror Story

"Don't wish, don't start. Wishing only wounds the heart..." These words have been in constant thought for a few days, though I'm unsure why. I don't find myself wishing for much... and then I realize what today is, and it starts to make a little more sense. Stephen Schwartz wasn't talking about a spectacularly horrifying event in American history when he wrote those words, but they fit in so easily to so many scenarios.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

11:59 on New Years Eve

 It's like:

The anticipation of wearing your new shoes on the first day of school. The night before summer vacation. The exhiliration of booking a plane ticket home after you've been gone too long. Walking to the door after the best date. The morning of the first gameday of the season.  The morning of any gameday. Christmas Eve as a kid who still believes in Santa Claus.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sleep Through The Static

I try my best to keep this blog free of things I don't know about: politics, soccer, Pintrest, shows about teen moms. I like to write about things I know in life, because I don't want to false report or hearsay anything. But today is different. Five years ago, a friend of mine was shot at Trolley Square by an 18 year-old who illegally bought illegal guns. This kid shot my friend four times at pointblank range. Miraculously, my friend survived, albeit the life lived before February 12th, 2007 is now all but a memory.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Transplant Update: 4 Months Later

Thanks for my friends Heather and Jo, I finally have a pair of kidneys again
July 15th, 2012. Four months since the day I received my new kidney. It almost seems like years, not months, since it happened. Which is funny, because when it had been one year since i'd been on dialysis, it seemed unbelievable, like it had only barely started, though each individual dialysis treatment seemed like it took a lifetime to finish. I don't think I have anything new or profound or great to say here. But each month that slips by with health and happiness and hope is one to celebrate for me because for such a long time it didn't seem to have any of those things beholding my life.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Transplant Update: Dash for Donation 2012

Alright gang. Here's the deal. In a mere 36 days, on August 11th, the Dash for D onation 5k takes place. I, alongside my sister, who donated her kidney so I could get one, and brother-in-law will be participating in this 5k to raise money for organ donation. Yes, I'll be participating as a runner, not a spectator. I know. I'm kind of freaking out too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sleeping to Dream

It's funny the things that motivate and halt you. Accolades and rage, heartbreak and love. It's even funnier when the same thing can both motivate and halt. And by funny here I don't mean something comical. It's more reflective of thought provocation and introspection than anything else. Laziness is my motivator and halter. It motivates me to be more productive, go after the things I really want for my life, the futures I know I can have. Then the magnet flips, the schizophrenia (multiple personalities?) blossoms and laziness becomes the halter. Really, it's a mask for all the flaws I house that I don't want to admit exist to myself or other people.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Last 4 Days (Always a Bridesmaid)

The stunning bride Mehgan & her beautiful bouquet

It was another wedding weekend for this perennial bridesmaid.  (<-- I supposed that means I'm a good friend to a lot of people. :] )
The last four days were wonderful and irreplaceable and tiring and perfect. It was the wedding of my long time friend Mehgan and her now-husband Taylor. Mehgan and I have been friends since she started dating my brother in 2007. Their relationship did not last, but ours did. Mehgan is one of the kindest, most genuine, gorgeous on the inside and out people I know. She's always been really good to me and I can only hope to one day repay the favor.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

3 Days in Denver for a Wedding

This one is my very favorite

One of my dearest friends got married today. Her name is Stephanie (aka Lil' Steph) and we've been friends for a long time. We initally bonded over Black Friday shopping and haven't looked back since. Steph lives in Denver so I caught a flight out of Salt Lake on May 17th with Kate and Mindee Jo and their babies, Ayla Mae and Charlie Jo, respectively. The three of us decided to make the trip for several important reasons:
1. We all love and adore Lil' Steph and wanted to be there for her wedding
2. Since she left Salt Lake in '05 we don't get to see her very often
3. We wanted/needed to throw her a bachelorette party
And most importantly
4. This wedding has been a decade in the making

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

An Insomnia-Induced First Person Narrative

As I lie in bed waiting for sleep to come and thinking about some boys I used to know, I hear thunder like city-provided garbage cans rolling on asphalt. I hold my breath for a minute trying to determine if it really is a neighbor's garbage can or thunder as I suspect. A flash of lightning confirms my first theory and I go back to thinking about the boys. We are not in each other's lives anymore for reasons I can't exactly pinpoint. I wonder about them, and their lives now, and why it was so difficult for us to be anything, even friends in the end. At this moment I feel more alone than I have in so long.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sun Will Set to Rise

I have a confession, that is not really a confession to those of you who know me well: I generally dislike most people and most things. This is true, no matter what anyone tells you. Things I love include my kitten, Apple products, cheese, coastal California, aaaannnnnnddd.... oooh, sleep! I love sleep. We'll stop there because I'm starting to reach. It's not that I hate everyone and everything, it's just that I seem to get easily annoyed by idiots who are doing idiotic things. Therefore, I don't generally love things or people. I think this tends to put me on the grumpier side of life.


Monday, April 9, 2012

On "The Hunger Games" Series

I'm not one who generally jumps on what I like to call "fad books". If everyone is reading it and obsessing over it, I'm somewhere over in non-fiction finding an obscure book no one else I know has ever or likely will ever read. I have not read a single Harry Potter book, nor have I or will I ever read a Stephanie Meyer book (see the "Books I Read" post for my opinion of the Twilight series, and also the Valentine's Day post for further proof of my feelings).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Transplant Update: 3 Weeks in Paradise

I wish I was talking about Hawai'i, but I am not. Besides, my 4 year old niece Kate says I'm "too old" to go to Hawai'i even though she keeps asking when we're going to go. No, the paradise I'm talking about is the paradise of not going to dialysis and having a working kidney.

Yes, today is 3 weeks since my kidney transplant. I look great. I'm not trying to be all high and mighty on my looks, but I look significantly better than I ever did on dialysis. My face isn't puffy, I have color in my cheeks, my ankles are so skinny without all that fluid... okay so that does sound shallow but come on, it's been 2 years. I have energy, I don't have to get up at 5 am on Saturdays, I have to find the bathroom when I go places... it's fantastic.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Transplant Update: Wrist Bones

Well here we are, one plus week out from my kidney transplant and everything appears fine. My last creatinine (measure of kidney function) before I left the hospital last Tuesday was .57. I've never had a creatinine of .57 before. For those of you who are novice to this whole kidney function deal, .57 is really good. At last labs it was hanging in at .60.The surgery wasn't easy because of my first transplant and subsequent nephrectomy, but my surgeon has done about a million kidney transplants over his career and he was prepared. He got the kidney in and it started working, producing literally 1 liter of urine an hour that first night.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Transplant Update: Um... I'm Having a Kidney Transplant on Thursday


... So it's Monday. I'm having a kidney transplant on Thursday. [!!!] Holy cow.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Transplant Update: Noticeable Miracles

I am, by nature, not a very emotional person. I usually only cry when watching football movies. But today has been a kind of emotional day. I have been able to feel the love and support that has been radiating my way from many corners of the country today, and the fact that I know so many people are pulling for me is overwhelming and incredible.

Today as I sat in church, awed by the feeling of love I felt when I walked into the chapel, I reviewed in my mind the series of miracles that has happened so far to get us to this point. I am going to list them now because I want all 11 of you who read this blog to truly comprehend that is will be a miracle kidney.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Transplant Update: Sophie's Choice

Last week I posted I'd be getting a kidney in April... PSYCH!!  It turns out it is actually going to happen March 15th. Liz and I had requested, demanded even, that it be after April 1st because my parents are scheduled to be in Boston, yep, March 15-April 1 to help my brother and sister-in-law with their second baby. But apparently "medical necessity" for another recipient comes before planned trips- even if it's to help with the birth of a grandchild- and so it has been decreed.

Now we're in the middle our own "Sophie's Choice" on several different plains: Do my parents go to Boston for the baby or stay in Salt Lake City for the transplant? Maybe one can go and one can stay? Okay, which parent goes to Boston and which one stays? No one is willing to choose or say if they have a preference, and can you blame us? Each parent is equally willing, able, and qualified to go or stay. We know it will be fine no matter which goes where, and yet we seem to be stuck in a roundabout, going around in circles unable to exit- or decide.

The pressing uncertainty of how my surgery will go and how the kidney will respond to me is the factor in this equation that can not be determined. My limited knowledge of math prohibits me from making some sort of clever pun here, all I really know I learned from Mean Girls and the mathletes: The limit does not exist. That hardly seems relevant here.

What I do know is that I am a ruiner. I ruin things with my health issues & needs- at least that's what it feels like. Just when everything is fine, wait a time or two and I'll have pulmonary edema or 24+ hours of constant puking or need a kidney transplant right in the middle of everything else that's happening. Leave it to me and my ever constant health needs to put a damper on big occasions and disrupt previously scheduled events.

For now I'm staying in my room or baking a cake in the kitchen while everyone hits possible schedule scenarios back and forth. A kidney is scheduled to happen in 2 & 1/2 weeks and 11 dialysis treatments. I'll be at University Hospital at 5 pm on the 15th, rain or shine, snow or sleet, Mom or Dad.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012



I heard from my transplant coordinator today, my University of Utah Transplant coordinator Heidi, and I've been offered a kidney through the National Kidney Registry Paired Donor Exchange! Actually, I knew about this a few weeks ago but held off making a formal announcement until the compatibility testing came back from all the centers.
My sister Liz and I are part of a kidney chain consisting of 4 pairs at 4 different transplant centers throughout the country. Each center has to run compatibility testing for each potential pair, and each pair has come back as a compatible match in order for the chain to be complete. All four of the centers ran the testing, and all 4 pairs came back compatible so we're having a transplant!

The next step in the kidney chain process is to schedule the surgeries. Because the transplant centers are in 4 different states, it will take between 9 and 10 hours to get the kidney from the donor to the recipient. The centers will work with the donors' schedules and the surgeons' schedules (the recipients have no say, but that's alright. We don't have much to do except dialysis anyway.) to get the transplants all scheduled, but it will be sometime in April. Watch this space for updates on the transplant!

This transplant has been a long time coming. If you read this blog or know me, it's been over 2 years since my last kidney rejected and I've been on dialysis. There is finally some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Apparently, this kidney chain is part of some miracle, because I had an antigen in my blood that was making it very hard to find anyone that would match with me. Sometime between when I had my H&I test drawn in December and when I had it drawn in January, something changed and that difficult antigen disappeared, thereby making me compatible with this mystery donor in another state and making it possible to make this small kidney chain.

I've often wondered why it's been taking so long to get things transferred to the IMC program- I've been working on it since last June. Now I understand why, if I had been in the IMC program, this may not have been possible as their standing in the NKR is on hold presently. As much trouble as I've had with the U.'s transplant program, I am grateful that they have worked to participate in this chain and eventually get me a kidney. I found out about the possibility of this on a Saturday, and the next day I sat in church listening to my neighbor play a beautiful rendition of "Be Still My Soul" and I knew at that moment that everything would work out.

To learn more about kidney chains and the National Kidney Registry, visit this link to a really great New York Times article.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just a Girl in a Fantasy World

Last weekend I did something I've never done before, I went to a writing conference. And not just any writing conference, a fantasy fiction writing conference. Anybody who knows me and my preferred reading/writing genre knows this is not really my style or likeness at all. My friend Heather was going with a few friends and invited me as a way of getting me in contact with some local editors so hopefully one of them will take a chance on an unknown kid and give me a job as an editorial assistant (though Heather did tell me later she was really hoping to convert me to fantasy. Not going to happen!).

I'd been preparing myself for Life, The Universe, & Everything (or LTUE) and what I'd come across there. I was expecting a lot of nerds- obviously- and I wasn't disappointed. I was surprised to find a lot of Mormon moms there- some with their small children in tow, which I find annoying- and a few of whom were gushing over my new kate spade. There were a lot of famous writers I'd never heard of, a fully grown woman wearing a cookie monster hat, and plenty of self-aggrandising on the part of the attendees.

For the most part, the panels were useless to me as I don't write nor read fantasy/science fiction. By the end of Friday, after being at the conference in Utah County from 9 am to 7 pm, I found myself missing the comfort and non-judgemental familiarity of Salt Lake County. There were some good moments though, and one panel actually gave me a break through about my own inability to write my book in a pleasing manner.

We were in the "Writing  Excuses" podcast panel, and one of the guests was a writer named Michael Brent Cummings. He spoke briefly about having lost a child, and how that experience has led him to be able to  write about it in a believable manner now that he is out of the situation. That's when I realized why I can't write about my rejected kidney, finishing school on and living with dialysis- I'm still in the middle of the situation. I'm fairly certain I won't be able to write the book until after I've had a successful kidney transplant, and who knows when that's going to be. I guess I need another idea of what to write, and it's not going to be a fantasy novel.

Other good things: The keynote speaker as a guy named James Owens and he was fantastic. It was more of a motivational speech than "Look at how great and successful I've been in my career!" type of deal. What I really took from his address was this: Don't trade what you want most for what you want most at the moment. And I know this has been said a million times before, but he really drove it home with experiences and it seemed more poignant somehow this time around. (break) I went to a local publishers panel and learned the names of some people to contact about jobs in publishing. Just like for writers, local publishers can be a stepping stone to national ones for girls who just want to edit. (break) There was a panel called "Writers on  Writing" with some cool guys (Dan Wells, Tracey Hickman, Dave Wolverton, Lee Modesitt, & Brandon Sanderson) who talked about the triumphs and struggles of being a writer. It was neat to hear a guy who's had a phenomenal writing career talk about how right now is the hardest point of his career. (break) Our hotel basically shared a parking lot with Krispy Kreme so we stopped and got a dozen on our way back from dinner. Chocolate glazed is the best.(break) I got the email address of an editor who might have something for me to do. All I have to do now is email her my resume.

It was an interesting weekend. I did not go to the panel about how to draw a dragon, or the one about creating languages, or the one about injecting romance into your ghost story, but I learned a few things and made a few friends and told a number of people that I did not go to school at UVU so no, I don't know where random building is, but since they all seem to be connected in one long hallway with classrooms on the side, just walk this way or that and you're bound to find what you're looking for. It's always interesting to see how the other half lives.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things I Care Less About than Valentine's Day

  • Any person, show, fragrance, clothing line, marriage containing one or more Kardashian
  • NHL pre, regular, or post season
  • NBA lockouts
  •  The Twilight Saga
  • Any vampire media of any kind
  • Any movie Kristen Stewart is in
  • For that matter, Kristen Stewart
  • Sushi
  • Photos with sayings people post on facebook
  • The feud between Disney Channel stars
  • Rachel Ray
  • Jeremy Lin
  • Jimmer Fredette
  • Anything "Jimmer" related
  • The name "Jimmer"
  • The difference in smartphones
  • The difference in smartphone carriers
  • The difference in smartphone plans
  • The Office
  • MTV programming
  • Major League Baseball* 
  • What someone's eating and whether or not it's "yummy"
  • Words that aren't words (see "Rachel Ray" above)
  • A moon colony run by Newt Gingrich
  • American Idol
  • Political support surveys
  • Ever traveling to India, Africa, Asia, or South America
  • New Years Eve
  • Twitter, who's "tweeting" what, and "trending topics"
  • News programs that use twitter as a reliable source
  • Any Fox News program
  • Chili
  • Recorded telephone solicitations
  • Veganism
  • What your sexual preference is**
  • Matt Barkley
  • People who act like gigantic tools
  • Shows that replace Community
  • and of course, Hugh Jackman***
* Go Sox!
** Just be a good person and I don't care who you love
*** I actually don't have a problem with Hugh Jackman, it's a Scrubs reference

I just don't understand why you need a special day with overpriced tokens of affection to tell someone you love them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dialysis Anniversary (& Stats!)

Monday, January 30th, 2012, marked two years that I've been on dialysis. I remember this time last year I didn't think I could possibly be on dialysis this time this year, but clearly I was wrong. It's just like I said the first Christmas I was on dialysis, "If I'm on dialysis next Christmas, I'll kill myself." Well, I was, and I didn't. I just kept on surviving like I've done and will continue to do until the- what I feel is quite unlikely- transplant actually does happen. In honor of this 2 year mark,  I'd like to present some stats. Please read them with a hip hop beat in the background, if only to make things more lively.
  • Years on dialysis: 2
  • Number of treatments: 312 (roughly)
  • Hours of treatment: 1092
  • Number of kilos of fluid removed from my blood: 1248 (roughly)
  • That number in pounds: 2745.6
  • Number of times I've had to pee since 2009: 0
  • Flying on airplanes never having to pee: Advantaage
  • Number of cities traveled to while on dialysis: 6
  • Best visiting dialysis clinic: The Kidney Center,  Boston, Mass
  • Number of missed treatments: 0
  • Number of kidney related hospitalizations (in 2 years): 5
  • Number of dialysis related surgeries: 6
  • Number of current kidneys, working or non: 0
  • Number of stuffed kidneys with a face: 1
  • Number of months back at work while on dialysis: 20
  • Longest amount of time I've heard of someone being on dialysis: 31 years
  • Chances of me doing that: 0% chance
 That is a lot of fluid when you visualize that number. When you think about it, it's pretty amazing that dialysis can sustain someone's life when they're missing a major organ. It's not ideal, obviously, but it works until I can get a kidney. And for me, it's certainly better than the alternative.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Boardwalk Empire

I like to sit and watch the ocean. As the sun sets behind me, behind the plains, cities, and mountains of this country, it makes the sky it's leaving behind the most magnificent, almost soothing color. Like periwinkle, gray, and gold all mixed together in a meld of brilliance. On this boardwalk bench I sit, carnival sights sounds smells swirling around me from behind and to the left. Corn dogs and funnel cakes, ferris wheels and tilt-a-whirls, bells clanging and people jollying... it's a grand escape from the harsh reality of the real world. An over-sized tiger floats past me with balloons, the neon lights bright against the darkening midnight sky. I look back at the ocean, so steady, so firm, so dependable. Waves lap at the sand like a tongue reaching for a Tootsie Pop. All day, all night, lapping, licking, crashing into the beach; the sand stays, takes the beating, knows what's coming and refuses to leave. It becomes better, stronger, reliable with every tick. It knows it's place, it knows it's purpose and it accepts it. The ocean doesn't budge and neither do I. I am cemented to this bench, eyes fixed on the fading light in the sky and the darkening vastness of the Atlantic. Somewhere over the horizon I wonder if my fate is waiting for me. I wonder what my fate is, what it means for me and where it will take me one day. The steadiness of the breaking waves steadies me and my wandering mind. So often I feel lost, so often I feel alone- even when surrounded by people I feel alone sometimes. I'm missing what they all have and hope has slipped away at ever getting it for myself. So I feel lost and alone, unrelatable and unremarkable. My thoughts drift away like I'm lost in the ocean... what if I'd stayed at that small college I went to right out of high school, what if my kidneys hadn't failed the first time, or rejected the second time, what if I'd taken a chance on Joey, the boy I loved for such a long time? What if I'd really loved him like I wanted to? How would my life be different now? I'm brought back to the present by the blinking lights of a liner in the distance and I know it's no use. You can't change biology and that's what most of this boils down to, one way or another. It's funny how different the Atlantic is from the Pacific. It's a different experience to sit on a Pacific beach and watch the sunset. With a Pacific beach, you seem to always know what's coming. You know when the sun is gone because you see it dip below the water. You can watch a storm roll in from the West, turmoiling the water and changing the sky. You know it's coming, you can prepare, and then you can weather the storm and watch for the clear skies that always, eventually come after it. With an Atlantic sunset, you watch the light fade from the sky until it's gone, The storms take you by surprise as you stare into the east, waiting for the sun to come back, and you only know it's over when the clouds subside towards England, bringing the rain and gray to London. Until that time comes you can only hold your umbrella and wonder if the storm will ever end. Now as I sit, staring, wondering, waiting, the night rips the last bit of brilliance from the sunset behind me. With the light gone I feel hope has drained, though deep inside I know it's been gone for ages. As I've watched the ones I love come and go, marry and have children, move on and up, I seem to always stay the same. I don't know how to change it- as I've tried desperately my entire adult life- and I don't understand why it doesn't happen for me. The disappeared sun seems to have left a void, one I don't notice all the time but lately seems to be rearing its sad little head all too often and likens itself to the oddest metaphors when I write.Maybe the key is to not write. Maybe it's to move on and ultimately accept what life has handed me. The ocean, dark and black and vast now without the illumination of the sun, continues to wear at the sand. I think to my self, "I am lost, I am vain, I will never be the same without you" as I close my eyes and listen to the carnival behind me and to the left. And I know, I will never be the same without you, whoever you are.

To see what I mean click here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paris est la plus Belle sous la Pluie

Mon ceour pleure pour Paris. La lumière, la ville, la romance, la culture... je voudrais aller Paris tellement affreusement mais je besoin de une greffe de rein premier. Avec un soupier.

I've never been to Paris. I've stared across the English Channel at where I imagine it is, but grey rough water was really all I could see. I've never stepped foot onto French soil, never revered the hallowed beaches at Normandy, or grazed wildflowers with my hand on a walk through the countryside. I've never ridden the Metro or seen la Tour Eiffel light up at night. Seulement dans le ciné, seulement dans mon rève.

J'aime le film "Midnight in Paris". It makes me think that if I went to Paris, if I spent some time in the city, wandering at night and sight seeing during the day, I might actually be able to write my book and it might actually be really beautiful. Je veux me trouver à Paris. Je pense que la vie est un continuellement se retrouver. Et je veux me trouver à Paris.

Un jour, je vais obtenir un rein et aller à Paris. Un jour, je vais tenir sous la Tour Eiffel at admirer la magnificence c'est. Un jour, je vais marcher à travers les jardins de Versailles. La histoire, la grandeur, la Champs-Elysées. Paris.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books I Read

I must be getting my drive to write back, because in the several year history of this blog, there has very rarely been a time when I publish a post so soon after publishing another one. Perhaps the writer's fatigue I've suffered from my last semester of college is finally wearing off. Maybe it's the zeal of the new year and the desire to actually make good on my resolution that is pushing me to write a bit more. Maybe I'm bored at work. Or maybe it's that my darling cousin Natalie recently asked me, in a comment on this very blog, what I read and where I get my inspiration from and this is in response to that.

In a fiction writing workshop I took during my undergrad, from one of my all time favorite professors, Nicole Sheets, we read what felt like a lot, and wrote response to what we read. Nicole said the purpose of this exercise was simple: the better reader you are, the better writer you are. As you may or may not know, I have a debilitating condition in my retinas and though it's been stable for quite a few years, I have some irreversible damage to my right retina, which causes me to read quite slowly and also have some trouble reading sometimes if I'm tired or the light is bad. This condition causes me to not read nearly as much as I should or would like to.

So when I do pick up a book, I'm pretty picky. It doesn't help that I'm also hard to please when it comes to genre, writing style, and characters. For example, have I ever read a Harry Potter book? No. Will I ever read a Harry Potter book? No. Not because I'm 29 and they're for adolescents or I don't think J.K. Rowling isn't a brilliant writer and story teller. It's because fantasy will almost never find a home in my life (see list below for exceptions; Tolkien is always an exception). I've tried to read it, and I usually can't do it. I can't make myself believe that this could be real. I actually find this to be very limiting and a little irritating, but I know I won't write fantasy because that's not what I'm good at.

What I'm good at, and subsequently what I usually like to read, is non-fiction. I think this genre is slightly overlooked by a lot of people, mainly because it can be, or seem, quite mundane to some people. And let's face it, a book chronicling the resurgence of political power by the Libertarian party isn't going to interest a large percentage of the American public. But everyone has a story, and lots of the time it's a pretty interesting story, and if it's told right, it can be cool to read about. What I like about non-fiction is that it's real, it happened to someone and someone gained something from the experience. (That's not to say all non-fiction is true. James Frey anyone? But that's a different discussion for a different day. It's also not to say that fiction never comes from real life experiences, but that too, is a different discussion for a different day).

Anyway, this has turned into quite the diatribe when all I was meaning to do was list some of my favorite books. So without further ado, here it is, the list!
  • The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea - Chelsea Handler
  • Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (this is for real! "I get lost in the language, words like 'thither', 'mischance'... 'fel-icity'.")
  • Cool, Calm, and  Contentious - Merrill Markoe (currently reading, and it's awesome)
  • Peter and Wendy - J.M. Barrie (also known as Peter Pan)
  • Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat who Touched the World - Vicki Myron
  • "The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes" - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Blind Side - Michael Lewis
  • "The Great American Essay" Series
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris
Some books I really want to read include:
  • The Boys of My Youth - Jo Ann Beard (out of print! :[ )
  • Steve Jobs - Walter Isaacson (which I got for Christmas and is 600 pages and 42 chapters long)
  • One Day It'll All Make Sense - Common (yes, the rapper)
And so there you have it. If you're so inclined, please leave a comment and tell me some of your favorite books or authors, or anything you think I should read, or how narrow-minded I am for not liking fantasy. Go nuts! I would also like to state that I absolutely abhor the Twilight series for several reasons which I will now list: bad, bad, bad, bad writing, the absolute worst female lead ever, ridiculous premise, and an awful message to all the pre-teen girls who are devouring those books that life does not go on if your vampire boyfriend leaves you. The End

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Remembering Tom & Andy

Every year around this time, a little black cloud settles over my world. It's not voluntary, it's almost mandatory, and there is little I can do about it. It generally goes away after January 6th and things can get back to normal.

This January 6th is the 13 year anniversary of the day my brothers died. 13 years feels like a long time, and I suppose that's because it is a long time. Much of the time, Tom & Andy don't come up in our everyday conversation. As time's worn on, our memories have progressed to a place that doesn't constantly focus on what's not here. But when I close my eyes, I can still see them perfectly- sitting in their room, listening to depression rock and laughing, Tom making cookies in the kitchen (he was the best with peanut butter and pumpkin chocolate chip), Andy painting on his fancy, beautiful easel with oil paints... such a steady hand, blending colors seamlessly in the backdrop on his work... my favorite is the sunflower- bright yellow petals against a fading, brilliant blue sky. Rich, green leaves seem to wave at you as the flower watches from it's canvas.

Tom & Andy were wonderful brothers. There were some rough years in there with Andy being addicted to heroin. That devil dictated his every move and he hurt many people because of it. There was a lot of anger and sadness in our family because of it, and when he came back and asked for forgiveness, it hurts me to admit that it took me much longer than it should have to let him back in. Regardless of those years and his transgressions, Andy was the coolest. It wasn't even anything he did, it was his demeanor and the way he treated people. He was charismatic and charming, and maybe it was my adolescent naivety but he always made me feel like I was the coolest too.

Tom was brilliant. Really, he was brilliant. He could do anything as long as it made sense to him, and things like science and engineering made sense to Tom. He could stay up for hours and days on end, work the night shift at Amoco while finishing his chemical engineering degree at the U. and stil be the wittiest person on earth. I loved going to visit Tom when he was working at the gas station because he'd let me get a soda from the fountain for only the cost of the cup, lid, and straw. That was roughly a dime, at least that's all he'd charge me. He was always trying to protect me from the harsh realities of the world... pretending the coffee smell in his car was something he was hauling to the station and not his preferred morning beverage... I guess he always wanted me to think the best of him, and I did; whether he was showing me his 20 page test that was 1 problem long, trying so hard to tutor me-the untutorable- in geometry, or even going night boarding at Brighton.

Now they're gone, as they have been since 1999. But last year a miracle happened. On January 6th, 2011, my nephew was born, a little boy named Thomas Andrew. I knew he'd be born on the 6th, he had to be. And Thomas is going to be as brilliant and charming as his namesakes. He already is. A kid that can capture the attention of a room just by entering it, and he can't even walk yet. He's brought sunshine and joy to a day my family has dreaded for 13 years, and though the deep meaning of the day still looms and beckons depression, Thomas crawls in, flaps his arms and kicks his legs, slips you that smile and chases the depression back into the recesses from whence it came. Thomas has literally saved the day.

Thomas was here visiting with his parents for Christmas this year. My other youngest nephew, Zach: son of Ben, was over on Christmas Eve, playing with Thomas as they opened their Christmas Eve presents. As I watched them play I couldn't help but see my brothers in those two beautiful boys.