Saturday, September 20, 2014

33 - My Jesus Year

Last year, Mike and I celebrated our birthdays on the Amalfi Coast. This year we celebrated the morning with a snuggle with Maple in California.  At 32, I felt more grounded than I do today and yet I was tethered to nothing except Mike. Now I am tethered to Mike and Maple and, as of recently, California. And yet, I feel more than ever as if I am floating, but not floating. More like violently jerking. Some kid's balloon in a strong wind.

I have gone crazy over this dog. I know it. I am pouring all of the motherly energy that has been bottling up for quite some time into this little life and while I never thought I would be a crazy dog person, suddenly I am. It's nice to know I still can surprise myself and that something can affect me on such a primal level. I have wanted a dog for a long time, but right now I need a dog for so many reasons. And of course, it was not great timing and didn't not make the most sense. But to me, it has been the only thing that makes sense for quite some time.

When I was 25, my old boss and mentor said to me, "Fear...." then he knocked on a table. "It's as real as this table." He went on to say it's the reason you go out and get wasted instead of sitting down to write or budgeting your Indie film. It's the reason you put things off for twenty years, pursuing a career everyone tells you you are good at, but one you know in your heart was actually the easier choice. There has been a lot of that lately, that fear, as thick as wood. So thick when I wake up I feel like I am walking, face first, into a closed door that makes me just want to go back to bed. But instead, I listen to music. Hozier, to be specific. And today, Feist.

I know there is a reason we landed here. I have to trust that reason will appear. But it's hard to keep face planting. I tell myself that my life is by design. I am not a victim here. I am an eager and willing volunteer. My life is out of order because I chose it to be. We got married and spent the nest egg because travel was our number one priority. This is what happens next - the messy unknown. But no matter what I tell myself, it doesn't make it any less isolating.

Over dinner at Dupars the other day, my Dad told me 33 was going to be a good year. I told him 33 was a big year for Jesus, too, but it still sucked. Another friend emailed me the same thing - "Happy birthday! It's your Jesus year!" The promise of great things ahead. In all honesty, I would feel pretty accomplished if I could turn water into wine. But turning my skills and interests into a job would be a nice consolation prize.  But then I think to myself, Jesus was a simple man with no money but a heart of gratitude and love. I may not have 12 disciples, but I have friends who would never betray me, a family who is thrilled to have me home,  a dog that loves me because I pet her belly, and a husband who surprised me with tickets to a Black Keys concert. So, shit, maybe 33 is shaping up to be pretty epic. I mean, who doesn't want puppy snuggles to start off your birthday?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Where is Harry Hancock?

Remember one of my all time favorite Tuesday Treats, Harry Hancock? Check out the latest...


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

All That Is Good

Maple the Pup
A couple days ago, I was nominated on Facebook by my cousin's girlfriend (whom I adore) to do a gratefulness challenge. Since a gratitude list is my first "go-to" when I am feeling blue, I decided I would rather have it here on my blog as a place I can always look at it when I'm down. This exercise could not come at a better time, so the first thing I am grateful for is.....

1.  Jessica Serrano, whose kindness comes through in every aspect of her life - with family, with her job working with children, with her dog, and especially with my cousin, Gilen, who holds a very special place in my heart.

Gilen and Shaun
2. My cousin, Gilen, who was born almost exactly ten years after me. I got to witness a lot of Gilen's child milestones first hand and because of that he became a great teacher for me, too. I can't ever remember hearing a complaint from Gilen. Even when he was eight and in almost an entire body cast during a summer in the San Fernando Valley with a glistening pool teasing him from his backyard, he never pitied himself.

3. My cousin Gian, and his awesome partner, Liz. Like all of the Guenthers, Gian is like a brother to me and I couldn't be more excited for him and his new path, a path that won't be easy but will be complimented by Liz, who has one of the most level heads on any person I think I've ever met. Gian teaches me to keep an open mind especially when called to a career that is meant to be completely selfless and of service. And I'm grateful for Liz who though she has a level head that I can connect with, she also likes to shake it like a salt shaker.

4. Gary and Kerrie and the four amazing little girls who embody the spunk, the athleticism, and the charm of their parents. I'm grateful that no matter how long I've been out of California and away from home, when I text Gary that I'm in need of car insurance immediately, he calls me back willing to help out (after he gets a few good razzes in).  Dependability is something the Guenthers are not in short supply of. And I'm grateful to Kerrie for her honesty and humor which often go hand in hand.

Lauren & Maple
5. Gret and Brandie for being more than family, but friends, and my godsons who make me laugh in a way that no one else can. I'm grateful to them all for giving me the best gig around town - the godmother who gets to take them to places like arcades and trampoline zones, but also gets to see their faces when a light bulb goes off and they put together an English sentence they feel proud of.

6. Gail and Guy - aunt and uncle extraordinaire - who are really more like another set of parents- the ones that believe in tough love but also that mama-bear-tribal love that teaches family is first, always, no matter what.

7. My brother, Shaun, and my soon-to-be sister-in-law, Lauren, who have been so supportive of Mike and I in our transition back. These two teach me all the time that there is always more room. The heart never fills up. There is always room for more friends, more puppies, more families, more wine, more Simpsons. They have opened up more than their homes to us, but also throw us invitations to their circle of friends all the time, and have trusted us on occasion with their greatest treasure of all- Wally!

Dee and Morgan
8. My friends, Morgan and Scott, and their little girl Dee,  and their three dogs. Visiting the Shanahans is a family affair in all the best ways. Morgan has not only given me work to help get me back on my feet, but also continually gives me faith that everything will work out. Scott, who shows me all the time that change is hard but necessary and also knows how to deliver sage advice right at the moment when I'm about to give up hope. Dee, who holds a special place in my heart from our days gallivanting around New York City. (Okay, so she was 10 months and it was just a couple afternoons, but they were awesome!) But Dee continues to give hugs just when I need them. And their dogs for encouraging me to get my own dog, something I have wanted for a long time but have been too scared to commit to.

9. My Maid-of-Honor who hates being publicly called out on social media. But for giving me patience and honesty and helping me talk things out like a damn professional. Her opinion really should be worth its weight in gold because she deserves a lot of money for the shit she comes up with.

Me and the Boys
10. Carmen and Vio and their hubbies, Eli and Francesco (respectively) and all of their amazing kids who, when I'm with them, make me look at life through a way more interesting and funny perspective. They are my New York and Philly families, without which, I would not be who I am today.

11. Mike's family, who teach me that there is always more room and there is always more food and more wine! The Bacchiones and Zellers love nothing more than to spend time with each other. They have a family bond that is infectious no matter how near or far I am from them.

12. Jeff and Erin, who I feel like have become some of Mike's and mine closest couple friends. I am grateful to them both for their humor and their temperament, but even more so their curiosity and zeal for life, something we all can get down with - whether it's dancing in a Turkish alley with a gypsy,  roadtrippin' across the country to help a brother out, or staying up late talking in an airbnb in San Francisco the night before big job interviews. I love these guys a little more deeply every time I see them.

Julie and Laurel
13. Songadeewin and NYU and all the people in between. Without NYU, I would never have had Songa. Without Songa I would have never had most of my best friends and my husband. I am also incredibly grateful that this year alone, I have been able to re-connect with friends from NYU, (even my long lost roommate, Alma!) Songa friends from New Zealand to New York, Philly to Louisiana, Vermont to California, and the conversation and love is always right where we left off. Megs, Court, Julie, Laurel - that shit runs deep.

14. The life I created in New York will forever be a part of me, as well as the friends, experiences, subway rides, and restaurants that come with it. I still have not said goodbye to you, New York, and I don't think I have to. I honestly feel it is just goodbye for now.

15. Traveling around the fucking world. Even though I have been struggling to get back on my feet, I wouldn't change a thing.

16. My mom who teaches me to just keep moving.

17. My dad whose endless support in my life and especially since coming back has made my "struggle" more of an esoteric one than an actual struggle.  I'm grateful he has opened up his home for me and Mike and I'm so grateful for this time with my dad where we actually sit down and have dinner together as if we are making up for all the ones we lost when I was in New York.

Mike and Me
18. Mike, who I recently described to someone as "a man who is filled with joy and serenity most of the day, everyday." Where do I even begin? The man married me well after he knew better. And he continues to love me through all the snot, tears, crazy ideas, and transitions.

19. Maple - my pup. I have wanted a dog for a long time and I think this one actually found me. She is teaching me patience and humility, a much needed dose of it.

20. And lastly,  I am grateful for my health and my body, especially the latter which I so often like to criticize. I don't have the nicest bod in a bikini, but I'm stronger than hell.