In Which I Spend an Awful Lot of Time Talking About Dishes

Hey! Remember when Thanksgiving happened? I do the same thing every year: I intend to ROCK OUT with a whole slew of Thanksgiving-related blog posts. I make such a big goddamn deal out of the holiday in real life that you'd think my blog would reflect that. Maybe take a yearly dive into recipe blogging and 500-word entries about napkins. Show you the real depths of my vintage glassware obsession. (It's deep, man. Like The Descent, only with more bowls.) Instead, I completely freak out over EVERYTHING that needs to be done in preparation for Thanksgiving that my blog basically sits silent while its author runs around like a headless turkey hopped up on coffee brine in the distant background. Then I gorge myself on challah-bread stuffing and sleep for four days straight. IN OTHER WORDS, will y'all please indulge me and look at some pictures? You actually don't have to really look at them — I'll never know if you keep your Minecraft window open — just type a fake-appreciative mmm-hmmm in the comments and I'll be happy. First: Something old. Or, well. A lot of somethings old. I have cobbled... Read more →


Wifi Refugee Camp

So we (along with two million of our closest friends) lost power on Friday night during the storm LAND HURRICANE WHAT THE FREAKING HELL. We'll likely remain without power for several more days, because fuck us, that's why. (Also: massive trees and downed lines all over the place. That too.) It's been a long weekend of driving around in the car to keep our phones charged and our children entertained, which sounds easy until you suddenly realize oh hi empty gas tank and powerless gas stations as far as the non-functioning GPS can see because the cell towers are out and WHAT IS THIS LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE? I NEED INFORMATION ABOUT WHERE TO FIND COFFEE. But besides the fact that my children's bedroom is 90+ degrees and smells like the inside of a gym bag (and let's be honest, my children ain't much better), we are fortunate. We live pretty much in the dead honest center of where the storm touched down. The big trees that fell on our street missed cars and roofs and — oh jebus — people. I battled Wizard-of-Oz style mid-storm to get our wildly flapping screen doors shut and bolted but in the... Read more →


Things We Broke While On Vacation

1) The shower. Okay, first of all, you need to know something about our Ocean City vacations. We stay for free with Jason's great-aunt and great-uncle, who retired there. Who are very nice and gracious and welcoming, but also COMPLETELY KIND OF TERRIFYING. I mean, first, they're in-laws. Distant in-laws. That's baseline intimidating already. And all my in-laws have this quiet, measured, Germanic stoicism about them, which is the complete opposite of my family. We're a bunch of hand-talking Irish drunks with voice immodulation syndrome. Plus...well, they are very particular and set-in-their-ways and they keep their condo impeccably clean and organized, having mastered the "living in small quarters" thing to an enviable degree. And then we show up. And basically wreak havoc and disaster all over the damn place. Every year the amount of STUFF we have to lug there grows exponentially. Not surprising, given that every other year we seem to show up with a whole new family member in tow. More suitcases, more bags, more toddling towers of childproofing terror. Now with bonus lightsabering pool noodles! They like children, at least. And they especially like babies a whole lot. But they don't particularly like said babies and children... Read more →


The Christmas That Ate Everything

As in, ALL THE FOOD. ALL THE COOKIES. ALL THE WINE. ALL THE BRAIN CELLS. Hello! And happy 2012. Sorry for slacking off last week. After Instagramming the shit out of Christmas Day, I guess I got distracted by our hosting duties, my new-found mastery at making pâte à choux and filling it with horribly fattening delicious things, and Noah's pleas to assemble ALL THE LEGOS. If you ain't no punk holla We Want Legos WE WANT LEGOS! The Spongebob house (worst set EVER, was missing a ton of pieces and will fall apart if you breathe on it too hard) was a brief diversion from the True Meaning Of Christmas, however, which was: STAR TREK MORE STAR TREK GOOD GOD COULD THERE BE ANY MORE STAR TREK IN THIS PICTURE (Judging from the complete Enterprise Bridge Model Playset with Poseable Action Figures and Various Other Impossibly Tiny Pieces currently taking over my entire living room floor, the answer is YES.) "It's not that big, I don't think," my mom texted me re: this cardboard spaceship. Lies! Such lies! My mom was actually the one who had to go to the emergency room on Christmas eve. Her calf and ankle... Read more →


Helplessly Devoted

Allow me to come clean, albeit vaguely, for minute or two. I am fine -- Jason is fine, the boys are fine -- but several people I love are not. At all. I can't get into details about who and what and when, because these are not my stories to tell, but just to give you a basic sampling of ALL THE AWESOME THINGS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, we have: inpatient rehab, depression, calls to a suicide hotline, impending financial doom, death, loss, suffocating grief, spread amongst several different friends and family members. All at once. BOOM. Hi! You're welcome! Love, August. (P.S. Fuck you.) I am not a "fixer." I kind of get bugged by "fixers." You know the type. You tell them your problems and they immediately pepper you with helpful, practical suggestions, and you're like: Wait. Did I make it sound like I was done wallowing? Because I'm pretty sure I'm not done wallowing. So could you please dial it back to sympathetic head pats and save your to-do list of Actionable Items To Better My Own Situation for later? (Note: Jason is a fixer, though I have successfully managed to make him recognize this as a character... Read more →


Imprint

I haven't cried since that night. I've teared up a couple times, my voice has wavered now and then, I've stood deer-in-the-headlights style at a party waiting for the topic of conversation to move on from cute stories about other people's fathers, but I haven't cried. That is, until this arrived in the mail: That's my dad's thumbprint. I took the impression while sitting with him after I could no longer talk with him. Some people take photos or locks of hair, I rolled up balls of purple-and-white putty and gingerly pressed his fingertips into them. This is it, I thought the whole time. This is IT. I suppose I'd known before then -- after all, I'd specifically requested the compound be overnighted ahead of our visit, just in case. On the Friday before he passed away I told him about Janessa and the fingerprint jewelry she offered to make for me and my mom, and I felt...weird, like YO I KNOW YOU'RE DYING AND ALL BUT IMMA GONNA MAKE ME A NECKLACE, OKAY? He didn't think it was weird at all. He thought it sounded like a lovely idea. Still, though. I left the compound in my suitcase until... Read more →


Yellow & Black & Read All Over

Hidden among my father's rows and rows of books -- every book that had ever landed on the high school English curriculum list, plus a few from the banned column, for good measure -- was an impressive stash of Cliffs Notes. I remember being surprised by the huge number of yellow-and-black-striped study guides one day while digging around for something to read, something more challenging than the pathetic selection of Christian young adult fiction-with-a-Jesus-message my school's library offered. I think I was on a Thomas Hardy kick, or maybe it was Vonnegut by that point. Either way, I knew I'd find something that would alternately impress and/or horrify my own English teacher, but I wasn't expecting the Cliffs Notes. I knew exactly what they were, and how most of my peers used them: For cheating. You read the guide and not the book, and hopefully gleaned enough information to bullshit your way through class discussions and tests. They were a safer bet than renting a movie version that might have changed everything, but of course they cost a lot more, and you ran the risk of having a teacher or parent catch you with them. And then there was my... Read more →


Two Thousand Sixty-Seven

On Tuesday, last week, I took Ezra for a check-up at a new pediatrician. "Okay, family history," the doctor said cheerfully, turning to her computer. "Heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer? Are all the grandparents still living?" "My dad," I said. "Is not. He died yesterday." "I'm so sorry," she said. "It's okay," I said. *** On Wednesday, last week, I took a train back up to Pennsylvania. As I rose to get off, my bag knocked over my seatmate's coffee cup. "Oh!" she gasped. "Oh shit!" I muttered. "I'm so sorry." "It's okay," she said. *** A very nice man asked me if I needed help with my suitcase as we boarded the elevator out on the track. I told him no thanks, my toddler weighed more than this, and HE didn't come with wheels and a handle, so I was good. He laughed. Then he sighed. "And NOW I have to go to work." And now I have to go help plan a funeral, I thought, but did not say. Instead, I smiled. "That sucks. I'm so sorry." *** A couple hours later I was ordering a cake. The baker asked if I wanted anything written on it, or... Read more →


The How

When we got there on Friday, it was March 25th, and he was reading the Kindle I’d gotten him for Christmas. He was in a hospital bed in the living room and looked thin and pale and waxy, but he was reading his Kindle. He told me I looked good, referring to my super-pronounced-looking pregnant belly, and I think I said something dumb, like "you too!" that I immediately regretted. But honestly, compared to how he'd look in just a matter of hours, it was true. Noah walked in and surveyed the room. “PopPop, you sure are sick, aren’t you,” he observed matter-of-factly. Ezra, thankfully, did not parrot my pre-visit explanations, but merely stuck his finger in his mouth and requested PopPop make his trademark popping sound with his finger and cheek. He obliged, laughing. Ezra giggled, as delighted with the trick as I’d been as a kid. We hugged, we talked, we gossiped. He teased me about my hair, which he has not particularly liked since I dyed it red. “It’s looking better!” he said earnestly, referring to the neglected, washed-out, two-inches-of-dingy-blond-roots state it’s currently in. Jason and the boys left to stay at his parents’ house; I stayed... Read more →


Selective Hearing

This is the last post in the More Birthdays campaign, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I imagine it's pretty obvious by now that I didn't really have a plan or theme for this "series," but just sat down each time and started typing and hoped that I'd stumble upon a point or insight somewhere along the way. Honestly, most of the time I just crossed my fingers that I wouldn't get an ominous phone call in between the draft stage and the publish button. I guess, as usual, the best place to start is with the dry, basic facts: The doctors told my dad it was time to stop the chemotherapy. He opted...not to take that advice, and got his oncologist to concede that as long as he kept his blood count numbers just above a bargain-basement level, he could probably continue with chemo. He heard: There's still hope. The cancer has spread to his lymph nodes. But not as much as the doctors thought. His spleen is enlarged. But not as enlarged as it could be. Again, he heard: Hope. After multiple cancellations, at least one infection, some antibiotics and I don't even know how many transfusions, he's... Read more →