February 26, 2006


Saturday was St. Louis' Soulard Mardi Gras festival. I obviously couldn't make it back, but I received the amicable and slurred voice message on my phone from RL at the end of the night: “You love Mardi Gras with (ML). It’s so fun riding the Metro.” (the Metro Link is St. Louis’ city train system.) His voicemail gave me a good laugh, and reminded me yet again how eternally grateful I am to be armed with such a vast array of cities where I’ve lived and have traveled. I was speaking with a friend the other day who has less interest in seeing places than I, and in my disbelief and amazement at her indifference about it, my mind turned over a rapidfire montage of various corners of the country I've seen. I explained to her that when I'm walking through the airport terminal here in Richmond, hanging above the baggage claim area are video monitors announcing which flights' arrivals' bags are being deposited where. It's a constant stack of city names: Atlanta, Indianapolis, New York. Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis. And so forth. Every time I walk beneath these monitors a little bit of arrogant admiration of my own experience and memories creeps in. I feel proud of the mileage I've put on this body I carry around, I explained to my friend. But going back to the Mardi Gras I shared with these two incredible people (RL and his wife ML) a couple of years ago, I mentioned it briefly way back but didn't really do it justice. I doubt I can: it's really just a giant street party, a day packed with cold beverages, crawfish, costumes, beads and an exaggeratedly risen noise level. It's St. Louis' chance to emulate what New Orleans is best at celebrating. My friend who doesn’t particularly like travel, when we spoke, dropped a comment about how she has determined all places are the same. This doesn't hold an ounce of truth from my perspective, and while I appreciate those who settle in one location and take pleasure in it, I regard my travel experiences as the fabrics stitched together that have made me who I am today. My Mardi Gras with RL and ML remains a crisp memory: from our breakfast at my apartment in the morning all the way through the day of weaving through the crowds in Soulard. ML has a uniquely wry sense of humor that can catch you off guard if you're not prepared for it, and she and I spent a good deal of the afternoon introducing ourselves to groups of St. Louisans who filled the streets like bobbing strands of colorful tiki lights. By some small miracle we even managed to run into several of RL’s and my co-workers. Cell phones didn't work; the crowd was too massive, the streets too littered with discarded plastic cups, abandoned beads, the stray feather boa dropped by mistake. It was such an epic afternoon of good friends and even a community parade which toured the streets. The houses in Soulard and buildings and bars each have their own personalities, all characters of a story, standing side by side like obedient sentinels. Almost anywhere in Soulard you can poke your head around the corner of a building and there is the Arch in the distance. As I once mentioned, the human arch was a thing we invented , and I didn't dare post pictures of friends at that time, but I've since decided it's a wonderful way to pay tribute to such great people. The human arch was our response to being long-term tourists in St. Louis. I'm using long-term tourist to describe what we are, those of us who move every year or so, stopping briefly to meet some locals, perform our duties at work, and pick up and move along to the next wonderful place. Thus far I've had the pleasure of living (as an adult) in supremely interesting cities: Detroit, St. Louis, Atlanta, and now Richmond. (I say supremely interesting to vaguely cover Detroit, which was a place that I loathed while I lived there, although now in hindsight I can discern its good from its bad: Comerica Park, Hockeytown, the Red Wings, proximity to Canada, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, first dates with Craig!!, etc.) St. Louis stands out clearly as my favorite city so far, Atlanta had its moments and now Richmond is showing us a really good time, too. I hesitate to announce the news yet here of our next destination, for fear it will not prove true if I declare it to be so, but I will say this much: if it unfolds as our next reality, an absolute fantasy I’ve had for years will be filled. Everything will change, from our transportation means to our grocery excursions to the size of our living space. And something I can confess will be true of this place unlike anywhere I’ve lived to date, if we move there, I will consider myself a resident from the onset. It may be unfair to those who originated there, or who have lived there for years, but I feel like everything we’ve done and seen so far, together and respectively, has culminated toward this big transition. Of course, as summer draws nearer and our time in Richmond shortens, and as the decision is confirmed, I will be able to speak more freely of this. But in the meantime, I want to thank each city I’ve seen for every thread it has contributed to my existence, every memory I have folded inside of each of those cities, the conversations exchanged with interesting people, the cramped seats to see hockey at Joe Louis Arena, the bloody martini with a pickle at the Double Olive, monstrous 6-egg omelettes at L. George’s, vegetable spring rolls at Pho Grand on South Grand, Mississippi Nights at the Landing, Cardinals fever, Midtown Atlanta’s weekend summer music festival, Little 5 Points’ Variety Playhouse (Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara!), Vortex burgers, Bottom’s Up Pizza in Shockoe Bottom, and Café Gutenburg’s illy cup of coffee…and so much, much, much more…for all of these things (and I didn’t even mention the many East Coast places Craig took me while he was in Hartford and then Syracuse!) I am so grateful to cities, for their unique localities, their spices of life. Indeed I missed being at Mardi Gras this year, missed RL and ML and their endless comedy routines, but thus far the Richmond locals that we’ve met have shown us the highlights of living here. I hope I can cram in as much more as possible before the next adventure begins…

February 23, 2006


It's rare instances that you encounter or accomplish something that fills a void you possibly didn't know you had. I'm positive I've known my whole life that language fills my voids, countless voids, spaces where there are supposed to be words but I don't have the right ones and someone else comes along and writes them, or speaks them. But then there have been times where I didn't know I needed something and it has smartly slid up next to me, as in the case (a second time around) of the book we're reading for Book Club now. This was my selection. My first collision with this book took place in Detroit while I had fistfuls of Saturdays free to mope about not being with Craig. At the time and as a distraction from moping, I read this book in one sitting. To refresh myself, and to get some outside perspective, I selected this for Book Club. I've gotten the impression from the other girls that this isn't the best book they've ever read, and that they likely could have done without this one in our repertoire (as an aside, we haven't officially met on this selection yet so I run the risk of making presumptions based on a few offhanded remarks in passing thus far). And in another moment of my life I might not have wanted to share it, might have wanted to hide it amongst the spines of my book collection, unobtrusive, my own favorite without the danger of someone else deciding it was their favorite, too (a strange selfish notion I once vaguely believed in but have since moved beyond to become the tender-hearted and giving person that I am today). Nevertheless, I've refinished half of the book and rediscovered why it filled such gaping spaces in me that I hadn't known I needed filled. There is a precision to her language typically unique to that of a surgeon replacing a heart. There are pages after pages of phrasing that demand much more than a brief scan or a single half-absorbed read, phrases that deliver punches, plant kisses, or tickle behind the knee. She doesn't just write these words as an author; her narrator breathes them right off the pages. I've attempted in vain to consider a few reviews of this book written shortly after its publication, and each review refreshes the skeleton of the story: Math teacher, kind of crazy, losing dad to unnamed illness. Boy meets crazy girl. They fall in love. She's still eccentric. Crazy math teacher, obsessed with numbers. And I by no means can claim masterful abilities to review a book, but I think the point is repeatedly missed: the narrator in this book constantly clings to her eccentricity to pump the blood in her veins, yes. A fire of more normal reality than her own is lit in her by a man, yes. She doesn't know how to deal with pending loss, yes. But these themes, while certainly common in literature, contemporary fiction, movies and television, are penned by Bender so delicately in her book, like piecing together shattered shells of an egg perfectly so that you cannot see the seams of the cracks. She soars above writing it, she instead crafts the concept of constant emptiness in Mona, the crazy math teacher. Bender's children in Mona's class practically invent themselves, seemingly without Bender's permission as an author, to catch Mona in her most fragile moments, instances where Mona herself feels voids, fleetingly decides that literally chopping herself down like a tree could save her father, convincing herself that signs of death are all around and go unrecognized. Passages as basic as "He was looking out the window at something else" transport those words strung together, of an image of someone gazing distractedly, to a different level altogether, one where the simplicity of the phrase "something else" persuades the reader to look up from the page herself on impulse, look out the window, and see an unnamed something else. Other phrases could not be more perfectly etched, such as, "I'd never seen my father garden but its seemed like a good activity for a faded person..." and "cherries, bright as blood cells." In other instances Bender paints scenes painfully and with such depth, the image nearly steps off the page into your presence. For instance her depiction of the neighboring Stuart girl's hypothetical reaction to her first sexual encounter laced with the memory of losing her baby sister to death: "The boyfriend asks her: Do you like babies? And she says: Babies? Babies? I'm not sure. He now removes her shirt. While she feels her breast kissed for the first time in her life, something sweeter than an ache, a sharpened ache, a purified ache, she is thinking of that creamy movement inside the crib. It had been a girl. That had been her only sister. The youngest. She was supposed to outlive them all." In swift swells of sentences Bender can transform lifeless words into vibrant color, sound and scent, life, and life's epitaph, death. For this reason, for the fact that Bender's language fills countless longing spaces for me, I genuinely love this book. As I read it for Book Club this time around, I'm trying to recognize its tragic flaws as a polished piece of fiction. And they do exist. At points, Mona's obsessive compulsive disorder is just a prop. At points, Mr. Jones' number necklaces are over-stated. But as a full piece of fiction, this book heightens my love of a rope of words braided to communicate passion and hollow sadness. I'm only left to wonder if Bender convinced herself of these characters as much as she convinced me.*PS: I did unearth an intelligent, sweet and concise review on a website I check occasionally, www.readingdivas.com ...

February 17, 2006


Definitely someone needs to take the Internet away from me. That, or maybe Craig should padlock my bank account. I can't believe I keep finding such beautiful gifts (for me, I know, selfish as it seems!) on this thing called the Internet. This woman's work, however, sweeps me and my dusty nostalgia right back to the tall fluorescent-lit concrete corridor of the Fine Arts building, second floor, where on one end the hallway is flanked by the metal shop and jewelry-making classrooms (if memory is serving me correctly, and it's possible they outgrew themselves and moved. It has been 6 years since I've stepped a toe in that place.) Anyway, I never took jewelry-making, and probably wouldn't have been overly successful at it, either. I never had much luck with the 3-D arts (except for bookmaking, which was my trade of choice back then). But look at the simplicity and beauty of these tiny silver elements she designs and makes! There has been some debate amongst the girls to whom I've sent this link: why would you buy a piece of jewelry sans a stone (gem) for this (they are a little expensive) much money? Well, in defense of an artist who makes stuff to sell, first there is material cost. Maybe not material cost for one single necklace (or, double-stranded as in the case of the one I want) but for the whole shop from which she operates. Second, there is the dollar value to be placed on her keen sense of creativity and the product that this creativity yields. Third, if I need to break it down to this, there is the hourly rate at which she deserves to be paid, maybe better described as her time or her labor. When I break these elements down into individual pieces that make up the necklace that I'd like to receive in the mail from her shop in Oregon, I'd say I, the consumer, am getting the better end of the deal here! The only factor I can isolate as a potential pitfall is that the product may appear to be more savvy in its craft in the picture than in real life. This is a danger in Internet purchasing. Digital cameras can do wonders when you want them to. So I am committing myself to having this awareness in advance so if the product (piece of art, what have you) arrives and I'm ultimately disappointed, I have no one to blame but myself, wild Internet shopping fanatic.*We had a fantastic dinner at Old Bookbinder's the other night. We ordered a bottle of chianti, and he ordered a soup while I ordered a caprese salad (one of my favorites). We both opted for the filet; his came wrapped in grilled shrimp and we also ordered asparagus with hollandaise sauce. He isn't a hollandaise enthusiast but I really like it. Following dinner we ordered dessert and a dessert drink, some sort of port, perhaps a sherry...I think we were both confused but all we knew is we didn't want a shot of espresso, which is usually what we do following nice dinners, because it was late Valentine's night for espresso. But better than the food was by far the company. Craig is my best friend. There are so many more things about him that I like than I've found in any single other person. I have a lot of very close girlfriends, especially as I get older, which is a blessing because commonly it doesn't work out that way. But when it really comes down to who knows me the very best, who can see right into the part of me that longs for attention or for respect, Craig is the one I turn to. There are times where he can't exactly identify with or relate to the places my mind wanders, but that isn't the important part. Key is that he takes care of me the way he does. We had a terrific Valentine's night this year, making up for all the years past when our Valentines were less than noteworthy.*I've had that kind of week, though, where I wonder where it's all headed (not Craig and me, but other things). I've got fragments of ambition that don't quite piece together to form a perfect shape. I developed an idea for a story this week, and I also managed to begin one poem (both New Year's Resolutions at the onset of '06). But by the time the work day rolls to a stop and we've fended for our hungry stomachs and our evening turns into night, time doesn't permit much room for the things I feel are important that I accomplish for myself. It's the age old dilemma, dealing with time and having enough. I want my quiet evenings with Craig on the couch. I want the occasional glass of wine with GR downstairs, especially because she is a very neat new friend and I love having friends. I am committed to book club which, granted, isn't an overwhelming time commitment but it still does subtract minutes from the clock. I want to travel down to Florida with Craig later this spring, see his friends from college, see a place I've never seen. I want to speak to my parents on the phone, to friends, send an e-mail or two. I really want to organize my photos, particularly the ones I've got with Craig so that our relationship's chronicles are rewarded the justice they deserve. But where is the time for all of these things? How does a person successfully fit it all in? And kids someday?? I'm going to offer two suggestions to myself which may resolve some of this: stronger time management skills, and less Internet shopping. No time like the present, as they say.

February 14, 2006


I never planned to post a picture of such a romantic couple on Valentine's Day but how could I resist? Aren't they just too festive for words in this kiss? (I'm going to get in trouble for it...hopefully he won't see it before our fancy dinner at Old Bookbinder's tonight). This kiss reminds me of a night so long ago, before we were an actual item, when all of our kisses were of the stolen variety, late nights, in bars, hidden in corners away from co-workers because it wasn't necessarily appropriate for the two of us to kiss and report to the same office on a daily basis. One particular night we drove to Montrose, Michigan to see our old friend BG (his first appearance in this journal...he's a dear old friend, a drummer who is now in Denver doing whatever it is he's doing in Denver) play a gig at a bowling alley. A bowling alley. Craig and I were definitely overserved in the alcohol department and we were dancing with other co-workers who were up north in Montrose with us. Somehow we managed to sneak away and slip into a photo booth, where an extra sweet and private kiss was captured and printed for a dollar. I still have the photo tucked away; the way his hand cups my face is so gentle, so much more like the gentle side of Craig I know better now, so many years later. The expression on our faces is a quiet peace in that kiss.*So regardless of whether I am in the proverbial doghouse later for posting this picture, I wanted to post something sweet, something in honor of this overly commercialized holiday noble in its intentions. Tonight I will get dressed in my favorite black strapless floor-length dress that I bought for our trip to Vegas years ago, and hopefully the ruby red blazer overtop (it allegedly arrived at the building today! Hopefully it fits...) Our new friend GR offered to take "prom mom" pictures before we leave for dinner. And dinner will be so lovely, seated across from the one person I've ever met who still, years and years after I figuratively crashed into him the night I turned 24 at a party thrown for me by co-workers, still manages to melt my heart to my shoes with just a look, or a quick touch of his hand to mine. He has me good and forever if he chooses.*

February 12, 2006


It's Sunday evening and we just finished eating my new white bean chili (our downstairs friend GR came up to join us). It's been a decent weekend, but not the best I've had in Richmond, mainly because Craig worked all Saturday and even this morning a little. Rain fell pretty hard this weekend and Craig was chasing leaks around the building, bailing water off the roof. Friday night we ate an Asian pasta salad with a thin peanut sauce, red pepper and cucumber strips and carrot sticks. Saturday morning when Craig left for work I settled into the couch to finish The Kite Runner. I had what I'd basically term a reading marathon all day Saturday. There were points where The Kite Runner nearly impressed me for fleeting moments, then lost my interest again. Nevertheless, as a co-founder of our book club I couldn't very well fail to finish our first book, despite the fact I felt like I had tied a pretty bow around my Saturday and pitched it out the window. Evening rolled in and Craig wasn't home yet. He called to let me know he wouldn't be up for a burger at Honey White's with GR and me, so I went ahead without him. GR and I wound up having an epic night of accusing the poor bartender of studying for his GED versus GRE and debates over whether or not there is any sense to the English language (I, of course, defended its honor while she insisted that its rules are nonsensical). We wound up at Sette for the rest of the evening; we also ducked into Movie Gallery for her to rent The Corpse Bride and I persuaded her to rent Elizabethtown (details to follow). Girls' night was a success and I think Craig was able to relax with the Olympics on in the background and naps on the couch. Anyway, this morning we held our first book club meeting. I went down to meet GR and HH (our building manager and friend) and we walked to Cafe Gutenburg to meet LC. We had a triumphant first meeting, all agreed The Kite Runner left us wanting something more. We're reading An Invisible Sign of My Own (Aimee Bender) next, which is my selection (I read it in one sitting in Detroit but will be re-reading it; I positively love this book). And I also love sitting at Cafe Gutenburg with 3 incredibly intelligent women discussing books. The atmosphere there is practically designed for book club meetings. I kept half-tuning in to the music overhead, but I couldn't get a good enough listen to determine what they were playing. But the thing I realized is that maybe the music at Gutenburg is best left at Gutenburg. I think if I found it and stuffed it into my iPod, then listened to it outside of the confines of Gutenburg I might be disappointed. However, whatever it is sounds divine sitting in that perfect cafe. Following that, GR and HH and I stopped at the new River City Diner location for milkshakes with Kahlua (I had an Irish coffee instead). We chatted for a little while and then walked back to our building. When I got home, Craig and I finished watching the new Jodie Foster release that couldn't keep our attention the first time around, and then we ventured to Elizabethtown. In the dimming haze of early Sunday evening, I felt for the first time in quite a while (for a movie) a happy swelling feeling as we watched this. It is a Cameron Crowe movie, after all, and what movie had a bigger impact on me and my pre-twenties than Singles way back when (also Cameron Crowe). The soundtrack to Elizabethtown immediately demands attention (much as the soundtrack for Singles did, and Almost Famous, and Vanilla Sky...) in the opening credits. The melancholy of each mellow song provides a perfect backdrop to this lovely cinematic masterpiece. Orlando Bloom's steady facial expressions and his reactions to events contribute to the slow unraveling of the romance between his character and Kirsten Dunst's, but the significant theme of this movie is the loss of a family member, the varied colorful means of dealing with a loss. There are so many momentous scenes in this film, some wrapped in humor and others in quiet pensive contemplation, but the peak of this story portrays Drew (Orlando Bloom) carrying out the road trip he never took with his deceased father (his father's ashes strapped into the passenger seat in a ceramic urn). Moments of regret tinted with longing "last looks" Drew's narrating voice repeats throughout sketch a beautiful narrative of love, loss and finding the courage and motivation to move on.

February 10, 2006


It isn't my birthday yet but I've begun to treat myself to gifts as if my birthday were sooner than it is, or as if my birthday were more like my birth months (plural, more than just April but beginning mid-February and coasting all the way through the month of April). I need to slow down the spending. Particularly if our future consists of the major transition we're being told it's going to: I need to save money, not spend. Nevertheless pictured here is a sleeve of the ruby red blazer I happily discovered at a very great 'stuff' website (note: that is not my hand, nor my blonde hair, nor did the bracelets come included with the purchase of the blazer). And on down the page is posted the ever-lovely Tahitian Pearl necklace I found also at that same site. If I continue at the rate I'm going, purchasing item after interesting item, I will be doomed to live the life of one whose bank account is empty. Shopping is like a rash: once you itch it, it spreads.*My birthday marks a perfect time of year for getting away. Tax season is over, and spring fever and reflection has set into motion. I recall one birthday I spent in New Hampshire in a cabin with a fireplace, bottles of wine, Trivial Pursuit and Craig. Another I spent with Craig and good friends TW and his fiance, we'll call her AW because she'll be his Part 2 very soon, in Nashville hollerin and swollerin all along Music Row. I've got another one of these birthday type things coming up in about two months and we're loosely talking about turning TW and AW into yearly KB-birthday companions. TW is currently down in Ft. Lauderdale undoubtedly basking in the glow of beach tint while those of us more north of the Florida beach warm our feet and hands in wool socks and mittens, not sand. In fact, it's forecasted to snow tonight or tomorrow in Richmond. Nevertheless, we were thinking we'd fly down to the Lauderdale/Miami area to celebrate the onset of my last year as a 20-something. I can see it now: 4 beach chairs in a row, tangy margaritas being delivered on trays by attractive beach hut staff, salted rims, AW and I leafing through fashion mags or I, reading the latest book club book (insert abbreviated review of The Kite Runner: I don't like it), the sun turning our skin that perfect ripe pink hue. Hours will pass and we'll pack up as the sun sets, trudge through the sand up to our ankles to TW's apartment, unload our beach gear and shower the sand off for an evening of crab legs and lobster tail on the oceanfront patio at some ritzy dish where the wait staff wear flip flops because it's the beach and they can. Tiki torches will flicker in the subtle breeze off the water, AW and I will be in our cutest little sundresses and the boys will wear nice shorts and short sleeves. All of us will have natural sun blush the color of roses in our faces. Maybe we'll see a celebrity wandering the length of the beach walking barefoot and carrying her espadrilles. Maybe Saturday morning I'll put on the iPod and take a jog along the foggy water's edge, listening to some song seemingly not of this world like Lover, You Should've Come Over by Jeff Buckley. The salty air and the sting of my calves will inspire me to stop and jot a poem into the tiny notebook I'll have tucked in my waist band. See, I have it all planned out. TW isn't aware that this is being fantasized but he'll find out soon enough either here or when I send the memo that we'd like to do this. I'm just genuinely the luckiest girl to have friends who like to indulge in similar activities, and a boyfriend who likes to shower me with these types of memories for my birthday. TW, when you read this and do a doubletake thinking, A and I didn't agree to this! just keep in mind, we're fairly flexible in terms of schedule. It doesn't have to be the exact weekend of my 29th. But whenever we do it it will be festive. Don't forget, I'm an Aries: I celebrate my birthday for practically 3 whole months. And remember how last year A suggested I should have a cake? And I didn't? Well this year we can.

February 06, 2006


Yesterday we had a Super Bowl party. I called it our Extra Large Super Bowl Party given the fact that this year's Super Bowl was, well, number 40: XL. I'm suspecting many others picked up on this characteristic of the 2006 Super Bowl as well. Parties are monumental events to me. They are opportunities for me to introduce friends to friends, to see friends, to make friends happy, and, in Aries fashion once again, to be seen by friends giving me a deserved moment to be the center of attention. And Craig. He gets to be in the limelight, too. Nevertheless, it was smashing fun and success. I woke yesterday morning at 7, excitement overruling my ability to sleep in as Craig chose instead. He had requested breakfast, because we had sausage and potatoes that needed to be eaten or else pitched, plus eggs and toast, so I hastily did that for him because I treasure him so. During that time panic was rising in me. Craig kept reminding me gently that I had like 7 hours before anyone would be arriving. After we ate, I felt a fresh wave of calm and began my kitchen activities. I didn't really go overboard, just made a few types of dip, sliced some vegetables, and so on. Craig began his chili around 1. I must admit, watching him concoct anything in the kitchen is nearly as fun for me as preparing food myself. I suspect we each have our own little Food Network Envy moments; whether or not we acknowledge them fully is altogether irrelevant. But he's good at chopping things, he's cute when he throws a bunch of ingredients into one pot. My appreciation for him heightens only that much more. Anyway, we managed to get through our morning and early afternoon and everything was finally ready for party attendees. First to arrive was our young male co-worker. Midstream welcoming him, my phone rang and the caller ID read "791" as the area code. Flabbergasted, but unwilling to let it go to voicemail in the event it was a newcomer to the Mansion (our building's residents' loving nickname for our building) I answered: it was LT! Phoning from London! LT, to whom I haven't spoken voice to voice in, well, undetermined amounts of months, possibly years (I'm not sure if we ever spoke on the telephone while I was in Atlanta). She's an amazing friend and we could go absolute light years without speaking and our conversations just pick right up as if we were neighbors. But I was having a party! What's a girl to do with a pending party and longtime best friend calling from International location? I chatted with her briefly, then assured her I would set aside phone time for her the next random time she calls. LT and I go all the way back to dorm life together, where she lived exactly across the hall from EL and me on 4th floor of Collins-Ed. I was not on her top 10 list of favorite people, because I, at 18, new to college, new to everything, really, had just met a deliriously fun girl further down the hall, and this fun friend and I would stomp madly and happily down the hall screeching mid-afternoon, which was LT's select naptime. (Who naps in college at 2 p.m. anyway??) But as my freshman year unraveled, I was an aspiring poet shuffling poems into the college lit mag world and her then-boyfriend just so happened to be editor of one and he happened to see some talent in my poem-writing bones. So as happy accidents would have it, LT and I were forced to reconcile our differences and we were famous friends from then forward. Our only obstacle as friends has always been geography (first her move to San Francisco post-college then her bigger one to London), nonetheless we pick each other's brains for intellectual stimuli via the internet and the occasional ill-timed phone call. And the rare but always momentous encounter in Broad Ripple where her mom lives if LT and I both find ourselves in Indianapolis at coinciding times and with free schedules. Shifting back to present day from my London friend tangent, people finally began to arrive to our party. I just love it. I love people standing around, or sitting around, sharing stories, cracking jokes. The most unfortunate yet most apropos term I can borrow as identification for this sort of event is fellowship. But it's true, it's what that is. And all day as badly as I wanted to pull out one of my lovely party dresses for the occasion, it was, after all, a football party, and dresses don't exactly blend into the sporting event atmosphere. So I opted for jeans and a shirt. We had a great time and there was so much food I couldn't believe my eyes (or stomach). I couldn't have asked for a better turn out, or a better group of people, sincerely (although I did genuinely miss my B's and the R's from Atlanta; they would have been the icing on the proverbial cake!)*The image above is one I discovered while searching for the Klimt in the previous post. The artist is Michael J. Austin and the painting is titled, simply, "Red Dress". What struck me the most is the complex range of emotion this image reflects: despair, solitude and a heavy sad exhaustion, or maybe she's just leaning this way with her weight uncomfortably held in that chair thinking of her next poem. I love the amount of expression in the veins of her hand. If I had been able to wear a dress to my party, this would have been my dress of choice, and this wary way she sits in the chair could have been me at the end of a long party. Not feeling necessarily pensive, nevertheless very tired. Today in the aftermath or afterglow of a quality party, I'm very tired.

February 05, 2006


It is the fifth of my second favorite month of the year (my first favorite being April, of course, because us Aries types live in selfish adoration of our birth months!) For those who are blessed with relationship love in their lives, February is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the new year with a Love Holiday which divides the month exactly down the middle. However in speaking with my friend AB yesterday on the phone I discovered that she, much like I've experienced, encounters disdain and dread leading into the Love Holiday (nothing against her doting husband MB, of course). Who cooks for who, who buys gifts and what gifts, who looks longingly into whose eyes from the minute the work day ends through the remainder of the evening because This is the day to show how much love you have, if no other day of the year it's displayed. It's mandatory, according to the idea of the Holiday, to express love with the most persuasive impact possible and dress the package with props. Flowers, cards, candy, hearts. I'd like to say Craig and I have had a perfect Valentine's Day. I would wholeheartedly be lying to say so, so instead I confess, we really have had nothing but miserable Valentine's Days. Unfortunately I verified this by poking around in old journals. This year I intend to correct that. I want to embrace the fact that whatever greeting card company decided to invent a Holiday for people who love each other did do a good thing. February is a beautiful time to feel all the love you have. The year is still new, but by this time routines promised to be implemented in the new year ought to be in place (Craig and I worked out 3 times this week, including weight-lifting!) and spring is peeking from around the corner. Stores are decked in red all month (what's not to love about the color red, lover or no lover?) Football is finally over and baseball is very near, with a little college championship basketball coming soon to kill some time. On a personal level, February is not adjacent to my birth month so I still have a little time to spend pondering how I spent 20-whatever the preceding year. See how comforting February is? Nevertheless, I've also been overwhelmed recently with the feeling of being blessed to have Craig. He came into my life in such a haphazard fashion, strutting through the office in Detroit relocated from Indiana somewhere and displaying just blatant amounts and degrees of machismo. I didn't care for him when I met him one bit. But as the story unfolded itself, I learned more about myself by spending time with him than I ever had before. New interests were tapped constantly, new desires were unearthed in me. I never knew, for instance, just how intrigued I would be to see so many places. I had no idea I could ever be entertained by the energy at a sporting event. These are the kinds of things that happen when two people meet, date, decide things feel more right together than being apart. All the time Craig and I spent away from each other, the distance between us beginning in April of 2002 when he left for the East Coast, only fed right into our relationship. And now that we're finally together, this being our second whole year of it, I'm still learning. I want to borrow February this year, not just Valentine's Day but the whole month, to learn even more about what being with him has shown me and given me. I barely remember a time where I didn't know him. We spent the greater portion of 23 years not knowing each other but that time is so far away from me, it manages to dissipate in the greater picture which is what will take place in our future. Even still, what takes place in our present. It's a great justice to those of us who do have this kind of love that Valentine's Day is there. Even if, as in past cases with AB as she mentioned and with me, Valentine's Day winds up being this great big let down, its mere existence reminds those of us who have it that we're fortunate to have found a place in someone else's heart where we can curl up and rest, or swell with pride in ourselves or in that other person, or collapse with happiness and anticipation of what will happen around the bend. I do not profess that every individual will ever find exactly what is right, but I am firm in the belief that when it shows up at your doorstep, let it in, and hold onto it as if your each breath depends on it being there. I spent a great deal of time persisting Craig, and much of that time he would have rather I had not. But now, and I'm somewhat speaking for him, making assumptions without him sitting right here, I wouldn't change a second of those attempts to get from him what I always wanted to be there. Because now, naturally, we're the safest and happiest we've ever been. The work put forth to get there was all worth the absolute lift of my heart when he walks into a room. The content way I can lean into his arm. The smile I feel all the way through when I see him happy about something. I'm going to make this Valentine's Day our best, this February. To everyone who has this person in their lives, if you don't express it year round, take this one opportunity this month to really let that person know. You're happy they're around. *Editor's Note (I have a live-in editor who prompted me to mention this)...the painting above is titled The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Fairly popular, even still. Shows up on t-shirts and calendars. But it is so romantic, possibly the most romantic painting ever. Craig commented, "Looks like they're hanging out in a sleeping bag!" He is impossibly adorable.