linky links

here's me trying to add linky links in the text for the first time.

buy an apple, it will save your life,
good news,
good TV,
better TV,
the best music,

ok, i'm done with the practicing. have fun with the linking.




I just need a hug. No, no, the biggest hug you have actually. A giant teddy bear sized hug that envelopes me and cradles me and maybe even rocks me gently back and fourth. A big hug, that's all.

Well, and maybe the answer to the question of "Why?"



happy birthday b.

“I gotta go,” I squealed. I was 4 years old, skinny with dark hair, pale skin and big brown eyes. “I gotta go too,” said B. She was 5 years old, skinny with blond hair and brown eyes. We were beautiful together, the little girl version of yin and yang. “Let’s go together,” one of us said. So we raced to the upstairs bathroom, got ready and sat down together to pee. We were giddy. This was silly. We were peeing together, our tiny bottoms sharing one toilet. Our mothers thought it was precious. This was our cousin thing, a little girl bonding time. One mother grabbed a camera and flashed our picture, B. with her long blond hair and legs together facing the bathtub, me with my long brown hair and legs together facing the wall. We are squeezed in, our hands holding on to the tips of the oval seat so we wouldn’t fall in or off. Our clothes are simple knits, me in white, B. in dark blue; our shorts stuck to our legs have appliqué. We are gorgeous. We are smiling. We are young. We are silly. We are happy.

It is one of my favorite pictures, B. and I concocting a simple plan to kill two birds with one stone. I’m so glad there is a picture of that innocent time. Sometimes B. and I will talk about our childhoods, how we grew up so differently yet share so much in common. She is my blond size 2 cousin. I am not her. She is a modified hippie. I am an ex-sorority girl. Her mom is young and the least neurotic of her sisters. My mom is not. But we both have a factor in our blood that causes blood clots. So do our mothers. We are so different and so similar. I am proud of her, that she is a brilliant photographer. I love that she loves her animals and plants like they are her children. I’m glad she has found a man in a fairytale way, which we always dreamed would happen. I love that she is strong and kind and knows more than she tells. And I love that sometimes she will say, with laughter in her voice, “Anna, we use to pee together!” “I know,” I say, laughing back, “I know.”



i heart new york

I see the skyline of New York and my stomach does flips. I want that city. I crave that city. When I unexpectedly come across a picture of New York’s skyline, I take in the scene and then have to look away. I can’t look too long because the stomach flip will turn into an aching. So, I move on and begin to plan a trip back to Gotham.

I’ve only visited on short trips. Sometimes my visits were so brief they were merely a tease. A one-nighter for a private concert, a one-night lay over to the Dominican, and a lunch on Spring Street in January with snow falling while passing through town. No matter the time I’ve spent in NYC, the city is always with me.

This past December I told my friend shortly after we emerged from Penn Station that I just felt at home in the city. There is so much life in New York and this is what I love must about it. Of course there is life everywhere, but in NYC it is at its most vibrant. I love that there are people crashing into you on the sidewalks. I love that you can hear the streets and sirens at 4am on the 25thfloor of an apartment building. I love the subways and buses carrying strangers to a million different places. I love that there is a giant patch of green in the middle of the chaos to offer a reprieve and that inside that escape the skyline still impresses its buildings, gesturing to come back into the fray.

I consume as much media related to New York as I can. I watch every documentary I find, rent movies with that take place in New York, read books with NYC as the setting, and read blogs of NYC dwellers. Obsession would be a good word for it, but my fascination is more of a hobby. I think about moving there and then life goes on and I forget about it or convince myself that it’s not really what I want, that I need to cultivate the roots here and stay near my family whom I love. But, when I see a picture of New York’s skyline, my stomach tells me to go back to the obsessing, to get online and find a job and an apartment in the city, to forget the ties in Virginia and to make that leap. I know, I know. Why not? Well, I have no answer. All I can say is give me a year, we’ll see.



this is not a vacation

the fever is breaking which is a good thing, but i would rather be cold than sweating. thanks to my friend, j., in texas who urged me to go out and get sick food. i was so hot, but my belly is full and that is a good thing, however eating salad while breathing through your mouth is a hard thing to do and not choke. i'm just sayin'.

i'm done with the sick updates, go back to your lives people, i'll be blowing my nose and turning up my AC.


chicken soup, if you please

been under a down comforter for an hour and a half and still freezing. body hurts, fever at 100.something. want. my. mom. and. gingerale and orange sherbert float.


drano for the head?

I hate having a cold, especially when the weather is warm. My head is clogged and nose is stuffed. I just want my bed. HMMMMM, my bed. Must. Get. To. Bed. Right after work, of course, then home and bed and tv and orange juice.



construction work is hard

Check out the new link on the right, 100 things.

and thanks.



sweet as tupelo honey

At one point during every season, save for summer, I think that this season is my favorite time of the year.

I love the point in fall when the leaves have turned their autumnal colors and there is a crispness to the air that only happens in late September and early October. Fall smells like new backpacks and fresh notebooks. For me, fall signals beginnings though most of nature is ending or falling into a slumber.

Winter brings the snow that quiets and cleanses everything under its blanket, and this usually brings rest from the harried school days. I love the cold and chilled air of winter, sleeping under a thickly feathered duvet and throwing on handmade scarves to snuggle my neck.

My favorite thing about spring are the honeysuckle flowers. Spring sneaks up on me every year. I grow use to the barren trees of winter and somehow don’t notice the buds and tinges of green that Spring pushes through. Then one day, all of a sudden, there are no more branches on the trees, hillsides cascade with green, houses are hidden behind rows or clumps of leaves and flowers, and shade gracefully covers the precious areas under the trees' new dress.

But, honeysuckle. It's an amazing testament of re-growth. It grows wild along highways, alleys, schoolyards, and backyards, any place with a fence to lend climbing space. The bushes are everywhere and when a small honeysuckle breeze blows and catches me off guard I am seven again, standing in my front yard on the left side of the house near the alley with my brother and neighborhood friends. The bushes are full grown and you can't be outside without the sweetness luring you. We would gather round the bushes picking the yellow and white flowers as quickly as we could. We wanted as much sweetness as we could get, but we were hindered by our work.

Stealing honeysuckle juice is a delicate task. You must be careful to pluck the whole flower from the bush. Then gently holding the flower midway up the petals between two fingers on one hand, you pinch the bottom green mass between two fingers on the other hand and pull. The pulling must be slow. You must feel the tiny yellow ball at the end of the delicate stem slipping through the petals, grabbing and pushing the honey out of the small hole you've made in the flower. Then quickly move the flower and stem to your tongue a moment before you pull the stem from the flower and feel the tiny tickle of sweet, watery honey. It's spring. Your tongue has confirmed it. Life is beginning again.



big words

I was strolling through B&N one day and noticed that in the SAT prep section there were new materials, which were not part of my SAT study path. I had a tinge of jealousy seeing "SAT word" novels on the shelf. The titles like BUSTED and HEAD OVER HEELS accompanied cheesy cover art and promised stories of love and mystery among high school students. These "novels" are written around common vocab. words found on the SAT and those words even appear in bold type within the text. I was jealous because even though I have a BA in English Lang. and Lit. and love to read, I hated and struggled with reading throughout elementary, middle and high school.

My majoring in English was a surprise even to myself because I entered college loathing reading and writing. I even went to the writing center on campus to get assistance with my early college papers and I would come out knowing I had much work ahead of me. I was originally going to major in Psychology thinking that I needed this background for teaching. But, my heart was never in Psychology and when one of the best professors I ever had gave me a C, it pushed me to make a change.

He was one of the best professors, not because of his teaching, but because of our talks during my office visits. I went to him often for help because I was failing his class. He became my friend and gave me guidance. I learned about his family and his struggles in college and he helped me see that my world was not, in fact, collapsing around me. We didn't talk much about the class I was taking from him, these were more like therapy sessions. The strange thing about his role in my life that semester (and even later when I would go and visit with him) is that his specialty was in learning and cognition and he worked primarily with mice. He wasn't trained for the sessions we had and when he handed me chemwipes as I cried during my first visit, I knew he would be my friend.

After a few sessions in his office, the semester was ending and it was time for the final exam. I rocked the socks off of my final, but he still gave me a C for the course, I was one point away from a B- and passing the class. I was heartbroken and felt betrayed. When I went to see him after winter break to discuss my grade, he didn't flinch although he had previously and quietly said he would help me if I made a good enough grade on the final. I left his office quietly and quickly that day, there was no therapy session to work me through this one and I wasn't that upset, surprisingly. He knew what he was doing; he knew my heart was not in Psychology.

With the threat of having to retake that Psychology class to finish the major looming in the distance, I went on with my other classes. While studying THE EPIC OF GILAMESH for an anthropology class with a friend, I realized I had to change my major. I loved the analysis of psychology, but I hated the science of it. English, this is where I could find the analysis I craved without any science to confuse my brain. I crammed every English class available into my schedule. I stuck to mostly poetry classes as I thought this was my passion. I think part of me really liked how short poems where. I was still a little afraid of all that reading. But, I couldn't avoid it forever and I'm so glad that I had to read books like A RAISIN IN THE SUN, AS I LAY DYING, DROWN, NATIVE SON, CYMBELINE, THE COLOR PURPLE, and THE BLUEST EYE.

I wasn't the best at reading all the assigned readings. "Sir Gawain" and Chaucer didn't excite me and there were Colonial American passages that put me to sleep, literally. I still struggle with my love/ hate relationship with reading. I wish I were voracious at it. I think it's partly that it takes time for stories to unfold. I wish I could finish books in one sitting like a movie, but I read slowly. I read every word and say each one silently in my head. I know there are speed-reading methods, but I don't want to skip over words, I just wish I could read every word, faster.

A few years ago, I started a book journal where I write character maps and synopses of the books I read. It's an idea from my 10th grade English teacher and I find it good for me. I have physical proof that I've read a book and it jogs my memory if I can't remember a plot line or character details. In the beginning of the journal I noted words I needed to look up, big words not in my daily vocab. This lasted for about 3 books (OK just 1 really) and then the words I didn't know disappeared from the entries as if I've mastered the English Lang. Hardly, I just got lazy, realizing I probably would never use or see those big words again and just began to skim over them. But, sometimes, I crave bigger words in my head and I wonder if I read "SAT vocab." novels, would I cognize the context clues, ascertain the definitions and ameliorate my conversations? I doubt it.



mini SUVS make me cry

Tonight going to my good friend's house to watch the finale of friends (um finally, thank God) I was driving to the middle of nowhere. I hate the suburbs and she and her fiance live so far out that it takes 30 minutes and $2.50 in tolls roundtrip from my apartment in town. So driving, I saw this mini cooper with the license plate "SUVS SUC." Now, I know we guzzle gas and are ruining the ozone, but I really wanted to pull his little mini over and challenge him to play chicken with my SUV. I'd squash him. He'd be like a crumple soda can after slamming into my Sport (luxury) Utility (hauling shoes and pretty purses) Vehicle. So, you mini man, watch who you're picking on.

And my best friend is getting married and sometimes this makes me cry. Like tonight, it finally hit me and I cried.

PS- I love mini coopers, being obsessed with all things British. But, don't mess with my SUV!



what do you do when this happens

Of course I've thought about it happening. I've envisioned how it would happen and what I might do. I've considered that I should devise a plan if it happened, just to be prepared. Well, it happened and I had no plan, no diagram to show me what to do.

This morning I woke up with a headache thinking, as I do every morning before my coffee, that I just want to get back in bed, I want to call in sick. But, I never do call in sick. I turn on the coffee maker, get dressed, fix lunch and when the coffee is ready I begin sipping it while quietly saying a prayer that my empty stomach will except the legal stimulate and take it straight to my brain. This morning, the coffee couldn't work fast enough and the headache required 2 ibuprofen. Praying to the over-the-counter drug gods that the medicine too would go straight to my brain, I began looking for my keys. I couldn't find them and my head hurt too much to search really hard. So I grabbed the spare set with it's spare car key, spare car remote clicker thing, and spare apartment key. The clicker thing was the slightly used one I had traded for the unused one a few months ago thinking that the battery in it had run it’s course. It's a sad little keychain with only the three danglers, but it would have to do, I was running late.

It was a wet morning and this time I remembered my spare umbrella in case the heaven's opened up on me as I went from school to school. I stepped out of my apartment, coffee in hand and as I approached my car, the spare clicker wasn't working. I figured its tiny battery was in fact dead and opened the driver's side door with my key. I then tried to manually unlock the rear doors by using the power unlock button on the driver side door (I know, not really manually). Nothing happened. I was confused. I hopped in, put my bags on the passenger seat, set my coffee in its holder and put the key in the ignition. Upon turning it, I got nothing. I mean nothing, not even the usual piddily sound the altenater makes when it’s trying to charge the battery when in fact the battery is dead. All signs were pointing to a dead battery, but no noise, that was strange. I was confused and then remembered how the ignition had been acting funny the last few days.

Here is where I needed the plan and had none. I first said a quick thank you to God that I was a support teacher and did not have a classroom full of kids waiting on me and then a bit of panic set in. What do you when you are almost late for work as it is and everyone you know is probably at work already. I called my brother, he had to take the kids to school and even if he could get me to work I couldn’t travel to my other schools and I'd have to take care of the car today anyway. So, I had to call in. I was getting my early morning wish, but really, this was not the way I had wanted it. Having no plan I couldn’t figure out how to call in: Do I call in sick or is this personal business? Do I call in for a half day and hope my brain clears and I figure out how to get to school for the last half of the day? Who can help me? How long with AAA take?

I ended up calling in for the whole day. Car troubles have notoriously taken whole days before so I thought I would play it safe and not confuse the day even more by having to try to get to school by a certain time. It all worked out. The dealership was able to (expensively) fix everything by the end of the day and I can go to school easily and safely again. I'm just wondering, do you have a plan if it happens to you?



full up

This past weekend I went to Winston-Salem, NC to a cousin's wedding, on my dad's side. I am not close to this side of my family; my dad having only brothers and brothers are less likely to gather their respective families together often enough for children to form bonds. I do see my cousin A. every Thanksgiving at our house though I don't really know her. She is, however, sweet and kind and so I was happy to go to her wedding. I was, however, happier to also spend time with my Cousin Loves A. and R. from my mother's side.

My mother has two sisters and while both live in different cities in North Carolina, all of our families have grown up together. We have spent almost every holiday together, camping vacations at the beach, and weeks at Lake Norman, NC. My cousin's and I (a total of 3 girls and 1 boy) haven't always been great friends, but we were great playmates growing up. We were around each other so much that it seemed like we were brothers and sisters. We played, we fought, we played again, and then we went to college. When we grew older we became friends. Trips to visit each other and weekly phone calls developed. We became good friends, we were happy our mothers brought us together, we were happy for our Cousin Love. Cousin Love is how we address each other and we do it with a southern drawl. It ends up sounding like "cuzzin luuuuv." It is merely a way to say, "I'm glad you're in my life. I'm glad you’re my cousin and I love you."

Cousin Loves have begun to multiply. There are now wives and soon-to-be husbands and I'm sure there will be children soon too. We welcome the additions and affectionately extend the Cousin Love name. Our children will continue to be cousins though growing more and more distant in a familial since. We know they will grow up together, we hope too that they will develop innocent Cousin Love and see the joy of friendship that we have. We have a tentative plan to save our monies and buy a beach house. We want to name it Cousin Love, but know that the world would think us odd. So, in Spanish it would be "Primo Amor." And in Italian, it also means "first love" and this sounds good to us.

So, this past Friday night, after the rehearsal dinner for A.'s wedding I took my newly found cousin from my father's side over to A. and R.'s house for some quality time. It was fun, good drinks, good conversation. It was like we had all been friends forever. It was what Cousin Love is all about. And my cousin R. from my dad's side blended right in. In fact, we've convinced her to come to Thanksgiving this year, to continue and expand the Cousin Love. The Cousin Love was so good I felt full up, full up of the kind of love that lets your know you have all you need in the world.

The next night at A.'s wedding I sat with my mom and dad, my dad's cousins, one of my dad's brothers, and my cousin R. as we watched A. and B. swish around the room. They did their prescribed wedding things: the first dance as husband and wife, the father-daughter dance, the cake cutting, and the throwing of the garter. As I watched them cut the cake I felt full up again. I felt no envy of A. and B. at that moment. There was no sense that I was missing something. I realized then that I love my family, I love my life, and I am happy. Full up, indeed.



friends and lovers

How do we meet them? When do we know they will be important in our lives? What are the signs that certain people are meant to change you, permanently?

This weekend I found a good friend, and luckily, she is part of my family. At our mutual cousin's wedding we met again after probably 15 years. I don't even remember the last time I saw her but it was probably at our North Carolina family reunion, eating chicken stew cooked in a large cast iron kettle over an open flame. Surrounded by family I didn't know very well and in the mist of teenage angst I guess I didn't realize what an amazing person R. would grow to be. Funnily too, we lived an hour away from each other at one point in college and never made the trip over the mountains to meet.

R. currently lives in NYC pursuing her passion, poetry. She’s been through college, graduate school and now another masters degree for writing. She's lived almost a whole life since we last talked and I guess, I have too. We talked about NYC and my passion for that city and about poetry. We have more in common than I can believe. She is someone I wish had always been in my life and she was, I just didn't know it.

The cousin's wedding whom we were celebrating was brought about through similar circumstances. A. and B. had gone to high school together, but didn't run in the same circles. They both went on to college and jobs and lived in various other cities then met again a few years ago while both were back in their hometown. Their friends say that A. and B. are perfect together, they compliment each other, and that they are deeply in love.

Why does it take years, sometimes lifetimes to realize that people who surround you are the ones that will compliment you in ways you can't even fathom? It is as if we are not ready at times. Friends, lovers, husbands, and wives may pass us along the street, but until we have fully grown into ourselves, it doesn't matter how often we meet. When we are ready, hopefully they will be there. It's as if we are all just ships passing in the night and I'm so thankful when somehow we meet again and our lives begin a new direction.

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