Monday, June 27, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bookshelf

When I was younger it was near impossible to get me away from my books. I lived for lazy afternoons spent curled up in my room reading, oblivious to the rest of the world around me. My parents used to spend hours trying to get me outside, wishing for me to get some fresh air, play, be a kid, anything instead of whittling my hours away in the imaginary lands of the Boxcar Children, the Babysitters Club and Judy Blume. I hated being outside, the dewy humidity and the hot sun made me sick and although there were plenty of kids my age to play with, I never really felt any sort of longing to join in. On occasion I would accidentally place my feet outside the front door, just enough to observe the happenings of the kids around me but it would last only minutes and back to my room I would go.

As the years have gone by and I am now a hefty thirty years old the one thing that has remained consistent in my ever changing persona is the fact that I still love books. My world often revolves around the books in which I am reading, my favorite stories quoted and thrown in at random moments of a conversation. I carry my Nook everywhere I go and the ability to have an entire library in the shape of a sleek slim electronic device is the technological advancement of a lifetime. I get excited when I log on the Barnes and Noble home page and there are hundreds of titles and suggestions on what to read next- all based on books I have previously read. And although I absolutely adore my little Nook there is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a book and placing it on the bookshelf amongst all the others. Even the worst ones get their spot up on the shelf as an appreciation to the author who took the time to write the story for me to read.

In all honesty I probably should have been a librarian, although a long desired dream of mine is to open my own little shop and spend my days talking books and working on one of my own. Dark wood shelves and rows and rows of books, holding authors chats with customers and poetry readings in the evenings, spending my days helping others find those words that have the ability to actually change a life… or at least change the way we think. In the meantime, or at least until I win the lottery, learn how to run a small business and find something interesting enough to actually write a book about; I take comfort in the fact that I have a list of things a mile long just waiting to be read.

Even more comforting is that I have a daughter who adores being read to, often climbing up in my lap, a pile of books in hand exclaiming “Read this.” She is beginning to develop her favorites: she has a soft spot in her heart for Green Eggs and Ham and loves the book about the little tiger who doesn’t want to go to bed. She can read along to certain parts of Five Little Monkeys and absolutely enjoys hearing about Lila Ladybug and her party. However, our favorite to read together is Good Night Moon and our favorite part is the page of the old lady whispering hush. We read it over and over, each time Lilah waiting to get to the old lady... and when we do she gently puts her finger to her nose and whispers HUUUUSHHHHH. My heart melts a little bit each time I hear her do this, and the realization hits that maybe, just maybe I have passed along this love of words to my daughter. The thought always makes me smile as I go to place the book back on her shelf, giving it a place to call home for the night.


This past weekend we took Lilah on her first trip to Adventureland. I guess you could call it an initiation of sorts; a true introduction to the beauties of being a child during the summer time. It had been years since I had been to the park and on the drive there I felt like a child; eager and excited, sweating with anticipation of what lay before me. The smell of funnel cakes and blacktop, game workers yelling out that for three dollars they could guess my weight, the chances of getting absolutely soaked on the raging river and the nerve induced stomach aches as you quietly await your turn on the Tornado.

In other words… the memories of childhoods past. When I was younger going to Adventureland always signified that summer had indeed arrived. At first our trips to the “a fun filled day” were courtesy of my parents working at Principal. The company, as lots do, would designate a special day for all of its employees. Tickets would be ordered and a free picnic would be included and then the day would be yours to enjoy, finding the perfect ride to test your level of bravery. I always chose the roller coasters, a trait that I inherited from my dad. I was and still am by no means an “adventurous person” but there was something about the speed and the sound of the steel on the tracks that called to me.

When the announcement came out that June 12th had been designated my companies day at Adventureland I was beyond excited. We had passed on the chance to go last year after storms the morning of the big day squandered dreams of sunny skies and amusement park weather. Instead we spend the afternoon at a movie, only to come out of the theater, sun shining and temperatures warming. This year I was determined not to let a little thing like rain stand in my way and we packed the stroller and camera and headed off to Altoona.

Ryan and I were curious to see how Lilah would do once we got there, being as it was her first experience with amusement park rides. After we took the obligatory picture at the front gate we walked her over to the little cars, silently praying that she would forgo all signs of separation anxiety since we couldn’t actually go on the ride with her. When it was her turn, I took her up to the platform, let her pick the color of car she wanted and strapped her in, tiptoeing my way back to the conveniently located “parents area”. The music started playing and the ride started spinning and I was expecting full blown cries to ensue. Instead just the opposite happened, a huge smile made its way across her face and she turned the metal wheel of the car feverishly. When the ride was over she clapped her hands saying, “Again” and we walked along to the next ride.

This pattern continued our entire day and she rode the semi trucks with daddy, the dragons with Frances, the wagon wheel Ferris Wheel with mommy, the boats, ladybugs and ran into a friend from daycare. The two of them walked hand in hand throughout the park, whispering in their two year old language to each other and ignoring all requests to hold an adults hand. People passing by commented on the two cute little girls as we smiled proudly at the girl our baby had become. Before leaving for the day we took a train ride around the grounds, me for the first time able to see what the park looks like through a child’s eyes. Excited over the lights and sounds, pointing at the people and flowers, watching Lilah allowed me to appreciate the simplicity in which she sees the things around her and I too spent the ride in complete enjoyment.

As summer quickly passes us I am reminded of all the things that I loved so much when I was younger; fireworks, lighting bugs, night time baseball games, drive in movies, sprinklers, Tropical Sno… and all the things that I cannot wait to experience all over again, this time hand in hand with Lilah.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom

When I was little I spent many a night alone with my mom. My parents had me young and my dad was still in college, working full time during the day and then spending his evenings stationed in a classroom while some overly winded school professor droned on about economics and business math. My mom and I would spend our nights doing the normal things kids and moms do and although I was young I have very distinct memories of pretending to be her hair stylist, using a pencil as a roller to give my mom a perm and reading my favorite book, The Monster at the End of This Book.

We lived in a small house over on Trowbridge, so old that it’s no longer even standing. On Saturday mornings I would wake up at the crack of dawn, eager to watch cartoons and eat left over popcorn from the night before. (Gross- I know) My imagination at that time in my life and I guess still, was overly active and I was beyond convinced that the house was haunted. Images of witches and men with big bags full of kids bothered me regularly and I was certain that it was a matter of time before they came after me. As any young kid would do, I often found solace and safety in the bed of my parents as they reassured me that no such characters existed and then told me to go back to bed.

When I was 4 or 5 we moved out of the house on Trowbridge and into a house in a caul-de-sac. The neighborhood was filled with kids around my age and although I would spend my time running around and playing outside, it was also then that I realized how awful and mean little girls could be. Like before I would run to my mom for solace and comfort but this time the haunted witches were actually little girls with words like knives, little girls who would say the most horrible of things one day and the next ring the door bell asking me to come out and play. My mom would tell me not to worry, that the other kids were jealous and I would think to myself that she was just saying that to make me feel better.

As I got older and we moved in to the house my parents live in now life happened and it happened quickly. I went to high school, made the dance team, failed gym class, graduated high school, moved out for college, moved back in when I decided college wasn’t the path I wanted to go, moved out into my own apt, moved back in to my parents more than once and so on. I moved to New Orleans and fell in love. I got pregnant and moved to California. I moved back from California and gave birth to my own daughter, a spunky, fiery pigtailed little girl with sparkling blue eyes and an enormous personality. I got married and started my life with my husband and child in a home of our own.

A few days ago I came across an article in which someone proposed that all mothers want to be a better mom than theirs was. This statement was justified by a paragraph about how even if we think our mother is amazing, we notice mistakes they made with us and do our best not to repeat the same with our children. I had to laugh when I read this because for me it couldn’t be further from the truth. I strive to be everything to my daughter that my mom is to me; a woman of strength, intelligence, courage and independence yet a vulnerability that allows her to love those closest to her with open arms and a non judgmental attitude. Someone who always takes care of the needs of others before herself and still manages to do it with the most beautiful smile in the world. A woman who promised to support her children in every possible way she could even if she didn’t agree with us and after all these years has never once failed us.

I have been unusually sentimental lately. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we lost an old friend of our family unexpectedly at the age of 25. Maybe it’s that I am approaching thirty in a matter of days and am suddenly realizing how fast life goes or maybe it’s just that sentimental is something I have become without noticing, I don’t know.

I just think that as my moms birthday arrives tomorrow its time to tell her thank you.

Happy Birthday Mom- we love you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In It to Win It (an American Idol love story).

I will admit it: I am an American Idol fan. I am that person… the one that sits glued to the tv for the hour or two hours that the show is on twice a week, slyly crossing my fingers behind my back with anticipated hope that my favorite, the person that I have deemed my personal American Idol, makes it through to the next round. While I don’t go so far as to actually calling in my vote to the show I will also make an admission of guilt to going online to try and cast a vote. Once I found out you had to sign in with facebook I closed the web page but I did check it out. Call it what you want: embarrassing, lame, amateurish but I can’t help it. I just love the show.

I know this is not abnormal… after all millions and millions of people do the same thing as I every week but what is different is that I actually dislike the type of music that American Idol typically produces. I can’t stand musicians who can’t write their own lyrics or bands that put out album after album neglecting to add any actual heart and grit into it, so the fact that I am so completely captivated by a show that historically has produced musicians who are basically created to make a quick buck is beyond me.

Music for me has always been about the emotion it produces, especially live music. Most of my favorite memories involve a live show in some way: seeing the Rolling Stones with my dad, watching Bob Dylan in an arena that typically holds 11,000 people, in an absolutely memorizing set when he only sold 2,000 tickets, spending a July evening sitting in the grass with Ryan at Simon Estes watching the Black Crowes when I was seven months pregnant, JJ Cale in a small theater in Petaluma, playing hacky sack with members of George Clinton and the Parliament when I was 15, watching Melissa Etheridge(who to me is a TRUE rockstar- a dying breed these days) at the Civic Center with my mom, taking my brother to his first Foo Fighters show and watching his face light up the first time he heard the infamous Dave Grohl scream, my mom giving up her ticket so I could see Page and Plant from Zepplin with my dad… you get the picture. All of these musicians possess that special quality to me, the ability to write these songs with these lyrics that captivate you, that make you feel what they feel, that sometimes moves you to tears. Songs that make you want to get up and dance anytime you hear it (David Bowie I am talking to you) or that make you want to roll down the windows and blast the sound as loud as your car stereo will go (Gov’t Mule anyone?) or that song that makes you want to move mountains and run a marathon or something (Stranglehold is my “Power” song) or a song that just gets to your bones (Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac). Personally, this isn’t something that any American Idol winner has ever been able to do for me.

I think for me, actually I know for me, American Idol isn’t really about the music. I do enjoy watching the constants grow each week and I like deciding if I would have picked that song for them… I love when the non typical American Idol contestant pops up, someone like Crystal last year or Casey this year or even Hailey when she nailed that killer rendition of House of the Rising Sun. But I think it mainly signifies family time to me. Each week Ryan and Lilah and I sit in front of the tv on the couch to watch together, regardless of what work we have to do or if the house needs to be cleaned. These days life is so busy that it’s not abnormal to skip the truly important stuff. The stuff that keeps families smiling and keeps us from all losing our minds and slipping away from each other. The moments that are about nothing more than just laughing and cheering and debating and just being.

Tonight I may not be writing a novel or saving the rainforest or winning the Nobel Peace Prize or even doing laundry, but I can tell you that I will be sitting there on the couch with my husband and my daughter and possibly even Finn cheering and laughing while we find out who wins the title of this years American Idol. Together.

As Randy would say, I guess that makes me in it to win it.