Friday, December 29, 2006


My oldest brother has been dating a significantly older woman for the past few years. And by "significantly older" I mean yeah, she could be his Mom. She's got kids older than him. She's a grandmother.

It's a weird relationship, I guess. She's a very ballsy woman - the complete opposite of my quiet, needy brother. He needs someone to tell him what to do - she likes to be the teller. I guess that's why they work so well together. They seem to fill each others' voids - they're happy together - and that's what matters.

A couple weeks ago, his girlfriend (maybe I'll say "ladyfriend") was diagnosed with colon cancer. She'd gone in for her routine colonoscopy and they found something. They decided to run more tests and discovered that it had already spread into her liver - tumors all over. She's had this stuff growing inside her for a long time and even though she's gone for her routine testing, the doctors have missed it. And now she's screwed.

It's hard to know what to say to a person who is in that situation. She's the first person in my close family with cancer (mostly we all just have heart disease and mental illness.) I've heard the horrors of cancer - the way it takes its toll. I'm scared for her and I'm scared for my brother. She is his first love - I hope he can be strong through it all.

They say that people come into our lives for a reason. I wonder if having to go through this experience will change my brother. He has always been a germaphobic hypochondriac. Now he has to stand tall while the woman he loves battles the real deal. I figure it will either kill him or transform him. I'm hoping for the latter.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Christmas was really good this year. I was just reading my blog post from 2005 and it's kind of incredible the difference a year can make. I kind of feel like this year everything was brand new. "A Christmas of Firsts" - if you will.

I played at Mom's church on Christmas Eve again, but this year I brought along one of my private students - a junior in high school who's interested in pursuing a career in music. We were the two trumpets in the brass quartet and it was her first "gig." I was really proud of her and glad we could share the experience. It made me think of my very first gig, which happened to be at the very same church. I was a high school kid and it meant the world to me to be playing beside my own teacher.

On Christmas day, I woke up and went out for an early run. It occurred to me that it was my first Christmas as a marathoner! I lost myself in the bittersweet memories of my summer training, and before I knew it, I was back home again.

The morning was wonderful. It was just me and my Mom: chatting over coffee, baking up one last batch of cookies with my leftover dough, and just sharing quality Mother/Daughter time. She offered to make my wedding dress. I happily, tearfully accepted. We laughed a lot, listened to Christmas music and got food ready together.

In the afternoon, my family arrived. My brother came first, and we three caught up for a while until my other brother came with his family. A little later, HE arrived and we all opened gifts, shared laughter and just enjoyed 'being.' My heart swelled as I looked around at the happy faces of all ages who embody my life - my love.

It was my first Christmas being engaged - our first Christmas together, in fact. HE was subjected to my family's quirkiness, and was fortunate to experience my sister-in-law's inaugural litter box cake (which I fear may become a new tradition.) HE played with the nephews and the cats, and fit in as if HE'd been there all along.

We dressed the baby up as an elf, terrorized the cat with Bean's remote-controlled car, drank cheap wine and made fun of our creepy relatives. It was the first Christmas where everything was picture-perfect... at least in my eyes.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy, healthy holiday season.

On this day - and every day - may we remember to take a moment to look around and appreciate all the good things in life, and all the ways in which we are all blessed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Jeez... where does the time go? Seems like December just started, and here it is Christmas break already. My sincerest apologies for being such a blog slacker. I guess I've been busy?

Between Area Band auditions, volunteering at the county food pantry, gearing up for the holiday concert, and then all the usual holiday tasks - shopping, decorating, baking - it felt like I was never home. And when I was home, I was sleeping.

But life has been good... it's been a really great year. Thursday night we had our faculty holiday party at a little Italian restaurant. It was a fine time - the wine flowed like water. At one point, I found myself in a philosophical conversation with "Poz" - our new, gay librarian. And as usual, I tend to run at the mouth when I have a bit to drink.

"So tell me," he began, "what's the meaning of life?"

I thought for a little bit and said, "I think it's finally realizing who you are, and liking that person - being content. And then being lucky enough to meet someone who loves this person that you are."

Pretty profound, huh? And perhaps a little ironic, timing-wise.

Because as of last night around 6:00 PM... this turtle's engaged!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


It's baaaaack... After eight months of menstrual freedom, I am back amongst the cursed. It's a good thing. Must have been the week and a half of The Pill. Two days after I decided to stop taking it, things started up again so it must have worked. And while I am very relieved to be "normal" again, I really forgot how much it sucks.

[Mother Nature}: "Sheesh... there's just no pleasing her, huh?"

Due to a combination of heavy flannel pajamas and newly flowing hormones, I woke up at 4 AM yesterday, drenched in sweat. And wide awake. I lay there for a few minutes debating going back to sleep for an hour and waking up cranky, or just getting up. I decided to see what it would be like to go for a run at that early hour. I figured I was already sweaty - what the hell?

It was chilly out, but not unbearably so, and the full moon lit up the dark sky. It was almost magical. I set out on a route which I figured would be well lit, and was chugging along - carefree - for about a mile. Then I had a scary experience.

A Jeep Cherokee came creeping up behind me and a guy leaned out the window.

"Excuse me, Miss..."

Every adrenal gland in my body went into overdrive and for the first time in my life, I truly felt 'fight or flight' reactions. I kept running - didn't look at him.

"I'm in desperate need of a gas station. Do you know where one is?"
"Go back," I remember saying. "Go back that way -- go back."
"There's a gas station back there?"
"Go BACK."
"But is it open?"

And with that, I took off on legs I didn't know I owned. Legs I wish I'd owned back in Chicago during those last five miles.

Needless to say, he turned around and drove off. I'm not sure if he'd intended to abduct me - had I stopped to chat - or if he genuinely needed gas, but I'm certainly glad I didn't wait around to find out. Typically, I'm very helpful and hate to be rude to people. But at 4 AM, the rules change.

My nerves settled down after a mile or two and I began to enjoy my magical world, once again. The streets were bathed in moonlight while the town was tucked in bed. Only an occasional house window was lit, and I encountered no one except for a bread truck, a fox, and several cats. I ended up going about six miles, home in plenty of time to shower and get to school.

I thought a lot about my experience. How empowered and independent I'd felt being out running as the rest of the world slept. And how in one instant, everything could change and make me feel small and vulnerable. If he'd wanted to, Jeep Guy could have changed my whole life in many horrible ways.

It made me think.