Did I say I had something planned for Monday? Aw, shit: it's Wednesday.

My brother turned 21 Monday. 21.

My little brother, who I remember feeling kick my mother from the inside. My little brother, who was bright red & looked downright pissed at birth. My little brother, whom I was sad was a brother in the first place, when I found out I wasn't having a little sister (damn it). My little brother, who was so serious in his infancy, who I worked doubletime for, trying to crack a smile on his sweet little face.
This full grown man used to only quiet down when I held him with his little face towards the ground. Who used to sneak in my bed as a toddler, pulling all my stuffed animals with him, and snuggle up next to me. Who laughed hysterically when he put a live fish in the pool with me and I went batshit crazy trying to get out. Who hung my bras on the ceiling fan in the living room, who tortured me and my friends as a pre-schooler, who squacked at me when I practiced my clarinet (but then took band and played the same instrument in middle school), who stole my clothes and this one pair of boys' shoes I had, who shared the bathroom with me.
This full grown man, who walked home alone from school before he should have. Who stayed home alone when he shouldn't have. Who lost his mom and 5 goldfish in the same week when our mom left. Who was so brave and grown up long before he needed to be. Who went out on his own, did well, stumbled, fell, got back up, and keeps going, even though it's difficult, a beatdown, and downright sucks to be an adult sometimes.
I've always adored this guy. Always. He is a pain in my ass. He is hardheaded, stubborn, short-tempered, selfish, and so, just, UGH, OMG, YOU ARE SO DAMN STUBBORN SOMETIMES!!!, but also?

He is funny, silly, laugh till I cry hilarious. He is strong, he is smart. He is the one that will go water balloon bombing with me, driving around the neighborhood. He is the one that will wrestle me, tickle me, and pick me up as if I am light as a feather. He is my girl's 'Monkey Matt'. He is kind-hearted, sensitive, and sweet, underneath all that hard-headed asshatness. He is protective, even when he's having a cooking utensil fight with you.
Although I am the older one, I adore him. I look up to him. I am so fiercely protective of him. Myself, my sister, and my mother-we always want to be with him; we smother him. We drive him batshit crazy.

It is hard for anyone else to see the preschooler I adored in this 6 foot tall man. But I see him.
I am so thankful to have him as my brother. My life could not be the same without him.
Happy 21st, Matt-u.


Music Lover Monday on Friday, because I have something planned for Monday

(I haven't done this in for-freakin-EVER!)

I am really REALLY digging this new band, The Airborne Toxic Event. They were on Jay Leno two weeks ago, and omg, I can't get this damn song out of my head! It gives me the goosebumps. Nostalgia & melancholy fill me every time I listen to it.They are really talented and COOL. I can't describe it any other way. I love all the instruments.....must have something to do with my love of the classical sounds. Totally makes me want to learn to play the guitar and the violin. (In all my spare time!)

Here's the song they played on Jay and David Letterman:

Watch The Airborne Toxic Event - Sometime Around Midnight (Directed by Jason Wishnow) in Music View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Tell me that song does NOT rock!

Anyway, check them out. They are on myspace, and they have a lot of acoustic stuff.

Let me know if you dig them, or if you've found someone new that you love!


(Nothing) Like Strangers in the Night

It's been about 3 months since I had to put my dear old man dog down. The first few weeks were excruciating-I would call his name when I called my other dog in from the backyard. I would look for him in the middle of the night when I got up to go to the bathroom. I ached for him.
I still do ache for him, although, it is like with any loss....it is getting easier. I am getting used to his silence, his absence.
Daisy, on the other hand, is not faring well. Kooter is all she ever knew, and I think she is really aching for her companion. The first couple of weeks, she whined all night long, and stared at the garage door, waiting for him to come back. Then we progressed to her going in the backyard and running from the door to the gate, back and forth, like a maniac. Now, for well over 2 months, we are in what I think is the depression stage. All she does is sleep. And whine. She wakes me up hourly, from about 2-6, whining and pacing on the wood floors. She also follows my girl around EVERYWHERE. I am glad that they are bonded so well; I think it is truly helping Daisy heal.
I take her on walks, I play with her in the backyard, and I spend a good 20 minutes around 2am each morning, lying on the floor with her, rubbing and loving on her. I give her treats (she got leftover prime rib yesterday!), I talk to her, I remind my girl to give her extra kisses when she goes to bed. Yet....she is still a mess.

My Kooter was always such a kind soul with me. Anytime I was upset, he would sit on my feet, press his head on my legs, and stare up at me with his sweet eyes. If I cried, he found a way to lick my chin. When I would yell, he would hide, but would periodically come out of his hiding spot and do a 'drive-by' check on me: he would walk by me, touch his nose to my hand, and look up at me. He was just so.....I don't know. Is it possible to say that an animal had an 'old soul' about him? I truly think that's what it was. It's like he truly loved me, and understood me, and yearned for me.

A few weeks ago, I was not in a good place, emotionally. I was sad, angry, enraged, depressed. I felt lost. Many nights I fell asleep on the couch, leaving my hand to hang over the couch, grazing the floor with my fingers. I really wanted my Kooter when I realized that this was the first emotional time I was without him.
During this time, I began to dream about him. I would dream that he was chasing Daisy around, they were barking and going after a tennis ball. Then I would dream that he was sitting on my feet, staring up at me with those eyes. Then I would dream that he was chasing my girl, barking, panting, and smiling (yes, yes, dogs do smile). Each night, I dreamt of him during the course of my sleep. On more than one occasion, he would nudge me, lean his weight into my legs, and sniff my hand. One time, he sat in my lap and licked my chin. I was crying. I woke up with such a sense of relief and I felt safe. I can't explain it any other way.
It took me until last week to realize that he was coming to my dreams for a reason-I needed him, so he came. And then he walked through one of my dreams the other night.....no nudge, no lick, no contact-just walked right through my dream like "Hey, I'm just coming by to check on you; don't mind meeeeee."
I told my mother about it, because I knew that she wouldn't think I was reading too much into this. (You might think I'm a nutcake, but honestly, I have meaningful dreams. I have had dreams about people's babies, deaths, etc., before they happen. I have had loved ones visit me in my dreams, and tell me things that do end up happening. Think of that what you will. ) And my mother told me: He was coming to check on me, and also to show me that he is okay. Also, it's possible he is coming to get Daisy-he is preparing me.
Now I wonder if Daisy is in pain. Signs that dogs are in pain include: not wanting to do their normally enjoyable activities, sleeping a lot, whining, limping, not eating much, puking....Daisy does all of these things. I was chalking it all up to missing Kooter, but maybe...??
Is my Daisy dying of longing for her companion? Can my love (and my girl's love) be enough for her? I don't know that I can take another dog passing away so soon. These dogs are my family. Losing Kooter was one of the hardest things I've dealt with (and please don't think that by my saying this, I am discounting any of the other losses that have gone on over the past couple of weeks in the blogging community), next to losing my grandmother, and having my mother get sick when I was younger. The peace I felt when realizing that Kooter comes to me in my dreams every night.....I only hope that he visits Daisy in her dreams too, and that when she is barking, running, and yapping in her dreams, she is chasing Kooter around the backyard of her mind.


Blue- the new red -OR- Why I look like a nutcake while driving down the road

I always thought that bugs were attracted to the color red? Am I wrong about this? Well, apparently I am, because I have a blue Jeep, and it attracts more bugs than a pile of trash.

A couple of weeks ago, I climbed into my Jeep, only to discover a bumble bee on my leg. I squealed, threw my body against the door, and practically fell out onto the ground. It flew off peacefully, as I stood there panting, heart pounding.

Last week it was nice enough to have the top off on my Jeep. At a red light, I looked up to see a wasp land on my visor, and slowly make it's way towards my head. I squealed and took off when the light turned green. It flew off. The next day, some weird little spider showed up, dropping down on it's little thread right in front of me as I was driving. Again, the squeal. This time, I searched for a napkin, and I proceeded to attack the damn thing. But when I looked down at the napkin, there was no spider. Again, the squeal. I threw the napkin in the floorboard, only to catch the spider, now minus a leg or two, hanging out on my gearshift. I flicked it towards the passenger side of my Jeep, and haven't seen it since. I just don't.want.to.know.

Yesterday, as I was driving down the road, my girl discovered a lady bug in the Jeep. She played with it for a few minutes until finally letting it fly out the window.

This morning, I had the windows open in the Jeep. While sitting at a red light, a bee flew in and cold-cocked me in the side of the head. Again, I squealed, flung my arms around like a nutcake, and it landed on my passenger seat. And...hung out. It didn't fly off for several minutes, and I was starting to sweat, thinking it was creating a game plan for it's attack. When I got out of the Jeep, it took off behind me.

Seriously, is it Attack of the Bugs again?



I've spent a large amount of my life in between. I am stuck in the past, re-reading it, dreaming it, mourning things, missing people, trying to figure it all out. My mind stretches out to the future as well: my girl being in elementary school, when she stops wanting me to hold her and breathe in her smell, her going to high school, my parents getting older, imagining where I will be 5 years from now in my professional life. I rarely stay in the "now"; it's next to impossible for me.
During one of my most memorable times in my life, I hung out with a group of people (mostly males) that I really enjoyed spending time with. We were lazy together, watching old movies and making runs to Jack in the Box at 2am. We were silly together, toilet papering each other's houses and drinking until we were giddy with laughter. We shared private things with one another on a regular basis-We would sit in the dark of John's room, all in our own spots-me in a comfy chair, John on his bed, someone spread out on the floor, someone else curled up in another chair. We would play a "truth or dare" of sorts, but without the dares.
(It's funny for me to just now realize that another group of friends I had my senior year of high school did the same thing, except we did it in a friend's truck. We all sat in his truck in the dark, in the middle of a large pasture, and shared fears, dreams, worries, secrets with one another. This just came to me now.)
In the dark, our secrets were safe. Our truths came out so easily. There was very little stuttering hesitation. Sadness over losing a friend was easier to bear in the dark. As was the loss of a long-time relationship or a relative. Complaining about family problems bonded us together as well.
One night, we were all a bit tipsy when we decided to go to a set of railroad tracks. I still cringe when I drive by them, as I was the one who introduced them all to this place. The tracks cut through pasture land, and eventually ran over the local highway. Just before dropping off over the highway, there was a church. We drove behind the church, did a little off-roading in the dirt to get to the tracks, which happened to have a 40 foot drop to a creek below, right behind the church.
We were all in melancholy moods that night; I do remember that. We sat on the tracks for awhile, legs dangling over the bridge, throwing empty beer bottles and rocks into the creek below. It was warm, and I remember wishing for something colder than the beer.
Someone decided that we should do our nightly "Truth or Dare" out here; it was dark, save for the thousands of stars spying down on us.
As we each brought up a truth, the fog over our moods lifted. Except for John.
When it was his turn, instead of speaking up, he stood up. He was extremely drunk by that time, and we didn't know it until we saw him staggering and swaying on the tracks. He didn't drink often, and I had never seen him drunk before.
I don't even remember what he was upset about. I only remember that his truth was that he wanted to die. And he started walking down the tracks, towards the highway.
We had to tread lightly, because if he pulled away from us, it was a good 40-foot drop to the creek below. He made it to the highway, with all of us following behind, begging, comforting, pleading.
Only one of us walked out over the highway with him. Only one of us sat down on the tracks, legs dangling over the busy highway, to talk with him. Only one of us grabbed his arm and talked him into walking back to the safety of solid land.
We drove back to his place in silence. We walked into his dark bedroom, and we all laid down on the floor, while he got in bed. None of us spoke.
I no longer talk to anyone in that group, from that summer. I saw John and one other good friend from that summer, about 8 months ago. They are both well, married, with kids, happy wives, beautiful smiles.
I marvel that none of us knew each other that well, but we shared dark secrets with one another. Our secrets were safe with one another; there was no judging, questioning, or confusion. There were no boundaries, yet, all of us had an unspoken understanding that this was sacred. There was a freedom in sharing with one another, a release of sorts at letting the secret/fear/worry out into the open air.
I drive by that spot where the tracks and the highway meet sometimes, and I think about the girl I was back then. I think about my secrets, my "truths" that I shared with people who are nowhere in my life now, and I wonder what life would have become for all of us if we had never shared with one another.
This is how I feel about the blogging community as well. I think about the strength that comes in numbers, the miracles that happen from people all over the world praying, the things I would not have experienced if I had not begun blogging. I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people. I marvel at the simple fact that I can truly say I have friends all over this country (and even a few in other countries!), who really know me, in spite of never meeting me. We have shared secrets, fears, truths, griefs with one another, in the dark of our living rooms, taking turns holding one another's hands, lifting one another's chins. I have found people who make me feel comfortable in my own skin. I have found people who help me realize that I am not alone in my experiences. People have found me that lift me up, as I do them. That same freedom exists here, that same release, and I am so thankful, so blessed.


Deep breathe in, deep breathe out

My good friend Kristie invited me to try out a yoga class with her Wednesday night. I was excited because I practiced some yoga in college, and definitely did it while I was pregnant. But after this class, I can say that I haven't really ever done yoga.
OMG. It was so advanced and fast and sweaty and.....jeez, I felt so out of shape and off-balance! I can't tell you how many times I teetered like an infant learning to walk. Also? I knew several of the poses, but there were some crazy-ass complicated ones that I just am not flexible or strong enough to attempt (the hammock? the crane ??) My boobs were in the way, my muffin top was in the way, my feet kept falling asleep, and omg, my hips-they failed me miserably. Ever since I had my girl, my hips are so tight and stiff and I feel like they belong to a 95 year old.

What killed me though, besides the twinge of jealousy at seeing these lean, long women do headstands and outrageously limber things with their limbs, was the woman who let one rip when we were doing some rocking move. She was right behind me, and omg, I just lost my shit. I tried so hard not to laugh. My whole body was shaking, so hopefully that hid the fact that I was in tears, I was laughing so hard. And in my head, I could see my mom doing that. Or better yet, my mom being there with me, dropping to the ground in a fit of giggles and tears.
I know these things can happen, but seriously, it's my first ever yoga class and that happens. I'm tearing up just thinking about it!
Afterwards, I was soaking wet and weak. I drove home feeling more limber than I had in a long time. I took a shower, spread out on the bed, and passed out. I slept like a rock last night!
This morning, I woke up stiff, sore, and limping.

But I totally want to do it again! I'm hoping to take a class this evening, or at least on Saturday. I think that maybe this is the key to strengthening and stretching my hips. In the process though, I will look like a stiff, old lady pretzel.


Super-hero (without the cape)

I have a new hero to add to my small list (which includes Mother Theresa, MLK, several kiddos I worked with at CPS, and Obama), and it amazes me that I did not learn a thing about her until now, in graduate school, in my 30's.

Her name was Gertrude Brown. She was an African American female born in 1888, and here is a teeny list of her MONUMENTAL accomplishments:

  • She founded the first hospital for African Americans in Charlotte, NC

  • She received her BS from Columbia University in 1923.

  • Headed the Phyllis Wheatley settlement home in Minneapolis

At the Phyllis Wheatley SH, Gertrude Brown worked miracles. It was originally set up for African American women and children only, but over time, it became a place for everyone, no matter the age, gender, or color of their skin. People from all over the country visited: Bo Jangles, Duke Ellington, Marion Robinson.

She was gutsy, persuasive, aggressive, and motivated to create endless opportunities for those in her community. She fashioned programs and events around the home in the neighborhood, and invited all of the children. What started out as a place for children to participate in sports or Boy or Girl Scouts, ended in a meeting place for educational workshops, churches, and human rights' groups. The home provided prenatal care, birth control, employment services, daycare services, a place to sleep, a place to get a meal, a library, a gym, education services, and health care services.

Sheer numbers alone show her success: in 1926, a total of 46,000 people had passed through the doors of the Phyllis Wheatley, and by 1927, the number reached over 5,000 people per month.

Gertrude not only created an atmosphere of success, but she built up her community and the future of those in the community. The consequences of her hard work were far-reaching: other settlement homes throughout the United States modeled their programs after hers.

I am sad that this strong woman made such an impact on the entire history of our country, yet, I never learned about her while growing up. Nothing in my history books about her. Nothing in my United States history class in college. How can this be?


The coming of Issac

Recently I mentioned my friend who is going to be giving birth to a baby with Anencephaly. Well, her sweet baby Isaac is coming sooner than originally thought. Instead of the beginning of May, baby Isaac will now be here April 8th. And while I have issues, concerns, stresses of my own, I have spent a lot of time this week, usually in the dead of the night, thinking about her, Issac, how fragile life is, how confusing the whole situation is. I am sad, but I know my sadness does not equal even the teeniest tiniest part of the tip of her iceberg of sadness.
Like this post, I am feeling ungrateful for my blessings. I know that I am blessed, am thankful for it, and try to keep in the forefront of my mind this fact. However, right now, I feel self-absorbed, selfish, and ungrateful for my blessings. How can I be crying over things (very important to me) when baby Isaac will not live? How can I grow angry at my daughter when she flat-out refuses to sit on her ass for 2 seconds during dinner, when baby Isaac will not go home from the hospital? Why am I complaining about the 'need' to find a tropical beach to rest, when Misty and her family are finding a way to plan and pay for a funeral?
Please, all I'm asking is that, if you pray, please pray for Misty and her family. Pray for a safe delivery, a sufficient amount of life for baby Isaac, so that all those who love him can hold him, cuddle him, lay eyes on this gift. If you don't pray, think positive thoughts or send good vibes her way.


Quick advice and a small question

Two quick things while my eyelids droop miserably after staying up late to study for a test Tuesday night, and then staying up late to work on a project Wednesday night:

1. I have some imported lace from Italy that my grandmother ordered prior to her death (almost 11 years ago). I want to do something meaningful with it, yet it is sitting in a bag in my closet. Any ideas? There isn't enough for curtains or a tablecloth.

2. I see that Dooce is on a book tour. Does anyone know when she will be in Austin, Texas? Better yet, anyone know if she is going to come to Dallas? I can't seem to find anything on her blog about dates and places, other than her list of places she is this week. Grrrrr. Help!

That's it for now. Sleepy, beat down, and sore from The Shred.