Madly

At 2:00am today, Sarah had Isaiah. I can’t stop staring at his little photograph. It’s like I’m glued to it. I can’t imagine how she must feel, this same feeling times a million, with him making sweet, helpless noises from her arms.

I’m so overcome with how full life is in it’s circular nature, and how beautiful. To think that we, we girls are becoming mothers. We girls who would muddy our tights up and dig traps for robbers with our tiny fingers. Who would squash berries from Gran’s garden and argue about who got to be which boxcar child. ( I always wanted to be Violet, even though I had never read a lick of the books.) The girls who grew up hundreds of miles away, but always stayed sisters, through handwritten letters, plane trips, and week long visits that always seemed to get sucked up into some time vacuum.

It still baffles me that the girls have grown up. I remember when I first began to feel it happening, small shifts in our little world that signaled to us: adulthood is coming. “I wonder what it will bring,” one of us said one year on a beach.

I never realized just how beautiful it would be, adulthood with you girls. And I never thought I could love anything the way I love your little ones. It’s so inexplicable the way you can instantly love someone to death, through and through, that you would do anything for them. It’s a love so innate, that begins the moment you hear that, finally, after nine long months, they are here. 
And just like that, without another word, without meeting, without any of it, you love them madly.
Madly.

My New York Trip

 

The taxi dropped me off on a sidewalk corner. I stepped out, my 80 pound carry-on slung over my body. I reached into my purse for my cell, and a few rings later, her voice came on. “YOU”RE HERE?!”

“I’M HERE!!!” I did a slight spin on the sidewalk, glancing between the two street signs that made up the corner.

“I SEE YOU! I’m coming down.”

Two seconds later, a lovely, curly headed, shoeless New Yorker was bounding down the cold street at me. We tackled, screamed, swayed, squealed, jumped, ignored the crazy looks, and eventually went inside.

In the apartment there was cousins, french press, roommates that I felt like I already knew, Edith Pilaf, and Nutella. It was a good welcoming committee.

That first day was an officially declared day of tourism. We hit it all, Rockefeller Center, The Empire State Building, Chinatown, Times Square and more, refusing to let the 7 degree weather slow us down. Dinner was had at Stardust, a famous diner where all the waiters and waitresses would give their left (insert any appendage, cause they’d have given it to you) to be on Broadway. In between  taking orders and running food they would sing numbers, walk along the tops of booths, throw straws and kiss cheeks. I imagine the diner has a pretty high turn over rate, as they were all exceptional performers.

Next we hit some bar that used to belong to Sinatra. This was one of my favorites. Owned primarily by Russians, a six foot something blonde woman informed us with a heavy accent the table we had snagged was fine with her. Along the bar were large glass jars backlit with red bulbs, the vodka in them swimming with peaches, cherries, apples and spice. They came in small carafes and were almost like a purée. A delicious purée.

The next morning was a much needed lazy one. Two nights before I flew out, Andrew had two of his best friends come down from up North to experience their first Mardi Gras. It goes without saying that I had some serious sleep to catch up on.

     (One of my favorite parts of this whole trip was the way The Women in Apt. 10 treated most of their meals, namely breakfast. All the options were brought out onto the small kitchen table: raw eggs, steal cut oats, bananas, Nutella, bread, cereal and milk, all surrounding the backbone of the meal, a cylindrical french press in the middle of it all, sheltered by a British flag tea cozy. Everyone would then chose their meals, divvying up anything that was nearly gone amongst everyone. I don’t know how to describe why this was so pleasing. It all felt very old fashioned, and very British. That probably doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what it was.)

That day was Brooklyn. Brooklyn was, by far, my favorite sector of NY. I didn’t think it would be so visually different, but you could feel it and see it as soon as the train crossed the water. Apparently, it’s where all the cool kids hang. It was teeming with young indies, strange and expensive boutiques and third wave coffee houses. Even the graffiti was somehow artsier. Here we found The Blue Bottle, one of these “third wave” places. A barista stood behind the counter, elevating a silver teapot, swirling a light stream of hot water onto a filter with about a teaspoon of grinds on it. The filter sat on top of a shiny white coffee cup. He paused, let the water swallow up the flavor of the grinds and sink into the cup. With the concentrated look of an artist, he began again. There is no syrup of any sort to be found here, it would be an outrage. Intellectuals sipped single shots of espresso out of cups so small they looked like part of an American Girl set. Along the wall, giant glass bubbles clung to long glass tubes that twisted downward, dripping cold coffee that would take three hours to finish. It looked like something from a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide chemistry set. When I got my latte, a perfect leaf had been etched in the foam. No one wanted to go back to the 5 degree weather.

That night we hit Marie’s, a bar the girls were telling me over and over again that I would love. “I wouldn’t hype it up too much for fear of ruining it…but it’s impossible to hype it up too much,” Hutton, one of Hannah’s roommies, told me as we waited, chattering at a crosswalk. She was right. The bar was a few steps below ground level, with a very low ceiling. Against the wall in the middle of the bar was a piano. At the piano was Franka. A bodacious lady with an even more bodacious attitude; Franka leads the bar in singing show tunes. And when I say the bar, I mean the whole bar. And when I say the whole bar, I mean us and mostly a lot of gay men. And when I say singing, I mean eat your heart out Barbara Streisand singing. I began to pull my phone out during a booming chorus of “I Dreamed a Dream,” but was sweetly dissuaded by Nat. (other roommie) “If she sees it, she’ll kick you out.” We stayed for hours until Franka’s set was up. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.

Next was dancing, lots and lots of dancing. Those girls were too fun.

The next day we headed to the Upper West Side to have brunch at Lalo, the cafe used in “You’ve Got Mail,” when Tom Hanks stands up Megan Ryan. Except he doesn’t really stand her up because he’s got a double identity and he visits her not as the email Tom Hanks but as the Fox Books Tom Hanks and oh man do I love that movie a little too much…

The cafe was beautiful.

That night we hosted an Oscars party at their little apartment, where I got to meet some of their many fabulous friends.

On Monday, Hannah had to work, and so I braved the Big Apple alone. I have to say that with a little help, the subways were not half as confusing as they originally came across. I quickly learned how to keep my head down as most New Yorkers do, as to not attract the attention of at least one crazy riding in your same car. That day I explored Soho by myself. I found a brilliant little globally aware cafe called “Think Coffee,” where I ate sinfully good oatmeal and drew, uninterrupted, for hours. It was heavenly. Hannah met me for lunch, and we hit a small Taco restaurant that looked like it had been make shifted from a car garage, strung with ponchos and twinkle lights. It was so friggin good. The rest of the afternoon consisted of very responsible shopping…

Monday night was by far the best night, as Hannah and I departed for a little one on one cousin time. We walked down the street to a Russian bar in her neighborhood and sat at a small table in dark lighting, surrounded by handing tapestries and brick walls. We talked for hours over red wine, and I could have kept talking to her all night. It’s so wonderful to hear wisdom, I mean real wisdom, from a peer. There’s nothing like it. It was company that put air back in my lungs, put a smile in my eyes that is still there now.

I hated to leave. I know there was still so much to do and so much to see. I did feel like I had done so much, until people began asking me if I had seen this or that, and I realized that although the city never sleeps, there really is never enough time to see all New York has to offer. However, what I hated most was leaving the people. I wish so badly that I still lived just a few lawns down from my cousins. That we still carpooled, still slept over, still took ballet together. If I think about it too long, it makes my chest ache with unbelievable longing.                          I also hated leaving Nat and Hutton, who were both so instantly lovable, both in such different ways.

Hutton Visual:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             As we lay in bed, covers pulled up to our chins, Hutton walks about the apartment. In one hand, she balances her laptop as it plays the tuck-in song she has picked for the night. She walks to each person, and, in her best Indian accent, sings a blessing to them, lightly placing her tiny hand on their forehead. She is also known to absentmindedly rest her head on appendages of strangers while riding the subway, when engrossed in a good book.

Nat Visual:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         During our outing at Marie’s, an especially sassy man briefly attached himself to our group. He was a little fun, but little bit derogatory, one of those people who only know how to make jokes at other people’s expense. For some reason he chose lucky me! to be the center of this endlessly witty humor for a short stent. At first it was funny, we all had a laugh, but after a while he just kinda became an ass. After his millionth fashion oriented zing, Nat put the back of her hand into his chest, told him *ehem* where to go *ehem,* and somehow managed to box him out with her 90 pound body. Instant soul sista.

 

 

It was all marvelous. Marvelous.

 

 

Johnsons to Johnson

There is a voicemail flashing red on my inbox.

I dial 500 and a weak voiced, old woman comes on. “Please have Mr. Felix Johnson’s name taken off your televised prayer list, as he recently passed away, and please replace it with my name, Mrs. Peggie Johnson. Thank you.”

In an instant I can feel your hand in mine.

I wasn’t ready for marriage

I’m reblogging this not only because it is something I’ve always agreed with, but more importantly, because it is something that I’ve heard SO many times from older couples who are married. That there is no perfect moment, you’ll never have the right amount of money, or the right house, or the right job, and if you wait for all those to come along you will never do it.

And while goals are great and it’s good to eliminate any speed bumps you can from your future, it really is important to struggle together. I’m not suggesting you start burning half your life savings and quit changing the oil in your car. But if we know that overcoming struggle builds character, wouldn’t you want to build character as one unit with your spouse? My Gran and Grandad are comfortably retired, travel, and haven’t stressed seriously over money for a while. And yet their favorite stories to tell aren’t about their trip to France, or the last bed and breakfast they stayed at. It’s the one when they were living in a train car that had been make-shifted into a house in the middle of a field. It’s the one about driving through the night with a one week old when my grandfather got stationed in Kentucky, and the baby spit up on my Gran’s only dress she brought with her.
Perhaps we have such a hard time struggling *with* one another because we have been conditioned to struggle alone. And if we are going to go through these trials, these spans of no money, apartments with leaky faucets and loud neighbors, the post college jobs, wouldn’t it be better to have that partner to turn to and say I don’t have this, but I’m sure glad you’re here.

This post also rings true on living together before marriage. So many people my age are absolutely SHOCKED when they learn my boyfriend and I have dated for almost 3 years and we still don’t live together. And I hear the exact statements this author is referencing, “I would need to know if I could live with him before I married him.” Or, “what if the two of you have completely separate living habits? That causes a lot of divorce.”
Incorrect. People cause divorce. This whole “try it out” mentality is so much of what’s wrong with how people view marriage today.
1. It shows selfishness. If he can’t live how I live, maybe we shouldn’t live together.
2. If we live together and I don’t like it, it’s still ok to back out. Yeah, THAT’S the attitude you should have when it comes to someone you’re dating seriously enough to move in with.

We live in a throw away society, from food and material, to marriage, unborn children and the elderly. When minimized, this often boils down to a very “me” oriented mindset.
Whether you’re in favor of it or not, the reality is that marriage is a core concept of society. It has been a part of society since the beginning, across cultures and countries for centuries. We are so quick to dispose of something that has been an integral part of this country’s backbone for so long, and this is a bad habit we are passing on to our children. Do us a favor, skip the “take your elbows off the table” lesson, and put “marriage is a vow that is FOREVER” at the top of the list.

Happy readings.

The Matt Walsh Blog

I met my wife on eHarmony. I was a morning rock DJ in Delaware, she was living in Maryland and finishing up her degree. I drove two and a half hours to pick her up for our first date. I spent most of my bi-weekly paycheck on tickets to a dinner theater in Baltimore. The rest went to gas and tolls.

And that’s the way it would go for the next year and a half (minus the dinner theater part). Once a week, I’d spend money I didn’t have and drive the 260 mile roundtrip to see the love of my life. Sometimes I’d sleep for a few hours in the guest room at her mom’s house, waking up at 2AM to head back to the coast for my 5:30AM radio show.

I was very tired back then.

And broke.

Lord, was I broke.

She’d take turns driving my way, burning gas she couldn’t afford to burn and…

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Stay-at-home moms: you don’t owe the world an explanation

Well said. As someone who looks forward to motherhood leaps and bounds more than career advancement, this means a lot to me, as did all the comments showing support, revealing that there are still people out there who believe a devotion to motherhood is something to be proud of.

The Matt Walsh Blog

To stay-at-home moms:

Once, several months ago, I wrote this post about you. It was a simple expression of gratitude for stay-at-home moms, particularly my wife.

It got some attention. It was viewed around three million times in two days, in fact.

Truth be told, I never intended to be an official spokesman for SAHMS across the nation. You do not require my services, nor am I equipped to provide them. Plenty of you can eloquently defend your vocation, and because you have experience in the arena, you can do so more richly and convincingly than I ever could.

I’m just a guy who loves his wife and appreciates the sacrifices she makes for the family. That’s really the entirety of my insight into this subject.

So it’s with appropriate hesitancy that I offer just one suggestion to all of you.

Here it is: don’t pay any attention to people like this.

In fact…

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My kids don’t make me happy

Spending this past weekend with Jessie, a newish mom, (she’s been at it for a little over a year now, none of which we got to be near her for) was so enlightening. No one truly close to me had gone through pregnancy and motherhood until now. And it was mesmerizing to watch Jessie, this girl I would dig mud pits with for potential robbers, be a mother. She really did exemplify the glory of parenthood. However, when she was finally able to pull herself away from baby, as her husband sweetly took care of the toddler and a research paper, us girls were able to really pick her brain about the past year. And she shared honestly, about the incredible parts, about the really hard parts, about identity, and expectations, about the things you THOUGHT you could ballpark about parenthood.

So it was really interesting to get back on this thing after a nice long break, and find this post. I know that I so often have moments where I could kick myself for things I did or didn’t say. I’ve pretty much mastered the conversation where you drive away spewing perfect knowledge at your windshield. So I can empathize with the author on this one. And how perfectly he says it all.

I’d also like to share a comment that was left on the author’s blog. The comment describes a man interviewing an elderly lady about happiness on TV. Her response was, “My generation was never focused on happy. We were focused on honesty, hard work, ingenuity, etc. But we never thought about if we were happy or not. I suppose we were, but we didn’t chase it all the time.”
There’s something to learn from that.

The Matt Walsh Blog

“Kids won’t make me happy.” I’ve heard that statement, or statements to that effect, thousands of times. Enough that I should, by now, have a response prepared. But when a guy said it to me a few days ago, I fumbled the answer. I failed him.

“I don’t know, man. Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s cool that you’ve got kids and everything. But, personally, I just don’t think kids would make me happy.”

That was his comment to me as we stood out in the cold, him smoking his cigarette, me secondhand smoking his cigarette. Maybe I just wanted to go back inside. Maybe I didn’t feel like having this conversation. Maybe I judged him for his selfishness. Well, I did judge him for his selfishness. I shouldn’t have — it was pretentious and arrogant of me — but I did. Whatever the reason, I offered a nonsense response…

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These are a stew of my favorite things.

Today’s Daily Prompt is to describe your favorite food and why.

Mine has actually been occupying most of my fridge space these past few weeks, sitting in a huge cast iron pot that weighs more than I do. Inside, you’d find beef stew. We’re talking the hearty kind. We’re talking the kind that’s nice and thick, none of this watery, tea colored stuff. We’re talking hours of simmered roux. We’re talking meat, potatoes, and carrots, because to mix green, competing flavors like peas and green beans is just pain juvenile.

We’re talking the kind of stew I can still smell in my old house, the one with the yellow den walls and slanting ceiling, the one I was raised in. We’re talking the kind of stew that brings me back to hopping off the dusty bus steps, a smell that always clung to my uniform. The smell that brings me back to running up our long driveway at Garrett’s heels, and into the carport door, right into the kitchen. And mom would always be there, right there when you got in, standing over the stove with an ancient, wooden spoon in her hand. I can still hear Oprah in the background, a staple of our arriving home ritual. And the roux would be tracing its way up the spoon handle, barely revealing itself. But I would know what was cooking long before I reached the pot. That warm smell would wrap me like a blanket. Maybe it’s because that smell was always related to my mother’s face, finding us in the doorway with a big, beautiful, constant smile.

Whatever the reason, it is one of those foods I will never tire of, one of those foods that makes any bad day bearable, but most importantly, it is one of those foods I hope to stay home to cook someday, waiting to hear the sound of little tennis shoes coming through the door.