Tuesday, April 24, 2012

eating my cupcakes...

The only information you need to know about my situation is this: the boy is in a hard place and it's a place I can't follow him to. He needs to be in his cave and figure things out.

And it's really hard, because all of a sudden, I realize I need him. Not in a bad way, but I finally get those songs that say "I need you." The boy has become a part of me in a way that has nothing to do with kisses or chocolate (though I will take both, thank you.)

Last night, after reading a particularly hard email, and writing a response, my stomach clenched up. It was the way my body was freaking out. So I sent out my mayday call on Twitter: "Send cupcakes." (I also called my therapist, because sometimes you need someone who will talk and listen as only a mental health professional can.) Kleenex' stock might have gone up last night for all the tears and snot I was manufacturing.

And the thing that I love is that people know to send me cupcakes and how to imagine sending them because I taught them by example, giving them cupcakes in imaginative ways when they were having crappy days. It is amazing to see something you created blossom, and then feed you when you need to be fed.

Types of cupcake tweets that I send to people:

"Sending cupcakes"
"Sending talented cupcakes. They sing 'soft kitty'"
"Sending talented cupcakes. They sing 'I'm really Rosie, and I'm Rosie Real.'"

Types of cupcake tweets that I send when I need hugs or prayers or just someone to notice me because I'm afraid I'm fading away into nothingness:
"Send cupcakes."

And they did. On trucks, baked from their ovens, through my skylight, with the colors of the University of Michigan (blue and yellow), *ALL OF THE CUPCAKES", filled with chocolate singing cupcakes with magic, airmailed cupcakes, cupcakes soaked in hard liquor and cuss words, cupcakes and hot cocoa, cupcakes and a happy foot tapping soundtrack (which made me find the Youtube video of the original "Footloose" with Kenny Loggins singing and Kevin Bacon dancing) 

I only follow about 100 people on Twitter, because as an introvert who wants to nurture all my tweeps, I can't keep up with more than that. But I have around 600 followers, and so people that I sort of know came out of the woodwork last night. EVERYONE and their uncle was sending me cupcakes.

And it occurred to me at one point that I had never talked about eating my cupcakes.

And isn't that the point of the cupcake? To eat it? They aren't so many stickers to collect in an album (gosh, do you remember collecting stickers??) So last night, as I sat finishing watching "A Few Good Men" on THIS, I ate my pita broiled with olive oil and covered with salsa and pretended they were all the imaginary cupcakes.

The irony in all of this? I have not baked a cupcake in my oven (IRL, in real life) in months, if not YEARS. And the last cupcake I ate (in early March, in NYC) was possibly the first cupcake I'd eaten in months, if not years. But I'm moving towards more actual cupcakes. I am underwriting cupcakes for the upcoming UnCo12. I won't be attending, but there will be cupcakes.

I wish I could come up with a really good way to end this blog post, like, "If Marie Antoinette said 'let them eat cupcakes' perhaps the siege of Paris would have never happened" but I fear I am mixing up my periods of history, and I don't really believe MA even said "let them eat cake" anyways.

So here. Have a cupcake. Have two. They're really good.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

There is no fear in love...

There are two important men in my life right now: my boyfriend and my father. As a side note, I am blessed right now to work in a female-run workplace. Both my boss boss and my immediate boss are women. But that is a blog post for another day.

Where was I? Oh yes. The two men in my life. My father, the son of a Reformed Church of America pastor, and my boyfriend, a Catholic who often attends daily Mass. Two men for whom religion is an important part of their daily lives.

And I? A woman who is on a spiritual journey. As a work through it, with fear and trembling and love, I imagine it is one that will take me back to my confirmation into the Catholic church in 2004.

So when I said I was skipping church on Sunday because of the drive from Grand Rapids back to Pittsburgh, the boyfriend says, hey, maybe you'll be back for 7:45 mass. And I said, actually, I was thinking that might work. And he said, oh, I was joking.

Dad version of this conversation:
Me: well, I might be back in time for late Mass.
Dad: (shocked, sort of joking voice) Don't say that!

So, whereas the women in my life are fully aware of the fact that daily, sometimes hourly, I am wrestling with the fact that going to Mass makes me calmer than going to the Presbyterian church where I am a member, the men in my life are sort of clued and really not at all clued.

I'm in Grand Rapids, Michigan right now, visiting Sally (formerly North Hills Sally). While I really miss her, I like visiting her! I'm here on a Christmas present from the folks: The Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, a biennial conference for writers, readers, and people of faith.

Last night, Marilynne Robinson spoke, and she started with "My text would be, if this was a sermon, 'there is no fear in love.'" She spoke on Calvinism and how it has become a pejorative term meaning everything that is wrong with religious thinking, but she said, "What is essential to you? Embrace it, learn it. Then you can't just toss it over when people say 'you're a what?'"*

And that is how I'm thinking. There are a lot of things to reconcile, but I'm willing to do the homework. Right now I have a lot of books out of the library about dissenting Catholics. 

*Note: these quotes are from my written notes and may not be exact quotes.

 Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing
Marilynne Robinson Appreciation Society

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Vienna waits for you...

When we arrived in Vienna (Wien) after a week of pre-trips (Dresden, Prague, Berlin), the bus driver had Billy Joel's song queued up on the bus' intercom.

You've got your passion, you've got your pride
but don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you? 

It's such a great song, and a wonderful introduction to this city I had heard about my whole life. My parents went to Hope College, a Michigan institution of higher learning that has been taking students to Vienna under the auspices of "Vienna Summer School" since 1956. When my father saw the roofs of Prague, he dreamed of working as a diplomat and decided to not apply to law school. (A diplomat's daughter says thank you to Prague, and I was able to do so in person, in the summer of 1991.) 

It was in between my sophomore and junior years of college. My parents were living in Warsaw, Poland, and I had been attending Carlow College in Pittsburgh for the past two years. I was transferring to Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, in the fall, and my parents brought up the idea. Did I want to attend Vienna Summer School? Is the Pope Catholic? It had always been a dream of mine, latent, since I had decided in 1989 to not attend Hope College. (Most students that attend the VSS are Hope students.)

My father was in Vienna twice during the three weeks I lived in Vienna, and so he took me out to dinner the night the group was going to see the Magic Flute. I saw the Zauberflaute later that summer at the Mozart Festival in Warsaw (twice!). The second time my father came to Vienna, he took Derek and me out for dinner. An interesting (romantic?) piece of history: when my dad went on the Vienna Summer School trip, he was good friends with Derek's aunt, who was engaged. They were just friends, but good friends. I didn't know Derek was practically engaged, but 28 years later, he and I were good friends during my time in Vienna. Apparently Derek now has five children and lives in Holland, Michigan, but I've always thought it would be a little odd, looking him up after all this time. After the letter he sent saying he was getting married, I never wrote to him again. I just felt that my crush was a crush, and I didn't want to have feelings for a man who would soon belong to another woman.

I was disappointed that either my camera was dying or the supermarket that developed my pictures goofed, but at any rate, all of my pictures from that summer are out of focus. Hard to believe it was twenty one years ago!

References/Further reading:

Billy Joel talks about his song "Vienna Waits..." in a Wikipedia article
The Vienna Summer School Website

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April is the cruelest month and other vapid thoughts

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering         5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers. (T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland)   

I'm missing Warsaw. Fortunately, I have my Twitter friend Lola to take pictures of things like peacocks. (Maybe insert photo here.)

I miss the pock marked walls, the WWII memorials that have fresh flowers daily. I miss being 18, or 19, or 20. I miss discovering a new place in a city that has been around longer than long, even though so much of it was obliterated by bombs.

I watched the trams go from red and gray to being covered with M&M and Barbie ads as communism's hold went straight for capitalism. The tram stops, donated by the government of Japan? I should have taken more pictures, written more notebooks. Who knew that at 40, I would be longing for those days, when sometimes the depression was too much to bear, I'd sing "Won't you be my neighbor" to myself in the mirror to cheer myself up?

I remember when Derek decided to stay in Spain and not come to Warsaw for his last bit of Europe, the summer of Vienna Summer School. I thought I was going to marry that man. I still have his letters somewhere. Little did I know he was practically engaged. (Not that he really led me on, I just had a wild imagination.)

I remember we took an afternoon to go see Upper Belvedere, the Klimts. There is something about the gold that Gustav painted. We went to the store for dinner after that, got bread and cheese. He let me pick. "Whatever you choose is fine with me." We sat under a tree and I told him how Shawn Colvin spoke to me,

Sometimes I feel so reckless and wild
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
I gave nobody life, I am nobody's wife
And I seem to be nobody's daughter...

I don't understand it now, but somehow the thought of Derek's mother is what helped me get out of bed the day I heard that he wasn't going to make it to Warsaw. I wonder now how he got in touch with me...this is before email, a phone call would have been prohibitive...and I think I would have remembered a phone call, actually. A letter, a postcard? I would have kept a postcard, maybe.

(and how funny that the "i gave nobody life" line was lost on me until just today, now.) My baby blanket is in eyesight of where I usually sit with the laptop and I think I'll give it to my sister when she gets her baby. And then I think...but no. 

I have talked about Pittsburgh being the city of my childhood, the rivers of Bonn, the mountains of Tegucigalpa. It is only now that I realize this third floor walk-up, this garret, is my Warsaw third floor guest room, that belonged to me every summer and every Christmas for three years. 

And that is all, for today.

Upper Belvedere (wow, I don't remember it being so regal)  (and now I remember Egon Schiele)
Shawn Colvin's song, The Story

Monday, April 02, 2012

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?


This was my favorite joke in 2nd grade (and forever.) Whenever I tell it or write it, I remember the stairwell at the building where I went to 1st and 2nd grade. I say building because while it was where I went to school, it was just another one of the apartment buildings, with classrooms where the apartments would be. We did have a library, in the basement. We were right near the river, though, and the river flooded, so our library got flooded too. It was the Rhine river. I lived in Bonn, Germany when I was in first, second, and the first month of 3rd grade.

What I remember about first and second grade: my first grade teacher, Mrs. Olson (Miss?) was MEAN. And I was in the slow reading group, so I actually was reading about Dick and Jane and Spot. Whoever thought that was the way to teach reading was nuts, because, c'mon. I didn't care a whit about seeing Spot run. There was a mean boy that teased me, his name was Chase. And then there was this little boy who always wore suits. And he followed me home and would call up to where I lived, in the third floor of one of the apartment buildings. I guess a modern day Romeo, and I was a first grade Juliet? Eventually he quit. (I just wasn't interested.) I should ask my mom about that, if she remembers. I remember one time, I ran home because I had to use the bathroom and then I had to run up all those stairs. (The apartment buildings only went up to three floors, so there was no elevator.)

I remember that there was a piano in the first grade room, and every morning all the classes came together for singing time. We sang "Free to be you and me" and "My Country Tis of Thee." We probably said the Pledge of Allegiance. We were all government kids, our dads and moms either worked for the State Department, the Department of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army...we had a PX and a commissary. (And a movie theater and a swimming pool.)

In second grade, my teacher was Mrs. Butterbaugh. She was nice. And I learned how to read, in a reading circle, using a book called "A Duck is a Duck." It was a reader with stories. (I think the Dick and Janes were paperback books, not very important looking. I seem to remember that they had the flimsy feel of those early piano lesson books.) We would do "Bloody Mary" in the mirrors in the bathrooms. I never understood that game, but somehow if you said it enough, the you'd see Bloody Mary in the mirror? I learned my first curse word. "Sh plus it spells..." and I went home and repeated this and my mom said, do you know what that means? And I said, no. She said, well, don't go around saying words that you don't know what they are, that's a bad word. I don't think she told me what the word meant.

I wrote my first story when I was in 2nd grade. It was three sentences long, about a butterfly on her birthday. Or a ladybug. And in my head, it was this great story and when I read it out loud it didn't make any sense and everyone laughed. Kids can be cruel. I often wonder where was the teacher? Didn't she look at the stories first to see if they were stupid enough to make people laugh?

Funny the things that come up when you remember just one joke...I wrote this while sitting in the chiropractor's waiting room this morning.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

I guess I'm a fool...and it's April.

the bushes with snow, February
my collages, February.

So, Holly asked for a picture of my collages. Unfortunately, just as I was about to do a day by day of that project, my camera died. So here is a mid-February picture, of my collages to date (5 so far, this was taken on the 6th). I haven't decided what to do about my camera. The drug store seems to have some nice ones in the $20 to $40 range but I don't know how many pixels I want.

Things are not so great right now...the boy is going through some family crap and it's breaking my heart to see his heart being broken.

I can't believe it's April. Hosanna...and April Fools! I woke up from a really bad dream at 5:30, and well, it wasn't worth it to try to go back to sleep.

Psalm 137 (KJV)

1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
 2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
 3For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
 4How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?
 5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
 6If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
 7Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
 8O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
 9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.