Merry & Bright!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas season! I can hardly believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve already, but it’s arrived. We’re anticipating out of town family as house guests (nothing like waiting til someone else will use the second bathroom to finally pull the trigger on finishing it and putting it together: details soon) and lots of coffee, Settlers of Catan, and multiple runs of the dishwasher daily.


I had a dream last night that I was still in high school, I recognized one of the people in my dream – but there were 3 other key players I couldn’t place but could tell we were aquatinted. There was a choir concert I was supposed to be at and couldn’t find an outfit I liked (or fit) so I ended up missing it. My mom came home to comfort me – followed by some friends and my choir teacher. He had some sage advice for us all: He told my boyfriend that he was popular, gave accolades to my other 2 friends for their work in their studies, and told me I was a leader but was sometimes negative: so to be careful how I wielded my skills.

Then I woke up.

At first I was puzzled but this has been something I’ve noticed on my own lately. This season notwithstanding, I can easily be the voice in the room that lets the selfish anxiety overshadow any ability to comfort. Like I strangle the optimism just to see if it can still breathe.

I’ll have plenty of opportunity to quiet the negative on the tip of my tongue in the next few days and I’m actually glad I have the chance to practice. Because it’s important to me to be fluid enough to care for all sorts of people. Not to be so rigid, so regimented on where I think love should fit: where expectations often fail. It was an odd dream but timely. I take myself out of the choir because I can’t seem to find anything that fits – but the seat isn’t filled by someone else in my absence: it’s just empty.

Here’s to showing up as our rag-tag, holey-socks, homeless-heart self this Christmas. I won’t remember the color of your scarf – only how your eyes seem to sparkle when the edges of your smile reach to the sky.

Merry Christmas.

trigger happy

I’ve believed that if it’s easy, it’s not worth it. If it doesn’t take hard work: no one will accept that you’re really an artist, writer, dreamer, doer, photographer, life-liver.

If you wake up in the morning with an idea and can finish it within the first hour of your day, you’re not working. It’s not credible. That’s a hobby. That’s an “exercise” for the real thing – it’s not what you put on the shelf, it’s what you line the birdcage with until the real stuff starts streaming.

So when does the real stuff start streaming? Do you have to walk away every time you push your brush to paper? Does it make sense 6 months later when you had to abandon the work because it wasn’t “working” enough?

If what I do is easy and what someone else does, in the same arena, looks harder … I’m not doing it right, right?

If what I do feels as comfortable as breathing and what someone else does looks labored and sweaty … I’m not doing it right, right?

If I’m not a runner unless I run a marathon then what is all this jogging for?

Soul food

I like to read and also read cookbooks.

My favorite non-guilty, yet food related, pleasure is (and always will be) the both in one place:

“My son decided one hour into yesterday’s 90 degree morning yesterday (sic) that he’d had eee-nufff of the heat and of having an Ace bandage on his sprained ankle and no, he would not, could not, stop yelling. I hear you, kid, I really do. And so we decided that only a South American brain freeze would make things better and look, I don’t mean to oversell them, I don’t, but you must believe me when I tell you: this drink solves everything.”

When I venture to a recipe via pinterest or my go-to’s in my subscription dock I don’t usually take the time to read the story with the recipe. Unless it’s seemingly difficult, I scroll till I find the nugget of ingredients and master-plan my way through discovering something new.

It’s a different kind of recipe from Smitten Kitchen or authors like Shauna Niequist, because first it’s a tale. A story to gather around, a little space to agree on the little things and notice that we all bring something different to the table.

I like that about food. And writing.

a little house on east and a little dream worth dreaming.

Taped the seams today, tomorrow some outdoor stuff will finish up and the mudding starts. A little electrical to fix, too. This beam will stay exposed.

The house is still in progress, dry-wall finished today and paint starts on Monday. Little details are starting to take over and creep up and make us frantic and a little anxious about budgets and just being done already.

Worry is a joy stealer – but it’s more than that. It’s costly in so many ways and I’m feeling anxious and don’t want to be.

I put it out there to the whole wide world that I’m looking for a job:

twitter on speaker

Which feels like exhaling after years of holding my breath. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time. I picture myself being part of a creative and dynamic team who can use my talents and actively incubates dreams. I’m excited to work outside of my own head, outside of our home. I have things to offer and time to spend doing so. The more I talk about it the more real the possibility becomes. Know of an opportunity? Please let me know.

Behind the scenes I’m still writing and am sending out manuscripts of poetry monthly. It feels like forward motion, it feels like trying.

I think the dust has settled of both of my kids going to school full time. I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be here, with this time to myself, or without another baby at home. It’s odd the way things happen, how the chapters of our story continue to narrate the inevitable of aging. This time in my life feels very vulnerable, as if it was time to start again.

Madrid memories

Tomorrow we leave Madrid for Granada. We thought maybe we’d take the next 3 nights to explore a few different places but decided that having a home base after what it took to actually get here feels more like vacation than constantly uprooting and sleeping in different beds.

Before we go – I want to make sure I remember a few things like:

This is the best place to get dehydrated. Water isn’t offered unless you order it, but that’s so hard to do when Sangria’s available. Or beer. Or that bottle of red wine. We started to order water first, wait for it arrive drink it ALL, then order more water and a drink at the same time.

I had to think fast and move out of the way while someone tried to plant one on me. Aaron was only a couple feet in front of me, but apparently that was enough space to sneak in and give it a go.

The smell here is nice. Not full of spices. A little body odor, some chocolate, some fresh air before it spoils. It’s sweet and fragrant but not assaulting. It greets you every time you walk out your apartment door and you’re saturated in it until you return.

Their street performers are very talented.

Sunday was the busiest day, and it seems everyone buys groceries on Sunday.

We actually saw people open their windows and balcony doors while eating dinner at home on Monday night – before that we assumed no one ate at home. They have mini fridges.

We couldn’t decide what Michigan would have to offer in a compelling way to Madridians (Spaniards?) because they offer such a wide variety of delicious foods with renowned chefs and old-world recipes … and we have Public? Journeyman’s? The Piper? We do have a Lakeshore, about 1,000 burger joints and cheap beer though.

Being cut off from language for a few days really heightens other things. Like lip reading – and that, did you know, english speaking mouths move differently than spanish speaking mouths. The way we use our cheeks and tongues, the way we use our teeth and lips. We’re elaborate, show off, speakers with our language … but Spanish rolls around inside the mouth more before it exits. (But their hands always give it away.)

High heels and cobble stone streets: not a myth.

After a few days of being a tourist it’s easier to actually BE a tourist. Take the photo, linger, walk around in circles.

Ham hocks are to Spain what the mitten is to Michigan.

I bought a scarf from Spain, but it was made in India.

I am directionally talented. North and South? Not words I know how to use – but take me somewhere and I can return you home and remember how to get back tomorrow, in case you wanted that churro after all.

Aaron absorbs information and wants to engineer commerce wherever he is. He wants to talk to you about it. I absorb information and want to marinate in everything new and different and alike but not and I want to think about it. And take it’s photo.

We missed the bullfight, but we’ll be back next Sunday and try to catch it then. We’re not big sports fans so didn’t try too hard to take in a soccer game.

We didn’t make it to the Botanical Gardens but I did see an English Garden, for free; and we walked around Madrid at dusk to see the Palace in lights. We went to the Prado during their free hours, saw the things we thought we should.

Every important painting has to do with Jesus, his death, Revelations or celestial beings and mythology. This isn’t new to me, but seeing it – and seeing it EVERYWHERE makes me out-loud wonder why this culture holds so tightly, so well, to these images and the culture I live in repels them?

I like Madrid and the fact that I never know what her streets will look like, only that they’ll be there when I go outside.

This is what I want to remember about Madrid: Life is meant to be experienced and shared.