leg warmers

Sometimes you find yourself heading in one direction, and then all of a sudden, everything changes and you’re heading in a totally new way.

That’s happened to me more than once in my life.

Today, it happened in the most wonderful way.

I was going to start this blog by saying that there’s never a right or a wrong to any story.  There are only different perspectives.  And I had a lot to say about that.  About how a person always thinks of themselves as the hero of the story — but sometimes, someone else doesn’t see it the same way.

And then, as I sat waiting for the login for this page to load, while the man and Lucy wandered around the yard in the cold, drizzly darkness, someone pounded on our front door.  And I got up, thinking I’d accidentally locked John out.  But instead, there sat two packages propped next to our door.

Let me pause here, and rewind a little bit.

Last year, for the first time, we celebrated Christmas at home — just the two of us.  Some of it was wonderful — waking up and exchanging gifts, gluttonously eating out at restaurants we love — some of it we need to re-think (movies on Christmas Day sounds good  … but isn’t).  Anyway, who knows when that will happen again — but we decided we liked doing our own exchange just us two.  So this year we exchanged our pressies before heading to Mansfield for Christmas with the Family #1.  Unfortunately, one of my presents hadn’t arrived at the time.  But we didn’t worry about that.

It arrived tonight.

As I unwrapped the cardboard, my brain spun with speculation.  I had no idea what this final present was.  None.  Based on the shape, I randomly mentioned to John that there were some things I’d like to frame in the future.   He rolled his eyes.  He’d heard it before.

And then, the last fold fell away, and my breath caught in my throat, and like I said, everything changed.

I’ve owned and carried around with me (rolled tightly in a rubber-banded spiral) a photograph poster from the Metropolitan Museum of Art for …. oh, let’s just say many years.  It’s one of my most favorite images, a picture in my head that symbolized realized dreams.

I found out tonight, as I held a framed copy in shaking hands, my vision blurred with tears, that it’s called “Leg Warmers.”  I’d never known that.

And in that moment, all the angst and unhappiness and introspection that had filled me to the brim for the past 48 hours dissipated.  And life -suddenly- again felt full of hope and possibility.

I won’t always receive my most favorite image on my doorstep on bad days.  I know there will be challenging times when I have to find that feeling, that motivation, all on my own.  But today, I am grateful beyond explanation that my husband listens to me and actually hears me.  He makes my dreams come true.

this & that

On December 1st, I took all social media off my phone.  I’d been thinking about doing it for a while, but it felt so … permanent? … that I kept putting it off.  I mean, how was I going to waste an inordinate amount of time on a daily basis without social media?

It seemed unfathomable to be unable to scroll through my Facebook feed on an hourly basis.

And the first few days were weird.  Not going to lie about that.  For no apparent reason I would grab my phone at work, just to realize that Facebook and Instagram were no longer there.

And even in the few days that I’ve been social media free (on my phone — let’s not get too crazy too fast!) I’ve been amazed at how productive and efficient I am.  And how many things I’ve done instead  of wasting time scrolling through various feeds.  I’ve read books (really good ones, that make me glad I’m reading instead of scrolling), and instead of just thinking about blogging, I’ve actually blogged.

Mostly about nothing — but that’s sort of beside the point.

I had a friend in college who introduced me to a book about reconnecting with your inner artist (for the life of me, I cannot remember the title but when I find it, I will come back and edit this post!).  The one thing I remember vividly (among ‘self dates to the arts’ and other suggestions I actually loved) was the idea of writing three full pages in a journal every night without stopping.  It wasn’t even about what you wrote but the act of writing every night — just getting your thoughts on a piece of paper.

Stephen King says something sort of similar in his book On Writing.   Which is an incredible book, by the way.  He basically says — if you want to write, you need to write every day.  No excuses..  Every day.

That’s sort of my M.O. with this blog right now.  Just getting my thoughts on paper on a regular basis — my thoughts and ideas and contemplations.  They aren’t incredibly original or particularly creative.  But I love to write — it feels like a creative release.  And someday (ah dreams) I would love to write something significant enough to be published.  But writing is a skill — like pitching or catching or batting.  You can have talent, but if you don’t practice and hone your skills, you do yourself a disservice.

Right now my beautiful puppy has rested her head on my right arm — which would be completely adorable, were I not typing.  White Christmas  is on the TV. I am snuggled in bed in my new favorite sweatshirt, my eyelids drooping with sleep.

And I’m also rambling on my blog.

But, more to the point, I AM rambling on my blog.  Which is better than spending 45 minutes scrolling and ‘liking.’  So I can’t complain.

xo

tis the season

This morning, as the man and I carefully unwrapped ornaments and hung them thoughtfully on our Charlie Brown tree, I reminisced about how our lives have grown in the time we’ve been together.

Our first year, everything was a merge of ‘my’ stuff and ‘his’ stuff.  And slowly, year by year, things have become ours, ornaments with history and meaning — commemorating special times we’ve shared.  A golden leaf from Jackson  Hole, a horse-drawn carriage from Williamsburg, a snow globe in a stocking from Hilton Head.  I love that warm fuzzy feeling when the paper peels back to reveal what had been previously tucked safely away.  The first ornament we hung this year was a beautiful boxer with a red and white scarf, given to us by our great friends (it looks surprisingly like Lucy!).  John asked her where she wanted to hang it and she replied with a quizzical look and a suspicious sniff of the ornament.  It was adorable.  She’s still not one hundred percent sure she understands why there’s a live tree in the living room.  But she seems okay with it.

It’s always sort of interesting to contemplate the holidays as you gear up for them — how celebrations change and how they stay they same, how you personally feel about the time of year.  This December feels uncharacteristically mellow — I ordered our Christmas cards the first week of November and they are all sitting neatly stacked in ‘domestic’ and ‘air mail’ piles by the front door.  We have essentially completed all of our shopping, our tree is up, and we aren’t having a party this year ….. So that’s that, right?  It feels a little bizarre — anti climactic and strangely un-Christmas-y.

I have led a somewhat charmed life to this point — in that there was not a lot of drama during Thanksgiving or Christmas growing up.  When my brother and I were young, we spent Christmas Eve with our Italian relatives (Italian-American — my dad’s side) and there was always a table heaping with food (the seven fish my friends) and I barely ate any of it — and we all ran around and had wild conspiracies about Santa Claus and it was glorious.  And Christmas day was spent at home, opening presents and then eating a huge British Christmas lunch (my favorite) and then lounging around in sweatpants watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ while messing around with all our new swag.

But as you grow up, and become part of another person’s family and holiday celebrations, you begin to realize that things morph — I think it has a lot to do with children, actually — and even if things had stayed the same, they would inevitably also be very different.

On our very first date, John and I wandered down the main street of Manayunk, grabbing drinks at bars that we would otherwise never have gone into (in an effort to avoid running into anyone we knew …. it’s a long story).  We ended up sitting outside at a tiny bar at one end of the strip, telling each other how much we loved Christmas, why and millions of stories of minutiae that we remembered with glowing detail.  It was June then, and I remember hoping my beer would never end, and that I could sit and talk with this wonderful man forever.

Luckily, that wish came true.  And the first year we lived together, every inch of our apartment was decorated for Christmas — ornaments and garland and twinkly lights festooned every corner of every room.

So this year, with our understated decorations, and no party on the agenda for the first time in four years, it feels quiet, and subtle … and somewhat out of character.

I’m glad this year is going to be low-key, and I’m glad that as of the seventh of December, we’re pretty prepared for the holidays.  I just hope this isn’t the beginning of the end of the magic.  Because to me, this as always the most magical and beautiful time of year.  And to imagine that feeling fading — well, that just about breaks my heart.

 

introspection

Sometimes, I look at photos of myself on social media, and I’m a little amazed.  That might sound obnoxious — just gimme a minute.

I look normal.

I mean, my life, the photos, what I’m doing — it all looks normal.

And in a lot of ways, it is.  But ….  In some ways, it’s not.

It’s such a weird balance — and I’m not very good at it.  When am I just me –when do I have MS?  When should that be the most important thing … when should it be NOT important at all?

I mean, in general, I tend to believe it shouldn’t be important at all.  And then I have a day like today, when my hands puff up like … well, like puff pastry.  And I wonder if I didn’t have MS, would my hands be swollen?  Would they feel different? Am I making it all up in my head because I’m a hypochondriac?

It’s stressful.

I already overthought things — you know, before the MS.  And I already worried deeply — clearly, also pre- multiple sclerosis.  So then when you throw something in the mix as … serious? intense? incurable? … as MS, clearly, things aren’t going to get better.  Maintain the status quo?  Win.  But that possibility?  Very slim.

I  was looking at a photo from a  PSU game a few weeks ago — I’m smiling and posing — looking like every year I’ve ever tailgated in my life.  But looking at the photo, I knew that my legs were bad that day — I had Lydia with me every step of the way.  I remembered being frustrated in the stands, my vision so dark I could barely make out details.

And while of course the things I deal with are frustrating to me — how could they not be? — it also makes me consider the sadness of so many people, dealing with things that far outweigh the challenges I hurdle on a daily basis.

Life presents us with challenges.  We’d all love to believe that we care deeply about the trials and tribulations of others — we’re so evolved and aware.  And on some level, we are.  But on another level, it’s very easy to say things, to make gestures and promise fairy tales.  And then head home to our warm beds and our worry free life.  “I’m so sad for such and such a situation” but at the same time, pour a glass of scotch and watch TV shows recorded on our DVR.

It’s a challenging thing to authentically reconcile.

I guess I’m not really getting at much.  Except that maybe photos — like appearances — can be deceiving.  Behind every smile — underneath every smirk and wink — there’s the underbelly of life, the truth of every day existence.  We can all pretend to be whatever we want to be on Facebook or Instagram.  And maybe that’s a good thing — who knows.  But everyone’s existence is colored by their own and others’ opinions.  Such is life.  Nothing — seriously, nothing — is as pretty and pure as a photo.

But sometimes it’s nice to pretend it is.

Winter is coming

It’s crazy to think it’s December. This year has flown by.

There have been so many moments when my fingers were just tapping with things to say — and instead of writing I wasted time on something less worthwhile. It’s funny to think about that — about how you change as a person and all of a sudden stop prioritizing parts of who you are due to shear laziness.

Blogs are such interesting things. So many are full of interesting things — but they are all a snapshot into a personal life — a human just living (whether that living is big or small).  These posts of mine vary in intensity, but every one is personal — a girl/woman living near Philadelphia who cooks sometimes, works in the restaurant biz and has MS. Those things define me — both by choice and circumstance. I read old blog posts and I am re-introduced to a person I no longer know.

I am full to the brim of things to say — opinions and lessons learned plus all the other stuff that makes up life. I don’t claim that anyone else is interested. But blogging is like yelling into a mountain range — it seems so quiet at first (as though the noise you’d just made hadn’t happened at all) … And then your voice comes back to you — a little different than before but still recognizable.