The Say it's Your Birthday, or another trip around the sun
Today is my mom's birthday. I got her the same thing this year as I got her last year. It's funny ... my mom and dad's birthdays are exactly one week apart, and growing up I always remembered Dad's, because I always forgot Mom's. One year, when I was away at college, my sister Jenn called to tell me it would "beehoove me" to call my mother and wish her a happy birthday. But I haven't forgotten it once since she died. Something about the melancholy that makes me remember, I suppose.
Walk Like a Man, or a second helping of melancholy
Yesterday, my friend Eric's dad died. Eric is an old and wonderful friend who knew Maggie 1.0 ... the version before college, before marriage, before responsibility. And now we're back in each other's lives, and I'm able to offer him a spongey shoulder through what is certainly a tough time. It's the ultimate in paying it forward, I think. When I was losing Mom, Mike was there for me, having been through it before. And now, with that experience under my belt, I'm able to to offer some small measure of comfort, if for no other reason than because I understand a tiny bit what he's going through. I hate it. I hate watching people I love hurt over losing someone. I want to make it better, and I can't. I can just be here when the tears come, baking cookies and buying oranges and listening to the stories. This is what friends gear up for, after all. (For the record, the song title here is the Springsteen song, not Motown. Don't know it? Clicque vous the title. The song has always reminded Eric of his dad, the inimitable Ward Schwartz. It speaks volumes about the man he was.)
Walk Right In, Sit Right Down, or but it's not all sadness
Later on this week, my friend Emily will be staying with me for a few nights. She wants to move here from Champaign, and she's going to be up here looking for work and a place to live and stuff. I really enjoy having friends stay with me, because they leave a little of the love behind when we say goodbye.
Sleep Like a Baby, or an Early visit
Emily won't be my only houseguest, either! One of my favorite families, Chris, Janie and Liam Early from Oregon, will be here in June. I have never met Liam, but I know Chris and Janie are completely awesome so I can't imagine their two-year-old son being anything but! I can't wait to bake them cinnamon rolls and show them my town and play with Liam and soak up every bit of love the three of them have to offer. They are amazing people with beautiful hearts, and it has been far too long since I've seen them. June 20 can't come soon enough!
Stop and Smell the Roses, or plenty of joy to go around
This weekend is the art festival in my town, and it's always awesome. I'll be wandering around looking at things I can't afford and admiring the handiwork of incredible artisans. You should come visit! (Amber, this means you!) Then the following weekend, my cousin Laura is getting married and my father's 80th birthday shindig will be hoppin'. See? So much to celebrate. In the midst of that which scares us or makes us sad, there are always reasons to move forward.
Life Less Ordinary, or sometimes it turns on a dime
My favorite Marine, Second Lieutenant Ryan I. Carlson, was to report to The Basic School in Quantico, VA sometime this fall. October rings a bell. Plenty of time to allow the family to get used to the idea. Plenty of time for him to make me fettuccine Alfredo. Plenty of time for me to visit him in Champaign again before he headed out to begin his Real Life. But as luck would have it, the U.S. Marine Corps (and for those of you playing at home, the "s" is still silent) had other ideas. He will now report to Quantico on June 2. He's got everything he needs - the love of his family, the credentials of an officer, and a killer tattoo - but I'm still not quite ready to let him go. However, if I correctly remember a conversation he and I had about a month ago, this might well mean he'll be home for Christmas. Maybe that's a fair trade. At any rate, he's my brother, my friend and my Marine.
The Glamorous Life, or my day as a Beverly Hillbilly
So on Saturday, my friend Linda and I visited the Vernon Hills Lifetime Athletic Club, a branch of our gym. This facility, however, is uber-posh. Glass doors on the showers. Luxurious poolside setting. Three-story rock wall. Spa-like yoga studio. Seriously, I couldn't get over myself. And Linda and I took advantage of everything, sunning poolside on padded teak chaise lounges and looking quite like movie stars. We earned it - after all, we did two hours of cardio with Donna - but man, did we feel pampered. I will go back every chance I get!
Beach Baby, or tie-dyed skin
Speaking of the gym, I went on Sunday, too. Back to my "home gym" in Schaumburg, to lay by the pool and spend a little time with Shakespeare. It was only about 70 degrees, but the sun was still doing its thing, so I sprayed on the sunscreen. And proceeded to miss about half of my exposed skin. I look sort of ridiculous. I feel completely stupid. Note to self: be sure you're covered! Pink is not a "healthy glow."
Puppy Love, or oh, for the love of Jane
Shakespeare was puppy-sitting over the weekend, and now I'm in love with a puggle named Jane. Even though she peed on my foot and stuck her tongue up my nose, I find her irresistible. Sweetest puppy ever. She's back with her "real" family now, and I miss her.
Doctor, My Eyes, or yes, I've made the appointments
On Thursday I consult with the doctor about the gallbladder. I'm hoping to get that sucker out sooner rather than later, but we'll see. Then next week (on my dad's birthday) I have the mammogram. Annual joy, what fun! This is just me, being accountable. I'll let you know what I learn. And while I'm on the subject (again) of modern medicine, this Saturday my sister Jenn begins chemo. If anyone can kick leukemia to the curb, it's Jenn, but any happy thoughts you'd care to send her way would certainly be appreciated.