Friday, December 31, 2010

Singing the triumph song on my way out of 2010!

(Bonnie took this picture! www.sadiedaysphotography.com)

The year did not start off so well. In January B left New York and I was breaking up with the same person for the billionth time. I was a sad girl, but at least I was watching lots of movies.

In February I threw a really fun birthday party for Swinny at my little Chelsea pad. I spent the snowpocalypse curled up watching the Olympics and started my internship at MoMA.

By March I had completely lost it. The worst semester of school ever was crushing me, I was heartbroken and lonely. It was bad times for Miss Brittan. Thankfully I didn't have much time to think about it because I was traveling to the Library of Congress, bridesmaiding it up in Missy's wedding and spending B's birthday with our friends in Utah.

In April I finally opened up about what was wrong. That allowed me to move on and have one of fullest months ever. I felt empowered as a woman, had a nerdy blast at Orphans, and had one of the greatest experiences of my life: the TCM Classic Film Festival.

May brought me five nights of Hanson and the blessing of meeting Charlotte and Laura. I went home and repaired my brain and heart that had been so damaged over the last semester. I didn't know it then but this was a huge turning point in my life. At the end of the month I celebrated my 25th birthday early by finally going to prom.

In June I introduced you to my hero. B and I left the muggle world for a few days before I left the mainland for my summer internship in Hawaii. I also hit the quarter century mark.

He came back into my life for a bit in July. We snorkeled and surfed and ate burgers and then it was over again but I was better equipped to handle it. I saw some great movies, obsessed over the best So You Think You Can Dance season ever and went on lots of random dates in Hawaii.

August was the most zen, reinvigorating, much needed month of my year. I left Hawaii and did almost nothing else. Then B and I both started school again and it was back to the grind.

I started out September (my two year blogoversary) in a little midtown apartment with him after reconnecting at a hip hop show in NYC of all places. It didn't work but, again, I was better equipped now. I went home to get my jaw fixed and came back ready to find myself again.

In October I moved out and in with my loves in Brooklyn, met one of the most inspiring people I've ever come in contact with, told you about my thesis and went to a weird, amazing hybrid punk Weezer cover show. I also got to burn some nitrate at Home Movie Day and be Ramona Flowers.

November took me back on the road for AMIA in Philly and Hanson in Toronto, where I spent time with my darling Charlotte and Laura and fell in love with the city. The conclusion of Harry Potter began! I had Thanksgiving by myself and found out my grandma has cancer.

I am ending December on a high. I finished all of my papers on time, despite being hit with the severity of my grandma's illness. I had an amazing week with my family in Kentucky and another with my family in Colorado and was restored by my best friend.

I began 2010 with this post and over the last six months I think life and I have become friends. I feel that all of the passion and energy that makes me love it at times and hate it at others has been cooled into a more level-headed approach to weathering its whims. I know that transaction she talks about. I looked life in the eyes in May and promised it I would try to be a grownup if it would show me a light at the end of the tunnel. It did. It showed me my individual potential. I can have an amazing career. I can handle all of the craziness that comes with that beautiful, complicated child of mine. I can absorb all of the love that the wonderful people in my life send my way and release it back in more profound ways. I can refuse to settle but still find that contentedness in where I am that my grandma always told me I should find.

That is, hands down, my biggest accomplishment this year. I have begun to learn to be content.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Firsts

I've spent the last three years wishing I could just sit in a coffee shop with Bonnie and chat over tea. On Sunday her husband watched the little ones while we snuck away for an entire day (can you imagine?!) to ourselves. We made a Starbucks run and she had her first iced soy chai latte--my favorite! Then we began our trip to Boulder, which included listening to Biggie, laughing hysterically, life planning and getting lost. It was perfect.
We finally found our way up the mountain and into Boulder, ready to explore and make up for lost best friend time. We parked near a little art museum, paid the $4 admission and found ourselves alone in a huge, gorgeous, naturally lit space. Others might have been bored in a nearly empty space with white washed walls, wood floors and only two small exhibits but for a photographer and dancer, it was like a playground.
We eventually decided to stop terrorizing the poor girl working at the museum and moved on to stroll down the streets of historic downtown Boulder. We watched the ice skaters and checked out every little cafe and shop along the cobbled paths. We tried on dresses and watched street performers.
 Bonnie had her first taste of sushi... if you can call it that. We're both vegetarian so we had miso soup, grilled rice, an avocado roll and an asparagus tempura roll. Yum.
We sat for hours, talking and observing. It was much needed. I've been thinking a lot about what matters most to me -- being surrounded by people I love and who love me. There is nothing more important. I don't see a long-term relationship or marriage in my future and I have no idea where I'll end up, but I am grasping at the friendships I hold dear. Will it be another three and a half years before I see my best friend again? God, I hope not. For now I'm just glad I got a day with her full of little firsts. It felt, somehow, like the beginning of something... or maybe just a reawakening of something.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Santa came to Denver

The kids bounced downstairs bright and early Christmas morning and, upon seeing what Santa left each of them, proceeded to pass out one by one.
B was not expecting Rock Band 3 at all and the shock almost did him in. John and Mela got bikes and drums and a play kitchen. (I told you Santa always brings the best presents.)
As impressive as Santa was, I think I won this year. Check out the Boba Fett backpack I scored for B. Pardon my lack of humility, but I freaking rule at gifting. How cool is this?
B and I gave John the set of Harry Potter books and a costume to match. 
Predictable but necessary.
This was a special Christmas for me because I got to meet Bonnie's daughter for the first time. We are now in love and I am introducing her to ballet. I gave her her first pair of shoes, leotard and tights for Christmas and brought my own so we could dance together.
Bonnie and I snuck out halfway through the day to see True Grit and let the kiddos bask in the glory of their loot. Comic books, light sabers (as if he needs more of those), a Star Wars galaxy planetarium... I don't even remember what else. B done good this year. 
Now we get to figure out how to get it all back to Texas!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve with the Bubbs

I am finally reunited with my Bonnie! We got to Colorado on Christmas Eve and a package from Brooklyn was waiting for me. A certain gentleman sent thoughtful presents for me and treats for my best friend. 
It was so nice to see our boys together (little Mela was already in bed) in their Christmas pajamas.
They wrote letters to Santa (B and I have an understanding that as long as he pretends to believe he will continue to get Santa presents... and Santa always brings the best presents)...
left out cookies and soy milk, which two Santas later enjoyed...
and then those two Santas stocked the living room with presents and spent the rest of the night chatting in the light of Bonnie's gorgeous Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

leaving Kentucky

1. Liger and I cuddling.
2. Dad
3. B looking pretty dang adorable with his cousins.
4. A hit Christmas present from Aunt Emily.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dear Santa,

This is what I want for Christmas:


The poster and the ability to dance like that. Please.

xoxo,

Twinkle Toes
(My high school Varsity cheerleading team initiation nickname, but you knew that.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a very frank cancer update (I need to think of a nicer name for it...)

Sorry to post a downer, but I figured everyone would want to know the latest on my grandma's condition (or not read it if you don't/it's too upsetting):

She said my "case" was discussed with the oncology partners yesterday and the consensus was that they recommend beginning chemotherapy first.  This is because the spots of cancer left are small and scattered (according to the pathology report) and might be hard to target with radiation.  Chemo will probably kill most of them.  Then they can target what's left with radiation, followed by hormonal therapy.

So I will start Jan. 5th.  I go in the 4th for blood work, the 5th for chemo injection, and the 6th for a follow-up shot (I believe for side effects, but I haven't read all the literature yet and she told me so many things that I of course can't clearly remember it all - which is why she gave me a lot to read - but I digress...). I will lose all my hair, probably have nausea and diarrhea, and sores in my mouth.  The hair is a given.  The other things they have medication for.  I will go through this routine every 3 weeks, for a total of 4 courses (about 3 months altogether).  This will be followed by radiation, if still indicated (she seemed pretty sure it would be).  

I have to finish school. There's no way around that. I'm five months from a Masters degree. My mom is going to take them meals every week, and my grandma's husband can get B to school. I worry about how B will feel in all of this. Of course he's not the one going through it, but I do want his life to be as happy and uninterrupted as possible. The move to and from New York was hard enough. Anyway, we'll figure it out. We always do. The prayers and thoughts and energy and whatever else you're sending is still and always appreciated.

"a blessing of spending time with family and old friends"

That's how my best friend, Gregg, said I should look at this trying time. He's so smart. B and I can't be at grandma's house right now so, rather than going back and hanging out alone in my Brooklyn apartment, we are traveling the country to see the other people we love. Right now we are in Kentucky, where I have three half sisters, two amazing parents, a nephew and two nieces, including Gracie Lou Who up there in the photo. She's been melting my heart all week.

We drove through caves filled with Christmas lights, stayed up all night talking, opened Christmas presents... I'm kind of emotional and don't know what to say right now except that I'm overwhelmed by how loved B and I are. This is only our second time visiting this side of my family but it doesn't feel like it. In fact, I've never felt more like part of a family.
(My sister Emily is gorgeous and so cool. That's all.)

We leave Friday to fly to Colorado and spend Christmas with my soulmate, Bonnie. Her blog post about it is so beautiful and made me cry:
http://johnandbonnieplustwo.blogspot.com/2010/12/good-grief-its-time-for-update.html
I haven't seen her since I graduated from college in June 2007. Could you imagine going that long without seeing your best friend? Never meeting her daughter? It's crazy. The hope of New Years with Gregg and Justin and maybe even Daniel lies just beyond that. Hopefully I will see the Joneses somewhere in there, the family that saw me through my early teens and loves me like a daughter. They're all getting married and being grownups, and I never get to see them anymore. So, yes, it is a blessing. I feel really, really blessed to be so surrounded by so much love right now.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I feel so sorry for the rest of the world that does not have Blue Bell.

I celebrated finishing my two biggest final papers with a mug of Blue Bell Snickerdoodle ice cream and some beautiful orchestral and choral Christmas hymns. Maybe the most peaceful, satisfying Saturday at 1 a.m. I've ever had.

Scary Potter


Obviously B is a huge HP fan. He's on his second round through the books, we went here this summer, the Halloween shenanigans, etc. I'm slightly afraid that he means it when he says can't wait till he's 11 and his letter comes. 

But he's also going through a massive sissy phase, let's be honest. Things he didn't even used to think about are now terrifying. I think this is somewhat normal, at least for slightly neurotic kiddos like us (I definitely went through that phase). So, the question has been: can he handle the 7th Harry Potter movie? It's way scarier than the others and having read the books just intensifies that because you know just how heavy and terrible what you're watching really is (because JK Rowling is a genius).

We decided to try it, agreeing ahead of time that I would cover his eyes during three very specific parts. (Voldemort killing Prof Burbage, Bathilda Bagshot, Harry/Hermione fake sexy times *shudder*) I insisted he see it in true IMAX (there is only one legit IMAX theater in Dallas), so he was even more nervous that the sound and huge picture would basically cast the dark mark on his head and death curse him into an early grave. 

Well, he made it through the movie and even declared that it was "more awesome than scary" when it was all said and done. He did cry quietly when Hermione had to wipe herself from her parents memories (he hugged me and was shaking and sniffling - I love him for being a bigger sissy than me) and said something that made me question if he is actually my child: When Harry, Ron and Hermione woke up the morning after spending the night at the Black's house (it's a really beautiful wide shot from above of a parlor with natural light coming through the windows) he leaned over and whispered,"That's beautiful. I just love early mornings, especially on Saturdays when I have nothing to do. They're so awesome and beautiful." Yes, this is my child who sets his alarm for 6:03am, despite the fact that he doesn't have to be at school till 8:15 and it takes him 10 minutes to get ready, just because he likes to "enjoy the morning." Maybe he was living vicariously through them because they don't have to drag their parents out of bed to get to school.

So, yes, it was a success. All of it except getting a picture of us in our Harry Potter shirts. He would not hold still long enough for that to happen. His is pretty rad though, isn't it? 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This has been life all week

If you're not familiar, this is what it looks like when you come home from grad school early and still have final papers to write and your giant Nonny (my affectionate name for Splinter) demands prime territory on top of your notes.

Yep, I've been writing from about 7am to midnight (or 2am) every day since I got home, with short breaks for the following:
 The lovely Daniel let me borrow this treasure for the flight home. I have read it thrice. Maybe if I were less of a little boy at heart I would be better at grad school and dating and life in general.
I've also taken a lunch break every day, spent eating sandwiches with B at his school. As you can see, he finally got in the Boba Fett lunchbox he'd been waiting forever for. He also crosses his eyes in every picture, which drives me endlessly crazy... which is probably why he does it. Lunch at his school is so weird. The kids are nice and well behaved. It's a small school full of smart kids who eat healthy lunches and talk quietly. There are only three tables and the cafeteria is generally clean when they're done with it. There are no boys mixing all of their food together (chocolate milk included) and daring each other to eat it, no lunch meat flying across the room and hitting a little girl in the head, no yelling or arguing over seat assignments. In fact, there are no seat assignments. The kids can sit wherever they'd like and they do... with no drama... at all. I don't understand this. It goes against everything I learned as a child and everything B experienced in New York. Yesterday the served lunch was a choice of salad or a turkey sandwich full of veggies and kids were happily eating it! Honestly, little things like this are the reason I keep some faith in the world.

So that's been my life. I Skyped into my last class of the semester last night to give my presentation. It turns out Digital Preservation class gives you a migraine whether you're at NYU or in your bed in Texas. Killer headache and all, I presented and feel worlds better than I did this time last semester. There is no comparison, really. I'm actually on top of things and feeling optimistic. Also, that presentation is on its way to becoming something special for my fellow bloggers. I'll explain more once the semester is over. I have one more very big paper to finish that will probably take today and tomorrow and then I get to think about that, my thesis and the holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The time has come.

He has officially outgrown his small skateboard. 
Time to [tell Santa to] go back to Index for the real deal.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

meltdowns, leaving nyc, life is hard, my friends are the greatest... the usual.

Friday we had a little potluck/holiday party thing. It was nice. A collective of great friends, a decorated apartment, food and drink, White Christmas on in the background and Christmas songs playing. I was wearing a new dress, was in an exceptionally good mood -- I love to host -- and was overall rather jolly. So I'm mid-laughter with some darling friends from New Jersey when my phone starts ringing. It's B. I could just not answer, he could go to bed, my glorious last night of the year in the city could continue on and I would see him back in Texas the next day. But the mom guilt kicks in and I excuse myself to take his call. Suddenly there are tears on the other end of the line and I am transported from the beautiful, chilly, festive Brooklyn evening to the tragic situation awaiting me in Texas -- the thing I've been trying to put out of mind until I'm there. He overheard things and became upset. He needed his mom and I needed to know what it was he overheard, so I ask to talk to grandma. She sounds tired and stressed, and needs to talk about serious things that I'm not ready to talk about. (I'm still not ready to talk about it, I'm sorry.) I think it all hit me in that moment. I am dizzy and nauseous. I get off the phone and go into the kitchen for some water but can barely walk, drop my glass. I didn't know what I was feeling, other than sick, until Swinny came into the bathroom with me and hugged me, told me it was normal to feel like that, let me throw up and cry, let it all out. The party pretty much ended there. Oh god, how terrible I feel about that. I just sat on the floor in the bathroom and wept -- what a scene -- while Swinny held me and comforted me (not the first time that's happened, bless her). Then I pow-wowed in the living room with Sam and Swinny and Fran Drescher (like I do most nights) and we ate Sam's amazing derby pie and cuddled. Daniel stayed with me the rest of the night, got me into a cab in the morning, saw me to the airport. I feel endlessly awful that I ruined a lovely night, but even more grateful for the people in my life. I don't know if I could have come home to this with my head on straight had I not been allowed to lose it for a bit the night before. Darling, wonderful friends: I love you. I am without words. My cup runs over. I promise to throw an even better party to make it up to you all. 

I apologize for the tense shift and overall lack of grammatical correctness. Sometimes I just need to spill. If you made it this far, you deserve to see beautiful pictures of the Rockefeller Center tree that Swinny and I took the other day when we decided to be tourists. So pretty! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Tree at 2B

We're all leaving town soon to spend the break between semesters with our families, so instead of buying a tree we decided to decorate the inside of our apartment with lights and I painted a little Charlie Brown tree on our wall. It fits us so well, I don't think any of us will mind having it around permanently. I think I should add a little bow with our names on it, as Swinny suggested, since there is a little bit of this tree in each of us.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Compartmentalizing

This is a new skill I'm trying to master and I'm quite satisfied with myself for getting this far. I sort of have two lives right now and those two lives have a billion different components that are spread out all around me and far away from me and I have to be responsible or at least mindful of all of them. That run-on sentence alone gives me anxiety.

To cope I'm attempting to think very small. It's hard because I'm a big picture thinker by nature, but it's been a revelation for my state of mind. Right now I have two more papers to write, a movie to see (The Black Swan), one potluck to host and a plane to catch Saturday morning.

Once I get home Saturday I have presents to buy, interviews, business meetings, lunches, a little boy to smother and a grandma to take care of. I have to update everyone on her situation and then get out of the house as soon as possible. She needs to be away from people to recover, so B and I are spending the holidays elsewhere.

It's a lot but I'm doing really well, actually. Everything seems to be in its place and I'm taking it hour by hour, day by day. Plowing ahead and reveling in the moment. This is a huge deal for me. I've made major strides in the last six months toward maturity and grace under pressure. I'm trying to be a better, stronger, kinder, braver person. Oh, I have so, so far to go, yes, but the fact that I'm not in the fetal position in bed right now gives me hope that I'm getting somewhere.

FYI:

That terrible movie we saw was The Warriors Way. My friend Ben arranged this double date for us and picked out the movie. Never again. I think it may actually be the worst distributed film (because festival films don't count) I've ever seen. You've been warned.

FYI the second:

SPAGHATTA TACA (the title of a previous post) was in reference to this:

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/02/spaghatta-nadle.html

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

This weekend I:

- Went on a nice date to see a truly terrible movie.
- Did not see The Black Swan, despite the fact that I've been waiting my whole life (and, realistically, over a year) for it. Le Sigh.
- Almost died of embarrassment.
- Ate at two delicious vegetarian restaurants: Quantum Leap in Manhattan and Veggie Heaven in New Jersey. Yum.
- Took my buddy Sneve clothes shopping and had the MOST fun in the process.
- Went to Asbury Park in NJ with the same Sneve (who was also present at the vegetarian restaurants) and saw a big Christmas tree and a mid-day punk show - The Ergs, so fun.
- Didn't really sleep.
- Worked on my Digital Preservation paper, which is all about blogging. (Which is also the only reason I'm posting right now when I really don't feel like it at all.)
- Got an update on my grandma (just a couple hours ago) that I will share as soon as I muster the energy. Right now I am tired and Francoise Hardy is trying to sing me to sleep. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SPAGHATTA TACA

iCarly is funny. I know I'm not supposed to like my kid's shows, but I can't help it. The older brother is hot and I am basically grownup Sam. B and I have seasons of it on DVD and he records new episodes so we can watch them together when I'm in Texas. It reminds me of the old Pete and Pete days of the Nick of my childhood. Ever since my first semester of MIAP when I discovered that my classmate gals love it too, I've thought about making Spencer's famous (among the K - 5 crowd) spaghetti tacos.
Last night was the night. A night for Love Actually, girl talk and SPAGHETTI TACOS. In my family we do taco bars -- complete with every topping you could ever want, real meat and soy "meat" for moi, different cheeses, veggies, salsas and so on -- so I did it the only way I know how:
- spicy spaghetti sauce
- separate spicy sauce with Boca crumbles for me
- my hand fried crispy taco shells like my mom makes
- typical taco shells from a box in case no one likes the ones I make
- mozzarella
- fresh spinach
- pesto
- black olives
Oddly enough, it wasn't that weird and was super delicious. The roomies enjoyed as did the other 4 of us, and even Swinny's heart was warmed by Love Actually. 
Girl nights are the best.
Anyone else brave enough to admit to watching iCarly? 
Perhaps even making this delicacy?