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Memoir

Sweet Nothings

Happy Holidays, Yo

Requisite holiday snapshot of the husband and me

Requisite holiday snapshot of the husband and me

It’s that time of year again. Time to pose in goofy photo booths at holiday parties, drink too much eggnog, cry about all the weight that will inevitably be gained from said eggnog, and then eat an entire gingerbread house to cheer one’s self up. Yup, that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Except, when I’m not stifling my cries with gingerbread, I’m actually feeling damn grateful for this past year, and — to top that off — I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited to embark on a new one…

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Sweet Nothings

Complementary Colors

Paint-streaked brick building

My best friend from childhood once decorated her college dorm room in vibrant blues and oranges. From the moment this sea of complementary colors enveloped her room, she wondered aloud whether the oil-pastel drawings covering the walls and swaths of patterned, Indian fabrics draping the bed and windows would make her dizzy with the way the hues buzzed off each others’ surfaces. But, I loved everything about them and came to associate orange and blue with my home away from home. I would take Amtrak to visit her for long weekends on her campus, which was just outside New York City, and we would stay up far too late listening to piano-driven pop music and talking about art, what little we knew of love, and our dreams. Everything about our futures seemed so limitless back then, and – the funny thing is – merely thinking about this friend’s pastel drawings and our endless conversations makes my future feel similarly boundless even now…

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Sweet Nothings

The Dear Hunter

My dad carrying me on his back through the woods of Massachusetts

My parents met while teaching at a school for deaf boys, which meant both that they were fluent in sign language and liked a certain degree of quiet. This last bit has always been particularly true of my dad, a man who’s been known to disappear for whole days on nature trails and has read every single Russian or French novel that’s ever weighed in at over 1,000 pages. Fittingly, my sisters and I bonded with him over mellow activities in our childhood – be it through exploring Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, dissecting the characters of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” or taste testing pizzas all around New England. Another quiet obsession he tried to draw us into long ago was that of deer hunting, err gazing…

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Inspiring Tidbits, Sweet Nothings

Why I Write

Typewriter, flowers and coffee – I wish my writing set up looked like this

It can happen somewhere as simple as a doctor’s office or cafe, but all it takes is a glimpse of medical scrubs or chef’s whites and I’m a goner. I drift into a daydream in which I wake up to morning sun as gentle as lemonade and a kitchen sink that isn’t full of dishes, and then I pack a thermos of soup for lunch and ride my bike to work in a neatly starched uniform. At the office, I file things away the moment they cross my desk, make a difference in people’s lives for hours on end, and then maybe rehearse for a community theater production of “Pippin” before biking home for dinner. Once I get to this point in my fantasy, an optometrist usually jars me awake with, “Now, cover your left eye,” and I look back at him/her with what can only seem like the most psychotic brand of puppy-dog infatuation on the planet. Yeah, that’s right: I fantasize about being an optometrist. I realize this may sound insane, considering many an optometrist, chef, or meter maid out there probably fantasizes about being a writer on a regular basis, but what can I say? I feel there’s something positively dreamy about uniforms, office hours and designated stopping points…

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Sweet Nothings

Almost Home

Doesn’t Sarah Maingot’s photograph of warm socks and breakfast make you instantly feel at home?

What makes a place feel like home? Is it the freedom to eat breakfast for dinner whenever you please, the smell of your favorite shampoo, or simply the people you share it with? I remember spending childhood summers at my cousin’s house on Cape Cod and I fondly recall all the strange yet wonderful sensations that told me I was far from my own home. For starters, there were vast backyards of running space unlike anything that existed in Boston, the excruciatingly itchy bites of beach flies, and the pruned fingertips that came from afternoons spent in the deep ends of swimming pools. One such deep end belonged to my cousin’s grandmother, and – because back then I found this concept of swimming pools outside of the YMCA let alone in someone’s home particularly exotic – I would plead with my cousin to spend whole days “backyard swimming.”

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Sweet Nothings

Southern Comfort

An old VW Bug painted like the state flag of Texas, which I spotted on the streets of Austin a few weeks ago

Once upon an abandoned parking lot in 2005 there lay a dead bird and an industrial-sized snow scraper atop sweltering Texan asphalt. It was the middle of March and I had just moved to Austin three days prior without a single job prospect or acquaintance as far as the eye could see, and this mammoth snow scraper had become my weapon of choice in lieu of a knight in shining armor on speed dial. About an hour earlier, I’d set out to Home Depot with the simplest intention of buying an extra can of “Orange Rose” paint so I could finish my living room walls, but the universe had other plans… Just as I was turning onto a highway access road and hitting the accelerator, no less than 30 young birds alighted off the ground at a nearby street corner. I’m sure there is a mathematical equation that could explain how my speed times their velocity and the gusty winds equaled fatal contact, but who needs numbers when you’ve got visceral dings, splats, and oozes of green slime?

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Sweet Nothings

Maternal Instincts

My mother swinging me around, giving me a unique view of the world at an early age

Although I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day and all its Hallmark-Crown glory, I couldn’t help thinking of my own mom whenever I saw the maternal-themed balloons, bouquets and jewelry billboards this weekend. She is not the kind of lady who covets jewels, new clothes or flowers, though, and this means all the gaudy decorations of the world only further remind me of what she’s taught me. Since giving birth, my mother has been a master of making something from nothing – she sewed almost all of my clothing herself, made popsicles, bread and every imaginable other food item from scratch, and even crafted homemade Care Bears and Cabbage Patch dolls for me and my sisters. She was able to camouflage any tight times by turning cash-saving projects into adventures, and yet one thing she never camouflaged was herself and her flaws. My mom taught me that being a woman isn’t just about being pretty and applying lipstick, and she showed me this by example – I don’t think I ever saw her wear makeup, wrinkle creams or something that remotely resembled control-top pantyhose. Instead, she painted her face to play make believe, let us dress her in our own zany designs, and sacrificed beauty rest to drive me to late-night theater rehearsals…

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