Friday, December 31, 2010

Feels like Sunday...

I'm not really a New Year's Eve kinda person; when you get tired at about 9:00 PM and you get sweaty palms thinking about being in a group of people you don't know that well, you're probably not destined to ring in the new year with anyone other than your spouse or cat.  I don't mind, though.  I'll be establishing my sleep routine while the rest of y'all are standing around waiting for that ball to drop.  (It will drop whether I watch it or not, I figure.)  Anyway...

It feels like Sunday today.  This is precisely because yesterday was a) not a workday and b) payday.  I spent the morning planning my meals for the next two weeks (oh, excitement, thy name is Heather) and then I spent the afternoon hitting up the bank, Wal Mart, and both grocery stores.  (I get E's special foods at one store and all the cheapie stuff at another store.)  By the time I got home, I was beat.  Today feels like Sunday because I hit up our last beginning-of-the-month store, Costco.  I figured I better get in there and fight the crowds because tomorrow they're going to be closed.  I am now beat, again.

The reason I bring all this up is that I'm glad it's not actually Sunday yet, because I have a lot to do before I go back to work.  Namely: think about work.  I don't want to spend my weekend running around like a chicken with my head cut off (which is what I feel like today).

So if you will excuse me, I will now go take my last nap of 2010, and after that I'll eat my last smoked pork roast of 2010, and maybe watch my last movie of 2010.  E is at the vet with Hurley dog--hopefully they can figure out why he can't stop regurgitating his food every time he eats.  Perhaps he thinks he's a mama bird?  I'm telling you, it's a rockin' New Year's Eve over here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tales from Sports Medicine

I'm back from my sports medicine appointment, and rather than feeling like I got called into the principal's office, I feel like I aced a fatty final exam. BOOM. I don't know why I'm always afraid when I go in--oh wait, I do... it's because I'm scared of everything--but I got verbally high-fived by my doc today for my regained strength from physical therapy and swimming, and she laughed off my confession that I haven't done anything since Christmas.


All of her tests today confirmed what the PT said a few weeks ago, that my legs are equal in strength and my hip healed well. She said today she can see a big difference in the swelling over my right knee/ IT band. Since I've been having no pain, this is all great and it makes my little day. The only area where I didn't score high marks was the flexibility of my right hip flexor. That's been around a long time, like since bun-head ballet days. She said in order to fix the flexibility there I need to amp up my stretching to FOUR TIMES A DAY. You guys, I don't do anything four times a day, except maybe use the bathroom. That is going to be a challenge. Hey, we all need goals, right? So if you see me stretching in the middle of the Wal Marts, keep your giggles to yourself.

As of today I'm released from seeing the doc... Go forth, young PDawg. Be free... I have one more appointment with the PT to see how I'm progressing, but as of today here is their plan for me, which I like (not that anyone is asking). You can bet your sweet bippy I'm going to spend some serious time on Excel this afternoon (oh crap, as I type this I am realizing that Excel is one of the things that I don't have on my new Mac Fuji yet. I guess I will be doing this on Google Docs until I can get him up to speed.) to plan out my next few months. Nothing I like better than a chart or a checklist.

But here's an overview of what lies ahead:

2-4 more weeks (I'm going with 4 because I'm trying to be extra conservative about PT): continue strength-building PT, regular stretching; swimming and walking okay

4 additional weeks: start a walk/run plan to build back the endurance in my weaker muscles. No run/walking on consecutive days, but I can alternate with swimming

After that: RUNNING :)

She explained how she wants me to gradually get back to running by incorporating short runs (like a few minutes at a time, at first) into longer walks. As I listened, it reminded me of a Couch to 5K type thing, so I asked her if I should handle it as though my hip was a person starting to run who had never done any running before. She said exactly. I know that it will try my patience a little, but it will feel good to move, even a little. I'm planning to continue the swimming for at least the next two months, and then I can reevaluate what I need to do for cross-training. The weather will be better by then (I hope) too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Oh, final days of vacation. You are so good to me and yet slightly sad because I'm trying to avoid the countdown back to work. I'll happily fill you with the sunshine of good company--real sunshine* apparently only appearing at this point as a caesura between storms--but you are slipping through my fingers.

I've spent lots of time this vacation watching good stories--probably my favorite way to spend alone time if I'm not running. I'm on an Audrey Hepburn kick at K's suggestion--in the last two weeks I've watched The Nun's Story, Roman Holiday, (most of) Charade (--I'm working on it), Breakfast at Tiffany's and Wait Until Dark (Two for the Road was a few weeks ago). I am also watching my way through a box of movies that included Crossing Delancey. I re-watched The Holiday, It's Complicated and The Family Stone on TV. I went with my parents to see White Christmas and with K to see Black Swan and E and I had a good laugh at the most inappropriate (and funny) Christmas movie of all time, Bad Santa. Man, that seems like a lot of TV and movie-watching... I'm not sure how I had time to do anything else! That doesn't even include the eighteen-or-so episodes of Dr. Quinn I've seen this week (my guilty pleasure) or the first disc of LOST on blu-ray (a Christmas present).

It's been a good week in books, too. I finished up reading Cutting for Stone early last week but I waited to download any new Kindle books until after Christmas, just in case. Last night I bought Cleopatra: A Life and I have Major Pettigrew's Last Stand up after that. I spent some more time perusing the free Kindle downloads list and I came away with The Picture of Dorian Gray, Little Women, Emma and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, all classics that I have yet to read. Nothing like stockpiling free reads for a rainy day. I did a little non-book window shopping on Amazon last night, too. I think I'm going to use some Christmas money to treat myself to two things I didn't get but really wanted--new skullcandy earbuds (Hurley ate E's old ones) for running and an iPhone armband that's actually made for an iPhone (unlike the wonky one I've been jamming my phone into for two years).

Today I put away Christmas presents and made the family room presentable again. The kids asked me to open just one more box about every half hour or so. Henry's so excited that his little feet can't hold still. The ants in his pants have ants in their pants. I Skyped for the first time ever. (Here's a comment that will make me sound 90 years old but I don't care because it's true:) What a trip. I loved it. I found my kitchen, scrubbed a few dishes, dumped all the old food in the fridge. Do you see me, payday? I'm so ready for you. Come on over.

I had thoughts about leaving the house today but anything I wanted to accomplish outside the house didn't seem worth getting wet/ washing my hair/ putting on a bra and(/or?) shoes/ being cold/ the effort. Maybe tomorrow... I have to see the doc so I can tell her I haven't been doing my PT exercises as much as I should for my hip since Christmas... (I feel like I'm getting called to the principal's office!) so I'll be out anyway. I've got big plans to make soup with K and to eat ice cream for my sister Lis' Christmas Eve birthday. Big day.

Did I mention that I love being on vacation? I feel like my life is my own.

*Did I ever tell you this, Internet? When I was a kid, every time I saw rays of sunshine through a cloud, I thought that it was what God looked like. Like I could really see HIM right there, you know? Shining through the clouds in some beams, showing Himself to the whole world? I know I got a bookmark in Bible study that had a verse on it with those beams of light and they're definitely one of the more utilized motifs in Christian inspirational accoutrements and children's books. So I associated beams with the man upstairs. For this reason, I still really enjoy those moments when the sun filters through in clearly defined beams. It's a happy little memory.

2010 Reflection Questions

I used these questions last year for an end of the year reflection post and I really enjoyed looking back as I wrote them; I decided to answer them again.  I got them from Simple Mom.  You can find the full original attribution information or read last year's answers by clicking here.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

I'm gonna go splitsies on this one and say that two things were the "single biggest thing(s) that happened this year." Neither of them actually were my doing, but they both changed my life. The first was finding out E passed the Bar exam in May.  Our lives were on hold until we got that piece of news, and it felt like a door opened for us to the world.  The second was E's getting the perfect job with the state.  This job was tailor-made for him, it seems, but it was a happy accident of luck and timing that he ended up with it this year.  We're so grateful, and it has changed both our lives for him to have it.  While obvious examples come to mind--financial, especially--the biggest change has been to see him proud to do the work he does, to see him challenged by it, to see him comfortably settling into a routine.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Hands down, the single most challenging thing that happened was losing both our dogs, Gus and Cal on a single day.  I've experienced loss before, but this was tragic and it was so unexpected that it thrust us headfirst into an area of adulthood that we weren't prepared to take on.  There must be moments where every parent realizes that it's up to him or her to do what's needed from then on.  It was heart-wrenching and life changing for us to have to parent our kids through such a painful thing.

A secondary challenge was our financial situation at the start of the year as E had been out of law school for almost half a year but hadn't passed the Bar yet or successfully found a job that could keep us afloat.  It's amazing how much pretending we did when things were dire--pretending in front of the kids that things were fine, pretending to friends and family that we could handle our situation.  Money can be such an embarrassing thing to not have.  I wouldn't say we're rolling in it now, but I am thankful as ever that we've reached a place of stability.  We went from tenuous to dire but with E's new job this year we were able to pull ourselves up and out of it.  When we were in it, I didn't think it would ever end.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

An unexpected joy this past year was my quiet summer at home, and the growth I did in learning to find happiness in small, day-to-day things.  I made activities like running and walking a priority, I narrowed my focus and my list of responsibilities, and I was consequently able to enjoy my life so much more.  It feels like I'm a different person than I was two or three years ago.  I've made a lot of conscious decisions to pursue positivity this year, and they've paid off.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

An unexpected obstacle was injuring my hip in the middle of the best stretch of regular running I've had to date.  I guess God wanted me to learn a lesson about patience or taking things for granted.  You'd think that I have had enough of my share of those lessons by now, right?  I know it doesn't work that way.  I've been trying to approach this injury the right way--by taking time to let it heal and by doing my physical therapy and swimming as much as I can--I miss running, big time, but I'm hoping that a conscious choice of a positive attitude about it will help me to come back to running stronger and able to push my body harder.  There are so many blatant metaphors for life that come with running; I'm learning that sometimes one learns lessons by not running, too.

5. Pick three words to describe 2010.

Calmer, settled, improving

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2010 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).

Rested, healthy, homey

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2010 (again, without asking).

Responsible, disciplined, adult

8. What were the best books you read this year?

Most enjoyable read end-to-end: The Help
Most enlightening: In Defense of Food
Perfect sweet summer fun: My Life In France
Lost myself in another world: Cutting for Stone

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

2010 was a year to spend more time with my kids, and unlike so many people I know, I actually really dig hanging out with my two monkeys.  They're so well-behaved, so kind, so sweet... I don't deserve them, really.  Even when they're bad they're not too bad and they crack me up on a regular basis.  One of my greatest blessings is that I have a job that I love and which also happens to afford me time at home with them.

E and I continued to heal our relationship in 2010.  We've been able to graduate from the scripted marital band-aid that was Retrouvaille (which, don't get me wrong, we needed badly and still do from time to time) and begin to create our own healthier means of communication and relating to each other.  Ours is never going to be a smooth road, but it's okay.  We're hanging in there for each other, choosing love even when we don't feel it, and continuing to meet challenges together.

Another valuable relationship this year was with K.  Though she's been in my life for sixteen years, our relationship has grown and changed; I am thankful for what it is today and thankful that we spend so much time together walking and talking.  My friendship with her allowed me to see some things differently this year, and for that I am grateful.

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

I am definitely more happy.  Happy is a silly thing--trying to chase it makes you nuts, but letting go helps you find it.  I don't think I've ever felt more happy and peaceful in my marriage.  It rocks.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I don't know if this falls under emotional or physical growth--probably it's more psychological--but I feel like I had some big growth when it comes to my anxiety.  My Crazies have been around a long time and I've managed them different ways (including not managing them) but this year I saw a different therapist and a few of the things she said really made sense to me.  I learned that my anxiety centers around panic attacks, and I spent some time reading about treatment and how exposure therapy makes a difference.  With that in mind I think I've been better able to handle the any Crazies that come my way by just acknowledging them and not trying to fight them or talk myself down.  Realizing that my fear response is just out of whack (or that anxiety very often equals misdirected anger) helps me to look at what's going on like an outsider, and it's not nearly as scary.  The growth feels deeply personal--nobody else knows the ups and downs of The Crazies as they come--but I believe that understanding myself in that way has had an effect on my emotions.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

This year I was much more conscious of a daily dialogue with God.  The pain of 2008 and 2009 made that so difficult, and as I am sure is true for most people who face obstacles, my prayers then had devolved into pleas for help and improvement. I think I felt a better sense of balance in 2010.   I also think that my conscious efforts at positivity and gratitude helped this along.  It's so much easier to be thankful when I'm focusing on the here and now, not what's to come.  My biggest regret, spiritually, is the same as it has been for several years: that I haven't been able to find a way to integrate church into our family routine.  There's a multitude of reasons I won't go into here, but it remains on my heart that I wish I had a church family, and I want that for our kids as well because it was a huge part of my childhood and it profoundly influenced who I grew up to be.  Something to work on, I suppose.  It wasn't possible to fix my entire life at the same time.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

My running stalled in the early months of the year as we started to do P90X.  I enjoyed working out with E, but then I didn't return to running until late spring.  It's so hard for me to work out when it's dark.  I'm such a sun addict.  I grew, however, when I returned to running this summer.  I was better at sticking to my schedule than ever, I ran with PEOPLE for the first time in my life, I really felt like running changed me, and I shaved some time off of last year's half marathon time when I ran the Urban Cow in October.  Running is here to stay, but swimming has formed a nice little place in my heart too.  I hope 2011 brings lots and lots of cross-training.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

Last year I talked about how I essentially let most of my non-marriage relationships go out of necessity, and that I was looking forward to rejoining the rest of the world.  I did, and it came withe some more growing.  This growth for me came in mid-May when I had a difficult situation with a friend.  I know that even in my dealings with E and our marriage and all the growth I did there last year, I was still hanging on to the idea that things could/should be always made right between people, that people needed to see when they hurt others and apologize or deal with every single thing that transpired.  I had to let go of that not just in my marriage, but in my friendships too.  

This year I tried to accept the imperfection of things, to show other people (for probably the first time) the same forgiveness and acceptance of imperfection that I would want shown to me, to realize that things are not ever going to be perfect, but that by showing forgiveness and asking for it, things can be good.  I had to take a good look at how I'd been acting and own up to my behavior too.  I tried to better understand how people might act out of hurt or pain because I'd been there myself.  Doing so also helped me release a little fear of imperfection in myself and it changed how I relate to people.  I had been too hard on me and on other people.  People aren't perfect; things are never black and white.  Last year I learned to choose love with E even when I don't feel it; this year I learned to do the same with others in my life.

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?

E's ridiculous (sorry, honey) food allergies forced a diet change last year, but with the addition of all the new known allergies this year, I had to adapt even more.  As the person most responsible for what we eat around here, I took my job seriously.  I read a lot about food, allergies, cooking, and health.  As a result, our diet changed substantially from what we'd both been eating our whole lives.  I came to love cooking in a new way that included shopping for fresh produce, understanding what organic, cage-free and grass-fed meant, and allowing natural flavors to flavor and influence our meals.  I enjoy all of the steps of the cooking and eating process--shopping at supermarkets, fruit stands and farmers markets, growing our own veggies and fruit, prepping food and meal planning, cooking, reading recipes and eating.  This year was a good year for good food.

16. What was your most challenging area of home management?

I repeat my answer from last year: Laundry.  Effing never-ending laundry. Ugh.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

I spent a lot of time on Facebook again, but I'm at a place of acceptance with that so I won't call it a waste.  Too many good things have come out of it to give it a bad rap.  I feel good about the choices I made this past year, even the ones to "waste" time in leisure or things I enjoy that don't serve a purpose.  I didn't guilt myself to death about relaxing and I made sure to leave time in my schedule for life to just happen.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

The best way I used my time was at home and in my real life.  Rather than letting my family time be what happened in between obligations elsewhere, I made it a priority.  Cooking, spending time with family and friends, walking, running, reading, blogging, crocheting--these things are small but they allowed me to be happy in 2010.  In order to do that I had to get better at saying no but I'm beginning to realize that the small disappointment someone feels when you tell them no often fades away quickly and it's worth the grief you'll skip in the long run.  Allowing myself to enjoy my real life was the best thing I did.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

Forgiveness.  I continue to be humbled by its importance in all my relationships.  It's a challenge for me to give it or to ask for it, but I feel like so doing makes me a better person every time I'm able.  It's a complex thing between humans, don't you think?  I am sure it will continue to be something I work on for a long time.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2010 for you.

Real life is what matters.  Choose accordingly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What I want to remember:

I want to remember everyone at Grandma Lila's wearing red, black and white. I want to remember Aunt Anne's "moonshine" and all its Christmasy spice. I want to remember surprise visitors and enough soup to feed the masses. I want to remember chaos and noise and crazy nephews. I want to remember Hurley eating Santa's cookies before the kids could even go to bed. Leaving the fireplace cracked for S.C. Kids so excited that they can't go to sleep--but so obedient and good that they oblige without complaint. I want to remember E up into the wee hours, shuffling around in the front room secretly. I want to remember waking up before the kids, more excited than I've ever been to open my own presents. This year giving was so much fun. I want to remember how it felt to be spoiled by E, how thoughtful and well-planned his gift was. I want to remember feeling so loved by what he did for me, and that knowing giving gifts is his love language makes it all the more special. I want to remember that Santa spoiled our kids because they truly were as good this year as any two kids could be. I don't know what I did to receive such a gift, but they bless me every day with their sweet spirits, their kindness, and their generosity.

I want to remember that Addie tucked two envelopes with four dollars each into our stockings, and that she gave nearly all that she had because she understands the true spirit of giving and Christmas. I want to remember Henry kissing me on both cheeks before we opened presents and saying "Mom, you're my Christmas girl." I want to remember Dad frying bacon and Mom glowing at the sight of her girls and grandkids celebrating a Christmas morning together for the first time in years. I want to remember sharing coffee with D, and managing to forget whose cup was whose. I want to remember a rainy drive to Modesto, holding hands with E. Roast "beast." Lizzy Mug in her Christmas tights, being soothed by her Uncle E. Grandpa Ted talking in my ear kindly even though the kids were distracting me. E and Kev, sharing quiet conversations that must have felt like old times. Driving home in the downpour. Kids passing out in their fancy clothes. Staying up until 1:00 AM to play with my new computer.

I want to remember Henry, barfing into E's sweatshirt in the car. A warm fire in Placerville. A mother-in-law who cooks way too much food because she loves her family that much. Hand-selected Sees that got mixed up in the wrapping. Playing Kinect with April. Lizzy kicking away on the floor. The smell of a new smoker and the sight of a happy father-in-law. Rest. I want to remember driving home, getting a special text from K as she opened her presents. I want to remember riding along in peace and gratitude, my heart fuller than the trunk or our bellies.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Three. Six. Five.

Three days.  Six Christmases (counting last weekend's).  Five houses.  And a partridge in a pear tree.

We're home!  It feels like three weeks ago that we left for Christmas Eve at my Grandma Lila's house, not three days.  What a wonderful Christmas, though.  We have such thoughtful, generous families, but the real blessing is being able to see so many relatives in such a short time.  We are rich in love (and cousins).

My favorite Christmas present?  Family.  Small, large, extended, adopted, friends-who-are-like, etc.

My new MacBook, Fuji (yes I named him after the only apples I'll eat), is dusting my face with a heavenly glow, and Disc 1 of LOST on blu-ray is blowing up the surround sound in my bedroom.  All if calm, all is bright.  E and I are tap, tap, tapping away on our (separate!) laptops in close proximity and the monkeys are snuggled in their beds, visions of sugarplums and post-sugarplum car barfs dancing in their heads.

Today was our final Christmas celebration, a jaunt up the hill in our cozies to see E's parents and April's family.  I have to say that nothin' says lovin' like a box of personally selected See's Candy.  My MIL gives each of the adult kids in the family his or her own box of favorites every year and it's a small but wonderful thing.  Nothing like opening a box of See's without worry that you'll have to spit out a rum nougat and go back in for another dive.  Today was snuggly and relaxed--no rush to hop in the car and drive anywhere.  The kids got to play with the Kinect that Santa brought and I can tell it's going to be a winner around here for a while.

Tomorrow is Sleep In, Dig Through Our Presents and Play, Play Play Day.  I predict an 80% chance of jammies all day, with intermittent light snacking in the afternoon.

Now if you'll excuse me, the Smoke Monster is calling.  And no, that's not a euphemism for anything, it's straight up about John Locke.  LOST calls.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

Today is a definite moment of joy. I'm thankful for a family that's whole, two jobs that allowed us to spoil our kiddos, and a thoughtful husband.

What's Christmas morning without a few bad hair/jammies photos?

We had to try out Photo Booth on my new MacBook.  I wish you all peace and joy this morning.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Looking back...

I can't write "looking back" without hearing Garth Brooks singing The Dance.  Coincidentally, that was a song E and I slow danced to, my heart a tangled extension cord of nervousness, on our first big date, the Winter Homecoming dance in 1996.  I can barely listen to it, the memories of tingling nerves and sweaty palms are so raw.  That song feels all about my wanting this boy to like me, not knowing how to do "the dance" of teenage dating, and anxiously hoping he felt the same.  It captures a perfect moment in time.

The lyrics (which I so happily ignored as a teen) are sad.  Profound.  They're about how we can't avoid pain because in so doing, we'd lose the experiences we get by risking love.  In a greater sense, they are about how we have to be thankful for what we get to live--that even if it ends in pain there was something redeeming about the dance we had with each other--and that much of life is up to fate.  If you've been hanging around long enough to know our challenging marital struggle, you know that this song parallels things for me in more ways than I could probably put into words.

This Christmas I'm thankful for a different type of dance: the one E and I did over a long and difficult year last year to put our family back together.  He retook the Bar exam.  I said no to things that didn't matter.  We scrimped and planned and made family time a priority.  We shouldered pain for our kids.  We remembered that we like each other.  Last Christmas I wrote of how heartbreaking our financial situation was, how lean and meager it felt, and how the pain doubled because my ironic expectation was that once we came together again in marriage, everything else would work out with ease.  It took another year of struggle, of relearning patterns between us and of realizing that we had to just keep moving forward.  I'm thankful for that dance because it was the final push in a change to my world view.  I started really growing up when E and I separated, but it wasn't until long after we came back together that I put those lessons into action.  One of the hardest things for me to learn has been that happy is not a place at which I will arrive and set up camp.  Happy is, like Carl Sandburg says of poetry, "the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment."  I've glimpsed my share of happy, but seeing it as a finish line means that everything else is work.

This year's joy has been in celebrating the small, (not to beat the metaphor to death, but) the dance.  It has been in realizing that awareness of each moment brings so much more gratitude and joy than waiting for a date circled red on the calendar.  In celebrating the ordinary, it doesn't seem like such a failure for me that E and I still fight, that we have months with 30 days of fun and only 20 days of money, that I am sometimes not the friend I aim to be, or that our kids sometimes act like wild, selfish apes.  It helps me get through my day or my school year or my run with thankfulness that I am so able instead of dread and impatience for the distance to the finish.

Looking back on this year I am able to see that I had so much more peace and joy than I've ever had.  I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I did in some other years, but I protected what mattered, and I think I did my best job of pausing to look around, to smell the cold air on a run or burn the image of a family dinner with a five and eight year old into my memory.  I don't know what lies ahead, but I'm thankful for this year's dance.

Merry Christmas Eve.  May your day be filled with small joy as well.

In a few days I'll be posting this year's answers to the same Yearly Reflection Questions I posted last year.  Click the link if you'd like to copy and paste and join in.  Enjoy.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Tradition: Family Night at the Movies

A few weeks ago, Groupon had a deal for White Christmas at Sacramento's Crest theater. The tickets included admission, a large drink and a large popcorn for only $9. My sister, Lis, and I snatched four of them up quickly so we could relive a little family tradition.

White Christmas is my mom's favorite movie, ever. As kids we watched it year-round: first with her, and then as we got older, on our own. The weeks before Christmas when Mom would bake would always include a viewing (or two). I had the dance numbers memorized by the time I was in high school (especially the tap numbers in "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing" and "Abraham"--love those). I would rewind and watch each number over and over again--I always wanted to be Rosemary Clooney's character, Betty Haynes, and I always envisioned Lis as Judy to my Betty. Over time, White Christmas became one of my favorite movies too. It's familiar and heart-warming like Disneyland; I accept the sticky-sweet parts because I love that something so positive and wholesome can make me smile and bring my family together.

We spent years trading the small lines from the movie as our dinner conversation. "Very funny," my dad would quip, "oh-oh-oh. The crooner is now becoming the comic." We prided ourselves on trivia and little-known history surrounding the movie long before there was such a thing as IMDB. At one point we started making trips downtown to see the movie on the big screen at the Crest, a restored theater from the late 1940's. Some years we'd ice skate before or after. We'd park and ride the light rail into town--that made it feel all the more like something exotic, something fancy. (Imagine, Sacramentans, that RT felt "fancy" to me as a child. It did!) In fact, I didn't realize until a trip to the downtown library in high school that one could actually get to downtown by driving there. In my mind it had remained inaccessible except through the portal we entered: the Watt Avenue RT station. We continued the tradition into our high school years, sometimes bringing a friend along or meeting my parents there.

The theater was often near-empty. We didn't care. My mom or Lis (elected family extroverts) would strike up a conversation with our row-mates about how long we'd been watching the film or what it meant to our family. We'd marvel at the details we could see on such a large screen (pre-DVD, Blu-ray) and mom would silently pass a handful of Mentos or swedish fish down the line. Good old fashioned family fun. In years when the theater showed It's a Wonderful Life (rival movie camp to ours) we'd groan and wait it out until the movie returned another year. Somewhere in the middle of waiting, marriages, babies, college, careers, and starting our own families (not in that order) the tradition kind of fizzled.

But last night we piled into the car--no spouses or grandkids, just the original four of us--in what felt comfortably (and strangely) like so many car trips of the past. (Lis even whined out a "she's looking at me!" from the backseat just for old times' sake.) I kid you not, we left at 4:30 for a 7:00 movie. I couldn't stop giving my mom a bad time about it. We finished our dinner and headed over. Mom was proud to be right since we actually needed to be there well ahead of the show. The Groupon brought enough people to fill the theater. I've never seen it like that: packed. They actually ran out of popcorn in trying to handle all the people who bought the special deal. Seeing it again with that many people was a new experience in itself; I realized that I have only ever seen it in relative quiet, so it was fun to be among people who laughed at all the funny parts, sang along (okay, I could have passed on the singing along) and just generally all felt the same affection for this movie that's been around for so long. Seeing a movie in a theater is just different.

Dad and I talked before the movie about how interesting it is that it has stood the test of time. I told him I think about that, especially as I foray into K's movie lists of old "must sees", because some movies seem so dated while others from the same time periods (or earlier) hold up to countless viewings. Dad's theory (and mine) is that a good story, a movie that doesn't try to be "hip" or cutting edge, one that's universal and straightforward, is just going to hold up. We joked that we didn't know if it was going to snow at the end this time or not. I am so glad that we returned this year. It felt familiar and new. Thankfully, it all worked out just as it should have: Bob crooned and dropped the white horse into the tree, Betty pouted but ultimately donned her beautiful red dress, Judy covered her neck with a turtleneck and her legs with almost nothing, and Phil danced with ease and contorted his face into a thousand goofy glances that could make Jim Carey swoon. The sleigh came out inexplicably over one eighth of an inch of snow. The General teared up... and once again I caught myself wishing I could be Betty Haynes, just for a second.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Book review: Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Verghese's book was difficult for me to get into, initially.  I wrote about what I hard time I was having with the first fifth of the book or so.  It felt like there was too much--too much medical information, too many characters with odd names, too many places and countries and events all mashed together.  I realize now that this was my own error--thinking that I could read something as encompassing as this type of epic novel without the benefit of time off from work and stress so that I might concentrate.  It's not a fluffy read or one that I could even pick up and drop off from time to time.  It required my full attention, but once I was able to give it that and allow the plot to unfold a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cutting for Stone, the title, comes from the Hippocratic oath, but is also a double--maybe a triple play on names of characters and the fact that ethics, medicine, and axioms about life come into the story over and over again.  It does rely on the reader's ability to hang in there with a lot of medical jargon, but once I was able to pick up the book and stay with it I, I no longer found that to be a challenge.  In fact, I found it fascinating to see how medicine was able to thrive in Ethopia (where the novel is mostly set) and how that contrasted with what was available in the United States at the time (1950's-2000's).

This novel was a struggle to explore fate and forgiveness and the complex relationships between people who are tied together--whether it's through love or biology or in the case of the conjoined brothers, a cord.  Like those of most books I enjoy, these characters are not purely good or evil.  They are fallible, and the twin boys are often times each others' mirror and inverse.  There are other relationships here that are equally complex.  Father-son, mother-daughter, husband-wife.  In each case it seems like the author is able to capture how paralyzing one's feelings can be, and how sometimes even in the best of intentions, our mind gets the best of us and we "don't want to break the spell" of the moment.

If I have one negative thing to say about the book, it is that it felt too neatly wrapped up at the end.  There were plot elements that I wanted resolved, but with this book it felt too neat.  I would have been happy with about 80% of what I got at the end.  The whole shebang made it feel contrived.  Most novels I've read of this kind of grand scope are a little bit more messy.  I'm not sure that makes sense, but the fact that every end was woven in with care almost gave it less authenticity.  I will, however, say that I happily gobbled up every morsel of detail I was given in spite of this feeling of it being too full, too round.

My recommendation: A good read, particularly if you can devote some serious time to it.  Two thumbs up.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oh hi.

Yeeks. I have barely written any blogs lately. I hate when I spend my posts apologizing to death for not writing... so I won't go there but I will say I'm surprised by my lack of wordiness. Wonder what that's all about? I think it's all about fatigue and responsibility. And getting lost in a book for a few days.

Friday was the last day of the semester and though my week didn't go as I envisioned (vacuuming, swimming, cleaning, wrapping, shopping) it ended up being busy (finals, stress, migraine, scrambling, errand-running) but it was over quickly.  Just ripped that Band-Aid right off.  Riiiiiiiiiiiip.  Friday night was spent partying with my fellow teachers, laughing so hard my face needed periodic breaks.  I love my friends.  I love that we can laugh about our job.  Sometimes it feels like it's the only thing that gets me through.

Saturday all I could do was glue my patoot to the couch and watch The Nun's Story.  The weather around here (rainy) has a way of encouraging my hermit tendancies--as if I needed any excuse to lock my introverted self away like a shut-in--and I happily obliged along with Miss Hepburn.  It was the perfect movie for a rainy, reflective day.  I highly recommend it for its quiet representation of the struggle of faith and obedience.  It was beautiful.

Sunday I didn't post because it was family Christmas #1.  I say #1 because we counted and there are 6--yes, Virginia--6 family celebrations of some sort that we'll be attending this year.  I write that knowing that many of you will roll your eyes at the obtuse display of excess that is six Christmases, but I can happily say that we've found a place where those six events all work around each other with ease.  We've found our voice as a couple, too, and I feel like we can attend (or not attend) as it best suits our family in any one year.  This year it works out to see everyone.  So here's the breakdown, if you're keeping track.  Sunday was my dad's side of the family, Christmas Eve is my mom's side of the family.  Christmas morning is Santa, our quiet Christmas at home with the kiddos in PJs.  After that we'll head around the corner (literally) for a brunch with my mom and dad, sister Lis, and BIL, D and their boys.  Over the next few days we'll celebrate with E's mom's side of the family, and end with a Christmas with his parents, sister, BIL, and their daughter.  Phew.  I know it sounds crazy--it might be.  There have definitely been years where all of that obligation feels difficult rather than easy, but this is not one of them.  I'm thankful this year for all of the gatherings and all of the people we get to see.

Yesterday I saw Black Swan with K, and it's still sticking in my brain.  I had weird dance dreams all night last night.  Of course I had to see it because it's a ballet movie, but it's not just a ballet movie.  It's very similar in theme to The Wrestler (same director), and it has many elements of really being about the main character's psychological breakdown.  It's more of a thriller.  In fact, there were a lot of "ew" moments for me and more than a few jumps out of my seat than I expected.  I am so glad I saw the movie, though.  As somebody who was/(is) so proud to have danced in the corps during a professional performance of Swan Lake, I so loved how the movie's storyline paralleled the ballet; as an English teacher/Lit nerd, I loved the symbolism of her psychotic breakdown and hallucinations.  It was just amazing.  It didn't leave me feeling good or peaceful, but applying the same test I do with books--did it make me feel something?  was I completely lost in it?--it passed as amazing.  I appreciated the authenticity of lots of small details about the type of person who becomes a professional ballet dancer--and the parts that didn't ring true were still fascinating, interesting choices.  It's definitely a mature movie, a weird movie, a sexual movie and a dark movie; as one of the characters says of ballet in the film, it's not for everyone.  I am so glad I saw it though, even though I wimped out on some of the gory, suspenseful parts.  Really interesting.  Natalie Portman is amazing.

I feel like I've been in my house a lot so far this vacation.... and that's not a bad thing.  Movies, reading, cooking, cleaning.  (I also royally effed up an entire batch of Chex Mix. Failey Failerson.)  E and I watched The Town--also great, but will somebody I know please see it so I can talk to you about the whole "guy commits a crime and then stalks you and it's supposed to turn into a sweet love story" thing?  Definitely written by a dude, am I right?  Okaythanksbye.

Today I cleaned.  Mmm hmm, preach it.

Okay, E helped me clean.  Can I get an Amen?

Today I also finished reading Cutting for Stone--this post started off in my mind as a book review and now I feel like I've thrown too much else into the mishmash--so I will post this, then I will immediately type that in a separate post as it deserves.

(In the spirit of my well-intentioned ninth graders who are sometimes at a loss as to how to conclude a piece of writing:)

I will now conclude my post by saying I have had a lovely week and I love vacation.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

What did you do today?

It's a movie day over here.

Sweat pants, coffee, Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story and a lot of lounging around.

Good movie (first time I've seen it)... and I particularly loved this quote:

"When I go from here, I shall take you with me in my heart and keep you each day in my prayers."

Have a great little Saturday.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

News from the Physical Therapist

Today was my first time back at the PT since my hip injury in early November.  I was supposed to go in sooner, but like all other things, PT appointments were preempted by tooth drama this past month.  My rescheduled appointments had to be rescheduled because I didn't realize they conflicted with finals.  Geez.  So anyhoo, today I was finally able to check in with the therapist.  I was pretty nervous that there wasn't going to be much improvement.  While I've been doing some of the things I was supposed to do, Hurley dog ate my theraband a while ago.  Whoops.  It's been a few weeks without any resistance--at least of the elastic band type.  But I have been good about swimming.  I think that's something.  I was hoping.

It was all good news today, though, to my surprise.  I haven't been having any pain in my hip or IT band since about mid-November.  Of course I haven't been on a run since then, either.  Today the therapist put me through a bunch of tests to check my flexibility and strength in both legs. The good news is that my legs are about equal now (in weakness).  The weaknesses I have in the right leg--the ones that caused the injury--are just about the same as my left leg.  Last time I was there, my right leg was uber weak, much more so than the other.  I'm stronger in my quads so I'm compensating for weak glutes and hamstrings with them all around.  Makes sense to me.

The other really interesting thing from today's appointment was that all of my standing tests (e.g. stand on one leg, squat, squat on one leg) were better than my laying down tests where I had to move muscles in isolation.  We decided that this was a bit of a "cheat"--my ballet brain knows how to find the right muscles to balance or stabilize myself, but that doesn't necessarily mean that on a long run my body is going to be able to maintain it over the long haul.  So my question to him was am I supposed to be thinking more about my alignment when I run?  Will that fix it?  Thankfully, his answer wasn't just a simple yes.  Alignment is great, but I need to strengthen my muscles (hip, butt, hamstring) so they're able to maintain balance over a longer period of time.  I'm at the point where I can start to strengthen and stretch both legs equally, which also just feels better to me.

I feel really good about the doctor/therapist team I'm seeing.  They ask me every time what my goal is and they're happy to do what they can to get me there.  Today I got a new set of exercises, three new therabands (stay away, Dog!) and instructions to start extending my walks by a few miles--WAHOO!  They want me to gently test my walk muscles before my next appointment so they can see how I'm doing in conjunction with the strength-building.  I'm kind of excited.  Even if I only get on the treadmill and walk, it's another option, and what I think will be really good for me is to get outside a few times over break and have some alone time.  I'm going to continue to swim but it feels good to know I'm able to do a few more things and I'm not so injured and jacked up that this is a permanent vacation from running.

I'm pretty sure this is the most boring post ever.  I'm excited, though.  Hopefully this means I'm on my way back to running in a few months.  Patience.  Patience.  Patience?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday To-Do List

Before Christmas:

-Make some Chex Mix
-Bake and decorate sugar cookies
-finish super secret crafty gifts
-buy those last two family presents
-wrap EVERYTHING (sigh)
-watch Meet Me in St. Louis, Bad Santa, Elf (again), White Christmas (again), Family Man
-sneak some of Mom's homemade candy
-drive around with monkeys and look at Christmas lights
-take monkeys shopping for each other, E
-load Christmas CDs into iTunes (how are they not in there already?)
-lay on couch listening to Christmas music and squint at tree.  A lot.
-help kids make some kind of ornaments/ presents
-keep my damn house clean(ish)

Fa la la la la, la la la... AWESOME.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Joy in all things--even the last week of the semester

Last night was one of my worst nights of sleep in history, if that's possible. I know I woke up at least seven times (maybe eight) between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM. It felt like having a new baby all over again. Twice I dreamed about ballet--different things, equally stressful rather than relaxing--and once I woke up in an unrelated panic attack, pooled by my own sweat. Hurley made sure to get me up several times (our neighbors were having a party in their backyard so he felt compelled to check on them constantly) and E came home sometime in the wee hours. Ugh.

But this actually wasn't going to be a post about my insomnia or my Crazies. I caught myself yesterday morning in a bad case of the "I'll be happy when-s." This year I've been trying hard to be happy in the moment, to celebrate whatever I'm in rather than whatever finish line lies ahead of me. It's a small thing that makes a huge difference in my life. It's unfortunate that from a young age we learn those patterns: I'll be happy when school is out, when Christmas comes, when this school day is over, when I finish all my papers and take all my finals... but after college it's hard to live a life that way, especially if (like me) one is perpetually on the hamster wheel of the public school schedule. In the early years of my marriage, I used that kind of philosophy to justify situations that weren't healthy for myself or my marriage because I thought it would just get better in the future. It doesn't work in relationships or parenting. The time to be happy is now. I made up my mind this year that I can't live like that--waiting for something that hasn't happened yet--for the rest of my teaching career, marriage, or life.

Anyway, I caught myself yesterday. I had a horrible week last week--I was tired, grumpy, irritable, and just generally didn't want anything to do with my job. I'm burned out, I'm dissatisfied, I'm annoyed by all the incompetence that I see. I'm just tired. Without really thinking about it, I was mired in the muck of "I'll be happy when SCHOOL IS OUT FOR CHRISTMAS BREAK." Yeah, okay, P. You will. That's right. But then you have to go back to the same job immediately after the break. And it's not really helping anyone--least of all, you--if you tell yourself every day that you don't want to be there. I can't live for breaks or vacation, because most of life happens in the in-between. When I think about it, I love my job. I hate that (in a sometime effort at looking forward to the freedom of vacation) I convince myself otherwise.

Overall, I've had one of my best years of teaching. I think that's due in large part to my attempt to find joy in now rather than what I used to do, which was suffer through until later. That outlook helps me to say no to things, to prioritize, to organize, to celebrate small victories. If I'm going to be happy now, I'm going to be doing things that matter to me. Hopefully I can drum up some of that enthusiasm this week and open my eyes a little bit more to what's around me. Yes, I'm looking forward to Christmas break but that doesn't mean the next week has to be drudgery and misery.

After my little realization, I had a wonderful (longest ever!) swim at the pool and I tried to release some of the frustration and aggression I felt all week. I bubbled into the depths and tried to release the anger I was fighting. Let it go, give it away, I kept telling myself. I don't know if it worked, but I do know that I'll be trying to approach the last week of my semester with a little more joy and mindfulness.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Guest Post and Giveaway Winner

Today I have a guest post on Erin's blog, Happy Owl. Be sure to jump over and check out her fun series.

Aaaaand, the winner of the Gluten Free Bisquick Mix Giveaway is...

Commenter #4, Tonja. Congrats Tonja! Email me your mailing address and I will submit it to My Blog Spark so they can mail you your goodies. :)
Happy Saturday, blog friends!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

::Sadface:: I miss running.

Before you read this post:  Have you entered this week's giveaway yet?  Free food and kitchen goodies.  Better go enter and come back.  I'll be here waiting for you when you get back.  CLICK HERE.

Swimming is going well.  It's kicking my butt and making me so tired that I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning.  I'm not to the place where it energizes me yet, but I'm hoping that if I stick with it, I'll get there.  Right now I'm settling for feeling tired at night and for not waking up with Crazies or wasting hours on worry.  My muscles needed to move and swimming seems to fit the bill.  I love the pool at night--just me and the old ladies and the guys who keep to themselves--it's a very calm environment.  I'm still rockin' the animal print swim cap and just this week I decided I was tired of trying to battle the water in my ears, so on Tuesday I tried some earplugs.  Seems like a good fit for me.  I don't know if that's something people do or not (does that make me a total dork?), but for whatever reason my left ear was trying to hang on to water, causing problems the next day even with ear drops.

But I miss running, hence the sads. Who would have thought that when I was just setting out for my first run?  I am finding that it's much easier for me to swim than it was in the beginning, and I am glad to be exercising... but I miss a few things.  I don't get the same sense of being outside when I swim that I do when I run.  It is kind of peaceful to be in water that much, but I don't feel as connected to the seasons as I did when I was running.  I also enjoy the solo factor of my little swim, but I don't feel like I can zone out at all.  I know for sure that the zoning out is a huge plus for me when I run.  It doesn't happen on every run, but frequently enough that I feel the mental benefits.  Swimming, for me, is about continuous counting of breaths in my head.  That's the hardest part for me--I can breathe much better than I could when I started, but having to break breath down into a rhythm takes any relaxation out of it for me.  I'm sure I'm over thinking it.  I know.

I think it might help me to get out and walk.  I haven't been able to make that a priority since nightfall comes so early lately.  I'm still doing my Sunday walks with K and I have to say they cheer me up more than I expected.  It's like a little taste of what I was getting from a regular running schedule.  I really want to start to plan one (a new schedule) for myself, but I have to wait a few weeks until I see the physical therapist again so I know what I can do.  Right now I'm concentrating on stretching and getting stronger--and sadly when I had all that tooth drama I just let my PT go out the window.

On my swimming--I'm increasing a little bit each time I go--basically following the swimmers' version of Couch to 5K.  Little chunks, that's my style right now.  I already see huge improvements in my upper body strength and my ability to breathe through my swimming workout.

I haven't forgotten about my two goals for running--run a 5K with my dad, and (I think) run a full marathon.  I just think I'm suppposed to be learning some patience right now.  I TOTALLY HATE LEARNING PATIENCE, BTDubs.  But I've been so inspired lately by people running marathons.  I can't help it.  Our cousin (on E's side), Travis, just lost 100 pounds and ran his first marathon in an amazing time.  I'm also not above admitting that I loved watching Ada kill it on the Biggest Loser marathon the other night.  In the past when I've thought about running a full I've always thought there's no way I could do that and but now I think why the hell not?  The challenge for me will be finding the time to train.

Oh wait, and healing my busted-ass hip first.  Dammit.

Anyway, I'm trying to remind myself all the time that all this swimming will only make my heart and lungs and legs and whole body stronger...

and I still miss running.  Le sigh.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Family Secret: Chex Mix

The way I see it, the world is divided into two halves. Those who have eaten the salty ambrosia that is my grandma's homemade Chex Mix, and those who have not. I feel that it's my duty (in the spirit of WWGLD--What would Grandma Lila Do?--as my sister and I say to each other) to share the gospel of homemade Chex Mix wherever I go. Actually, I was trying to keep it a secret, but Lis went and blabbed it on her Facebook page the other day. Cat's out of the bag. :)

But seriously. It. Is. Life changing.

Healthy? Hush your mouth. We don't speak of such things around the holidays. And if you're thinking how different could it be from store-bought Chex Mix? Then you need to WAKE UP, SISTER. Try it and then send me an email to say thanks for your newly opened eyes.

Gram's Chex Mix



1 package each: Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cheerios, Pretzel sticks
1 can salted peanuts
1 lb butter or margarine
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp each of garlic salt, onion salt, celery salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

1) Pour cereals, pretzels, and nuts into a large roasting pan. Mix well.
2) Melt butter, add Worcestershire sauce and salts. Simmer 15 minutes.
3) Pour liquid mixture over cereals, stir to coat evenly.
4) Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring every fifteen minutes or so.
5) Cool and enjoy!

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Life In Technicolor

Is there a better song than Coldplay's Life in Technicolor? I think not. It makes me feel like anything is possible, like my life is edited together in a movie-cool montage of blurry bokeh awesome: the sun is shining in my hair as I run down the beach with a goofy, open-mouthed grin--but it looks good on me in the unconscious girl-next-door kind of way that only works in movies.

I want to live in that song. I want to build a log cabin in it and drink my hot cocoa.

I can't believe the school year is almost halfway done. Never before have I been so engaged in my own classes, so energized for the long term to do this right. Never before have I kept such a neat classroom, neat lesson plans and neat routine this far into the school year. Almost a decade in to teaching, I finally feel like I found balance. I found my groove, I found the confidence to say no to so many things that sapped my energy and my time like parasites. I learned to embrace the priorities that matter to me, everyone else be damned. But I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. You know, the I'm-too-tired-to-wear-makeup-or-grade-papers-or-put-any-energy-into-this-because-I-feel-run-down shoe. That old chestnut. But it hasn't hit this year. I am truly happy.

I don't know why. Is it a change in my own attitude about school? Was last year a training ground for discovering my own voice and what mattered to me as a teacher? Did the last two year's personal trials provide me with a herculean obstacle course that would strengthen me enough for this year? It sure feels that way. It feels like the last two years were crap and crap 2.0, and now I get to enjoy the fruits of those struggles. It helps that I see E so regularly. Our issues still linger--mostly silly husband and wife stuff, but truthfully tinged with the metallic taste of shards from our past--these seem so much more manageable when we have weeknights and weekends together. It still happens about once a month or so that we look across the car at each other while we're driving somewhere and I go "hey, you don't have to study for the Bar anymore. Ever."

Almost a year has passed since he took that test and I still can't get it in my head that he's not going to have to bail out of a Saturday so he can hit the books. It shouldn't boggle my mind but it does. I'm amazed at how naive I was--the kind of naivete that comes from intellectualizing something and trying, Vulcan-like, to ignore my feelings. In thinking that we were smart enough to make it work, we kept opposite schedules and never saw each other. Let me tell you how that worked out. Time in a marriage is like medicine. Retrouvaille helped us patch the wound, but time has been the antibiotic to keep the infection at bay.

We fought a rough fight a few weeks ago when he wanted to go out late at night with some friends. It instantly smacked of our separation and I couldn't do anything to get the hurt from my heart. Old feelings die harder than habits. An argument was unavoidable, but the method has changed. We were (and still are, honestly) at an impass between difficult feelings we can't ignore on the subject, but at least we are able to hear each other. We were able to agree that we need to settle it outside of the moment. That wasn't possible before. I can't help but think that kind of growth has an influence on my life at school. And that my life at school---now so completely calm and routine--has an effect on our marriage.

Last night I picked up a new pair of contacts at my stronger prescription. As is always the case when I get an update, life is suddenly in HD again. Or technicolor, I suppose. Too often I bog down in the day-to-day and I don't recognize how much things change. I'm almost a semester in to my year, and I'm realizing that everything is still clear.

 My heart has the same fresh perspective as my eyes.