Wednesday, May 18, 2016


3 years since my last post. So much to catch up on. I pretty much wrote this blog off as DOA until my lifelong friend Frenchie resuscitated hers and inspired me to at least check the vitals on mine.

We did move to the UK. Over a year after my Spaz post. It's mostly grand. We live in quaint market town in the East Midlands. Petal is thriving. Jack was recently promoted and has a short commute on little country roads where sheep graze. We will be here approximately 3 more years.

We explore England a lot and travel to the Iberian peninsula to see Shakira, Mr. Shakira and Baby Shakira frequently. Next up is a 5 day trip to see York, Edinburgh and Hadrian's Wall. I've gotten pretty obsessed with the history of this little island and am currently fixated on the War of the Roses so I can't wait to hit the road.

Also, I rock a Pixie cut again.

I think it will take some practice to get into this blogging thing again, I'm having trouble doing more than scratching the surface right now.

Monday, May 6, 2013


Feeling on the verge of a panic attack...Jack came home with news from work that they are looking for volunteers to move overseas (U.K. or Germany) and of course he's interested in us going. On paper it looks great - move back to Europe on the government's dime, bank serious cash (full salary plus extra housing allowance, COLA, extra leave, universal healthcare,) awesome travel opportunities, be close to Shakira & Mr. Shakira, and possibly the opportunity for Petal to become bilingual.

But I am freaking the F out. Listening to Depeche Mode and Duran Duran on repeat trying to get myself together. I have a board meeting in 15 minutes and I am so glad for the distraction.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Bigger Life

When it comes to attraction, I'm kind of like one of Lorenz' ducklings. Lorenz demonstrated the concept of imprinting by proving that ducklings will follow any creature that they initially identified as "mother." I don't follow Mama Duck impostors around town, but I do find myself pulled to specimens that remind me of my first full blown teenage romance.

It was the summer of 1995, he was a blond haired blue eyed skater punk and I was a braces-wearing long haired brunette with a fondness for belly baring shirts from The Limited Too and jean shorts with holes in the butt. The attraction was undeniable and intense. He gave me my first kiss and my first I love you, both at sunset. I thought it was magic. But he was one of those guys who had too much testosterone to be tied down by any one woman and he moved along his womanizing way. I cried for a year. Too bad, so sad.

One year later, another blond haired boy, this time with green eyes, stole my heart. We quickly began the kind of teenage relationship that was as serious as marriage by high school terms, as in, we will never ever ever break up!!!! My parents had to drag me wailing out of the house to the taxi to the airport for our trip to Florida, because this was before cell phones and I would have to use a calling card with limited minutes to talk to High School Boyfriend (HSBF)  for a WHOLE WEEK! By the time we had been together for a year it was clear that both of us needed to have separate life experiences in order to get the most out of those fleeting high school years, but it took us six months to be able to make the break and finally limp away, bruised and bloodied from the emotional warfare that is a teenage breakup.

The rest is often-told history. Blond-haired blue-eyed Jack, blond-haired blue-eyed boys loving me. Is it because of how hard I fell for Skater Punk? Or maybe my Norwegian genes aching for a chance to be expressed reproductively with someone who looks like my ancestors? In the end, the result is the same.

There was nothing really wrong with my relationship with HSBF other than the fact that we were both too young and needed to grow up. I could have married him. I could have been happy living where he does, just one town over from where I grew up. He was a devoted, loving boyfriend and I'm sure he was a devoted loving husband to the wife who left him just a few years after they got married. He works at a car dealership and hangs out with his friends from high school. His parents, sisters, cousins all live near by. It would have been a perfectly nice life.

I live my life with Jack on a much grander scale than I would have lived had I married HSBF. We did our LDR big, like across the ocean big. We moved around, not from town to town but from time-zone to time-zone. We've been to amazing places together. We talk big, about world events and history, stuff HSBF has little interest in. We live in the pulsing heart of where things happen career-wise for Jack and he goes after big dreams. 

I was not the kind of teenager who had wanderlust, I would have been perfectly content to stay in my hometown with my high school besties forever. But the people around me were big dreamers, too many of my friends as well as my siblings live their own big lives so staying put wouldn't really have been an option for me unless I had married someone like HSBF, whose whole world dwells within Massachusetts state lines. 

My taste for adventure has grown into the large space I've been afforded by my big life with Jack. Petal will have plenty of space to explore in the big life she was born into. I like my big life. But I also like that I can visit my small life. My big life has enough room for my small life to dwell inside it and grab center stage once in awhile.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Twist of Fate

I took a drama class in my freshman year of college. I didn't like the professor at all (he was the type that made us shell out big bucks to buy the book he wrote,) which was very disappointing because I had adored drama class and drama club in high school. But this professor did say one thing that has stuck with me - he told us to imagine bad news (I forget the context of this) and he told us that it is not a matter of if, but of when, because there will  be a day that that phone call comes or that hand knocks on the door. That day hasn't happened for me yet. I am extraordinarily lucky to have made it into my 30s relatively unscarred by loss. Truth be told, losing my pets has been harder for me than the loss of any person thus far in my life. My grandparents and great-grandparents were all elderly when they passed away, and we as a family have not suffered the tragedy of a human life cut far too short since my aunt's husband passed away too young from cancer in 1990.

My circle of peers has been remarkably lucky as well. The drunk driving deaths, overdoses and KIAs that shorten the lives of so many in their teens and twenties had spared my nearest and dearest, and nearly all of their nearest and dearest as well.

My lack of experience with these sorts of losses may be why the death of a high school classmate in October has haunted me since I heard the news. It was a complete shock, but then again it wasn't. My dear friend Isis was the one who told me, and she had also mentioned a few years ago that she had seen MJ and he didn't seem to be doing well. He "friended" me on Facebook awhile ago (Four years? Five? Not recently, I know that) and I looked through his pictures and superficially noted that he was still cute. But in more recent years, his behavior on Facebook seemed a bit off - he took down his profile picture, he changed his name to pseudonyms and listed a wildly inaccurate birthdate. Combined with Isis' account of the last time she'd seen him, I thought he might be depressed or something along those lines. This didn't gel with how MJ had presented himself in high school. He was laid back, he was a good musician, he was definitely one of the more normal people in Drama Club. Drama Club attracts a lot of strange types, but MJ wasn't one of them.

MJ will always be a part of my memories of the last days of high school. During one of our senior events, he sang a song that he dedicated to all of the "beautiful senior women." I thought that was awesome. So I was predisposed to have warm feelings towards him graduation night. My friend and drinking buddy JJ and I had taken a temporary hiatus from the all-night party to walk to his car and imbibe from the bottle of gin he had stashed there. The alcohol was gin, but the open secret of teenage drinking underneath the moon on a warm suburban night made it feel more like moonshine.

JJ and I were not the only newly minted high graduates wandering the streets by the lake the night of graduation. MJ had joined us at the trunk of the car at some point and suddenly we were kissing. I don't think we even said any words to each other, just jumped right into it. JJ left when he could see that this was going to take awhile, and the kissing turned into a full-fledged make-out session. It was fun, it was sweet, it was very high school. When it was over, I didn't think much about it. I didn't sleep around in high school but I loved to make out with pretty much any boy I thought was cute, and the night with MJ barely made a blip on my radar, as I had other entanglements with other boys that involved a lot more drama. I ran into MJ a few days later at the dairy bar (yes, my hometown has a dairy bar and it's extremely popular) and we had a slightly awkward conversation. Shortly afterwards, his family moved to upstate New York and I can't recall if I ever saw him again.

Since I learned of his death, which I strongly suspect to be a suicide, that night has replayed in my head a thousand times. It might be the eerie similarity to the very beginning of my relationship with Jack. A kiss outside  in the dark during summer break, once again imbibing strong liquor provided by JJ, with a cute blond hair blue eyed guy from the Class of 1999. It was only three years later, but I was different. I had lost the combination of innocence and swagger that defined those graduation-era times. In 1999, the last thing I was looking for was a boyfriend. By the summer of 2002, I was deeply craving the intimacy and companionship of a relationship. Jack is also a member of my graduating class. Had we hooked up any earlier, I doubt either of us would have pursued a relationship, no matter how great a kisser I am.

So what if the tables had been turned? What if Jack was the one who had appeared at JJ's car on the night of graduation and engaged me in a 45-minute kiss? I definitely would have gone for it, I thought Jack was irresistible in an aloof sort of way. And what if MJ had been the one to crash a party at JJ's house 3 years later? Would we have attempted a relationship after an intoxicated make-out session? Would he still have developed a mental illness I now believe is more along the lines of schizophrenia than depression? Would he have taken his own life? Would I be a widow, or could I have saved him somehow?

It feels wrong that he is gone. Just wrong.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Today is Jack and my sixth wedding anniversary. We romantically celebrated the day apart - he was in Maryland working on a grad school paper and I spent the day at my parents' house with Petal doing not much of anything. Our plans to hit a local children's museum with Bridge and her kids were foiled when we found out that the museum didn't open until noon. Note to children's museums - that is not exactly conducive to attracting the nappers in your target market.

I've been feeling kind of down the past few days and spending this day away from Jack has really added to it. When we booked flights for Petal and I to spend the Thanksgiving holiday here in New England, I wanted to come back to Maryland today for a reunion. But Jack has less than a month to go before he earns his Master's degree and he really needs to spend any time that he is not at work cranking out those last few papers. Petal and I can be a bit of a distraction, so off we were shipped.

Much of my angst o'er the past few days has been the cloudiness obscuring my view of what the next few years, and, after that, the rest of my life hold in store. I have always derived great comfort from picturing the future and imaging my plans, grand or small, floating down from the ether to become the new present. But lately I feel directionless. The question of whether or not to have another child eats at me night and day. I won't go into all the pros and cons here, but suffice to say that there are many and that both Jack and I regularly drift from one side of the fence to the other, sometimes in harmony and sometimes at the poles of the spectrum.

The nagging question of where my professional life is going is there to pick up the slack if my mind lets the family planning issue fade to the background for a few moments. And when I entertain career aspirations that exceed beyond the fifteen hours/week working remotely that I currently put in, I am faced with the cliche question plaguing every woman in my age and income bracket - how to "have it all?" How to have a fulfilling career and also soak up every second of Petal's (and the theoretical second pea's) childhood, all while still having enough personal time for physical fitness, a fulfilling social life, romance, travel to inspirational places, my voracious reading habit, quality time with the extended family,  and what I sometimes think is my one true love, sleep.

Until next time...

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Growing up, the states of Maine to the North and Pennsylvania to the South defined the known world as far. We regularly journeyed up and down 95 to visit my parents' New York-based friends and family, and we have always been the sort of family who will drive upwards of two hours to go to the best beaches around. But we were far from wordly. I didn't take my first plane ride until I was 14 (we went to Florida and the palm trees blew me away.)

Nowadays, Shakira is an ex-pat living in Madrid and my brother lives in Nevada. I've lived in Arizona, England, Germany. I've gone to Europe just for a holiday weekend. I've become accustomed to calculating varying time zones when I want to speak to my nearest and dearest.

A few years ago, Shakira and I were reminiscing about how provincial our upbringing seems compared with our far our family is scattered these days. We laughed so hard that we almost drove off the road when I told her about the time I went to sleepover camp at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and could hardly believe my eyes when I spotted a school bus that, unlike the kind that shuttled us back and forth to school, had a front where the engine area was flush with the windshield. How strange and exotic to ride in a school bus where the engine area did not protrude past the windshield! References to this wondrous bus have become part of our lexicon when we wish to describe something as provincial.

(Background:I have some Mother's Helpers who have begun watching Petal while I get my work done on the computer. They are in fifth grade, so they can't be left alone with her or transport themselves to my house independently. We meet at the library and they read to Petal in the children's section while I work on my laptop.)

On Thursday, Petal's Mother's Helpers were trying to come up with enough change to make photocopies for her on the library's photocopier. I opened my wallet, but the only change I found was 10 cent Euro pieces from our trip to Spain in August. My mind registered only that the coins were useless because they wouldn't work in the photocopier, but when I offhandedly mentioned this to the girls, I realized that they had never seen this foreign money before. I let each girl keep a 10 cent piece - they initially tried to refuse, saying that it was far too generous a gift.

Though I no longer blink an eye at the sight of a Euro coin, I was these girls for the majority of my childhood. The 1 hour 15 minute journey from my house to TechnoBunny's brought me into an entirely other world. Foreign currency seemed quite exotic indeed.

Petal will never be these girls. With an aunt living abroad and her grandparents' homes mostly easily reached by plane, her life may seem exotic to many of her classmates who have roots closer to the Chesapeake. Petal will never be the girl staring in awe at the flat faced bus. I wonder which corners of the world  my passport possessing toddler will get herself off to in the years to come.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My great-grandmother with her family in Mandal, Norway circa 1894. She's the baby. All of the children eventually immigrated to America.
As a lifelong lover of history, family has always been important to me. Learning where my family came from and what their lives were like has always fascinated me. A distant cousin once published a history of our family - in Norwegian - and I pored over the charts, names and dates until the cover fell off. My family is my North Star. No matter what my life in the real world is like at any given moment, the stability and predictability of holidays and gatherings with my extended family grounds me.

 One of the reasons I am such a believer in marriage over co-habitation is because of the recognition of the new husband or wife's joining into the extended family unit. Jack was my partner for years before we exchanged wedding vows. On that day, he became not only my lover but my family. Many lives seem to revolve around a central theme - the engineer whose biography is rife with an appreciation for science at an early age, the cellist who sought out music wherever her travels took her.

 The central theme of my life is my family - the intense bond my cousin TechnoBunny and I shared throughout my childhood, the sense of humor and categorization of the world Shakira and I developed throughout many many hours together in our 20s, the way motherhood has drawn me closer to my own mother than ever before.

 Shakira refers to me as the family historian because I can rattle off the names of cousins, their relation to us, where they live and who they're married to without so much as a pause. It's always fascinated me to trace the path of a single ancestor's descendants and to see how far the branches have spread. I hope this blog entry doesn't read like one long advertisement for (though I do love that site.) I just figured it was time that I put what is perhaps my life's greatest passion into words.
Me with some of my first, second, and third cousins and their spouses and offspring this summer at Lake Sebago in Maine. The cousins are all descendants of Bertha, Tonetta, Olava and Tobine - the four sisters pictured up top. I'm in the beach hat and TechnoBunny is next to me in the sunglasses and blue shirt.