This week flew by for me, but I am so looking forward to this weekend. We have one kid tonight and none tomorrow. We have many plans and no plans. Since our vacation we pledged to spend more time just the two of us and we really need this weekend. The last time we planned this type of weekend it fell completely through. This Sunday is one of the busiest days of the year for my husband for his job- normally we dread October. He works so much in this month. I’m surprised I actually survived this one without half losing my mind.
Avett Brothers- Pretty Girl from Annapolis
We’re still on our flylady cleaning process and the house has come a long way. It has really helped us to feel relaxed in the home. We’re going to spend some time at home this weekend. We feel the need to escape less. It’s really simple in teaching habits. I would encourage you to at least try her system of cleaning.
Joe Purdy- Can’t Get It Right Today
I really liked my blog suggestion of the week on Rosie the Riveter. I can see several blogs stemming from that one alone. Felt my writing and teaching worlds collide on that one.
This quote from our daughter was up at daycare this last week. It warmed my heart. It’s something we do purposefully as a family and I love that she acknowledged it. Pretty awesome.
The new Avett Brothers album came out Tuesday- Magpie and the Dandelion– and I’m in the double digits as to how many times I’ve listened to it already. I have disconnected from the world in my musical obsession. The best way I could describe it is to say I have curled up in their back pocket and followed them along for a while.
In high school, I can’t think of any major obsession other than I listened to Nirvana, Jim Croce and Queen a lot. When John left for college he gave me a Leonard Cohen album. Then I found Tom Waits… which I’m pretty certain John fell in love with Tom more than I. I fell in love with his Mule Variations album which to many “Raindogs”- big Tom Waits fans – would say that Mule Variations deviated far from the norm and is their least favorite album and it is in fact my favorite. So anything that followed- Mule Variations- I did not connect with as much. Now in Tom’s “earlier years” I adore the piano ballads… but otherwise I haven’t been able to connect to him for some time. My attempt to connect with a female artist never lasted long nor did it become too intense- Alanis Morissette… Norah Jones… Fiona Apple… Feist… Gillian Welch…. believe me I tried. I’ve always enjoyed ladies of Jazz- Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and so on… Our wedding musical mishap created a love for James Taylor. We stopped on our way to our honeymoon and got James Taylor tapes for the trip. James Taylor forever will remind me of our wedding and our honeymoon. You can’t erase that- it’s permanently embedded. Following our wedding, I lost music for a while… I was working so much and when I found the time I listened to John Mayer- Will Hoge- Johnny Cash- Plain White T’s- Gavin DeGraw. During this time any time I exercised- Justin Timberlake has been my goto for years. I went through a small Adele obsession but she was overplayed and fizzled out fast. I should also refer to this whole parenting thing where I got lost in the toddler tunes for a while- a previous blog about this problem… It should also be mentioned that it’s hard to stick to an obsession when many of the artists you love have passed on….
So for some time I have listened to the radio and didn’t feel a major connection. On June 20th, we attended the Avett Brothers concert in Roanoke. I loved it- I knew some of the songs, but not much off the Carpenters album. We left the concert completely in awe… both of us. There is just something so raw about a couple of guys and strings- not all this technological fluff. A week following the concert we left on our anniversary trip. On the train ride to Philadelphia, we decided to download the Carpenter album and we shared ear buds and curled up together. I ran along to the music in Cape Cod and in Central Park. We spent a night in Cape Cod cruising down the road with the windows down and the Avetts turned up. I downloaded I and Love and You, but there was just something about the Carpenter album that stole my heart. It must be said that our anniversary trip will be forever be connected to the Avett Brothers. Much like in my memory for James Taylor is connected to our wedding and honeymoon. In these moments since our vacation it is easiest to describe our trip as to falling in love all over again. The Avett Brothers and particularly the Carpenter album songs define falling into a deeper love with my husband. Those who followed our trip this summer… now you may understand how amazingly fitting it was when we were sitting in Boston and the people on the dock, by the Charles, were playing the Avett Brothers.
I have said we took away two things from our vacation- one we need to spend more time alone together and dare not wait that long ever again and two we need to declutter our home because being in the open environment of the bed and breakfasts made us so at ease. Really I have to admit we took away three things- the third -and most crucial for me in particularly- that the Avett Brothers have made a connection to a moment that I would like to freeze in time- the moment when my husband and I fell completely into a deeper sickening pit of love.
On the new album- Once you have listened enough you realize that they’ve been playing these songs for some time, but the album makes it more official so to speak.
Souls like the Wheels
Apart From Me
Out of all of the song- I connect to this one personally on the new album-
Never Been Alive
Seth Avett with Bob Crawford singing Jim Croce- How could I resist even though it is not on the new album?
With all the music added to the house recently John felt inspired to purchase a ukulele last Saturday. He thought it would be fun to learn something new. So this is him playing one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs Murder in the City.
I’m so looking forward to my friend April visiting this weekend. We met in January 2000 and we’ve been friends ever since. We lived together for two years of college and have grown to enjoy each other more since we graduated. She lives a few hours away but we’ve made time for each other about twice a year we visit each other over the last ten years. We’re always up to some kind of shenanigans…. April number 1 and April number 2.
I am number 2 since I showed up second to RU. We were part of a group of ladies that were referred to as the Peanut Gang and we were a great support system for each other along the way and even today. Some of us are closer and some have grown apart, but they are all a blessing in my life. April number1- aka Chipmunk- Me – aka Lolli. Michelle- Pnut. Jessica- Heinz. Nicole- Toadie. Jamie- Dew- Da… Dew- Little… crap I don’t remember- Tonya aka Puffy-T and T-Dog. It was silly innocence and precious to my heart.
This list of songs are just ones I particularly enjoyed this week. Enjoy!
John Prine and Iris DeMent- In spite of ourselves
Scott Avett— “trying” to sing “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”… this sums up parenting.
It has been an interesting week with lots of craziness. My husband had work related things Saturday, Monday and Thursday nights- makes for a lonely Momma. Our daughter was sick with a virus Sunday to Tuesday. My friend’s husband had an emergency appendectomy and I went to be with her Wednesday… still feeling tired. It has been a long long week. I’m so happy to see Friday!
My husband and I have been trying a new cleaning routine- what we were doing wasn’t working. As with many things, I should have taken before and after pictures. We have been following FlyLady and following her cleaning routine plan. Some of it we already did, but we’re taking it slow and making small changes. On our ten year anniversary trip, which you can read about by going to July on the blog, was amazing and we came away with two thoughts for improving our relationship from there. 1. Don’t wait so long to spend time together alone and 2. Our house makes us unhappy and we need to simplify. It might be clean and organized enough for someone else, but it doesn’t mean it’s good enough for us.
Next Friday, I am really looking forward to though because my college roommate is coming for the weekend. She comes every year for a weekend in October and I love it when she comes!
I am in need of some more blog suggestions- It’s interesting my more serious personal blogs have the most reads followed by the more religious posts followed by parenting. The more relaxed and silly ones are not read as often- like this one.
This weeks listening while you work- a list of some folks I’ve seen in concert
I heard a date the other night and I know my face flinched as a cloud of dark memories surrounded me. I tried to pretend that it didn’t to everyone around me. I left it unexplained as I often do. There are only 365 days in a year and only one date makes my skin crawl.
Like a dark looming cloud this date approaches me. This last year I tried to skim by the day, but I knew it was coming in the calmness of the storm that defined so many dark moments for me for the ten years that this cloud had followed me previously.
In the fall of 2000, I was a sophomore at Radford University. I was taking full-time classes and living in Bolling Hall on the second floor. My roommate April and I had picked the room, because it had two large windows that faced the quad that was lined with large magnolia trees. To make ends meet I had applied for a work study at Dalton the closest dining hall. I wore these ridiculous polo style shirts in multiple shades of pastel on different days. Everyones favorite combination was the pink day and a green hat. My friends still joke that I looked like a strawberry. I worked the food line slopping food on serving trays and take out bins.
::slop:: ::slop:: ::slop::
It was a job… a greasy, filthy job, and one that I should have hated but I loved in retrospect. This was a different kind of work study. This job you worked side by side the local blue collar types that were not students. Just your average single moms and the chef that ran the kitchen had a serious power trip. There were cooks and line ladies… I was a line lady and this was where I met one of my dearest friends, Sally. She was tall with long brown hair and a big vibrant smile. We spent hours and hours standing slopping food together. We had a blast popping those trays from the warmer station, that looked like big stainless steel refrigerators, and slamming them into the warming stations. Stirring the contents up with spoons larger than three quarters of my arm. We told all kinds of stories during the slow times leaning up against those large warmers. There were countless hours of gabbing about our nieces and nephews while wiping down the lines and joking about how we were at risk for the recent meningitis outbreak. We chatted about our career hopes and our interest in the deaf community. Also discussing my future husband and her single life. One of the local line ladies, whose name escapes me now, kept telling Sally that Phil, a cook in the back, was “checking her out”. We would giggle like school girls when he would bring us a fresh tray of slop. Eventually, the two of them fell madly in love. I wish I had photographs of these moments, but instead I have warm silly memories of being young and carefree.
steam burns and laughter
It’s funny the things your memory gives you. Sally’s hands were strong and unique. Hands you would want a caretaker to have. Like a nurse with strong and gentle hands she worked diligently with a fun attitude. We worked most of that year together and she was always easy going and she and Phil were so in love. At one point, I remember her coming in with a glum look on her face. I wasn’t sure how to take it… this was very uncharacteristic of her. Her parents had gone on a horseback riding trip to Ireland. Her mother, Patricia, had been in a terrible accident. She took phone calls in the kitchen that night. Over the next few months, Sally was not the same. Her mother was transferred back to the United States and continued her rehabilitation here after surgery to her brain. Slowly, Sally left that semester without any explanation to me, but I knew she was caring for her grandfather and later her mother. I had no number and no e-mail. Nothing, but Phil’s updates. I kept in touch with the line ladies too over time. The following year I was offered a position in work study as an assistant to the Dean of the College Health and Human Services. I spent the summer in silence from Sally.
distance and loneliness
In August of 2001, I was taking European Geography that semester. I was psyched about it. I walked to the building for my first class and there was a little brick circle out front that was filled with flowers. As luck would have it Sally was sitting on the brick circle out front waving at me. We gave each other a big hug and she explained to me that she finished up her courses early and had somethings waved from the previous semester because of her family emergency. She had spent a good amount of time caring for her mother. Who had still been in a mostly vegetative state. The doctors had said she would never talk, walk or much of anything again. Sally looked more settled than the person I remember seeing before she had left the semester before. She and Phil were doing great. In the weeks that passed she and I would meet out front and walk and talk since by luck her class was next to mine. In the weeks that followed school became very chaotic. This same class that I was going into is the same class that I watched the second plane go into the second tower on September 11, 2001. My memories of this time are blurry. One thing I distinctly remember was standing out on that circle and her interrupting me to take a cell phone call. I knew it was important as she sat pulling it out of her pocket sitting at that same brick circle. She instantly shot up… smiling and crying all at the same time. Then she moved to nervous giggling and pacing. She hung up the phone and hugged me. It was her mother. Her mother had picked up the phone, called and spoke with her all on her own. What great strides Patricia had made….
In the spring of 2002 we had a class called Teaching Writing together. We traveled to Blacksburg HS and taught a creative writing unit together. We did a lesson on writing poetry with your senses and they ate candy blindfolded and then wrote about different kinds. It was fun. I didn’t have a car so Sally and I road together in her car to go observing and teaching. These half hour trips to another town just filled with endless conversation and lots of laughing. It was a fun year.. she and I. We didn’t do much outside of school related things. I would go to her place and work on lessons or writing. The next summer we lost track a little bit, but by August we were both middle school teaching majors and all of our classes were together. There were seventeen of us in our cohort and two professors. This time riding together was just normal and routine. We’d been friends for two years and were very close in conversation. Although, she went on and on about how she detested Hillary Clinton and I rather like her. Other than Sally’s republican talk and my democratic perspectives our conversations flowed like water and if they didn’t we were still having a blast. Music was always a topic of conversation. This was one of her favorites.
My boyfriend at the time and I had decided to get married and were ready to have the serious talks with our families. Phil and Sally had decided they were moving in that direction too, but it was very important to Sally that she marry a Catholic man. In her strength and her fathers they brought Phil to their faith and he moved towards a conversion to the Catholicism with Sally’s father as Phil’s mentor. Sally’s father a lawyer was a devote Catholic. Sally said once that her dad had mentioned with all of the struggles that Patricia had gone through that if he lost her he would just move forward with becoming a priest. It was very important to her to have Phil move forward and was just awestruck by her father’s dedication to the man with which she was so in love. Sally and I were seeing each other every day driving to class and work at Blacksburg Middle. Life was busy, but John and I had decided we were going to take this whole marriage thing to another level and we were prepared to organize our wedding for right after graduation. Sally and I talked about how I was going to tell my parents and worried how that was going to go and my parents were stopping by on the way to West Virginia so I took the opportunity to tell them. They were very excited…. I couldn’t wait to fill Sally in on all the conversation…
my parents… her parents
Sally stopped by afterwards to see my new mice. What possessed me to own pet mice I have no idea, but they had had babies and Sally just had to come see. I remember the baby mice sitting in Sally’s large and gentle hands. We were talking wedding plans and she just gently held the mice smiling. Sally’s connection with animals was amazing especially with horses. Her apartment bedroom was filled with ribbons and awards from her riding events. We talked about many things related to the animals, weddings, family, faith, and teaching too.
The next hurdle for us was to tell John’s parents we were getting married. I was nervous, more nervous, about this one. Our families were so different and yet we were so in love. I was leaving for the weekend after my Friday afternoon class. Sally had a big weekend too. It was her mother’s birthday weekend and they were traveling to Fredericksburg. This was a big weekend for their family and she wasn’t about to miss it. See Patricia had made bigger strides than calling Sally on the phone. As a surprise for her family Patricia went to the party to show her friends and relatives she had regained the ability to walk. Sally was so excited as she walked out the door of the class with her hair down and sunglasses on her head as usual. She said, “Good Luck!” and I said, “You too. Have fun. Travel Carefully.” She turned and said while flashing a big smile, “You too!”
sunglasses, smiles, and salutations
Telling his parents went as smoothly as one could anticipate. I was so excited a date was in place and things were coming together. He had his father, his best man, lined up while my sisters and his sister were ready to stand with us. We were ready to pick colors and bridesmaid gowns. We were filled with excitement. I was elated and excited the whole way back home to the apartment. I had to observe in Blacksburg the next day and I was ready to go now that all my plans were in place with my life. I got up that morning and couldn’t wait for Sally to get there to take me the 30 minutes into town. I waited and waited and waited…. she didn’t show. She would never just not show. No call nothing. So I called her cell and got the voicemail… I begged John to drive me to Blacksburg. I was upset I was late, but I wasn’t mad at her. I was worried to pieces. Before I left, I put a note on the front door worried she was just on her way. I left her a voicemail urging her to call me and let me know she was alright.
John rushed me to the school and I felt awful. Showing up late… setting my things down in a hurry when I reached the classroom. The teacher I worked with, Sharon, looked at me oddly and I told her I was frantically worried about my friend. She assured me that it would be fine although it was out of character for my friend. Oddly, the door opened and a lady from the office, looking solemn and displeased, told Sharon that all student teachers were to gather their belongings and come to the conference room. I grabbed my things knowing that there was a cloud. My knees were shaking and I asked the office lady what was wrong and she said she wasn’t sure. I knew right then and should have stopped, but I walked into the storm. When I arrived to the room it was almost empty except the two professors were there. I just looked them in the eyes and said “This is about Sally. Tell me this is not about Sally.” I fell back into a chair as she responded… Yes. They weren’t expecting my meltdown. I should have been alone or the last one to arrive, but they were not anticipating this closeness between Sally and I as they had only known us for a few short weeks. Instead the other fifteen cohort members followed in behind me. I could not hold myself up and I could not cope. They went on to tell us that Sally, Patricia and Sally’s father were traveling home after her big birthday party on Sunday when a drunk driver drove over into their lane plunging into the passenger side. Patricia and Sally died instantly and her father had managed to survive with some scrapes and an injured arm.
Sunday September 22, 2002
My mind racing… her voicemail message.. the note.. all the things I couldn’t wait to hear about their trip… all the things I wanted to tell her about my weekend… my friend. not. my. friend. The last time she spoke to me… the travel carefully’s the look over her shoulder the sunglasses the smile. Patricia… this is so unfair… so unfair.
Monday September 23, 2002
I had never experienced pain like this… A loss this close….A friend so dear. No matter our conversations or what we talked about or what came of it then I had lost a special person in my life. I was falling apart right there with the cohort and my professors in that conference room. Simply falling apart… To grieve in such a manner in retrospect is almost embarrassing to realize how many people saw me so raw and in the moment of despair. Nothing had hurt so badly as that moment right there.
One of the cohort members walked me outside for air and loaned me her phone. I called John… all I could say was “Sally’s gone… she’s gone.” He didn’t understand, but he came to get me. We talked in the conference room and the group eventually dispersed and then came back together at Kelly’s house. Kelly was in the cohort and also quite close with Sally, but she was much wiser and experienced in grief than me and held it together. Our professors had agreed we would head back to teaching the next day and although we had all lived through September 11th and the “return quickly to routine” process… there was no way we could. Especially me… it wasn’t going to happen.
My friends were quick to move into action. Sally’s note was taken off the door and ripped into pieces and hidden. They were all there or around ready to take care of me. I remember grieving so badly I couldn’t stand in the shower or walk the distance of the short hall without holding onto a door frame. I had so many family members and friends come to see me and call me. Those first few weeks were the most raw. We attended the visitation, the funeral, and held a memorial service for her. We raised money in her honor and had a display put up at a nearby horseback riding facility with her name on it and bought her a brick on the memorial path at the university. Mostly, I just missed her… the years of conversation… the laughter… the smiles.. raw is the best way to describe it. In the coming months, my professor urged me to seek counseling or a local church. I just wanted my friends and family. My professor said I lacked faith and she was right, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I worked and worked to get through student teaching and pushed myself hard. I planned the wedding and worked as a student teacher full-time. The professor and I were what felt like head to head. She gave me good reviews but she pushed me hard. I have been bitter about that relationship for some time… I think she simply didn’t know how to handle me.
I graduated the following May. We were set to marry in July. So right before graduation… I decided to get a dog. I needed a companion for the upcoming journey I was headed on. It sounds silly, but I wanted a male yellow lab. It was what I had hoped for, but I went from shelter to shelter looking for this new companion. None of the animals we came across were the right fit. We went to a place nearby to look at a dog not meeting the description, but we went anyways. I wasn’t impressed with the dog and found myself very disappointed. The fence rattled and shook behind me with a loud bark. I turned to see a very happy male yellow lab mix standing on his hind legs onto the fence. A one year old guy named Luke. Instantly, he had my heart.
If you know me, you know that Luke is a staple in my life even now, but many don’t know why. As this dark cloud still hovered over me I cried raindrops into Luke’s coat. He was my therapy. The best I had had yet. In the months that followed from May to our wedding in July, Luke was beside me all the way… I walked him daily, cuddled with him on sofa, and took him almost everywhere. I would just sob and hold him as I finally was able to work through my grief. I was so damaged by my experience and exhausted that I could not teach. I didn’t even know if I wanted to teach anymore. I had lost a lot of strength. Looking back it was a lot of surviver’s guilt mentality.
I graduated. She didn’t. I was in love. She was in love. I was getting married. Phil was alone. Her father was alone. She wanted to teach and I had lost the desire to do it. Patricia had worked so hard to walk and lost everything so quickly. My thoughts overwhelmed me.
By December, with Luke’s help, I was ready to try teaching so I started with substituting. By April, I had a job contract for the following year and the rest of my sulking is in the history books. Luke had managed to pull me out of my depths of despair and I gained confidence and strength. I’m not sure what happened to Phil, but Sally’s dad did just as she said he would and is now a priest in North Carolina. I have been unable to contact him or any of her other family… ever. I just could not do it and still remain unable to own my grief and feel as though I had any inclination as to the pain they must have felt. My professors and I have not spoken since my graduation. I have been unable to get beyond some of my bitterness with that situation.
Sally is not gone from my mind. I’m certain that when I meet someone named Sally I have a tinge the falls over my face and it takes some time for me to call those persons by name. When I first saw my new principal, Stephanie, at my new job I didn’t see her… I saw Sally… I have to gulp and swallow that down even as I type it… Her vibrant smile and the dark hair. My cousins’ wife- her hands look just like Sally’s. My friend Jenna’s equestrian awards in her guest room reminds me of Sally’s bedroom. When I hear September 22nd… it’s raw emotion… full rawness and I remember myself in that conference room falling apart completely. In the shower unable to stand and countless other memories.
I used to think it was strange when someone remembered a date when someone had passed away. Oh how naive I was… I know that cloud is visible mid conversation when her name is said or the date. Sometimes I can’t even explain why she came into my mind.
You don’t think about it until you hear a song, but sometimes when you hear a song it makes you think of someone or something you did. Some people in our lives make us think of special song.
Today’s blog will require headphones if you are sneaking and reading at work (not that any of my readers would do that) – I apologize for the inconvenience.
I have found that music is more therapeutic than I realized and over time it has blessed me with many moments. Some of them are sad, some of them are happy, but all of them are special.
This is a list of songs that remind me of other people… and why.
Our wedding was amazing and I am still moved, but this is the song after we were announced husband and wife.
A few weeks before my friend Sally died we discussed how we love John Prine- especially Angel From Montgomery and his version of the song is the best. She was very special to me in college and was tragically killed by a drunk driver. A blog for her will be in the future, but I’m just not ready yet.
My aunt Peggy who was taken from us far too soon was more like a cousin because she was so much younger than her siblings. She spent a lot of time with the cousins instead of her siblings and because of that we have some special memories of her. In my young preteen to teen years.. of early to late 90s, Peggy would visit and she was that cool older kid that could drive you places. So in the summer we would roll down the windows and crank up the Metallica. Most people remember her as being a Grateful Dead fan, but my memory will always be filled with her when Metallica comes on.
My mom went to Liberty University and sang in their chorus. She still loves to sing and all kinds of songs that make me think of her. The Carpenters, Toni Braxton, Shania Twain, numerous hymns… the list goes on…
The entire Sound of Music movie! Ha – here is one for my Mom. This reminds me of rainy days and car trips…
For my friend Jenna- Poppin’ Tags!
This one reminds me of John’s mom. Whenever she starts talking about the good ole days she starts singing this song.
and this one too
Granny Bryant’s favorite song- She always asked John to play it when we visited. So he’d bring his acoustic guitar and strum away for her singing and playing this several times every visit. It never got old to see someone so pleased by her grandson playing her favorite tune.
My Dad- We went to see Rush with my Dad. It was one of the best concerts we’ve ever been to, but my dad loves music too. You could include Metallica, Queen, Marc Cohn, again the list goes on…. he loves music.
For my friend April- There are so many songs that remind me of her, but this reminds me of our friendship.
For my friend Ingrid- This was like the anthem of our senior year of high school. Ingrid and I spent lots of time together that year. When I hear it I think of her. Miss you muah!
John’s Dad. Now this isn’t his favorite song, but at our wedding we didn’t have our car and John’s dad had his. My mom forgot the music for our wedding. We only had the songs for during the ceremony and John’s dad only had the Best of James Taylor in the car…. so we had a lot of James Taylor playing at our wedding. This is my favorite James Taylor song. Because of this every time we hear James Taylor it reminds us of our wedding. Best mess up ever 🙂
This could very well be my father in laws song… all the Hokies understand.
For my friend Tonya- Sorry to out you like this but I can’t help but remember you wearing pajama pants in college with a hairbrush as a microphone… good times singing Britney Spears.
This is just a “short” list and one that I’ve always wanted to write down so I didn’t forget them. I love music and this doesn’t even touch on my own personal favorites. I hope you enjoyed it especially those included in it. In the comment section or on fb list any songs that when you hear them make you think of me and return the favor. 🙂