too. many. choices.


skipping september

60 days ago — the last time I bothered to blog — it was August 20. Sunny, high of 95. A regular Friday.

I go to work, eat lunch, drive home, pack a suitcase. Put the suitcase in Ryan's 4Runner and we head north to Chi City, listening to Kanye's Graduation album on repeat (Chi City, Chi City, do you think about me now and then, do you think about me now and then, cuz I'm coming home again.)

"I was thinking we could walk around downtown when we get there and test out the new camera," he says.

There's a superfine mist blowing through Chicago, the kind that keeps vegetables alive at the grocery store. The sky is dusty mahogany and starless. We click our way through the city like true tourists, stopping to take too many pictures and kissing on street corners.

Down Michigan Ave and through Grant Park until we arrive here, at Buckingham Fountain. The skyline is unreal and we soak it in. The park is filled with spectators and loud parade music, and I'm exceedingly upset by a pack of preteen boys who are chasing down a scared little rabbit. We start back toward the hotel.

I'm still worrying about the "poor bunny" and Ryan keeps trying to change the subject. He's recounting minute details of a long walk we took on a rainy night years ago, asking 'remember this?' and 'remember that?' until I blurt out, "You never remember our dates, why do you remember so much about that night?"

"Because that's when I knew I loved you."

Even though I'd asked for details plenty of times, he's never told me this before — the first time he knew he loved me. Why is he telling me now? I'm wondering, and the pieces come together like a Jenga game in reverse. He's carrying a backpack. He's wearing cargo shorts. That's a lot of storage space. He seems nervous. He's never nervous. He's making me nervous.

The sign in front of Millennium Park says 'closed' but we go in anyway. He sets the camera up to take a picture of us on the park bench. He's fiddling with it, and fiddling and fiddling.

"Why don't you just have someone else take our picture?" I ask.
People stream past, a few stragglers like us in the park after hours. And then there were two. The park is empty. My heart is pounding. He hits the camera button and walks toward the bench where I'm sitting. Kneels in front of it. And before he can say anything, at that supposed pinnacle of one's romantic life, what do I say?

"You are not doing this right now!"
"Yes, I am." He says. And he says much more, words that I will always remember and rarely share.

We're wrapped up and talking and I'm on the verge of tears, and don't even notice the security guard until he shouts, "The park is CLOSED. Ya gotta get out."

So we relocate. We drink a glass of champagne at an overpriced bar. We stare at my hand and hold each others. We can't stop smiling and our faces ache, in a good way. A very good way.


a good new england man

"Freedom lies in being bold."
–Robert Frost


how i ruined my triathlon training

One corn dog, with ketchup and mustard. One ear of corn, drenched in butter.

One donut burger
(a beef patty in between two Krispy Kremes).

One ride on the Sizzler. Three deep-fried Oreos. Thank you, Indiana State Fair.


tick tock

A long time ago, in a far away land called Boston, I was hypnotized by the beautiful chiming of my grandmother's grandmother clock (smaller than a grandfather).

Nana always told me that when she passed away, this clock would be mine. She's still with us, technically, but her mind has left. The phone number to her nursing home is written on a post-it note by my desk. I look at it often; feel guilty; feel the need to talk to her; remember how last time she kept asking about my grandfather (who's been gone since 1999), remember how it ended with her abruptly handing the phone back to the nurse and me crying; I don't call, for selfish reasons.

When Dad last went up to visit, he took this clock from storage, wrapped it to sustain a nuclear explosion, and shipped it to Indiana. I love it. It's filled with memories. It fits perfectly in the corner of our dining room. I only wish Nana could make the trip out here to see it in person.


overheard 005

Waffle House waitress in Nashville, Tennessee:

"Don't make me give ya the Heineken maneuver."






wake-up calls

These days, Mom and I talk almost every morning on my way to work. Some mornings just to complain, some mornings just to say I love you, some mornings (like this morning) to make fun of celebrities.

Me: Did you hear this about Chelsea Clinton spending 90 thousand dollars for bathrooms at her wedding? 90 THOUSAND dollars for fancy port-o-potties.
Mom: That's a lot of money to flush down the shitter.

This budget will make you ill.
Apparently the whole shebang will cost $3.3 million.
P.S. I miss you Mom.


ez pb pie

If you need a good, easy dessert recipe, this is my new favorite. Made it for Ryan's birthday and he was a big fan.

Peanut Butter + Chocolate Pie
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate (chips or kisses or baking pieces)

2 tablespoons milk
1 package crumb crust (6 oz)

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter (recipe calls for Reese's brand but I used Jiff)

3 1/2 cups (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed

1. Place 2/3 cup chocolate chips and milk in small bowl and microwave 30-45 seconds until melted. Stir to smooth out lumps and spread onto bottom of crust. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth; gradually beat in sugar. Stir in peanut butter and Cool Whip until blended; spoon evenly into crust over chocolate mixture. Cover; refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

3. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 chocolate chips around the edge of pie filling; serve.


home alone

Ryan's on vacation in Hilton
Head, so my self-imposed weekend challenge was to be the man of the house. This consisted of:

1. Mowing the yard
2. Fixing the storm door
3. Investigating the ceiling leak in the basement...all without the aid of Boyfriend, Dad or Brothers.

Part 1. After successfully mowing the backyard, I get a little cocky. That was so easy it was actually fun! Then I maneuver to the front, where I proceed to sweat on and swear at that ancient piece of crap for 30 minutes, pulling the cord until I thought my shoulder was dislocated. I cheat and call Dad."Maybe you knocked the blade out of alignment when you hit that dirt mound." Maybe I did. "Try hitting it back in place with a 2x4."

Just my luck that it worked fine in the backyard, where no one could see me. But out here — with everyone in Broad Ripple driving by — I'm a red-faced skinny girl whacking an old mower with spare lumber.
Then my neighbor Jerry walks over. The mower was a hand-me-down from him, so he feels responsible when anything goes wrong with it (which happens often). Jerry is about 70; I often hear him yelling at his dogs to shut up. Today he's got duct tape wrapped around one shoe and a huge hole ripped in his shirt.

Jerry: "Did you check the gas?"
Me: Pause. "If it just needs gas, I'm going to feel really stupid."
Jerry: Unscrews gas cap. "Guess you're stupid."

Part 2. "Fixi
ng" the storm door turned out to be damn near impossible, so I settled for removing the problem. Took the door off its hinges and only then did I realize it weighed enough to crush me. But I managed a precarious method of "walking" the door down the driveway, rocking the weight back and forth and using the bottom corners like pivot points.

Part 3. I don't even want to tell you about the basement ceiling. I attempted to poke a "small hole" to help the water drain. I made it worse. Points for trying?


3 great concerts, 1 great night

Dear Harper Blynn,
Thanks for playing your little hearts out at Radio Radio on Wednesday. Y'all played a fierce opening act and the Tears for Fears/Everybody Wants to Rule the World cover was perfect. Rock on.

Dear Cary Brothers (first name Cary, last name Brothers),
I'm sure you get this all the time, but you are
like some delicious hybrid of George Clooney and Russell Crowe — younger, though, and with a guitar. How have we not met before? Of course I've loved Blue Eyes ever since I first saw Garden State, but I had no idea you were so... mmm... shockingly adorable. I was distracted by how you looked, but your music was also spectacular. Break off the Bough just might be my favorite song of the summer.

Dear Greg Laswell
Loved your slow acoustic version of Comes and Goes so much that I videotaped it and am now blogging it.
Aside from being a phenomenal musician, your in-between-songs stories are pretty hilarious. Thanks for cracking me up, and for playing Sing Teresa and How the Day Sounds.

P.S. I noticed you were wearing a wedding ring? When did this happen? I would have been more upset if Cary hadn't been there. He'll be taking your place in my Musician Crush folder now that you're officially off the market. Sorry. But congrats man.



Everything you need to know about Aria Resort & Casino can be summed up in three words: heated. toilet. seats.

It was that kind of place. When I woke up the first morning (to the soft clicking sound of the curtains automatically opening at 9:45 am, just as programmed) I had to pinch myself. This was the view from our room.

Ah, Vegas, City of Perpetual Overindulgence. We ate at one buffet a day, and I've completely ruined my appetite. Everything in my refrigerator now tastes bland in comparison. But really what we did the most was lounge at the pool, moving as little as possible except to get in the water because it was 108 degrees. Hot, but heavenly.


why i love john

"Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement bring on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. I fear the disease is incurable."

"When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going." –John Ernst Steinbeck


dangers of nostalgia

I sit down to do a little work. I plan on catching up on emails, writing a few belated thank you cards, paying late bills. One stray thought derails that: Where was I one year ago? What was I doing, what was I hoping for, what was I afraid of?

I was searching for a vintage suitcase. I was mapping our road trip route. I was packing and repacking. I was sweating profusely in a tent. I was worrying that one of my brothers would be one of the three people who fall into the Grand Canyon every year. I was wearing a head net. I was wanting the trip to last forever, and in the next breath I was wishing it was over already. I was scared to move. I was excited to move.

And a year has already passed. How is that possible?
It went by so fast I think as I scroll back through iPhoto, my bills unpaid, my thank you cards unwritten.


just because you can, doesn't mean you should

You want me to "Like" your funeral home on Facebook?



what if i, like, drown?

Tuesday: Casually observe triathlon flier at the gym
Wednesday: Wake up and decide to register before I've even had my coffee
Saturday: Buy goggles and a swim cap, which fits my head like a condom fits a basketball
Sunday: Buy a bike. Begin biking. Begin swimming.
Monday: Begin questioning triathlon capabilities. Begin thinking this is one impulse I should have fought. 60 days and counting.


blessid union

"Open up your mind and then open up your heart
And you will see that you and me aren't very far apart
Cause I believeeeeee
That love is the answer
I believeeeeeeeee
That love will find a way"

Are you having flashbacks from 1995? I was last night, when Blessid Union of Souls played at the Rathskeller Biergarten. This was my favorite song way back then when I looked like this, and the band looked like that:

The lead singer looks a bit older these days but his voice was pretty amazing. And actually, that's the cover of their second album, from 1999. The one with the hit single "Hey Leonardo/She Likes Me for Me" — the one that they played last night RIGHT in the middle of my 3.5 minute bathroom break. What luck.


veggie patch

Yard work seems to be contagious. Last Monday, my Dad and I planted a little garden in the backyard. It was about 50 degrees and rainy; it was also my 26th birthday, and for some strange reason I had the song "Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly stuck in my head all day. I wore my mud boots and Dad wore this ridiculous getup: Lowe's bags tied around his ankles, and a garbage-bag-diaper-shorts-protector.

(The birth of a garden: from August, to November, to May.)


these are my people


daddy does yard work

The whole family arrived yesterday evening. After eight long hours of driving, Dad was the first one asleep last night, and the first one awake this morning. And because he can't sit still for even 10 minutes, here's how he is passing the time...


five dollar find

I found this little lady at the Downtown Antique Mall for—you guessed—five bucks. First saw her in a cobwebbed corner back in October, but since we were in the middle of moving from apartment to house, I decided I didn't need one more thing to pack. Months later, as I was pondering what to hang in our bathroom, this came to mind. Lucky for me (and unlucky for Ryan, whose only comment was, "it's so girlie") she was still waiting at the Antique Mall when I returned in March.

Pushing my luck, I Googled "Sexton 1968" (stamped on the back) hoping it might be worthy of the Antiques Roadshow. It's not. But it still makes me smile.



...is the number of mosquito bites I endured while trying to read in my backyard; also the number of months I've resided in Indiana; and the number of days until Mom, Dad and both brothers drive up for a visit; and the number of days it's been since I shaved my legs... OK, it's only been two but it sure looks like nine.

(Such a lackluster post, but I needed something to freshen up my stale little blog.)


cruel and redundant

Dear AP Reporter,
Anyone reading this article can see that the man is "toothless." I find the headline to be unnecessary and mean. Let the man have his 15 minutes or seconds in the spotlight without degrading him. Plus, Mr. Powerball Winner now has enough cash to hire really good lawyers and sue you for libel, if he was so inclined.

P.S. If you're thinking I'm a little regretful that I didn't buy a lotto ticket last week at the Shell station, you're right.


buona pasqua, y'all

My dad reminds me (every year around this time) that "Buona Pasqua" means "Happy Easter" in Italian, and that "Pasquariello" means "Little Easter."

Although Ryan and I didn't make it home for the holiday, we found little ways to make Easter our own. The day in photos...

[Captions: an Easter "basket" — which was really a mixing bowl; Belgian waffle breakfast; a few chocolate eggs Ryan arranged for my egg-hunt challenge; flowering tree in the front yard; a morning hike in Holliday park; pink tulips in the dining room; our "mini-monster" eggs; tennis lessons from the pro; springtime = open windows; and finally, because every good holiday should end with a good dessert, my chocolate-blackberry pie.]