Monday, March 23, 2015

A California Adventure (Alternate Title: The Last Spring Break of My Life, probably)

Last week, my dad took me to California as a grad school graduation present during what was likely the last Spring Break of my life. I know that I've enjoyed more SBs than most and I should quit whining, but still, it's a sad thought. TimeHop informed me that I've somehow managed to be in California during March in 3 out of the last 4 years (the other year I was in Pittsburgh, which was also awesome). I don't know how I've managed that, but I intend to keep up the streak as long as I possibly can.

Initially, I intended to write a comprehensive retrospective, but I definitely can't remember everything we did (because we drank a lot of yummy California wine we did a TON of stuff), and I certainly can't remember every thought I had about what we saw. I can barely remember all the semi-relevant thoughts I've had today. But, for the truly interested, I've included a list of iPhone snapshots with explanatory captions below (in no particular order). 

Mostly, my dad and I talked to each other-- about our family, friends, about the things we saw, about books. I got some insight into my parents' marriage; often, Dad said, "your mom would really like this," and, "I'm going to bring her back here." Even though we have wildly different opinions about how many maps are needed and how many questions should be asked, I am really grateful to have experienced this beauty with him. I may never again see the Giant Sequoias, but I won't soon forget them. It was a truly good trip. 

Thanks, Dad. I hope we get the chance to travel together again. 

We met up with Eli and Jesse for a party bus tour of three wineries. This photo was taken (by my dad) at stop #2-- the most scenic by far.
Taken at Musée Mécanique in San Francisco. We finally figured it out in the fourth frame. 
Taken during a walk along Scenic Road, Carmel. 
More from Scenic Road, Carmel. 
Taken off of CA 1-- short hike near Big Sur. 
Elephant seals near San Simeon. They were mating or molting according to the posted literature-- difficult to tell. 
Hearst Castle (although WRH called it a ranch). I want all of the air around me for the rest of my life to smell like the orange blossoms do here. 
Even the light was magical at Hearst. 
Tide pool in Cambria. Attacked by seaweed shortly after this photo was taken. 
I crawled into a Sequoia hollowed out by fire and looked up-- Sequoia National Park. 
Eli and I are growing a Giant Sequoia in a pot in our kitchen. In approximately 2,000-3,000 years, it'll look like these. 

Making friends. I was really into the trees. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ann Harrington's "Shoveling"

This afternoon, Erica and I walked from the parking garage across campus to our Loss & Grief class in the pouring rain. She shared her umbrella-- the kind of thing you do for friendship even though you know it's ineffective. About half of the class showed, and we opened class as we usually do by reading a poem about loss and/or grief. What a bummer, right? Really though, I appreciate this ritual. It makes me miss literature coursework. 

Today's poem stuck with me. The writer clearly admires her partner, and it's beautiful. Maybe that's why I want you to read it. Or, maybe it's because Hamilton County is supposed to get 4-8 powdery inches over the next two days and I can literally relate. 

In any case, here is Ann Harrington's "Shoveling."

I woke to the sound of shovels scraping the sidewalk:
More snow.
Son of a snowplow driver,
shoveling was one of your specialties,
like rising at five to feed the cats,
filling the bird feeder,
making the coffee,
charging my phone—
a catalog of kindnesses
I mostly slept through.
You were the constant one, the unapologetic booster, the besotted.
I was the strategist, the asker of difficult questions, the beloved.

We chose the old house on the corner
not knowing what we were in for. (Whoever does?)
We battled, together,
but cancer made you old too soon
and left me, the independent one, suddenly alone.
Now the years stretch ahead of me
like an endless sidewalk, filled with snow.
I shuffle into your old jacket, hat,
and too-big boots,
grab a shovel and get to work,
hoping some of you
will rub off on me. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Yeah, I know. I promise to try harder with post titles in the future.* This entry is a "what's up with me" installment for those who are interested. 


On Friday, I took a day trip to Columbus to meet my newest and littlest friend, Alasdair. Little dude had a rough first few weeks in the world, and I was thrilled to get the chance to introduce myself and see that he's healthy and as happy as a newborn can be. Alasdair belongs to Sonya, a dear friend I wrote about in September. I've loved Sonya for more than half of my life. Thinking about her son as an extension of that love is strange and incredible. To borrow a perfect phrase from one I admire: Alasdair is pure floating light

Obviously, little dude's entrance was not only rough on him. His parents really went through it those first few weeks. I was so glad to catch up with both Sonya and her husband (hi Sean!), and I appreciated their frank comments on how challenging parenting has been. I've definitely come around about babies. Someday, if it's right, I'd like to have a child. I think I would enjoy parenting, and that I would try really hard. 

Here is little Alasdair. What a stud, right?

I spent all of yesterday and today in a licensure prep course at school. The course was taught by a super accomplished clinician, researcher, and social work administrator. I feel that it was ultimately helpful and a good use of my weekend. What a relief! Also, I appreciated the instructor's enthusiastic storytelling, Long Island accent, and her spontaneous song break-- a decent rendition of Silent Night during a discussion about delirium vs. dementia. 

Throughout the day, the instructor asked us to approach her and ask for a handmade bear charm (apparently bears are healers). When it was my turn to receive a charm, she told me that I can see into the hearts of others and that it may sometimes scare them. Another student behind me, who can also see into hearts, summed it up best when she said: "I could use a totem." Something you may not know about me: I'm all about a totem. You have a good luck charm? I'll take one. I mean, why not?

Here's my bear. The bead above it is called a shaman bead, (I think) because shamans are teachers. 

I'm planning to take the clinical exam in the next couple of months. I'll let you know what happens.

On a break from the seminar at some point this weekend, I learned that my friend Sarah used to work as a dental hygienist (you know, filling cavities and making false teeth) when she lived in Colorado. Now, Sarah's a badass with a business degree and (almost) an MSW, but she had no education or experience related to dental hygiene (besides brushing) before taking that job. WHAT'S UP, COLORADO!?! I just felt like you guys should know that this is happening. 

The final update is about our mighty (and mighty old) cat, Mo. We recently learned Mo has kidney disease, so we've changed his diet to help manage his (pretty gross) symptoms. Mo has been on my mind a lot lately. I want to be a person who can make a tough call when needed, if and when his quality of life is in question. I think I am that person, but it's a bummer to think about being without him, especially because I think our other cat will miss him terribly and struggle to adjust. How can you explain to an animal that their friend is gone? That one's kind of a bummer-- sorry guys.

Overall, I'm just chugging along. I'm taking a trip in March that I'm pretty excited about (there will most certainly be pictures), and weekly operations are focused on wrapping up this graduate school chapter of my life and making a plan for what's next. I know that I'm getting older because, more and more, I think to myself, "Where has the time gone?" 

Until we meet again. 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weird exercise situations

"How do I always end up in weird exercise situations with you?"

That's what Eli said to me at 9AM this morning from his personal trampoline next to my personal trampoline. During my freelance research, I discovered a "trampoline park" called Sky Zone in Springdale. Growing up, our neighbors had a trampoline in their backyard that served as a meeting point for all the neighborhood kids. Older, braver (or more stupid) neighbor boys would jump off the shed onto the tramp for maximum air. When we were tired, we'd lay on the tramp in the sun. That's right-- we called it "the tramp." I've been abbreviating for a long time. 

At first, I couldn't imagine what I'd do for Sky Zone's advertised 30, 60, or 90 minutes of "free jump" on a trampoline next to "people of a similar size" (for "safety"?). Still, I stored it in my mind filed under "fun boyfriend/girlfriend activity for the future."

Maybe because the future is now (?), or maybe because Eli's newly acquired FitBit and resulting obsession with steps had me brainstorming ways to walk without being outside in 5 degree weather-- whatever it was, I revisited Sky Zone's website, learned they had a focused exercise class, SkyRobics, and I signed us up. Classes are 10 bucks each and your first class is half off. I mean, what the hell, why not?

As predicted, the jump-oriented portions of the hour were the most fun. I'd do it again. And maybe I'm coming around to the idea of "free jump." 

Anyway, the answer to E's question is that I'm on a lifelong mission to find exercise that I enjoy. There are very few forms of focused exercise that I get excited about (walking-- preferably on a beach or with a dog, riding bikes with my dad, and hot yoga). I always think I'm going to discover something that's going to make me love to burn calories in an hour-long, concentrated way. And Eli lets me drag him along. 

But, that's not what I said. Because, more than my quest-- I've got to keep him guessing. Every once in a while he's going to find himself on a trampoline in Springdale.