Tuesday, January 31, 2017

All Kinds of Inaugurations

Transition of Power

This has been a surreal month, a bizarre start to the year full of emotions I can't quite articulate. The country is going through a tumultuous time; there's protests in the streets, and it all seems so much like the dystopian novels I read in high school it's eerie. On one hand, I am terrified about what some people want to do to the world my daughters will grow up in. On the other hand, we have seen so many people take to the streets to defend the causes they believe in, to promote love and goodness and fairness, and that makes me think maybe we'll be okay.

I've been having  lot of talks with Emmie about current affairs. Yes, five years old does seem too young to be discussing some of these heavy topics, but I try to reach her on her level. For instance, on January 21st, one of my best friends marched in downtown Chicago with her boyfriend, sisters, and her sister's children and husband. The hair on my arms stood up straight like static electricity at the images of the marches around the world. I showed the photos to Emmie, and we discussed that these people were marching to fight for what they believe in - that women are equal to men, that people of all colors and religions and kinds of love are equal, and should be treated fairly. She took it all in stride. To her open and innocent mind, that makes absolute sense.


The reason why I wasn't out marching myself was that Bruce had his annual work party that day - and we got a hotel room! Awww yeah. Well, actually, the weekend before we had a hotel room, too! In the middle of the month, Bruce arranged for his folks to watch the kids so we could go to a craft beer release party, which I gave him tickets to for his Christmas present. Our friends from the city met us over that way, and we got hotel rooms and went out to eat at the Hofbrauhaus Chicago. It was pure merrymaking. Let's just say there were liter steins of beer, shots, shotskis, people's behinds getting paddled, dancing on tables to live oompah music... It was our own personal Octoberfest in January. It was also the first time Bruce and I have had an overnight by ourselves in - let me think - it was before I got pregnant with Hannah, so it has to have been since our anniversary, April 2014. Over two years ago.

This guy
Das ist ein gro├čer Stein
Then we got a room for after Bruce's work party. The next morning, we ate breakfast in the hotel lobby, and it was odd: no mouth to spoon-feed, no one begging us for one more chocolate muffin. Just our coffees and our buffet-station omelets and each other. It was so peaceful, but then the sound of a baby crying elsewhere in the room made me ready to head home.

Emmie also had her first sleepover this month! She stayed over at the house of our good friends who have a niece Emmie's same age. They've been playmates since birth. I wondered if she would freak out, because I know I did when I had my first sleepover, but apparently for the most part, she was fine. There was nail painting, movie watching, and candy, so I don't think she had a chance to miss us. Me, though, I was a little verklempt about it. Each new step in Emmie's life is a cause for celebration, but also signifies a gradual distancing from us.

Rainbow-Heart-Deer Party

We also threw Emmie her first kid party this month. The kids in her preschool class have been inviting her to theirs, so we realized it was time to host her own. For months she'd been talking about wanting to have a rainbow-heart-deer party, so Bruce busted out his colored pencils and drew up a picture, which we scanned and printed out for invitations.

We held the party at a local art studio where the kids could choose a ceramic figurine and paint it. It went over like gangbusters - every kid from her class came, plus we invited her two best friends. The kids chased each other around the room, and then when it was time to paint, they sat still and concentrated on their brushwork like little Michelangelos. When their masterpieces were finished, they sang Happy Birthday to Emmie, ate cupcakes (with rainbow-heart confetti and forest animal rings), and then they each got super excited waiting for Emmie to open the present they brought her. It was so cute; Emmie soaked it all up. The whole thing lasted a measly hour and a half, but afterwards we were downright exhausted.

And speaking of steps - Hannah toddled around in shoes for the first time at her big sister's party. She had a blast watching the older kids and trying to keep up with them. She just smiled and smiled, no matter how many times she fell.

Not gonna lie, the whole thing kind of made my heart burst with rainbows.

Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year's Wishes

All month long I thought I'd write a December post about how almost every weekend it would snow and ruin our plans, but then we'd spend time at home and how cozy and wonderful that was. Perhaps I'd paint a wintry word scene of the baby playing in the snow with her sister for the first time. 

Then maybe I'd write another post about the craziness of the second half of the month, complete with wicked colds, nagging and hostile students at finals, plus Emmie's 5th birthday and all the Christmas festivities that went on for days.

Or, I would compose a reflective post on what I hope to achieve in the new year. But let's be honest, I've done the New Year's resolution thing before and really, not many items really get accomplished.

Overall, I'm glad that 2016 is coming to an end. I know, the end of a calendar year is really an arbitrary thing that humans made up to keep track of time, and based on upcoming political changes 2017 might be a shitshow. (Sorry, but that is the best word I can think of to describe how I feel.) But besides the Cubs winning the World Series and the presence of my dear family and friends, there was a lot to detest this past year.

So forget all those other topics. What will make me happy is to imagine what a perfect 2017 would be like. If I had a genie's lamp, here are 10 wishes I would make for the new year:
  1. The United States presidential elections would somehow be declared invalid and we'd have to hold new ones, and this time a wise, good, and honorable leader will be elected. The new president will pick proper staff and cabinet members, and the nation will be governed by those who truly care to better the future of all citizens and the earth. 
  2. To find a pot of gold or something, and our family would be able to travel wherever we want. We'd go to a tropical paradise and just chill on the beach, clinking our glasses with little paper umbrellas while the kids play in the sand. Or we'd jet off to Europe, wandering the halls of great art museums and sipping wine in outdoor cafes. Also we'd go to Thailand with my father and be reunited with my family.
  3. People all over the world would treat each other with respect, and no one would ever cause anyone harm again.
  4. To have time to work out, read, write, meditate, learn a new language, and master a new hobby like oil painting.
  5. For Bruce and me to have some quality alone time. This one seems like it will actually come true! Now that the baby is older, people are more inclined to babysit for us. 
    Chocolate and champagne in our hotel room, New Year's Eve 2007, pre-kids.
  6. For the continued good health and happiness of all our loved ones.
  7. The Cubs would win the World Series again. Hey, it's not really greedy if it's only happened once in the past 108 years!
  8. Emmie's wish of being able to fly would come true. Well, maybe one time only, and completely safely. Just so she wouldn't have to realize just yet that anything isn't really possible.
  9. I could go back on that game show I lost and win the whole thing.
  10. For freedom for all - including the genie.
What new year's wishes do you have? Whatever your hopes and dreams, I wish you a Happy 2017!

Friday, November 25, 2016

A November to Remember

Yeah... let's just say November didn't really turn out that way I thought it would. 

On the one hand, Cubs fans' dreams finally came true! And it happened in the most sports-fairy-tale way possible. There was Kyle Schwarber triumphantly going to bat after getting injured at the beginning of the season, like Cinderella going to the the ball after all. (Get it - the "ball"?) Then the Cubs coming back after being down 3 to 1 in the series against the Cleveland Indians, another team who hadn't won a World Series in generations. Finally, Game 7, starting off with the lead, our hearts soaring. How about David Ross, the catcher, hitting a home run in the final game of his career? Then our hearts plummeting when the Indians tied it up. The excruciating, dramatic pause of a rain delay before extra innings. And then sweet victory, the Cubs jumping and hugging on the field, our heroes who defeated the 108-year 'curse', vindicating all the fans over the years who believed like a religion that someday, this team would win it all.

It still hasn't fully hit us.

Bruce, Emmie, Hannah, and I went to the parade with a bunch of friends. It was a shared moment we'll always have, feeling like champions, millions of happy fans, blue and red and white confetti showering down around like joyful tears.

But then came the election.

The day before, I took Emmie and Hannah and cast my ballot proudly. I was elated to take my two daughters with me to be a part of what I hoped would be an unprecedented time for America. The day of the election, Bruce and I watched TV late into the night. I went to bed in tears, utterly distraught. It's been over two weeks, and my sleep is still restless, broken by fretful fears of a country turned on itself.

This month I had been trying to write my first novel as part of NaNoWriMo. After the election, my novel felt pointless. I stopped working on it. I did write several poems, and I know I need to write the book more than ever, but I haven't had the energy to exert on it.

I dreaded Thanksgiving. My family is notoriously passionate about politics, but from a completely opposite perspective of Bruce and me. It's a sore spot, and over the past few years we've realized for the most  part that we can't talk about politics together. However, sometimes they still take twisted pleasure in making a comment here or there to get under my skin. Like many Americans, I was afraid for the worst around the table this year.

At Bruce's family's Thanksgiving, no one spoke of the election. Instead, we focused on a shared love: the Cubs. Bruce's cousin, whom I'm sure voted differently than us, texted us all this image:
At my parents' house, they made a couple cracks, but we ignored them. Overall, we had a lovely time. The baby was particularly cuddly, letting my father hold her almost the whole evening. She said a bunch of new words like "uncle" and talked to all the pets, endearing everyone. Emmie eagerly ate almost all the food, which is one of the best ways to please my mom. We all gave hugs and said "I love you" at the end of the night. The election stayed the mostly-invisible elephant in the room.

On the drive home, Emmie had questions about why we don't talk politics with certain family members. We told her that we love our family even when they don't always believe or do the same things as us. Then I realized: That's what we have to keep striving for in America. We are all these different kinds of people, in the way we look, live, worship, think. But we are all members of this country, and we must treat each other fairly and with respect no matter what. That is a principle by which I want to raise my daughters.

It is exactly what the first Thanksgiving was all about - despite differences, coming together to eat at the same table.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


For our grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, fathers. For Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Harry Caray, for all those we've loved and lost. For all of us lucky enough to be here to see this...

We love you Cubs. Fly the W.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Keep Going

Happy Halloween, it's 10 pm and I'm writing this in bed. Bruce is playing on his phone, and Emmie is in her room singing. It's way past her bedtime, but who can blame her, she probably has a sugar high. Hannah conked out hours ago, not having had any candy, worn out from Trick-or-Treating nonetheless.

After all the fun and excitement of today, just another in a long string of special days this October (baby Hannah's first birthday and the Cubs in the World Series!), I thought about not posting anything on my blog at all. I was really close to just going to sleep. But I've been trying to push myself lately.

In the past couple months, I've tried some new things. I took my first ever yoga class. It was great; I only made an ass out of myself a few times. Now that I've taken the leap, I would like to branch out and take more fitness classes. This goes along with my goal of losing the baby weight once and for all.

The thing I'm most proud of is I started sending out some poems to publishers. I've been trying to dedicate more time to writing. My writing group has been majorly motivational, and I'm ready to take the next step. My whole life I've wanted nothing more than to be a "writer." Though I have published in the past and work with words daily, I want more from myself.

A couple weekends ago we went to watch my sister-in-law run her first marathon. It was incredible. She had been training for nearly a year. Why? Not because she's in love with running. Because she decided that running a marathon was something she'd like to do, so she did what it took to get there, even when it sucked and she wanted to be done with it. That day, when I saw her appear at the top of the hill, yards from the finish line, and watched her put one sore foot in front of the other to achieve her goal, I was utterly inspired. People cheered madly for her. It brought tears to my eyes.

I'm always complaining about how I have no time, that I'm juggling three jobs and two kids and housework and this and that and the other. So many excuses for putting things off. But you know what? Everyone's got their something. It's important to make time for yourself, and live life in a way that makes you proud. I see other people doing it. I need to, too.

So I'm writing this blog post in bed, because otherwise I'd feel bad about not sticking to my goal of writing here at least once a month. And tomorrow, my alarm is going off at 4 am so that I can attempt to write my first novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Part of me feels like there's no way I can do it, not with an online class just started and another very full night class. I think there's a good chance I'll fail.

The other part of me says, this is your marathon. Make yourself do it. Put one word down after another, and eventually you'll cross the finish line. But only if you keep going.

So, go Cubs! And go me.

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