Category Archives: Interludes

Interlude: Best Birthday Ever

I celebrated my 37th birthday this past weekend. I was struggling with it for two reasons. First, for half the year I thought I was turning 36, and for the remainder of the year, I was convinced I was going to be 38—so it was a literal struggle to remember how old I am. Counting up from my birth year doesn’t help because I’m terrible at math. So I usually just get Paul to tell me my age.

Second, 37 is really, REALLY close to 40, which is the first “older” age when you’re a kid that you can’t actually ever imagine yourself being. I still can’t. I think I’m mentally hanging around 32. While I was explaining all this to a friend of mine, she pointed out that nobody in her family ever knew the ages of either of their grandmothers, and she remarked that it’s just as easy to turn younger as it is older, so I decided that for this year, and maybe the next three, I’d just be 35.

Team Rocket getting ready to go to Bonsaicon

Team Rocket getting ready to go to Bonsaicon

The Kids at Bonsaicon

The Kids at Bonsaicon

My birthday was perfect: I didn’t get to sleep in (ahem, Kate), but my nephew and his girlfriend were up visiting so Paul, Netto, and I enjoyed a nice breakfast with them. I opened presents, we finished up our costumes, Netto and I visited my sister and niece at an anime convention and admired all those fantastic costumes, Paul got his Ragnar weave, we trick-or-treated with our closest friends, and we spent the evening with my brother and sister in law at a Gatsby-like party (not Gatsby-themed—more like, there was this elusive wealthy dude who wandered through the massive crowd of people he didn’t know looking for something or someone, which upon reflection was probably not Daisy but instead his missing tchotchke, since how can you possibly have a house full of strangers and not get your stuff stolen?). The following day, my family gathered at our house and we had fried chicken and cake and I opened even more presents, and then the evening was spent watching Disney movies with my boys and my bestie (and her boys and her ween), all of us cuddled in a pile of pillows and blankets.

Paul gettin his Ragnar braids

Paul gettin his Ragnar braids

Awesome Green Arrow Costume made for Netto by my mother-in-law

Awesome Green Arrow Costume made for Netto by my mother-in-law

Me as Katniss Everdeen; Netto as the Green Arrow; and Paul as Ragnar Lodbrok.

Me as Katniss Everdeen; Netto as the Green Arrow; and Paul as Ragnar Lodbrok.

Green Arrow, Katniss, and Ragnar like to party together

Green Arrow, Katniss, and Ragnar like to party together

Katniss on the Iron Throne, or, Worlds Colliding

Katniss on the Iron Throne, or, Worlds Colliding

Our Tribe, all snuggled up

Our Tribe, all snuggled up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But let me tell you about these presents. My bestie, siblings, and in-laws showered me with all the things I love: kitchen gadgets and décor! Hair, makeup, and bath goodies! Shoes! Accessories! Books! Champs! Dishes! And lovely cards with heartfelt sentiments. I felt spoiled and pampered. They did all this on top of coming to visit—I love having a house full of my favorites.

This was enough. It was truly more than enough.

And then my mom did this: She gave me two quilts. The first is a baby blanket my grandmother hand-stitched at the age of 90. She gave it to my mom to give to me when we had our first child. Though we do not—and will not—have a baby, we do have our first child, our exchange student Netto. If any child is worthy of the presentation of this quilt, it is he. Netto is kind and thoughtful, gentle and giving; he is funny, and curious, and so, so intelligent. He is everything we could have wanted in a child, and we’re so lucky to be hosting him.

The quilt my grandmother made for our first child

The quilt my grandmother made for our first child

The second is a quilt my mother made of my late father’s shirts. On it are appliquéd three white doves. The dove is at once a symbol of the Holy Spirit, of peace, and of ascension. It can represent atonement, sacrifice, and the suffering of others. The dove is a great navigator and messenger. It is pure. The three doves, for me, represent the past, present, and future.

A quilt made of shirts my father wore.

A quilt made of shirts my father wore.

They form a triangle—the strongest bond—over the fabric that once cloaked my father’s body. With his death came great sacrifice and suffering—and, perhaps, a sort of atonement. The doves remind me that he is protected but free. I will blanket myself in his clothes, which are in turn blanketed with peace and purpose and the promise of good things to come.

This was enough. It was truly more than enough.

And then Paul and Netto did this: I was given 4 gifts. The first, a sleek laptop case because Paul understands how I appreciate a good bag. The second, an album of exchange memories—only a third of the way full—from Netto. On the inside cover, a picture of the three of us hugging, and a quote from one of the sweetest movies: “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten,” because we will never forget Netto and the memories forged with him.

Inscription on the photo album from Netto

Inscription on the photo album from Netto

The third, a bottle of perfume—a scent unique for me, created in secret, in our home, by Paul and Netto. It’s a musky blend of sandalwood, lavender, rose, and ylang ylang—earthy and exotic and something I would have absolutely chosen for myself. They know me so well, they understand my senses. They named it Juntos—Portuguese for “together,” because that’s what we are—their gift for the strongest sense, an oil for my skin, a fragrance blending with my own so that I can walk in bloom of us.

My perfume, Juntos, in an Egyptian Glass Bottle

My perfume, Juntos, in an Egyptian Glass Bottle

And the fourth. Oh, the fourth. When Paul and I first met, he carved for me a bear out of soapstone. It is representative of us and our journey together. Every time we witness a major event, a milestone of sorts is to be attached to it. The first was an arrow, representing the beginning of our relationship. For nearly 16 years, the bear went without another stone—not because nothing happened, but because life happened, and we neglected the recording of time.

This year, Paul and Netto gave me three stones: A crescent moon of alabaster, a heart of heart-pine, and a triangle, carved solely by Netto, of soapstone. The moon represents the loved ones we lost, the time we had with them, and the fact that they’re always with us—like the moon—just out of reach; the heart is for the present—our union, our marriage; and the three sides of the triangle represent the three of us—a new family, the strongest bond, the future and all the adventures we will have and the memories we will make. All these stones were placed in a wooden box, given to me by another exchange student Noor, that is covered in carvings of Arabic words for mother.

Gift from Noor: Egyptian box with Arabic words for "mother"

Gift from Noor: Egyptian box with Arabic words for “mother”

My heart is full. My boys are the best. My family, both blood and otherwise, is my rock.

So I’ve decided to be 37 this year. It’s been a good year. The best, really. So good, I may even be 37 for the next three.

The bear and my stones: the moon, heart, and triangle

The bear and my stones: the moon, heart, and triangle

Interlude: 15 Reasons Why I Don’t Have Hobbies

Here’s why I don’t have hobbies: I ain’t got time for that s%*t. So far, 2014 has proven to be one hell of a year, and I’m really sort of amazed that Paul and I have kept it together. We’ve had some great ups and terrible downs; we’ve had a total of 10 plan/event free weekends, and since we’re only on the 10th month, you can see how the math works out.

I realize it’s not the end of the year, so I may be jumping the gun on a “reflections on 2014 post,” but I’m afraid if I don’t post about it now, I’ll run out of time—time which is supposed to be spent on new hobbies.

The detailed list of our year-to-date is below, but to summarize:

  1. We finished renovations on and moved into our new house
  2. We planned a wedding and got hitched
  3. We lost 2 people very near and dear to our hearts
  4. We lost 2 pets who made us smile every day
  5. We will have gone out of town 21 times
  6. We will have thrown or been thrown 4 showers, and
  7. We will have attended 4 weddings and
  8. 3 bachelor/bachelorette weekends
  9. I have worked full-time
  10. While playing tennis twice per week and, in the near future,
  11. Taking French lessons twice per week
  12. Paul has run his construction business while
  13. Going to school full-time (and making straight A’s); on top of that he has
  14. Managed 13 rental properties, two of which had renovations completed this year.
  15. And of course there are the holidays and birthdays—because we both have large families, these are many (and very special).

So I want to collect my thoughts now—I want to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going, both metaphorically and literally. I want to carve out mental and emotional space for learning and growing, and to do this, I need to wrap up this year and begin setting it aside.

It’s been a phenomenal and tragic 9 months. The overlying theme has been family and friends. They are what make us strong and keep us going. I want to give 2014 the credit it’s due so I can take a deep breath and make way for new year—one that’s sure to be filled with lots of love, lots of travel, and lots of random hobbies.

I also want a record of what’s happened this year so I can refer to it for strength, memories, and inspiration. Here’s our calendar of events; read it if you want to vicariously experience our exhaustion.

January

  • Jan-May: Paul in School.
    Paul’s a giant nerd and won’t settle for anything less than a high-A.
    So he works diligently and assigns himself ridiculously complicated projects.
Snow Day! View of the yard from the hot tub.
Snow Day! View of the yard from the hot tub.
  • I Ran the “Shrimp and Grits” 5k in North Charleston: This was done while slightly under the influence of vodka, because I’m that good (celebrated a good friend’s b-day the night before and danced a little too late). Was worth the effort because was rewarded with shrimp and grits.
  • January 29: Snow day!! This is HUGE in SC, as we rarely get snow. The whole state shuts down and everyone freaks the eff out. Paul and I got in the hot tub.

February

  • Feb-May: Kourt on 2 tennis teams
  • Feb 5-9: Work trip in Detroit; stayed a few days to party with fam.
  • Feb 15: Sexy Lady bridal shower thrown by my best-ies; got tons of awesome . . . stuff. The theme was French: lots of crepes, lots of champagne—perfect!
  • Feb 25: My sweet dog, Piddy died. He was my first dog, and I still think about him every day. Such a good boy. He went out eating a doughnut and steak, as he would have wished.
 
Sexy Ladies
Sexy Ladies

March

  • March 8: Moving weekend; we have way too much crap.
  • March 10: Paul’s dad, Jimmie, admitted to hospital for 6 weeks, 1 of which was spent in ICU.
  • March 13: Traveled to Charleston and back for my sister’s birthday.

3 Ladies, 1 Saturday In Greenville

• 6 bloodies • Cheese & bacon grits • 2 lobster rolls • Bacon • Brussels sprouts • Salmon & fried grits • Goat cheese lemon curd chese cake • 3 Coffees • Pimento cheese dip • Truffle fries • 2 bloodies • 2 Mimosas • Guinness • 2 white wine • Diet coke • Curried fries • 6 mimosas • 3 jerky Sticks • Bottle of Blenheim’s • Caramel vanilla cream coffee • 2 salted caramel chocolate cupcakes • Salted caramel banana pudding • 2 beers • 3 Jamaican beef patties • 1 lg soba beer • Lg carafe sake • Seaweed salad • Fatty tuna roll • 12 nigiri • 3 Bottles Pinot noir • 5 meow meow beans • Garlic knots • 3 slices pizza
  • March 14: Tybee weekend for St. Pat’s with friends and fam. Paul earns nickname PUI: Paul Under the Influence after successfully falling out of random person’s pick-up truck without spilling his beer.
  • March 21: Greenville weekend with my two best-ies (see sidebar of Saturday’s consumption and be jealous (or afraid)).
  • March 29: Tennis team surprises me with tennis themed bridal shower and a super awesome cake!!

April

  • April 11: Charleston for the night for seafood at my sister’s.
    Our family, because they rock, likes to get together regularly to steam large batches of shrimp, blue crab, and oysters.
  • April 19: Fancy Lady bridal shower thrown by my future cousin-in-law and aunt-in-law.
    Got all the serving pieces Paul could never want. Was fantastic.
Super Awesome Tennis Cake!
Super Awesome Tennis Cake!
  • April 24: Old Crow Medicine Show concert in celebration of Paul’s b-day. Paul dances like a hillbilly because that’s the only dance he knows.
  • April 25 weekend: Paul’s b-day weekend. He goes camping with the dudes, consumes moonshine.

May

  • May 3: Ran the “Crawdaddy Dash” 5k. Occurs to me that I only ever run races if shellfish are involved.
  • May 16, 4-day weekend: Bachelor/Bachelorette Party on Tybee Island: Best. Weekend. Ever. Tybee does a “Beach Bum Parade,” which is essentially a giant water gun fight on an island. Will definitely become a tradition.
  • May 24: Wedding Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner. Wonderful food, heartfelt speeches, lots of love, family, and friends. We’re the luckiest people ever.
  • May 25: Weddin’. Best. Day. Ever. Paul dances like a hillbilly.
  • May 26-May 31: Mini-moon in Nashville. We found the Tardis and ate a crap-ton of hot chicken.
I think the girls won the fight
I think the girls won the fight
Dudes at the beach
Dudes at the beach
Good lookin' bunch
Good lookin’ bunch
We found the Tardis!
We found the Tardis!

June

  • June 8: Paul’s grandmother, Mimi died. She was such a sweet and caring woman, and she left a legacy of the best collard greens & mac and cheese you’ve ever eaten.
  • June 11-12: Mimi’s wake & funeral.
  • June 19-22: Kourt goes to CT to see her niece graduate; Paul goes to Folly Beach to hang out on a boat. 
They grow up so fast . . .
They grow up so fast . . .
Bahamas Junkanoo Parade . . . Someone is behind you!
Bahamas Junkanoo Parade . . . Someone is behind you!
Paul's all up in front
Paul’s all up in front
Whoa, baby, whoa!
Whoa, baby, whoa!

July

  • July 4: Spent the holiday weekend in Charleston with P’s fam. We cooked out and played board games. The girls won, natch.
  • July 12-19: Bahamas week with my awesome cousin and her awesome husband. We learn the meaning of fulcrum, get “blotto in the grotto,” and consume our weight in Sky Juice.
  • July 26: Folly Beach weekend with a good friend and her family. Purchased a sarong and still have no clue how to wear it. 

August

  • Aug-Dec: Paul in School; continues tradition of over-complicating assignments to “wow” his professors.
  • August 8 weekend: Paul goes white water rafting in West VA; Kourt goes to Charleston to hang with sister-in-law. We beach it.
  • Aug 22: Friend’s bachelorette party in Myrtle Beach. Arms were sore from holding them above my head for 4 hours while dancing. Realize this is my punishment for being a horrible dancer, yet insisting on doing it in public anyway.
  • Aug 24: Go to Charleston for brother’s b-day. Watch slideshow of siblings’ early years in the 60s and 70s. Find the best picture ever of my sister Kara, as a baby, going down a slide, back when safety was optional.
  • Aug 29 Weekend: Paul goes to New Orleans accidentally during Southern Decadence to “buy a sailboat” with a bachelor and two other friends. Hangover IV ensues. Kourt goes to her godson’s 2nd bday party. Cuteness ensues. 

September

  • Sept-Nov: Kourt on 2 tennis teams.
  • Kourt kindof on a kickball team.
  • Kourt begins French lessons in preparation for next summer’s trip to Provence.
  • Sept 6: Super pretty garden wedding on a plantation. Paul dances like a hillbilly.
  • Mid-September: Paul’s dad collapses and is admitted to ER then ICU and dies just days later. I could write a book about Jimmie—about his character, his boundless love, and his strength. I could write endlessly about disease, and loss, and grief, but that is for another time. For now, know that the world lost one of its greatest men and that those closest to him have holes in their hearts that can never be filled, though they’ll be patched with memories of his love and his laughter. At his wake and funeral, we are reminded how much he was loved, and how much of an influence he was on every person he met.
  • Sept 20th weekend: Trip to CT for the Big E with sister and cousin, followed by the sweetest most intimate backyard wedding in St. Louis. Paul dances like a hillbilly. The Big E is a giant fair for all the New England states where you can get Connecticut cigars, Vermont flannel, Rhode Island oysters, Massachusetts clam chowder, and Main Lobster Rolls. Puts the SC State Fair to shame with our pork-chops on sticks, though to be fair, we’ll have MC Hammer this year, while the Big E only had Darius Rucker. So ha!
Jimmie Crusin' on Lake Murray
Jimmie Crusin’ on Lake Murray
Jimmie At Our Wedding Rehearsal
Jimmie At Our Wedding Rehearsal
Jimmie Back In the Day
Jimmie Back In the Day
Jimmie At Paul's Brother's Wedding
Jimmie At Paul’s Brother’s Wedding

October

  • October 1: My favorite chicken, Butterball, dies from eating too many rocks. Crazy bird had my heart. Read more about her here. 
  • October 11: Octoberfest in Cola! Followed by Jam Room music fest and people watching at the Bonzaicon Convention downtown.
  • Future-Cast, Oct 15: Going to the aforementioned SC State Fair; is debatable whether or not we’ll actually see The Hammer. Personal goal is to watch barrel racing.
  • Future-Cast, Oct 18 weekend: Going to mountain wedding /camping in NC. Looking forward to Paul dancing like a hillbilly—and hoping that because we’ll be in the NC mountains, he’ll finally fit in.
  • Future-Cast, Oct 31: My bday!!! (And Halloween.) Thinking we’ll either be Marky-Mark and one of his backup dancers or Daenerys Targaryen and one of her dragons.

Future-Cast: November

  • Debating throwing a Clue-themed dinner party. If I do, will naturally be blogged about as a hobby because party planning is a hobby, right?
  • Nov 5: Going to the Coastal Carolina Fair in Charleston. They actually still have freak shows, and I can’t WAIT to see the snake lady!
  • Nov 16: Throwing a baby shower for a super cute friend.
  • Nov 20: Going back down to Charleston for a friend’s wedding celebration. Guess what? Paul will dance like a hillbilly.
  • 27: Turkey Day. Have decided run the “Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble” 5k in Charleston even though there won’t be any shellfish. But there will be shellfish at my sister’s house for our even better than Thanksgiving  tradition of
  • Super awesome family seafood night on Friday the 28th.
Butterball and The Pid
Butterball and The Pid
Don't you wish your family could roast like mine?
Don’t you wish your family could roast like mine?

December

  • Dec 5: Will throw our very own oyster roast, co-hosted with my best-ie at her house because she’s super.
  • Dec 19 Weekend: Going to Asheville for Biltmore at Christmas and relaxing mountain weekend with the fam.
  • And of course there’s Christmas, which means parties and presents, baking and charity, family and friends, and light festivals and candle-lit services. I cried a little typing this.

And when 2015 rolls around, we’re bringing in the new year by skiing in Colorado.

What a year; what a ride. I’m just about ready to get off this train though, and maybe next year, we’ll stick to a more reasonable schedule. On second thought, nah 🙂

The next post will be a hobby, I swear. xo