Hi friends, it’s Mae

Hi bloggers of the world, longtime, no write.

You know, this blogging thing messes with me from time to time. Sometimes I can’t wait to write. Sometimes I have a million ideas and sometimes I just can’t sit at my desk and get my fingers moving. Sometimes maybe I don’t feel like expressing myself because this has been a strange and cumbersome year for me, even though I’ve been grateful to have a healthy helping of wonderful moments too.

I’ve failed to write each and everyday, but I’m thankful I haven’t failed to complete all of my goals. Maybe some have just needed more of my attention than others.

I’ve been writing handwritten letters, found a new career path, tried to be a better friend. I’ve read, done a lot of antique shopping, old fashioned living and wandered around various local farmers markets and festivals. I’ve spent time de-stressing because I want to grow a family and that hasn’t been easy thus far, at all.

I’ve bought a lot of organic food since we’ve chatted. I’ve taken some time to spend with family far away and gotten in touch with things that I’ve been talking about doing, but hadn’t quite gotten to yet.

I’ve realized that somethings you can really want and get, if you try hard enough, but other things are just out of our hands, no matter how much you try and do everything you’re supposed to. So I’ve spent a lot of time reconnecting with my faith because sometimes that’s what we really need, instead of taking the advice of everyone I know when I can just ask the big man upstairs directly.

Onward and upward, I say. Here’s to getting the old fingers on the keys and finishing this year out with a bang. Thanks for sticking with me.

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“That’s Not a Reason”; a Fruit Story

When I was really little, let’s say around three or so, I still over-thought things a bit.

I wasn’t a bad little girl but I had strict parents who kept me in line and helped me be a proper little lady. Looking back, for that I’m grateful. I was reminded lately of something my young mind used to ponder…and though it’s just a goofy little kid story, I’m sharing it anyway.

Mom: “Mae, why did you do that?” (Envision wagging finger and some sort of naughty childish behavior.)

Mae: “I don’t know…”

Mom: “That’s not a reason.”

Mae: No words, just staring blankly at Mom.

She must’ve thought something was wrong with me. As a matter of fact, I’m sure she did, because apparently I always had this crazy look of confusion. But to be perfectly honest, I was thinking about raisins. Raisins were my favorite snack, I’d eat them out of the little boxes with my “pinchers”. I didn’t understand why Mom would bring up raisins at a time like this, when raisins had nothing to do with what I did wrong. Maybe it was her accent, maybe I was hungry. But I remember trying to process this thought for what felt like years, whenever I got in trouble.

Oh, reasons are different from raisins. Got it. I finally told my Mom about it recently and luckily, I got a good laugh out of her. She’ll probably reward me with a box of raisins the next time I see her too. Unfortunately, my pinchers probably don’t fit in those miniature boxes anymore.

Leaping for Joy

For years I’ve been told my life is complicated. People have felt sorry for some circumstances that landed in my path. Usually the complicated nature of things were a result of other peoples’ behaviors and actions, not my own. I don’t, however, see life as a hassle and I don’t allow misfortune to lead me to a negative end. I find that the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is true and that there’s very good reasons that people say it.

Life can be complicated if you believe that it is. Life can drag you down a bumpy and dark road if you don’t find faith to know it can get better, courage to make it better and have the endurance to reroute yourself down that road.

I’ve found myself rerouted, and not without proper encouragement. We can’t do it all alone sometimes. I’m not in the most logical spot, to a logically sound and organized individual, but I’m happy, and happiness is a logical reason to take a leap in life. I haven’t written you in some time because I am living the kind of life that I wanted, though I hope those of you who have encouraged me, know how grateful I am to have had you in my corner and urging me to take this leap.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

This weekly photo challenge was tough, because a majority of my shots are urban in nature. Cities fascinate me. I’m the first generation in at least a handful that didn’t spend my childhood dodging buses, trolleys or loitering in front of corner candy stores daily. The city is a part of me though and I feel as strongly about it as I do with the pastures of Ireland. Only God and my old soul know why.

Though I have many to choose from, here are a couple of the most recent shots. Enjoy.

Amsterdam Alley

Berlin

 

The Subway Is Not Your Personal Chauffeur

 

© Mae East 2012

I’ve started taking the train to “work” recently. I say that loosely, because although I am working, it is for free.  I used to take the train and subway regularly as a kid in high school, and I probably never really paid attention to everything that was going on around me. Sure, I looked out for my friends and lectured them on street smarts, but I’m sure I was pretty careless when it came to watching my own back.

The other day I sat there, as the train shot into the city and found it fascinating how different people are, even though we are crammed into the same environment. I suppose one could say the same thing for humans living on earth together, but in such a small and compact location, the differences in behavior were amusing.

Things I decided to never do on the train, based on observation:

  1. Wear headphones, at least not on both ears. I see people of all ages and demographics walking through the subway in a total fog because they do not hear what is going on around them. To be honest, it makes me nervous. They’d never hear feet pounding the linoleum behind them, or a warning call. Be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Be like the people who touch everything and then eat with their hands. I’m not a germaphobe, but don’t grip the handrails, door handles, ticket machines and escalator rails and then eat your apple. You might as well have passed the apple through the hands of five hundred people before gripping your fruit and taking a bite. Gross.
  3. Bring a million bags on the train and plop them all down on the ground. One, you’re creating an issue for people to get in and out of the train car without falling. Some people act like the train is their personal shuttle and there’s no need to be considerate.  You’re wrong.  No one wants to trip on your bananas. I’m making it sound like people are eating healthy here, and while I’m at it, no they aren’t.
  4. Pulling through one of the worst neighborhoods in the country, literally, and whipping out every electronic gadget you have. I suppose people aren’t watching the news on their iPads, because it’s a common trend that thieves walk down subway cars and simply slip your smartphone, iPad, etc., out of your hands and keep moving, exiting the train with your fancy devices and all your personal information. Maybe if you heard the guy coming and your bags weren’t scattered all of the floor, you’d still have it.  Be smart.
  5. Exhibiting a lack of manners. I have no problem moving out of your way when we get to your stop. You could not just nudge me. Maybe a simple “excuse me” would suffice. I’ll even stand up and not just slide my legs to the side, so you have more room. I feel like a freak when I say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me” or smile. I’m not a Pollyanna, even though that is one of my favorite movies, but a little common decency can get one a long way. Being rude just gets people mad at you. It’s almost like the zombie apocalypse has already occurred under the streets of this city. There’s got to be something they’re happy about, especially you, girl with cute shoes.

We all have somewhere to go and we all paid to hitch a ride, might as well be wise and pleasant about it.

Old Soul Works for Free

I’ve started as a volunteer for a local Historical Society.  Mainly because I need the experience to advance myself in a direction I’d like to go.  I find it nearly impossible to get the experience in the history and genealogy fields without putting in the time for free.  I’m ok with that, particularly since I never did an internship in college and it seems that is the way to go these days.  I’m eager to learn and I’m hoping they see some sort of potential in me so I can eventually sign on as a regular fixture.

I tried to tell them I’m an old soul, so I had a lot of historical knowledge first hand already, but they said, well, they didn’t say anything.  No, I didn’t really say that to them, but I’ll bet a lot of old souls are drawn to that field simply because there is something familiar to reel them in.  Maybe it’s not obvious and maybe some of these people just love history, but I always wonder how stories of yesteryear fascinate some so much and others could really care less.

None of us are the same and thank God for that.  Although there are a few people I’d have liked to clone; if I were into that modern technology sort of thing.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

Just in the nick of time, for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple, I bring to you, shades of Belgian pottery.

We spent a long while talking to the potter himself at his stand in Bruges, about his technique and his glazes.  You can see a picture of him below as well.  He makes beautiful jewelery as well, but unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of those during our chat.

Hope you’ve all had a wonderful week so far.

Could I Have Been An Olympian?

As everyone knows, the Olympics are in full swing. Even though I’m a fan of the games, by next week the Olympic theme song that is played throughout the day will likely drive me mad. Two weeks straight of the same ten second piece of orchestrated music at the start, end and every commercial break in between will cause my ear drums to reach for the remote and hit mute. Maybe it’s because I have the games on while I go about my business each day.

Regardless, I love the sense of pride and the dedication from Olympians. There is always a heart wrenching story or significant feat embodied in the spirit of the games.

I grew up as a fish. My parents could not get me out of our pool to eat and my summer attire consisted only of a bathing suit. I dreamed of being a real swimmer with a swim cap and goggles and eventually joined a swim team where I did fairly well. During the summer of ’92, my bathing suit transitioned into a gymnastics leotard and my poor Great-grandmother suffered the “look at me, I’m a gymnast” phase, cartwheels in her rowhome and all, when I stayed at her house during one week of the Olympics that year. Poor Grandmom. She never dared to crush my dreams either, though quite frankly, I don’t remember her appeasing me and saying I’d make it either.

Toddler Mae fashioning summer attire for the rest of her childhood.

I don’t remember really ever trying very hard to be anything I dreamed of. I was the queen of one season sports or clubs. I’m probably not in the memories of any of my teammates or fellow members because I dashed in and out, never leaving behind anything substantial and never hanging in to form real memories. Until recently, I thought it was me. I thought maybe I’m just a flake and like so many things in life, I just never knew was it was to give my all and keep persevering. But it’s not true. I’ve come to only understand recently that my Mom discouraged me. But before a judging finger is pointed her way, I understand and I do not place blame. My Mom had severe anxiety and taking me to events was very trying on her. I don’t believe she held me back from anything that I carried full potential in, but I guess we won’t know. I don’t think I would have been an Olympic swimmer, but I wonder if I had stuck with something now and then, if I could have had a different mindset in life. Maybe I could have fought harder.

Now that I’m an adult, I can’t base the rest of my life on the fact that I played one season of softball or did one year of Girl Scouts. I am in control of my own fate and if I don’t try or stick with things, it’s my fault. It’s time to learn a new mindset.  And maybe because I’m not an athlete, that doesn’t set the baseline for other things. I’ve stuck with the things that really do matter in life; I’m not a complete failure.

I didn’t even mean for this post to go in this direction. It was supposed to be a lighthearted joke about my Gram who used to say constantly, “If my parents had had money to get me singing lessons, I could have been a famous singer”. Gram had not a lick of a voice or an ear for keys, but it was something she dreamed about as she grew up in a family of fourteen children.  I found myself saying to my husband the other night, “If I had been able to stick with swimming, I could have been an Olympic athlete”. We both knew it was wrong, but we laughed anyway.

If you think about it, it is funny how at the still-young age of 29, it is so easy to see dreams that are too late to happen in the faces of young Olympians. I’d like to think that I’ll encourage my future and non-existent children to follow their dreams young and be able to support them along the way, and without trying to make them accomplish mine.

Brussels: More Seedy than Chocolatey

On a partly sunny late June morning, our redeye landed in Brussels. With dreams of chocolate and architecture, we waited in the immigration line, eager to hit the cobblestone, rather Belgian stone. Our plan, per Rick Steves, was to peruse the town for a few hours and later ride the rails to Bruges. We hopped the train to city centre, stowed our carry-on suitcases in a locker and approached our first outdoor look at Belgium with a warm welcome from…drunk bums. Upon exiting the main train station in Brussels, we found trash, drunk confrontational homeless people and open outdoor toilets. Yay, we made it!

Don’t get me wrong, we like to make our own adventures but since we were foreigners, I suggested we just keep walking toward the Grand Place or Grote Markt like Rick said and get the heck away from the train station. He did mention Brussels was a little seedy, but Brussels sounds so fancy and French, so the only seediness I envisioned was that of chocolate dipped strawberries. Still, each city has its less desirable areas, so we ventured on and found what our little hearts desired…cappuccinos and chocolate filled pastries amid tall and ornate structures.

It became more and more overcast and eventually started to downpour, but the flowers that lined the windowsills of La Grand Place were still beautiful. The architecture consumed hundreds of pictures on our memory card, with each angle or sculpted archway appearing more intricate and astonishing than the last. This was the Belgium I wanted to see, shortly followed by a little peeing baby. “Let’s go see Mannequin Pis”, I tell my husband. “A pissing mannequin? What? Why?” I expected a response like this, since the only portion of the Belgium book he read was on the beer. But we did find the tiny statue of the baby boy peeing into a fountain, which seems to capture quite the crowd of tourists. It is a national symbol afterall…and there are many different variations that poke fun at the original. I found these much more amusing and not quite G-rated enough to post for your viewing pleasure.

We continued to wander and saw a parade of Belgian police ride through the narrow streets on gorgeous horses. It was a procession that included drumming and what seemed like a ceremonious trot through the main square. And though it was raining and the sight was one that we’d remember, I remember most getting my jeans smattered by….”stuff” from a horse splattering on the Belgian stone. I think that is the most delicate way to put that. Wonderful, a post full of bodily functions. But luckily we had our handy laundry detergent and my husband stopped laughing long enough that I could get cleaned up and we could head over to Bruges, which would hopefully welcome our tired and cranky selves with open arms, clear skies and beer.