Hemingway and Van Gogh

Two such towering figures.  Two very different men who left the world on their own accord, with words and thick paint remaining in their wake.

I read two books this week, “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain and “The Last Van Gogh” by Alyson Richman.  Both are works of fiction, based on historical fact.  Both broke my heart, even though it’s obvious that there would be no happy ending.  Well, not the ending a romantic like me would typically prefer.  But that’s not how life is, at least when your eyes are too glued to a hardback.

“The Paris Wife” tore at my being in many ways.  I certainly won’t compare myself to Hemingway, but I understood his naivety and spirit during these early stages in his career.  I understood his longing to be something greater and prolific.  Of course, I’ve yet to technically strive toward anything with that much intensity, but I know that what it takes to be substantial is in me.  And his first wife Hadley, comforts and encourages him along the way, so bravely and maybe foolishly, only to be tossed aside.   It was heartbreaking, maybe because the ending was written before the Hemingway’s could touch the Parisian sidewalk.  It was all there, waiting to end this way.

Hadley & Ernest Hemingway

Hadley & Ernest Hemingway

 

“The Last Van Gogh” is no less tragic, but left a similar feeling of longing. Continue reading

Souls Carried by Inanimate Objects

Grandpop's WWII bracelet

Grandpop’s WWII bracelet

Connecting with the past is something that’s intrigued me since I can remember.  The idea of tangible objects being held by another person, in another time is overwhelmingly fascinating to me.  I used to think it was only the ancestry aspect, because I find so much joy in genealogy.  But it’s more than that.  For an old soul, being among old items, with or without a direct connection, allows the mind to wander and dream.

Not every old item leads me to a faraway daydream.  I don’t find old paint cans mesmerizing but as I stood two feet from Van Gogh’s Postman the other night, I envisioned him standing just in front of me.  I could almost see his left arm poised in mid air while he determined the next vibrant stroke to complete the subject’s whiskers.  I saw his right hand Continue reading

Are you there God? It’s mae, Mae.

I read a post this week from a blogger that I’ve come to appreciate.  His insight is often wise when he delves into his deepest thoughts on life.  The topic of this post isn’t something I hadn’t considered before, but it was simply so well put that I marked it as “important” to read again later.  I don’t usually have time to do anything more than once.

Sometimes I just roll with the punches.  Sometimes life pulls at my heartstrings.  Maybe today it was a combination of Paolo Nutini’s “Candy” backing the simplicity of what Tony had to say.  These are not complimentary by any means, but the sound of longing accompanying his depth affected me.  I felt so out of sorts and so complete all at once.  I’m a Gemini, what can I say.

It’s so easy to say that life is out of our hands.  It’s so simple that it makes life complex.  Try as you might, not everything is within our grasp.  Life can’t be forced and although Continue reading

Running Away = The Best Medicine. This time.

I ran away from you and I’m not sure what I was thinking.  At first.

I feel like I went to a commune during summer vacation while all the rest of the kids went to the same camp.  I’m out of the loop, but I’m back.  How are you?  Remember me?

Maybe I was running away from the world, but it turns out that one can only slip away for so long before we’re forced to admit we need to get back to real life.  Trials and tribulations will never cease to interrupt our lives, so it’s impossible to wait for peacetime to begin living again.

Living life got in the way of blogging about it, even though I was hell bent on doing the 365 bit.  I was mad at myself each day that I didn’t write because I continuously fooled myself into saying, “no, I’m really going to do it tomorrow”; only to be even more annoyed with myself and too embarrassed to reassess my 2012 writing challenge I’d made to myself.

I did reassess.  But I know now that I did not fail.  As a matter of fact, I kicked 2012’s ass.

Hell, I accomplished so many of my goals from last year that I didn’t have time to sit still.  Not that you would know that.  But you can trust me.  We are friends from the good ol’ days.

I changed careers, traveled, learned, I’m happy and I’m working on a new resolution, even though I hate that concept.

Are you ready?

  • I’ve decided to live more for me and less for the expectations others have of me.

It’s a fresh approach I’ve heard, I don’t know, my whole life, but never took into action.  It’s a revelation that coincides with the unfortunate passing of another close relative and being caught in the waves of it’s aftermath.  I wish it hadn’t taken a second painful demise to figure this out, but it turns out I’m a little behind.  My teachers must’ve been right after all.  Is that why my handwriting is crooked?

But I’m here.  I’m a little late to the party, but ready to be the life of it.  Who’s with me on this vague and exciting adventure?

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.

“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.

Moving On and Finding Mae

I’ve written over the last few months about changing gears.  I’ve written somewhat whiney posts about the purpose of life and how to achieve a balance between success and living.   The ideas I had a few months back have changed.  I no longer have the plan I had set in place, because my gut instinct told me it was the wrong path.  Still, I know I’ll find what I need to.  I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that if I live life by giving, learning and not conceding to the easy route, that I’ll find the success I need to find professionally, to feed my soul.

I have so much to be grateful for in my life and I’d really like to amplify that happiness outwardly.  I miss giving to others, I miss feeling pride in what I do.  Even though I don’t know which path I’ll take, I know that I’ll try the hardest I can along the route.  I know that I have the support of my husband and my Mom.  I also know that I’ll be judged by people who don’t understand.  Continue reading

Past Lives: Who Were You Before?

This post could be the one that pushes me into either crazy territory or a relatable one.  I’m supposed to be truthful and share who I am in this blog, so I’ll get on with it.

Do you believe in past lives? Whether your religion abides by this belief or not, it might have crossed your mind.

I wasn’t raised to believe that we were reborn but there is something in me that leads me to believe that maybe I’ve been here on earth before. I don’t know who I was or where I was born. I don’t even know when I was here or how many times. I know that there are things I’ve been drawn to since I was a child, and these feelings drew me despite the fact that my family never led me there.

I grew up Irish/German Catholic, in America and in the 80’s. I have had a subconscious fear of someone stealing my shoes since I was a child and I’ve been drawn to 30’s and 40’s music even before my peers went through a rap and bad pop phase. I have however, since the time I began school, had a fascination with the Holocaust.  I’m not going to sit here and say this means anything, nor will I claim any actual connection to this time, but it’s a very odd feeling. I longed for Continue reading

Am I What My Parents Expected?

We spent the afternoon celebrating my Dad’s birthday yesterday and while my husband and I grilled dinner and we all enjoyed a few beers, I thought to myself; Is that what my Dad pictured when they brought their little girl home from the hospital?

The Philadelphia Flyers advanced to their second series in the playoffs and as we yelled and threw ourselves out of our chairs with rants aimed at the TV, I couldn’t help but think about his expectations. Did he intend to have a sports-loving daughter, who can yell passionately (and at times like a sailor) at hockey players that will never be listening? Did he think about having weekly hangouts with her at the local brewery, where they’d hang out like pals and try the new nitro on tap?

Probably not.

But I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and this was bound to happen. Having profound love and respect for my parents, as well as my heritage, I think I’ve adapted so many things from my Mom and my Dad. I just think no one expected the outcome to be such a 50/50 split. I go to tea rooms with my Mom and eat finger sandwiches but ended up marrying a man that I’ve taught the fundamentals of sports to. I know it’s trendy and annoying to hear a girl say they are a “guy’s girl” or “one of the boys”. I used to say that. I don’t know what I am now, except that I’m Shannon. I love sports, beer and rock as much as (some times more than) any guys I know. I also love cheesy romance books or movies.

Sometimes being a mix of what society considers being boyish and girlish can be frustrating though. I’ll never look like the girls who look like they stepped out of a salon or a Mac store because I’ll always be a little rough around the edges. 
Continue reading

What Did You Want to Be When You Were Five?

The beginning of my short ballet career.

Being five was great.  Everything in the world was possible and no one laughed at your dreams, well, maybe a little but hopefully more of a giggle than a snide snicker.  I wanted to be a hairdresser and also a ballerina.  I also wanted six kids, three boys and three girls and have a house like the Brady Bunch.  Oddly enough, we eventually moved into a neighborhood with Brady Bunch style ranch houses that I giggle at whenever I see them.

My poor Mom used to let me play with her hair relentlessly and I did so in a tutu.  My Gram got me a pink tutu for Christmas when I was three and I crammed my skinny but tall figure into that thing for years until the seams finally prevented me from donning the garb.  It might have been life’s way of saying, “give up kid, you’re clearly too clumsy to be a ballerina, time to pack this thing away”.  I was probably ten.  The netting was so incredibly scratchy and nothing about this outfit was soft or comfortable like the ones I see little girls wear today.  I’m not bitter, I’m just saying I might have succeeded in a more comfortable tutu.  No?  Did I stretch the excuse too far?

I did take ballet when I was about seven.  It lasted for a few months or however long a standard class session is.  It was really hard for me because I’m uncoordinated and I had my Dad’s rhythm.  I felt like it would be so easy, after all, I’d already mastered all the dance moves from Dirty Dancing in my living room.  How hard could a few little ballerina moves be?  Apparently hard; for me anyway.  The class was tied in with tap dancing and that seemed like a plausible career too because I’d seen Gregory Hines do it on Sesame Street and it looked easy.  The only place that wasn’t carpeted in our house was our tiny 10×10 kitchen and since you can’t wear your tap shoes on concrete (or so I was told) so I didn’t get much practice time outside either.

I’m not too sure why I never pursued hairstyling except that maybe doing my own hair didn’t turn out too well and that phase just died out.  I did dye my own hair and sometimes chop at it during my teenage years, but that was because I couldn’t afford to get it done anywhere but my bathroom.  My Mom never stopped me from playing with her hair though because she said it felt nice and I still dance in front of the TV to be goofy.  I do more of a high kick strut with a fake cane and top hat as I pass through the living room now.  My husband will usually give me a pity snicker and wait for me to move but my parents really get a kick out of it when I visit.  It seems the living room will always be my grand stage because I’m embarrassed to dance anywhere else; except at weddings after a few Jameson and cranberries.  And no, I don’t want to see the video of it afterwards, even if I look like I have full confidence; that is temporary.

What did you want to be?