Photo Books = Frustration + Mom’s Tears

I know I love my Mom because I spent over five hours creating a photo book for her tonight.

These hours, I might add, are after I uploaded pictures a year ago and created the formatting a year before that. Four hours to place pictures and over analyze who she might want to see in the book and who might provoke her to make an “ew” face.

It is done. If only my email confirmation will come, so I can review the totally overpriced gift that she totally deserves. I’m a good person; even if I promised her a photo book of our wedding four years ago; even if she asks where it is about every two to three months. I just stopped answering her about it because I dreaded the tedious task. I know, it sounds terribly selfish, but I’ve done very heartfelt things in the meantime to make her feel loved and I’ve brought tears of joy several times. I would buy almost anything to not have to create this book.  It’s not even a difficult thing to do, it’s just time consuming to get it right.  Maybe I try to hard to make things perfect, once I finally get around to working on them.

In the middle of my upload tonight, the program froze. I walked into the bedroom and woke my husband, (yes, another selfish move) and asked that he keep me calm and tell me I’m a good person before I went ballistic and threw the computer across the room. I tend not to be violent in nature but I despise when things don’t work like they are supposed to. So clearly I’m prepared for being patient in life. It’s just gadgets; I don’t have patience for flawed technology that costs me a fortune.

Needless to say, I’m 98% uploaded, even though the company already took my money.

I’m expecting tears of joy when this arrives to her door. I’m praying for tears of joy but I’ll likely get a “well, it’s about time” speech. I’m hoping for happiness and I hope she knows she was worth each agonizing second because I know she’s put herself in excruciating situations hundreds of times for her kids.

And with that; thank God that is done. My job as a daughter is done here; till her birthday next month.

If only I were the kind of person who gave giftcards.  My gifts may be late, but I have really good intentions and put a lot of sincerity into them.  They are just very very late.

Photo courtesy of Paul Avery Design.

I’m a Comic Dork: Proof We Can Change

I’m not sure if I should be happy or disappointed that the highlight of my weekend was the new Avengers movie.  The Marvel (now Disney owned) franchise has been leading us, their public, with stories of individual comic book heroes for a few years, to present this ultimate concoction of big muscles and infinite possibilities.  With all the lead-up publicity to this movie, I was leery of it reaching my expectations but I was pleasantly surprised.

But first, I must preface any further comic talk by saying…who am I?

I was not raised with comics, unless you count the random Archie ones that lined the bottom of my toy box.  The most I knew about superheroes was that Jerry Seinfeld had his Superman figurine on the shelf in his apartment and that he was a big fan.  Then I met my husband.  To this day, I think his favorite gifts that I’ve gotten him are his Marvel and later the DC encyclopedias.  To me, these were huge and expensive books that I really didn’t understand.  But you have to understand that my husband’s favorite way to relax is to watch cartoons.  You can find him there with a bowl of cereal or ice cream, eyes glued to poorly dialogued cartoons pretty much anytime I’m busy doing something else.

As I got to know him, I saw how excited he would get about each new comic, movie, show, character, etc.  I know the guy is smart, but his memory is incredible.  He’d tell me about the alien names, fictional cities, weapons, character traits and abilities, all will ease.  He’s like a human cheat sheet.  It impressed me because so much of the comic world includes words that are made up, and completely unfamiliar to the dictionary you or I would use.  He would go on about how a line of dialogue was important because it drew from a movie ten years ago, or why a character acted a certain way.  Similarly, he does the same with series like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.  With what feels like fifty or more characters, he can elaborate on all the details that would sound to anyone else like gibberish.

Needless to say, I love the guy and I’d buy him superhero shirts as I saw them or little things I thought he’d enjoy.  Then I even started watching the movies with him, and letting him explain backstories or trivial information that he found crucial to a plot.  When a new movie would come out, there would be a forced viewing of the prequels, Continue reading

Why Motorcyclists Are Awesome

Do you know anyone who rides a motorcycle?  I mean, a real motorcycle, not a crotch-rocket or moped, no offense.  I’m talking about an American, loud piped, chromed beauty on two wheels.  I grew up riding on the back of my Dad’s bike, starting a lot younger than I should have and I still get a smile when I hear the pipes roar down the road.

There was something calming about the vibration of the motor and the wind against my face.  I used to fall asleep as a child on the back of the bike, which looking back seems pretty dangerous.  On more than one occasion, Dad felt dead weight on the back and had to pull over to secure me to the seat.  Actually, that is really dangerous, isn’t it?  No wonder my Grandmoms hated seeing me pull up on the back of the bike with that big goofy helmet and my little jean Harley jacket.

Bikers are more than meets the eye.  The do more than rock a leather vest and chaps, which no one else can do.  Maybe a cowboy can do chaps, but I’m tempted to believe they come from the same breed of people; gruff and strong.  From my experience, they come from blue collar background and are down and dirty guys.  Whether the biker you know lives the biker lifestyle or a corporate CEO turned biker on the weekends, they all seem to get along in a roadside bar because they have the bond of the open road.  It’s evident in the way they wave to each other as they pass.  I know I don’t wave to other Ford drivers.

Some of the scariest looking guys I’ve ever met were bikers, and they were also the kindest.  We rode with firemen, military, police officers and men who worked with their hands.  They had long beards, beer bellies and were long overdue on their haircuts.  They remember your name and your story no matter how much time passed.  They’re the guys you meet up with on Sunday morning at a diner and ride through the afternoon with.  They are lifelong friends who will help stop your oil leak and tow you to get your tire fixed.  Some have tattoos, some don’t.  A real rider never wears sneakers and shorts, but long pants and boots, no matter what the weather.  They know how to pack light and be prepared for anything that lies ahead.

They maneuver around people who don’t know how to share the road and with people who don’t see them, while stabilizing hundreds of pounds of metal on two wheels.  They are the first to stop and help you.  They support their friends and all of their causes, and will remember fallen friends in the form of embroidered patches and charity rides or events to support your family.  They talk like sailors amongst friends, but treat a lady like a lady, with respect.  They are sons, brothers, fathers and husbands.  They relish old stories and they aren’t afraid to cry when it comes to reflecting on something important to them either.

I certainly don’t mean to leave the women who ride out.  I’m actually related to some fine female bikers and proud of the way they handle themselves and the road without intimidation, in a predominately male atmosphere.  At this point, I just don’t trust my balance to join them and I’ll stick to the back for now.  Maybe one day…

My opinions here are based on my twenty-plus years of experience with motorcyclists I’ve known amongst my Dad’s various groups, as well as my father-in-law’s. There are always exceptions to everything, in addition to a slutty half naked biker rally girl for each kind of rider I’ve described to you today.   Just never judge a book by its cover, like I almost did with the random Hells Angel who saved me from getting crushed at a concert.  The guy picked me up like I was a feather.  Never imagined a man that frightening looking could’ve been so graceful, and in a mosh pit.

Vroom vroom…the open road is calling.

Photo courtesy of the Rapid City Journal.

“Oh, you have plenty of time” And Other Lies

I thought I’d be something more successful by now.  I’ve mentioned this before but bear with me, I’ve got a different point today.  I’m not unsuccessful; I’m just not what I want to be, professionally and maybe a little personally.  I’ll be twenty-nine soon, and not that it’s the end of the world and not that I’ll have a little “almost thirty” or “twenty-nine forever” crisis but damn it, I can if I want to.

When I was in high school all my teachers from math to gym said I would be the next Katie Couric.  That’s when Katie was unstoppable and on the Today Show.  That is also when I respected the Today Show and before Kathie Lee had anything to do with it, and before I started to see through major media outlets.  I never felt like my supporters were blowing smoke up my rear and I felt like I had such a bright future.  I had talent and I had zero fear to stop me from getting where I wanted to be.  I also had a psychic who told me I’d work for the BBC.  Well, reality took over and I was too levelheaded to take a career with so much risk.  Fine, I’m ok with that because it’s not like I tried and didn’t succeed.  I just didn’t try.  Eck, not much better.

I also thought I’d be a mom by now, and more than to just my pug.  It’s pretty common for my generation that I’m not one at this age, and most of my friends aren’t moms yet but by the end of the year I’ll have been married five years, so the clock seems a little different to me.  I’m not waiting to meet Mr. Right.  I already found him.  “Oh, you have plenty of time” they say.  “Why are you rushing things?  There’s so much life ahead of you.”  Really?  Do these particular people, who are almost everyone, by the way, really believe that there is always plenty of time?  Did they not just tell me how fast time goes and how they can’t believe this, that or the other never happened or happened too fast?  Don’t lie to me, Continue reading

Marriage: Better Than the Wedding

With the first anniversary of Will and Kate’s Royal wedding just behind us, I started thinking about our own wedding.

Ugh.

Here is the vital information to gather from this post:  I’m happier with my marriage than I am with our wedding.  I’m learning to be ok with this because ultimately, that is all that matters.  Yet there is evidence that remains, in the form of wedding pictures and they haunt me.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still have buried resentments and hostile feelings about the wedding and the time leading up to it as well.  There were lovely people who took part and wonderful moments that I’ll never forget, but there were also selfish people and such petty behavior that can really put a damper on what is supposed to be the happiest day in one’s life.

First of all, I’m glad to say that wasn’t the happiest day of my life and I’ve had many outstanding days since, but unfortunately this one costs a lot and creates a hassle for so many people.  If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t; not that way anyway.  The thought of having a wedding makes me squeamish.  If I could, I’d have eloped or I’d have paid for our parents to join us far away or even not far away.  I would have said “screw you” to every nitwit who made our lives difficult and would have taken more time to be grateful for the people who took their love for us and the joy of our wedding more seriously.

I would have taken more responsibility to recognize who matters and who doesn’t, and acted accordingly.  And I would’ve moved the wedding from the west coast to the east coast so my Grandmom could’ve been there.

If you’re reading this and you’ve yet to be married, I cannot stress enough; do what you both want.  We did but it wasn’t easy.  Do not try to people-please and do not let people spoil the moments that mean something to you.  Do not let them take anything precious from a moment that sincere people are happy to spend with you.

And do not let the Church cram your Dad’s girlfriend into the pew next to your Mom, where she can’t get pictures and enjoy a good view of her only daughter’s nuptials.

Though I’m sure it doesn’t sound like it, I have gotten over quite a bit of my aggression and I’ve learned to forgive but I just simply won’t forget.  I realize the “what ifs” and regrets are pointless.  I’ve even developed relationships with the people who hurt me and I’m able to look past what I consider to be their mistakes because in the end, regardless of what that one day meant, we are happy and no one can take that away from us.

Gee Shan, thanks for delving that all up.  Try to push out the memory of children throwing Bibles in the Church while their parents laughed because they are “cute”, as the Church planner and your family gaped in horror.  Forget the bullying when our decisions didn’t meet the expectations of others.

By the way, if you have a choice, and you should because you’re paying for it, for God’s sake, make a “do not play” list.  Unless you really enjoy the Chicken Dance or the Macarena, do yourself that favor.  That was one of the best moves we made; that and getting out of the country for a couple weeks after the wedding.  Those days…were some of the best days of my life.

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. 
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Me and you

And you and me

No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be

The only one for me is you, and you for me

So happy together
-The Turtles

As I scrolled through the trusty photo files, I found literally hundreds of self-shot pictures of my husband and I together. Luckily for you, I’ve only included four.

In some you can see the frustration of trying to get a camera to work from arm’s length or that we forgot to remove the zoom before taking a self-portrait. Others I can tell my husband is getting really annoyed that I’m making him stop and take more of these. Luckily in most of the shots we look really happy. I love them all because if we had the same smile all the time, all we’d be looking at is the background.

Not very flattering, but our fingers were too frozen to take pictures and it was a bitter ferry ride to Ellis Island.

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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?

Simple Things That Make Me Happy

I feel like my posts tend to alternate between longing (teetering on whiney) and dorky ideas.  I don’t do this on purpose, but maybe writing down things that bother me are effective enough that the following day I can look past them, at least temporarily, to see the beauty and pleasure in other things.

I sat here smiling as my pug and my husband snore next to me; (I mean, no honey, you don’t snore). I thought about how lucky I am to find joy in simple things. In no particular order, these are things that make me happy.  I welcome what simple things make you happy; there is always room to add to the list.

  • Tea, in a teacup with saucer and perfectly sweetened.  On a regular day, I drink tea unsweetened at work, just throwing a tea bag into the cleanest mug I have within reach.  (It just feels that way, don’t worry, I wash them.)  I’ve tried to perfect a perfect pot of tea; I can’t seem to do it like my Mom does, and so I make mine by the cup.  I go in phases with what type I’m in the mood for and lately rooibos wins.  Still, I wish I gave myself a moment to sit down and absorb just a moment of sunlight and a few minutes to drink tea each morning.  At the very least, I take a moment to think about the little sayings on my tea bags.  I started to save them at my desk because they are generally uplifting and every corporate cubicle can use random positivity.  Geez, now I sound like a hoarding Pollyanna.
  • Hot buttered toast and dipping it in hot chocolate.  Mmm.  I think I’m hungry.  Maybe I’m missing my Mom.  She’d make this for me when I was little, because her Mom did the same.  It came up in conversation before she passed that my Great-Grandmom used to get this when she was a kid from her Mom too.  I suppose it’s a traditional treat then.  The hot chocolate must be hot and so must the bread, and it should be white bread.  If you’re going to do this, you might as well go all out and use the soft white bread.  One day without wheat bread won’t kill you, but it might be the real butter that I suggest you use.  I know I’ve missed the boat to suggest this part, but it is particularly good on a colder morning. We still have some of these left.

Early morning. Though I have my favorites, Oscar prefers oatmeal.

  • Hanging clothes on the line.  Laundry chores are annoying but necessary.  I think this makes me happy because it has to be a beautiful day for this chore to be feasible, and that itself is a reason to smile. There is just something calming about pinning sheets up in a gentle breeze on a warm and sunny day.  Just don’t step in dog poo while you trek through the yard, it certainly takes away from the calming experience. Continue reading

Irish Sheep

I always just liked my photography the way it was. Not the fact that it was simple and mostly luck, but I might have felt it was cheating to alter it in any way. That being said, I had a Groupon for a large canvas that I needed to order and I need a nice piece for my new home office. I played around with an image I found that just felt so calming to me. It is of sheep.

This picture was captured while my husband drove us from the tip of Northern Ireland to Dublin, at the very end of our last trip there. We were desperately trying to beat the huge snow storm we had dodged our entire trip and this was taken just before we lost our luck at outrunning it. There is something calming about sheep; except the sheep that have the red blotches; this just seems morbid to me. I can deal with splotches of green or blue on their coats for farmer identification, but the first few times I saw splotches of red on a sheep my first reaction was
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