The Most Honest Post I’ve Written

The only person in my family that knows about this blog is my husband.  He’s pretty supportive, though he doesn’t say much and even if his way of support is portrayed in the form of a challenge.  He challenged me that I couldn’t do this 365 blog when I first mentioned it.  I’d like to believe that what appears to be lack in faith, is instead his way to push me.  My Irish and Philadelphian roots are built with stubborn and defiant characteristics.  I used to think these were flaws, but they make me who I am, so I will not shy away from them if that’s what I need to survive.  In fact, those “flaws” are the reason I’m writing you.  He said I couldn’t, therefore I do.

There aren’t a lot of things that I think I’ve done necessarily right in my life.  I had so many dreams when I was a teenager and a surprising amount of adults to supported them, particularly people who had no real investment in me.  There is nothing they’d gain from my success.  They just cared.  I never thought about it before.  Teachers, co-workers, older friends all took the time to mentor me, without request and without agenda.

I’ve told you before that I’m an old soul.  My favorite memories are sitting with my Grandmoms and just talking.  These are some of my earliest memories and with two gone and one left, I see this part of my life slipping away.  I expected encouragement from them, but instead I got simple friendship.  I could actually consider them people I loved, respected and wanted to spend time with.  We’d laugh and talk about things that matter, not just superficial weather or sports talk.  When I think back though, even though they were incredibly important to me, they weren’t my motivators.

As I got my first job at a Hallmark store, I was enveloped by the family of people who owned and worked at the store.  They saw me through some of the harder times and though many were much older in experience and years, they counseled me without me even knowing it.  They encouraged the school-skipping and concert going city girl, and led me to believe anything was possible.  I continued to find people like this wherever I went.  Maybe I was a project or maybe I actually was as special as my parents said, but maybe I was just blessed with meeting the right people and accepting such unlikely friendships.  There I was, in California and my closest friends had children my age.

I didn’t sit down to write this blog, I had another vision in mind.  I started thinking about my plans.  I gave up so many plans to be logical when I was about twenty.  I gave up the steps I needed to take to fulfill my dreams, and instead kept dreaming with no real track to ever get there.  That’s changing.  Whether it’s logical or not, is not my concern anymore.  I’m going to be putting my husband and I in a financial situation that falls into a category of the unknown, possibly stupid.  I’m going to be leaping from a steady job to who knows what.  It’s scary.  But I can’t help but feel that I owe it to myself and to every person who gave me the reason to believe I was good enough to get what I want.  I’m doing something because I want to and for the first time, it’s not out of defiance.  Whether or not I find what I’m looking for, I can at least die saying that I tried, instead of feeling like a coward.

 

Photo courtesy of gettingsmartonline.com

The Leprechaun and the Pilot

Today is a day that I’m not feeling particularly inspired by anything.  To the picture files we go!

I found this picture, taken from one of those old razor phones, about four years ago.  It is the epitome of my husband and I.  You can almost sum up how much fun we have together by this picture, but I promise we’re not too weird.  We just like to have fun.  I think my Mom was the original recipient of this picture.  This pretty much seals the deal regarding whether or not our family knew we were meant to be.

My husband and I met in San Diego, before we reached the drinking age.  This meant that we were in that stage between high school and the San Diego bar (meat market) scene.  It also meant our dates had to be creative because we are both old souls who were far older than the candles on our birthday cakes.  He began taking me to “fun” places right off the bat.  We went to theme parks and ran around like kids.  It was good for us, particularly me, because I knew how to have fun but I can easily find myself becoming too serious and stiff if I’m not forced into playing.

I’d say within the first month, we started picking up silly hats wherever we went and posing in pictures with them.  The last time I checked, we had three Rubbermaid tubs full of hats and random costume gear.  Needless to say, we’ve since taken most holidays and definitely Halloween a lot more seriously since we met each other.  As a matter of fact, we’re currently in preparation of our favorite Leprechaun making his appearance next week.  Our friends tease us, but they agree they wouldn’t want us any other way.  I like that we are not so straight laced when we want to be, that we can loosen up and not take things so seriously.

We came across these particular disguises in preparation to our move to the East Coast, my original home.  You can tell by the fuzziness and randomness captured, that we never intended to actually publish this picture anywhere, but I can’t help but smile when I see it.  He’s wearing a couple key pieces to his famous Leprechaun costume, and I’m wearing a child’s pilot cap we bought in an airport.  The rest is just unfortunate, before my nose job and before I began waxing.  I love that hat.

Note for Philadelphians:   If you run into us on St. Paddy’s Day, and you’ll know who we are, do say hello.  If you are a slutty drunk girl who is pretending to be Irish, restrain yourself from asking to take kinky pictures with my husband.  You’d think I wouldn’t need to say that.

Irish Whiskey on the Horizon

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Saint Paddy’s Day will be here soon. Last year I spent the holiday having major surgery. The anesthesiologists told me that the stuff I’d be getting was much stronger than my Irish whiskey. They were right.

Although St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal for our family, I hadn’t been too devastated because we had returned from Ireland only a couple months before. My husband still swore he’d dress in his annual Leprechaun costume for the occasion, but luckily he didn’t. Though part of me would have liked to see the looks on people’s faces as he sat in that surgical waiting room, in one of the country’s best hospitals, with tights and a top hat.

We enjoy Irish whiskey any time of the year, but the Irish season is amongst us in America and I thought about our trip to Bushmills in Northern Ireland. Alongside many brands of Irish whiskey, Bushmills is a classic.  Most startling was when we took the tour and saw Jameson bottles being pushed along the rolling conveyor belt.  Come to find out, that Jameson drives tanker trucks from the southern tip of Ireland to the northern one, as they have a deal to use Bushmills as a bottling plant.  I find it hard to believe this economic reasoning, but whatever it is, it is humorous to have the #2 Irish whiskey in the world, bottling the #1 guy’s stuff.

We also discovered the greatest job in the world; if you enjoy whiskey that is.  Bushmills whiskey is blended, with other malts and derivatives of other flavored casks for the best flavor.  The master blender, Helen, tastes and tests the blends of Bushmills.  That is her job.  Our guide said she’s picked up and driven home each day because her job is to drink whiskey.  Whether that was a bit of Irish humor or not, I like to believe that Helen has the greatest job in Ireland.

We had such a great day at Bushmills.  My husband and I only take tours that truly interest us, and not for the sake of adding admission tickets to our scrapbook.  I can’t remember a time that we didn’t connect with the guide and develop further conversation as the day progressed.  We ask questions and honestly want to learn.  This day was no different.  We ended up having our complimentary tasting and a few more, thanks to the generous tour guide when we went back to the tasting room.  We sat amongst a gigantic copper still and enjoyed some of the greatest things Ireland has to offer; whiskey and banter.  Our love for Ireland doesn’t end with these two things, but we’ll save more for another day.

Slainte.

I’m Hungarian & Not for Wienerschnitzel

I recently discovered that Hungary is more than just a country east of Germany; it is part of my heritage.  I mean this in the least offensive way possible, but the country was always a joke to me.  Not because of the country itself, just its name.  Ever since I discovered the country of Hungary in my elementary school history lessons, one of my favorite things to tell my parents was, “I’m Hungarian” when I wanted food.  Ok, so I still say it.

Though I have strong ties to my primarily Irish roots, I was also raised with undertones of German ancestry.  My Great-Grandma emigrated from a Germany port in her mother’s womb.  With her, she brought what we thought to be traditional German customs and recipes.  Guess what?  They weren’t German.  After spending years trying to track down her family in German records, I recently joined forces with a distant cousin who had documents to prove that my stomach is not just Hungarian; the rest of me is too.  At least the part that I thought was German is.

Because the borders were altered by a bloody game of tug of war, I find the genealogy hunt increasing in intrigue and possibilities.  Their region, which may have once been German territory, had also been Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and now Slovakia.  Never did I imagine that the strong stock came from Eastern European hardships as opposed to Hamburg bratwursts.  I realize these clichés are not realistic and likely inappropriate, but they simply provide an altering mental image of what I had imagined as a little girl and what is now more realistic.

I’ll never be able to ask those ancestors what life was actually like.  I’ll never get to ask if they yearned for their homeland and its customs.  Instead, I know that they came to America for safety amongst the turmoil in pre-World War I Europe.  They learned English and adapted to American ways, but privately maintained the nuances of their heritage.  They were bakers, potters and laborers.  We still are, even if laboring is the only one that pays the bills these days.  I never guessed that my little joke that got a giggle out of my Mom, had truth in it.

Such Odd Things to Be Grateful For

I fell asleep with my computer last night.  It was not quite romantic.  I did wake up in the middle of the night, however, with a great idea for a topic.  Supposedly.  I noted it on my phone, but it was so vague; “Grateful for odd things”.  Although, I am grateful for odd things, I think most people are.  It’s the simple things in life that really make a difference.  Although I don’t know what examples I may have had while I slept, I was able to coherently think of some of my own today.

And so, I give you, odd but significant things I am grateful for.

  • My husband isn’t a video game addict.  Hell, he doesn’t drink or gamble in excess or zone out into any sports on TV (that’s more me).  He does watch cartoons, but not if we’re home together, because we have a lot in common and that is not one of them.  Its not cartoons that bothers me, because I’ll watch Bugs Bunny or SpongeBob myself, but these cheesy Anime ones.  He watches them in fast forward too, which leads me to believe that are just as enjoyable as I think they are.  Regardless, I am grateful that he is unlike the many men I know our age who ignore the world around them, as they lose all reality to the outside world with controller in hand.  So, thank you honey.
  • My Aunt recently brought to my attention that I should be happy for my chubby cheeks.  “Look at Sally Field.”, she says, “She’s got fat and cologen in her face because of her cheeks and she’ll never look hallowed out.”  Of course, she continued with things what sounded like back-handed compliments, but I realized she was right.  Not only will my cheeks be beneficial as I age, they give my friends great humor.  My cheeks were (ok, are) big enough that when I smile, they push up my eyes quite a bit.  Although I’m of Irish/German descent, they often claim I’m in fact Asian.  This doesn’t bother me because it is not offensive, but simply odd.  Regardless, I’m grateful to you, chubby cheeks.
  • I’ve always been on the thin or appropriate weight for my height.  I also have a stomach that is very picky.  I hate that.  But, it is the reason that I don’t eat unhealthy or unnatural things.  Thus, I keep my figure.  I think it’s a good idea to turn every annoying negative into a positive.  It also saves us money because we don’t buy take-out very often, so well done finicky stomach!
  • I’m just shy of 5’9, but I have small feet.  Sometimes I am as small as a 7 shoe, but mainly 7 ½.  I feel gangly as it is; have long legs, long arms and a long torso, so this makes me feel that I’m petite in some way.  And I’m grateful for that.  Although, I do believe it aids in my klutziness.  We are convinced that my feet are not big enough to keep me sturdy, which is why I topple.  This is not medically or scientifically based, but it seems good enough of a reason to me.

I am grateful for so many “real” things, and some of these are really just silly.  But I imagine one day, if these all didn’t collide (cue time travel music); I could look like a skeleton droopy face with big feet, obese and married to a World of Warcraft addict.  Ah, but now everything will be perfect.

This is probably my most bizarre post.  Bear with me, it’s been a long week.

I Hate Country Music; Or So I Thought

I always told myself that country music is horrible. From the time that I was very, very little, I detested it and really rallied my mind against it. I honestly have no idea why. It was something that I made a point in letting people know when we discussed music taste. My response to it almost bordered on aggressive. It’s one of those things that I look back on and though I’ve tried to analyze my reasoning, I can’t come up with anything to defend my logic, except for the fact that I was immature and must’ve been trying to fit a mold.

Over time, I started to hate country music less and trend to a more indifferent feeling about it. My parents didn’t listen to country music, but they certainly never taught me to hate it, or hate anything for that matter. The closest thing that played in my house was Gordon Lightfoot, which is more Folk, but certainly has twang-y elements to it.  I’ve basically loved the fundamental instruments in country music all my life, which are no different from rock music, but it’s just a different style and a slightly different structure.

Still, having grown up outside of Philadelphia, I never understood the crowds that flocked to country music concerts in the summer, with cowboy hats and a Budweiser in hand. I’m all about being a patriotic American, and I realize that country music probably depicts the American persona more than any other, but where did these people pick up the taste for it?  Where did they come from?

It wasn’t until I realized my Uncle had a love for country music that I started to think about it in a different way. He was a city kid, grew up loving heavy metal bands in the 80’s and had the style and hair to rival bands like Van Halen in his day. He played in a metal band, loaded up with tattoos and although he never lost his love for a bad rock ballad, he loves country music now too?  As he is a person I respect, good for him, I thought.  Then I met my husband, who is from Iowa; who knew all the country songs when we went to a piano bar early in our relationship. Then I discovered the country station presets in his pick-up truck. He wasn’t wearing cowboy boots or anything, but I must’ve been slow to not see that coming.  I feel kind of sorry now, that he didn’t come out spurs blazing to show his country roots. I always wondered if neglecting his country roots publicly was his way of finding himself in another part of the country or if he was that concerned I’d dislike him for it.  That would be something I’d truly feel sorry for.

As I grow up, I’ve found there’s nothing more important than being open minded. Hell, I can accept most anything else in the world and look on the bright side of most any situation, why can’t I accept country music? Then it happened, crossover music. Though I’m sure it always existed in some form, country has crossed over into mainstream music in a very popular way over the last few years and onto mainstream stations.  There are even bands that I really like that use country elements. I think I might like it. Though don’t tell anyone yet, because I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of commitment just yet. I haven’t bought a country album, but I may have programmed a country station on the second set of presets in my car. We’ll know for sure if it makes the top 10, but its tough competition.

I knew I was lost when I got hooked on the Mumford & Sons album last year and there was a heavy bluegrass and banjo vibe on it.  I’d really love to play banjo, once I get guitar down a little better, but I’ve convinced myself that maybe I’d focus on old Irish music to ease my way into this American genre. I know, none of it makes sense, but at least there’s no longer a deep misunderstanding about something that never truly deserved it.

I Belong to Nowhere

I visited an old friend last weekend and she was asking what my husband and I were up to, and if we had any future plans.  I told her that depending on what happens with my career, we wouldn’t be opposed to moving to Europe or some authentically historic American town, but we’ll see what happens.  She said how she could never do that, just pick up and leave, but it’s something that we have grown accustom to and maybe it’s slightly hereditary.

I’m an avid ancestry enthusiast.  Every key member to my family tree, at least going back a few generations, had the same defining quality; the ability to be fearless and never look back.  This to me is a quality because I admire their courage and ambition, to pick up from their place of birth and independently find a new home in a new state, country, continent, etc.  And they did it alone.  They all did.

This is a blessing and a curse because combined; these adventurous ancestors gave me life.  Had they not, I don’t want to say “ran away”, but rather “looked for better opportunities”, I wouldn’t exist.  It’s a curse because, as a researcher, it’s very difficult to track them.  I run into possible distant connections and it appears my ancestor was always the black sheep who left and never wrote home.  There never seems to be hostility or a tragic story that I’m aware of based on family stories, they were just ok being independent.

That being said, I began frequently re-establishing myself early and being the “new kid” by changing schools throughout my youth.  Not by my choice, but my parents, due to transportation, tuition, educational factors and eventually a move just before high school.  I settled in well for the most part at each place and sought my own adventure to California after graduation.  I never truly felt like I fit in anywhere. Though I did find myself back in New Jersey a few years ago, close to family and old friends, I really don’t feel that I have a home.  The town I grew up in until I was 13 would probably be the closest thing to a “home” feeling but most of the people who lived there are gone or have passed away.  If you remember, I was friendly with the elderly people.  Sure I had friends that were my age, but they’ve since grown and moved too.

Today we live in a town close by, which feels like a neighborhood that people grew up in, finished school, started to grow their own family and then moved back in.  There is a sense of community, but not for me.  I am friendly with people here, but my roots weren’t here.  I think it is why I find the idea of moving anywhere that feels comfortable, so appealing, because I don’t need to stay anywhere out of obligation.  No one else in my family has.

My husband and I are the same way.  Having grown up in Iowa, and then joined the military, it caused his zip code to change more than a few times.  We come from heritages that we didn’t technically belong to.  My family has strong Irish and German tradition, but I don’t necessarily belong there.  My family for generations lived in Philadelphia and I was even born there, but then became the first to be raised in the suburbs of New Jersey.  Although it’s only minutes away, I didn’t grow up in a row home with a corner candy store or play baseball on the asphalt, so I can’t claim that as home either.  I grew up in a house where people had their own space and minded their business.  They were people looking to remove themselves from city culture; maybe culture altogether.  I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, I’ve had a fortune life with loving parents, but the circumstances have just left me feeling a little lost as an adult.

We aren’t tied to anywhere and maybe we’re not quite sure where home is yet.  I suppose we’ll have to find it together and make it that way ourselves.  We can be the “new kids” together.