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

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship

Friendship is one of the most amazing gifts.

My closest friends, I only see rarely due to distance. We don’t talk as often as we’d like either due to busy schedules, other relationships and different time zones. But the moment we are together, any of us, it’s like time never passed. Even more, I love that I can bring my husband and it seems like our friends have known him most of their lives too. There’s no sense of newness or awkwardness, it’s like we were meant to be.

This weekend we spent time with one of my dearest girlfriends in Brooklyn. One of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

LB wanted to fly a kite. She’d never flown one before, and we were determined to change that. It was not a windy day. There was a random breeze followed by stagnant air. We’d get the kite up, only to see it crash. We had fun…but I promise we’ll get it off the ground one day. I can’t wait to see her smiling face when it soars from above.

The bottom one is my favorite.  Enjoy!

 

We can make it fly!

Good teamwork, friend.

Brooklyn Kites

I will make this fly if I run with it all day.

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

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

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.

Continue reading

O Shakespeare, Shakespeare! Wherefore art thou Shakespeare

Every opportunity I get, or can afford rather, I jump at the chance to venture to something new for us.  Last week we visited Fonthill Castle, this week, Shakespeare.

I love literature and any classic written works, but sometimes they are intimidating to me.  It’s likely because I attempted my first go at a Charles Dickens classic when I was twelve.  I couldn’t get through the first chapter and it really gave me anxiety to pursue any scholarly type works.  In my mind, I had the idea that if there are entire programs dedicated to particularly authors or pieces of writing at Harvard, I probably wouldn’t understand it.  I know this negative mindset is not healthy and crushes ones’ ego, but in all honesty, that’s how I felt.

Needless to say, I always wanted to learn more about Shakespeare.  Tonight jumpstarted this because even though it’s the most typical play in his collection, the opportunity to see Romeo and Juliet half-price made my wallet wince less than my “I’m an individual” persona.  Continue reading

A Pug’s Life

Oscar has never wanted to food or attention.  He hasn’t had a restless night, but has instead taken up a section of our queen size bed, or our couch or the backseat of our car for years.  He’s only slept on the floor by choice, in the glow of the afternoon sun for a nap.  There aren’t kids around to pull at his ears or his curly tail (although I am guilty of playing with his “arms” in a human-type way).  He has toys in each room of the house and has a huge yard to play in.  He is incredibly loved.

He also mopes around on occasion like he is owed something.  He begs for food at every occasion, relentlessly.  His comfort means that his hair is stuck on everything we own, despite the season.  He still hasn’t learned to pick up his own “business” either.  He barks at kids and neighborhood folk as if he owns the town and I’m convinced that he tries to kill us by dropping toys in dangerous places, like the middle of the stairs or near a door, out of the tub or pretty much any location where it blends in and does not appear obvious.  We call him the town terror.  He’s too smart for us and tricked me into feeding him a second helping of dinner last night.  I should have known his “feed me” dance was a little cautious, like he was testing me to see if I’d fall for it.  I did.  My husband fed him less than five minutes before.  He knew our routine and took advantage.

He has moods like we do, but it’s hard to take him seriously when his tongue doesn’t fit in his mouth all the time.  When he’s sleepy, his bulgy eyes don’t work together and sometimes he blows snot bubbles out of his nose.  We get happy about that because it means his nose is working that day and not sealed shut.  He is the oddest animal I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and loving.

This is what I will see before I close my eyes tonight.  He is, Oscar the Dog.  And I love him like he was my kid.

An Irish Ballad for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s only appropriate as we approach St. Paddy’s Day, that I indulge myself in more Ireland talk. On our first trip to Ireland, we tried not to plan and follow the stone walls to wherever they might lead us. We did a few things that Rick Steves suggested too, however. Though we spent most of our trip travelling around the Irish countryside and avoiding crowded tourist destinations, we did spend a couple nights in Dublin and took in the Musical Pub Crawl.

I fell in love with Irish music on this trip.

The music ranged from traditional to humorous and of course included beautiful and mournful ballads. The musicians that lead the crawl vary from night to night, based on traveling musician schedules and we were lucky enough to have Anthony Bools. His voice had so much character and fit the tone for each type of song chosen.

They had a professionally recorded CD compilation of various musicians that lead the tour and it has been a mainstay on my Ipod for a few years now. I couldn’t have been more pleased to have heard this particular song live, with fiddle accompaniment and later have a version to play at home, while I dreamed of Guinness and seisúns. I do suggest the tour if you are interested in learning about Irish music. The real feel of a seisún can be found in a good local pub, where the musicians play amongst themselves instead of to a crowd but this is an opportunity for a musician to take a moment between songs and discuss the fundamentals of the music and the instruments that are so specific to this type of music.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Slainte!

Puggy Love

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Pugs are pretty popular. Ours has been popular since we got him eight years ago. Locally, he has following. A few years ago, girls in my brother’s high school had designed shirts with his picture on it and people constantly ask about him as if he’s our actual child. I don’t know if it’s because the dog is special, or we are…

Oscar Irwin found his way into my heart 8 years ago, at a time when pretty much any responsibility seemed like a hassle. He reminded us of George Burns, with his rawhide looking like a cigar and his old man face.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I knew I had to have him; even though the seller told me he was discounted because he was “defective”.  That’s right, she called my dog defective.  He is not a dented can of soup; he is a living and barely breathing pug. There was no way I could leave him with those people.  I have an idea, stop allowing people to interbreed their dogs.

Anyway, despite his “defective” breathing, he is a character.  I got a pug training book once and I kid you not, the first line said: “So you want to train your pug, good luck”. Still I can’t imagine our home without the sound of snorting or the click-clack of his little paws as he tap dances down the hallway.

I suspect that this may attract the same people who watch the “pug tilting head” videos on YouTube.  It’s late on a Sunday night and all I can think of is the little guy snoring next to me, this is all I got today.  Enjoy!