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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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

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.

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.

 

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.

Looking Forward to New Adventures

This will be a short one this evening. My husband and I are embarking on an adventure soon and I realized how lucky we are. I saw a commercial and a married couple was bickering about how to plan a vacation. They clearly had different agendas and concepts of what fun was. It made me wonder if people get married and really have that little in common. I’m not one to judge and no one wants to read sappy blogs, but I’m going to go ahead and be sappy anyway. I’m married to my best friend. We have so many things we enjoy together; bad days become adventures and in the end, we have good memories, stories and pictures to remind us of our journeys.

I’m just feeling lucky this evening, as we look forward to our next adventure coming up. I can’t wait to share it with you…and I promise it won’t be sappy. But do prepare yourself for a lot of pictures.  (I think I might even roll my eyes over this blog.)

 

Together

Technological Contradictions

Have you ever wondered if technology really helps us develop better relationships?

I’m not saying I’d prefer to go back to the stone ages, but I like to think of modern advancements as supplements to a better life, not something that consumes our lives. Think about how many people you know who spend countless hours on Facebook or any other “socializing” interfaces. You see them posting how many points they scored in a game all day long and constantly nag you with notifications to join them. Sure, it’s a great way to “interact” with old high school friends, but too often I wonder if more fruitful relationships could be had with the core people in our lives if that same time was dedicated in visiting and really talking to the people who mean something.

As with everything, there are pros to using technology in relationships too. I Skype with my mom since we are thousands of miles apart. I get to see pictures of my nieces and nephews playing sports and read their highlights that their parents may not have figured important enough to call about. It really is a personal preference and I won’t judge anyone on how they chose to communicate, but I do fear for generations to come. Then again will they even know what they are missing? I got a birthday email from my grandmom this year instead of a card for the first time in my life. Will my children ever receive a card if her generation has already conformed to modern times?

One of my favorite things at antique shops are the old postcards. At first I felt like I was invading someone’s privacy by reading cute vacation messages from 1934, but then I started to romanticize the people who wrote and received these notes. I love that they are tangible. So much of what we write today is digital, lacks the penmanship and nuances that personal correspondence had. Who doesn’t love getting a written letter or non-digital birthday card? I realize postcards can be thrown out as quickly as text messages can be deleted, but to me it’s not the same; but who am I to judge as I write you from an iPad instead of handwriting you a letter. It’s a world of contradictions in my mind.

Double Your Dad’s

As a child of divorce and an optimist, I found myself always looking for a reason to be satisfied with my family arrangement. My situation is not exactly ideal. It is however, particularly easy now that I’m an adult with a family of my own; well the start of one anyway, by snagging a great husband and a humanistic pug.

I’ve got two dads. I’ve got my paternal “taught me how to ride a bike” dad and my “see, this is how you drill into concrete” step-dad. I’m lucky because they are both wonderful men who have devoted so much of their lives to me, and I to them. Even luckier, they get along. Step-dad has referenced real dad as his “husband-in-law”, which sounds a bit goofy, but we laugh.

 

The cool thing is that, since no one is identical, I find that I always have the right man to help guide me, no matter what the problem is. Both are handy, but in different trades. They are both wise, but from different backgrounds and perspectives. They both can make me laugh and sometimes roll my eyes, but they both have traits that I found to be absolutely required in the man I’d marry; amongst them, respectful, honest, smart, hardworking and loving. I now have three men in my life that mean the world to me daily. I soon look forward to four, as I watch my little brother mature into a man and learn from three elders that care for him as much as I do.

There’s no one in the world without flaws, but their goodness supersedes any negatives, usually. I know this is true because I got nearly weepy at each Father’s Day card I read at Hallmark. I felt so lucky to have people fit the cheesy sentiment, even if I felt entirely lame taking twenty minutes reading through each card option available. If the hardest part of divorce for me is to choose two cards for two dads, I think I won.

I’ll save the stories of skinned knees from my competitive father trying to beat a five year old on her bike for another day.  Who does that?

 

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