May 31, 2007

Tears and Laughter

I just got back from Chris' memorial service. It was strange because our agency (where we both worked) planned and organized everything. It's just so nice to think that someone's place of employment thought so much of him to host his memorial service.

There were tears and there was laughter - in fact, I commented to Wendy (my office-mate) that I haven't laughed so hard at a memorial service in my entire life. Chris was a huge fan of music (aside from country), and his favorite was The Beatles. As a teacher for the school-age kids at the day care center, he introduced them to all kinds of music, but they took a definite liking to The Beatles. Chris' brother and three of his musician friends from River Music Experience (including Ellis Kell) performed "In My Life" at the end of the service - everyone sang along. We were offkey, but it was perfect and I think Chris would have loved it...

Of course, Chris and I bonded very closely over our love of The Smithereens. In the spring of 2004 he and I worked together to bring in Pat Dinizio to perform for the kids and teach them about songwriting. I wrote a grant and he worked with his class to raise money. In August 2004, the dream became a reality and Pat Dinizio performed for us. Chris and I were like two little kids as Pat played the guitar and sang our favorite songs (and yes, I got him to autograph my ticket stub from when I saw him perform in 1992!).

At least a few times a year Chris and I would talk about that day and I would always tell him, "Chris, that day was one of the top 10 moments in my life - maybe even the top 5." He would always laugh about that, but then he'd agree with me.

I'm glad I told him that when I had the chance. I'm glad that Chris will always be linked to one of the best moments in my life.

I came home from the service in a bit of a sad mood, but I popped in my Smithereens CD (the acoustic version that Chris made for me) and I cranked up "A Girl Like You" as loud as I could - my own personal tribute to someone I'll miss very much.

May 28, 2007

Is Irony the Right Word for This?

Once again, Ally had a cool "quiz" on her blog (actually, I think it was her MySpace page). Anyway, here's how mine turned out:

Tracy --


A person who is constantly high

'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

The Scientific Method

Yesterday morning Patrick and I launched into another discussion of "So Do We Really Want To Have a Baby?" We do this about once a month and it always ends in the same manner - we either drop the discussion or laugh it off. So for once and for all we made ourselves finish the conversation.

Just a bit of backstory: A few years ago my doctor informed me that people who suffer from migraines are something like 3 times more likely to have a stroke. For women on the pill who have migraines, that number jumps up to 9 times more likely. After the age of 35, well, it increases even more. So, she told me that when I turn 35, she wants me off the pill. That was fine 4 years ago, but here I am, 7 months away from that "magic number." Over the years, Patrick and I have joked about it - always laughing about our shrinking window of opportunity.

Yes, I know there are other birth control options, but I really, really like the pill.

Yesterday we decided that at some point I need to stop taking it (either because I turned 35 and am forced to stop, or because we decided to have a baby). Neither of us could decide when that would be. Patrick didn't want to make the decision because it would be my body that would be going through the changes (and pain) of a pregnancy/birth. I couldn't make the decision because, well, I'm psychologically addicted to the pill. I spent my entire adult life trying NOT to get pregnant, and now I'm supposed to flip that switch - not happening. Some people see this as me not being ready to have a child, but that is not the case. I am highly neurotic and get freaked out by little things, so the mere idea of a human being growing inside my body, while rather cool and empowering, freaks me out. It's like some kind of weird science fiction movie - how come all I can think of is Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

We decided that since we couldn't choose a day for me to stop taking the pill, we needed a neutral third party. So last night, we made a huge pitcher of mango daiquiris and left our future in the hands of...well, not in anyone's hands, but on a bunch of tiny pieces of paper in two cereal bowls. Yes, we held the very first "Baby Lottery". One bowl had #s 1-31 (representing the days in a month) and the second bowl had #s 5-12 (representing May - December). Patrick shook the bowls and I picked the numbers. Actually, there was a bit of confusion when I actually picked the months because I thought he was using the names of the months and not numbers, so when I picked one out I thought he accidentally handed me the bowl of days.

I was a bit worried that I would pull out the day May 30th, which would scare me, but I realized that I also didn't want to choose anything in November or December because it seemed too far away. Neither of those happened, and I'm OK with the date that I randomly chose.

While it might seem weird that we used this method to choose when I'd stop taking the pill, it was actually quite satisfying - it wasn't my decision and it wasn't his decision. No one felt like they were making a life-altering decision for the other.

We'll see what happens when I actually have to stop taking that darn little pill...

May 26, 2007

Another Loss

A friend of mine died this morning - I got the phone call around 11 AM. The only thing I could say was, "Oh my god." I said it over and over.

I met him at work four years ago. He was funny, smart, sarcastic, kind, and loved music. He was my connection to Chicago and we would talk about how much we missed it and how there was no better radio station than WXRT.

He had been sick with the flu this past week and missed a few days of work, but there was no other indication that anything else was wrong. He died in his sleep, so I do not believe he suffered.

He was 35 years old. His name was Chris.


Despite my best efforts, I ended up falling asleep before the end of the Cubs game. When I finally gave in to my exhaustion, the Cubs were losing 5-1. Trust me, I didn't give up on them, but I could no longer keep my eyes open.

Checked online this morning and here's what I find:

Despite the loss, it was one hell of a game.

And I missed it.


So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night

Ah...a brief tribute to one of my favorite movies as a little girl (I still love when it's on TV, but must watch it alone as the two "men" in the house don't get it).

It seems as though everything is official with the sale of the house - we received our escrow money the other day. Just a few pictures of our last moments at the house:

The tulips I planted so many years before opened up on the day before we handed over the keys:

A look at the final few boxes:

The family room that we remodeled (crown molding and built-in shelving that I forgot to take a picture of):

A look at the dining area and into the kitchen:

The living room area and our old front door:

A close-up look at the screened-in front porch that Patrick completely fixed before we listed the house:

So now we can officially say goodbye to 2352 E. Pleasant Street. I hope that the new owner has as many good memories in this house as we did...

May 25, 2007

Random Pictures

I haven't posted on my blog in a while. I guess part of me is still tired from work - not only the golf event, but I've written four grants this month. My office is an absolute disaster and I need to take some time to organize it next week...before the next round of grants comes in June.

I've had a couple of bad days with migraines, which make me tired and cranky and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer.

So here is my cop out - I'm posting some random pictures I've had on my digital camera for a while now. I like them for various reasons, but never really felt like they deserved a post of their own:

My parents - there's something that I like about the blurry quality of this picture, and I love that my mom and dad are laughing.

I took this picture through the window in our kitchen.

Patrick and Duncan.

This is from our weekend trip to Michigan - something about this sign made me laugh...

And finally, I believe these are rhododendrons that are on the side of our house - in front of the screened-in back porch. They bloom every spring and I just love their color (wish they would last longer).

May 21, 2007

I Can't Think of a Good Title For This Post...

I went away for the weekend and took a much needed vacation day today. I actually just arrived home about 45 minutes ago. It's a beautiful day and I'm home alone - the sunshine and silence are good for my soul right about now.

I could write about the weekend - a nice time in Michigan with my mom, dad, and sister. It was reminiscent of the "good ol' days" when we used to hop in the car for our annual 2-week long treks across the country. This was a much shorter drive, but still fun.

However, something else was on my mind this weekend (and especially today). One year ago today was the last time I saw and spoke to my aunt. We had just arrived home (in Chicago) from our trip to Michigan and the hospital called my mom - my aunt was disoriented and scared and wanted her to come to the hospital. We jumped in the car and went. I didn't want to go the hospital, and I especially didn't want to spend any time on the cancer unit, but my dad and I went in support of my mother. It's so weird because I wasn't planning on seeing my aunt, but as soon as she heard I was there, she sent my mom to come get me. How could I refuse? As my mom and I walked down the hall to her room, I kept saying that I was afraid - afraid of how she had changed since I last saw her and afraid that I would cry in front of her.

She looked amazingly different. The wig she once wore was replaced by her own hair - a "salt & pepper" crew cut that was coming in nicely. She was so thin and her glasses now looked enormous on her gaunt face. It was a struggle for her to talk, but she said hi and we hugged and kissed.

I was only in there for about 10 minutes. I knew she was tired, so I offered to leave (I also left because I was freaked out and didn't want to be in that room any longer). I still recall the last words she ever spoke to me: "Love you, babe." I couldn't say it back. I couldn't say it because if I did, it was like saying goodbye to her...and I just wasn't ready to do that. All I could muster was: "See you soon, OK?" And then I walked out of her room. I wouldn't see her again until the day of her funeral just 4 weeks later.

As I thought about this day, and how hard is was for me to be myself around her, I couldn't help but remember a passage from one of my favorite books - The Little Prince:

"I did not know what to say to him. I felt awkward and blundering. I did not know how I could reach him, where I could overtake him and go on hand in hand with him once more.
It is such a secret place, the land of tears."

I wish I had told her I loved her that afternoon. I wish I hadn't been awkward and blundering. I know she knew I loved her, but it's not the same. If I had that day as a do-over, I would tell her. I would say, "Love you, too, Auntie."

May 16, 2007

The Golf Tourney Update

The golf tournament was over on Monday, so why have I been avoiding writing about it? I'm not sure, but I think it boils down to the fact that I'm just so darn happy it's over that any additional discussion on the topic could have pushed me over the edge.

OK, a bit dramatic, but in a way it's the truth.

I'm not going to launch into a long post about this, but do have a few random thoughts about it:
  • I worked 12 straight hours (about 1 hour at my office and 11 at the golf course).
  • It was 93 degrees that day (an official record for our area!).
  • My feet are blistered from walking back-and-forth from the pavilion to the clubhouse all day.
  • My back started hurting after only 1 hour.
  • The event was a success (still adding up the numbers to see what we officially raised) - hoping to break the $20,000 mark again.
  • This was my 5th year of coordinating this event and while I've almost got this down to a science, I am amazed that I still get so stressed.
  • In five more months we start planning for 2008!

Bad Habits

I still am in the habit of checking both mortgages online. It's a hard habit to break after over two years - I went to make a payment today on our "old house" and when I pulled up the account, here's what I saw:

Loan paid in full

Now I can sit back, relax, and wait another two weeks to make our ONLY mortgage payment...

May 15, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

I love these kinds of quizzes! I know they're not very accurate, but I just love to see what they say about me...


You are a very calm and contemplative person. Others are drawn to your peaceful, nurturing nature.

Find out your color at!

May 11, 2007

Almost Done

Well, today was my last day of prepping for the golf outing on Monday. Yesterday was completely crappy - my computer was being quite naughty and it left me frazzled since everything I need is on that trusty old laptop.

Things were a lot better today. The computer was back to normal and the majority of the office was out, so that left me some peace and quiet to get things done. I didn't get everything done, which is what happens every year, but I am sticking to my goal of having everything completed by 12 PM Saturday morning. The rest of the weekend will be mine. This, of course, means that I need to get to work right now. I'm dealing with those awful last minute demons - I don't want to work anymore, so I sit and think about all the things I would rather do. However, I know that by not working now, I'm only postponing being able to do those things. Crap.

When I get anxious like this, I either want to read or clean. It's completely weird. I suddenly feel consumed by clutter and little messes in the kitchen. I want to clean the dishes and wipe down the counter tops. Even mopping the floor seems like a nice option.

I don't know if I'll have any more time to write here before Monday, and I'm pretty sure I'll be too tired on Monday to write anything. Just about everything is in place and ready to go for Monday morning - just those last few things I need to do tonight. The forecast seems nice (sunny), but steamy (89 degrees). At least I'm not the one golfing...

May 8, 2007

Bye ZoZo

Tonight my sister and her family had to put their dog, Zoe (aka ZoZo), to sleep. She was a gorgeous Chocolate Lab, and was only 10 years old. She was diagnosed with cancer about 6 weeks ago and has been declining rather quickly in the past 2 weeks.

She was a fantastic dog and I can so clearly recall that day that I "puppysat" for her when my sister and brother-in-law were at work. I sat up on the floor with my back against the couch and Zoe slept on my legs all day. I never realized that she would grow in to an almost 100-pound dog with the sweetest personality.

I saw her on Easter Sunday, and before I left to go home, I sat with her on the couch. I know it probably sounds silly, but I talked to her - telling her that I loved her and that I would miss her. I only ever loved one other dog - my first and only dog that I had from the ages of 7 - 24 years (yep, for those of you doing the math, I had her for 17 years!).

My niece and nephew are having a hard time with this, but they talk about her and about what she is going through. Vann, my almost 4-year old nephew, said today, "Zoe is going to Heaven tonight." Sad and sweet all at once...

Here is my favorite picture of Zoe. She is in the backyard with a very young Reese (I think she was 2 years old at the time). Reese loved her Zoe and Zoe loved her Reese - so apparent in this fabulous picture taken by my sister:

Love ya' Zo

I Don't Know Nothin' About Birthin' Babies

I also know nothin' about playin' golf...and yet I am in charge of coordinating our agency's annual golf outing - our biggest fundraiser of the year.

I used to love this time of year - early spring, blooming trees and flowers, fresh air, open windows, etc. However, my love for it has been replaced by stress and frustration. This is my fifth year running this event and my fifth year of not quite despising spring, but rushing through it - not noticing the trees, the sweet smell in the air, the cool breezes. I used to watch the buds on the trees appear and savor these gorgeous days before they quickly are replaced by the heat and humidity of a Midwest summer. But now everything is in relation to this event - how many stressful days are left, how many more days I have 30 people coming at me in all different directions, asking questions and making requests.

On the bright side, that magic number is down to 3 (well, 3 work days, but I still have the weekend to be stressed). The event is on Monday the 14th. After that, the wrap-up starts, but that's the easy part. I will be a free woman again, and in order to get through these next few days, I've been keeping a list of all the things I will do when I'm done:

- Go to the library
- Read more
- Cook some fantastic and incredibly challenging meal
- Play tennis
- Go back to the gym
- Write my novel (obviously not the entire thing, but I'm challenging myself to write more of it)
- Enjoy the rest of this season...

The thoughts of these things keeps me going - keeps me focused on getting through the stress.

May 6, 2007

How Did I Get Here?

This is what my grandmother asked my mom while sitting at my parents' house.

She spent the night at their house, and my mom suggested she go to bed because it was late and she was falling asleep on the couch. My grandmother turned to my mom and asked, "Where are your bedrooms?"

It might not seem like that odd of a question, but my parents have lived in that house for almost 38 years.

I'm sad.

Pablo Neruda

Around the age of 19, I was introduced to the writings of Pablo Neruda, and to this day, he remains one of my favorite poets of all time. There was something about that time in my life and his passionate writing style that had me hooked. I was longing for love and passion and as I read his poems I would think about all that was possible. Would I ever fall in love? Would anyone ever feel those things for me that Pablo Neruda wrote about? I think his writings shaped the way I viewed love and relationships - I'm not sure if that was good or bad. His words were so powerful, maybe I was setting myself up for disappointment since most men in their early 20's didn't express themselves like that.

I got up early this morning and browsed through our bookshelves. I pulled out my Neruda books and flipped through them - paying close attention to the pages that were still earmarked as my favorites:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Another favorite (not in its entirety):

In short, without your presences: without your coming
suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,
gust of rosebush, wheat of wind:

since then I am because you are,
since then you are, I am, we are,
and through your love I will be, you will be, we'll be.

And finally, the one I read most often (again, not in its entirety):

My words rained over you, stroking you.

A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.

I want

to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

May 4, 2007

An Update and a Meltdown

I did pretty well at work considering the news we received this morning. I figured I'd be a mess. It was stressful and the day felt long - as the hours dragged on I grew tired and restless. I wanted to be home, safe and alone.

I sit here now listening to music and trying to find the right words to express the fear, confusion, and sadness that has crept into my mind. A good friend recently made a musical recommendation - The Decemberists. I'm listening to it now and I can feel the tears develop in my eyes. Is it the music? Is it what happened this morning? If I wasn't alone right now would I still feel this way?

I hate everything that is happening (and now the tears are falling). I need to come back to this post later...

More Bad News

I just received a call from my mom - she never calls during the day while I'm at work, so I knew this was bad. My grandmother has been disoriented and "lost" the last day or so and this morning it got worse. My mom called the doctor who told her that she needs to be admitted to the hospital right away for 2-3 days. They will try to figure out what is happening, but she then will be placed in a nursing home.

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the possibility of my grandma moving in to an assisted living facility. No one wanted to bring it up to her because she would just say "no", but we all knew that it was necessary - she is not capable of handling daily activities. However, none of us thought that things would happen so fast.

To make matters worse, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of losing my aunt. When my mom called me and I heard her voice crack, I was immediately transported back to those days when my aunt was slipping away. My heart started racing and my head felt funny - kind of tingly.

I know that this is just part of the process of life, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it. I've said mean things about my grandma lately and I feel horrible about it.

May 1, 2007


When I think about the past two years, I know that there is no way I ever would have gotten through this alone. Financially. Emotionally. Physically. Patrick and I made a good team throughout this whole situation. When I wanted to cry, he made me laugh. When he wanted to scream, I told him everything would be OK. When we both wanted to give up, we'd sit on the couch, watch a movie and pretend it was all over.

So, in this brief post I want to thank him for...well, for everything. For making me laugh. For bringing home as much extra money as he could. For lifting all the heavy stuff in the house. For letting me get pissed and listening to me swear.

Thanks Patrick.