Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obsessive Drawings

While I was staying in DC, I made a few friends and we galavanted around to museums and bars. My good friend, Hannah, from Indiana came to visit for her spring break and we stayed with my friend, Roy. I spent a week in NYC with my cousin and was so happy. At one party I met two girls who were a comedic duo. Laughter flowed out of my lungs and throughout the room. They divulged later that they were trying to make me laugh because it was so infectious. I got my laugh back.

I had been blissfully ignoring thoughts about my mom, and for a few weeks I had successfully forgotten that she's no longer here. The sadness dissipated, and I stopped answering calls from my brother, sister and aunts.

However, when it would reach 1:30 am and we'd be sitting at the table with our empty wine glasses, I'd start drawing. The first night it was a colorful rocketship made with crayons and when it was completed, I made everyone countdown from 10 and we all yelled BLASTOFF and feverishly covered the edge of the page in yellow, red, and orange wax. When that didn't work, we burned the paper. The following night I had only a pen and drew a large rocketship on my calf. The next night I drew a small one on my hand, which Hannah turned into a night sky. I walk around with BLAST OFF written on the insides of my shoes. I doodled on napkins, receipts and socks. I stuck a note to Roy's fridge that read, "I tried to blast us off into space but it didn't work."

It is apparent to me that although I wasn't talking much about my mother, I was missing her madly. This is grieving. It's not pretty and you can't turn it off but you learn to deal with it. It doesn't always come out in typical ways like anger or depression, and for me, it made me doodle.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

27-Fling Boogie

This week is the third week of work, and it's been as expected: busy, intense and fun. I try to keep the stress from my personal life at bay and focus on the task at hand. At present my immune system is at battle with the second (or is this the third?) allergy attack.

My room is also a mess but I just used a Cici Case technique: the 27-Fling Boogie. Sometime during my childhood she began making the entire family participate in the boogie. In the rush of the early morning, she'd shout, "ONE!" and toss a used napkin in the garbage. 

Putting two breakfast bowls and spoons into the dishwasher, Katie would reply, "TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE!" 

Justin would fold the throw blanket over the back of the sofa, "SIX!" 

"SEVEN, EIGHT!" I shout from the bathroom as I tied the trash bag and put the toothpaste away. 

This would continue until we reached 27 and our boogie would be boogied. With the excitement of a new job and the stresses of daily life, I wanted to share this little tool with you in hopes that my mom can help you smile while you simplify. I just did the 27-fling boogie, and although my room is still pretty messy, it's a start.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Keep Hope Alive

When I was a kid and my mom was a single parent and practicing attorney, she put us in charge of the household chores. Today one of her chants popped into my head, "KEEP THE LAUNDRY ALIVE."

Or, as Jesse Jackson would say, "Keep hope alive."

She would shout it as she dashed out the door, all the while keeping her freshly-painted nails dry. Over summer breaks, she'd be out the door earlier than the sun and leave me a list of things to do. This would be written at the bottom in all caps.

I'm keeping hope alive. I'm keeping the laundry alive. In fact, I'm keeping myself busy and making lots of laundry.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Start of Something New

Hey Mom,

I have clean socks and undies. I've printed out the directions. I packed my lunch: a protein (hummus), lots of veggies, hearty soup and grapes for dessert.

If you could, you would have written me a note that would say:



You would have stuck twenty dollars and a few napkins in my lunch box, and you'd set out the soy milk, oatmeal, raisins, and cinnamon for breakfast. "You'll need something that sticks to your ribs," you'd insist. "You get cranky when you're hungry; you want to make a good first impression."

But you know all these things.

Tomorrow is a big day for me as I start my new job, and I know you're proud of me. I'm going to make a good impression, don't worry. Katie has offered her services to replace you when I'm looking for someone to call on my lunch break.

My intestines are in knots, although I've done everything I can think of to prepare and relax myself. This emotion is more than first day butterflies. I am lingering and tiptoeing towards the end of this letter because I don't want time to continue. In fact, I want it to go backwards.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Make U Cry Mac N Cheese

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta , cut into small cubes
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole.

Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

In a small saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter.

Bake until it's bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Please note: I would have a beautiful picture of this in a lovely blue dish but it was so good it was gobbled up immediately.
This is only one of the recipes that I found of my mother's. There were many and I just had to choose one. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cherry Blossom Intricacies

Today, the sisters (my mother's sisters) made our way around the river basin to enjoy the cherry blossoms. The sky was endlessly blue and we walked inches under a cloud of snowballs. As we made our way to the FDR memorial, Mary and Polly paused. I turned and saw them embracing. "We're having a Cici moment," Polly explained, and she put her arm around me. Cici would have so loved to be with her sisters enjoying the flowers and bright sunshine. I felt awkward yet privileged. These women knew my mother her whole life. They were sisters and nothing can compare to or replace that.

On the other hand, I am so grateful that I got to share the weekend with them. I see my mother in each of them: her prowess, her compassion, her temper, her unconditional love. They made me feel welcome. They let me talk about my mother. They made me laugh.

Standing in a sea of white petals and tourists, I imagined what my mom would be doing. She would have pulled a branch to her nose and taken in the scent. Putting the flowers to pursed lips as if to kiss it, she would have proposed, "How can someone not believe in a higher power? Look at this craftsmanship." Holding out the flower for me to examine, she'd continue, "Somebody had to design those intricacies."