Some People You Choose to be Family

One of the hardest parts of moving away from home is the loss of community you feel. Even if you leave home because you’d like space from your family there is a still a feeling of disconnection from the familiar. It’s disorienting. You don’t know what to reach out and hold on to when things feel tough or even who to celebrate with when you want to share a joy.

After I lived in Austin about eight or so months some of my roommates and their friends began going out to dinner every week. Soon every week we were meeting at someone’s house to decide where to eat over a beer on the front porch. Now it’s developed any further. Every Thursday one member of our little tribe cooks a full meal for whoever shows up at their front door. Sometimes it’s ten people or sixteen people or three.

This is now my family dinner. We check in with one another over big comforting meals and cold beers. Here is where everyone feels safe to be themselves and tell the sad and happy stories of their week. Here is the place where you understand what it means to choose your family.

This has become my favorite night of the week so at one “supper club” member’s suggestion I will try my best to start sharing these experiences with you.


We had a small crowd so we didn’t demolish the lasagnas but they were delicious!


Star was a nice addition to our family this Thursday!


Just a few of my favorite ladies!


These gentlemen know to host a dinner!


Another Year

Sometimes these terrible unexplainable absolute tragedies happen. Things that leave you speechless. Things that make you think, how can one family or one town experience so much suffering? How does so much get piled on one plate?

The only reason, the only rationale I can come up with for these things happening is to make us grateful for the things we do have. We take for granted so much and if the only thing we take from these tragedies is that we start to appreciate the good in our lives, then isn’t that something?

Every year, most of us struggle with our birthdays, even if it’s just a little. We think about where our lives are going, the time we’ve wasted, what we want out of life, and of course, about that big 30/40/50 or whatever we’re approaching. That’s okay. It’s important to reflect. But for me, the most important thing that I do each birthday, is be thankful. I’m thankful first for another birthday and for my health. It’s something I’ve never to deal with. My health is something I always take for granted, but I know that I am lucky to do so. I’m also thankful for my family. I complain about them, like all people do, but the truth is I have no idea what I would do without any one of them.

So it’s another year for me. I’m 27 and a day. And I have a beautiful, kind, generous family. I have a sweet, genuine boyfriend. I have a job that is making me grow as a professional and as a person. I have friends who care about whether or not I have a good birthday. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.





Best Thursday of the Year

As far as holidays go, I’m pretty easy to please. I love all holidays regardless of what they are or what they stand for. I love occasions, opportunities to sit and chat with family and friends, eat great food, be merry, etc. But there is no holiday like Thanksgiving. Its origins are of course, a little messed up. But its traditions are pretty fun. I love food. I love sitting around the table, laughing and eating, drinking and fussing over the kids. In fact, last year, I enjoyed sitting around the table so much I was eating at the pace of an old woman without teeth. I got left at the table. My whole family moved on, munchkins and mother and all, and I was forced to finish my Thanksgiving dinner alone. Sad, but it’d been like an hour. I can’t blame them.

This year is my second Thanksgiving without my family. The first was in Australia when my Canadian friend and I hosted a Thanksgiving in Perth. This involved first making sangria, commencing drinking around 2, personally reenacting the true story of Thanksgiving, and then sharing a feast with some Australian friends after their work day.  It’s probably my most memorable Thanksgiving yet. On this biggest Thursday of the year, I will also not be able to make it all the way home to the ol’ North State so my roommates and I are having a Thanksgiving Potluck. I’m hoping to start the day with a bike ride, decorating the house and drinking early. This will hopefully not get me in trouble. Nothing like not being able to make it to turkey time. And because we don’t have a TV, no one can watch football after dinner! (This may seem cruel but it’s pretty awesome.)

Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I don’t really mind not being home for it. It’s the kind of holiday that you can enjoy anywhere as long as you have good company and good food. It’s a day when we can say thanks for the good things in our life: good company, someone to love, a support system, employment, a home. This year, I’ll be saying thanks for my new home of Austin, TX, the people who have become my good friends here, a steady job, and a beau.

Welcome 2011!

It’s a brand new year ladies and gentlemen! (Ha!, like there’s multiple reading this blog.)

I rang in the new year at a party with friends and strangers alike. Keeping with my new year’s tradition (this is not my choice, simply my bad luck) of not kissing at midnight I cheers-ed my neighbors with champagne in plastic cups and felt the promise of new possibilities that 2011 could bring.

Just kidding. At midnight obviously I was drunk and headed outside to get a cigarette even though I quit smoking a couple years ago. But let’s be honest, who brings in the new year with good habits? It’s the holidays. Your family stressed you out. You ate way too much. You didn’t exercise once. And your liver is screaming, “You’re going to regret this tomorrow!!” Ssshh liver. It’s New Year’s Eve. Who cares!?

Fast forward to January 2nd. Hangover is over. Sleep deprivation is dealt with. The replaying and reenacting of all bad choices and party’s hilarious events is pretty much played out. Time to get serious.

Time to go the gym, spend more time outside, quit smoking, rid your house of junk food, and remember to call your mother. Or whatever it is you’ve “resolved” to do this year.

I personally hate New Years Resolutions the way I hate diets. It’s all done insincerely, without much determination and certainly without the dedication to see those resolutions past a couple weeks. Don’t diet, change your lifestyle. Don’t just write a resolution, mean it, want it, want to change your life. Reinvent yourself.

But alas, as happens with most fads, I end up participating in some way. And certainly the start of a new year is as good time as any to reconsider the way I live my life and question the path I’m on. What can I do to to improve my life, better my perspective, make my life more meaningful?

So here am I again, going with the grain, being a sheep and all that and writing myself not resolutions but goals.

Goals for 2011:

Write: I should be blogging or writing in some form at least 5 days a week. If I want to really get better than this is the only way.

Explore: Pick something about Austin each week to explore. This is obviously also part of the whole blogging thing but some things need to be reinforced or reminded.

Put Myself Out There: Accept invitations. Invite new friends to dinner. Find somewhere to volunteer. Join a book club. Talk to people at yoga. Keep in touch with old and new friends.

Exercise: Find more ways to be outdoor. Do more yoga. Push the limits. Bike more.

Find a gosh darn job.

What are your goals for 2011?

Thank You

Sometimes it takes a little distance to get some perspective on a situation. Maybe even a few hundred miles… or so. Nothing is ideal right now. I’m still unemployed. I don’t have many friends. I still get lost every time I drive in Austin. (What’s with all the damn highways? How many can you possibly need?) I’m subletting in a house where I cleaned dry vomit off the walls when I first moved in. That’s a new low for me.

Right now I’m in Pittsburgh at my sister’s house where when I walk outside the wind cuts right through my brand new Christmas jacket. There are small children (who I love) everywhere underfoot, wanting, not satisfied, complaining and at all the same times instantly switching from being terrors to delights with little dimples and toys galore. I sleep on a love seat sofa until 6 am when I’m moved to a new location so little children can play there.

I’m surrounded by the people I love.

And even though my back hurts from sleeping on a beautiful although not super comfortable piece of living room furniture and I am tired of watching movies rated G and discussing what different dolls might like to do today, it is wonderful and good. My mother is making us another cup of tea (one more hour and we can switch to wine) and my sister is asking me to explain her new computer to her (what is better than to feel needed?) and a sweet blond-headed little thing would like me to read her a book and sit on my lap.

Bad things do not happen in threes. I caused a small accident in a parking lot before I started home for the holidays and the stress of it keeps me up at night  but I am reminded that good people exist everywhere and that I should be thankful for every encounter I have with one of these such people.

Thank you to the man at the Apple store in Pittsburgh who replaced my phone for free and was kind and courteous.

Thank you to my mother who does not mind when I call her fifteen times a day worrying about small things I should be able to figure out on my own. And if you do mind, thanks for never saying so.

Thanks to my father who is always generous.

Thanks to my sister for still wanting to run around the house and fight like when I was little and for always rolling your eyes at Mom at the same time I do. Thanks for the little nieces who always run to meet me and throw their tiny arms around my neck and think my real name is Aunt Kacky.

And thank you to the friends around the US and around the world who always manage to stay in touch and send me unexpected reminders that I am being thought of, that I matter to someone, that I have not been forgotten.

Just a little reminder, I’m thinking of you too.