Twenty Eight

Happy Birthday, Kelly Jo. No suspense here, this one’s for you. I started out with a grand plan to make you a video, I even got up early this morning to do it. I did several takes and finally got it right. Then as I stood up, I dropped the phone and somehow, in the picking it up, I deleted the freshly completed video. Which is how my celebration of your day started out with a giant Fuck You to the universe. Man, oh man, that made me crabby. I didn’t have time to re-record the video because I’d done more than one take to try and get it perfect.

Then I spent the entire day stewing over it, because I was annoyed my plan had failed. I had every intention of heading home tonight and doing it again, except that it is dark when I get home now and the lighting in my house is terrible and I knew it would look better in natural light.

Then it hit me. Kelly likes words. Specifically, she likes it when *I* write words for her (feels like there is more than one meaning to that sentence!) And in days gone by I used to write sonnets to our friendship or post montages of photos glorifying our BFF status and post them to my blog. I don’t use the blog much anymore, at least not for things like that.

But I could.

I did.

I am.

I’ve spent all day thinking of you. I was in a meeting this morning (that I was NOT late for, despite my tech snafu, thank you very much) at the University of MN and the woman was talking about the children’s picture book digital art collection and I thought of you and how you’d be able to use that for your art unit.

I thought about you in the parking ramp when the person in the next spot parked so close to me that I could not fit between our cars and that was the driver side. And I ended up climbing in the passenger seat and over the console and contorting my body to squeeze into my driver’s seat. And even though it pissed me off, as I drove away I thought how funny it was and wished you were there because we’d laugh about that craziness for YEARS to come.

I stopped at Subway and thought of you and how much you enjoy Subway and how much you enjoy eating out, and that time you called me on the phone to tell me that Subway started offering breakfast and it was awesome.

I drove past Peppers & Fries and thought fondly of our lunches there, with and without your children. Then I thought of all the other lunches we’ve had and how much you enjoy going out to lunch. More than anyone I know.

All day today, every little thing I do, my mind has found a way to relate it back to you. Given the two very different lives we lead, this should seem a difficult task. But it isn’t. I can connect almost anything to you. And the reason is that we’ve been friends for twenty-eight years. 28. Our friendship is old enough to vote, buy cigarettes, lose money at a casino, drink alcohol and rent a car.

The Civil War lasted four years. World War I lasted four years. World War II lasted six years. The Korean War lasted three years. The Great Depression lasted ten years.

Our friendship outlasted all of these major events….added together. We have been friends longer than it would have taken to fight in four major wars and survive the greatest economic hardship our country has endured. With a year to spare.

I’ve spoken many times on my blog about you and our friendship. I’ve listed those if you wish to reread my words about you.

25 Birthdays

35/35

Lent Letter

Brecken’s Ultrasound

The Wonder (I think this is my all-time favorite Kelly post)

Chicago Trip (Although this is a close contender, still makes me LOL, literally)

The Right Stuff

33

First Sleepover

One of these posts contains a different list of posts about Kelly (there are a LOT to choose from) and in that one I put four and mention specifically that I stop at four just for Kelly. In this one I stopped at nine. It killed me to do it, but I did. Only nine lovable posts about my BFF. Because she likes lists that don’t conform. It’s me who doesn’t.

But here’s the crux of the thing. I love you, Kelly Jo. I’ve been loving you forever since 1989 and fully plan on that being the case forever. It’s a remarkable thing to know someone that long. Outside of blood relatives, there is no one I’ve known longer, and I know it is the same for you.

When we met, we didn’t have boobs. We didn’t shave our legs, we’d never gotten our first periods. We’d never kissed a boy. Our lives were small and sweet and innocent, as a child’s should be. The size of the world has grown immeasurably since we met, but it is in keeping with our friendship. More succinctly, the older we get, the better friends we become.

I know this is your first birthday since losing your dad and I know how hard that has been, and still is, on you. I think of you every day hoping, praying, that today will be a better day than yesterday. Also, I think of him, his warmth and his laughter and how very, very, very much he loved you. He is responsible for us, he moved you from Woodbury to St. Paul, and if he hadn’t done that, in 1989, you and I would never have met, never become friends, and what an immense loss that would have been. Nearly as awful as losing your dad. I hope that brings you comfort. Of all the things he’s given you, and Heaven knows that is a lot of things, he helped give you my friendship. And I’m still here, always.

Sometimes, Kel, sometimes it is hard to write to you because there is literally nothing I don’t say to you. I love that about us, our openness, even on the rare occasions that we fight, we always communicate our every thought. So many times I’ve set pen to paper (okay, fine, fingers to keyboard, but whatever, pen to paper is more poetic, and alliterative) to talk about you, about friendship and about how incredible it is that we are still forever friends.

Or BFF. As you like to say.

You are never far from my thoughts, and today, well, you are my favorite thought.

Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy birthday.

39 happys. Really. Count them.

Love you always, BFF.

kel

P.S. even though I never specifically mention NKOTB, I do reference them in the post. And because it felt weird to write to you, on your birthday and NOT mention them, I felt compelled to at this postscript to point that out, thus sneaking in a mention of your favorite band. I’m clever like that. Happy Birthday #1 Fan!

Long Live Livlife

My friend Elena recently had someone reach out to her on Facebook. As most of you know, I don’t do FB. But this person, Katie, reached out to Elena asking for my contact info because they wanted to send a yearbook.

Um, what?

Elena asked me and I asked who this person was. You see, I don’t really remember high school. But Elena does. So I figured she would know who this was and if it was worth sending along my contact info. She said, “I think she went to HS with us.” Well that’s strange. If Elena doesn’t remember her, then who is this person? More importantly, how does this person know that Elena and I are friends?

So I gave Elena permission to pass along my contact info, but not my regular email, my junk email, the one I use to sign up for stuff, and, apparently, pass along to people I may or may not know from Elena’s FB page. Obviously, I was curious. Then, Elena emailed me, “there is more to this story.” GAH! Tell me. Tell me NOW. She said she’d tell me in person, fortunately, we were seeing each other last night.

We went to a concert and Elena slipped in just as the lights were dimming, so there was no time to talk. After the show, after hours of waiting, she gave me this.

Katie Whatsherface reached out to me on FB about a yearbook. Apparently, she learned that you had died and wanted to send a copy of the yearbook to your family.

WHATTHEEVERLOVINGWHAT?!?!?

I’m not dead.

I’m really not. This is not a ghostly memoir. I’m a real, live girl, who reads a lot of books.

Now, of course, I have so many questions, so.many.questions, and I am just waiting to see if Katie Whatsherface reaches out. She’s had my email for two days and I’ve heard jack, with a side of squat. I’m wondering if she’ll even bother now that Elena confirmed that I am, indeed, still among the living.

Also, if I were dead, why would my family want my high school yearbook. Which is especially weird because I have a high school yearbook. One from every year (which I plan to use to look up Katie Whatsherface tonight, I forgot last night after hearing the story.) Junior high as well. And one from sixth grade. All on my bookshelves. So if my family wants them they are free for the taking when they clear out my house.

So odd. So, so, SO odd.

But I am here to state, firmly, that despite the fact that I am not a member of the Facebook community, I am, as a matter of certainty, alive and kicking. (I even just did an air kick just to prove it.)

I am alive.

Long Live Livlife.

Keeps on Giving

If you know me personally, you know I’ve been sick. Since Thanksgiving. That’s a long, long, time of being sick. It was dragging my ass through my December teaching, feeling poor for the holidays, not being productive because I haven’t felt right. It’s been tough. I powered through and still did things, including all my holiday celebrations, but I wasn’t my usual sparkling self. People kept saying to me, go to the doctor. But I don’t. I’m not a doctor person. And a cold is viral, there isn’t anything a doctor can do. But it wouldn’t quit, it wouldn’t go away.

2014 ended rough for me, my mom being so sick and having surgery, then me getting sick, then my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and Kelly found out she needed surgery, and Mindy learned her collapsed lung will always be partially collapsed, and suddenly I blinked and went from August to December.

When the new year hit, I was actually relieved. I felt like things would have to start trending upward. And they have, sort of. Kelly had her surgery and while it didn’t go perfect, she is recovering and will be fine. My aunt had surgery to help with her cancer and it went very well. Now we have to hope this is the start of a healing process for her. My mom is scheduled to have her reattachment surgery in February, earlier than expected, so this is great news.

But I’m still sick. My ribs have been sore for a while now from all this coughing. Then Saturday hit and things went sideways. I got a flat tire on my car. I’m blessed that my dad took care of it for me, even though it still cost me $120. Then I coughed so hard my back spasmed and I couldn’t move. But luckily my sister had pain medication to help me get through. We finally saw my nephew Simon for Christmas and got to spend some much needed time with him. Sunday I wasn’t really feeling better. And my house was a disaster. Literally a mess in every room and I still hadn’t taken down my Christmas decor. The tree, yes, but not the decorations. But I was in such pain I couldn’t move. I called in sick to work for Monday and then I was sitting in my chair in my living room and I started crying. I was in pain, feeling poorly, and feeling overwhelmed. Everything just got to me, all at once.

Finally, I took a deep breath (which hurt) and starting talking to myself. Out loud, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear the words. I told myself it was okay, there really weren’t that many problems, and the mess was something I could easily fix once I felt better. I reminded myself that while this was a thing, I’m generally healthy, I have a good job, a good family, wonderful friends, and while we have had our share of problems, we are all still here. (Side note to mention this has been on my mind often because when my mom was sick, I worried she might die and it scared me, and with all the health scares for my loved ones…then Kelly just learned that a close friend of hers, her husband unexpectedly died at the age of 43. I know it can happen so it has been on my mind.) But the people I love are still here.

Monday, after another night of barely sleeping, I called to get a doctor’s appointment. Of course, I couldn’t get in for a week. So I looked up urgent care and they opened at 1:00pm. I got ready and headed over and was there at the stroke of 1. I got right in and had an exam, where I learned I am actually much sicker than I realized. I have a sinus infection and bronchitis. Far more than just a cold. It started as a cold, but developed into these other things at some point. I also have sprained my ribs from coughing. Fortunately, I have not fractured my ribs, so that is a bright spot. I got medication (though it took me 90 minutes at the pharmacy, grrr) and headed home to my messy, messy house to recover. I took my pills on Monday and they knocked me out. Asleep before 9pm. I woke up once during the night, took another dose and slept until 10 am Tuesday morning. Luckily I had already told my boss I wasn’t coming in on Tuesday.

I relaxed and recovered for most of Tuesday. I read a new book. It felt good, I haven’t felt like reading at all since I’ve been sick. I actually forced myself to read a few books in December, but otherwise, no interest. Then, about 7pm last night, I felt like myself. Not completely recovered, but better. So I got up and tackled my house. I put all my Christmas stuff away. I broke down the boxes in the corner that had been taunting me since Christmas. I gave homes to all my new Christmas gifts. I organized a cupboard in my kitchen that needed it. I did my dishes. I handwashed several items that wouldn’t fit. I cleaned my counters off completely. I ran three loads of laundry. I got everything back in order.

When I went to bed last night, I slept, deeply, soundly, and dreamlessly, for the first time in weeks. I finally felt as though I had turned the corner. I was up this morning to my clean house, ready to tackle the day and head back in to work. I hopped out of the shower, dried off, and used the toilet, then headed into the bedroom to dress. Suddenly I heard a sound I shouldn’t have been hearing. Running water. Did I not turn the shower off all the way? I went in to check and….stepped into a mess. My toilet was overflowing. Dirty water running everywhere. My bathroom is bordered by carpet, so I grabbed clean towels from the closet and built dams. I called my dad to find out what to do. He talked me through it and okay. I then called work to tell them I would be late and set about taking care of yet another mess. And it was a mess.

But now it isn’t. I got it fixed and cleaned up and threw in a whole load of dirty towels in the wash before I left for work. I also jumped back in the shower to rinse off and wash my feet. Gross.

When all is said and done, this has been a pretty awful week for me and many people I love. Yet, here I sit, blogging, not to tell you how rotten it was, but to tell you how lucky I feel. Life will always throw messes and challenges at us and we have to learn to deal and try not to get overwhelmed by it. At the end of the day, what matters is the people we love. If you still have everyone you love and they are, healthy (mostly) and happy, then it’s all going to be just fine. And if you don’t, if you lost someone, then it’s heartbreaking and horrible, but you still have all the moments that you shared with them. You still have the memories, good and bad, because for whatever time you had, you got to love them. So I’m happy and blessed with the people I love.

I don’t do resolutions in my life, but I notice a lot of bloggers choose words to help define their year. I don’t do that either, but this year, if I had to, I’d choose love. I’d choose to be happy and blessed with all of the life in my life and let that be my focus for 2015 and every year beyond.

The Door – Part III

(If you haven’t read Part I and Part II, you should do so first, so this makes sense.)

As Malcolm held open the door, Olivia once again stepped inside the house. It delivered the same sense as when she walked through a few moments earlier. Wrong. It was her house, the bones of it were familiar, but everything else was wrong. The colors, the sounds, the scents, it was as though someone had overlaid a different house over her brain’s knowledge. Everything felt familiar and strange, all at once.

The step forward brought her foot down on the paper bag. The mess. She glanced down and then flushed with something, shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, it was hard to tell. Her emotions were all jumbled from the bizarre circumstances, but her inherent manners wouldn’t allow her to let it pass.

“I’m sorry-” she began, still looking at the mess, rather than at his face.

Before she could formulate the words to complete the apology, and offer to clean up, he cut in.

“Don’t be. Something is happening, I can’t explain. If you feel as odd about this as I do, well, let’s just agree to call it strange. The mess is the least of our concerns at the moment.” His forehead wrinkled as though he was trying hard to determine something. For just a moment, Olivia felt a tug of familiarity, again, as though she’d seen that expression on him before. The urge was there, slight though it was, to comfort or assist him in some way. It bothered her, more than the overt strangeness of her surroundings, these people, the supposed time jump. It bothered her that inside, in the place where she trusted herself most, she felt as though she knew him. There was no doubt in her mind she’d never met him before, but somehow, she knew him.

Silently, they stepped over the mess on the floor and turned toward the stairs. Olivia took a deep breath. She wanted to see what else was different about her home, the home she worked so hard to create and build, by herself, but she was also apprehensive. These next moments seemed staggeringly frightening, for what amounted to a walk up a flight of stairs. Squaring her shoulders, she took the next step.

She could feel him at her back, his presence, his size. It no longer intimidated her; realizing that, she wondered at what point she stopped being afraid of him. The situation was deeply unsettling, and strange did not begin to encompass what was happening here, but at that moment, she wasn’t afraid. It was hard to be afraid when you were, by any reasonable standards, in your own home.

Accompanied by the chatter of small children, Olivia made her way up the stairs. Ascending to the top, she paused, trying hard to take it all in. The walls were the color of sand, decorated with large framed photos of people. She caught sight of the little boy, Oliver, in several and presumed that they were family portraits gracing the walls. The arrangement came across as haphazard, but a keen eye showed they were gracefully and systematically placed to look that jumbled. The sofa was a sectional in navy blue, large and overstuffed. A flat screen tv was hung over the mantel, tuned to the evening news. There were toys on the floor and a large toy bin in the corner. A stack of books was slightly off-kilter on the corner of the coffee table, next to an oversized red mug that demanded Cheers!.

It was clearly a well-used, and much-loved home. A family home. Seeing it, taking it all in, gave Olivia a pang of nostalgia. This was how it was meant to look. Overrun with the detritus of daily life, and ready to be used, to be lived in, to embrace the users in the sights and scents of home. Breathing slowly through her nose, fighting to maintain her outward display of calm, Olivia tipped back her head. She caught sight of the crack on the vaulted ceiling. It was larger than ever before, but in the exact same spot she knew. To the left, she searched for the missing chunk of sheetrock, an accident born of moving furniture by ones self, but it was gone, probably patched before someone painted over her beloved purple stripes.

Malcolm gently cleared his throat and Olivia became aware of how long she’d been standing still at the top of the stairs, just taking it all in. Stuttering back into motion, she moved forward into the living area, refusing to glance into the kitchen where the sounds and smells indicated the woman was making dinner, as she’d said. In that moment, the changes were just too much. Seeing more might have tipped the scales from unafraid to—well, Olivia was very much afraid that ‘heap on the floor’ might be her next destination.

Unsure of what should be happening, she reached the center of the room and did a one eighty, ending up face-to-face with Malcolm.

Neither spoke.

For a long moment, they just stood there, staring at one another. She took in his height, his dark hair, oddly similar in color and texture to her own, and his overly familiar green eyes. He was handsome, this stranger, with a kindness to his face that she would bet induced strangers to strike up a conversation with him. He looked…friendly. He did not, in fact, look like a lunatic. *mental snort* As if they had a specific look. In her experience, lunatics tended to look like everyone else, that was what made them so dangerous, but they did not look like this man.

Malcolm was staring at this woman in his home. He couldn’t understand what was happening, but there wasn’t a single doubt in his mind he was talking to his long dead mother. Her always slightly-disheveled hair, was worn down, long and curly, as he remembered it. Her eyes had the same slight crinkles at the corners that gave her the appearance that she was always on the verge of laughter. In his memory, she always was on the verge of laughter, so it was fitting. As he watched her, silently, he noted her fingers worrying the hem of her sweater and his heart skipped at the familiar motion. His mom was always playing with something, as though her fingers were incapable of stillness. He remembered in a flash of montages in his mind, her tapping, picking, petting, plucking in any given situation.

This was his mom. His mom.

He cleared his throat again and decided that no matter how strange, this was his home and his family and it was up to him to speak.

“Olivia, would you like to sit down?” he managed, proud of himself for broadcasting normalcy.

She shook her head, still saying nothing, just looking at him.

A deep breath, and he spoke again, “look, I know this situation is…difficult, but I think we need to have a conversation, to maybe try and figure out what is happening here.” Mac paused. “So, um, won’t you please have a seat?”

Olivia stared at him. It was exceedingly uncomfortable to be offered a seat in your own home, compounded further by the fact that this was not her furniture and she didn’t really know where to sit. Rooms have a hierarchy, a geography, to them. Certain people will sit in certain places, the couch is more casual, do you take the armchair or the recliner? There are unwritten rules to someone else’s home, and since she was standing in her own living room, the rules were about as clear as mud. She didn’t know what to do, but he was right. She couldn’t just continue standing there, in the center of the room. She canted her head to the left, seeking the nearest chair when her eyes caught the next door.

It was the french doors leading to the four-season porch.

The left door was slightly ajar and from her angle, Olivia could just barely see inside. Something, something caught her eye. Without a word, without a glance, she moved toward that just-opened door and reached for the handle.

“Where are you going?” She was dimly aware of Malcolm calling after her as she moved toward that door, but she could not stop. Her eyes had alit upon something of hers. A piece of her life. Something that proved that this was, in fact, her home, no matter the situation. Her fingers closed around the handle and she started to open that door.

The doorbell rang.

Olivia jumped and whirled around, forgetting for a moment, what lay beyond that door.

Downstairs, outside, someone was standing at her door. Her eyes collided with Malcolm’s and frustration was stamped on his features. Once again, she felt that pang that she should comfort him in some way, and once again, it unsettled her.

A heartbeat of time as they stared at each other, then Malcolm broke first.

“I’ll get the door” he said as he started to turn.

She wanted to protest, to run to the door and answer it, to see one of her neighbors or a friend or even a salesperson who was looking for her. Anything to prove it was her house…

and then she remembered. Just on the other side of the door behind her lay that very proof.

And in that moment, Olivia and Malcolm walked in opposite directions, both headed for a new door.

***To Be Continued…***

 

(And that, my fine friends, is the end of the third installment. I never intended this to be an ongoing story, but it has turned out to be more fun than I anticipated. But mostly, I keep writing it, every November, because Kelly really likes it and it is a wonderful way to give her an annual gift. I have to take a moment and wonder how old she’ll be when I finally finish this story….)

Happy Birthday, Kelly! Hope you liked this year’s chapter.

25 Birthdays

I had a great idea for a birthday post that I began prepping weeks ago. Then life got the best of me and it didn’t come together. So I will save it for next year. That’s the nice thing about birthdays, they come around year after year. It’s also the annoying thing about aging, it happens year after year. And so, this is my backup plan.

Today is the birthday of my friend Kelly. Anyone who reads this blog knows Kelly, she is a regular here at Changelivlife. Kelly and I first met in 1989, during the 5th grade. We were 10 years old. The origins of our story are blog fodder, she says I was the first person to be nice to her, I say I complimented her fingernails. Today, I’m still nice to her and she still has great fingernails. Life doesn’t change much.

But then, we are much older. Education and family and marriage and children and jobs and homes and sadness and pain and laughter and tears and photographs and beer and so many things have happened that in many ways, everything has changed.

It is a fact of life that things change, but somehow, after 25 years, we are still friends. It boggles the mind to think that a friendship could outlast the changes it has endured, but somehow, we have defied the odds.

In 1989, the first birthday we celebrated was Kelly’s 11th. I think it was at her house on Fremont, though I could be mixing it up with other birthdays, there’ve been 25 of them in total. It was the first birthday we celebrated together. Today, we gather to celebrate her 36th. Back then, if you had asked me, I would have giggled and said we’d be so OLD then, 25 years in the future. I would have invented stories for us. Kelly would have become a teacher (even at the age of 10, she knew what she wanted to do) and I would have created a story for myself. A lawyer or a circus performer or a traveling gypsy (even today I still don’t know what I want – or perhaps I want too much) and we would have argued over which of us would be married to Jordan Knight (she can have him) or Tom Cruise (I doubt either of us would take him now) and how many children we would have.

I know that neither of us would have doubted for a moment that we’d still be friends in 25 years. Children have a blindness to them. They don’t fully grasp the mysteries of time, the savageness of life, how things can change and people can change and life can turn you inside out. Children don’t understand. They live life by faith and happiness. My friend makes me happy, therefore we will always be friends. That kind of simplistic thinking is beautiful in its way. Most of the time it is unrealistic, but beautiful nonetheless.

When I think like that, it is rather remarkable that we are still friends, after all these years. We very nearly did not make it. We lost time. But we found our way back to one another and are close once again. Today we celebrate her birthday for the 25th time since we met.

Today, I wish I could go back and tell those little girls. “Don’t ever stop believing in the power of friendship. You will see others fail. You will be challenged. Life will get hard at times. But for every hard moment is a moment of joy with a best friend that can never be replaced. Don’t ever give up on each other, you will make it. You will stay forever friends. Those jagged heart necklaces are truth. When you are older than you can imagine, you will still always be friends.”

But I can’t talk to those girls, they are long gone, just memories in our hearts. But I can talk to us today. To Kelly, to myself and I can say this.

I am so grateful for the days of our friendship. I am grateful that we survived our breakup to become stronger friends. I love that I can call you for any reason or no reason at all. I love that we are each other’s family and can count on one another no matter what comes. I am happy when I am with you and happy knowing you are in my corner when we are apart. We laugh together, we tell stories, we keep secrets, we take pictures, and we are, as we have always been, the very best of friends. I never want to forget or take us for granted. We are so lucky to have each other.

Happy birthday, Kelly. Let’s get started on the next 25 years.

The Chase

I don’t think at this point it is a surprise to anyone that I love Christian Kane. I think it’s been covered quite handily on this blog-seriously, search his name, it’s almost embarrassing, except I love him, so it’s not.

Therefore, imagine my utter happiness to receive this brand new photo of him, as a text messaging gift via my mother at 6:48pm last night.

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I know what you’re thinking. My God, he’s hot. Oh, wait, that’s what *I* was thinking. YOU were probably thinking, “why do I care what time her mom text her?”

Well, because, as it turns out, and I am assuming a bit here, my mom was on Facebook a few minutes prior, saw that photo, thought of me, and text me the photo to brighten my Tuesday night. It did, by the way.

Here’s the cool thing. At that exact same time, way across town, Kelly was getting a pedicure. She was playing online and saw a brand new photo of Christian Kane and, naturally, thought of me. She text me that photo.

Which is how, literally, within seconds of each other, they both text me a photo of Christian Kane. Here is THE VERY BEST PART.

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They aren’t the same photo!!!!!!!!

True story. At 6:48 pm last night I received two text messages. Both contained photos of Christian Kane, but they weren’t the same photo. They are obviously from the same photo shoot (I assume a promo for his new show, The Librarians,) but two different, equally awesome pics of my main man, Christian Kane.

How is this possible? I have no idea. I couldn’t believe it when they came in during the same minute. It makes it easy to love technology when things like that happen. Oh, and for the record, I do NOT hate text messaging when it contains photos of Christian Kane. Those are always welcome. Day or night. Even the same minute.

And that is the story of how my mother and Kelly were racing to be the first to send me a picture of my favorite singer….and tied. And I won. Thanks to you both! I lovelovelove them.

P.S. And while it was a fun little coincidence, this is mostly just an excuse to post pictures of Christian Kane and endlessly type Christian Kane. Remember in junior high when you had a crush on a boy and you’d write his name all over your notebook? This is kind of like that, only in the modern technology world. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. Christian Kane. See?

P.P.S Also, the title of this post, The Chase, is also a song title by, you guessed it…Christian Kane.

Green Bay and Door County

As previously mentioned…road trip to GB. In truth, I was not impressed with GB. The city was kind of lame. Not much nightlife, few tourist attractions, just kind of boring. After the Jake Owen concert, we wanted to grab some food and some beer. We were out at just before 11pm and, seriously, everything was closed. We did find this awesome sign….
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And eventually found a place open to midnight. We were the ONLY customers. We ate and got the hell out so the guy could close up and go home. It was fairly lame.

Friday morning, we got up and Elena and I headed out to Lambeau Field. It’s iconic. One of those things. Neither of us are huge football fans, but it seemed like something you should see. So off we went. Kind of a long story about bad signage, security who don’t know anything, and Lane and I ended up hopping fences and breaking in to Lambeau. Okay, we didn’t really break in, but it felt like it.
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Once we got inside and into the line, it was cool. We were going to do the tour then meet up with Nance and Ryan for lunch. Then when we got up there….turns out the tours were FULL. The next free tour was 3.5 hours away. No way. I mean, it would have been fine, but I am not waiting that long to tour a football stadium. Unless Tom Brady is giving the tour, but I doubted that was the case. So instead, we walked around and took pictures of ourselves AT the stadium. It was fine. I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, that’s good enough, right? (Probably for everyone in the world except my Aunt Kate, right Sara?)

See? I was there.

We regrouped and decided that GB was lame enough we were going to drive up to Door County. We headed north and ended up in Sturgeon Bay. We had a nice lunch and then walked all over the cute little town, ducking into different shops and just hanging out. The town was so cute. Bought a few nice gifts…then we found a wine and olive oil shop. Um, awesome? Oh yes. They had free samples of everything. Olive oil. Cheese. Snacks. Wine. You could sample any of their wines, for free. Then they had a distillery sampler. I did this. For $5 you got to sample three distilled alcohols and you got a free shot glass. Seemed more than worth it to me. I tried cherry brandy, single malt whiskey, and cherry/orange bitters. Then I mixed the bitters with the whiskey for a down and dirty manhattan. It was good. Potent. After slugging those shots, I think I was a little tipsy. Good thing I wasn’t driving.

Sturgeon Bay is proud of its heritage and there were fish (presumably sturgeon) sculptures all over this town. Finally I decided we had to have a pic of at least one, so here is Nancy and the sturgeon.

No one really had a plan, so I said, we couldn’t come all the was to GB without, you know, actually seeing Green Bay, and since Door County is an isthmus that sits between the bay and Lake Michigan, I said we should see both.

First stop….Lake Michigan.
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Of course since it is the end of July, it should be cloudy and about 68 degrees….yeah, it was cold. We were all in jackets. Crazy weather. But it was still amazing. Beautiful.

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I wanted a nice picture of all of us. Luckily Ryan has crazy long arms, so he did a nice selfie with the camera.
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On the shores of Lake Michigan.

And then Nancy grabbed my camera and took this.
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Wow! I love this so much. My new favorite photo of us.

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My toes in Lake Michigan. That one’s for Kelly.

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Please note the choppy water and crashing waves. I was wearing knee length capris, but the waves were crashing so hard it was splashing up to my thighs. I was wet by the time we left the beach.

Next stop….Green Bay.
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It was just about sunset, so we got there just in time. Note how calm the water is. The bay is protected, so the water was super calm, even though we were only about 10 miles from the Lake on the other side. Weather was the same, but the water was very different.

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These photos were taken in Egg Harbor. At the Egg Harbor Marina. Do you see those big rocks? Well, they were perfect for climbing and seeing the bay, but they also housed giant nests of oversized SPIDERS. Freaked me the fuck out. No kidding. I almost had a meltdown. Surrounded by thousands of giant spiders. Not cool. I was not enjoying this at all.

Elena finally found me a spot that was spider free. So she said. I’m guessing it wasn’t, but she said it was and I chose to believe her. There was no beach so you had to climb down the rocks to get to the water and I wanted to dip my toes into the bay.
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Notice my hand resting on the rock? I’m barely bending. Those rocks were HUGE. It was an effort to climb up and down them to get to the water, but I’ve officially dipped my toes in Green Bay, so I’m happy. And no spiders came near me.

Then, as we’re walking back, Ryan kicks a spider web. On purpose, “just to see what would happen”. Freaking boys. Of course the spiders freak out and start running madly all over the place. AT ME. I was screaming and running. Not cool, Ryan. Elena finally had to tell him to knock it off, because I was not enjoying this trip to spiderville.

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Our group shot in front of the bay.

Before we left, a woman was fishing and caught a little fish. She said what kind but I can’t remember. She told us she was going to feed it to the gulls.
So she tosses this fish on the sidewalk. This giant seagull lands and the poor fish is flopping desperately, then:

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He picked him up…and swallowed him whole. It was crazy. Impressive, even. Circle of life, I guess.
Here’s the victor, digesting his meal.
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We left spiderville and drove the hour and a halfish back to GB. At some point, I forced everyone to stop at an historical marker. I love these things. I always stop on road trips to see things you never expect. We stopped at a cool cemetery and learned that Door County has a strong Belgian population, but that was not as cool as this.

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That’s right, we literally drove halfway to Santa’s house. Take that. Incredibly awesome if you ask me. I wished it weren’t cloudy so we might have seen the North Star at a 45º angle, but alas, that’s what happens when you’re just rolling with it.

When we got back, we rapid-changed and ended up cabbing all over town, in order to end up at a karaoke bar walking distance from the hotel. Whoops.

But karaoke was the point. Elena had it on her bucket list. Somewhere in the mess of my photos, there is a video of her singing but I am not uploading it for many reasons (I can’t find it, it’s long, I need to upload it on YouTube first, I don’t have her permission) take your pick. But if you want to see it, just ask, it is on my phone.

I also got Nancy to sing, she and I did a duet of Wrong Song by Rayna James and Juliette Barnes (from the TV series Nashville). I was Rayna (the amazing Connie Britton, who I might actually like to be) and it was fun. She almost chickened out, but she had to go up. I couldn’t sing both parts. I physically dragged her on the stage. There is also a video of that somewhere. Ask Lane. And I was wearing a dress. True story.

Mostly we just drank, hung out with the locals, and made fun of Jesus. Oh, did I forget to mention that Jesus was there? A young, dark haired man, was at the bar, wearing a caftan and birkenstocks. Couldn’t have looked more like Christ…well, unless he had a beard. Maybe it’s true and he’s come back. Not sure why he’d choose karaoke at Mikey’s bar in Green Bay, WI, but who am I to judge our Lord and Savior? Which is exactly why, at the end of the night, when we were about to walk back to the hotel, when he came outside and asked me to dance, I accepted. (No one thought to take a picture, but this happened). Somehow we drifted into the road. And that is the story of how I danced in the street with Jesus Christ. Because one day I want to get into Heaven and I figure St. Peter will appreciate this story.

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Elena grabbed this gem just before we were leaving, mere minutes before my dance with Christ. (That gets funnier every time I say it).

The next day it was up and at ’em as we headed for home. We had long since planned the long route home, in order to detour past the Mouse House Cheese House. My stories about this place are always at the end of super long blogs, but oh well. That link will take you to my last visit there. This visit was similar and no less awesome. That may well be my favorite place in all Wisconsin. The food, the cheese, the fudge, the cheese. It’s heaven in Windsor, WI.

That’s a lot of religious references in this decidedly secular trip. All in all, it was a fun couple of days and good to go away.

I first started writing this post about a month ago (Ha! Exactly one month ago, August 18 is when I started this draft), and hope I didn’t forget anything essential. My life has gone a bit sideways since then, but that makes it all the more important to get this published. When I look back on the summer of 2014, I will probably think of my mom and her illness. But I don’t want to forget Elena turning 35 and our fun getaway to Green Bay.

And dancing with the Son of God.