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!

Hey, Hey, It’s My Birthday

37

It’s the normal human body temperature…in Celsius

It’s the number of plays written by William Shakespeare

It’s the number of weeks Michael Jackson’s album, Thriller, spent at #1 (coincidentally, also the first album I ever owned)

It’s the number of vertebrae of a Tyrannosaurus Rex

It’s the most commonly chosen number between 1-100

If you choose any single digit (1-9) and write it out three times. Say 3. 333, then add the sum of those numbers 3+3+3=9 and take the three digit number 333 and divide by the sum 9 and you get 37. Works for any single digit number.

It’s the age deemed officially too old to work for the FBI (and Homeland Security, and Treasury and the CIA)

It’s the year Amelia Earhart disappeared (1937)

Richard Nixon was the 37th president

Rubidium is the 37th element on the periodic table

It’s the television channel reserved for radio astronomy

In roman numerals it is XXXVII

It is also my age for the next 365 days. Now that my future no longer contains the option of becoming a profiler and working for Hotch, I shall strive to find a way to go on. But so far, 37 hasn’t treated me too poorly. I got a call from about 20 8-year-olds (and one 37-year-old) who sang me happy birthday. It’s not really your birthday until you hear all those tiny voices singing confidently….until they reach your name! But it was a terrific way to start my morning.

In the manner of technicalities, I’m not actually 37 until 5:00pm today. At that exact time, my mother and I will be watching a movie, it starts precisely at 5:00pm. And no birthday of mine is complete without a handsome man, which is why I chose London has Fallen with Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. (Okay, that was mostly because there is nothing else out I’d want to see but I do want popcorn on my birthday). Of course, my favorite handsome man, Christian Kane, has been singing to me since I woke up this morning. Literally my fave CK playlist has been on repeat, nothing better than hearing his voice on my day.

Lastly, I’m treating myself to Jimmy Johns for lunch today. Seems a good way to celebrate. I’m also leaving work early, another good way to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to me, and thank you to all of you who reached out to me on this day.

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(gratuitous photo, just because it makes me happy and it’s my day. Also, this was now FIVE years ago)

Mom’s 60th Bash

Not much of a bash, as we were all gearing up for surgery, but we managed to sneak in some fun. Just sharing some of the amazing photos.

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Reading the card with Grandma

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I couldn’t love this any more. Simon was taking photos and he took this.

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And this is one of my new all-time faves. Uncle Chad is beloved by the kids, but this? This is too cute. Someone will be getting this for a birthday gift.

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Like I said, Simon was taking photos.

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Uncle Nick stopped by for a visit. He’s pretty fond of Cam.

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And this, he’s playing dead on her lap and she’s just letting him. Then he’ll get bored or she’ll say, “Simon, you’re too heavy” and he’ll move. They are so funny together.

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Now Arionna has the camera and Simon darted away, he was playing my guitar next to me on the couch but wouldn’t be in the picture.

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And lastly, Grandma with her Grandsons. How darling and perfect. And they were tired, this was the end of the night.

It was a lovely family day and I hope Mom enjoyed it as much as I did.

The Second Year of Cam

I honestly don’t think I ever blogged his first birthday. It’s cool. But I wanted, not to recap the whole Curious George party, but just to post a couple of the photos, to remember.

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Big sister, and Cousin Layla

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A smattering of guests

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A birthday party? And so no one will yell at us or tell us to stop banging on the piano!?!

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Family unwrapping station

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He started to cry when they took the cake away to cut it. I really think he thought it was all for him!.

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Oh, much happier now. And who needs cake AND pudding?

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Last, but not least, my darling little nephew, all happy to be 2 and delighted by Curious George. Happy Birthday, Cam, Auntie Livi loves you bunches and bunches!

Best Mom Ever Turns 60

Happiest of happy birthdays to my favorite mom.

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Today, she turns 60 years wise. Without even trying I could name 60 reasons I love her. Or 60 things she’s taught me. Or tell you 60 wonderful stories about her. But I don’t need to, because at the end of the day, it all comes down to one simple thing.

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She. Is. The. Very. Best.

 

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.

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.