Memory Lane

Party Like It's . . . 1979!!!

We usually do . . . something . . . to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Sometimes parties.  Sometimes just staying home.  Usually going out for dinner.  (That's our recent MO:  a special dinner with friends at Food Dance - one of our favorite Kalamazoo restaurants.)  Whatever we do . . . we always watch the ball drop and count down to the new year together.  

Nice . . . in that kind of quiet and predictable way.

But.  It wasn't always like that!

Let's just send the clock back to . . . 1979 . . . shall we?  Back when this guy (looking a bit Luke Skywalker-ish) and this girl (with her Farrah-'do and oh-my-god-painter's pants) were A Thing.

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Yep.  Tom and I were reunited for Christmas break (he was a senior at Boise State University; I was a junior at the University of Wyoming) -- and we were headed off to San Francisco for the New Year.

Because . . .  why not?  

A friend of ours - Steve - was headed to San Franciso for a medical school interview.  And he needed driving help.  (Isn't this how many adventures happen???)  Tom and I and another friend - Dave - were only too happy to oblige.  It became our most memorable New Year's Eve ever.  

We drove through the night, made a stop in Reno (where the boys all had fun gambling and I got kicked out of every casino we visited -- because they were all 21 - but I was not), and ended up in San Francisco.

While Steve interviewed, Tom and Dave and I took in the city. 

We visited Golden Gate Park (in the fog).

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We climbed Coit Tower and enjoyed its exquisite views.

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And this land-locked Illinois-to-Wyoming girl saw the ocean for the first time in her life.  

This is Seal Rock -- (where we actually did see seals).

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And we spent some time on Baker Beach.*  (The waves kind of freaked me out -- because it was cold and I didn't want my shoes to get wet.)

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And then - best of all - we celebrated New Year's Eve with the crowds (throngs) on the streets of San Francisco.  

It was SO AWESOME -- and so adventurous -- to welcome 1980 this way.

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I'll never forget . . . me and the boys . . . on the streets of San Francisco.  No other New Year's Eve party or gathering will really compare.

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*How do I remember - after 37 years - exactly where we were in San Francisco on that trip?  Why . . . because I made sweet little notes on the back of each trip photo.

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This post is part of Think-Write-Thursday.  Be sure to read other New Year's Eve stories here, and sign up for the weekly prompts here.

 


Cheers

When I was a little girl, my mom took a ceramics class.  I was thrilled when she made this for me:

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A snowman mug . . . with a candy cane handle.

Oh, man.  I remember that milk tasted so much BETTER out of this mug!  (And hot chocolate with marshmallows?  Oh, yeah.  The BEST.)

Of course, my mom made one for my sister, too.  And, being a wise, thinking-ahead kind of mother, she painted our initials in the candy cane handle, so we could make sure which mug belonged to which sister.

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This year, I dug my mug out of the back of my cupboard.  I stuck a bunch of candy canes in it -- and I put it on my desk.  Right there - where I can see it every day.  It reminds me of the excitement and magic I felt as a child at Christmastime.

We're in the countdown week now; the Big Day is almost here.  I hope you all have a chance to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember the special-ness of the season.  Cheers!


Jiving Us That We Were VooDoo

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.  I felt very puny as a human.  I thought, fuck that - I want to be superhuman."                                                                                                                         ----- David Bowie

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Like many of you, I was shocked and sad yesterday . . . when I turned on my computer and learned that David Bowie had died.  He was such a vibrant part of the music and culture of my growing-up years, and I feel so very grateful to have "come of age" in the time of David Bowie.  (While my parents didn't "get" the Beatles . . . they REALLY didn't "get" David Bowie!

This week, Carole has us talking about our Ten Favorite David Bowie Songs.  I imagine the lists will be quite similar -- with a few surprises here and there.  

 

Mine . . . 

1 - Space Oddity - Ground control to Major Tom!  When your husband's name is Tom . . . and he's a bit of a head-in-the-clouds scientist . . . Well.  You just gotta love this one.

2 - Changes - This song was my introduction to David Bowie -- back in 7th grade.  I loved it then; I love it now.

3 - Ziggy Stardust - In 8th grade I knew all the words to this one -- which I sang at the top of my lungs with my swim team pals.  (And you know which lyrics we sang the loudest, don't you?)

4 - Suffragette City - Another big favorite among my swim team pals!  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!

5 - Young Americans - David Bowie's Young Americans album defined my junior year in high school.  I can remember driving "the strip" on Friday nights with my friends, singing this song.  Loudly.  And with David Bowie-worthy theatrics.

6 - Fame - Oh, yes.  (See Young Americans, above.)

7 - Golden Years - This song came out slightly later in my junior year of high school.  I remember we loved the distinctive beat.  (David Bowie was very intertwined with my high school years.)

 

8 - Under Pressure -  Okay.  So, technically, this is a Queen song (and, truth be told, I've always thought of it as a Queen song), but I'm including it anyway.  I always loved this one - and it has the double-bonus of reminding me of Brian's high school hockey games -- because it was a staple of the hockey arena soundtrack during tense moments.

9 - Modern Love - Okay.  So I kind of loved the 80s.  This one reminds me of Tom's grad school years and early M-TV.

10 - Let's Dance - Put on your red shoes and dance the blues!  Oh, yeah baby.  

 

Now Ziggy played guitar. . . 

How about YOU?  What are your favorite David Bowie songs?

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Join the fun.  Read what other bloggers have to say here.

 

 

 


A Bit of Pomp and a Whole Lot of Circumstance

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When it comes to graduations, I've been through a few.  You could say . . . I have a lot of commencement-experience.

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This picture-of-some-pictures (because scanner not feeling cooperative today) . . . shows a couple of early graduations:  Tom's college graduation, undergraduate from Boise State University . . . and mine, undergraduate #2, from University of Texas at Austin.  (Hook 'em!

I don't remember much about either of those ceremonies.  Except that they were long.  (Really long.)

I don't remember any of the speeches we heard that day, either.  (I do, however, remember that at Erin's graduation - four years ago - there was talk about some sort of acorn, or maybe it was a walnut, taking root and growing into a tree.  And I also remember that at Brian's graduation - last year - the speech started strong, but went on and on and on for far too long.  There was one "theme word" that the speaker used over and over and over.  I can't remember it anymore -- I have purged it from my mind.)

This week, Carole asks us what you would say if giving a commencement address.  Me?  Well, first, I'd keep it super brief.  Then, I'd say . . . 

  1. Congratulations on this most wonderful of accomplishments.
  2. As you move out into the world, you can apply the lessons you learned in college nearly everywhere you go:  read the syllabus, pay attention to deadlines, figure out how to prioritize, and show up.
  3. (Drinking games and college songs will also serve you well in the non-academic world.)
  4. "Graduation" is not the end of anything; it is the "commencement" of the next phase of your life.  The next phases won't be as neatly mapped out as your course requirements for graduation were, though, so you'll just have to wing it.
  5. Speaking of wings . . . be sure to spread them!
  6. Try new things.
  7. Make mistakes.
  8. Learn from those mistakes.
  9. Live big!
  10. And don't forget to thank the people who got you this far.

How about YOU?  What would you say if you were giving a commencement address?

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As I was looking through old photos of graduations yesterday, I spied this little box that I keep up in my bedroom.  (That's my high school graduation tassle there on top.  I keep it in the little box, along with other little mementoes of earlier times.)

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When I graduated from high school, the local furniture store (Grier Furniture in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming) gave each girl graduate a mini cedar chest just like mine.  I think that used to be a Thing.  Anyone else get one of these from their local furniture store?

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Christmases Long Long Ago: Dear Santa

Not long ago, as I was going through some files, I found this . . . 

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Erin's letter to Santa dated December 2, 1995!  Erin was in first grade that Christmas -- missing her front teeth and everything.

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Lucky Girlie!  Santa delivered -- and Erin found Kirsten under the tree on Christmas morning. 
(And, really . . . how could he resist, since she "bin good" and all???)


Blog Anniversary Quiz Bowl #2

First . . . (drum roll, please!) . . . CONGRATULATIONS to last week's randomly-selected Quiz Bowl Winner . . . BONNY!!!  An exciting prize package will be headed your way soon, Bonny!

And now . . . on to Quiz Bowl #2!

During May, I'm celebrating my fifth anniversary of blogging!  Each Friday, I will provide a Blog Quiz. Answer the questions for a chance to win a prize!  (A random winner will be chosen every week -- PLUS a Grand Prize Winner at the end of the month.)  All answers have been provided, at some point, here on the blog.

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(One of the most fun aspects of celebrating my blog-anniversary is looking through photos from 5 years ago!  Here I am . . . taking a game of skee-ball very, very seriously!  It was May 2009 -- and Tom and I were at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio with Brian and our foreign exchange student, Dominik.  Bonus points if you can tell me where Dominik was from . . . and why I might be pretty good at skee-ball.)

Here are the questions for Week 2:

  1. Where was I born?  (City and state)
  2. How long have Tom and I been married?
  3. Who was my home ec teacher, and what was her motto?
  4. Name the bloggers I have met in real life.  (Hint:  There are 4.)

Just leave your answers in the comments section.  (All correct answers will be eligible for the prize drawing.  If you answer the bonus questions, your name will be entered in the week's drawing twice!)

Happy Friday!

 


Throwback Thursday: Wheels Turnin' Round and Round

When I first started blogging . . . back in May 2009 . . .

Erin had just finished her sophomore year in college.  She had spent time studying in London, she thought she might go to law school, and was just beginning a summer internship in a law office.  She was still studying voice and piano, and hadn't yet met Keith.  College graduation still seemed a long way off.

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Erin . . . then

Brian was just finishing his junior year in high school.  He was sad because most of his friends were graduating and he was feeling left behind.  He was busy with hockey and a job at Little Caesars Pizza and his then-girlfriend.  The college visiting and application process was just beginning.  And, really, he'd rather not have to think about it all.

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Brian . . . then

Who could've known then . . . where they'd end up five years later!  Erin . . . with a Masters degree and a full-time editorial position in Pittsburgh.  Brian . . . finished with college (hurray!) and about to start a full-time lab internship with MSU.  (AND the rock star thing.  It could happen!)

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Erin and Brian . . . now

Wheels turnin' round and round!

Just for fun. . . Today's soundtrack is brought to you by Miss Erin, herself!  (Back at her final piano recital in 2007.  Her piano instructor mixed traditional piano with "fun" and chose to highlight his graduating seniors in a big way!)

 


Life Lessons from the Master

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As most of you know, I have a really wonderful relationship with my Mom.  She's my Mom, sure . . . but we're also really great friends.  And, really, we always have been.

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It's been fun to think about today's topic -- 10 Things My Mom Taught Me -- because, when it comes right down to it, my Mom pretty much taught me everything I know today.  Seriously.  When I reflect on who I am now - as a functional grown up - it really all boils down to things my Mom taught me!  She is, truly, the Master Mom.

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10 Things My Mom Taught Me:

  1. To Read - My Mom likes to say that "Kym taught herself to read."  But that isn't true.  Sure, I went off to school, already knowing how to read.  (That part is true.)  But it's only because my Mom read to me all the time.  She took me to the library.  We made "word scrapbooks."  We read and read and read.  
  2. To Knit - My Mom used to knit a lot when I was a little girl.  I still have a little red cardigan with cables that she knit for me in elementary school, and she used to be the master of ripple afghans!  (I wish I still had one of those. . .)  She taught me the basics:  casting on, garter stitch, purl stitch.  I worked . . . s-l-o-w-l-y . . . on a garter stitch scarf.  It ultimately became a doll blanket because I sort of lost my scarf mojo.
  3. To Drive - My Dad was charged with teaching me to drive.  But that didn't work out.  At all.  (He didn't have the patience for a temperamental and rather testy teen-age daughter. . .)  So my Mom did it.  We drove for miles and miles and miles along the backroads of Wyoming (and trust me - it's all backroads in Wyoming!)  and had a lot of fun together.  
  4. To Cook - My Mom used to have me start dinner every night after she had gone back to work when I was in junior high.  I learned a lot about timing, following instructions, and . . . to make sure to "stab" the potatoes before placing them in the oven!
  5. To Love flowers - One of my most lovely early-gardening memories is sitting with my Mom as we weeded the small strip of flower garden along the side of my childhood house.  My Mom showed me how to collect dry seeds - from four-o'clocks and moss roses - and save them in envelopes.  I'm pretty sure this is why I garden today!
  6. To Reconcile my checkbook - When I was in high school and had a job, my Mom helped me open a checking account.  She taught me how to reconcile my checkbook and I have been forever grateful.
  7. To be active (and STAY active) - My Mom was active as a girl -- she danced and swam and skated and curled (!).  She is still active today -- she lap-swims and does weight-training and even Zumbas now and again.  She made sure I had opportunities for activities and sports as a child, and she's a great role model for a lifetime of keeping active and busy. 
  8. That a little bit of "silly" goes a long way - My Mom has a great sense of humor -- and we have laughed our way through nearly every thing we do.  Truly.  We can laugh at anything!
  9. To always do the right thing - My Mom is a model in decorum and good manners.  She taught me to do-what-you-say-you're-going-to-do, be on time for work, only take a sick day when you need a sick day, pay your bills on time, return messages, if you take on a leadership role then follow through with the leadership role (but run like hell from the PTA Presidency!), write thank you notes, and be kind to everyone.
  10. To love your children no matter what ... and to stay outta their shit! - My Mom is the Poster Child for Unconditional Love.  And she really has never interfered with my life.  I am so fortunate.  (And, really, so are my kids.  Because I learned at the feet of the Master.)

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How about YOU?  What did you learn from your Mom?  

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 Join the fun!  Read other Ten on Tuesday posts here, or sign up for weekly prompts here.  


Blog Anniversary Quiz Bowl #1

During May, I'm celebrating my fifth anniversary of blogging!  Each Friday, I will provide a Blog Quiz. Answer the questions for a chance to win a prize!  (A winner chosen every week -- PLUS a Grand Prize Winner at the end of the month.)  All answers have been provided, at some point, here on the blog.

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Here are the questions for Week 1:

  1. What was the name of our family dog BEFORE Jenny?
  2. What is my most-dreaded food?
  3. What kind of car do I drive?  

Just leave your answers in the comments section.  (All correct answers will be eligible for the prize drawing.)

Happy Friday!

 


Throwback Thursday: The Beginning (or Getting REAL)

Five years ago . . . at the very end of May 2009 . . . I posted my very first blog post.

I was really kind of nervous about it.  I had a hard time explaining why I was even doing it.  And I didn't tell anyone about it, really.  No one I knew in real-time, that is.

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(Me.  May 2009.)

When I was finished with my chemo treatments and was beginning to process what it meant to "be a survivor" I had this incredibly strong desire to . . . become REAL again.  For me, having cancer sort of canceled out my "real life" and gave me this "other life" -- the life of a sick person.  (I had a bit of an identity crisis during chemo.  Who WAS this person who had cancer and was going through chemo?  Because . . . it sure as hell wasn't ME.)

In the months immediately following the end of treatment, I had some reflective work to do . . . to figure out who I was and how I wanted to live the rest of my life -- going forward.  One book was particularly helpful to me -- Picking Up the Pieces:  Moving Forward After Surviving Cancer.  (I still pick it up once in a while.)  Anyway, the book has some wonderful exercises and examples to help lost souls figure out . . . What now?  What next?

Somehow, out of the reading and the reflecting and a whole lot of journaling, I decided that I wanted to have a blog.  I felt a strong pull to tell my story . . . and, in the process, help me become REAL again.

I never dreamed I'd still be blogging 5 years later.  I never thought anyone else would read my blog.  Or make a comment.  Or reach out to me in any way.  (Or, heaven forbid, invite me to meet them!) 

And yet. . .

And yet. . .

Here I am.  Five years later!

Astoundingly . . . celebrating 5 years of blogging.

Please join me here throughout May -- in a month-long 5-year-blog-anniversary celebration!  On Thursdays (starting next week), I'll share a then-and-now 5 year retrospective (a little nod to Throwback Thursdays), and on Fridays, I'll give you a little blog quiz.  Answer the questions, and you'll be entered in my blog-anniversary-contest!  (One winner each week, with one Grand Prize Winner at the end of it all.)

AND . . . because I'm very near that major "comment milestone" of 10,000 comments, there will be a bonus prize for the 10,000th comment!  (This may take awhile; I'm just short of 9,500 now.)

So.  Thanks for visiting.  Thanks for commenting.  Thanks for reaching out.  

But, mostly?  Thanks for making me REAL again!

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(But, wait!  There's more!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!

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(And, more!)

Here is the stubborn photo from yesterday . . .  of my Alabama Chanin progress!

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