The start of this post will be sort of redundant if you read the caption to today’s photo, but I woke up today feeling like it was my birthday. My actual birthday passed two and a half weeks ago largely without sentiment. In fact, I can recall two feelings from my birthday: that of road rage, and that of being impossibly full during dinner but needing to soldier on so I could consume peanut butter crème brûlée. (Always and forever: Priorities.) But as with most birthdays, I didn’t do a lot of reflecting on the past year, thinking about what it means to be a year older, or any of that. But this morning, I felt all those things. I thought, if I had only known what this year was going to bring back in September 2013, I might have curled into a ball and wished for time to stop right then. Or thanked my lucky stars. Or been incredibly excited. Or proud. Or terrified.
Here are just a few of the ups and downs of this year:
– After living out the last several years as Aunt Mo (or Aunt Fancy, or sometimes just Aunt Melissa) to so many of my friends’ kids, I’m going to be an aunt for real in a few months. My brother is finally fulfilling the end of the 1995-era contract he endorsed promising to name his firstborn son Judy. (He does not think this is funny AT ALL. In fact, he gender-revealed to me by telling me there was a piece of paper in my possession that meant he was moments away from setting my room on fire. But it is! It is funny. Think of all his little monogrammed Judy outfits!) So, you know, if we can ever stop arguing about what the child’s legal name should be, that will certainly be a blessed event.
– My best friend got engaged, which means 2015 will be a bridesmaid year as well as a “first time to visit Michigan not counting Terminal B at the Detroit airport” year, both of which are positive things. No word yet on whether she’s willing to let me fulfill another ancient agreement made only partially in jest: I believe we discussed that whoever was first to get married, the other would sing a karaoke version of “Tainted Love” at the reception. Since I will be in the “singer” position, I may need to shift from Soft Cell into Rihanna’s “S.O.S.,” which…I’m sorry. I can’t deal with Rihanna in 2014 either, but “S.O.S.” is a banger.
– On a sadder note, we’re living out our last days with our beloved Colbie, whose giant back-growth unsurprisingly turned out to be cancer. She seems to be in fine shape at the moment, so we’ll just wait until she loses her enthusiasm for eating, walking, and having a terrible attitude toward virtually anyone not named “McMasters” and then let her go. Colbie came to us as Daniel’s carriage dog ten years ago back when I had just moved to Pittsburgh, and she was such an all-fired nuisance that Daniel had to beg my parents to keep her around. (She famously availed herself of a bowl of chili that Dad had left momentarily on the counter after picking all the beans out, an act that was NOT well-received.) She matured into a much calmer presence, a truly loyal and sensitive dog who gravitated toward whoever was hurting the most. Driving myself through Florida this winter, with an incredibly heavy heart for what my family was going through, I realized I loved her more than any of our other dogs. I always figured that the companions of my childhood, my grandparents’ dog Alfie and our dog Trixie, would hold the top places in my heart. But I’ve had too many times when I’ve felt low and hopeless that Colbie has forced herself into my space and willed me to get better. She is family. I will miss her so much.
– I made a big fuss about This Being the Year of My Photography Business, and then I backed off (as covered in the previous 365 post). Now my plan is for 2015 to be the year I revolutionize how people identify nature on the Internet, starting with our humble Overton Park Old Forest. But in order for me to get to do this, I have to raise north of $50,000. I am feeling oddly zen about this rather herculean task, but well-wishes and tips for wooing corporate sponsors are always appreciated!
– Things that came in strong on the positive side this year: Birds. Chattanooga. Rolf & Daughters. Tennis (the band, not the sport, #nodisrespecttoRogerFederer). “The Travel Bug with August Lindt.” The addition of Tart to the Memphis pastry scene. J-Hay All Day. U Talkin’ U2 to Me? Summer not being deathly hot. “The Americans.”
– Things that came in strong on the negative side: I bet I covered all of those in the captions. Ha.
– In the grand scheme, though, the worst thing about this year gave way to something pretty great. My mom is currently cancer-free. Free. From pancreatic cancer. Do you know how many people get to say that for even a little while? It’s such a low number that it hurts my heart for everyone in the world who has wished so hard that they could say it. I did not expect to be sitting here today while she was outside pulling up the last of the spent tomato plants, but I am. And there’s nothing in the whole world I’m more grateful for.
– Which is why, in four days, we are leaving for Paris. I have dreamed of this day for as long as I can remember, since my mom made glazed gingerbread doughnut men with raisin faces for some elementary school French unit we were doing. (If that is a traditional French dessert, I have certainly never seen it mentioned since. But I remember it was tasty!) I took seven years of French in school, and although that often amounted to Dot and I telling each other “J’ai besoin d’uriner,” it kept my interest in visiting France at a peak for a pretty long time. I intended to study abroad in college, but it came down to three more years of SEMO for a semester in France vs. three years of CBU and a distinct lack of misery. I’ve always been glad I picked CBU, but it did defer my France dream once again. There have been several other false starts along the way, but as soon as Mom got her clean scan in June, we decided to just get crazy and actually make this happen. Which means I get to fulfill ANOTHER major goal: I can actually refer to my mom as Katrine Latrine, a nickname she picked up in her own French class, IN FRANCE. While eating an absurd amount of cheese. Truly this is a great week for us.
So that’s that. And now I am off to complete my final three lessons of Rosetta Stone, because I have of course forced myself to do the entire yearlong French program in three months. I don’t know how useful it will be, but bless us, if we need a hardware store while wandering the Rue de Buci, I will be able to shout to the heavens, “S’il vous plait! Dites-moi, OÙ SE TROUVE LA QUINCAILLERIE?”
(Don’t see any images below? Click on the title of this post!)
(The first two pics in this post are repeats from last time. I kind of over-slid the bag on June’s post.)