Friday, March 28, 2014

Spanish for 100: 5/17/02 - 3/28/14



We were never a very popular band. 

However, I spent a 1/4 of my life making and playing music with Ross, Corey, Chris (and Andrew and Ryan and Bob.)

the numbers:
12 years.
246 shows. 
133 venues.
600+ nights of practice. 
20k miles? 
5 records. 
1 ep. 
1 7"
4 drummers?!
500+ sets of guitar strings?
1 amazing photographer
1 van
1 bus
and way too much $ to count.

We did however get to share in an experience that few people ever get to have: the life of a small, DIY, recording and touring band. 

We did not sell 10000 cd's, in fact we probably, over the course of 12 years, only sold or gave away a thousand or two.

We did not write easy songs. 

We weren't all that angry and we weren't all that sad. 

We did however have an eye for detail, for punch, power, melody, and emotion. 

We never compromised on the song as we saw it needed to be. Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad, as not every song is a hit.

We did drive from one end of the country to the other...many many times. Why did we do this? 

We did it because it felt like the right thing to do. it was fun. we shared our music with people that liked our music and probably frustrated people that didn't.

We were always tight, unless we we got a bit sloppy in small kansas towns...because we could and because we were loved in those small kansas towns the most.

We all gave as much as we could in how we did things, how we wrote, how we worked with each other, how we drove, and how we stopped.

it was tough going sometimes. long discussions and short glances. grumpy faces and a lot of laughter.

We reached a lot of the mile markers that a small, independent band of the early 2000's needed to hit. 

We recorded records to 2" tape..with people we admired and eventually became our friends. 

We played venues that we'd always dreamed of playing and a lot that we never wanted to play again....but did anyway.

We saw more sunrises and sunsets from rest stops and truck stops than most people ever will or should.

We convinced an easy going photographer to come out on the road not once, but twice. nearly killing him each time from heat exhaustion. 

We slept in places and on floors that are lost to my memory now. it'd be cool to know if they remember us. 

We once followed a small black bear around aspen at 1 in the morning.

We ate a lot of eggs and hash browns.

In the end, i could try and summarize what this all means, but i'd most likely get it wrong or miss something.

All i can say is that when i go into the restroom of a rock club and i see all of the gnarly, sticky, old band stickers covering the wall, i know that those folks are my brothers and sisters...and i know,  in other shitty bathrooms and green rooms and back stages, there are more than a few Spanish for 100 stickers...and they'll be there for years and decades to come. And that is the only rock and roll hall of fame i ever wanted to be in anyway.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Lessons From The First Half Year Of Stella's Life

Stella's more than 6 months old now. And before she was born, I had a lot of ideas about what life with baby would look like and be like. I imagined happily breastfeeding her until she was at least a year old. I imagined co-sleeping with her and being beautifully bonded with her through co-sleeping and nursing. I imagined an ideally drug-free, natural birth, in an atmosphere that was celebratory and loving and supportive. And I imagined gently, easily shrinking back to my pre-pregnancy size over the course of a few months. I'd been in good shape before I was pregnant, and exercised regularly throughout the pregnancy. So why not? I took a metric ton of classes on breastfeeding and natural childbirth. So why shouldn't all of that work out too?

Here's the first hard lesson I had to learn: a baby in the abstract is totally different than a baby in actual real life. The actual real live Stella, after being in the ideal position for vaginal birth, flipped breech and stayed that way. She was essentially sitting cross-legged, facing my spine, the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I went to the pool every day and did somersaults and handstands to try and flip her. I did acupuncture. I used moxibustion. I had a manual version. I visualized her flipping. I asked her to flip over, and I slowly moved lights over my belly from where her head was to where I wanted her head to be. Abstract Stella would have flipped over no problem. Actual Stella stayed breech, cross-legged, and staring at my spine.

Abstract Stella latched easily and breastfed happily, bringing in a more-than-adequate supply of breastmilk. Actual Stella latched fine for a short period, but my milk supply dried up within a matter of days, and then, even after trying to breastfeed her for more than 3 months, I could never get Actual Stella to latch for very long again. As a result, Actual Stella has been fed with mostly formula and as much breastmilk as I could pump. And even in the days when I pumped 8-10 times a day, I never produced enough to take her off formula completely.

Abstract Stella wore cloth diapers and co-slept peacefully and calmly. Actual Stella rarely stayed still long enough for me to get her in a cloth diaper, and barely slept at all the first three months of her life. By then, I was so exhausted that once I realized she actually slept *better* in her own crib, I didn't know whether to laugh, sob, or collapse in a corner. I may have done all three.

Abstract post-pregnancy Jeannie started running again at around 3 months, and was back in her old clothes by about 4 months. Actual post-pregnancy Jeannie is still wearing maternity jeans more than 6 months in, and she can't remember the last time she ran.

So all of this (which, I know, sounds like a bunch of self-pitying sad violin stuff - but I swear it's not! Stay with me!) leads me to my second hard lesson....the one which I think I've had to learn my whole life. Here it is: Some is better than none. It is, for me, revolutionary. And it allows me to be kinder to myself than I've probably ever been.

Here's what I mean by "Some is better than none".  Stella was born by c-section. But everyone in the operating room supported me, and when Aaron asked everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Stella after they took her out of me, they did. It was the most celebratory, loving operating room I could imagine. Some is better than none.

Stella gets as much breastmilk as I can give her by pumping 2-3 times a day. I don't go nuts pumping constantly, I don't pump in the middle of night anymore, and I don't obsess over how much I produce. I do what I can. Some breastmilk is better than none.

I don't know when I'll run again. I don't know when I'll have the time or energy. But I do find time to go for a walk nearly every day - sometimes with Stella, sometimes during a break at work. I walk for at least 30 minutes. It's not running. But. Some exercise is better than none.

I don't lose my mind over the cluttered state of our house anymore. Instead, I spend 15-30 minutes each night doing *something* to make the house less cluttered and more pleasant. Some cleaning and organizing is better than none.

I don't co-sleep with Stella, and we don't nurse. But we sometimes take naps together on weekends, and I cuddle her and dance with her and play with her feet and sing to her and talk to her and tell her stories. And she knows me and my smell and my body, and I know hers. Some is better than none may not seem to apply here, but it does when I think about it. Some lovey bonding times, no matter what form they take, are clearly better than none.

Most of my adult life, I've been an all-or-nothing person - meaning, if I couldn't do things the way I wanted or envisioned, whether it was cleaning the whole goddamn house at once or going on a 5-mile run, I just did nothing. Things had to be right or they weren't gonna happen. Doing nothing is never an option with Stella. She always wants or needs something. And that's fine. That's great. None of the shit I wanted happened once Stella was born. And at the same time, some of the most important, most wonderful stuff that I hoped for has happened since Stella was born. And that's where I try to put my head and my heart every day, every moment. I focus on the "some" instead of the "none", if that makes sense. Sometimes I fail and just see "none" and I am fucking miserable. But sometimes I succeed, and I am pretty happy. And some success is better than no success.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Zack.



I never wanted a dog.

and surely Jeannie didn't really want a dog either? i mean..why?!


I don't like cleaning up poop, i don't like people at dog parks, i certainly don't like other dog owners at dog parks, i don't like obligations, i don't like walking dogs, i don't like dog license plates, i don't like dog hair, i don't like almost everything that goes into have a dog.


But there we were, deep in the suburbs of seattle, at a lure coursing event looking at basenji's and getting ready to meet up with a prospective dog..and not just a dog, a basenji. (For those of you not in the know, basenji's are hypoallergenic and Jeannie, being allergic to dog's, they fit the bill.)

They are also, very smart, snarky, non-barking, curly tailed, sneaky, mischievous,  and cuddly.

That day, we didn't find our dog, but we did learn about a basenji rescue organization, called BRAT. and no doubt, that title, is very appropriate....and they, thankfully, connected us with Bob.

A so...another saturday later, we find ourselves driving to federal way...another suburb to the south to meet the Bob and his whole family of basenji's. Of his litter, one basenji in particular had come back to Bob after the first family, ill equipped for the wild ways of a basenji puppy, returned him.

(Note: i still didn't want a dog.)

When we got to Bob's house...a small rushing heard of bronze and white barkless dogs surrounded us. it was overwhelming! and wonderful i must admit. and of that little herd, there was one dog that was aloof, a little indifferent, and a little curious too. he also came up and put his head on my knee.


Enter: Zack. 

Or, as he was originally known: "Morning Thunder."

(every dog in the litter was named after a type of celestial seasoning tea.)

Oh, Boy.

Here we go. 

However, we didn't take a dog that day...but we had agreed that perhaps, just perhaps, if we could try having him over for a night, perhaps THEN we could decide if we wanted a dog..and if a dog wanted us.

I will never forget Bob coming over and letting Zack loose in our apartment. With his long horse like legs he walked the boundaries of our apartment, inspecting every knook, every basket, every opening for as yet, unfound treats, napkins or bones. Those were yet to come.

After one night...we gave him back. 

Still unsure. Still not certain. Still wondering if we were ready..if we were equipped  could we do it. was he right? did we have the time? could we leave the house? what? if? maybe? 


We called bob..he response was "you guys are great! you'll do fine!"

Looks like we got a dog.

(Note: i still really didn't want a dog..but, someone...and that person would be Jeannie, really wanted a dog...and there was no way that i was going to deny her something that made her, clearly, so very happy.)

But, here i am. almost 8years later, shooting video on my phone of him as i walk my dog around the neighborhood with his front boots clomping on the side walk and his self-chewed-up orange fleece pullover flapping as he walks and weaves in and out of the grass sniffing for his next urine target. more than a few tears on this walk.

My last 8 years with him have been a personal and powerful instruction in responsibly, patience, and love. Before he came along i didn't really understand what it meant to put something ahead of your own needs. The number of weekends or evenings where Jeannie and I wanted to spontaneously take off for an overnight adventure on the coast or a trip to vancouver are countless...but so were the sleepy sunday morning where the soft curl of a living cinnamon bun warmed behind the crook of your knees as you questioned the need to ever get out from under the covers. He grounded us in all of the best ways.

No doubt...the 3am walks in winter seattle drizzle as he not-so-secretly deposited diarrhea on our neighbors lawn..and the unspoken look he and i shared when we quickly scooted back inside...those ground us all the same.

He has not been an easy dog.

He has chewed the toes out out of more smart woool socks than i can count...and Jeannie's jeans..well, i'll let her tell you about those.

His begging for food when we eat...his jumping and running around the house nipping at us when one of us leaves the house...scratches on my stomach from his claws when he stretches out across the bed in the middle of the night...all of those things, well, they're part of having a dog.


these are some of those other things that are part of having Zack as your dog...and i'm sure i'll add more as i remember them:
  • he was the fastest dog at the dog park, except when he found a sunny post, usually on higher ground, where he would sit, and just watch.
  • the sun was his closest friend
  • he sniff's stella's feet every morning
  • he responds to the phrase "where's jeannie" every time..by coming to full alert, ears up, nose out, eyes on full scan.
  • he can smell rain and will not go outside
  • to get him to come into the water at the dog park, both jeannie and i had to wade out into the lake first..and then, and only then would he tentatively walk out until the water almost touch his belly. he hated it.
  • we once thought he ate a bag of shallots...took him to the vet...they gave him charcoal to eat..he had to wear a diaper and was so drugged up that he'd walk across the floor and stop to sit every few feet to re-evaluate
  • he makes a wooof sound everytime i've been gone for more than 8 hours.
  • he has to spin around 3 times before he will sit down
  • he moves pillows to nest
  • i've had the same picture of him in a santa outfit on my phone for 5 years. even after Stella. he holds that spot.
  • he can fart like no other animal
  • he knows i'm making chicken before i've even turned on the oven
  • we've fed him more different types of food that you'd think was possible for a dog to have
  • i once took him on the ferry to orcas, and since he couldn't come in the cabin, and we were on foot, i had to hold him under my coat while he shivered the entire time. we bonded.
  • he loves jeannie more than me
  • he loves me more than jeannie
  • he'll nip at you if you pick him up when he's cuddle on the couch. best to get a treat and distract him.
  • we used to run back and forth through the house chasing each other until one of us got bored....almost always him. 
  • he chews the eyes out of his stuff toy first. always..the..eyes...first..

And then, last winter, he started to limp. limping a serious way. in way that made us notice.

Finding out that the limping in his front right leg was permanent..and that it would never get better...and that his left leg was going to go the same way as his right...that was a hard day.

But we overcame! we whipped out our credit card and bought the best orthotic three thousand dollar custom molded boots you could buy for a dog. and they helped. for a long time. and they still help, but they're not enough. he needs surgery to help correct, but not heal his legs.

And now, well now, we have a baby. a very cute and very wonderful and very magical little creature that also poops, and cuddles, and if i could get her to poop in the yard, well, i'd do that too.

So we find ourselves here...in a place where we know that Zack...Zack...Zack...needs more care than we can provide, more money than we can procure, and more attention than we can give.

He needs a new home and thankfully, we have found that new home for him, via a friend, where he will get all of the attention in the world, the care that he needs, a warm fireplace in the winter, and plenty of sunlight in the summer.


and it breaks my heart hard to love a dog so much, that i never wanted.












Sunday, November 04, 2012

get ready

we're going to restart this blog. for you. for us. for everyone.

Aaron & Jeannie

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Neighbors Make Good Neighbors

Soon after we moved into the Minty a few years ago, our next door neighbor started chatting with me. I wouldn't talk to her about anything super personal, but we definitely became buddy-buddy. I liked chatting with her, and I thought she liked chatting with me too.

Then, all of a sudden, something changed. A couple of weeks ago, she stopped talking to me. Just...stopped. Total cold shoulder standoffish ignoring me type stuff. Don't have any idea why. All I know is, it really, really bothers me. Not because she and I were on a path to become best friends or anything. But because...because I haven't been treated like this since I was in high school. I haven't had someone obviously and intentionally just, like, ignore me and be rude to me in years. I am still nice to her, and say hi every time I see her. But, I mean, what the hell? We're both adults. What kind of grown-up thinks this is a good strategy?

And - here's the real reason this bugs me so much. You know what? People like me. I'm not trying to brag here, but the majority of the people I meet get along pretty well with me. And I get along well with them too. I like to spend a lot of my time alone. So I kind of need that hit of knowing people like me regularly. And one of the ways I get it is through social interactions, like with the people who live near me. My stupid neighbor is messing with that.

This whole thing actually gave me a new perspective on this story I completed right around the same time, about a guy whose teenage daughter suddenly started avoiding him. After my neighbor started giving me the cold shoulder, I felt an extra level of empathy for the guy. And I appreciated even more what he arrived at - he can't control the way his daughter treats him, no more than I can control how my neighbor treats me. Ultimately, while I'm bummed we don't get to be buds anymore, we only became friendly because of proximity. It's not that big of a loss. My reactions to her being all rude and standoffish are really, really, really all about me and my own need to be liked. So I guess that means I get to just deal with my own silliness around all this. And that means probably not asking her what happened, and why she started ignoring me in the first place. Because if I'm honest with myself, I just want to do that so I can fix whatever and get her to like me again. I don't actually care about whatever she might be going through. I think it's probably best to just let this go, and let her do what she needs to do - even if that means she acts like a teenager. It just doesn't have to affect me. I think that's the lesson.

Stupid neighbor.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

What I'll Be Missing This Summer



The above image is a set of stairs not far from our house and our last apartment. Zack and I used to walk those steps almost every sunny day. It's one of the places that I felt belonged to us, because much of the time, we've been the only ones out walking those stairs, or the streets that connect to those stairs. For the past several years, we've lived in mainly residential neighborhoods. So when Zack and I would go on long, sprawling, exploratory walks, we'd mainly walk past houses and apartment buildings and condos. It might sound boring, but I love those walks. And Zack is an ideal companion for wandering. He does his own thing on his end of the leash, but he checks in with me regularly, sometimes by slowing down and leaning against me for pets, and sometimes just by looking around until he makes eye contact with me. Sometimes he finds a sunny spot and lets me know we need to sit in the grass and hang out for a while. Zack hates the cold and he hates rain even more, so sunny days are kind of doubly exciting. On sunny days, Zack makes it clear he wants to walk for a while. I have almost always been thrilled to oblige, even if it meant I was late for something else.

A couple days ago, I was walking by myself and came across those same stairs. And I found myself suddenly overcome with longing for my long wandering walks with Zack. That's because, over the last couple of months, we've discovered that it might be a long time before Zack can go for a long walk. In fact, he might never be able to go for a long walk again. That's because both of his front wrists are collapsing, and eventually, they will most likely collapse completely, which will make it very difficult and painful for him to walk at all. The condition is called canine carpal hyperextension. It's a condition that's not very common, but it's not entirely uncommon. It can happen because of an injury or because of a disease. (Zack's is probably from an injury.) And it's a condition that doesn't heal; it usually just gets worse.

We first started figuring out that Zack's wrists were collapsing a couple of months ago. And it's been tough. We talked about what might happen, and whether we were prepared to make the decision to put him to sleep if necessary. We also saw many, many vets, and Aa started researching canine carpal hyperextension like crazy. (I am extremely grateful to him for doing it.) During this process, we started learning about treatment options. The main one is a surgery that fuses Zack's wrist bones together. During recovery, the bones will hopefully grow together and make the ligaments and tendons that are failing irrelevant. He will lose range of motion, but he will be able to walk and do most of the other things he was able to do before the carpal hyperextension started. The surgery is has a high rate of success, but it's major enough that they can only do one leg at a time and the recovery can take 3 months. There's no guarantee his bones will heal correctly, and, of course, all surgery is risky. This is leaving aside the cost of the surgery. It's not cheap.

Our other option is for Zack to wear custom braces for the rest of his life on his two front legs. Our thinking was that the braces, coupled with regular physical therapy, could give him a lot of his active life back w/o the risks inherent in two big surgeries. There is a great animal rehab center in Shoreline, and over the past month, during our twice-weekly therapy visits, everyone there has fallen in love with Zack. So for a while, it seemed like we were on the right track. Then we got the braces.



They seem sort of crazy, don't they? But I can get them on him, and he's tolerating them for now, so we'll see how the next couple of months go. It does seem likely, though, that Zack will be getting the surgery at some point in the next year. And in the meantime, when he's not wearing the braces - he can't wear them all the time - he's still limping. His wrists are still collapsed. He doesn't seem to be in pain, which is really great. But he can only go outside to go to the bathroom - we can't let him do much else. And on the few sunny days we've had since this started, Zack's let me know that he wants to keep walking. He wants to wander with me. And I can't do it. It will hurt him if we try.

So here's the realization I had while I was looking at those stairs. We may never go on one of our long, wandering walks again, and that kind of breaks my heart. I am really, really hopeful we will again someday, though. And if these braces work out, and if the surgeries are successful, we totally could. But right now, I'm accepting that this summer cannot include the long, wandering walks that have become a kind of tradition for Zack and me. I won't feel like we own the quiet streets and beautiful overgrown weeds and secret staircases we discover and explore together. Please don't get me wrong - I am really grateful to have this little dog in my life. He's part of my family and I love him very much. I know Aa and I will do whatever we need to do to make sure he has a good life. But summer is coming, and I already miss those long, lovely walks with Zack so much.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sympathy

I have food poisoning today. I feel awful. I will never, ever, ever eat fish tacos ever again. Boo.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Well, hello again

Hi there,

There are a bunch of reasons I haven't been posting here, which I don't particularly want to get into. Well, OK. There is one specific reason that I'm more than happy to get into. I've spent a lot of time making an 8-part radio series from stories people have told live onstage at my storytelling series, A Guide To Visitors. The whole series will live here when it's done. Right now, I only have one more hour to complete; it'll air next week. Then, nearly a year of work and planning is over. I find myself feeling sad that it's almost over. I have loved going through the nearly 9 years of old stories I had recorded, and listening to each story. I have loved hearing these people's voices on the radio. So many of the people who have told stories for this project over the years have become very special to me. They're not quite friends, because we don't really hang out socially. But they have all agreed to trust me and my co-producers enough to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and tell very personal stories about themselves. I keep thinking about what an honor it is that so many people have agreed to do this with us. How kind of amazing it is that we're still doing this after 9 years - and our audiences have grown, our stable of return storytellers has grown, it's all grown. I just love that I get to do this. I don't really make any money at it. It's not my job. But I love doing it so much. I will miss making this radio series, but it's gotten me fired up to do some other things with these stories. I guess the "other things" will be what I spend my energy on in this coming year. It's good to be exhausted when your energy is being used on things you love.

Ah, and speaking of spending energy on things you love, I spent some time getting my dog into a Yoda costume this past weekend. Worth every second. (I think he would disagree.)






Monday, March 01, 2010

Paul Harvey Starkey 1922-2010

Grandpa died this morning. these are my favorite picks. Among the many great things he did in his life, he taught me my first guitar chords (C/Am/G). i learned much more than that from him of course, but that is what popped in my head this morning. a few pictures...



He grew up in rural Oklahoma and to earn extra money (and it was probably very fun) he would play pie dances. He and some other musicians would set up in someones living room or barn, they'd roll up the carpet, the ladies would bake pies, and people would dance. He could play the fiddle, the guitar or the piano. The violin was his main instrument though.



He was also trained as a fighter pilot and was stationed in the pacific during WWII. I think he spent a lot of time on the beach in hawaii for the most part. he was very lucky.



I like this picture quite a bit. it's fuzzy, it's from the 80's, i look like i'm crazy. but i remember the day very vividly. Grandma was taking the picture. I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out at their house because it was 1. fun 2. they spoiled me and 3. the house was always filled with laughter and jokes and was a very safe and easy place to be. no pressure from them to do anything other than just be. this picture represents one day out of 100's of days just like it. Whenever i needed something (whether i needed or wanted is probably debatable in retrospect...:) he always had a wallet of five dollar bills that would open up for me.

He always told me that i was his favorite grandson. i was of course, his only grandson. :)

Generous and funny and wise.

good man he was.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

What I've Learned After 6 Days (And Counting!) Of Having The Flu



(taken by Aa during Day 5)

-Didn't realize how often Aa and I yell from one room to another to communicate. Then the flu took my voice and I have had to remain silent while Aa yelled some question at me. I don't think this is some grand lesson about speaking more gently and softly. I just want my fucking voice again so I can yell back.

-My dog normally hangs close to me when I'm in the house. But I've had a fever for 6 days now, which means I'm warmer than usual. Zack loves this. He has abandoned his usual cold-weather spot next to the heating vent to stretch out, stuck to my side like glue when I'm lying on the couch or in bed (that is, all the time). He is currently lying right up against my right thigh, with his head on my leg. I used to think I'd never get tired of Zack cuddling up next to me. Wrong! I cannot wait until my body temperature returns to normal and my dog stops treating me like his own personal space heater.

-I will never get sick of macaroni and cheese or miso soup. Never, ever, ever.

-Coffee has tasted like shit since I got sick. Don't think I'm not mad about this.

-I am deeply, deeply grateful for buying a house 20 feet away from a video store. Also, big thanks to Peter Jackson for making like a 28 hour version of The Lord Of The Rings, and for making it both awesome and kind of easy to make fun of. It has made this weekend kind of enjoyable.

-Generally, movie series are good moves when sick for several days. The Bourne movies? Good, good, and good. The Ocean movies? Good, good, and phoned in. I know the X Men movies would also be good but Aa reminds me I rented those after that relay race I did in July and he needs a few more months before getting into that world again. Maybe we can watch the Terminator movies next.

-If we owned Arrested Development we probably would have saved a lot of money in DVD rental fees this week.

-Aa has been less sick than me this whole time - no fever, no crazy ass sore throat. So he's done pretty much all the work around the house to make it livable and not Convalescence / Scary Transient / Stinky, Fetid Garbage Collection Central. He's also taken care of me, and been very kind, gentle, patient, and funny. This is a lesson re-learned: I am so super lucky.

-Plain, full fat yogurt is the best thing ever on a sore throat. For real. It beats ice cream even.

-When your neighbor sees you coming back from the doctor and she asks if you're sick and you tell her you have the flu and then she recoils and makes a cross with her arms even though you're ten feet away, it's incredibly tempting to walk up to her and blow your flu breath in her face. Totally a mean thing to do. But incredibly tempting nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things I've been thinking about since my grandma died, in random order

A week and a half ago, my grandmother Genevieve Yandel passed away in her sleep at home. She was going to be 103 this December. As deaths go, hers was a good one. As lives go, I think overall hers was pretty rich. Since she passed, I've had just a mess of thoughts, memories, and realizations bouncing around in through my head. I list them here, in no particular order.

-I think I believed she'd always be around. Every time she celebrated another birthday, it lent some credence to that belief.

-My grandma made this amazing date-nut bread every year for Christmas. Only the adults received the bread as a Christmas gift. It was coveted, and it was delicious. I can remember my dad savoring that bread on Christmas morning, and my uncles partly-jokingly taking small loaves of bread away from each other every year at the family Christmas party. She baked the bread in soup cans. A couple of years into my relationship with Aa, grandma gave us a few loaves of date-nut bread as a Christmas gift. It was the first time she'd ever given me some of that bread. It felt like a huge rite of passage for me, and a recognition of my relationship with Aa. We weren't married, and several of my relatives focused on that when they saw us at Christmas. My Grandma Yandel never asked me why we weren't married yet. She just gave us date-nut bread.

-She had ten kids and 39 grandkids. My cousin Chris and his wife are expecting great-grandchild number 50. That's 99 direct descendants, so far.

-Her oldest son, my Uncle George, was apparently a bit of a tough guy back in the day. He would bring home boxes of shirts and once he brought home a bumper pool table. He actually told his younger siblings those things fell off the back of a truck.

-My grandfather, also named George, died more than 30 years ago. But he was once on a sports game show, called Around The Bases. It was all about baseball. He came in second to a young blind man whose final answer was actually incorrect, but my grandpa didn't want to point that out. He won a big ironing machine.

-All ten kids and both parents had to share one bathroom. One. Bathroom.

-There are many strangely-named businesses in the south suburbs of Chicago and the south side. These include a bar called Deja Brew, a superstore of some kind called Hobo, and two deeply depressing Chinese places: Panda Hut, and Asia China Buffet.

-I think the legacy my grandparents left is fucking amazing. Their ten kids - my dad and my aunts and uncles - are ten of the most decent people I know. I am really, really proud to be a Yandel.

-My grandma was 14 years old when the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was added to the US Constitution.

-I wish I'd asked her a ton more questions.

-Because of a piece I'm doing at work and the annual ghost stories show for AGTV, I have been thinking about ghosts and hauntings a lot. She would be just a totally delightful ghost to have around.

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Year Ago

Aaron's Vows
I vow to listen to you and really, really hear you
I vow to admit I'm wrong...sometimes
I vow to make you tea or coffee in the mornings (ADDED LATER: at least 3x per week)
I vow to help you in any way I can
I vow to always speak the truth to you, and to sometimes shut my mouth too
I vow to challenge you, and to accept your challenges in return
I vow to trust you, when I feel I can trust no one
I vow to walk the dog more than I do now, but probably less than you want
***BONUS SPONTANEOUS VOW!!!*** I vow to cook you more vegetarian food
I already love you, so I can't vow that, but I do want to tell you I love you very much, and you're my best friend too.

Jeannie's Vows
I vow to be less grumpy in the mornings, and to let it go when you're grumpy in the mornings
I vow to challenge you, even when you don't want to be challenged, and to accept your challenges
I vow to keep trying to make you laugh, and to laugh a lot with you
I vow to keep being your girlfriend
I vow to really, honestly try to like olives
I vow not to take my crappy mood out on you
I vow to always, always have your back
I love you very, very much. You're my best friend in the world.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Two Farmers' Market Transactions That Felt More Like Drug Deals

1. I'm at my sister's farmers' market with her in Lincoln. It's a Sunday afternoon and we're looking for eggs. The nice man at the health food store told us to look for a guy named Mark. "He's got a blond ponytail, a red cap, and a light t-shirt on". My sister and I walk to the end of the market and only see one guy who sort of matches that description. He's standing at a stall with two young women. His eyes are shielded by reflective sunglasses. His arms are crossed across his chest, and he's watching people walk by. His red cap has NASCAR across the front. We approach the stall.

ME AND SISTER: "Hi, do you guys sell eggs?"
GIRLS: "Uh, no. Sorry!"
ME AND SISTER (glancing over at NASCAR ponytail): "Ok. Thanks!"
[awkward pause, where neither my sister nor me makes a move to leave]
NASCAR PONYTAIL: "I sell eggs."
ME AND SISTER: "Oh, great!"
NASCAR PONYTAIL: "Follow me". (takes us to a second location across the market) "I don't advertise. Sometimes I have one dozen. Other times I have two dozen. Usually I sell out. But I never put a sign up."
SISTER (glancing at me): "OK. Um, how much for a dozen?"
NASCAR PONYTAIL: "Two-fifty. I don't always have them this late. I usually sell out. But I don't put a sign up."
SISTER (shifting Wondernephew Max to me so she can grab the eggs): "Alright. Well, thanks!"

2. I'm at a Wednesday farmers market in Seattle. Aa has asked me to pick up some raw butter from a stall where he usually buys it at a different market on Sunday. I see the stall and approach the dude behind the counter, who is not the dude we buy from on Sundays.

ME: "Hi! Do you have any butter?"
DUDE: "Uh...we're not really allowed to sell it openly. We usually call it dog food."
ME: "Oh."
[pause]
ME: "Um, do you have any dog food?"
DUDE (looking at me with a combination of annoyance and pity): "No. I don't. We don't usually have it at this market."
ME: "Oh, OK."
DUDE: "And you can seriously just call it butter."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Question: What causes you to lose any sense of shame?

Answer: Hanging out with an incredibly cute baby. I'm currently in Lincoln, NE, visiting my sister Mary Kate (aka The Funniest Person On The Planet), my brother in law Josh (aka The Nicest Guy Ever), and my nephew Max (aka Maximillian Wondernephew). Here's a video of us playing in the pool. I don't do anything too silly in this one, but really my takeaway from this visit is I'll do anything to make this kid laugh. Doesn't matter where we are or how dumb I look in the process either. That's not even an issue.

ALSO: Not much happens in this video. You don't see the kid crack up or anything. It's mainly posted here so I can watch it whenever I want and be reminded of how incredibly fun it was to push a baby in an innertube around a pool with my sister. Max actually started laughing hysterically after his dad turned the camera off. Max, your timing is not great. But you are only 7 months old so I will overlook it. One day soon you will realize that you can manipulate adults just by looking at them and laughing. That is the day your campaign for world domination truly begins.
video