Category Archives: Growing Up

My Summer of Loss

What a summer. Talk about having the wind knocked out of you. About a month after I gave birth to the twins at 36 weeks, my very special handsome boy Henry (my oldest golden retriever) decided to pass on his supper one night and there began my nightmare. All my subsequent doctors’ visits and surgical procedures, and adventures in injecting pain killers are well documented at our George and Henry website. 20140902-212318.jpg

I got Henry when I started grad school in 2004, seems like a million years ago. Just feels like he’s always been there. Grabbing balls out of the chuck it, dropping boulders on my toes, doing jujitsu on my legs while trying to steal a soccer ball, gently babysitting my two year old, torturing anyone who would throw something for him to fetch or catch, cavorting in the river, running in the woods – plume of a tail high in the air. Always, always there. Sweet, loving, gentle, athletic, heartful, and so very, very handsome. I knew from the beginning, after we managed to pull through the red mange he had as a puppy (genetic disease), that he was an angel, honest to God, an angel. I’d only get him for a little while and I’d have to give him back. I knew it. I just didn’t think it’d be this soon. There’s a heavy, deep hole in my heart. The raw and sharp pain of loss lessens a little each day, but the ache of missing him feels like it will never go away. He’s everywhere. Here on the farm, in my car, around town, in the eyes of my other dogs, and two weeks from now, I’ll see him everywhere I go on Nantucket. Aside from River Rock, that was his most favorite place on earth.

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At any rate, I felt like writing about him and I wanted to share this little story about him: This is a photo of our chimney. The stonemasons we hired to work on our house are two highly skilled brothers. This story involves them, but first, let me set it up a bit.

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We built our home over the course of a year, basically the first year of our first son’s life. So Henry was going through a big change – he was learning to share me a little (with the baby), and he was doing so well. Mainly because he’s such a likeable easy going guy. There was a team of three guys who built our home, but we had lots of subs in and out during this time also. Well, once Henry figured out he could sucker almost anybody on our building team to toss him a ball or a stick or even a rock, he was over at the jobsite almost every single day, rain or shine. He’d follow Christie over every morning after the walk and he’d stay long after she left.
Here’s where the stonemasons come in. Both fellas grew particularly fond of Henry and would entertain him for hours, throwing sticks, rocks, balls, whatever, and sharing their lunches with him. They had him running quite alot. A good portion of Henry’s arthritis might be attributed to this relationship. At any rate, the stone masons were really impressed with the size and sheer number of rocks Henry would bring up from the River. They joked that he was adding to their pile (all the rocks they used were quarried from our river bed). One day they were so chuffed they decided to use this one rock in their work on the chimney. In fact, they made sure that when they placed it, it would be low enough that it would always be at Henry’s eye-level. He could trot by and see his contribution to the chimney anytime. It’s a beautiful pinkish hued River Rock in the shape of a heart. And that’s my Henry. Not only did he get me, but he got to me, and he got to everyone else, too. He was a very special dog – this is his rock, it hides behind the hydrangea now.

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I found this poem last night that hits close. I don’t know who Holly Gray is but I feel her grief. It’s awful quiet around here.

To our Golden Retriever, Shockoe

I sit and try to write the words, I want your heart to hear.
Hoping to find some comfort, in the fact that your not here.
I look out into the open field, that you once occupied,
Knowing now that field is empty, because my love, you’ve died.
I do believe with all my heart, that your soul has gone to be,
With all the other angel dogs, that you were meant to see.
We will have to stay behind, until God calls us too,
So do not be afraid, that he’s only called for you.
The water is still, in the pond that you played,
And your bed is so empty, where your pretty head laid.
Our bed is to empty, where you once laid between,
the two people who LOVED you and now only dream,
That one day our eyes will shut one last time,
and you will come greet us, angel of mine.
Until then, I’ll keep trying to see through my tears,
with memories you left us, to reflect through the years.
We’ll never forget one minute we spent,
of loving and laughing, of places we went.
And I dread the day that your scent disappears,
for it’s “proof” to me, Shockie, that you were just here!
But one day will come, when we’ll start to see through,
the pain of the moment, and remember just “you”.
Now you go and play, and look down when you can,
remembering we love you, and this isn’t the end.

-Holly W. Gray, Shockie’s mommy

Trends in Human Hair

I wasn’t expecting this topic to be my first blog post back from “getting knocked up” hiatus, but I couldn’t resist. With so many awesome phrases within this Slate article pertaining to lady bush, how could I not share. You know how I loathe stray human hair.
Here’s the Slate piece on the NYT piece, complete with a fabulous photo of bushy mannequins.

A Dress (or Skirt, rather) for Every Summer

DSC_8686There’s a definitive dress for for me for each summer. Is it that way for every woman? I assume that it is. This summer I have chosen a short dress because my legs are looking fantastic thanks to my training. It has a scoop neck and almost 3/4 length sleeves. It’s a bit of a mad men-ish design in that perfect green and turquoise that just begs for a dark tan to spike its look.

As I was looking at it in my closet this evening I was reminded of my dress, or rather, skirt of the summer when I was nineteen and worked at a drive through beer store at the beach (please, no judgement – I lived at the beach and it was a job – a really, really fun job). The skirt was yellow, sort of denim, and really, really ridiculously short – like guys could totally see my ass when I went for beers on the bottom shelf of the coolers short – and it buttoned up the front. Maybe five buttons. I remember this because I can recall counting the buttons as I peed in the tiny bathroom at Tortugas. Drunky wunkey and stoney bologna. I steadily borrowed my roommate’s cute off-white sweater to wear over it for nights at the bars.old skirt days

Other summers had other dresses. Summer camp at sixteen was a long tank dress with a very high slit up the side – again, with the legs. It was ashy brown and showed off a late summer (summer job = lifeguarding) tan really well.

Jill and LindsayLast summer (as a much older lady) it was a dressy number, sleeveless, high neck with some blingy glitter, some layers at the bottom, champagne and light tan in color. I wore it to a friend’s wedding in South Carolina and danced my drunk ass off with all my other college girlfriends. SO MUCH FUN!

A couple of polo summers – black straps, low twisty v-necks. Hit just at the knee. Easy, breezy, forgiving and a great traveler. Black is always flattering on a tan and it washed easy and I could dress it up with a pashmina or sweater (for dinner on Nantucket) or dress it down (for cocktails on my patio) with flops.Black dress

Then there was the summer of the black and white work appropriate maternity dress. Ugh – but necessary.

Other summers were mostly skirts. My body type is best suited for skirts, not dresses. Denim skirts, A-line skirts, short flouncy floral skirts. The skirts had to be cool, match a lot of tops, and make a dark tan the star of the show.

So I’ve moved from skirts that show my ass to dresses that can dance like an old lady. What in the hell does that say about me?

Does it really matter?

It’s summer, I’m tan and my legs still look pretty damn awesome. I’m happy with that.

iPad Thrills with Granny

Perfect photographic demonstration of Apple’s main demographic for iPad sales. Toddlers & grannies.

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Professional What? by: Mommy Dearest, Ph.D.

Virginia_620x275Today I dropped out of my comfort zone for a minute. I left the gym and knew I wanted to run a few errands that would include the organic butcher and I was trying really hard to find a way to get to the butcher without having to drive through the University. I told myself that it was because of the masses of students, assorted academic-y nerds, and medical facility people that crowd crosswalks and the corner, but then as I started to pull up University Avenue, I realized it was more than that. I felt completely inadequate, like I had entered a foreign world, like I was on the other side of the planet. I drove by the President’s office remembering several meetings I had been to there with the Dean and the Provost. For a brief moment I flashbacked to watch myself walk across the crosswalk to Bodo’s to pick up lunch, stopping by the Orientation office to say hi to colleagues. I wore a suit and heels, carried a high end bag full of miscellaneous self-important crap. I remembered that once upon a time, I had big plans and I pretended that I had some tiny bit of power.

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Doctoral degree – check. Baby on the way – check.

I looked down at my hands, my shorts, my shoes, over at my gym bag, in the rearview mirror at the two baby seats in the back of my car. I took a breath and my mind wandered and I didn’t even realize how tense I had become. I let it go and moved forward through the crosswalk. The biggest decision of my day doesn’t affect 5000 undergrads anymore, just two little people. What am I doing? Where am I going? Will I ever get back to some semblance of that life or have I moved beyond it to someplace new and different that might allow me to be more than I ever imagined I could be? I KNOW I’m not the only one that feels like this – it’s just that today was the first day in a long time I’ve been confronted with my own fears of inadequacy. It’s funny. I’ve never felt afraid to be a mother, to face my children everyday, to make decisions for them. But one simple drive through my alma mater, a place where I earned two degrees, including a doctorate, and I shake in my trail running shoes. You know I used to bash those women who earned the degree and then fell into a stay-at-home trap and disappeared from the village of “Making a Difference.” What the hell did those women do I wondered. How did they let themselves become invisible? Now maybe I understand where some of them are coming from, because I doubt a single person on Grounds even so much as glanced over to notice me shaking in my shoes. It feels really tough to get back in the game and perhaps that’s why some of us decide to change the course and remake the rules by which we used to define ourselves.

All By Myself

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Not really me or my girlfriends, but who didn’t wish they looked this awesome when getting smashed?

At a time when my oldest son is just discovering how to do things “all by myself,” I have been contemplating how much I have learned to appreciate doing things all by myself. I have arrived at that juncture in my life where I can actually do things on my own. It wasn’t too long ago when I required a veritable entourage in order to leave the house. In my previous life I required my girlfriends when I went out drinking mainly to be sure I got home at the end of the evening rather than going home with ‘late night hook up’. Hell, we even liked to go to the bathroom together for a variety of reasons. Today I need my wife to be my other half and make up for my social ineptitude and basic awkwardness at everything from cocktail parties to school fundraisers. But, I am aware that I have somehow developed this ability to be alone, to take long walks with the dogs in the woods, to work at my Panera office, to go see a movie, to go to the gym. I am at an age where I just don’t need the constant influx of conversation and companionship throughout my days and nights. Though I will admit that my days and nights are full of constant conversation and companionship. I mean I have a wife and two very small children, a nanny who is in our home everyday and my mother who comes to visit every other week. DSC_0484It’s hard to ever be completely alone, so when it happens, I almost miss the fact that it’s happening. It’s almost like thrill-seeking. I used to jump off bridges and take belly button shots on tables, but now it’s mega exciting to look up from my popcorn at a showing of the Hunger Games and realize I’m totally by myself, sneaking off to a movie in the middle of the day. Small celebration on the inside!

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How I really look when getting smashed.

Same goes for walking in the woods…looking down trying not to trip over rocks or be tripped by dogs. Wait, what’s that? I can hear birds, leaves in the wind, trees squeaking as they bend, frogs, and my own feet quietly crunching along…hey, wait a minute, I’m all by myself.  In fact on our recent ski trip with the girls when faced with lunch time decisions, I proudly announced that I didn’t want to stay at the wine bar (What? You might say.). No, I wanted a damn cheeseburger, and so off I shushed down down down the mountain in search of apres ski grease and shooters…by myself. Hooray! I’m sure lots of other moms feel this way. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but for me, someone who has always found ways to surround herself with other people (including not leaving the office until 7:00 and going straight to the bar), this is new. DSC_0122This is another phase in my life, I can savor doing things alone, just like my son who can now successfully undress (seemingly anywhere) ALL BY HIMSELF. Fabulous.