Tuesday, May 31, 2011


NASBPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Visit to Craft Central. With wine and lobster and pancakes.

A couple months ago I found out that I was going to have a SURPRISE! week of vacation to take so I flipped through my mental Rolodex and tried to figure out where I should go and what I should do. I either needed to go *with* someone who could take time off work or I needed to go visit someone who could take time off work, or at least who didn't work the standard 9-5 M-F.

Who can I visit, who can I visit?


Kari is a very, very dear friend to me and has been lead cheerleader on TEAM ELIZABETH for as long as I've known her and Id never been to visit her and her husband in western Massachusetts so I emailed her and was like "Hey! Any chance I can sleep on your couch for a few days in a few weeks?" And she was like "OH.MAH.GAH.SHUT.UP."(Except she probably said something much lovelier than that because that's the kind of lady she is.)

And then suddenly, my ass was on a plane (three planes, actually...bargain ticket = two stops, which I wouldn't normally monkey around with but I had all the time in the world, so why not get to know airport bars all around the country??) headed for Hartford, Connecticut.

I'd like to take a moment to point out that I happened to miss one of my flights, but not because I was in the airport bar -- I was actually sitting at an adjacent gate with white noise in my headphones, focusing very hard on getting caught up with my blogging. I set my alarm so I would for sure not be late but OOOOOOOPS. Instead of setting it for 20 minutes before takeoff, I set it for 10 minutes before takeoff and since they close the doors 10 minutes before takeoff, I was SHIT OUTTA LUCK.

THANK GOD there was actually a later flight to Hartford but it was sold out so I'd be #1 on the standby list except that "Ms Holt, it looks like your bag was not removed from the flight, so it will meet you in Hartford."

Now, ignore the whole SECURITY SECURITY SECURITY issue that brings up and consider the more pressing problem:

If I didn't get on that flight from Chicago to Hartford, I would have to spend the night in Chicago. There are worse places to be stuck, but I would be stuck in Chicago IN SWEATPANTS (that I SWEAR TO YOU I only wore because I was going to be flying from San Jose to Denver to Chicago to Hartford and for once in my life decided to put comfort first) and without a change of clothes or a toothbrush or anything that might inspire me to get out and see more of Chicago than my (theoretical) room at the airport Hilton.

So I did what any of my friends would have done: I went to the airport bar closest to my new gate (a terminal away), had a glass (or two) of wine and ate some bruschetta next to a man who spent the entire hour we were adjacent to each other returning calls from people interested in buying the motorcycle he had just listed on Craigslist.

And then because the Gods of the www were surely not going to punish me for missing my plane because I was busy blogging, I got a seat on the flight (for a $50 Good-Job-For-Messing-Up fee) and I met up with Kari AND with my suitcase in Hartford (it did appear to have been on the flight I actually took, so I don't get why that Chicago chick was forcing me to think through all the worst case "In Chicago Without Pants" scenarios) and all was well.

Kari writes books about the business of crafting (and for reals, I wish I'd paid more attention back when I was in the "Should I go for this jewelry business opportunity thing?" decision making process because I would have learned a thing or two about how screwed I was gonna get when tax time came) and is also a photo stylist and their home is filled with all the AWESOME things you'd expect a photo stylist/handmade/local artisan enthusiast to have. She made me miss all my art and my wonderful little things that made my apartment in SF so exactly perfect and there were multiple things I warned her she should frisk me for before I left because I could not be held responsible for my actions.

But before I even made it in the door and saw the eclectic charm of Kari and Eric's apartment, I was warmly welcomed:

A few weeks earlier I mentioned to Kari that rinoculas were my #1 favorite flower so I was tickled to see these sitting next to the couch with a little "Welcome Elizabeth" flag stuck in them:

The plan for the next day was for Eric to go to work and for Kari and I to stop at her favorite cafe for coffee and then drive down all of her favorite country roads. And that we did, with a few stops for pictures and a lots of talking about life and love.

And speculating about what this sign might mean:

(She tells me there used to be a bigger one that was only out like one Saturday a month or something, but that it has been replaced with this one. Does it mean that there are gypsy swingers there or something??)

And posing in front of the World's Largest Milk Bottle:

(You know I love me a "World's Largest" anything!)

And driving through a town where the homes are kept in the exact same condition/style/everything as they were in the 1700s (I think?). The same town where a FANCY AND EXPENSIVE boarding school exists and looks like something out of a movie.

Some kids walked in front of us and I was like "OMG those are probably rich kids, right?" And so we Googled the school (whose name is escaping me right now) and determined that YES, THEY WERE FOR SURE RICH KIDS because the tuition was like $45,000 a year. They looked just like regular kids, but I was fascinated that they came from a world that is SO UNLIKE anything anyone over at Lincoln High School might know (GO LIONS! THE BONE STAYS HOME!).

We eventually made our way back to Leeds, picked Eric up from work and then all headed over to a seafood shack that had just opened up for the season. We picked up dinner and went back to Casa de Kari & Eric to eat our fried food and drink the two bottles of wine I brought (and then some):

Somehow the conversation got around to my life list (which I keep on my phone) so I read it to them. One of the items was "Eat a lobster roll" so Eric was like "LET'S GO TO MAINE TOMORROW AND GET YOU A LOBSTER ROLL!" And I was like "OKAY!" And he was like "And while we're at it, let's drive through all the New England states in one day just to say we did!!" And I was like "OKAY!"

And a plan was hatched! A plan, I should mention, that is WACKY to a California girl who can drive all damn day and barely make it to the next state.

And then suddenly we were getting up early-ish, hopping into the car, stopping at Dunkin Donuts, and heading to Rhode Island! I'd never been to Rhode Island before so I had to at least go to the bathroom there (my own personal guideline for whether or not I'd been to a state -- AND AIRPORTS DON'T COUNT, ERIC!). I'm pleased to report that I not only used the bathroom at a Providence Starbucks, but I also bought a couple of items at a store we stopped in -- so now I can say I've PEED AND PURCHASED in Rhode Island! (For extra been-there'edness)

Rhode Island, CHECK! Now on to New Hampshire (via Boston):

Lizzie V., we couldn't stop but I totally thought of you!

Once in New Hampshire, we had delicious lunch at a kooky little place with a very hipstery waitstaff and all your Crazy Aunt [Whoever]'s stuff hanging all over the walls. I took a BPPOTD in New Hampshire and everything!

And then we crossed a bridge and BADA BING, we were in Maine:

We went to THE place for lobster rolls (as seen on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, even!) that was also, very conveniently, just across the Maine/New Hampshire border. I was still pretty full from lunch but DAGNABBIT, we came all this way for me to eat a lobster roll and a lobster roll I was going to eat!

So I ate it. And it was good, but my favorite part was the bread. I've always thought that lobster is a perfectly tasty protein but just not that it's THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER. I always figured it was because I wasn't getting FRESH, KICK ASS lobster but now that I've had FRESH, KICK ASS lobster from THE place to get lobster, I think I'm safe in saying that it's just not my thing.

Life list item: CHECK!


From there, we took the long way home, by way of Vermont.

I don't believe I peed or purchased in VT, but that's fine because I'd already been to Vermont.

So there you have it: Massachusetts, Rhode Island (btw, we did not see DJ Pauly D), New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont in one calendar day...and if you count the fact that I was going to fly out of Connecticut the next day, I went to all six New England states in 24 hours. They're all ADORABLE and QUAINT and TEENY SMALL. And dude, they really do love them some Dunkin Donuts.

Later that night we went out for dinner (if you're keeping track, my fourth full meal of the day) somewhere in Northampton (which was interesting because I happened to be reading a book about a woman whose lesbian lover while at Smith College -- also in Northampton -- got her into drug trafficking and then ten years later, when she was engaged to a man, she had to go to federal prison for that crime) and on our way there we came across this egg in a planter:

It was just a few days before Easter so at first we thought maybe it was an unfound Easter egg, but nope!

I love that kind of thing. Not so much that I'd learn to knit so I could pay it forward, but I love the idea of vigilante art. I don't know if she put it anywhere yet, but THIS IS ME MAKING A MENTAL NOTE TO FIND OUT!

And then, after a brief stop at a local bar and a quick trip to a nearby park to try to find what would have been my first (of many failed) Geocache (another fail), we took our frozen asses (and full bellies) back to the apartment and went to bed.

I was due to go home the next day but I REALLY REALLY wanted to see Kari's studio. You see, now that she's the NUMBER ONE CRAFT BOOK WRITER ON AMAZON (true story, yo...but also something she's bashful about when you tell a store owner, but I maintain that without that key piece of information, Kari might possssssibly come off as the Rainman of local artists, handmade products, etc, particularly when having a conversation with that store owner about local artists and handmade products) and since she's working on another book and other projects, she has the luxury of a studio where she can go every day to write and do her thang.

It's in a big, mixed use warehouse type building where apparently lots of artists, writers and all sorts of other types of people have office/studio space. AND LOOK! A cartoonist whose cartoon I've actually seen and would look for (back when I read the paper) has a space there tooooooooooooooooooo:

I loved Kari's studio SO MUCH that I was inspired to come home and create an office out of the spare bedroom so that I could focus on accomplishing all the things that I'm been putting off (read: writing the damn book already...also an item on my life list).

Also, I'm pretty sure I need these birds:

They'll help me write my book.

So after breakfast (um...peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes?!!?) and the visit to Craft Central, it was time to go to the airport to begin my long ass journey home. Hartford to Cleveland to Houston to San Jose. Yikes. No missed planes this time.

Kari and Eric (and puppies Charlie Parker and Baxter too!) deserve my most heartfelt thanks for a really, really wonderful visit. The trip got me all fired up and inspired and was a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL way for me to spend my surprise vacation.


Sunday, May 29, 2011


Okay so despite my badassery yesterday and the YAY, I LOVE MY LIFE-ness I had going on last week, I'm having a pretty frustratingly crappy holiday weekend.

I couldn't find any trouble to get into on Thursday night, I was laying low on Friday night in preparation for my big hike on Saturday morning, my Saturday night plans got canceled and I couldn't find a backup, which is sorta okay because I was in pain from the hiking but I also really just wanted someone to hang out with because I nursed my hiking wounds with multiple episodes of Dexter and I freaked myself out but whatever, I could get over it because I was going to get up early on Sunday and go to a Pure Barre class (similar but not equal to the Dailey Method classes I like so much -- I had a Groupon) and then I was going to bottomless mimosa brunch and day of bouncing around downtown with Lauren but then got an early morning cancellation from her because she was still feeling the hurt from the hiking and now here I am, sitting around, typing a really long run-on sentence and feeling sorry for myself on a Sunday afternoon that is really like a Saturday because nobody has to work tomorrow.

So what was going to be a busy weekend of things to do has suddenly fizzled out and even though my body hurts, I'm having trouble appreciating the downtime. Or maybe it's BECAUSE my body hurts, I'm feeling all pathetic and needy. And then beating myself up for feeling pathetic and needy.

Probably the only pretty part of Fremont

Ever spent an hour and forty minutes walking up a hill without any flats spots to catch your breath? It's a bitch, let me tell you, but when you get to the top, the view is pretty great:

And if you look to the west you can see the lower end of the San Francisco Bay:

Lauren and I hiked the Mission Peak trail yesterday morning and the entire hike up and down only took a bit over three hours. The internet tells me it's about a five and a half mile trek, but I know it took me about 20,000 steps' worth of effort:

(That, Internet, is my Fitbit. I love it and a bunch of my friends and family members have them too and now THEY'RE spreading the Fitbit love toooooo. I love that it's a pedometer you can wear in your bra and that figures out how many calories you've burned and that magically syncs with your computer. Get one!)

Lauren had warned me that this hike was NO JOKE and SHE WAS CORRECT. The uphill was murder on my lungs and totally sapped me of energy, but I forgot that the downhill hiking was just as bad, but in different ways. My thighs will thank me eventually, but I'm currently nursing some day-after ACHES AND PAINS.

Glamourpuss wouldn't pose for a photo with me, but here I am, in all my sweaty glory:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


NASBPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


NASBPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Kristy, I think the extra O in the last one was for "Outfit."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Whenever I walk past this sign I think my mom wrote it.

Whoever did write it writes exactly like she does.

I need a new white slip.

Two embarrassing things have happened recently and since I am generally organized enough to be able to avoid these types of mishaps, I'm thinking I'm slipping and I need to step up my game!

Embarrassing Thing #1:

I was at my boss's bachelorette party a couple of weeks ago and I had to sneeze. Until very recently, I've been a sneeze-in-the-hand-and-if-something-comes-out-gracefully-hide-it-and-then-wash-it girl but for whatever reason, on this night I chose to sneeze into my elbow.

My mother is probably cringing right now. That was not what I was taught.

I learned my lesson though because I SNEEZED A BIG CHUNK OF GOO OUT ONTO MY BLACK SWEATER!!!!!


I wasn't sure what to do so I wiped it off with my hand and then played cool for a moment while I considered the best course of action and then realized that I needed to GO TO THE BATHROOM AND WASH YOUR HANDS, DUMMY.

So I've been living with that shame and the horror that the chick who saw it go down was the one chick I don't know very well or have a good rapport with and now she's going to think I'm disgusting.

Embarrassing Thing #2:

I'm going to blame this one on the fat girl slip makers.

So, if you're a fattie and you want to buy a slip, you're generally limited to knee-length and longer slips (which tells me not many fatties are wearing slips because they sell PLENTY of shorter-than-that skirts to my people). I have one short black slip that I bought FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN MILLION YEARS AGO that I'm sure was sold during a momentary lapse in judgement by the slip makers of the world and I have one long cream colored slip that I have to rig by pinning it to my bra, but even then it's too long for most of my above-the-knee skirts.

But what do I wear when I wear a shortish skirt with a considerable amount of white in it?

Not the black one because it would show through and not the cream one because even rigged to my bra, it's too long. As a result of my inadequate slip supply (that I've tried IN VAIN to correct), I am forced to resort to an item I bought out of a catalog when I was eighteen. Possibly even younger than that -- I had to fill out my order form and mail it in, it was so long ago.

Okay so this thing I bought looks exactly like a slip, but was marketed as ladies' boxer shorts...so it is short (mid-thigh, I'd say) and loose and made out of slip-like material and is totally slip like, but with a crotch. I've worn the hell out of it over the years (I tried it as actual underwear once but the crotch hangs really low and it was too damn breezy for me) and as time went by, the seam holding the crotch in place started to fade away and eventually one end of the crotch part was hanging on by only an inch or two of stitching.

Until today, when I went to the bathroom to discover that the crotch had finally given up the ghost and was now DANGLING FREELY.

I'll also add that I must be dehydrated because I've only been to the bathroom a few times today so there's NO TELLING HOW LONG IT HAS BEEN LIKE THAT!

I am currently maintaining hope that my fat thighs were finally good for something -- In this case, I'm hoping they were good at holding onto the DANGLING CROTCH and keeping the evidence up above my hemline because otherwise I would have been the lady walking around the office with FAT LADY BOXER SHORT CROTCH hanging down outside of her dress!!!

I made it through the Rapture, but I now might die from humilitation if anyone saw the crotch hanging out of my dress.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I have 9,000 steps under my belt for the day, a sunburn on my nose and everything is alright.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am and how great my life is. For example:

1. My darling nephew sat in my lap and let me cuddle him for a good 20 minutes the other day. It makes me SO SAD to think that one day he's going to be a big kid and then, GASP, a MAN and Aunt Elizabeth won't be able to flip him upside down and kiss his stomach anymore but until that day comes, I'm gonna kiss the hell out of it.

He's going to be TWO in a few weeks, by the way. HOW MANY MORE YEARS of tummy kissing do I have?!?!?!

2. My darling and oh-so-serious niece broke out in a huge grin when Uncle Andrew sang to her. I'd be happier if MY singing made her smile, but it was an enthusiastic grin from such a serious lady and I was glad just to witness it.

3. I like my job. Things about my future with the firm are all swirly right now, but swirly in the "Wow. I can't believe I (accidentally?) followed the exact right course that led me to this exact right spot where people are interested in my opinion and think I know my shit and want me to lead other people" kind of way. Also, it didn't hurt that performance reviews were due the week after I KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK on this big presentation I had to give.

It's true what they say, you know: I'm not really motivated by money. Money is nice and all, but mostly I'm motivated by the desire to continue knocking people's socks off. Particularly if they're people I respect.

The downside to my recent success is that I want to tell my people -- my friends and family-- what's so exciting and satisfying about it, but I can't really tell anyone what I do.

Not that it's a secret, because it's not, but it's a bunch of blah blah blah that doesn't have a whole lot of meaning or sound very interesting to most people. So when people ask what I do I just say that I'm a communication consultant, but that's not really very accurate.

4. My friends are great. They're smart and funny and interesting and are almost always interested in going for a walk, coffee, pedicures (Andrea, seriously, that was the best damn pedicure ever -- my feet are STILL soft!), lunch, cocktails or whatever.

5. My family is equally great. My SIL Who Does Not Wear John Deere Pajamas pointed out semi-recently that she didn't think my brothers had a PSYCHIC TWIN CONNECTION (because they sorta do) as much as all three of us have a psychic SIBLING connection. I'd never really considered that before and generally felt like the odd man out (which is a bad way of saying it because I didn't feel EXCLUDED...I just felt like my parents had each other and my brothers had each other and I just sorta floated) but once my SIL Who Does Not Wear John Deere Pajamas made that connection I sorta sat back and realized that OH YEAH. She's totally right. My brothers and I don't just LOOK alike, but we just ARE very alike and the same damn thoughts run through all of our heads.

(Though I will argue that I *DO* think my brothers take the psychic connection to another level because they have a story or two that are just plain CREEPY.)

6. And now I'm going to go walk about 100 yards to the grocery store across the street from my exciting new home and pick up a few essentials for breakfast tomorrow morning. And then I might go for a swim in my exciting new pool. And then I'll probably paint my nails, have a glass of wine and go to bed.

All of these things are perfect Saturday evening activities.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011


NASBOPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So, it turns out that this "not having a TV" business has been CRAZY productive, just not in the "writing things" kind of way. My home is squeaky clean, my laundry basket is empty, my social calendar is full, but my blog remains empty. And if my blog (the easy to write part) remains empty, just imagine what my book (the hard to write part) looks like!

I committed to my friend Jenn that I'd have the outline done by the end of May. This was back in the very beginning of May and I SCOFFED at this lame end-of-May deadline because I was going to write every day! I was going to knock the outline out in a weekend! And when I checked in with her at the end of May I'd not only have my outline finished, but I'd have 25,000 words written!


But then none of that happened.

I found that I couldn't, in good conscience, sit at my pretty little desk in my pretty little chair and open up my computer to write without first taking care of some very important iTunes-related maintenance. But then I couldn't fully cross "Fix iTunes" off my list (it had been there for months) until I'd downloaded every podcast I'd missed since my iTunes broke, but I couldn't do that until I upgraded my internet speed, but I couldn't do that until a business day, and I couldn't do that until I remembered to call the lady, so instead I'll just go find something else to do.

So far "something else" has consisted of:

* Ironing
* Drinking lots of spinach smoothies
* Watching Dexter on DVD, but only during the daylight so I don't get too freaked out
* Walking around my new neighborhood
* Visiting many of the bars in my new neighborhood
* Learning that I actually *do* like gelato, even if the gelato place smells like the Chinese food the gelato guy had for lunch
* Walking through my old college campus
* Reorganizing my jewelry

My focus has NOT been good.

One day when my focus returns I'd like to write about:

* My trip to New England with my homies Kari and Eric
* How excited I am that my cousin Farah is living in the area for the next two months because she's in a musical that you should all go see
* How serious my darling niece is
* How hilarious my darling nephew is
* How I had the best pedicure of my life on Saturday, administered by a lady who told me about her three husbands, her old hot dog cart business and about a dating site for bikers and the ladies who love them
* My boss's bachelorette party

But until then, I'm going to go write boring work stuff about a work thing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spray tan mishap

Spray tan mishap, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NE and GTL

I'm late in realizing that my homie Eric blogged about my recent New England adventure! You can read his account of that visit here, which maybe will hold you until I write mine, which I promise you is at the top of my list.

Not tonight though because I have big plans:


And not tomorrow because the GTL is in preparation for an unfortunate event called "Work People Throw My Boss a Bachelorette Party Where There Will Be Penis Straws and Feather Boas."

*I,* however, will be driving myself home tomorrow night instead of getting shitty with coworkers. I'm inappropriate SOBER so I don't think it would be good for my career to show them the post-cocktail magic.


NASBOPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


NASBPOTD, originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

New Apartment Spare Bedroom Photo of the Day

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This is backward.

This is backward., originally uploaded by dumpstar_drummer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The universe is messing with me.

Almost at the exact same time that I reconnected with Joe, I met and started dating a dude named David. In the very beginning I was very tortured over the whole thing because David was very sweet and liked me a lot and was local and relatively baggage-free and Joe was not so local, not so divorced, not so baggage-free, etc. I tried very hard to give David a fair chance because, on paper, he was a much better match and I didn't want to get swayed by the excitement of a life-long love suddenly popping up again when a much healthier option had suddenly presented himself to me.

As we learned, I ended up making a SUPER AWESOME decision by picking Joe, which meant I had to sever ties with David. At the time, while I was honestly surprised by David's "OMG NO!" reaction, I wished for it to be quick and easy and clean. Blah blah blah, breakups suck for a reason, I know, but I'd never been on this side of the fence before. When I play those conversations back in my mind I realize that because I didn't tell him that there was someone else, poor David was left to believe it was something about HIM. While I didn't believe we were a long term match, it really wasn't David's fault and there wasn't anything he could have done to change my mind.

We agreed to remain friends and we sort of did for a month or so, but then he put two and two together and stopped talking to me. I've since texted him every six months or so but he doesn't respond. It's never anything burning that really requires a response, but the chill I feel from the obvious IGNORE is icy.

And that's totallllly fair. I don't blame him at all.

So now fast forward to yesterday. I have just moved into a new place that is SMACK DAB by the San Jose State University library. If my calculations are correct, David is probably still a student at SJSU and if his study habits have stayed the same, he likes to work at the library. I was driving home last night and the thought suddenly popped into my mind:

"I wonder if I'll ever see David now that I'm driving past the library all the time?"

And then the light changed and I crossed over San Fernando Street and I looked up and saw that OH MY GOD DAVID WAS STANDING ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE LIBRARY, COINCIDENTALLY LEANING UP AGAINST MY BUILDING.

The universe has seriously been messing with me this week so I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but holy crap, I was caught off guard.

I drove around the block to A) double check that it was him and B) try to catch his eye and wave. My heart was beating OUT OF MY CHEST during that lap and when I came back around I confirmed that YEP, it was him. He was on the phone and didn't look up (or saw and ignored me, but if that was the case, he has a masterful ability to not look surprised) so as soon as I got into my parking spot I texted him that OMG he was leaning up against my building at this very minute.

The thing that really threw me for a loop was how shakey my hands were when I was typing the text and how quickly my heart was beating. And then I had to walk to the ATM that was 15 feet from where I'd seen him standing (for reals...it's my go-to ATM and I was rushing out to go meet my peeps and I needed cash money) and throughout the 60 second walk I was engaged in a debate with myself: Was I hoping he was there? Or was I hoping he was not there?

He wasn't there and he never responded to my text. Again, I totally do not blame him and I know that it's better for everyone if I do not get involved with David again but now I'm stuck, suddenly missing him.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

WWW in the Wilderness DOT COM!

First and foremost, if this is not a picture of bathroom sign people taking the subway to the Taj Mahal, what IS it?

That was hanging on the living room wall of the cabin I stayed in a last month. My co-cabineers Cousin Regina, Cousin Roya and my SIL Who Does Not Wear John Deere Pajamas, and I can’t figure out what else it might possibly be.

But what the heck was I doing in a cabin?

Wellllllllllllll, a few weekends ago my SIL Who Does Not Wear John Deere Pajamas (Sarah, for short) and my sweet baby niece packed up and went to Leonard Lake (the reserve, not the serial killer) with 25 or so female members of my extended family. A bit of background though (and please forgive any headcount inaccuracies, family members):

My dad’s mother’s sister had ten or eleven kids. The oldest one died a couple of years ago and the youngest one is somewhere in her forties. One of those ten kids had ten kids of her own and another one had eight and all the others had multiple and then the next thing you know, family reunions are A MADHOUSE…especially for my little offshoot family. I was an adult before I even knew how we were connected.

The truth accepted by people in this family is that you probably won’t know everyone. I surely don’t know everyone. Or very many of them at all, actually. There are hundreds of them by now.

My dad is tight with many of the original ten or eleven. He grew up with them and he’d spend summers with them – his mother’s attempt to shake some of the spoil off him, I imagine.

My dad has historically attended the family picnics in the summer and the Christmas party in the winter and some combination of me and my brothers might attend, but hardly ever my mother. (Note: Not for any particular reason…she’s just more comfortable with people she knows better…and now that I think about WHY my mom tends to sit these things out, I realize just how much like my mom I am. Nobody ever believes me, but I *am* partial to my bubble. I go out and do things because going out and doing things and getting out of my comfort zone is something I starting making a point of doing right around the same age my mom was getting married and having children.) My brothers’ and my attendance has waned over the years and I can’t speak for them, but I know that for myself, it’s largely because I feel uncomfortable having the same brief surface conversation over and over and over again. The person I actually am doesn’t have the chance to come through, so why bother?

When I’ve had the opportunity to spend one on one time with any of these family members over the years I always leave thinking “I reallllllllllly need to know these people better. They’re MY people and they’re amazing!”

And then I go back to my core circle of friends and I mind my business.

There are so many of them. They are all so much more related to each other than I am. They all know each other so much better than I do. I show up at events and am surprised to learn that OH HEY! Someone got married, adopted a baby, adopted three babies, got divorced, did this, did that, did whatever and I feel like the asshole for being all “So, who is this person?”

And I know that’s 100% because of the distance I create. Or at least 75% because of the distance I create and 25% because there are just too many people to keep tabs on everyone.

So when I got an email from Cousin Molly, inviting me and the other lady Holts to a weekend at the lake with all the other lady cousins I thought about it for a second and decided that YES! I would like to go and create the opportunity to know these women better!

Laverne was not able to attend but Sarah, who really didn’t need another reason for my dad to think she’s FANTASTIC, was totally game, even though she only knew two people other than me.

I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out and we nearly froze the baby (surprise snow + no heat = last minute room changes so my six week old niece wouldn’t turn into a popsicle) and there were still some people I wasn’t able to connect with, but all in all I’d call it a success!

Assorted Points!

• This lake is out in the middle of NOWHERE. Technically only nine miles off the main highway, it was an entire world away. Those nine miles were 15-miles-per-hour miles and they required a focus that Sarah and I didn’t quite have the first time around. We ended up on an unintentional tour of the wilderness, but after re-tracing our steps a couple of times, we eventually got there. I successfully did not lose my brother’s wife and child in the wilderness.

•We knew there would be a stream crossing and were joking about having to “ford the river” and whether or not we should hire an Indian guide, Oregon Trail style. And then we came up to the “stream” and HOLY CRAP IT REALLY *IS* A RIVER!! It was at least 20 feet across and we were wary of how this was going to work out but comforted ourselves with the knowledge that Cousin Katy was driving a Prius and if she could ford the river in her Prius, we could SURELY do it in my CRV.

Sarah and the RIVER:

•I bunked with Cousin Roya, who I *do* actually know but with whom I haven’t had an adult conversation…probably ever...or at least not since we were college-aged, which doesn’t really count. I was glad for the opportunity to lay in bed and talk with her about her kids, her husband, the lessons I’ve learned in the last year, etc.

•Despite the snow the day before, Saturday turned out to be gorgeous. The more adventurous members of our party went on a hike around the lake while the rest of us layed (lay?) on the dock and enjoyed the sunshine. Baby AJ got her sunbathing groove on too:

•Remember my kayaking fiasco, Internet? Well when Sarah saw that this place would have kayaks she sassily asked me if I’d be getting back on that horse. I might have liked to, but I didn’t trust myself to not fall in so instead she went a’kayaking while I supervised Baby AJ on the dock.

Here's Sarah showing me how it's done:

•Cousin Alice and her daughter Cousin Alivia were also very show-offy with their badass kayaking skills (though watching the production of them getting into the kayak was one of my top moments of the weekend):

•Baby AJ was a HIT. She was one of only three children in attendance -- only babies who couldn’t live without their mamas were invited. Everyone wanted to hold her and comment on how TEENY TINY and DELICATE she is. Grandma will be butthurt to hear it, but Baby even smiled at Cousin Marcia!

•There’s a particularly juicy, particularly epic family story that I won’t share here, but that is creepy and sorta scary and that continues to unfold some thirty years after it began. Sitting around the fire, wine in hand, listening to Cousin Molly recap it for the young ones and update it for the older ones was perhaps even a highlight for me, even if the subject matter is dark and tragic. (And involves math, believe it or not.)

Until that night I’d only ever heard the story from my dad’s perspective. Hearing Molly’s INCREDIBLE version of it was something I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to hear. And as a bonus, this fascinating (and horrible) oral history of our family really seemed to bring the teenagers together, as they’d previously been sorta standoff-ish and teenagey with each other.

Assorted Photos!

Jazz hands will keep you from drowning:

Sarah and I were half of Team Breakfast on Saturday so we made a little bagel bar:

I'm still working my way through the leftover cream cheese.


I wish I had a picture of the snow outside the kitchen door -- an industrious family member put beer in the ice. Very handy.


There was a BIG BIG BIG house and then a handful of smaller cabins and cottages. Our cold little cottage is in the background:

Look at how breathtaking it all was, Internet:

I didn’t have grand communication breakthroughs with everyone, but as kumbaya as it sounds, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to strengthen the bonds with the women in my family. I’m thrilled that I got to introduce Sarah and Baby AJ to our people and I’m hopeful that I can continue knowing them all.

Go Team WWW!

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