Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My computer suffered a tragic fall, and as a result, it is running incredibly slow, so I must be brief or this will take an hour. Our Christmas season in photos.

We bought a tree, and we named him Giuseppe Martini.
{Let's pause and notice how three of my favorite things are captured in this photo: Les Mis, NPR, and Christmas trees}

We decorated Giuseppe in a style befitting his name.

We went ice skating and to a Batman exhibit, as one does.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Better to Light a Candle Than Curse the Darkness

Each detail that emerges about the tragic shooting in Connecticut is more devastating than the last, but I cannot turn away. I spent the weekend reading story after story, stories about the victims - twenty (twenty!) precious six and seven year olds and their heroic educators - about the perpetrator, about the community, about gun control and about mental illness, and despite this information overload, I still cannot wrap my mind around what has happened. It is unspeakable, and I just don't know what to do. Because - there has to be something to do. Right? We can't just sit here, crying, watching the news and shaking out heads in disbelief. There has to be something more to do. Right?

I wrote to my representatives, I signed the petition, and I'm going to think more in the coming days about what I can personally do to (besides preach to the choir and shake my fist at the TV) to support the fight for strengthened gun control laws. I believe with every fiber of my being that gun control is a moral imperative, and I am hopeful that this latest tragedy will finally spur some action. I'm still too angry to clearly articulate myself on that at the moment, but I will soon. Still, all of the writing to politicians and asking them to do something feels so small and ineffectual.*

I'm about to get super cheesy here, so consider yourself warned. The political aspect of this is so important, and I'll be following it closely, but I think that, for all of us non-policymakers, the most important thing we can do is be the light and the love that Dr. King talked about. In the wake of any tragedy that threatens our faith in humanity, we must go above and beyond to help restore that faith for ourselves and everyone around us. As usual, Mr. Rogers said it best.
{image sources, clockwise from top left: James Keivom/NY Daily News, Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters, Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters, David Goldman/AP, Michelle McLoughlin/Reuters}
We can't all rush to the scene of the disaster to offer aid, but we can be "helpers" by practicing the small, everyday kindnesses that serve to remind us that people really are basically good. We can hold the door or the elevator, we can let people go ahead of us in line or in traffic, we can offer smiles and kind words to strangers. We can choose patience and compassion over frustration and judgment and forgiveness and understanding over resentment and anger. We can decide to assume the best instead of the worst about people's intentions. These are small things and none of them are going to ease the pain of the families who are grieving instead of celebrating this Christmas, but each one is a small flicker of light, a challenge to the darkness, and a reminder of our basic goodness. We cannot allow all of that pain and grief and suffering to be the end of the story.

It is going to take a lot of love and light to overcome the hate and darkness that descended on Newtown on Friday. We had better get started.

*While you're writing stuff - you can also send cards with messages of love and support to PO Box 3700, Newtown, CT, 06470. The Newtown post office set up the P.O. Box in response to hundreds of calls from people around the world who want to "send their thoughts and prayers in the form of letters, cards, care packages and drawings from their children."  A USPS employee said that they are preparing to handle "an enormous amount of love coming through the mail" in the coming days. See? Basic goodness. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finally Fall and Thanksgiving

Fall snuck up on my this year, but once I realized that it was here, I dove in. Pumpkin scented candles were purchased, zucchini bread was baked, boots were purchased, and cozy sweaters are in full effect.

Among the palm trees, there is proof of fall to be found.

I got a head start on Thanksgiving and headed to Coronado on Tuesday, just in time to see my dad make his official entrance into the Rotary. Baller.

Thanksgiving itself involved lots of my favorite things: time at the beach, champagne, traditions, Christmas decoration peeping, family dinner, board games and lots of and lots of delicious food.

I'm so thankful for this guy. Seriously, he's the best.

And, man oh man, do I love this dog. She's practically levitating she's so happy.

Back when we first started dating, my parents and sisters were still on the East Coast so Tom and I were on own for Thanksgiving. This lovely self-timer shot captures our first Thanksgiving together:
{Hopefully I paid my roommates that $17 I owed...}
Since it doesn't take too long to cook up a few turkey breast roll-ups, we always had plenty of time to fill on Turkey Day so we started going to the Del in the afternoon to check out the Christmas decorations and sip overpriced holiday-themed cocktails on the beach. Pretty sure this was my idea, but Tom is a good sport and we've done it every Thanksgiving for the past six years. So after we wore Lucy out, we headed to the Del.
{This year's theme - A Time to Celebrate}
After the Del, it was back to my parents' for the main event where Mo and Buckley were keeping it old school with full costumes.

 We also started a new Thanksgiving tradition - pre-dinner beer tasting.

Because my mom is the best and she still keeps all of my holiday crafts despite the fact that I am almost 32, the Thanksgiving garland I made last year was in effect again. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Public Service Announcement

{courtesy of my 8th grade yearbook}
I realize that not everyone was fortunate enough to have the inimitable Mrs. Donoghue for three years of English instruction in their formative years, so it is with what I hope is the unique blend of firmness and compassion that characterized Mrs. Donoghue's own instructional style that I issue the following public service announcement.

When attempting to explain causation, one can use the word reason or the word because, not both. Everyday I hear very intelligent people say, "The reason _____ is because ______." Stop doing that, people. It's redundant. What they mean to say is, "The reason that I make grammatical errors is Mrs. Donoghue didn't teach at my school." Or, more likely, "I make grammatical errors because Mrs. Donoghue didn't teach at my school."

While we're on the topic of redundancy, let's clear something up, shall we? When we're talking about time, a.m. stands for ante meridiem, which is Latin for before midday or before noon; p.m. stands for post meridiem or after midday. Soooo - you should not say, "Let's meet for coffee at 6 a.m. in the morning" because a.) too early and b.) redundant. Likewise, "I'm going to go out at 10 p.m. tonight" is both redundant and, in my case, probably a lie because that's my bedtime.

Side note - did you know that, in British slang, redundant means "laid off?" Just saying. 

I suspect that Mrs. Donoghue knew that she was meant to be my grammar sensai because she moved from the middle school to the high school the same year that I did. I had her for 7th and 8th grade, but obviously, she sensed that my training was not quite complete, so she took a job at the high school and I had her again in 10th grade. By the time sophomore year rolled around, she had remarried and become Mrs. Hannaford, but that never really stuck and she let those of us who knew her when continue to call her Mrs. Donoghue. I will leave you with this picture from my 12th grade yearbook that perfectly illustrates the awesome that is Mrs. Donoghue/Hannaford.
{pure badassery}
All those other teachers showed up for picture day to get their boring headshots, and Mrs. Donoghue's all, "What's up, students? Prepare to be schooled." 

One last thing - when I was teaching, I gave the same pre-test speech that Mrs. Donoghue recited every, single time that she gave us a quiz or a test, "This is a test. There will be no communicating, sharing,  gathering of information or you will lose your paper, take a zero, no questions asked." We never made a peep. In fact, Taylor Perry once sat there, blood gushing from his nose, raising his hand and waiting for permission to get up because we knew Mrs. Donoghue did not play when it came to tests. I never quite reached that level of mastery, and I'm pretty sure that my students thought I was a little crazy, but I think that was at least half the point. Either way - it worked, just like everything else she taught me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Summer, Part II

Where was I? Oh yeah, that summer where I did stuff but totally neglected this blog. Onward.

There was a bridal shower.

There was a new band. Meet The Walcotts.

There was a traumatic amputation - my dad lost half of his left ring finger in a battle with a porch chair. Fortunately, he has quite a good sense of humor - my sister and I received this photo via text after the bandages came off.

There were trips to the beach and Neptune's Net.
There was a fourth anniversary followed by a trip to San Francisco to celebrate with a couple of my favorite people.

There was some exploring of downtown and the discovery of a new favorite bar.
{best drink ever}
There were also a couple of weddings, but those deserve their own post. Almost caught up...