October 26, 2011


When I was a little girl, I thought my grandpa Jim was the best. And I didn't really get this at the time, but Jim was not my actual biological grandfather, so we never called him Grandpa. But I was little. And he was the one making silly faces at me across the dinner table and the one crouching down on the floor to feign dismay and pretend like it was entertaining when I sent the prince plummeting through the trapdoor on the Fisher Price Castle that I never stopped playing with. And when you're little, that's pretty much the definition of true love. As the story goes, without being told one way or the other, I always referred to Jim as "my Jim." Grandpa or not, I was too little to know that this wonderful man laying on the tile beside me was anyone other than mine.  Because that's what he was - that was the part that mattered to my little self. Just like Nana was my Nana, Jim was my Jim. And that was that.

I didn't know this when I was a kid, but this is a lesson I would be glad I learned early. Because as you may have gathered, I come from a broken home. A phrase that doesn't bother me anymore because even if it is what psychology textbooks call us, it's not what we feel like to me. Generally speaking, brokenness implies a need for grace and I'm cool with that. But distinguishing my family as more broken than any other implies that we by definition inherently need fixing, and I just dare you to try and tell me that. Because I'll be more than happy to knock you into next week. 

Which is a perfect segue to the topic at hand: today is Tim Farrell's birthday. 

Now, first and foremost, Tim has been a faithful reader, commenter, and self-appointed editor of this blog since its humble origins in the Fall of 2007. And that, that's dedication, because I write about a lot of inconsequential stuff that probably doesn't all always interest him. Recently, Tim has been sending helpful suggestions to me via email after I post. Suggestions mostly involving how I could have slipped in a mention of him in posts about things that really had nothing to do with him. When I suggested he had such good ideas that maybe HE should write a blog, he said, "no, I'm just the idea man. I could even be your agent if you want." He's just such a giver, you know?

But in all seriousness - on this, his birthday - let's raise a glass [of coffee, come on, it's morning] to Tim. The guy who comments on my blog even when it has nothing to do with him and thinks I'm great even when I'm probably not sometimes. The guy who drove to Denver to stand in a moving truck bossing my friends around and in so doing made moving 1,000 times less stressful for me. The guy who would drop anything at any moment [and has] to sing karaoke with me. The guy who reminds me that the world isn't ending when someone has knocked out the front passenger side window of my car. The guy who tells the same 3-5 jokes no matter what country he's in, who he's talking to, and regardless of if it makes sense or not. The collector of cool cars and the maker of egg sandwiches and the kind of person who thinks to get me a new hair straightener when mine breaks and I am too poor and unemployed to replace it myself. To Tim, who has been faithfully laying on the proverbial tile beside me for so long I barely remember a time when he wasn't. Who is this, you might ask me? And I might answer, he's my Tim. And if you gave me any lip, I'd probably point at an imaginary stain on your shirt and pop you in the nose when you looked down. Because that'd show you.

When you're a kid, it doesn't matter who anyone is so much as how they are. No one sat me down and explained to me exactly how Jim was related to me, but I knew [in the way that little girls know] who he was. What I love most about that is that I don't think anyone meant to intentionally teach me to feel this way about family. I am thankful that I have the kind of family where this is just the reality. Where no matter how messy and convoluted it gets, family is just that and it doesn't so much matter where they came from or when or how, it matters that they're mine. What matters extends far beyond biology or genetics to presence and silly faces and Fisher Price castles. 

When you're a grown up, luckily, not much changes in this way. I'm always going to care less about who anyone is and more about how they are. I might be older now, but I still know [in the way that even girls who aren't so little know] who Tim is. Because what matters is presence and hair straighteners and egg sandwiches. What matters is that he's mine.

October 25, 2011

hello, Allen

Some of you may recall reading about when I had to change my phone number. I gave up mine and naturally, got a new one. I was really intentional about it because for some reason I really wanted a 303 area code, but those are apparently a hot commodity, so you have to snatch em up early in the day. So I went, first thing in the morning, and out of a long list, I picked my new number. I guess I never really thought about where phone numbers come from. I guess I assumed they were regenerated by a computer and spit back out, new. But that doesn't really make any sense... eventually we'd run out, right? There can't just be infinite phone numbers. You can't retire them like football jerseys after somebody great had them. I don't know. I've never been great at math.

Needless to say, as I chose from the list of 303's, I unknowingly inherited a phone number from someone named Shelley. And I've been learning some things about Shelley. One of my favorite pastimes is to take context clues and try to piece together the whole story. It's kind of a weird habit and makes me feel a little creepy sometimes, but essentially, I want to be Nancy Drew. Or Harriet the Spy. Really either one would be fine. Anyway, here's what I know about Shelley:

After getting the new number, when I called Kansas, she came up on the caller ID as "Allen White." I know this because for months every time I called my house I was greeted with, "hello, Allen." Which was a real treat. I've decided [based on both my imagination and insinuations of information to come] that Allen is Shelley's sugar daddy. He paid for the phone, so it was in his name. Obviously.

Shelley gets constant calls from collections agencies and other angry sounding 1-800 numbers. Shelley isn't a very responsible spender, I've deduced.

This tidbit was also backed up by the fact that when I tried to change my phone number [which acts as your ID] at 24-Hour Fitness, they asked if I was Shelley, and if I would like to pay the money I owed them. I explained that I was not, in fact, Shelley, nor did I know who Shelley was, so no, I would not be taking care of her debt. That's the other thing about this whole deal - everyone who calls thinks that I should somehow telepathically know where Shelley is. I may have big dreams of covert ops, but I'm not magic, people, ok?

Shelley may or may not be incarcerated. Potentially in Washington. This I know because the other day I got a call asking me to confirm my advance pay account with which I could put money on a card to make phone calls from prison. "Ummmmmmmm, no thank you. I think I'm all set. Yep. Yes. I'm pretty surely sure."

The Child Support Enforcement Medical Support Facilitator Project would like to speak with her. That's a direct quote. I have no idea what that entails but it sounds like nothing I ever want to be a part of. [Maybe Allen was a baby-daddy too? There's just really no way of knowing.]

What's my point, you ask? I probably don't have one. In fact I'm sure I don't. But Shelley, if you're out there, take care of your biz-nass so these people will stop calling me and insisting I tell them where you are. Also maybe call sometime and explain to me just what happened with you to make your number become available in July of 2011 for me to swipe out from under you, because it sounds like it's a pretty convoluted story. And I really want to know if I'm right about Allen.

I guess I should thank you, too, because you have made getting a new phone number not only a fun game of sleuthery but also an exercise in gratitude. As in, fielding your phone calls makes me grateful that my most stressful calls are from my family members reminding me that someone's birthday is tomorrow and I haven't sent anything yet. And those are pretty stressful, and frequent, but not quite so much as the debt collectors and prison phone systems.

Thank God for small favors, that's all I'm saying.

October 16, 2011

I turned on my tiny red iPod, and...

In the latest of a string of events that I like to call "being a grown up is a real pain in the a-money-money so far," yesterday morning I walked outside to my car, innocently trying to meet Beckie for brunch, only to find that my front passenger side window had been bashed in, and my iPod was MIA.

Please. A moment of silence for my tiny red friend.

I could spend a good while telling you all how and why this sucks, but you are all humans and can probably make many accurate assumptions about that yourselves, so I'll leave you to it. I got in my car this morning, the window fixed and good as new, and I unconsciously reached for the little guy to turn on some jams, and alas - it was not there. And I thought about all of the times I've used the phrase "I turned on my tiny red iPod, and..." on this blog, and I had a nostalgic little moment about it. I miss it already.

It's a bummer, that's for sure. But it's fine. I didn't lose any actual music, just the music receptacle. I still have all my good/bad/show tunes. And as a coping strategy, I kept the Cranberries Greatest Hits in the CD player all weekend, which has been super miraculous. Like, really. Every time I get in my car it comes on and I'm immediately filled with joy and wonderment. I'm not even exaggerating. It's that good.

My mom spent the weekend with her high school besties (or as they call themselves, "My True Blues") helping one such MTB move out of her house. Mom called me last week and asked if I would make them a mix cd for their weekend - and as mix cd's are my love language, I happily complied. But I realized pretty quickly that the only way this mix cd was going to get there on time was if it was overnighted. So I went to the place where you do that, and inquired about how much it might cost me to mail this little brown envelope to Ohio and have it get there in time for the True Blues' arrival. She told me how much and I balked, but agreed to pay the price. She seemed to think this was a little weird, and asked me, "so, are these like, tickets or something? A really important document?" Imagine her surprise when I answered, "Ohhhhh no. It's a mix cd."

But you know what? Worth it. Because music - especially music that is special to us (even if it is Earth, Wind & Fire) - can make things that suck, suck less. Music can comfort. Music is memories. It puts words and tunes to feelings we couldn't name before and it reminds us of things we already know; things that are true. It's familiar in the good way. For some, it's a means of connection. Whatever it is, it's a gift, and it's one of the beauties in this occasionally yucky world that makes me feel all gushy and sappy. It gives me faith. It makes me feel loved.

And though this weekend I lost a meaningful little vessel of that love, this week I was also loved well: in live musical free-for-alls, in the giving and receiving of mix cd's, in the sharing of memories attached to certain songs. I sat with someone in their pain and we found a moment of laughter and relief in the soft beat of the Eagles over the loudspeakers at the dentist's office. I was loved in the reassuring words of the hymn we sang in church this morning, in Disney songs at a friend's wedding, and in the comfort of the Cranberries. That's a lot of love, you guys.

The world can be yucky. And from Moon River to Hotel California, the Cupid Shuffle to Amazing Grace, whether I'm in my favorite concert venue, the pew of my church, or sitting indian style in Michele's living room singing along to the karaoke channel - music makes it seem a little less so. I see Jesus in that.

So rest in peace, my tiny red iPod. May you find fulfillment in the pockets of your captors [or whoever they choose to sell you to on the black market]. Sing to them like you did to me and maybe they'll stop breaking people's car windows and ruining their Saturday brunch plans. Here's hoping.

October 3, 2011


So the thing is, I moved.

I moved out of the house I have lived in for [nearly] the entirety of my time here in Denver. Aside from my first 3 months in this city [when I lived in a sketchy snazzy little apartment downtown with Alix] I have lived in the 1403 house. As for why this move took place, let's just leave it at this: I tried my hardest to stay and nothing [and I do mean nothing] worked out. The best possible option for what to do next existed in an apartment a couple of miles away. So while I do think this is the right thing, to have moved, the choice made me more than I made it.

There was so little time between said choice and d-day that I was immediately catapulted into action mode and forced to work my little fingers to the bone getting ready. Living in such a big place for such a long time, I think, would turn the most simple of livers into a hoarder. I have packrat tendencies to begin with, so as you can imagine, moving out of that house was no easy task. All that to say, it happened so fast that it wasn't until tonight - the move over and final and done, the house cleared out and cleaned up and empty as can be - that it finally hit me. I went through each room one last time. I started to take the key off my keychain and my eyes got full of emotion and I cried. I cried a lot. Significantly more than I expected to cry, in fact, and I stood there for a solid 45 minutes and I couldn't make myself leave because it seemed so final and suddenly, I wasn't ready for it to be over.

Because on the one hand, it's just a house. And yes, we had mice. The maintenance man who we had to call all the time, Sam Hill [I did not make that up], had a conspiracy theory about almost everything from the Catholic Church to the government controlling cloud formation. The windows in the entire house are painted shut so no air that isn't central air circulates through the house ever. It's arctic in the winter, tropical in the summer. I don't think it was ever really been satisfactorily clean in the entire four years I lived there. It was decorated primarily with items that were a) acquired in some kind of white-elephant gift exchange or b) free. There is duct tape holding my shower together. And I'm pretty sure if you take a shower in the upstairs bathroom at the right time of day the neighbors might can see you a little bit naked. All of these things are true about that house. All of those things are less than ideal on multiple levels.

And while leaving those things behind I'm ok with, closing the door for the last time meant closing the door on a really beautiful four years of my life. On so many occasions it has been filled to maximum capacity with my people. I drank a lot of cheap wine and made a lot of great friends. It's where I spent the night on the floor while my bed went unoccupied because a sleepover sounded fun. I spent snow days watching movies in the basement and I trundled and I baked a bazillion pumpkin cookies and I became a writer. I lived with ten different roommates in this house [thirteen if you count the dogs]. I never quite knew who would stroll in the back door and that was fine because whoever it was was welcome and they knew it. I like who I've become there. And you know what? I actually really like Sam Hill. I like [most ofwhat I learned there and I am so unbelievably thankful that in these past four years of finding and losing and laughing and crying I've had a home. And like I've said before, there are few things more comforting and lovely than the right kind of home.

So off I've gone. Part of me is excited and part of me is terrified and most of me is just tired, what with all the crying. And I think it's ok to grieve a little because, say what you want, change is hard. But what I have discovered in the past two weeks of purging my life of extraneous items is that without meaning to, I've let a lot of things that don't define me do just that. And maybe that's why I couldn't stay there any longer. That house will always be special to me, but that house is not me. I will be me without the Halloween Party. I will be me without a big house in a perfectly central location. I will be me in my new house, too. And it might take a minute to figure out what that looks like - but just like any good breakup, no matter how amicable the terms, I've got to give myself some time to be sad. Then, though, I have to turn off the 90's breakup ballads, get up, and figure out how to be me outside of 1403 S. University Blvd.

Probably I'll learn some more and then probably I'll write something really magical about it. So we have that to look forward to, which is nice. In the meantime, I'll just be here in my new apartment, listening to Exposé and replaying the good times in a black and white montage in my headBecause nothing commemorates true love like a good saxophone solo.

It was a pleasure living in you, house. Thanks for the memories, as they say.