Greetings from the Moon.

Two weeks into my 29th year (WHAT?!), here is quick catch up of my life post crash land on the moon.


We moved out of my in-laws’ basement. To Bloomington/Normal, aka the Twin Cities, with a total combo population of somewhere around 100,000 people. A quick scan of the landscape reveals a love of subdivisions, restaurant dining and surprisingly/excitingly… fuel efficient cars. So, a two for three win in my eyes and the Prius is settling in nicely. Our move was into a house we purchased—EEEEEEEEEEEEEE—and have begun to turn into our own. We only have a kitchen, bathroom, ½ bath, backyard, windows, front porch, roof and siding to go. No big deal. It’s a super simple task to bring a 100 year old home into this century. Think knob and tube wiring. Easy peasy.

The day we closed on our house, my baby brother and his wife gave me a beautiful little niece! Well, they didn’t actually give her to me—yes, I asked and sometimes pretend she is mine—but they seem to be okay with letting me love on her. A good place to start. Charlotte SuzAnne is the name of the little precious angel, who happens to be one of the cutest babies I have ever set eyes on, and not just because she is [partially-ish] mine. Look at that photo. That nose! Those eyes! Great lips! It’s crazy to think that my brother is someone’s father. Who okayed that situation? God, have you been drinking again?

Let’s see…what else?

Oh yes, I have rejoined the work force. And in a totally different capacity—I was hired by a fab hotel in the Twin Cities as an event and meeting manager. Come one, come all and plan an event!

Life is slower out here in the middle. But not really less busy. Also, the seafood isn’t great (read: terrible) and Old Bay is not really a thing here. But good burgers are, so that is a pretty decent consolation.

So quick recap of life post DC: House, niece, job, cancer cure. We got what we came for; I guess it’s time to go home!



All Clear.

If you haven't spent any time at the Peoria Cancer Center, you may imagine a place filled with the sadness of disease and a sense of hospital starkness. Before my grandpa's experience with cancer, my imagination wandered to the scenes on Parenthood and Christine's fight against Breast Cancer--steril rooms and utilitarian furniture serving people who were living on prayer. 

However, the center in Peoria could not be further from this bleak painting. The staff is composed of some of the most cheerful and upbeat people I have ever encountered; from nurses to volunteers, there is no shortage of smiles. The waiting rooms are filled with people boldly facing disease and their family and friends cheering them onto health.

Monday's visit to the Center was a particularly important one--after six rounds of Chemotherapy and one of radiation, we would learn the results of my grandfather's most recent CT scan and how effective the treatment had been. Battling an aggressive type of Lung Cancer, that had drained him of energy and robbed most of his hair, he was ready for good news. 

Unusually busy, the seats in the waiting room buzzed with upbeat conversation, distracting us from the anxiousness pulsing in the back of our minds. Well and the diversion of Candy Crush. 

Though we waited for an hour and a half for the nurse to call my grandpa back, when she finally did we were completely unprepared, jumping from our seats and gathering our things like we had been told to evacuate.

Then the real waiting began. Once in the examination room, the seconds crawled by with painful slowness. When the doctor entered the room and sat down at his computer, I'm certain time all but stopped.

Dr. Thomas scrolled though my grandfather scan results for what seemed like an eternity and the click cliiiick cliiiick clickclickclick of the mouse filled the excruciating silence of the room, as the Rorchach test like photos morphing again and again, revealed nothing to my untrained eye and I think. For as long as we sat there, no one let go of their breath. Actually just reliving the minutes has my heart pounding through my chest all over again.
YOU'RE ALL CLEAR, GARY. 

While it could have been the lack of oxygen to my brain, those words spun the room. 

The cancer is gone. 

The inexplicable joy that filled my entire body flowed down my face, and I felt the heavy dread of the past few months vanish, replaced with sheer bliss. I'm not even sure my feet were touching the floor. 

I don't remember what the doctor said after that, except that Grandpa had done a great job and he would see him in three months. I wanted to hug that man and scream my gratitude, but all I could manage to mutter was a thank you. 

ALL CLEAR.

As we left the office and passed through the waiting room, still completely full of other patients waiting for treatment, visits with their doctors and the words we just heard, Grandpa stopped to share his results with an old friend who is fighting his own battle. "It's gone. The cancer is gone." And I watched as thumbs rose in the air, and felt the sincerity of their shared joy.

A moment frozen in time. And in my little corner of the world, we are celebrating.

Serendipitous BFF.


There are some events in life where divine intervention cannot be overlooked... 

The setting is the balmy summer of 2006 in Washington, DC. Two young, wide eyed college juniors from Colorado and Illinois were kicking off their summer internships in a Capitol Hill bar. After realizing the same weasely staffer was buying them drinks, the two ladies wisely teamed up and told him to get lost. (And years later credited karma for his unsuccessful bid for a Congressional seat. Boo hoo.) The girls exchanged numbers with shrieks of girl power and promised to get lunch, drinks or go shopping sometime. Certainly with no intentions of ever following through.

With what happens next, you just can't help but tip your hat to the man upstairs.

It just so happened that one of the girls had lived in DC the semester prior to summer, living in studio apartment just two blocks away from the bar. When the school year came to a close, she decided to extend her stay in the nation's capitol and moved to a nearby house shared with seven other interns. With the apartment vacant, the other girl moved in, assigned to the living space by her own intern program. Yes, the exact same apartment.

Shortly after their meeting, girl number two began receiving unforwarded mail addressed to her promised new friend and remembered she had her number to track her down. Now actually needing to keep honest on their vow to get together, they did. And then did again. And then went to a concert together and did go shopping, and to get lunch and drinks. And by the end of that summer had forged a friendship. It could have ended there and months could have turned into years, where they became little more than friends on Facebook, giving the thumbs up to occasional pictures. But, it didn't.

Fast forward nearly eight years.

A few months ago, as the two of us were driving through DC after having been roommates on two different occasions, vacationed together, cried together, laughed together, celebrated together, plotted together, been horrifically honest together, and made good and bad decisions together, I couldn't help at marvel at how fabulously life works. We have been through the trenches and back again and she even stood up with me and meticulously manipulated the seating chart on my wedding day. While driving down New York Ave and harmoniously belting out early 90s country music--a la Garth, Reba and Trisha--I thought back to those young girls and how excited they would be to know they were each meeting someone who would play a significant part in the rest of the other's life.

Happy birthday to one of my very best friends, my soul sister and partner in crime--Remy, Remalicious, Remalaude, Remington--you are inspiring, supportive, the best critic and such a blessing! I'm so glad you didn't forward your mail in 2006. 

Update from the middle coast.

Jackson's stylish new scarf.
I’m nearing the two month mark as a recycled Midwesterner and can say I’m adjusting. Though perhaps not with great speed or ease, I’m getting there.  In the past 58 days, I have discovered pros and cons to rural living, began to understand that FaceTime is gift from God, and found that under almost all circumstances I despise the concept of drive through dining.

This is a real life burger. No kidding.
Also, oh ALSO! I am learning how to crochet! Thus far I have made an oversized coaster and a dog scarf. Impressed? I am too. My mother-in-law tells me I’m a quick study, and while I’m sure she is full of flattery, I’ll take the compliment to fuel me into my next project: human scarf. Not like made of humans, for one to wear.

Get well card for my Grandpa
from my sweet nephew (age 7).
What else…let’s see…I really want a Team USA Olympic sweater--you know, the wild, American made, knitted ones the athletes wore in the Opening Ceremonies--but have yet to find a benefactor. I have also been writing a lot (not for nonsense, for income) and am really enjoying freelance employment as I continue to seek out the next step in my career. Actually, it may come as a shock, but I have remained unpredictably busy and the reconnecting, roots returning, renaissance of the soul I expected this pilgrimage would bring, has been put on hold.


Right now I’m working on projects as they come my way, reacquainting myself with good cheeseburgers, and most importantly, focused on helping my grandpa kick cancer’s ass. Truthfully, even if this move was the worst idea in the history of ideas, and compared side by side, my life in DC were to stack up taller (neither of which I think will turn out to be true), the ability my new habitat provides to be with my grandparents as they face one of the biggest challenges of their lives, makes it all worthwhile. I know right now, at this moment, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.


New, old and mostly cold.

Well, the wind has blown us westward, caught in a polar vortex. Needing a change that no vacation would remedy, Dusty and I moved back to our old stomping grounds-ish and we have found ourselves digging a new path in the snow covered blacktops of Central Illinois, building from our life together in the 202.

This whole attempt at domestication is about to get real.

Thus far into our adventure, I've only had a handful of breakdowns, trying to adjust to the new habitat. Relocating to the Midwest in the dead of winter may not have been the most intelligent of decisions, considering I’m terrified of, oh, just about all weather conditions. And, what two weeks ago was an elevator ride down 12 stories, is now a plan to start my car 10 minutes before departure to fend off frost bite, followed by tear-filled, white knuckled drive in the snow drifted, ice encrusted, crash dummy course of roadway that leads to another 25 miles of interstate full of drivers insisting my speed is to low (I’m looking at you honking Sebring, zooming dangerously by), to run an errands. Though, I do have to say the proximity of the world’s greatest fried onion rings is a blissful perk. 

In not so many words, I’m not loving the weather in which I have landed.

But, spring will come, and with it barbeques, backyards and boats. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

This post sponsored by the ultimate winter automobile --
The Toyota Snowball, errr Prius.


 
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