WHATEVS…

Sierra's online journal

(Only) 10 Songs I Love April 16, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 5:10 pm
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I’m not musically inclined. My singing voice is reserved for the shower, the car, or any time/place that no one else can hear me. I’ve never learned to play an instrument and can’t read sheet music. But I’m a music lover, for sure. A song can change my mood in an instant. It can conjure up a memory and transport me to another time. I use music to keep myself going, to fall asleep, to unwind, and for a million other reasons throughout every day.

In his heyday, my dad was bassist in a band. When I was a kid, he fed me a steady diet of classic rock and blues…Rolling Stones, the Beatles, J Geils Band, BB King, a little Elvis Presley. I attended my first concert (Bon Jovi) when I was about 5 years old. I remember wearing Cabbage Patch Kid earmuffs to muffle the sound and feeling like queen of the world wearing my concert t-shirt to kindergarten the next day. My mom was a country fan through and through to the point that I still joke that Kris Kristofferson may be my biological dad. But she listened to a other genres, too. Growing up, I heard a lot of Carly Simon. Meatloaf. Cher.
Much to my parents’ chagrin, I developed a taste for hip hop and reggae in my early teen years. It took some coaxing to get their permission to attend rap concerts with friends in those years, but I managed it a handful of times. At one show, I met Lil Wayne, who was walking around the audience selling his “mix tape.” (Yeah. I’m that old.) But I never really abandoned my musical upbringing, either, which has left me with an appreciation for a little bit of everything, my go-to playlists changing every few years or so.
In high school, I listened to a lot of hip hop…DMX, Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Li’l Kim, Missy Elliot, 2Pac, Nas, and who could forget Ma$e? (Answer: Probably everyone has forgotten Ma$e. Let’s be real.) But there was also some alt-rock mixed in…311, Everclear, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins. I remember a dirty dancing contest at a friend’s birthday party set to Closer by Nine Inch Nails, which I not only rocked but won. Then my college years were defined by the likes of Dave Matthews, Five For Fighting, Alanis Morissette, and Fiona Apple. I kept Maxwell’s cover of This Woman’s Work on steady rotation along with the City High album. In adulthood, my music has slowed down considerably, especially as the world of hip hop has devolved into absurdity. Now, I tend more towards country and “singer-songwriter” type of music. But ultimately, I’m still all over the place in my taste.

So the task of picking just 10 songs that I love is a tall order. But here goes. I’ve gone ahead and included a Spotify link for each song in case you want to give anything a listen. Please do!

No Woman, No Cry – cover by Fugees
Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Bob Marley. But when it comes to No Woman, No Cry, it’s GOT to be the Fugees cover. (Blasphemy, I know.) This one takes me back to the late 90s. I’m 15, playing Tetris on Nintendo in my bedroom. The old-style Nintendo that you have to blow into the console to get it to play correctly, because again, I’m that old. This song’s on repeat. My window is open and the volume on my stereo is cranked high. I’ve got no real responsibilities other than school and want nothing more than for the boy across the street to notice me.

Here We Go Again – Ray Charles & Norah Jones
This one takes me back to Willie Nelson’s 70th birthday party in 2003. The stage (and audience!) was star-studded. I’m sitting to the right of my then boyfriend (now husband) who has “that guy with the eyebrows from The O.C.” and his wife on his left. It bothered me the whole show that I couldn’t think of his name; Peter Gallagher. My parents are sitting front row and my mom keeps turning around to taunt Kris Kristofferson’s wife Lisa about the fact that she’s got a better seat. Performances included Bill Clinton (yes, THAT Bill Clinton) on the sax, Shania Twain, Wyclef Jean, ZZ Top…the list goes on. But the stand-out in my mind from that night was Ray Charles and Norah Jones.

Anna Begins – Counting Crows
I’m not really sure why but this song always makes me cry. This one’s on my list because of the lyrics. It’s a love story. And I’m a sucker for a good love story.

“If it’s love,” she said, “then we’re going to have to think about the consequences.” She can’t stop shaking. I can’t stop touching her and this time, when kindness falls like rain, it washes her away. And Anna begins to change her mind. “These seconds when I’m shaking leave me shuddering for days,” she says. And I’m not ready for this sort of thing.

I’ve since read that Adam Duritz wrote this song for/about a woman he met while vacationing in Greece and the fact that it’s a TRUE love story seals the deal even more for me.

Give It All To You – Luke Wade
I fell in love with Luke Wade’s music back when he was on Pharell’s team of Season 7 of The Voice. Since then, he’s toured in our area a handful of times and my husband and I have never missed a local-ish show. This song is among my favorites for several reasons but the most important reason has nothing to do with the song itself. It started when I came across Luke’s cover of Work Song. I hadn’t heard Hosier’s original at the time but was telling my husband about how romantic the lyrics were. (C’mon. He sings about crawling out of his grave to go home to his woman. That’s the ultimate in romance, no? No? Just me? Weird.) Anyway, weeks later, my husband serenaded me with Give It All To You. When he was done, he smiled proudly and I stared at him in confusion. He insisted, “You said it was the ultimate romantic song.” Realizing what had happened, I broke it to hubby that, though I appreciated the gesture, he’d learned and performed the wrong song. But since that night, this one holds a soft spot for me.

Greatest Love Story – LANCO
I know what you’re thinking. (Great…ANOTHER love story.) But this one makes the list because it reminds me of my daughter. Hubby and I took her to her first concert (Chris Young) when she was five years old. He had two opening performers for that tour: LANCO and Kane Brown. She loved the whole experience of being at a live performance and she fell in love with this song that night. Since then, she’s learned every lyric and often asks for it when we’re driving in the car or having karaoke night at my sister’s. And, yeah, it’s also a love story. Duh.

Caress Me Down – Sublime
Caution: NSFW. Sublime is some feel-good music, isn’t it? A little reggae-ish. A little Spanish. A little something else. “Ungh!” I can’t help but turn this one way up when it comes on. And it always makes me smile. Bonus Track: While we’re talking about Sublime, I’d be remiss to not mention Aimee Allen’s cover of Santeria. You’re welcome.

Yele – Wyclef Jean
Wyclef is my man. And the Carnival had several songs on it that I loved. But my favorite is hands down Yele. I don’t know what it’s about because the song isn’t in English. I’m not even 100% sure what language it IS, though I’m guessing Creole because he’s Haitian. What I do know is that I can sing along to every word and it evokes emotions that transcends language.

Moonshine – Erick Baker
My first introduction to Erick Baker was Unbroken Promise, which inspired a whole chapter of a book I’m writing. After playing that one on repeat for a while, I started to look more into his other work. I’ve since found that he was on the rise to semi-success in music when he gave up touring to save his marriage. Which makes me love him even more. He’s a good husband, a good father, and his music is pretty great, too. Moonshine is a feel-good song that makes me want to belt out every word with the car windows down. If this one doesn’t put you in a good mood, I’m not sure what will.

I wanna drink a little moonshine in the sunshine of a Summer day.
I wanna paint myself some blue skies to cover up the grays.
Cause everybody needs a good time every once in awhile.
A bad day that ends with a smile.
And some white light to wash all our troubles away.

Justice – Citizen Cope
When Cope tours in our area, hubby and I always buy tickets. Always. He began his musical career as a songwriter and eventually got talked into performing his own music, despite crippling stage fright. (In fact, to this day, he often opens shows with his eyes closed to avoid seeing the audience.) He’s got a unique sound, lyrics that can be interpreted many ways by many people, and is such an overall “chill” person. And the audience members at his shows are a reflection of that eclectic vibe. I’ve listened to podcast interviews and the Facebook Live “Q&A” sessions he does for fans and I’ve noticed that he NEVER talks about what his songs are about or what inspired him to write any given track. He leaves it all up to interpretation.

Drunk Girls in Bathroom Lines – Heidi Raye
This song single-handedly embodies an entire universal experience in a 3-minute ditty. My husband, who is a country fan, haaaaaaates this song because he says it’s annoying. But I can’t get enough of it. Maybe he needed to be there. In the line for the women’s room at a bar or a concert. It’s quite possibly the place that women are nicest and chattiest to each other. We’re all in a good mood. We’re all out, having fun. We’re all friends while waiting to pee. We’ve all made “BFF’s we’ll never see again.”

If you’ve stuck it out this long, I commend you. It means you probably love music as much as I do. Feel free to connect with me on Spotify and send me a song recommendation or two. I’ll never turn down a chance to discover some new tunes.

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

A Map to My Heart April 13, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 12:13 pm
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What’s the way to my heart? Hmmm. I haven’t really had any reason to give this topic much thought in a long, long, looooong time because my heart already belongs to the hubs. But how did HE win it? And how has he managed to keep it all these years? THAT I can answer.

1) Be able to hold a conversation.

I like humor. I like logic. I like organizing and listing. I like daydreaming. Some of my favorite times are after our girl’s in bed and we’re up talking about our days or future plans.

2) Try to understand my anxiety.

It doesn’t always make sense, even to me. I often can’t tell you why I feel it or what will make it dissapate. But he always listens and tries his best to reason with me without judging.

3) Kick ass at parenting.

There’s no rule book or instruction manual. We’re all just winging it, doing our best to raise kids who are well-adjusted members of society. I’m so thankful that for the most part, he and I are on the same page when it comes to how best to raise our girl. And when we’re not, we’re always able to find a happy medium. Every day, no matter what, I’m a thousand percent certain that our girl has the type of father who will show her by example how a man should treat the people he loves.

4) Do the “boy jobs.”

Look. I was raised by two loving parents who didn’t really put much emphasis on gender roles. My sister and I were taught to be independent, to never rely on a man. So it took me a long time to feel good about giving up control of anything, even in my relationship. But once I did, it was like a weight was lifted off me. I’m still self sufficient in most things but see no harm in splitting responsibilities, either. Equal partners. Except for when it comes to killing spiders or cleaning up dog vomit. Those are boy jobs, for sure.

5) Never give up or walk away.

I’m often hard to handle. I can be irritable, grumpy, hard to live with. I sometimes try to isolate myself. But he’s held onto my heart all these years because he doesn’t give up on me. He’s patient, he pushes me to open up when all I want to do is disappear inside my own head, he often knows what I need even when I don’t.

 

Oh, the Places I’ll Go: Quarantine Edition April 10, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 2:49 pm
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(Day 5 – List five places you want to visit.)

I can’t be the only one dreaming up a to-do list for when COVID-19 is no longer a threat, businesses reopen, travel bans are lifted, and life can return to normal. Thinking about all the places I want to visit helps me stay optimistic, with an eye toward the future and normalcy. And had I been asked to list five places I’d like to visit a month ago, it would’ve been vacation destinations. But here we are. And here’s my list.

1) My daughter’s school.

She loves it and because of that, I love it. The teachers, the staff… They’re all missed deeply. Before all this, I joined her class for library time at least twice monthly, volunteered at every school event, and attended every PTO meeting. The truth is, I may be missing her school more than she is right now.

2) The movie theater.

We’ve had “family movie night” once per week since social distancing began. In fact, we’re having one tonight. (Hello, “Trolls: World Tour.”) It involves microwave popcorn, candy, pajamas, and blankets as the four of us (our black lab counts!) snuggle on the couch. We enjoy it, sure. But man, do I miss the experience of going to the theater. Never again will I complain about overpriced concessions or sticky floors.

3) Someone’s house.

Anyone’s house. My dad’s, my sister’s, my friends’. I want to have a party. Or go to a party. Or a hundred parties. Invite everyone. Hug everyone. Talk to people face to face.

4) Date night.

Like the rest of the country, I’ve been feeling more frazzled than usual lately. And when I feel like this, the solution is often to book a babysitter and enjoy a night out with the hubs. But now? We can’t have a sitter over. And even if we could, there’s no place to go. I miss dining out and escape rooms and the casino and concerts and paint night and bowling and the theater and all the things we like to do on dates.

5) The grocery store.

Sure, they’re still open. But we’re trying like hell to stay away. I haven’t been into any stores since mid-March but I’ve heard there have been many changes. I don’t want to have to wear a mask or wait in line for my turn to shop. I don’t want to hope the shelves are stocked. I want to interact with the cashier without a plexiglass panel between us. I want to shop leisurely and with my husband and daughter. If I forget something, I want to be able to pop in randomly or send my husband at 11pm. Instead, we’re shopping for two weeks at a time by delivery service. Hoping we’re choosing enough to last. Hoping it’ll all arrive and not be out of stock.

I’m doing my best to stay positive by limiting media consumption, getting a daily dose of vitamin D from outside time, and staying somewhat on a schedule in terms of sleeping and eating. I have faith that we’ll get through this and when we do, I’ll not take for granted all these little things. Because I realize now that these little things are actually pretty big.

 

My MomFriendAunt is Better Than Yours April 9, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 8:13 am
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(Day 4: Write about someone who inspires you.)

Growing up, my mom’s best friend was always a presence in my life. But it wasn’t until after my mom passed away that I really came appreciated the human being she is.

From the moment my mom’s diagnosis came until she took her final breath roughly three months later, her best friend was one of only four people she allowed to visit her. She was a huge support for our whole family during that emotionally charged time and I know she was a comfort to my mom, as well. She stood beside us in the receiving line at mom’s services and continued to be an incredible support to us in the days (and months and years) after.

It took me a while after my mom passed to realize that calling her “my mom’s best friend” was still true but no longer made sense. Instead, I started calling her “my friend.” And soon after, I dubbed her my “MomFriendAunt” because she’s like all of those roles in one for me.

She’s the one I reach out to when I’m having an “I just want my mommy” moment or when life feels too overwhelming to handle. She’s who I want to call when something exciting happens or I’ve got good news to share. I can say absolutely anything to her and know that the feedback she’ll give will be genuine, said with love, and have my best interest at heart. She listens without judgment, offers advice when warranted, and just… Gets me.

Late night text conversations, “girls weekends,” dinner dates with my daughter and her grandson, celebrations, and hanging out just because. She’s always there for me. I consider her family and feel fortunate to have her in my life.

But I’m certain I’m not the only one who can say all these things about her. I’ve seen the relationship she has with her adult children, extended family, and friends. She’s given so much to so many; she’s truly the most selfless person I know. And she often struggles with putting herself first and believing all the good stuff about herself. My one wish is that someday, somehow, she finally sees how extraordinary she is and just how much she means to so many.

I love you always, Frankie. Thank you for being you.

Photo credit: Not sure…I swiped it from her Facebook profile

 

Pet Peeves: Quarantine Edition April 8, 2020

If you’d asked me to list my top three pet peeves a month ago, you’d have gotten a very different list. But this is where I’m at now…

1) Feeling both overwhelmed AND bored. At the same time. At all times.

My day begins with three hours of working remotely. And most days, that’s not enough time to get the job done, which leaves me feeling…spazzy… for several hours after. And during that time, I also encourage my girl to start her school work, which she’s not always able (read: willing) to do without guidance. So when I’m done working, an hour or two or three of being a teacher begins.

I prepare eleventy bajillion snacks and meals daily. And pick up twice as many toys/messes.

I do my best to keep my girl connected to school, teams, and friends…. Taught her how to use Microsoft Teams, encourage her to video chat with friends, got her tablet set up with the various apps—and there seems to be a new one added at least weekly—our district is relying on for “distance learning,” and staying on top of all the email updates from teachers and coaches. Which reminds me. I still have to Venmo her dance teacher for the Zoom dance classes.

And when all this is done, we’ve got HOURS left in our day to decompress, though it never seems to be enough time.

At 8pm, we head outside for “bell time.” (Town-wide, people are encouraged to ring bells or otherwise make noise from 8:00 to 8:02 as a show of solidarity in this social distancing era.) And while we play our musical instruments, for lack of bells, my girl dances and I silently think, “One day closer to normalcy.”

After our girl is in bed, it’s time for dishes, laundry, picking up toys (again), and cuddling up with hubby on the couch. By this time of night, I’m ready for a giant glass of wine as a remedy for the anxiety that’s built up all day.

Rinse and repeat.

2) Having to repeat myself.

Here’s a smattering of the phrases I catch myself uttering multiple times per day, every day day…

– “Just because we’re home doesn’t mean you don’t have to brush your hair.”

– “I said ONE snack.”

– “No, it’s not lunch time. You JUST finished breakfast!”

– “3:00 is NOT dinnertime.”

– “Turn off the tablet!”

– “C’mon, we have to get this school packet done before we go outside.”

– “If you want to play outside, you need to put on actual clothes. Not pajamas.”

3) People who don’t stay home.

I’m following the rules. Other than outdoor time in our yard and walks around the block, my girl and I have left the house exactly once in the past three weeks. And that was to take part in a birthday parade for my cousin’s twins, which didn’t require us to get out of the car. Hubby goes to work and occasionally the grocery store. That’s it. If everyone did the same, we’d all be able to get back to life as we knew it sooner.

 

Everybody Counts April 6, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 12:36 am
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(Day 2: Something Someone Told Me About Myself)

In all the craziness of the ongoing pandemic, it’s easy to forget that it’s a census year for the US. Easy to forget until the repeated postcards and reminder letters start piling up, that is. So last week, I finally buckled down and committed to filling out the required information online.

I fired up my laptop, navigated to my2020census.gov, plugged in my access code, and got started. And everything was moving along well for a total of about 60 seconds before I reached the question about my ethnicity.

Easy. White. I’m white. Check. And click next.

ERROR. White isn’t enough. I also must enter my origin. I stare blankly at my screen for a moment, contemplating typing in my standard answer: “European mutt.” But something tells me the federal government wouldn’t be amused with that response so instead I type “unknown.”

ERROR. Not acceptable. I apparently must enter ACTUAL origins. And then the panic started to creep in. I don’t know my origins. What do I put? How will I be counted? Will I be penalized if I’m unable to complete my census? What do people who were adopted enter here?

So I did all I could think of doing. I texted my dad: “Trying to do my census stuff and I don’t know my race. White isn’t good enough. They need to know my ancestry and won’t accept ‘unknown.’ HELP!”

And help came. In an abundance. Complete with color commentary:

“Well, your father was Irish, Scottish, with a touch of English, and your mother was Irish, French, with a touch of German. That’s what I’d tell them. Born under a bad sign, and if not for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. My maternal grandmother was half French, with 12.5% Canadian Indian. My maternal grandfather was just Irish. My paternal grandfather was Scottish, and my paternal grandmother was Irish. Diabetic bitch. With lotsa alcohol. Both sides, and stubborn as the day is long. Plus tell them, opinionated as hell. Self-righteous sons of bitches, too.”

I back-spaced on “unknown” and considered entering “self-righteous sons of bitches” but instead typed: Irish, Scottish, English, French, German.

There. I’ve been counted.

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

Happiness is… April 4, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 2:01 pm
Tags: , , ,

Life feels a little…overwhelming…right now. Amid the covid-19 outbreak, we’re all dealing with a lot. Life has changed for us all and for me that looks a little like this: On March 12, my daughter came home from school for what would end up being the last time “indefinitely.” On March 20, her daycare closed its doors. On March 23, I began working from home, full-time, while also juggling “home schooling” my first grader. On March 27, my full-time hours were cut drastically. Retail establishments are closed. Restaurants are delivery only. Places of entertainment are closed. Grocery stores are limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at once. Playgrounds are taped off, unusable. Some days, I have the presence of mind to remind myself that we’re going to be okay. That we’ll get through this. That it won’t last forever and that we’ll all be stronger and more appreciative of the little things when it’s over. And other days, my anxiety gets the best of me, leaving me irritable, despondent, and without any oomph to even get dressed. Today is one of those “other” days.

And while scrolling through Facebook today, I saw a post shared by my cousin (and fellow blogger) Sasha. “30 Day Writing Challenge.” And I’ll admit, part of me thought, “Who starts a 30-day challenge on the fourth of the month?” And then I realized that this post is exactly what my spirit needed today. And surely starting on the fourth isn’t even on the top ten of wacky things going on in the world right now. So here we go. Day 1 of 30. Beginning with…a list of 10 things that make me really happy.

  1. My girl. – She doesn’t realize how much she’s helped me hold things together these past few weeks. When all I want to do is lay in bed and feel sorry for myself, she’s my reason to get up. To cook something. To take a walk. To watch a silly movie or play a kid game. We help each other find balance; work/school and fun. We help each other find levity in every day. I hope someday when she’s older and looks back on this time, she remembers it as a bonding experience. A positive and happy time in her childhood. And I hope someday she realizes that she’s saved me.
  2. My husband. – My second savior. We’ve been together for 20 years, married for 11. He knows how my mind works and can usually help curb my anxiety. Whether it’s giving me some much-needed alone time when he gets home from work, ordering a movie OnDemand to take my mind off things, or talking calmly and logically through difficult conversations, he gets me. I’m thankful that with all the “social distancing,” he’s someone I can still hold tight.
  3. Our home. – I’ve griped about this house for almost as long as we’ve owned it. It’s too small. It’s old and quirky. It sometimes feels too full, like the walls are closing in on me. But you know what? There’s so much love here. We’ve got everything we need to keep us safe and happy inside. Plus a backyard full of activities for our girl…playscape, sandbox, yard games, her bike and scooters. If we have to be quarantined, this is a pretty damn comfortable place to do it. In fact, I recently asked my daughter where is her favorite place to go. I expected her to waver between a few places she loves but that we can’t visit right now…perhaps dance class or the soccer field, bowling, Six Flags, the movie theater. But she surprised me by saying, “Home.”
  4. My sister. – She and I have a lot in common…including anxiety. So when my husband doesn’t quite “get” how I’m feeling, she surely does. She has always been–and continues to be–someone I can call any time, day or night, to vent to. To cry to. To calm me down. I value the friendship we have and that I can say anything at all to her without fear of judgement.
  5. My dad. – I worry about him every day. His age, his health, his stubbornness when it comes to letting someone else grocery shop for him so he can stay home…they’re all factors against him in this pandemic. Plus add in the fact that he lives alone and I worry that he’s lonely. He and I had a rough go of things after my mom passed but over the past several years, there’s been a change in our relationship. And it’s been so good. I look forward to lots more family dinners and outings in the (hopefully near) future. But until then, we’ll sustain ourselves through texts and calls.
  6. “Framily” and friends. – The calls, texts, and messages just to check in or stay connected have sustained me on most days. From people I consider family to people I haven’t seen in person for years, I’m thankful for every relationship. This week alone, I wept watching a college friend’s memorial video for her dad as well as a high school friend’s welcoming home of her fiance. I’ve joked with someone I’ve considered my best friend since grade school and offered an ear to someone I view as family who is experiencing a loss. Through good times and bad, it’s reassuring to know that we’re all in this together and that even on our darkest days, there are people out there who care about us.
  7. Writing. – I realized pretty early on today that I was having a rough day. And when that happens, I don’t want to snap or take my mood out on my family. So I said to my 6-year old, “I think I’m going to take some time out to write. Because I’m feeling grumpy and writing usually helps me feel better.” Her response? “Okay, Momma. When I’m grumpy, I like to color.” She gets it. Sometimes the time alone is truly needed. And writing has always been an outlet for my feelings. Blogging, journaling, even working on the novel that I started about a year ago…writing is always cathartic. I hope this 30-day challenge gets me putting fingers to the keyboard more regularly. What better time to start a new routine, right?
  8. Sunshine. – It’s not lost on me that my mood is better when the sun’s shining versus when it’s cloudy or rainy. And this past week has brought us lots of clouds. I’m thankful that this craziness is happening in springtime (rather than in the dead of winter) so we can at least be outside soaking up the vitamin D whenever possible.
  9. Essential oils. – I’ve seen the memes. I know you all think that white women believe they can cure cancer with a little clary sage and frankincense. And for the record, I’m not THAT white woman. But on a day like today where my mind needs a little boost of optimism, you’d better believe that a couple of drops of something citrus in the diffuser gives me the pep I need. Say what you will. I’m happy.
  10. The internet. – Imagine for a moment that this quarantine was happening in the 1980s. No social media. No smart phones full of game apps. No e-books. No streaming services. No video chats. What the ever-living hell would we all do?! Thankfully it’s 2020 and my devices all allow me to stay connected with friends, music, books, movies and shows.

On that note, I think I’ll go rub some essential oil on my wrists and head out for some sunshine with my girl before settling in for a night of trashy reality TV with my husband. Stay well, friends. And for those who want to join me in this challenge (or just get a sneak peek of what I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks), here’s a copy of the 30 prompts:

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

To My Husband on our 10th Wedding Anniversary… November 1, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 3:32 pm
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Highschool sweet hearts

We met a lifetime ago. We were kids, sixteen years old and clueless about all that would come. A first date, the culmination of your persistent asking. A first kiss in a parking lot on a cold January night as the snow fell around us. Prom nights. Graduations. College years spent 150 miles apart, and all the weekend road trips and all-night phone calls to stay connected. The night you proposed, and the night my car died to save our future. Every moment of our past has led us to now, almost 19 years later, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. And I want to thank you.

 

02Thank you for supporting me emotionally through some of the roughest points of my past. Moving out of my parents’ house at 17, my mom’s brief illness followed by her passing and the emotional fallout that came after, navigating some tumultuous family relationships. When I can’t catch my breath and feel like there’s no way out of the hole, you’re the one I turn to. You bring me logic when my mind spirals out of control. You calm me down when I need it most.

 

04Thank you for being a constant source of encouragement. The little things you do and say have the biggest impact on me. Helping me see the bright side of a particularly rough week at work, boosting my confidence in my parenting, reminding me of my strengths when I’ve forgotten myself. You have helped me find my backbone countless times when I otherwise feel like a pile of mush. (And who knows? Maybe someday I’ll actually write the book you’ve been telling me to write for years now.)

 

Thank you for helping me celebrate all that’s good in our lives. And there’s been so.05 much. good. It’s easy to glide through life and lose sight of the positives. And sometimes I have to consciously stop and take it all in. Without our partnership in life, I don’t think any of it would have been possible. From the big stuff like our home and our family to the smaller stuff like family date days…I say it all the time but it’s completely sincere every time I do: “I love our life.”

 

06Thank you for being Rylin’s other (often better) parent. I’ll never forget how happy we were to have conceived our girl. The birthing class, setting up the nursery, and pacing the halls of Johnson Memorial Hospital with me during labor, awaiting the arrival of our future. That feeling of panic when they “let” us take her home from the hospital, unsupervised. We’re not always on the same page when it comes to parenting but I wouldn’t want to share the responsibility with anyone else. I am almost constantly in awe of you as a father and so thankful that she has you to teach her by example how a man should treat her.

 

Thank you for doing your best to help me be my best self. I’ve told you for 18+ years 07that “it’s not your job to try to fix me.” But for 18+ years, you’ve done just that. And for that, I am more appreciative than you know. Whether it’s shouldering more than your fair share of household responsibilities or taking me away for a weekend getaway, you always know what my soul needs to smile brighter. And you do your best to deliver just that.

 

We are each wildly different people than we were when we met. And I’m absolutely proud of who we’ve become, both as individuals and as a couple. Our marriage isn’t perfect but I’m proud that we’re both willing to acknowledge its faults and find ways to bolster it. And each other. Every day, I’m proud to call you my husband and so thankful to be your wife.

I love you always and all ways and look forward to celebrating a lifetime more anniversaries with you.

03

Perhaps the first ever “funfetti” wedding cake (11/01/2008)

 

My Last Letter to You October 29, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 5:40 pm
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“In order to love who you are you can’t hate the experiences that shaped you.”
–Andréa Dykstra

 

Photobooth

That second friend request from 2009 is still sitting there in my Facebook notifications. You sent it after I messaged to ask why you’d disappeared from my friends list. I mean, it seemed odd that you would’ve deleted me, considering it was you who reached out to me when the first friend request came in 2007. Do you remember what you said to me then, in ’07? “It took me a while to find you on here because I couldn’t remember your last name.” Always the charmer, you were… Part of me chalked that comment up to a bruised ego after I declined to receive a visit from you in ’03. But part of me thought maybe it was true. Maybe I was that inconsequential to you.

 

Anyway, back to ’09. You told me you had deleted your old page but that you’d send me another friend request. Which you did. And there it’s been ever since. Pending. You never asked me how I even noticed your name was gone from my friends list. Or maybe you suspected why. Either way, I’ll own it. I still look you up from time to time. I wanted to know that you were happy, thriving, growing up. I’d seen that you got married—holy damn, I thought THAT day would never come! I’d seen pictures of friends and cars and your sister—all grown up! And eventually talks of a new girl who became a new wife…more cars and more friends and a little sports. And then October 2017 came around.

 

Summer 2000 a

Earlier this month, I clicked on that pending friend request to visit your Facebook profile and saw posts from August about the fact that you were missing. A GoFundMe page set up by friends. An update about you turning up in an ICU in New York. Far from home. Critical. Alone. My sister reached out to your family and learned about your prognosis. When she first started updating me on what your family told her, I could tell she was dancing around the harsh reality. I said, “It’s okay, Bree. I’m not attached to him like that anymore. You can tell me.” So she did. And my heart broke for you, for your family. You’re too young to be where you were. You had so much life ahead of you…so much more to experience. I sent a friend request to your sister and messaged her to tell her I was thinking about all of you. Taylor said she’d pass along the message. I’m not sure if she did. Or you heard it. Or if it mattered. But I was….I still am.

 

Sweet 16

My “Sweet 16” Party

Your mom recently posted to your Facebook page a plea for friends of yours to visit you. She wrote, “He believes he has been forgotten….He needs to know he is loved.” But I didn’t visit. I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t want to—because I did. And not because doing so would’ve caused a ripple in my household—though it would have. I didn’t visit because I was afraid. I was afraid of walking into that hospital room and you not remembering me or caring that I was there. I was afraid to find out that maybe I wasn’t as an important piece of your history as you were of mine. And that would’ve shattered me. Maybe not visiting was selfish of me. But let me make it abundantly clear. You were not forgotten. And you were loved, fiercely.

 

Forrest Park

Forest Park (MA) – summer 2000

I’ve been in this weird place since finding out your condition. I’m a very happily married woman, most days at least…haha! And it’s been, what? Seventeen years since we last hugged goodbye. But you will always be my first love and a huge part of my past. So I’ve been walking in this bizarre and lonely reality for a month now where my heart is aching and I feel like I can’t talk about it. Because the person I want to talk to most is Chris—my best friend, my husband. And he’s held onto that night in the parking lot on your last visit to town. Do you remember? He and I had been arguing, the result of you-related tensions boiling over. You said to him, “If I wanted her, I could have her.” As though it were supposed to ease his mind. I knew when you said it that it wasn’t true. And you knew it, too. But I think he believed it, which was heart-breaking to me in itself. And that was the night his disdain for you was solidified. Anyway, he and I have created a beautiful life together since that night…a rock-solid marriage, a loving household, the most amazing daughter I could ever dream to call mine. He’s given me stability, kept me grounded, and showed me far more patience than I probably deserve. But I can’t ignore the fact that I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the experiences you and I shared so long ago. You’ve always had a place in my heart, always will. Yet I feel like, out of deference to him, I can’t show how much your illness has been weighing on my mind.

 

Fall 2000

What was I thinking with that hair color?!

I woke up yesterday morning to read Taylor’s post. You’re gone. And I’m not sure what to do with all the feelings I’m feeling. So I asked Chris to search through the basement to find “the box” for me. You know the one…teen-aged girls squirrel away mementos from boyfriends in “the box.” And most women probably burn that stuff when they start a new relationship or toss it in the trash when packing up their girlhood room to move into a new house. It’s definitely disposed of in some way before they get married. But I’m one of the lucky few who holds no ill feelings towards any of my exes, including you. So I’ve kept it all. And last night, I’m glad I did. I opened that shoebox for the first time in 14 years—I know because there are emails tucked away in there, dated for 2003. And I took out what was on top…an old t-shirt of yours, the one I wore as a nightgown after you left. And I wept into it.

thumbnail_20171028_232450

 

I spent last night looking at old photos, reading old love letters, and remembering all the experiences we shared—the good and the bad. I know your friends will likely be sharing their memories of you over the coming days. And though ours go a bit further back than some, they’re important to me and I hope they were important to you, too. I won’t pretend to know the choices or circumstances that led you to where you ended up. Nor will I claim to know the man you’ve grown into. But I’ll tell you what I remember about our years together, a lifetime ago when we were kids….

 

QuinceaneraI’m going to remember how we met. You moved in across the street from me in the summer of 1998. You used to ride your bike past my house real slow. You later told me it was because you wanted to talk to me but were afraid. Can you imagine?! So you sent your little sister over to talk to me first. She was about 8 or 9 at the time, I think. And when it was time for Taylor to come home, you came over to get her…and chatted with me. You know, since you were there anyway. You probably thought that was a pretty smooth move back. Thinking about it now actually brings a smile to my face.

 

I’m going to remember what it was like falling in love with you. We fell hard and fast, as is the way with teens. (I was 15. You were 18. Your mom was nervous. Hahah.) I’d had boyfriends before but you were my first love. The kind that, to this day, still makes my stomach do backflips when I think back on it.

Summer 2000 b

 

I’m going to remember those square-cut diamond earrings that you wore in both ears. And that cologne of yours…. Did you know that for years after you, the slightest whiff of Tommy could bring me to my knees? I’m going to remember the way you cocked your fitted cap to the side when you wanted to lighten the mood. And the chain you never took off your neck. I’m going to remember how when you weren’t sure how to express your feelings, you spoke in song lyrics—you ALWAYS had the perfect song even when your own words failed you. I’ll remember the drawings and doodles and scribbled messages on marker boards. I’ll remember how you paused a little too long when speaking sometimes to avoid stuttering…a quirk you hated about yourself but one that I found endearing. I’ll remember Sunday morning softball games with my extended family…you could catch ANYTHING that was hit to the outfield. I’m going to remember making you pose for that god-awful “Titanic” themed portrait and the haunted house at Six Flags…and all that came before and after.

Drawing

I’m STILL trying to figure out the meaning of this…hahah!

 

I’m going to remember that no matter how much of a “tough guy” you tried to act like, you were a softy. I’ll remember that you preferred to joke when conversations got too heavy and often hid your insecurities with cockiness. I’m so glad I saved those letters, including the ones we wrote back and forth in a journal that summer you came to visit when I was living with Bree. Do you remember that? It was surprisingly YOUR idea and you did it happily in my sparkly blue pens. You said so much in those letters. And I either didn’t realize the gravity of them then or had just let the memory fade. Reading them last night was cathartic.

Journal - summer 2000

20-year old you questioned if people would miss you

 

And, sure, I’ll remember the arguments. The eye rolls. The exasperated sighs. The giving up. Hey, it’s all part of the experiences that shaped us, right? Love isn’t all rainbows and glitter all the time. And, with all the moving around you did, who could forget the goodbyes? There were tearful farewells in driveways and tearful drives to drop you off at home and tearful (and sometimes inappropriate…hahah) send-offs at bus stations. In fact, looking through old photos made me realize we did lots of crying. We got pretty good at goodbyes. But this one is the toughest because it’s the last.

 

Most of all, I’m going to remember how you made me feel. Safe. Loved. An important piece of your history. Flipping through the mementos of our time together has reminded me of who I was back then. And honestly, I hardly recognize that girl. She was adventurous and spontaneous and so so snarky. I miss her. And maybe if you’d looked back on those times, you might have thought the same about yourself—that you missed him. The him you used to be. I can’t picture him ever questioning how much he was loved.

Oct 2000

An excerpt from one of your last letters to me

 

I’m sorry, Nick. I’m sorry that we couldn’t have been the people we needed each other to be. But I’m not sorry for a single minute of the often tumultuous, on again off again, 2+ years of my life I spent with you. Or for any of the communicating we’ve done since then. Thank you for playing such a huge role in the experiences that have shaped me. And never EVER doubt that you were loved.

So Long

 

So long, old friend. I hope you find the peace that you couldn’t find here.

Love always,

Sierra

 

PS – Because I know you like to joke when the tears are coming, I’ll leave you with this. Typical Nick. Please note the god-awful “Titanic” themed portrait hanging on my wall behind you.

Cockiness

In memory of Nicholas Lorenzen (5/9/80 – 10/28/17)

 

Looking Up August 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 10:38 pm
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A few months ago, I saw a video online called Look Up. It’s stuck with me since then. And it’s made me stop and ask myself, “Is Facebook consuming my life?” It’s the first site I surf to when break time rolls around at work. It’s my home page on my personal laptop. It’s open virtually any time I’m holding my phone. My answer seemed to be a resounding yes! Until last week. I had the privilege to be on vacation. A full five days away from the office to spend at home with Rylin, my 15-month-old. (Yes, I’m that mom. The one who counts her child’s age in months. But I promise to only do it until she’s 2.) And I thought to myself, “Self, now is the time. No Facebook for a week.”

I dreamed of what a week away from Facebook would be like. There wouldn’t be any political rants to get under my skin. Or eternally pessimistic friends to get my spirits down. Granted, there also wouldn’t be any photos of my friends’ adorable children or internet memes of wrinkly pug puppies wearing tutus, either. I had lofty ideas of how I’d spend my time while Rylin napped; I’d scrub the bathrooms until they shined and make my own laundry detergent. I’d have sumptuous dinners waiting on the table when my husband Chris returned from work. I’d read more. I’d finally get those family photos into an album. I’d learn Italian. (Okay. Maybe not that lofty.) Still, it was going to be great.

Sunday night, true to my personal vows, I returned home from a family beach trip, posted a couple of photos to my profile, updated my cover photo, and signed off.

MONDAY 8/11

Resisting the urge to open Facebook on my phone first thing in the morning, as I usually do, was difficult. After breakfast and “Rhyme Time” (a half hour of nursery rhymes and songs for children Ry’s age hosted by the librarians at our local library), and a bit of playing, it was nap time. I did laundry. I checked my email to find a notification that my brother-in-law, who had been with us at the beach the day before, had tagged me on Facebook in a photo. I imagined it was a photo of Ry playing in the sand and wished I could see it.

It was rough but I made it through Facebook-free. That night, I think Chris could tell how much it was irking me to not be online. (Maybe it was the nervous tics?) He sat on the couch next to me scrolling through his news feed smugly.

“There’s BIG news happening and you don’t know about it because you’re not on Facebook,” he said.

“Suuuuure,” I rolled my eyes.

Still, he insisted. “I’m serious.”

“What’s this ‘big news’ that’s going on?” I asked.

“Robin Williams is dead.”

I didn’t believe him. We went back and forth for a full minute—me insisting he was joking and him insisting he wasn’t. Finally, I googled and confirmed. “Holy shit! Robin Williams is dead! THIS is what happens when I take a week off of Facebook? I kill Robin Williams? Who’s next?!”

TUESDAY 8/12

I came to a startling realization that we have three social events that coming weekend, two of which were being organized on Facebook. “I’ll have to have Chris check his events calendar for the starting times,” I told myself. Dinner was ready when he got home. More laundry got done but the house was no cleaner than it was over the weekend. I finished the book I was reading before bed.

WEDNESDAY 8/13

My day began at 5:19am when I was woken by the faint calling of “Momma….” I opened my eyes and became acutely aware of the fact that the air conditioner was off. The ceiling fan was off. The video monitor was off. Thank goodness for the battery backup in the audio monitor or I never would’ve heard Ry; we had no power. I tiptoed upstairs to close the office door across the hall from Ry’s room, hoping it would muffle the beeping sound that likely woke her. It worked. She fell back to sleep and I thanked my lucky stars for a little more sleep.

Back in bed, I couldn’t sleep, though. I was too worried about why the power was out. I checked the weather app on my phone to see if storms were in the area; nope, just rain. I peered out the window to see if the neighbors had power; nope, all dark out there, too. My next order of business would normally be to pull up Facebook to see who else was in the dark. I had a moment of panic. “How do I know how long it’s going to be? How many people are without power? What if no one else has reported the outage yet?” I then realized that Facebook is not the end all and be all of reporting power outages. A quick visit to our power company’s website later, I knew that a whopping 24 customers were without power and the power company was already working to restore it. It came back on about 40 minutes later and I was able to catch some more z’s.

THURSDAY 8/14

After three full days home with Ry, I was exhausted. My energy was no match for her. I napped while she napped. “Those damn photo albums have waited this long, they can wait a little longer,” I thought.

During afternoon play time, Ry looked at me and clear as day said, “I did it.” I was psyched! It was her first three-word sentence and certainly something to celebrate. I wished I could’ve posted a status update about it so everyone would know what a smartypants I birthed. But I couldn’t. So I decided I’d just call someone to tell them about it. And suddenly it didn’t seem momentous enough to warrant a call to anyone in particular for JUST that purpose. I imagined calling a friend to report the news and the pregnant pause that would follow my announcement when they wanted to say, “Okay, well, thanks for calling.” Instead, I waited to tell Chris when he got home. I was too tired to cook. We had take-out for dinner.

FRIDAY 8/15

After Chris’s work day ended, we took a very cranky Rylin to play at the playground at our local library. If I were on Facebook, I would’ve private messaged a couple of our friends who also have toddlers to invite them to join us. And maybe even posted a picture of them playing. Instead, we had fun just the three of us and Ry made friends with another 15-month-old girl named Charlotte.

SATURDAY 8/16

While chatting with a friend before Zumba that morning, she asked, “Are you back on Facebook yet?” I shook my head. “Oh,” she said, “well then you didn’t get the link I shared to your page. The Pooch Plunge is on the 25th.” I thanked her for the reminder because our golden retriever would’ve never forgiven me if I forgot.

That afternoon, we took Rylin to Magic Wings, where we’d be attending a wedding that evening. After walking around for a bit, we stopped at the food court to grab a snack. Chris pulled out his phone and began checking his news feed. “Cute. Today was Aiden’s birthday,” he commented.

“I’m. An. ASSHOLE!” I exclaimed. Chris didn’t understand what was wrong so I explained, “We were supposed to go to his party. I told them we’d stop in quickly before we left for the wedding. I can’t believe I forgot!”

I felt terrible and wanted to call Tonya, Aiden’s mom and a lifelong family friend of mine, to apologize for having missed the party. I took out my phone, opened my contacts, and….”HOW DO I NOT HAVE TONYA’S PHONE NUMBER?!”

SUNDAY 8/17

The three of us had plans to attend a friend’s barbecue. Chris had to check his events calendar to confirm the start time because all I could remember was that I’d agreed to bring a veggie platter. Ry napped through the party’s start time and after yesterday’s blunder, I didn’t want to not notify the hosts that we’d be late. Text message, it was. After the barbecue, I received an email notification that one of the hosts tagged me in a status update and immediately felt out of the loop.

MONDAY 8/18

Back to the grind. I went back to work and Ry returned to daycare. When I arrived to pick her up at daycare in the afternoon, I found her sitting in the dirt pit—like a sandbox but instead of sand it’s dirt. She was raking dirt around, digging her fingers into it, and sipping it from an empty Adobo container. I wish I were kidding. She was FILTHY from head to toe. But smiling the biggest smile ever and she passed out cold on the way home; these are both two sure signs of a fantastic day.

She went directly into the bath tub when we got home. After bath, I fed her dinner and put her to bed. When Chris got home from work I said, “If I was on Facebook, I totally would’ve posted a picture of Ry. She was dirtier than I’ve ever seen her.”

Chris laughed and said, “I feel like you’re taking this no-Facebook thing too far.”

“I’ll go back on tomorrow. Maybe,” I promised. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t take the picture anyway.

TUESDAY 8/19

I found what I believe to be the coolest website ever made. It’s a travel agency for stuffed animals. I know. You’re saying, “Whaaaaaat?!” Just hear me out. You purchase a “tour package” on their website then mail them your stuffed animal. They’ll then take photos of your stuffed animal enjoying its vacation. When your stuffed animal comes home, it’s accompanied by a CD of photos of the adventure. I immediately wished a) Ry was old enough to find her stuffed animals traipsing around Japan to be entertaining and b) I could tell people about it.

So I told Chris. I don’t think he appreciated it half as much as I did.

“I would’ve put it on Facebook. You know…if I were on Facebook,” I told him.

“Would you just go on Facebook already?!” he smiled.

TODAY 8/20

Well. Here I am. On Facebook. And after a week (plus) without logging in, I see more of the good in it. It’s a means to share what’s important to me in a way that isn’t invasive to others. It’s a good way to organize my social life. It’s how I often contact people. It’s the manner in which I get my news. And what’s wrong with any of that?

Instead of nixing social networking altogether, I’m now thinking about cleaning up my profile a bit…maybe make use of the filters Facebook provides to help me sort my friends into groups and help me hide some of the content that I really don’t want to see. Or start to drop people off of my friends list if necessary.

Hello, Facebook. I’ve missed you!