November 30, 2016

the last pie, the last turkey



We all know this picture. We've seen it a million times and can recite the story by heart. Grandma making Thanksgiving pie crusts for the last time, 2011. My favorite picture ever. And, speaking of Thanksgiving, Facebook's On This Day reminded me of Thanksgivings past today. I went back to look at a blog post I made 2 years ago today and I discovered this picture. 

 

My dad carving the turkey on the last Thanksgiving we ever spent together, 2014. I would know those hands anywhere. 

My own hands are shaking right now because THIS is exactly why I'm the one at holidays who shakes the camera in everyone's face and doesn't even put it down during dinner. These moments right here, that sense of knowing that this was the absolute last time these things ever happened, takes your breath away. Because you have it captured in a photo. And now that both of them are gone, photos and momentos and memories are all I have left to remember them by. 

Someday, when I have my own kitchen again, I'm printing both of these photos out. Black and white, with a white matte in a black frame—grandma's on top of dad's, since hers was taken first. I will always cherish both of these pictures forever, precious memories that I will never forget thanks to never taking no for an answer when it came to pictures on holidays. 

November 24, 2016

thankful



Thankful for... coffee. My first cup for keeping me awake while I drove home this morning, and my second for comfort after I got home. 

Thankful for... family. The first Thanksgiving without my dad has been hard, but I know he's here in spirit. My family has been checking in with me all day to make sure I'm okay. Nothing like unconditional love to make you feel appreciated. 

Thankful for... thoughtfulness. We did Christmas gifts today since I'm spending the holiday with Justin's family this year. My mom's friend made me a quilt with a bunch of my dad's shirts and his work pants and a couple of his hats. It's THE BEST gift I have ever received, and I will for sure cherish it for years to come. 

Thankful for... catching up. Trips home are always ripe with catching up with my high school friends. I'm going out to meet Bryce in a little bit and tonight Noelle is coming over to watch the GILMORE Girls revival at midnight. I honestly don't know where I would be without those two. 

Thankful for... memory keeping. Where would I be without photography and story telling and this very blog and all of my other social media outlets? It's my time capsule, my way of remembering the events of my life, and I'm grateful for the many many memories I have captured and recorded in this space. 

Thankful for... love, above all else. This season in my life has been one of the hardest, most stressful seasons that I have endured. Through it all though, love remains. It keeps growing stronger and stronger when life seems to get shittier and shittier. I'm thankful for the bonds I have with my people, and I know that they won't ever sever. 

I'm thankful for so much this year. Happy Thanksgiving. 

November 17, 2016

happy days



November 17. It's been 3 months since my dad died! And I'm going home for Thanksgiving in T-minus 7 days!

I wore my heart shaped sunglasses when I took Justin to work today and had a little selfie session on the deck after I got home. Once Justin's parents got home from work, Tammy, Cora and I started going through all the old pictures we found in Kerry's room. Albums upon albums of pictures spanning the last 30+ years, and we still have over half of the hope chest to sort through yet.

It was so cool to dive into the history of the family I will become a part of soon eventually. It made me smile like an idiot, seeing pictures of baby Justin and finding cool things like Tammy & Randy's wedding invitation from 1986. I've come to notice just how similar Justin and Kerry looked when they were little. And I've come to recognize Justin's "Papa" by face. It's cool to in a way, get to know the people who are no longer with us through pictures. 

I hope I never stop loving pictures. Both the memories they capture and the act itself of taking them. Therapy and a storybook all wrapped up into once. I'm so thankful for photography and memory keeping, especially after all that's happened in the last three months where those are the only snippets we have left of loved ones who are no longer here. 

All this to say: MAN, I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY. And I miss my dad and Kerry. Happy trails, guys. 

November 15, 2016

currently, november edition

 

drinking hot coffee every morning

staying in bed for as long as possible

enjoying Justin's earlier wake up schedule since he had to work first shift with me on Sunday 

listening to fear factory when Justin's awake, and a mix of mayday parade, all time low, & adtr when he's not 

singing all the pop punk music I can remember

finding the humor in always wishing you had more time with loved ones you can't see anymore

hunting for Christmas presents for my family before I go home for thanksgiving 

craving my mom's cooking

snuggling with my Velcro baby, aka the Mew cat

sleeping either too much or not at all lately

wishing everyone a happy Tuesday 

November 14, 2016

trying to process


*Photo from June 2014

Fear is the heart of love. I was with Justin's brother Kerry when I got this tattoo. He got the "Die Young" part of his "Live Fast, Die Young" piece on his arm. That's the only memory I really have of him and I spending actual time together, one-on-one. Last night, before I (finally) fell asleep, I cried because I finally felt like Kerry was my brother too. 

I'm grieving and I feel stuck in a weird space where I'm not quite sure how deep my grief really runs. The Kerry I knew for the last four years, since Justin and I got together, has been described by everyone that knew him as "not the real Kerry." But that version of him was the real Kerry to me and I'm not really sure how to process everything. 

Amidst the process of cleaning out Kerry's room, it still hits me once in a while that I'm never going to see him again. He's never going to be in the kitchen, cooking something on the stove when I get up to get milk for my cereal again. We're never going to carpool to work ever again. No more McDonald's trips for "Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese, only ketchup!" We turned around the door to his room. Expecting ghosts to come out of there doesn't do anyone any good. 

Almost every night, Justin's mom and I sit at the kitchen table and talk. Sometimes his sister Cora sits with us. It's become a comforting ritual, and reminds me of growing up and sitting at the kitchen table talking to my own mom. Tonight I colored in my new coloring book and drank tea. Tammy played her games on Facebook. We talk about work and Kerry and our dad's and being only children and just... life stuff. It's beyond comforting to feel a weight lifted off your shoulders after just talking to someone like that where there's no pressure to share anything you don't want to. 

I miss my almost-brother-in-law, who I'm sort of realizing was a lot like my dad so it makes me miss him too. They both liked Miller High Life. They were both very private people. They saved anything that they thought was important. They were both so very special people in my life and I miss them both very much. 

November 10, 2016

we all need a little love right now



Tuesday. Election Day. I went to work as usual. Cristin and I made plans to go vote after she got done with work and then go back to her house and get wine drunk after. I took the picture on the left on the walk from Cristin's to the Rec Center to vote. The magic hour light was inspiring. It was enough to make me feel confident, hopeful even, that Wednesday morning would be a time of celebration. A time to say, "Hey, guess what. We made history last night with our new President, for the second time in a row."

I checked the election results before going to bed that night, after three glasses of Franzia Sunset Blush and I felt sick to my stomach. Not just from the alcohol, but from the sheer form of terror that started churning in my stomach when Donald Trump was in the lead of the Electoral College. I woke up yesterday morning and felt numb to everything. The same numbness happened again this morning, slowly dissipating as I go through the routine of a "normal day." 

It's like I still can't believe it. I'm trying to stay off Facebook and Twitter right now because there's so much negativity on both platforms that it's enough to make your head spin. I've been sitting in the kitchen, spending time with Justin's mom and sometimes his sister. It's important right now to establish those bonds with your people, to know that no matter what happens, you will be there for them and they will be there for you. 

We all need love right now in the middle of this fear and hatred. Stand together. Fight harder. Be strong for one another. 

November 03, 2016

the sun will always come out.

 

This morning I woke up feeling sad. I didn't sleep well last night–tried going to bed at 1 and tossed and turned until 3 before I finally fell asleep. I had the urge to live out a memory from my fifteen-year-old self this morning. Lay in bed, listen to "One Man Drinking Games" by Mayday Parade, and cry because you can't keep it all together anymore. 

Everything feels so heavy lately. Home in Waupaca, and Home in Burlington have ghosts wandering around in them. Work stress just adds to the general feeling of unrest in my head. Add in my anxiety and a good kick in the ass from my depression and most days I sit and wonder why I even bother to get out of bed in the morning. It feels like there's nowhere that I can go that's quiet, where I can just block everything out. It's enough to make you miss being seventeen and running around the old fish hatchery with your camera and tripod, perching precariously on bridge railings all for the best picture. 

Time is a funny thing. The older I get, the more I realize the hazy sense of nostalgia my mom gets whenever she talks to me about "When I was your age..." and her own teenage and twenty-something antics. Right now, I'm closer to being 30 than to being 17. That's terrifying and exciting at the same time. To have a life that you've lived and slugged through every single day, and you get to remember the good parts.

The bad parts though are harder to stomach. Memory is such a strong vault of information. Nothing is worse than when something so insignificant triggers a bad memory. The sight of a little pup tent used to be able to reduce to me tears. Blue Moon Beer, vodka cranberries, the sound of ice cubes clinking in a glass on Friday nights. They're all triggers to memories of bad times in my life, which is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because, let's face it, no one wants to be reminded of a shitty time in their life. But they're sort of a blessing because being triggered, for me, reminds of everything I have faced since then, everything I have lived through that has been harder than that, and I'm proud of how far I've come. 

The bad times don't last forever, despite the times when they feel like they do. The light will always shine through. If I've learned anything over the last 24 years, it's that. 

November 02, 2016

adventure time (aka: we got lost)



Today Justin had a dentist appointment in Stevens Point. We left half an hour early, and ended up being almost an hour late because my phone couldn't connect to the internet so we didn't have a GPS once we got into Point. I spent a majority of the time driving around cursing and muttering things to the people who were trying to give me directions on the phone. 

Good news though... Once I go through the headache that is switching HMO's, we're almost home free to get Justin's teeth pulled. 

We celebrated tonight with McGriddles for dinner. Happy Wednesday. 

November 01, 2016

hello november



Thankful for... HEART SHAPED SUNGLASSES. I ordered them a few weeks ago from Zenni and then forgot about them until they showed up in the mail on Saturday. The last time I had prescription sunglasses I think I was in seventh grade. I'm so in love with them, I never want to take them off. 

Thankful for... my new (to me) sneakers. $8 from Good Will, originally from Aldo. I love them, and it's nice not to have to wear my work shoes all the time if I want to wear tennis shoes. 

Thankful for... 66 degrees on November 1. The trees are almost done changing, but I'm going to treat every day I can still go outside in a tshirt like a gift. I shudder to think that January will be here soon and I will be longing for these warm, Indian summer days.