The Little Things and Microwaves

Everyone always talks about the “little things” worth living for, the “little things” that make you happy. But what about the “little things” that just piss you the hell off? What about those seemingly insignificant moments, ticks, behaviors that, for some reason, just drive you up the wall? As amazing as it is what simple things can make people (myself included) happy, the most abstract occurrances can easily send them in the other direction. One of my top offenders: the microwave.

Now understand, I love microwaves. They heat up delicious Thanksgiving leftovers. They provide me a fast track to my hot cocoa fix. But, don’t push the reset button and it’s a whole different story. Ask anyone in my family and they will confirm that the microwave in my parent’s house almost always showed the correct time on its little digital clock. Why? Because after each person finished re-heating their respective food or drink, pulling the newly warmed delectable from the microwave with just a second left (let’s be honest, the beeping timer at the end gets real old, real fast) I would be there within the minute to make sure the reset button had been pushed to clear the leftover time. Maybe it would not have been such a big deal had there been another functioning clock in the room. Maybe I can just be a little anal, but nothing used to infuriate me more than looking at the microwave to see what time it was, only to be faced with a lone “1” in the digital window. It was like the appliance was flipping me off! I just could not stand it!

I realize this confession places me in the category of slightly insane, but truly, everyone has their own little tick. It all comes down to whether you are crazy enough to fess up to it (which clearly, I am). So what about you? Are you just crazy enough to tell me? What is your “little thing”?

Oh Holy Hangover

The annual Christmas Eve party this year was just as much fun as ever. Family, food, and, of course, plenty of booze. As many of my cousins and I have become 21 in the last couple years, we decided to indulge a little and join the adults in drinking and toasting throughout the night. And everything seemed to be going great. People weren’t fighting (which is the usual scene, even in my close family), there was karaoke, ping pong, foosball, tons of pleasant conversation. Then Christmas morning came ’round.

Christmas Day, normally one of the happiest and joyful times of the year for me did not start out so great. It began with me waking up to a slightly nauseous feeling that only intensified as I tried to climb out of bed. Realizing exactly where this was going, and knowing that I was set to go to church with the family in an hour, I immediately ran downstairs and out to our garage for a vitamin water. Yes, it was a little to late to hydrate before mass at that point, but, damn it, I was going to try. In retrospect, I should have been more worried about the car ride over than the prep before. Yet that was nothing compared to the actual mass.

To begin with, my younger brother plays the flute so we always sit near the church band/choir to better hear him play. Now, at a regular service, this proximity would be torture enough, but add in the recent addition of a drum to the band, extra carols for the Christmas Holiday, and the constant ringing of bells throughout the entire (repeated) chorus of Gloria and you have hangover hell. I didn’t even have a headache before church started but I sure walked away with one.

To make matters worse, Christmas also means there is an abundant use of incense throughout the mass. (And did I mention we also sit very close to the front?) This, in addition to the usual sitting, standing, sitting, standing, kneeling, standing, that occurs throughout the service, basically meant I spent nearly an hour and a half simultaneously trying to keep myself from vomiting and/or passing out.

The silver lining in all this: Both my parents had been there before, my brother was dealing with the exact same thing right next to me, and it will always be a hilarious Christmas memory for me (now that I am so longer suffering the symptoms)

Merry Christmas!

My Music

Like most people in the world, music has a profound impact on me. Depending on my mood and the song, music can move me to smile so hard my face can hardly hold the grin, or it can reduce me to a sniffling bag of tears. I can feel enlightened, motivated, somber, energetic, passionate, competitive, depressed, and on and on. And even though they say the sense of smell is the strongest in evoking memories, music is what reminds me most of people and places in my life. Here are a few of those songs and my personal connection with them…

“Little Miss Magic” – According to my dad, this is the song that he used to sing to me when I was a little baby. As no surprise, this will also be the song that plays during the father-daughter dance at my wedding-whenever that happens. Even now, whenever either of us hears the song on the radio, listening to our iPods, etc., we call each other.

Anything by either Jim Croce or Huey Lewis and the News – These were the singers I always remember listening to on the boat at Detroit Lake. My family has been going there every year since I was a toddler, and every year my dad cranks these songs as we lay out in the sun and swim all day.

Gordon Lightfoot – Another camping singer only this is for back at the actual campsite. More specifically, my family always plays this in the morning as we are groggily sitting around the campfire, cooking the eggs and bacon over the flames… at least until we got the propane cooker.

“On Eagles Wings” – This was the last song played at the funeral for one of my aunts. I was sobbing by the end of the service and to this day cannot hear the song without thinking of her and all the things she taught me (including how a girl can never have too much chocolate)

“The song of farewell” – The reason for this hymn is pretty much the same as above except it was for my grandfather’s funeral. It is also especially meaningful since I personally chose this hymn to be played at his service. In addition, I played “Silent Night” on my violin (he died about a week before Christmas) so that song also carried the sam association.

Frank Sinatra/Dino Martin – I swear this is the last “dead relatives” reference. My grandma, even in her last days, loved listening to these two artists over and over again. I think she secretly had a crush on Dino after watching all his shows.

“Baby Got Back” – This is the karaoke song of choice for one of my many cousins. If there is a karaoke machine anywhere near her, you can bet she will eventually be singing this song. (Same goes for “Jumping Jack Flash” and one of my uncles.)

“It’s Hip to be a Square” – Yup, this is me. My dad once made a comment about how this song (or at least the chorus) fit me to a tee. Unfortunately, my brothers have never forgotten this moment and bring it up anytime the song is heard.

…there are a bunch more but they are additional association to people none of you will know so I will spare you those and leave you with these last few songs…

“Goodbye My Almost Lover” – This is a great reflective song for me. I don’t know what it is but the song just seems to calm me. I always feel like just closing my eyes and let the lyrics and music wash over me whenever this song comes up on my iPod (it is ALWAYS on shuffle)

“Remember the Name” – This song does for me what “Eye of the Tiger” seems to do for most other. It always pumps me up and gets me into the competitive spirit. Chances are if I am listening to this I am running or doing some other form of exercise. (The same goes for “Petrified”)

“Winding Road” – This song my Bonnie Somerville is my hands-down, #1 sing in the shower song. If no one is home I rattle the winders belting this out at the top of my lungs over and over again 🙂

finally, my “happy song” always seems to switching from week to week. Right now it is “Hiroshima” (weird choice, I know) but I have a feeling it is going to change soon.

**I also love country music. Older stuff like Clint Black, George Straight, Garth Brooks… I grew up on it and it was the first type of music I really listened to for a length of time. In fact, “Love without End, Amen” was the first song I ever learned all the lyrics too.

The Woman in My Grandmother’s Coffin

It wasn’t her, I can tell you that now.

The hair was too high.

The lips were too pale.

She had never in her life been that tan.

But what hit me the most were her eyebrows.

 

My grandmother’s eyebrows had always been thickly drawn in.

That way, there was no questioning the expression on her face:

Two high arches for surprise,

Low and with a furrowed brow for anger,

Holding a slight wave in the midst of confusion,

Gently inclined for sorrow,

Curving softly when with a smile,

Barely twitching as she playfully winked.

 

Looking way back it had all made sense.

My grandmother was bold,

proud,

fiercely independent.

She was playing cards and Frank Sinatra in the background.

She was morning cartoons with a break for Bob Barker at ten.

And she was soft

pencil eyebrows

half an inch thick.

 

Yet all I saw as I stared into the silk lined box were delicate,

Perfect eyebrows.

Each composed of a thin line of silver hairs.

Each flawlessly framing a too orange brow bone.

 

I took my seat and said my prayers,

The rosary beads slipping soundlessly through my fingers,

While all around I could hear the suppressed sobs of my family. Still,

I couldn’t help but think of the stranger

lying in front of me.

I couldn’t help but wonder how someone could have made such a huge mistake.

And in the end,

To my regret,

 

I couldn’t cry.