Friday, June 26, 2009

A New Low

My friends and family like to point out that I say/act like an old lady, and I can't really argue with them. I do blurt out the occasional old person saying and the mere thought of going out on Saturday nights tuckers me out. But I hit a new "old person" low the other day...

Tommie noticed a local restaurant was having a 1/2 price anniversary sale. Being the cheapos we are, we planned our evening around this occasion. We stocked up on all the half-price food we could eat; Tommie even went back for seconds. But the fact that we were as excited about this deal as the senior citizens in town was not the worst part of it...

My greek salad came with a big piece of fresh pita bread. I didn't use the bread with the salad and was just going to leave it at the table until Tommie said, "Hey, bring that home." My eyes lit up, "Yeah, we can use it with hummus." I stuck the piece of pita in my purse, but I immediately felt like I had crossed a line no 25-year-old should cross. When you start sticking bread in your purse and pockets, you are officially an old person. I once saw an elderly man stick six dinner rolls in his pockets on the way out of the restaurant where I worked.

It's a new low and I'm not proud to admit that I hit least the bread tasted good with that hummus the next day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

St. Peter's Fiesta

Despite the never-ending rain and drizzle that's been hugging the coastline for weeks, the city of Gloucester is not about to let that stop the opening ceremony of the most important "holiday" of the year—St. Peter's Fiesta.

How can I describe Fiesta? As someone who grew up in Gloucester, the annual five-day city-wide "party" seems normal, but whenever I invite people to join me for Fiesta and I tell them we'll go watch the greasy pole (a contest in which a bunch of Italian men dress up in drag and slide across a grease-covered pole suspended horizontally in the middle of the harbor attempting to grab the Italian flag stuck to the end of it), and on the last night we can march in the closing procession where people chant "Viva San Pietro!" (those who don't understand what to say chant "Eat a potato!")—my friends look at me like I'm barking mad. So I learned Fiesta isn't "normal" to most Americans.

Gloucester, Mass. a famous fishing port, has a large Italian population. When the Sicilian families settled here, earning their livelihood as fishermen, they brought along their beliefs and customs—including the one to pay homage to the patron saint of fishermen (St. Peter). This has evolved into the St. Peter's Fiesta. You can read more about the history at

Probably the most amazing part of Fiesta is its ability to bring the entire city of Gloucester back for a reunion. Even if you have no Italian heritage (or something like 2% like myself), having grown up in Gloucester is enough of an excuse to come back and reunite with your entire hometown. It's a kind of pilgrimage. My sister, a die-hard Fiesta fan, comes back from California every year. In her own words: "I've missed birthdays, weddings and funerals, but I'll NEVER miss Fiesta!" That might be Fiesta loyalty to the extreme, but it is the one time you can count on seeing 99% of your friends (and enemies) in the same place, at the same time. And let me tell you, there is something very odd about going into a bar and seeing your entire middle school class there. A few years ago I walked into a downtown bar and bumped into a kid who was a troublemaker in my 7th grade class. The teachers used to sit him next to me so I'd be a "good influence." I hadn't seen him in about eight years and he was drunk as a skunk, but a look of recognition flashed across his face and he hollered, "Hey! You used to help me with spelling!" Just the sort of thing I like to have announced in a bar. For better or worse, Fiesta never forgets you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Million Years Ago...

We were 15 years old, ending our freshman year in high school, and we would talk on the phone for hours about other people we had crushes on (we still do that sometimes). One day he massaged my shoulders and had a look on his face like he wanted a smooch. He later claimed that was NOT the look he was giving me...I might have had something stuck in my teeth...but I've never been one to pass up an opportunity to kiss. Shortly after we starting going out, I think we realized that we were supposed to be in each other's lives for a reason, and we don't even know the extent of it yet. I don't know if we're soulmates, like-minded Libras, or just plain losers, but after 10 years I do know that we are lucky to have each other. Not a lot of people find someone they can trust, tolerate and love at such an early stage in thier lives. Being so young, the road here wasn't always smooth, but getting through it all has made us a stronger, more understanding pair.

When we decided to attend the same college (which some thought, including us, might be a bad idea), I said, "All I want is for Tommie and I to look back on these four years and be happy that we came here." And we were very happy. And so, with another uncertain million years ahead of us, again all that I can hope for is that Tommie and I can look back on the next 10, 20, 1,000 years, and that we will be happy that we came here, together.

Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cookies With a Bad Attitude

I am not a good grocery shopper. If left to my own devices (and this has happened before), I would come home with ice cream, fudgesicles, cookies and more ice cream. Even now, it is Tommie's task to make sure we come home with "real food." Still, I treat myself to at least one desert (okay, maybe more like three) per trip.

While shopping two weeks ago, I had a hankering for cookies...and those little Keebler elf-shaped sandwich cookies were calling my name. But something in the back of my mind said, "Don't get the elves," and it sounded a lot like my mother. The same thing happened this week; I thought "Mmmm, little elf cookies," but I grabbed the Vienna Fingers instead.

When I got home, sat down with my Vienna Fingers, and gave a satisfied smile at the little gray-haired Keebler elf perched on the corner of the package, I suddenly remembered my Mom's aversion to the elf cookies. Maybe she didn't like them herself or thought they were too sugary, but while she tolerated Vienna Fingers, and the chocolate covered graham crackers, she would NOT give in to the elves...they bothered her. I seem to remember Mr. Keebler Elf bothering her...something about him "having a bad attitude." Naturally, the elf cookies, when ingested, would have had some kind of negative effect on our own attitudes.

The cookies themselves are really nothing to write home about...fake chocolate frosting between two vanilla cookies in the shape of an elf...but my God they tasted good when your own mother refused them. Mom will probably read this anecdote and say, "I never said that," but that's how a child deprived of elf cookies remembers it, and it wouldn't be all that unlikely...after all, this is the woman who wouldn't let my sister and I watch the cartoons Tom & Jerry because they were too violent, or Woody the Woodpecker because he was a bad influence. When my sister and I would wake up before my parents some mornings and turn on Woody, we thought we were badass.

But, perhaps, Mom was right. The T.V. show "The Simpson's" overly violent cat and mouse duo (Itchy & Scratchy) were based off Tom & Jerry; my sister did start imitating Woody the Woodpecker's laugh (which was extremely annoying), and every time I go down the cookie isle, those little elves call out to me and that unassuming grandfatherly Keebler Elf gets in my head like the little devil he is and murmurs, "Come on, you know you want them." And despite his bad attitude, he has me hooked.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Over the Hill

Today is my younger sister's birthday, and while most women dread turning 30, 40, 50 and so on, Eva is convinced she is over the hill at age 22.

Eva is the
epitome of a 21-year-old: Her favorite hobbies include drinking, singing karaoke, wearing crowns in public, and biting men with nice lips. Before Eva turned 21 she gave us the day-by-day "Countdown to 21"...I'm pretty sure she started this clock on her 16th least that's how it felt to someone who had to hear about it every day. I can see why, compared to years of anticipation for a 21st birthday, the 22nd would really take the wind out of that sail.

Though the big
hoorah of 21 has come and gone, I know there will be other milestones worth celebrating in her life (and I'm sure many will warrant the excuse to wear plastic crowns), so I hope my sister enjoys her birthday and embraces the climb up and over the hill to "old" age.

Friday, June 5, 2009

You Know You're An Old Couple When...

As Tommie and I approach our 10-year anniversary this month (that's right, 10 years, one decade, countless headaches), it has become pretty obvious what an old couple we are. We've always been old souls; put two old souls together and this is what you get:

You Know You're An Old Couple When...

You sleep in separate twin beds on opposite sides of the room (of course this is partly because it's too much work to switch out the beds while we bunk in my grandparent's apartment...but it's still bad.)

When your grandparents go out more than you do.

When you don't talk during meals because you have already said everything you could possibly ever want to say to each other.

When your partner starts calling the dog "Lover."

When even his sneezes start to annoy you.

When you purchased two "Tush-Cushes" for long car rides. (Tommie wants me to specify that I insisted on getting them.)

When you go out to dinner promptly at 5:00 to beat the crowd and get the early bird specials (and don't forget the coupons).

When you buy matching snuggies for your 10-year anniversary...Okay, so I'm only joking about that last one...we're not there quite yet but we're only two ugly snuggie's away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Wild Iris

Irises are one of my favorite flowers. My grandparents had planted some leftover irises from our old house in Mass. about four years ago in their yard, but each spring the green shoots never produced any flowers...until now. This is the first year the irises in the photo above are going to bloom. They are a little late (as you can see by the photo below, other irises are already at their peak), but better late than never.

This is a poem by Louise Gluck from her collection appropriately titled Wild Iris. This poem reminds me of her other poem "Snow Drops" from the same collection. A tale of the seasons, rebirth/reincarnation and the voices of nature.

The Wild Iris
By Louise Gluck

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death

I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

From the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure sea water.