Dear Frank,

All year long I planned to write you a letter on or near the anniversary of your death. Sometimes I considered writing you letters throughout the year and saving them as email drafts, and I have very often done exactly that in my head. But as the important date(s) crept up on me, I’ve found myself having a terrible time getting started. And for a while I was not sure why.

Somehow, over the past year, I’ve trained myself not to talk about you. And it’s not because I don’t miss you or I’m totally over it or I’ve forgotten about you. It is none of those things. But still, it was something I subconsciously felt was necessary, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever adequately explain it to anyone, but somehow I know you would understand it, if you were here.

I feel kind of bad, though, because not talking about you so much means I haven’t done the job I should have done when it comes to helping support your people through this. Jeramy, Maria, Chris, Jared, Gregg, your sister, your parents…I planned to reach out to all of them frequently. I planned to help take care of them in your absence. But I found I couldn’t talk about you much, and it was strange, me at a loss for words, me having trouble expressing my emotions, and so I withdrew and I barely talked to anyone about how I felt. I am sorry I didn’t do this for you. I hope, if any of them reads this, that they sort of understand and aren’t too disappointed in me.

I’m doing okay, mostly. On balance, my life is pretty good these days. But I miss you terribly. I miss celebrating the good stuff with you. I miss talking through the hard stuff with you. I miss the last ten-plus years of knowing you were never more than a phone call away, through my late lonely nights, through my musing early mornings, through my triumphs and my challenges. I never had a close friend for as long as I had you. You, who didn’t need my backstory, who didn’t need to have things explained, who could tell how I was doing by a mere change in my breathing or the pitch of my voice. I miss your strong scarred hands and the graceful arches of your feet and your deep eyes and your mischievous grin and your stupid occasional beard. I miss you more than I ever thought it was possible to miss anyone.

But every day I get up and I go to work and I take care of my people and I try to be the person you insisted I have always been. I keep doing it and sometimes it hurts a little less.

Of all the songs on all the mixes you made for me over the years, the one that touched me the most was “Colorblind.” It could have been written about you, and kind of about me, and I know you know that and that’s why you made it the first track on that disc. But I don’t think I ever talked to you about it. I’m listening to it now, and I’m letting myself cry for you for the first time in a while. I wish you were here.

I’ll write you again next year. I love you forever.
xoxo,
lah

2 Comments April 14, 2010

so who’s feeling thinky?

I feel a strong pull toward blogging today, but I’m not really sure what it is I need to write about. Obviously, I need to write about something, because it’s rare lately that I get these itches to write. But what? That answer is not immediately apparent. I’m hoping that just typing for a bit will help get it out.

I hate that I don’t write here much anymore. There are plenty of things going on, but I don’t know, I used to think my life was more interesting and less private, and these days I sort of feel like it’s less interesting and more private – or should be. So I close doors on a lot of subjects and it leaves me with precious little to talk about. I’m worrying too much about what people will think. I’ve crossed into a place where the majority of my readers are probably people who actually know me, as opposed to the early days of loriestories when most of my readers were faceless webpeople.

You know what the most popular post on this site is, according to my stats? It’s this one I wrote in 2004 about how much middle school sucks. And it’s not like there’s any profound advice in it or anything. It’s just that people seem to search for “middle school sucks” a lot in Google and then they come to that post and leave comments. I let most of them stay there even if they’re angry. It just seems like the thing to do. I go and read them sometimes and it gives me an interesting perspective on things.

So I’m a grownup now, whatever that means. One of the things it means is that people don’t usually make fun of me to my face anymore. But there’s this insidious thing that starts in high school and never really goes away where people – usually girls, in my experience – begin to make value judgments about The Kind of Person You Are based on what they know or see about you. I am guilty of this too. And the ones who talk the most about how nonjudgy they are sometimes turn out to be the judgiest of all.

Maybe you see the qualities that define me and add them to your experience to determine the Kind of Person I Am. You see that I am soft. I am pliant. I am nurturing. I am sensitive. I am open. I am genuine. And maybe your life experience leads you to conclude that these things mean I am weak. I am lacking independence. I am fragile. I am naive. You probably don’t mean any harm when you come to those conclusions; in fact, you probably compare them to your own self-image and think, “Thank God I’m not like that.”

But know this: I CHOOSE to bend. I am unbreakable.

April 12, 2010

super yummy enchiladas

I’m sitting here hungry and wishing I had something awesome to eat, but at the same time feeling lazy and not like cooking (which is my standard mode, truly). So I felt like sharing my ferociously awesome enchilada recipe with you. It’s not very healthy, but it IS easy to make and easy to modify if you have picky eaters. I’ve left out the corn, beans, and jalapenos before when making it for my sister, who’s a super picky eater. It takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare and 15-20 minutes to cook.

Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas
1 rotisserie chicken (like from the grocery store)
2 cans enchilada sauce (the red kind)
1 package of small corn or flour tortillas (I’ve switched depending on mood)
1 8oz package shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 can of corn (use the short can or 1/2 of a regular size can)
1 can of black beans (I can’t find this in short cans so use about 1/2 a regular can)
1 small can diced jalapenos (unless you’re a wimp)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Shred chicken into a large bowl.

3. Stir in about 1/2 can of enchilada sauce, corn, beans, spices, and jalapenos to taste (I usually use 2-3 heaping tablespoons). Add about 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir until blendy.

4. Heat tortillas in a pan or the microwave just until they’re warm & flexible. Spoon a little sauce onto each tortilla, fill with a few spoonfuls of the mixture, roll, and place seam-down in a 13×9 pan (glass works best for these, I think). You should be able to make about 10 enchiladas for your pan with enough mixture left over for a second small pan, or for burritos or something later.

5. Cover enchiladas with remaining sauce and cheese.

6. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until sauce and cheese is melty and bubbly.

They’re awesome, I swear. I usually put sour cream on top to balance out the jalapenos.

3 Comments February 11, 2010

bean, go kennel

For those of you who may be interested, I thought I’d spend some time over the next few posts chronicling what I’m doing to train Bean and how it’s working out. Because he’s so young, I’m not really giving him hard core training or anything, but there are small things I’m doing to teach him how to be a great dog and for the most part, he picks them up pretty quickly.

The first thing I decided on for sure was crate training. Bean’s first mom and dad did a great job of getting him and his littermates used to being crated overnight, so I’ve never had a problem with him crying all night long even during his first night with me. He goes to bed around 11pm (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) and we get up at 6:30. In my pre-Bean life I used to drag myself out of bed at 7:30 or 8 if I was really feeling sluggish, so that earlier start has been a tough adjustment for me. But he hears when my alarm goes off and starts making noise, so I couldn’t ignore him even if I wanted to.

Bean sacked out in his kennelI had been doing a ton of reading on training techniques, and on a whim one day I decided to see if I could train him to go into the crate on command. I am using treats and a clicker to train him. He only gets treats when we’re working on commands, so they really are treats more than snacks, and I also only use the clicker when we’re working. You can pick up a clicker at Petsmart for like a buck (they keep them in buckets at the register), or there are fancier ones you can order online. The cheap one works fine for me.

So anyway. To get him to go into the crate on his own, I started by chucking a treat in there, saying “go kennel,” and patting the top of the crate. The minute he crossed the doorway on his own, I’d praise him and press the clicker. We did that several times in a row, and he was totally pumped about the treats. Next, I hid several in my hand and just gave the command while patting the crate top. He smelled the treats and kept nosing at my hand for them, but I ignored him and repeated the command. Finally, I could nearly SEE him thinking, “Well, I guess I could go in there and see what happens.” And so he thought about it for a second, and then went on in the kennel, and it was a total awesome lightbulb moment. I praised the hell out of him, he got a treat and a click, and we were off to the races. We repeated it several times until it was obvious he was getting the idea, and then I stopped for the day.

I’ve grown up with dogs, but this is of course the first time I’ve raised and trained a dog all on my own, and many of the techniques I’m trying are different from what I grew up with. This training exercise took maybe fifteen or twenty minutes, so it was not time intensive at all. I had maybe one more lesson dedicated to “go kennel” and have been reinforcing it at random moments each day in addition to when I actually need to crate him for some reason. I know he understands it because he doesn’t really like going into his kennel, but will do it when commanded (even if it sometimes takes two or three tries).

I waited about four or five days until I was sure he had “go kennel” down cold before I moved on to the next lesson. I’ll write about that one tomorrow or so.

1 Comment February 10, 2010

peanut butter puppy breath

For a long, long time, my vision of the ideal life has included a dog. In fact, though I have two cats and love them completely, I have always considered myself first and foremost to be a dog person. But getting a dog never seemed to be right for so many reasons. It was space, it was time, it was travel, it was work, it was relationship status – excuses, or perfectly good logical reasons, seemed infinite. I was even on the verge of getting a puppy a couple of times, but something always happened at the last minute to change it and I didn’t mind so much.

But over the last several months, my interest in getting a dog had escalated into full-on puppy fever. I cruised Craigslist ads on a daily basis – not just in my hometown, but in all surrounding areas as well. I researched dog breeds and decided I NEEDED a vizsla, and then decided what I really needed was just a short-haired brown dog with floppy ears of any breed.

And then a friend of mine started posting pictures of their accidental litter of puppies on Facebook. And then I found myself obsessed with the one I liked to call “the little brown guy.” And then, well…it’s kind of a long story, but I got really hormonal over the course of a week or so and ended up trying to convince Seth that it was puppy time. Seth insisted that it was not, in fact, puppy time, and that I shouldn’t make major life decisions while hormonal. And then we had this whole big thing about it where it became clear to him that I really, really wanted a puppy – no, wait, THIS puppy – and he told me I should get it even if he wasn’t pro-puppy, because he’d support me, and I was convinced getting the puppy would ruin our relationship, which is pretty great, and he was convinced that if I DIDN’T get the puppy it would ruin our relationship, and OMG drama drama drama and basically, in case you haven’t heard, I have a puppy now. WE have a puppy now.

His name is Bean. He’s a mix between a lab and a German shorthaired pointer, with some springer spaniel thrown in there somewhere. He’s going to end up being way the hell bigger than we thought, which means I’m probably going to have to move out of my townhouse at some point. He is super duper adorable and brilliantly smart and awesome, except when he’s being a psychotic holy terror or a complete dumbass. So far the ratio is mostly manageable. He likes to chew on stuff and he loves peanut butter in his Kong and he loves his human mom and dad and we love him back.

Seriously, Seth and I have both turned out to be total suckers for this puppy. We took him to Petsmart and let him pick out his own bed. We spend a ridiculous amount of time pointing out his adorableness and smartness to each other. We take an obnoxious number of pictures of him sleeping or nomming on his chewy thing or whatever.

Puppies are hard work, and I’m usually pretty wiped out from chasing him around the house and letting him in and out and in and out and in and out and so on. And I have had a couple of moments where I wondered what the hell I was thinking, getting a puppy right now.

But most of the time, when I think about it at all, I think about how quickly we got to the point where I can’t imagine life without him.

2 Comments February 8, 2010

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