Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Encyclopedia of Me - I (Stacy)

(Photo credits:;;;;;

Italy - This is a place I dream of visiting one day (I predict that Mark will choose Ireland). I studied Humanities in college and learned about Rome, Florence, Venice . . . I'd love to see paintings, sculptures, and architecture in person that until now I've only seen in books. I've been in every state that starts with "I" (Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa). It's time to visit countries that start with the same letter. I really wish Mark and I had traveled to Europe when we first got married.

Indian Food - I love Indian food. It's not my top favorite (that would be Japanese). And it's not my second favorite (that would be Mexican). But it's probably next on the list. Mark and I took a cooking class together this past year and we learned about Indian cooking. The lady teaching was so laid back about measuring or following exact recipes that it boosted my confidence in toying with ingredients and spices and making stuff up when it comes to Indian cooking. I've been doing it since with great success! One of our favorites is a spicy chickpea and spinach dish. Yum!

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - After a 5-year hiatus from Facebook, I got back on this past summer. My first post said, "Just finished Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." I hadn't ever read any of her books before, but decided to read it after she passed away and I heard a rebroadcasted interview with her on NPR. Gorgeous book. One to be savored, much like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." What a gift and treasure she has left us." It's true. The book is absolutely gorgeous. It is now part of my top 5 most beautifully written  books list along with To Kill A Mockingbird, Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Harry Potter ranks as a top 5 all-time personal favorite, but when we're talking about "beautifully written," well, that's where they switch places.

Internet - This almost didn't make the list! As a family, when we do these Encyclopedia of Me posts, we roll the Scattegories die and write up whatever letter we get. We don't share our choices until we post. Well, Max has been all excited because he thought of a good one that he suspected we hadn't thought of and he told us, so Kate and I groaned and knew we wanted to include it and we said we'd give him credit, so here you go, Max! GOOD ONE! I *love* the Internet. I think it's amazing to have so much knowledge at our fingertips. I could easily spend all day on the Internet, opening tab upon tab, reading article after article, looking up answers to questions . . . oh wait, I guess I kind of already kind of do this! Like just today, the kids and I looked up why Greenland is an island while Australia is a continent. When I was a kid, I would sit with a set of encyclopedias and read about anything and everything. And now, here I sit at a computer, typing so fast, looking stuff up, and posting my very own Encyclopedia of Me post that I can instantly share with people. AMAZING!

Intelligence - I've mentioned this before in our "N" post (N for Nerd). I mentioned that I think being smart is sexy and fun and interesting. Kate and I were reading an article on NPR today and discussing the word sapiosexual. I'd call myself a sapiosexual - one is attracted to intelligence or the human mind. It is one of the many things that attracted me to Mark. Even before we started dating, we hung out as friends and one of our favorite things to do was to play Trivial Pursuit. We kept a tally sheet of our scores and it was always really close. I kept it on my wall in my dorm and I have it in a box full of stuff from college. I love having intelligent friends and, if I can be an intellectual snob for a moment, dull people bore me. I know that sounds terrible. I don't mean it in an elitist way. I like people regardless, but I don't enjoy boring conversation. I like wit and banter and intelligence and humor and information. I don't know everything (who does?), but I like talking to people who are well read and I like learning and being challenged. That kind of thing.

Indie Films - Indie films, indie theaters . . . I love them! I like the whole smart coffeeshop vibe of small, local venues. I love our local theater in town. It's old fashioned in appearance, but state of the art in technology. We know the owner and he knows us. They have one screen and, in general, show the most interesting films! In addition to great current features, they also sometimes show old films, westerns, and silent films (complete with live musical accompaniment). It's awesome. There's nothing like it. Many of my clients tell me that they won't even see a movie unless it's showing there. We feel similarly - when there's a movie we want to see, there's no choosing a chain theater over our local theater if they're showing it. I think I owe a lot of my love of good, quirky, and well done films to my experience in college with the International Cinema. I majored in Humanities, so every class I took gave me a pass to go to the IC, as we called it, for free (even if it hadn't been free, it was only $1). I saw so many great foreign films and learned about how much better quality many non-Hollywood films are! From then on, I was hooked. I like smart movies, make-you-think movies, documentaries, foreign films, quirky films, indie films. Love, love, love. I've even done a post (with running comments) about these kinds of films.

So here are a bunch more "I" things that I thought of. I had a hard time coming up with "I" things at first, but then I thought of a bunch and had to pare it down. So, in typical I-stink-at-cutting-things-out Stacy fashion, here are a few more "I" thoughts . . . . I was going to write about the name Isabel, but I suspect Kate is doing that (it's a great story). I also like the Indigo Girls and we got to see them in concert as a family this past summer. I thought of iPods - I like that we can listen to so much great music so easily on them, but I don't understand how to work them. :P Some songs that are very nostalgic for me all start with "I" (there are way more than this, but here are some): "I Am By Your Side" by Corey Hart is on a mix of love songs I made for Mark our freshman year. Hearing it brings me right back to that feeling of the summer after our freshman year, being on the plane for visits home and listening to the tape on my Walkman and missing him, listening to the tape the summer after freshman year, long talks via long distance phone calls (oh, the phone bills that summer!) to each other . . . aaaahhh. "I Could Write a Book" by Harry Connick, Jr. is one of the songs on our wedding video - pictures of us set to music, so that song always makes me think of that and of us. "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel was my senior prom theme, but I was dating my first boyfriend (pre-Mark) then, so I won't go on too much about that one. ;) "It Had To Be You," also by Harry Connick, Jr., reminds me of our dating years - I got into Harry through Mark and my freshman roommate. The entire soundtrack for "When Harry Met Sally" all reminds me of that beautiful time. "It’s a Beautiful Day" by Michael Bublé is a great song that helps put me in a great mood. Love Michael Bublé! I was going to put "I Love Lucy" on here, but discovered I already put it in my "L" post. I would also add that I'm fond of the "It Gets Better" campaign; I enjoy and miss In-N-Out Burger; and I love the phrase "I love you." I say it often. I mean it when I do. I've got a bunch of notes from the kids from when they were younger - Kate would leave notes lying around with a picture of an eye and "I see you!" on them, and Max would leave me notes that say, "I L Y!" (for "I Love You"). Phew! I'm tricky. :)
It gets better In-n-Out Burger, I love you

Encyclopedia of Me - I (Mark)

(Photo credits:;;;;;

Ireland: Yeah, my last name is Irish. No, I'm not that Irish, but my mother did send me to school wearing a shamrock that said "Kiss me. I'm Irish." pinned to my shirt in elementary school. And even though my last name is the most Irish thing about me, I do have a fondness for a lot of Irish things. I make a mean Irish pork medallion and soda bread on St. Patrick's Day. And my special Irish boilermaker chili is fantastic (one can of Guinness and a shot of Jameson's--perfection). I like Irish folk and rock music (Flogging Molly is a particular favorite of mine). I think the accent from The Emerald Isle is great. One of these days we'll get over there and kiss the Blarney Stone. Or maybe just stand down below and let others lean out and do that. Éirinn go Brách!

"I Could Write a Book": The song is an old standard, but the Harry Connick, Jr. version from "When Harry Met Sally" has a special place in my heart. Whenever I hear the song I think of Stacy, not only because we both like Harry, but also for what the song's lyrics say. It ended up in our wedding video, so that should tell you something.

Inequality: This is something that I've given a lot of thought to over the years, and the older I get the more impatient I get with inequality in the world. There is no excuse to treat another human being with anything less than respect and fairness. It doesn't matter what that person's situation is; everyone deserves the best. White, black, male, female, gay, straight, whatever. Equality is the only way. Period.

"The Incredibles": I know this movie is polarizing among Pixar loyalists, but being a big James Bond fan I really enjoyed this movie. It was a bit more adult than the other Pixar films to that point, but I thought it was brilliant. The kids were watching it yesterday and from the other room I heard the music and you could tell they channeled Bond all the way. Plus, an eccentric billionaire with a private island, and a hideout beneath the waterfall. "The Man with the Golden Gun" anyone? (Sidenote, I love Nick Nack in that one. I'm just saying.)

Inglewood, CA: My father grew up in his grandmother's house in Inglewood, not far from The Forum (now Staples Center). I have a lot of fond memories of going to her house, digging holes in the back yard, climbing the lemon trees, looking up obscure words in her Scrabble dictionary, drinking fresh lemonade, playing with her cats named Boy (every cat she ever had was named Boy), and even spending some holidays there with my father's extended family. Nana's house was a great place to hang out, even if the neighborhood had changed just a bit since the 50s and 60s. It was also very close to Disneyland, which meant a day trip every time we went there. I still have two quilts my great-grandmother made for me, and I can often hear her say her favorite phrase: "Mercy, mercy, mercy." (Inglewood is also the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, which I loved watching from the days of Magic Johnson until now, though not as much these days.)

Ishikawa, Travis: This obscure first baseman/outfielder for the Giants hit one of the biggest home runs in San Francisco history this past season. His home run won the game that sent the Giants to the World Series, which they would eventually win, for the third time in 5 years. I've got to say, after watching him be traded from team to team during a very below average major league career, it was pretty cool to watch him have a moment like that. That's the thing about baseball: you just never know who's going to be the hero on any given night. (I just watched it again here. It never gets old.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Year in Review - 2014

  1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before? Turned 40. Celebrated my husband turning 40. Rode in a stretched limo as a family for fun (part of the 40th celebration). Attended the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. Bought a beautiful, modern home. Expanded our business. Saw my daughter get her first job and her first book signing as well. Saw my son start a regular volunteering shift at the library. 
  3. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Two separate questions. To the first one: Nope. I did horribly. Again. Same three things I wanted to do the year before that - write, meditate, exercise. I have this awful habit of wanting everything to be done/caught up/perfect before allowing myself to do something I want, which generally translates into not getting to things I want to do very much. I know better. I counsel people and tell them not to do that. I also tend to run around doing for everyone but myself. This needs to change. I think I do better when I live by a phrase like I have in the past, so I'm doing that again this year. So, to the second question: I am. Mark's clever play on words: The Year of Não ("No" in Portuguese)/Now. See, "Não" is pronounced "now." So it has two meanings - saying no more (in order to say yes to myself more - as in, don't overextend and also, make myself a priority) and also doing things NOW - not putting them off.  
  5. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yep. Two of my SILs. They both gave birth to adorable baby boys - Duncan and Finnegan.   

  6. Did anyone close to you die? No. Thankfully, no.

  7. What countries did you visit? With the house and business moves, we didn't travel much this past year. We did have multiple guests. We did spend a day at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC. And we did enjoy a week at the beach in Delaware, an annual tradition for us.  

  8. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? Again, I'd like to take better care of myself. I think a lot of my anxiety/depression comes from not doing enough of that. 

  9. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? April 28th (Harper Lee's birthday) - the day we bought this house. Our birthdays - the big 4-0 for both me and Mark.

  10. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Moving our home and business. Throwing Mark an awesome 40th birthday that I know he truly enjoyed. And, difficult as it is, making some breakthroughs on insights to emotional issues.

  11. What was your biggest failure? Like I say every year, I don't like to think in terms of failure. It is what it is. But I do tend to put my whole heart and soul into others without affording myself the same. It really needs to stop. It's simply not healthy.  

  12. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had a horrible neck spasm in January of this past year - it was extremely painful and scary. It limited my range of motion and was so bad that I almost couldn't lie down to go to sleep the first night, prompting many tears. It was during that really bad cold weather - stupid polar vortex. Stress built up for me this past fall and I dealt with a pretty bad bout of depression. It'd been 10 years since it'd been that bad (and even then, it wasn't as bad as it was in 2003). I had spent the past several years (and especially the past year) repeatedly saying, "I'm breaking." It just got worse and worse until in November, I feel like it snapped and went from "I'm breaking" to "I'm broken." I have felt burned out, overwhelmed, tired, stretched thin, unsupported, low . . . basically, I have run around doing for everyone else but not taking care of myself. I'm not good at it. I don't always feel deserving of it. I know these things intellectually. Putting them into practice is another story. I'm trying. I'm working on it. I'm learning where it stems from and learning how to address that and heal and move forward. It's a process and takes time and work. I've learned a lot from the experience (I have learned every time I've dealt with depression) and I am especially grateful for supportive friends who were simply incredibly dedicated to helping me. I've felt very supported by many, which is very different than 2003 when we had just moved here and knew no one (again, this bout wasn't nearly as bad as in 2003 - having older kids and a support system helps! -, but difficult nonetheless).    

  13. What was the best thing you bought? Hands down, our new house! It is modern and lovely and floods with light every day. Our views from every window are so beautiful that you can't help but stop what you're doing and take it in. As a family, we're often looking at the gorgeous sunsets, snow-covered trees, misty creek, farmland, hills . . . it's all so pretty! At our old farmhouse, we could see billboards and "Big Mike's Beer Warehouse" (or something like that) and McDonald's and while it was a wonderful place to be for over 7 years as we started our business, this change has been so good for us. Our business is now in its own location with TWO patient rooms (which is, as Mark keeps saying, awesome). And our home is modern and open and light-filled. We have closets, a garage, central air, gas heating, an open-floor plan, a fireplace (two actually - one in our room, too), LOTS of windows . . . we love it. We have now lived in a small apartment, a trailer, a townhouse, a farmhouse, and a modern house. It's kind of fun to have different adventures! 

  14. Whose behavior merited celebration? Sherri and Ron's. They helped us move. They offered. They insisted. They showed up. They lent a lot of time, muscle, and truck use as well as loads of friendship and emotional support. We're very grateful to them. And when I started getting down, Sherri jumped into action immediately. She rallied support and was present and reached out to others who she knew would be present, too. She's (and they're) awesome. Sherri, Lisa, and Laura all deserve shout outs on this one.

  15. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I think I'd rather not say on this one. This past year has been difficult and emotional and stressful in many ways and I honestly thought certain people would have been here, been present, been helping more and, well, they weren't. They didn't have to, of course. And it's my own fault for having expectations (I know better), but I thought maybe and, well, I was wrong. Some people did more dumping on me and not so much with the helping or even asking how I am.

  16. Where did most of your money go? Mortgages!

  17. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Celebrating turning 40 - a party for me, a great day for Mark, and a joint party for both of us. Our new business location. And our new house! We love it. Also, the spread of marriage equality. And Thing 1's first job and Thing 2's first volunteer shifts.

  18. What song will always remind you of 2014? 80s music. We played a great playlist of 80s music at our joint 40th birthday party and it was a big hit and lots of fun to reminisce about with friends! Sherlock theme music - Mark and I watched the first 3 seasons with Kate this past year.  

  19. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    a) happier or sadder? Similar, but hopeful?
    b) thinner or fatter? I think I've gained a couple of pounds - I've got some middle-aged tummy going on, methinks.
    c) richer or poorer? Poorer? The same? A lot of what we'd saved went toward the house/settlement, but technically, that's ours - just not readily available like liquid cash. 

  20. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I'd been listened to more. I wish I'd done lots of things - more purging, more projects, more writing. I'm so depleted that I don't even feel as creative as I usually feel. :/

  21. What do you wish you’d done less of? Less feeling frustrated, less crying, less raging. Less being other people's dumping grounds with no thought for how it might be affecting me. That being said, I'm learning from it, so it's not for naught, I hope. 

  22. How did you spend Christmas? Here with my beautiful family. My mom and Jim joined us this year and it was low-key and very nice. I especially enjoyed rediscovering some favorite Portuguese treats, like shrimp rissóes.

  23. Did you fall in love in 2014? I'm already there.

  24. What was your favorite TV program? Parenthood, Sherlock, Gilmore Girls, Amazing Race, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, Big Bang Theory . . . I don't want to choose only one. I even got on an Everybody Loves Raymond rewatch kick this past fall. I wasn't into any new shows that I could binge watch, so I saw some of those and really enjoy them. I'm also watching Frasier with Kate, and Malcolm in the Middle with Max. Pop cultural competence and all. ;)

  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I honestly don't hate anyone. Though I often feel like people suck. A friend recently told me, "You want to believe that everyone is like you (trustworthy, genuine, etc.) and because of that, you give yourself over to them. Then you get burned because it turns out they aren't all that . . . . There are great benefits to giving yourself over, but also great risks. I wouldn't put this on yourself. I've learned that most people are NOT like us." It was a really good statement to hear and I'm grateful to her for sharing it with me, for several reasons.

  26. What was the best book you read? Flora & Ulysses, The Fourteenth Goldfish, Because of Mr. Terupt - all three are books I've read with our kids. I love reading with them. Oh, and I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for the first time ever. It catapulted to my top 5 favorites. Beautiful book. The writing was superb. 

  27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Sam Smith. What a dreamy voice. 

  28. What did you want and get? A new house and a business location with 2 patient rooms!

  29. What did you want and not get? Ha! Here's what I wrote a year ago - glad we did well with this one: "Moving forward with some big life/house/business decisions. So complicated!" I'd say more time/support working on taking care of myself.   

  30. What was your favorite film of this year? 3 come to mind - "What If," "100-Foot Journey," and "The Theory of Everything."

  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 40 - the day itself was spent with my family and, of course, included gifts and good food. My husband also set up a surprise party for me and my mom and Jim even came down for it! It was the first time in over 20 years I'd had my mom with me for my birthday. We also had many friends there and it was a good night. Mark turned 40, too, this past year. I planned a really special day for him (he has said that he might blog about it). And, together, we threw ourselves a 40th birthday bash in our new backyard this past summer. We got it catered by Chipotle, had great music, a fire pit and torches, s'mores, good friends. It was really fun.  

  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Feeling listened to and taking better care of myself emotionally.

  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? The same as usual. I hate clothes shopping, so I don't tend to get myself new stuff. 

  34. What kept you sane? My family, good friends, TV, books, and Scout.   

  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Emma Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Daniel Radcliffe, and A.S. King.

  36. What political issue stirred you the most? The spread of marriage equality as well as greater focus on feminist issues and gender equality.

  37. Who did you miss? My dad.

  38. Who was the best new person you met? Well, we technically met them before this past year, but our local bookstore's owners have been very good to Kate - selling her books and inviting her to be a part of the local author night signings, and Max - finding Advanced Reader Copies for him (and for Kate) and helping him to become good friends with their son (the kids share a lot of similar interests). It's been nice getting to know them better and enjoying things we have in common.

  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014. I have some stuff to work through that has been affecting me for years. Now that I've learned more about it, I've found some resources to help. I'm working through it now.

  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
    I don't know, but I kept thinking about the theme song from "The Jeffersons" as we moved into our new, fancy house. 
    "Well we're movin on up,
    To the east side.
    To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
    Movin on up,
    To the east side.
    We finally got a piece of the pie.
    Fish don't fry in the kitchen;
    Beans don't burn on the grill.
    Took a whole lotta tryin',
    Just to get up that hill.
    Now we're up in the big leagues,
    Gettin' our turn at bat.
    As long as we live, it's you and me baby,
    There ain't nothin wrong with that."