Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr! (Happy new year!)

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My babies in their Christmas Eve PJs. (Ages: Aspen – 19 years and eleven months.  Zach – 16 years and 5 months. 😉 ) 
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Aspen’s first Christmas – 11 months. Walking like a boss. I guess Manny wasn’t getting enough attention in the moment.
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Zach’s first Christmas – 5 months. He woke up on Christmas Eve with periorbital cellulitis. We think he was bitten by a spider. His eye got better fast. He loved this snowman’s nose.

I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. Life has been very full, and I didn’t make the time to squeeze in cards. I do appreciate all the cards I got from friends and family. I keep them displayed all during the season, and then I preserve the fronts of the cards for gift decoration next season. Thank you to all who sent them. I love getting updates, photos and happy wishes.

I’ll do a year in review in lightning speed — or not. It was a full year. Read it all, or none, or skim. Whatever floats your boat. This blog is a bit of a time capsule for me, so I’m going to include some details.

Let’s start with how much more I prefer writing the year 2018 than 2017. Even typing it is more pleasing. 2018 includes the sign of infinity. 2017 is sharp, pointed and harsh. I prefer the softness, the inclusion, the possibility.

Aspen has decided to take a year off school. No, I’m not upset about that. If you can’t take time when you’re 19 to figure out what you want to do with your life, when can you?! So, hat’s off, baby girl. In the meantime, she’s serving at Red Lobster and has a rescue dog that she loves. She has future education plans. Most of all, she’s kinder, braver and more thoughtful than most full-grown adults I know so, I’ve done my job in raising a decent human being. So, no. Not upset. (Sidebar: she turns 20 later this month. I have a kid in her 20s.)

Zach made the honor roll last six weeks, much to his chagrin. When I showed him the letter from the school, he groaned and said, “really??” Yes, dear, really. He’s a smart cookie, and he knows it. He does well in school, nearly in spite of himself. You see, he thinks that school is yet another government institution that teaches us only what they want us to know and the real education happens in life. So, yea. He’s sort of got the head of the nail there. But because our rule is 80% or above in every subject in order to drive, he accidentally makes the honor roll. Oops.

Michael is doing well at work. He loves his job as EVP and is making the Hamburg folks happy with the performance of the US and Canada. This year, for the first time, the US and Canada outsold all other markets worldwide. (Brief happy dance.) He’s going to do a half Ironman later this year and has started training thanks to our new membership at Lifetime Fitness.

2017 was a strange year for me. It doesn’t get much stranger than a Trump Presidency. I have a good feeling for 2018, though. Not that things will look up for him, but that they’ll get so dismal that we’ll finally be able to get him out of office. I’m really counting on it. Surprise. I’m a democrat.

There were five deaths in my family this year. I won’t go into details on who and when. Everyone grieves in their own way. I’m kind of quiet on the matter, publicly.

I had an exceptionally successful first semester as a second act college student this fall. I got a 99% in my German class and a 100% in my Holocaust class. And I relished every moment. For real. Next week, I start my master’s program too. I’ll be taking three graduate classes and one advanced German grammar and conversation class. Then over the summer, I will study in Germany at Goethe-Institut in both Hamburg and Freiburg. I’m already scheduled and have the dates, accommodations and payments made. So it’s a done deal. I’ve applied for a handful of merit-based scholarships. Some are specific to German. Some are specific to second degree-seeking students. Fingers crossed! (Drück mir die Daumen!)

Health wise, I am healthy. I began seeing a new doctor who practices a lot like Butch. I have to drive about 45 minutes to see her. But I’m willing to do that for the kind of care I receive. In fact, I would walk five hundred miles. I am running again. And doing yoga. I’m trying to start weight training. My upper body will benefit immensely from this once it gets accustomed to the practice. I have to be careful. It’s pretty mind blowing how much a mastectomy changes one’s function. I started going to my craniosacral therapist again. She’s amazing. This type of bodywork is life changing.

I haven’t been writing my book at all. Seriously, not a single word since before I left for Germany in June of 2017. And yesterday, I decided to be happy about that. I had been feeling bad for not going back to it, not sticking to it, not getting my first draft done when I wanted. But I realized something. It may not happen. And that’s great! Here’s why: Maybe going back and revisiting cancer isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing right now. Maybe I’m supposed to be focused on the present day and planning for my future studies, career and travel. Maybe cancer changed me in a way that has allowed me to think more clearly about what I want to be doing now and not getting mired in the past. So, book or no book, I am where I am supposed to be. The book is saved on my computer and a flash drive if I decide the time is right to write. Till then, onward.

The Holiday

Christmas was great. Aspen came home. Kerrianne flew down. We ate, walked, played games, saw movies, exchanged gifts, held our Christmas Eve Last-Minute Gift Exchange Shopping Extravaganza, went to yoga and cooked. On the 27th, Zach flew to Colorado to be with friends. Then on the 28th, Aspen went back to Colorado. Then on the 29th, Kerrianne went back to Ohio. I miss Colorado Christmases. So, for this year’s Christmas, we’re all going to Colorado to spend the holidays.

Michael and I were empty nesters for a handful of days while Zach was in Colorado. It was a cold few days that we enjoyed mostly indoors. But we did venture out every day to Lifetime Fitness or Whole Foods. And each night, we went to the movies. We saw: Lady Bird (thumbs sideways), Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri (thumbs up. Frances McDormand is a genius.), Downsizing (thumbs sideways), The Darkest Hour (thumbs up) and The Shape of Water (thumbs down). This last one was just a long way to go to make a point. I understand all of the symbolism and message. None of that was lost on me. But I decided somewhere during the movie that had it been on TV, I would’ve changed the channel. That said, it was a well made movie that I didn’t like.  Yadda, yadda, yadda … Zach came home yesterday, exhausted and happy.

Hello, I Love You

Ever feel like you’re in a movie and the song playing is the soundtrack to your life? Well, I had one of those mornings today.

Today I drove Zach to school. Normally he takes the bus, but today he missed it. He hardly ever does so I don’t mind tossing on a pair of sweats to drive him there on those rare occasions. We pulled out of the driveway and he started playing “People are Strange” by The Doors. Indeed they are, Zach.

As I continued through the neighborhood, I realized that today will be the last day I ever drive one of my kids to school — ever! For today is the day that my baby will take his driver’s test.

How do I feel about that? Let’s see. First, I’m terrified. But wait, I’m happy, too. And that sums up parenthood.

He’s taking over Michael’s Jeep as his car and has already outfitted it with the proper window clings (Never Summer, et al.). He’s a great driver. But people drive like idiots, and they can’t take their eyes off their phones. And my baby is out there alone now, so stop it everyone!!

From now on, he will be able to drive himself to school and work and on dates. And he can hop in the car to go buy ketchup. Or eggs.

I will celebrate later today when he gets the paper in his hot little hands. Then every time he backs out of the driveway, I’ll ask the universe for his safe return. That’s my baby.

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