Saturday, March 5, 2011

Week 4: Feelin' It

Reflections on the week, random and in no particular order.

This is getting more difficult. I may have shed some tears in the past few days.

Matt and I are finally finding that, despite how much we love and like each other, these quarters keep us a little too close for comfort. We’re bumping into one another a lot – figuratively and literally.

I had surprise encounters with one too many las cucarachas in the apartment this week. I am completely fixated. I am paranoid and anxiously scan the floor and walls every time I open a door or flip on a light. I am freaked out. Did I mention tears?

I want to hurl our Alvin & the Chipmunks DVD through the window, even though it makes Beckett giggle like nothing else. He’s deemed it the “not scary” movie and requests it daily. Although the performances by Jason Lee and David Cross are terribly scary, I give in because I am apparently not creative or resourceful enough to find something else for us to do in the apartment.

Rain, rain…GO AWAY.

 I’ve run four times in seven days. It feels fantastic. And I’ve decided to run the Country Music Half-Marathon at the end of April. There. I’ve said it. Now I have to do it.

Old friends and new friends alike continue to rock my world.

Hot and Cold in Hillsboro Village is even better than the Katy Perry song by the same name. (…and in my book, and Beckett’s, that’s impressive)

Thistle Farms, a Nashville-based all-natural bath and body care product line run by women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution, and addiction, continues to inspire (and moisturize). Please learn more, try the Body Butter and, if you’re in the Nashville area, drop by the new Thistle Farms storefront and manufacturing center on Charlotte Pike. 

The Patterson House is as amazing as ever. Last night was my first time back in a long time. The Clapless Belle, please? And a Pimm's Cup, thank you!

Oh yeah, the house – we’re looking at a closing date between March 15th and 20th. All together now: “Rain, rain…GO AWAY!”

Here are the latest pics:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

For My Mom, On Her Birthday

Happy belated birthday to my beautiful mom. It just wouldn’t be right if I’d posted this on time. Here are tonight's Top Ten (ok, twelve) reasons I love her:

She gives love through food. And, my... does she love us very, very well.

She is a nervous passenger when riding shotgun with me, especially in the city, holding on to doors and closing her eyes as I weave in and out of traffic. Somehow this makes me feel like I’m a good driver.

Almost ten years ago, we spent a full week in New York City together and discovered shared passions for goat cheese tarts and Champagne (thank you, Balthazar), department store windows (sigh, Bergdorf) and brilliant performances on- and off-Broadway.

She gave me six brothers and sisters. I need say nothing more.

She still looks the same as she did when she was 35. And I look much like she did when she was 35. So, logic tells me that in 20 years I may look a lot like I do--and she does--now. Yes. I will take it.

As a young divorcee with two small children, she boldly and bravely (and blindly?) moved from the comforts of her college town hometown to a two-traffic light village of a thousand to marry a sweet young pig farmer/electrician. I don’t know what made her do it—his stunning blue eyes and curly blonde hair or if she just knew he would be a good father to Matthew and I? Regardless, she got it right.

She loves her friends with all of her being. She sacrificed time with them while raising us, but dammit if they aren’t raising hell now that we’re all grown.

She pushed me towards the right boys and pulled me away from the wrong ones. This usually had the opposite of the intended effect, until it really mattered.

She picks the best perfumes. Always has. Anything she wears becomes her signature fragrance. 

Her strength is incalculable. Peerless. Defiant and graceful. Even after losing both father and son to the worst fate imaginable, she marched on. Head held high. Heart broken, but open and able to give seemingly endless love to her family and her friends.

She’s a sucker for grand gestures, tearjerker movies, dramatic love songs and romance novels. This woman loves love, and there isn’t a thing wrong with that.

She really does know best.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shine On

Geoffrey Rush in Shine (1996)
My friend GiGi often writes lists of the things she loves most about a friend on his or her birthday. She shares the list with a group of mutual friends (I'm talking about the Writing Mamas in our case), and she always nails it. 

GiGi sums up what it is everyone loves about anyone, and tonight, as I'm settling in after spending a few hours with her and her son watching the brilliant Shine (see it if you haven't or if it's been awhile), I want to share what it is that I love about her. I hope these touch upon the things many others love about her, too. The list could go on and on. 

And on. 

I hope this may inspire anyone reading here to do little lists of your own about the GiGis in your life. I hope to do more such reflections in this space, as I am day-after-day overwhelmed by the number of incredible people in my life.

But up first, GiGi's top ten (er, eleven)...

She will guide me through the great Russian novels.
She will introduce me to classical music since I don’t know where to begin.
She loves my son and takes care of him so I can go on dates with my husband.
We love watching movies together and laugh at the same moments and cry in sync.
We both have deep appreciation (sure, that’s what we’ll call it…) for Javier Bardem and Colin Firth.
Her 11-year-old son brings me blankets and cuddles in tight against me on the sofa.
She gave up her bed and slept on the sofa when Matt, Beckett and I needed a place to crash.
She brings buckets full of chicken noodle soup when I am sick or sad.
Her son is sensitive, fair, just, kind, funny, irreverent and expressive. And there’s no denying where he got it all.
Her writing is rich, smart, playful, wry and honest.
She’s one of my best and most thoughtful readers, and one of my most enthusiastic supporters.

Love you, G.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 2: Progress

It's a strange thing, standing on the sidelines while your new home is built. We walked through last Monday and didn't go back until today. Since we came in late in the process---and since we fully trust our builders---we know it's best if we just stay out of the way. We have made our contributions, from signing a contract to choosing paint colors, but there's little else we can do. But my, oh my: There is much the building crews can do -- and have done!

Week 2's progress includes: Exterior paint almost completed, bathrooms' floors and showers tiled, kitchen countertops and backsplash installed, trim/baseboards/doors painted and most fixtures and appliances delivered. I'm probably leaving out many important behind-the-scenes (or walls) accomplishments, but here are many of the things that caught my eye today:

Front Door

Many Doors


Living Room (looking from kitchen)

Ridiculous Master Shower

Master Vanity

Upstairs Bath

Side & Screened Porch (ahh...)

Room of your own?

My last post left me wondering how many people are still able to go back to the room they grew up in.

I'd love to know:

Did your parents keep your bedroom intact after you left home? If so, for how long?

When you go home for visits, do you sleep in the room that was once yours? Or is that room now a sewing room or media room or something else?

Does the home you lived in for most of your childhood still belong to your family?

If you're a parent of teenagers or grown children, do you intend to leave their rooms as they are or have you already drawn up plans for something new? Has empty nest syndrome left you considering relocating to a smaller nest altogether?

Please, leave comments below!

Home Again

We returned last night from a weekend spent at home in Ohio. My family’s house isn’t among my 27 total. The longest I lived there was one week at Christmas the year my brother died. And again another week sometime the summer after, still looking for reasons and a connection to home.

Built while I was away at college, that house never included a room for me.

No, my room is gone. The bedroom I occupied for more years than any other – from 6th grade through 12th – actually still stands, but a stranger inhabits it now. House #16 belongs to a family I do not know (uncommon in Anna, Ohio), but I drive past it every trip to Ohio and look up at that window on the second floor and wonder if its new occupant has taped magazine photos of movie stars all over the closet door, as I did. I wonder if he or she has replaced the mauve carpet I so proudly chose when we built the house in 1989. Please, God. I sure hope so.

Nowhere is there a room that still holds my trophies and framed high school snapshots, dried prom corsages and boxes of love notes. I carried most of those things with me from homes 17 to 26, where they drowned in the basement during the flood of May 2010.

Back to the weekend. It was good. Filled with an uncommon sense of nostalgia. I went back in time, cheering in the stands at two high school basketball games. I clapped along to the Anna Rockets’ fight song. I still know every word. I could likely still do a good bit of the 1995 cheer routine, minus the short pleated green and white skirt. 

I drank beer at a local bar and shopped with girlfriends. I stayed in my pajamas until almost noon and ate biscuits and gravy and a jelly donut for Sunday breakfast. 

It felt much like a regular weekend of nearly two decades ago. Siblings lounging all around me, sisters giggling and little brother watching basketball on TV. Just one brother missing. I felt Matthew’s absence, as I always do.

But it still felt like home. Even if I was sleeping in my sister’s bed with my husband in the matching twin bed across the room and my son on a pallet on the floor beside me.

It felt comfortable and easy. Much different than our current living situation. I didn’t want to leave. Nor did Matt (he stalled) or Beckett (he cried - photos below might suggest many of the reasons he wanted to stay). 

But we did leave. We drove the long familiar road from Anna to Nashville, singing all the way with Huey Lewis and Chicago and Arcade Fire and The National. We ate Goo Goo Clusters. We napped.  We made it home safely, and we slept well, the three of us in one small room together.

And as always, we were just happy to wake up with one another. In a few short (or long?) weeks, our house will be complete. We will have rooms of our own once more. We will have our own beds back. And we will have a stove on which I can attempt to recreate Mom’s Sunday breakfast.

And so the countdown continues and, until the big day, I’ll wish I could be closer to my Ohio home-that-is-home-even-if-it-never-really-was. In fact, I’ll wish we could just stay there for the next several weeks. That we could go to my little brother’s tournament basketball game on Saturday night and have some drinks with friends after. I’ll wish we could spend our Sunday mornings gathered ‘round the family table. 

And that it wasn’t all so far away.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

House Beautiful

Earlier this week, Matt and I met Brett from Woodland Street Partners (have I mentioned how fantastic this group is?) for a walk through. We had not been inside the house in more than two weeks and, while we were expecting major progress, I don’t think I was prepared. I nearly cried. I nearly fell down and kissed the dust-covered oak floors. I could have curled up on the floor of the gigantic master shower to take a midday nap. I felt that happy and that comfortable inside those walls.

It is home.

Now, I could go on and on about our old home and why we decided to sell and why we decided to move to East Nashville and what we’ll miss about our old neighborhood and what we hope for in the new one. Some other day...

Tonight, here’s the short and sweet of it.  

Our new home is a Victorian Craftsman with a modern interior and open floor plan of almost 2,000sf. It will be Energy Star rated and boasts green features throughout.

We will be in the Eastwood Neighbors area of East Nashville, just a few blocks from the delicious intersection of Chapel and Eastland.

And amazingly, the house is scheduled for completion in 3-5 weeks.

An incredibly talented and sweet interior designer, Peggy Newman, was involved from day one and is the mastermind behind the super-smart floor plan. She and the guys at WSP selected the finishes for the home before we discovered the property and, fortunately for all, we loved every single finish and fixture they had chosen. 

Here’s a rundown on my favorite features:

Paint colors. Think light. Peaceful. Clean. The palette of white, gray, blue, green  and natural wood calms me in an instant.

An all-in-one living room, dining room and kitchen. The space is big and bright and open.  (see right)

And it is anchored by...

…a huge island with seating for four that will be covered in Carerra marble (see left). It's a risk, I know, but worth it!

Soaring vaulted ceilings in all upstairs rooms including the loft/playroom, three bedrooms and two bathrooms (see below).
Did you notice I said playroom? This is a huge deal for us. And for Beckett. And for any person who would like to cross our living room without impaling his or her foot with tiny toy weapons or hard plastic dinosaurs or Legos.
The master shower. It is ridiculous. I mean, two rain shower heads mounted over a space the size of a Cadillac. Seriously sick.

A screened-in side porch with an overhead fan. I am dreaming of the nights we will spend from April through October talking, eating, drinking and reading on this porch.

A covered front/side  that overlooks a sizeable but manageable fenced yard, ideal for hosting cookouts and birthday parties, playing fetch with a new dog, chasing a new baby (someday…) and simply playing with family, friends and new neighbors.

Isn’t that what I said this was all about in the first place?
The next couple of weeks will be marked by many interior and exterior changes, so better and more interesting photos will come soon.

In the meantime, we are headed north for a long weekend. Home to Ohio.