three years later

Three years ago today (and what started this blog), after 40+ hours of driving, we arrived in Idaho – the Inland Northwest (Google it, it’s a thing). We are so incredibly thankful and happy to live in this place. It is breathtaking, the air smells like Christmas year round, we know and love the best people, and have never once looked back; hashtag blessed. Ironically some dear friends from Maryland will be here in three days and we are pretty pumped – you better get on that plane! Looking forward to celebrating another year in Idaho, but also showing friends our little corner of the world. Cheers!

A couple line items:  

I graduated to an actual domain – you can now read my ramblings via –

More importantly, Justin Timberlake’s documentary on Netflix is AMAZE. If you haven’t seen it already – DO IT! Seriously, do it right NOW. Do it.

All the feels

We went back east a couple weeks ago – we walked into all things familiar. My hair instantly frizzed upon exiting the airport, my ears were assaulted by car horns and sirens, and my nostrils filled with bus exhaust. It was oddly comforting. Every face looked and sounded the same and the hugs, although tighter and longer, felt the same. There were a few eerie moments – moments we were reminded that life has moved forward for everyone even if ours stopped back in 2015. It is entirely out of self preservation that we are here, this space of alienation. It has allowed us to function with little emotion and skirt by these last two years without crumbling. I recently read in an amazing [read: FREAKING AMAZING!] book that the first year of grief you walk along numb and unattached [check!]. The second year, all the shit you pushed down down down begins to surface. Not just a twinge here or there – more like bursting into hysterics because you can’t get the ice tray to crack, or screaming at inanimate objects for running into you when in fact they are in the same spot they’ve always been. My heart is colder than most so I’ve stretched it out an additional year. I rarely cry too which means my hysterics involve throwing things [like ice trays], cursing in patterns that make little sense, and kicking dressers that jump out of nowhere. To describe an ache for something, something you never really had is the most difficult thing. The yearning is powerful, it can be a monster dragging you down and around emotions you once thought hidden or absolved.

I once wrote how the dichotomy of death and life existing at once and altogether shared, is…surreal. It’s changing us – it’s changing our world and relationships. Relationships come and go – some run dormant for years only to be picked back up when needed most – it is all part of our story. The pain we experience, the ache of loss whether in relationship or in death – is an ache to explore. We chase moments and memories and seek familiar feelings but in a new reality. Every day is an opportunity to accept a new set of circumstances and be honest with ourselves, honest about the raw feelings, honest about the fear and the what ifs. There is always hope – there is always the idea that someday, even if we’re 80, loss and the reasons why, will finally make sense.

I think these last two years have made us homesick – not for a place but for the people that make a place, home. We realized we are parched – emotionally speaking. The amount of love that rained down on us in Maryland was incredible – we were watered and cared for and every last bit of us, dusted off. We left, our souls filled to the brim. Even the briefest of conversations left their mark and we are so thankful for our friends and family back east. You all know how to make two worn out people feel loved and missed in the most epic ways.

“it’s the tragedy of loving, you can’t love anything more than something you miss.” – Jonathan Safran Foer

Trials of an introvert – Freshman year

I had really high hopes for my freshman year in college. I attended a two week summer program prior to the first semester and knew a handful of incoming freshman. Initially, this was a good thing. I was also living out of state with one of my best friends in one of the oldest residential halls on campus and we had an awesome room [read: no A/C, this-end-up furniture, a mirror too tall for me to use, and a neighbor who did interpretive dance at night to Disney music – she clearly had a single…and was single]. Despite the recurring brown theme and plywood smell; we lofted our beds, had a mini fridge, microwave, tv/vcr combo…coolest kids on the third floor.

There are so many awkward meet and greets when a college freshman – aka organized torture created to crush the spirit of any introvert. There were nerds in collegiate sweatshirts overzealous about extracurriculars, selling used books, and telling you how much college was going to “rock!” no thanks. Keep your group activities to yourself, I’ve got friends already. Anyways – after getting all set up and going to a couple mandatory events, I set off to find the familiar faces I met over the summer. [Please note – I was 18 with an attitude problem]

The first few months went by great – my roommate and I made friends with the girls in our hall and heard all about the promiscuous soccer players. One day exiting class I ran right into one of the upper classmen who helped facilitate the summer program. We chatted and he told me where to get the best coffee on campus…and that he was a soccer player. At that night’s game I ran into two other summer program leaders and introduced them to my roommate and her boyfriend. All three really nice guys, all three happy to see me; I was clueless.

I would often receive a voicemail or two from one of these three guys…calls I never returned. I would randomly, or so I thought, run into them outside my residence hall, the cafeteria or hear them yell my name as I walked into class. One night while my roommate and I were studying, there was a knock on the door… “Yo…I was in the neighborhood, thought I would stop in and say hey…” Classic Misie response – “oh, hey. You don’t live in this neighborhood so that’s a weird thing to say.” We chatted briefly and I awkwardly let him know I was in the middle of an intense study sesh and needed to get back to it. The phone calls increased, as did the clandestine meetings at dinner and in common areas. One day a guy popped out of the woods while I was walking home from class, “I figured you’d be walking home around this time!” [How would you like a swift kick to the throat?!]  I began to freak out! How the hell did he know my class schedule/walking route? Since when is it OK to hide in the woods to see a girl? I began ducking behind columns and tall people, taking new routes to class and my dorm. One time I hid in a cabinet while my roommate’s boyfriend convinced them I was on a date. It was getting ridiculous and my flight or fight reflex was off the chart. I remember my roommate telling me, “Misie, just be nice!” Ha – yea, OK Liz…if I knew about human trafficking in 1999, I would have transferred out immediately. [I still love you and your kind heart Liz!]

One night there was a salsa dancing event and the girls on my hall really wanted to go. I begrudgingly attended, sitting in a corner scowling at anyone who dared make eye contact. As I attempted to leave, someone grabbed my waist and pulled me back onto the dance floor. I found myself mere inches away from one of my suitors/stalkers beady little eyes and almost mustache. Of course all three guys were in attendance and I spun back and forth between them. As my face grew hot and panic set it I scanned the room for someone, anyone, to save me. Suddenly I saw a hand reach into the crowd – I grasped tightly and was yanked out of said dance circle. It was a friend from high school – he didn’t know I was panicked – he just didn’t like that these jokers were all up in my biz. From that moment on I decided to never leave my dorm room except for class and the bathroom. I could easily live on saltines, pilfered bagels from the cafeteria and raisin bran. So, while most girls gained the freshman 15, joined every extracurricular, and created long lasting friendships…I lost ten pounds, hid out in dorm rooms, and became the invisible college student.

This sounds dramatic – and at the time – it was a bit over the top. Thankfully my stealth secret agent moves sent a clear message and eventually I was able to travel to class in peace. The phone calls and messages stopped and every once and awhile I would make a special trip to the cafeteria with my friends. By year end it became a running joke…and still is actually.

To Christian, Vern and Jelani*: if you ever read this – I know you guys weren’t total creeps – if it’s any consolation, I had a very cold heart and no intention of warming up to you. Today, I am mildly flattered. In 1999, I was sure you wanted to kidnap me and keep me in your basement.

*yup, these are real names…Philly represent


waves high as mountains

35 years old | young – there’s some kind of finality in age when a 5 or 0 completes the phrase. It feels like it weighs more than the numbers before – a medal around my neck – HEY! She’s 35! She’s a bonafide adult; even though she looks 22 and as tall as most eleven year olds. I don’t always know how I feel about adulthood. I love the independence and freedom but the decision making and responsibility is a pain in the freaking neck. I was talking with a friend about our past life, or what feels like a past life. We’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years so experiences get muddled and feel surreal, and at times, we question whether they actually occurred. [also – I don’t feel old enough to say I’ve known ANYONE for more than 20 years – that’s just ridiculous!] In this conversation we said things like, “life was so much easier back then…why can’t we rewind and go back…we were funnier/prettier/thinner….” In the blurry flashbacks it certainly seems like those statements are true, however, at age 21, 23, 26 my life wasn’t necessarily any easier; It’s all relative. This, to me, defines what it’s like to be a real bonafide, down and dirty adult…

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

My 1,820th week of life was pretty fantastic. It was spent in the company of some of my most favorite people, doing things I LOVE, laughing till I cried, trying new things, being completely out of touch with the world, and smiling for no reason what-so-ever. I received thoughtful notes from those near and dear and felt pretty special. I have people in my life who love me for exactly who I am and celebrate that…which means, I am perfectly OK being 35 – even with a few well worn bald spots and saggy skin around the eyes – it just means, I’ve been made real.

on a day in June…

I have mixed feelings about holidays celebrating being a parent. I understand the concept but obviously struggle with the idea. For those who do not have their children in this life, it can feel insulting and maybe in time, that goes away. The ache I feel in Birdie’s absence is now just like breath, it is always there, it rarely surprises me and I think of her throughout every single day. When Father’s day rolled around this year it was something we wanted to ignore. Mick spent his afternoon golfing with a friend and we did our best to remain distracted. Grief is a lonely place. You can be in a room filled with people you love, laughing, even tears of happiness streaming down your face and suddenly a wave of loneliness will sweep over you and take your breath. It’s part of an existence in which you grow familiar and slowly become less and less surprised by the alienation. It’s not a loneliness making you feel unloved or unlovable, it is simply a reminder that pieces of you exist entirely elsewhere and always will. The heart is splintered and misshapen with the absence of one you love and those parts never return. There is sadness there but there is also something oddly warm knowing the missing pieces have names and faces. This loneliness is not something anyone can judge. Some people exist in a state of perpetual loneliness and until you know that pain and how you would cope – you should simply love them in whatever way they let you.

Mick is the very best father and deserves a day celebrating this –

He fearlessly made me laugh while my body was breaking down and nurses were in a panic
He explained in serious detail what a thunder coat is so the nurses could make me one out of heated blankets
Having only been a father for ten minutes, he sat in a room of Doctors hearing frightening truths and remained hopeful
The gentle touch of his nose on Birdie’s forehead and softly spoken words of love in her perfect ear
He looked twelve strangers each in their eyes, without flinching, and asked the right questions and was never intimidated
He kept me from punching a doctor in his face
He stayed up all night, every night, just to hold Birdie’s hand
When I couldn’t stand on my own he held me so I could reach into her incubator and say hello
He was always asking the nurses if he could try to feed her, bathe her, change her. He memorized her readings and knew what every number, beep, gauge meant.
When days bled into nights and we traded sleep for moments with our girl – I never had to ask for one more hour, his answer was always yes.
He washed bottles while I sat in a sterile room weeping
He told me to walk away as I began to lay into the 18 year old cashier for weighing my salad dressing packet
He was a rock to us all and just like every other day of our life, he demanded respect but did so with such grace and admiration.

I would like to think someday it won’t be this hard…someday a random Sunday in June will be something to embrace…


the middle

I have anxiety when in between things. Not physically speaking – I walk through doors, or between furniture and people just fine. That’s not true. I always feel awkward walking in between people. There are way too many weird things that can go wrong. You could touch someone’s butt or boob, your hair could get caught on their clothing, they could smell god awful and you’re the girl with an uncontrollable gag reflex [my childhood dental file read: King, Melissa – gagger]. OR what if someone grabs you, thinking they know you – instead of accepting their awkward, “sorry, I thought you were someone else,” you instantly karate chop them in the throat and scream, “MY BODY IS NOT A COMMODITY!

Anyways, back to being in between things; I have a difficult time relaxing when I know something is scheduled. I want to fast forward through the space and time where nothing occurs and get to the something. I am constantly planning: vacations, home remodels and what happens when my three year old Subaru dies. Do I buy a used car or a new car? what size vehicle will I need twelve years from now? I constantly write grocery lists, even when our fridge is stocked. I write to do lists of items already accomplished and these lists occur in multiple places and formats. It’s who I am, it’s my brain, it’s my neurosis.

I am a five minutes from now person – I want/need to know what’s next. I am constantly asking Mick, “what’s the plan Phil?” It drives him nuts and NOT in an endearing way. There is little that can calm my busy mind. I am always half present and five minutes ahead. My approach to life is like reading a fantastic book, I want to know what happens so badly but I never want it to end. I fight the urge to rush through; I want to absorb the language and how it makes me feel, but cannot resist reading ahead. TV shows are the same – Friday Night Lights, anyone?! In wanting so badly to know the end, I miss a lot of the middle. I skim over little things that eventually make the big things BIG. I often look backwards and realize amazing things I missed or neglected all because of expectation or theory. My entire twenties existed entirely of chasing ghosts. I wanted so badly to cross off items that fit into a learned ideal – college, job, marriage, house, kids. Unfortunately, for that list and those involved, I am not a contortionist and you cannot force those things. If I learned anything these last two years, let alone decade, it’s this: the middle, no matter how messy and overwhelming it can be, the middle is the best part. I haven’t reached the middle of my life, at least I hope not, and so many amazing things have already happened. I need to spend less time caring about the left side of my face aging faster than the right, and more time enjoying the in between. 

I will likely publish this and in ten minutes put together a to do list for the remainder of our three-day weekend…baby steps.

something i need to hear

I wrote this to Birdie before she was born. 33.5 years of advice in a basic, unassuming form. I have learned that most things in life are as simple has your decision to act. Life happens to everyone, it is complex – it’s size and weight may change, but we always determine our participation, our reactions, our perception of it. Although these words are my own, I find I need the reminder more often than not…well, more like everyday.

Don’t apologize for who you are or let anyone make you question it. Be gracious in these things but fiercely protective. Follow your heart – don’t surrender to archaic expectations/rules. Be honest with others, but most importantly, yourself. Manipulation and unspoken expectation only hurt you. Don’t wish for “five minutes from now,” live in each moment, memorize and cherish them. Own your decisions. Take a drive – destination unknown. Stay up all night sharing truth. Confrontation is not a bad thing. Practice selflessness. Say what you mean, mean what you say; don’t drag it out. Remember from where you came. Learn to say No. Chase things that move your soul. Be brave. Never let any problem or challenge be bigger than you – you can do anything.
Music is everything.
Laugh through the lines on your face and cherish each one – joy left its mark on you. When you learn what it is to love, don’t fear it – embrace it – not everyone knows its face. Dance parties cure most things. Save your money. Seek richness in relationship…let yourself be known. Failure is only a stepping stone to getting it right – it is not a definition or road block. Stand up for those you love and those without a voice. Seek beauty beneath the surface…every layer has a story.