27 April 2009

For my first copyblog ever I am posting something utterly superficial and wonderful.

I am in a shitty down mood today, sad and blue, then I came across this on my cousins blog and I felt fuzzy and giggly.

(Reposted from Kerbobbled.)

Bless the internet and other people with lots of time on their hands.

22 April 2009


When I was in Kansas City over a weekend a little while back with a big chunk of my huge extended and adopted family, I spent most of the first day and night laughing at things coming out of my cousin Annie's mouth.

Although I am easily entertained and still find fart jokes pretty funny, this night also included at some point our youngest uncle deciding, since we were raiding his liquor cabinet anyway, to just set up a whole whiskey tasting extravaganza for about seven of us ranging from ages 19-30.
Absinthe however after about 5 'tastes' of different whiskeys is something I won't mind not repeating but boy did I feel good.

Annie is almost exactly six years younger than me and we grew up about a mile apart, and since I remember her being born AND worked as her 'nanny' for about a summer and half when I was in high school, I feel totally justified in claiming responsibility for 'basically raising her'. I coined that phrase over these last holidays during one of the first times we were in a bar legally together and I walked in and announced to her that "Mommy's gonna get drunk tonight" after which I proceeded to drink liquor at an exceedingly fast pace, cheered on by Annie, my sister, and a group of friends, until I found myself (along with everyone else) leaving Annie at the bar and going home to lock myself in the bathroom wondering why a tweezers wouldn't hold my hair up on my head, while Annie continued to drink bad tequila in my parents kitchen with a friend of ours.

Since that night, and since I told her parents that story complete with me claiming rearing responsibility and they found it hilarious, I try to work "I basically raised you" into almost any conversation I have with Annie.

I was railing on her about something that I was not proud of her for, like, having to leave Kansas City too early, or, maybe, not drinking something I wanted her to (frankly, I have no recollection what it was but those are two good guesses) and I said, "You are no child of mine!" to which she responded, and I know because I took this down word for word,
"You cannot just toss me and claim me at your will! I will not be that for you!"

Now, I understand this might very well be one of those you-had-to-be-there moments. However, just imagine how Annie, every time I say I may have had something to do with bringing her up, basically rolls her eyes and maybe squeezes out a chuckle for my sake. So for her to react with such endearing passion just about made me wanna weep, but I was too busy holding my pee in from laughing too hard.

Caitlin & Annie, 1990ish. Shortly before the jagerbombs

21 April 2009


Eight years ago today I woke up to my parents ringing the bell at my apartment on Carroll Street, my sophomore year in college, it was a Saturday. They had come to tell me that my cousin Ellen had been killed in a car accident the night before, where she lived about an hour outside of Madison.
She was 15, and was a passenger in a car with three schoolmates who were also killed.
She was a singer, she had an older sister by two years and a brother who is my age, five years older.
We called her Ellie and she was beautiful.

Some hours later, late morning I think, I was sitting with my roommates and some friends when we got a call from one of our best friends, who is still one of my closest. His voice was not steady when I answered, and he said, "It's Carlos. They don't think he's going to make it." Carlos was his younger brother, a freshman at our college, who had fallen from a balcony at a party late the night before, and was now in the ICU at the hospital.
They called Carlos "The Golden Child" and I think he set some sort of record for the amount of visitors in that room. Everyone who knew him loved him. He was his parents youngest child and Tommy's only sibling.

I came home from Ellen's funeral that Wednesday to find out that they had pronounced Carlos dead. His funeral was that following Saturday.

I think of Ellen and Carlos often. In fact, some weeks after Brendan died it was a moment of pure comfort when I realized how often I think of them... that means that they don't just disappear, which was my fear. I know it is a habit to accentuate the good of people who have passed on, but in these cases I don't think we did. I believe they all actually shined that bright.

I have no big insights to share with you even considering my new perspective on loss. Don't try to imagine it; it's worse than you can imagine and your imagining doesn't help you or anybody, so spend that energy maybe lighting a candle, saying a prayer if that's your thing, or just taking a deep peaceful breath and enjoying it.
And tell the ones you love that you do.

20 April 2009

Just Another Dinner Conversation

My mother is the second of ten children in a family that grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin.

I live with my aunt and uncle, my mother's sister and her husband, who is the eighth born of my mother's family.

Their first cousin, who is the third of three children born to my grandfathers youngest brother (#'s 2 and 5 of five), is a large animal veterinarian and lives with his wife, a nurse, and three children in a small community in Wisconsin not far from the homestead where my mothers and aunts family was raised. They were out in California on vacation this week and we all had dinner together at my aunt and uncles house.

The conversation covered a vast array of topics, including but not limited too: drinking one's own urine for health purposes, distribution of human waste as fertilizer, marriage, weddings, family reunions, hors d'oeuvres, pig farming, sledding, adoption, puberty, boarding school, sexual harassment, sex ed, date rape, picture books, precocious children, the disadvantages of being a middle child, horse fertility patterns, and drinking wine while sitting in the sun and reading the dictionary. (This last one was a description of what my great uncle did on his last trip to Florida after he protested having to go, which was, as his son, my second cousin, said, exactly what Joe should have been doing.)

Maybepartly because I'm finally feeling healthy-ish after a week and the meal (roast pork, beans&rice, fresh asparugus, salad) was delicious, but the night was rich and quietly wonderful, like Matt and his wife Diane.

My favorite quote was cousin Matt quoting his father, Uncle Joe, the one who sat in the sun with the wine while reading the dictionary, saying how since he's had some heart issues, when he thinks about doing something risky, he thinks "I might die." and that "That just takes some of the fun out of it."

15 April 2009

Sick Day

I am sick.
Being sick sucks.
Being sick especially sucks when you have to just suck it up and go about your standard daily activities, i.e. working instead of lying in bed/on couch with water/tea/oj and something really salty to eat. (That might be just me but whatever.)

Every time I am sick and I have to actually do something (so, almost every time I've gotten sick since 9th grade) I think of something my Mom said to me back in the day. Probably 7th or 8th grade since it still rings so true.
Me: "Mom, I'm really sick and I have to stay home from school. [moan, cough]"
Mom: "Dammit Caitlin! One day you're going to HAVE to go to class or a job, and you won't be able to stay home 'sick' whenever you damn well please!!!"

Oh Mommy. If only you knew how your words haunt me.

Moan. Coughcough.

10 April 2009

A Short Flick of My Wrist

Someone who I respect and admire immensely sent me a message a few weeks ago, and it made so much sense I wanted to share. I hope she doesn't mind. She is an adopted member of my family, a beautiful, funny, kind woman, and a ridiculously talented writer.

She wrote, in response to something I had written about an ex-boyfriends drunken insights,

"... it's very hard to find men confident and
self-assured enough to be one half of a
relationship with a very strong woman.
(Probably because they've all been improperly
socialized, but I digress.) Do as I do and say to
men, "I'm a lot of woman" up front and if they
cower, even ever so slightly, bat them away
with a short flick of your wrist."

This is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received in my life, and rings so true because doing that (flicking them away with my wrist, that is) has always proved to be a challenge for me. Which is probably why I have a history of being involved with men that while good intentioned (for the most part), quite frankly were not up to the challenge that is being in a relationship with me.

Let me just repeat: "...say to men, "I'm a lot of woman" up front and if they cower, even ever so slightly, bat them away with a short flick of your wrist."
This rings so true I wanted to forward it to every women I have ever know that has dated someone that fell far short of standards she would have held for anyone a girlfriend was dating (and our numbers are many). I will start with posting it here and in the meantime I'll see if I can convince her to publish an advice guide.

08 April 2009

Extravaganza En Memoriam

Tonight I'm presenting my 'story' at my grief group therapy. This is our opportunity to tell the group about the life of the person who died, not just as defined by their death. After going through photos, letters, a DVD, and websites to decided how to piece together my presentation I get that this is a bigger exercise than just talking to 8 other people for half an hour (which I could do without any preparation.)

I was nervous about doing the presentation this week because I was in Kansas City last Thursday through Monday to be at an opening of an art show in honor of Brendan. My aunt, an artist, wife, and mother of two young children, put together a show that spans two galleries, includes artists from multiple cities and genres, and whose opening included several live music performers, fire jugglers, mimes, tightrope walkers, acrobats, live art, and one hell of an after-party. There was something around 30 of our family around for this opening (I'm including a horde of artists from Chicago that made the trip in this number), and most of us were sleeping at various spots in my aunt and uncles home.
(**Note: this trip also includes stories of father wearing a feather boa, happy meals in a minivan full of adults, waking up in an art studio, having a hand catch my head before it hit the pillow, whiskey tasting, going public art spotting with a 4-year-old, a man in a striped spandex body suit, and a dog on valium, but more on all that later.)

The show included an installation of Brendan. It was a life-size figure of him, made from his clothing, with arms upstreched, and art and possesions surrounding him. I have yet to find the right words to describe the power of this piece. And it had tangible power, presence... the artist who created it had never met my brother but says he feels like he's gotten to know him. He spent time with him, he drank with him, he talked to him. Maybe all this energy, the power, some how took residence in this beautiful corner where Brendan is on display, because it is undeniable. Everyone who knew him was speechless (for a moment; my family doesn't stay quiet for long) and even those who didn't remarked upon the power of this piece.

Contrary to what I had worried, this week is actually ideal for me to give my presentation on Brendan to my grief group. All weekend was literally a celebration of him and what he loved, and it was fun. I am incredibly lucky to have the family that I do, and every time there is a gathering it is reinforced. I cannot think of one thing that I would have changed, other than having it last longer and having a couple family members that couldn't make it be able to. There was lots and lots of art, beer, conversation, meeting other artists, food. And Brendan was there. At moments I felt the incredible pain of his physical absence, but I was able to look around me and see an amazing legacy. This doesn't make it better, but it means that I will survive and that people will not forget, and that is everything.

As I talk to eight other people in grief tonight about my huge little brother, the most important thing I can say is that he continues to inspire people. When I talk about the blonde troublesome loud baby who I loved more than anything, it is one and the same with the 6'7" loud artist who became a legend for his style, talent, and persistence.

02 April 2009


They might charge $11 for a salad and not have real sprite but Midwest still gives you cookies...