George Joseph (Or it’s Not 1999)

It’s 2019 now. I realize this isn’t news to anyone — I’m merely pointing out that 1999 was 20 years ago.

Also?

Prince’s single (and album) by the same name will turn 37 this year.

Now that we’re all thoroughly depressed and feeling terribly old… want to hear what I did this NYE?

I rang in the New Year on my couch watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with both of my Boxers snoring on my legs.

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OK, maybe only Georgie was using my person as a pillow, but you get the idea.

I had planned to make myself a lovely filet mignon, but I was so tired by the time I got home from work that I settled for broccoli, champagne, and Trader Joe’s gouda mac and cheese. (I saved the steak for another night.)

We snuggled as the dogs watched their namesakes do battle with evil.

On the topic of namesakes, this is now going to be a terrible segue to the origin of Georgie’s name. (I did promise that story here after all….)

OBVIOUSLY, Albus was named for the greatest Headmaster of Hogwarts of all time, and I have frequently thought he should have a little Harry Potter as a buddy.

When I met the new nugget, I knew pretty quickly he wasn’t a Harry, however.

We spent 12 hours together before I dubbed him “George.”

After careful observation, his spunk and spirit reminded me of George Weasley. (George is one half of the Weasley Twin Duo who wreaked havoc at Hogwarts and went on to create their own joke shop.)

His middle name, Joseph, is a sadder story I’m afraid.

Shortly after rescuing George, I learned that my dad’s youngest brother James Joseph had passed away fairly unexpectedly.

His neighbor visited his home in hopes of borrowing a tool. The neighbor knocked on the door repeatedly and received no response. It had been snowing in their Northern Michigan town, and he observed there weren’t any footprints outside my Uncle Jim’s home.

When his persistent knocking proved fruitless, he contacted the local authorities. Officers arrived on the scene to find my dad’s youngest brother dead in his bead. He had died peacefully of natural causes.

While a peaceful death is always preferable to a painful or contracted one, death is still difficult for those left behind. I wanted to honor my Uncle Jim and felt that George should share the same middle name.

I don’t have human kids, after all so it seemed like the right thing to do. Plus my Uncle Jim was an animal lover.

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George Joseph means business.

I’d like to think my Uncle Jim is proud of him.

 

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It’s Election Day (Or I Miss Phil)

Whatever your political affiliation, Election Day can be tense. There are only winners and losers; there’s not a lot of gray when it comes to the polls.

Two years ago, Phil and I were upset about the presidential election results… and we had I’m-sad-about-the-election sex. (It seemed like the best way to get through the night, to be honest.)

I find myself missing him today.

I know God has someone else out there for me to love, and most of the time I’m not wallowing, but I would be lying to myself… and more importantly, I’d be false to Phil’s memory if I didn’t admit I wish he were with me tonight. I’d even settle for within a text’s reach.

Anywhere on earth would suffice, actually.

I know he’s in heaven with a whole new perspective on earthly concerns like elections, but I’m feeling a little selfish tonight and I miss my friend.

Went big with the beard

You should be here, dickhead.

So that’s what’s on my mind.

Love to all of you.

I’m going to drink some wine while listening to country music now.

Gift Wrap Goodness (Or Presents for People I Love)

I like presents.

I like giving them, I like getting them, and I LOVE wrapping them.

Since we’re just ending the holiday season, I thought I should show you some of my giftiness.

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This was a book for Dan.

Dan is from Minnesota (where the moose hang out). Dan likes Jameson, books, and bread pudding. I didn’t have time to make him dessert, but I did make him dinner on Christmas day, so there’s that.

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This was a bartening book for Tim. (He asked for it.)

Tim can be grumpy, but he always brings me clean socks, new shirts, and salad without tomatoes or raw onions because he knows I hate them. He has like 32,000 dogs, so I had to wrap his present in pugs. (Also? I garnished his gift with a lamb’s ear covered in liver paste for one of his beasts.)

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My boss, Brian, likes bread and recipes, so this was for him.

It was a soup recipe book because he’s bonkers for soup. I added some holiday flair in the way of bulbs to counteract his seasonal “Ba-Humbug” situation.

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This naughty nugget and his gift were for Lauren.

Lauren is my dog’s fairy godmother. She lets him sleep with her whenever he spends the night, and we both love her to death.

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This little mouse and his books were for Jody.

Jody and I have been friends since we were 19 years old. We met while we were having meltdowns in edit bays in Ann Arbor, and the rest is history. 20 years later, we’ve been together for funerals, birthdays, Christmas Mass, and everything in between. This is a stack of Narnia books for her son, Connor, who just happens to be my birthday buddy. 

Jody attended my church Christmas Tea in December, and I gave her a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Connor was HOOKED, so I bought her the rest of the series.

More on the church Christmas Tea later….

Tax Time Again (Or the Ghosts of 2017)

It’s tax time again. That means I’m facing the sins of 2017 head-on.

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God, help me, I swear this mess makes sense.

So… yeah… I had my confession with my accountant this morning, and it went reasonably well.

I haven’t been too bad a girl in 2017… REALLY… honestly….

While adding up my receipts, I came across a few that were related to Phil. (I always write names on my receipts at the time so I don’t have to wonder months later why they’re relevant.) For some cruel reason the Phil pile was the pile that kept adding up incorrectly, so I had to count it three times. I didn’t break down crying. I didn’t lose my mind… but if I’m being honest with myself and you, it was a little sad when it set in that those receipts memories are all things of the past.

Phil’s name won’t show up on a receipt in 2018 — or any year in the future… because THE STUPID FUCKING DICKHEAD IS DEAD.

Sorry…

I was maudlin for a minute…

And I was mad. (I probably still am.)

But, since life is about picking yourself up and moving on, I’m going to eat my CPK salad, drink a glass of wine, and be glad I have all kinds of amazing people in my life.

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Like this cute crew…

They are everything.

Okay, that’s all.

The end.

Bye.

SaveSave

Phil

 

Somewhere in the middle of 2016, I met Phil.

It’s hard to know where to begin telling our story, and I’m not sure I can do it justice in a single post.

This is Phil:

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 He is a stupid dickhead for dying in 2017.

If I sound cold and callous calling him names, you must understand that dickhead was one of his terms of endearment, and it also sums up how I feel about him checking out on all of us.

Went big with the beard

It is a colossal waste. 

The world is a lot quieter without his big, boisterous laugh.

My phone isn’t filled with funny messages or pictures of his dog, and my life has been forever changed by another man who couldn’t see past his pain.

My feelings shift from rage to disbelief and from regret to sorrow, sometimes all in the same day.

Phil broke through the barriers to love that I had built over the years. He was the first and only man in five years who did, and even though I miss him every day, I will be forever grateful to God for sending Phil my way.

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He and his big heart opened mine.

So many songs have brought me to my knees since I heard the news, and perhaps no other one more than this:

See, it all started when Phil drove me home — or rather it all changed the first time he drove me home. It all started when he kicked open the swinging doors of the Saloon.

No one is easy to love, least of all me. I can be aloof. I can be opinionated. I can be intimidating, but Phil was never scared of me. He was a force of nature strong enough to meet mine.

I celebrated the first hours of my 38th birthday with him watching videos on his cracked iPhone screen. He was my first kiss at midnight in 2017, and my best hug of the year. The last day he held me was July 3. If I had known then what I know now, I would have chased him and his stupid Uhaul all of the way back to Minnesota. I would have booked that flight I kept pricing. I would have told him I loved him.

I’m not saying I could have saved him with my words or my actions, but selfishly, I think it might have made this mess just a tiny bit easier for me if I hadn’t held back here and there.

There are so many things that were left unsaid between us, and maybe the only thing I can do now is promise myself I will never hold back the important words from anyone else who means as much to me as he did.

I missed his funeral because I got the news a few days too late, and I’ve been looking for ways to find my own closure. I took up a collection from our friends to send his parents flowers. I’ve been trying for weeks to write his parents a letter. I bought Modelo tall boys from the liquor store where he bought them for us the night we rearranged the rulers and t-squares mounted on his wall.

It all sounds so small, but the best memories often are.

Phil never hesitated with me — or in anything — even death.

God, I wish he had hesitated just that last time.

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If he had, I wouldn’t have to sit on a sidewalk outside his office and cry in his favorite beer.

Cheers, Phil.

“Have good times” in heaven.

I love you.

Beauty in Unity and Resistance (Or My Fight)

Yesterday I didn’t march. I regret it a little….

OK, maybe I regret it a lot.

Seeing the inspiring photos of my friends making history all across the country made me slightly ashamed I was only experiencing a powerful movement via my Facebook newsfeed.

I’m working a TON right now, and Saturday was my only chance to get groceries, make food for the week, and take down my twinkle lights… so I stayed home.

I realize how hollow those excuses sound.

That said, I did have a wonderful day embracing beauty and diversity in my community.

See, I decided to walk to Trader Joe’s to get groceries and on my way I came across an absolutely incredible acapella quartet outside of the Pantages Theater.

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Tremendous soul is a serious understatement.

They made my day.

They were like Boyz II Men x 10.

I stopped to watch them a second time on my way back because I loved them so much. (I donated twice. #duh)

I also took a video of their performance and shared it with my family. On a day when we were divided by politics, I felt blessed I could share something that unites us like good music. Everyone loved it — Republican and Democrat alike.

You just can’t deny soul, after all.

While I’m never going to back down when it comes to my beliefs, I’m never going to turn my back on good people who disagree with me either, so I was happy to find something that could unite us. I love my family, and finding our common ground is crucial to me.

As if a surprise serenade weren’t enough, I also met a talented homeless man making art out of palm trees.

He was only asking for donations for his work.

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I totally bought the cross.

I shared the photo — and the story — with my family. While politics and faith divide us, art unites us, so I was happy I could share this as well.

After I returned home, I made tomato soup, jammed to songs of resistance, and then I went to work at the Saloon.

If you want a taste of yesterday’s playlist here are a few highlights, in no particular order:

Fred Hammond, No Weapon

Dixie Chicks, Not Ready to Make Nice

Yolanda Adams, Never Give Up

Things (Or I’m Writing Again)

I took down my Airbnb listing recently and cancelled my last reservation today. Long story… but it was time.

I’m not sad about it. Airbnb was a zany experience to say the least, and I had a longer run than I had expected when I set out on the adventure.

I’m incredibly glad to be home and within arm’s reach of all my shoes, so there’s that. (The things we take for granted….)

In other news, I’m still having fun waiting tables at the Saloon, I started writing a new pilot, and I’m looking forward to an incredible Michigan football season.

The Wolverines destroyed Hawaii 63-3 last Saturday, and our preseason #7 ranking rose to #5 as a result. I’m going back to Ann Arbor for the Wisconsin game on October 1, and the crew making the pilgrimage to the Holy Land is growing daily.

Plus?

My entire family will be home for my Nana’s birthday that week, so I’m going to party at the cabin with the rest of the Russell Clan while I’m in Michigan. #winning

So this was an inane non-post post, but my head has gone other places.

I could tell you about the (working) actor who comes into the Saloon and tells me, “You have comedy in you. You should do stand up,” but I suspect he’s hitting on me, so I take THAT with a grain of salt. I’m just going to keep writing my new pilot instead of planning to participate in an open mic night with people who are actually funny…..

This is me writing at the moment. I’m sweaty from a rather ill-advised walk to Trader Joe’s with a laundry cart. (Don’t ask.)

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It’s probably better I’m a bit out of focus.

Back to the pilot.

More later.

XOXO