Friday, December 14, 2012

The End of the Road

I took my last college final last night beginning at seven. It wasn't an utter train wreck, but it was damn close, but it was okay. My headphones were in, at one point I was swearing profusely in my own head, and all I could think about afterward, walking through the parking lot to find my car and looking up at the clear sky was how good it felt to be done. How good it felt to accomplish this monumental thing. To come back from the semester from hell, take two repeater courses, and come out on the other end with something....worth it.

Today I packed up my little apartment that I have become quite fond of and headed for home after having met the requirements for a BA in chemistry with a minor in theater.

It has been a long, long road. One that has led me through numerous trials here on this side of the Atlantic, and four fantastic months in a foreign country. It led me through the semester from hell a year ago. It led me through more than just academic hell, too, but seriously, what doesn't kill you in some sense really does make you stronger. Which is damn difficult to realize when you're in the middle of it. Horrendously difficult.

But here, at the really has been worth it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crank It

I'm not going to lie, I'm having a hell of a time getting through this paper. But what's helped - other than some extremely useful suggestions from my professor - is that I've been cycling through some staple songs on YouTube. I get the feeling they're going to be the ones getting me through the next few days and my upcoming two exams.

And the rest of this paper.

In no particular order, they are:
Better Dig Two - The Band Perry

Blow Me (One Last Kiss) - P!nk (Warning: Explicit Content)

 Beer Money - Kip Moore

Live While We're Young - One Direction

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Up, Up, and Away!

I cycled through a lot of titles since yesterday afternoon. Mostly to do with moving. Along with the occasional up or on tacked onto the end for good measure. It all conveyed the same kind of meaning and the feeling that one stage of life was over.

It kind of is.

Tomorrow is the last day of classes for my undergraduate career. The past year has been a long, long road, and when I account for the three full years before that, it's almost mind-boggling. And while the happy little voice in the back of my head is comparing what's going to happen after next Friday - when I move out of my little apartment - to taking a long walk off a short step in the dark, the larger part of my brain has already strapped on its helmet with a maniacal grin and a cheeky, bring it. Which leads me to my next, and probably most important conclusion.

I'm ready to move on. It's time. I'm ready for something different and new, and bonus points if it's exciting. I'm ready to tie up this chapter of my life and move on to the next part.

Which is why I can sit here, in a Starbucks about half an hour from campus for some downtime and a change of scenery while I work on labs and whatnot, and think back on what my nine semesters has been like. Those moments of sheer terror, in parts, from pre-season as a first year to all the medical mysteries my body decided to throw my way along with trying to survive four classes and two labs that first semester. Giving up a part of me I never thought I'd be able to part with the following summer, and then realizing it was okay to move on and try different things. Not playing soccer opened up a wide range of possibilities, and ultimately shoved me in the direction of going abroad to Wales. Which, a year later, I did. And I absolutely loved it. To the point where I'm contemplating going back for grad school, which, technically, would be pastry school.

Spring semester 2011 seemed to rock from end of the spectrum to the other. Oral surgery is never fun, and neither is losing a teammate that you've classified somewhere between friend and family. Nor was the tumultuous summer that followed. But I'm a firmer of what's meant to be is meant to be, and everything, eventually, works out. And it did. It just involved a basement-level GPA for fall, contingency plans for the spring, and realizing that a ninths semester was necessary.

Of course, having only one cup of coffee a day kind of sucks sometimes, but it works to keep everything in line and functioning properly, so I really can't argue with that.

And now here I am, in the fall of 2012 and looking back. I think I'm subconsciously trying to squeeze all the stuff I haven't managed to do - like get cited and robbed by campo while I wasn't there for fire violations, and parking tickets from the G-town police - in the last few weeks of my time here. And never fear, I've already paid my parking tickets.

Regardless of all of that, come this time next week while I prepare for my biochemistry final and hope to pull a rabbit from an unnamed body orifice - holy mixed metaphors, Batman, chalk it up to too much coffee and not enough sleep - I will be ready to move on. I'm not entirely sure what comes next, but I know that I'm ready for it. Whatever it is.

My lovely friends woke me up at two in the morning with confetti, silly string, and cupcakes on my 19th birthday. They were, and still are, amazing.

The summer after our first year, my best friend Em invited me to come stay with her for a week on Martha's Vineyard. It was the first time I had been swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, and her dad snapped this photo of us. Four plus years later, we still haven't let go of each other. I don't think we ever will.

Sophomore year. Sushi night. Moose imitations.

Fall of 2012, the semester in Wales. Behind me is Cadir Idris and the glacier-made lake. I proceeded to climb to the summit of Cadir Idris. My legs hated me for that when I finally got off the mountain totally about five hours later. 
The first time I went on an Alternative Spring Break to Virginia. Loved it so much I went back the following year, and am planning to go again in some capacity. Perhaps they'll let me lead...?
Spring 2012, first time performing in the Vagina Monologues. A powerful night, and a lot of fun. And yes, you totally get over the fact you say "vagina" in front of a crowd of people about the fifth time you say it.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going, and I'm more than okay with it. Wherever it winds up being, it's bound to be a fantastic journey.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Year

I didn't have a whole lot of time yesterday to do a whole lot contemplating on the fact I was turning twenty-three. Now that I can sit and really think, there's been a lot that's happened in a year. Having a dismal Fall semester a year ago, to digging myself out of a hole in the Spring, to having rather scary reactions to anxiety and too much stress - and too much caffeine - and then a summer of work, including into the fall. In between all that was finishing not one but two novels, and taking one further into a second draft, now working on a third. And now here, with two weeks of classes left in the semester and the thought that December will bring moving out of the little apartment and back home to wait four months to walk across the stage and get my degree....

It's been a hell of a year.

Hopefully, minus the medical aspects - meaning we'll be in good health - it'll be another hell of a year. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Miss Demeanors

This week was hellaciously long, but so totally worth it. The four performances - including the open dress rehearsal - were amazing. Everything turned out so well and it was an incredibly strong show.

On the last day of tech rehearsal, the night before the open dress, I had a friend and fellow dancer use my phone to take a video of our performance. And that's what I want to share with you all.

Can you find me? Hint: I'm mostly stage right, for those of you who know what that means.

And yes, my mother and my friends were suitably impressed at how well I can shake my rear end when called upon.

Miss Demeanors: Koshare 2012

Three months worth of work. Three performances. An event for the ages.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jack of All Trades

College student. Writer. Potential professional baker. Science geek. Theater kid. Aunt. Daughter. Wandering Sagittarius. Dancer.


Back at the beginning of September, one of my FB statuses was that I was doing something so far out of my comfort zone it was practically on another planet, because a zip code didn't seem to cover an out step of this magnitude. My mother was appropriately skeptical when I told her, as was my sister, and I'm pretty sure some of my friends outright laughed when I said, rather brightly, I'm trying out for Koshare.

It was something I'd always wanted to since I saw my first show back in Fall 2008, but...didn't. Didn't in Fall 2009, was living in Wales in Fall 2010, and was absolutely batshit crazy a year ago in Fall 2011. Now it's Fall 2012, and guess who's name is in the program under the dance Miss Demeanors? Mine.

I've got no problems stepping out on stage and facing a packed audience and playing a different character with different words, mannerisms, and - the last time I was on stage - downright scary facial expressions. This is different. This is me, Molly Louise, only with a little bit of hip hop in my body, some heat in my cheeks, and the on-going thought process of don't let me screw this up. I got this.

I guess I hadn't really thought about the magnitude of what I was doing, and how far from the normal me it was until I read part of what my sister had put on FB when a mutual friend of ours had mentioned harassing me - in good fun, more or less - at the performance she's attending this weekend. My sister is always going to have my back, but there...I'll admit, I was rather speechless when I read this.

Just the fact that she is participating in Koshare, something so far outside her comfort zone, makes me incredibly proud of her. So, doing anything to embarrass her or take away from that accomplishment is the LAST thing I would do.

 Tonight is opening night. And this sometimes conflicting Jack of All Trades plans to bring the house down. Which, to be honest, reinforces that nice little phrase I attempt to live by.

Carpe diem.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sophomore Spring I

It's been a while. And yes, they're back. Once again, this is for my lovely sister, Heather, and hope that Ollie and Murph will make you smile as much in their Sophomore Spring as they did during the Fall.

An hour car ride can go a few different ways, one of them being a fantastic chance to wrap a frayed mind around an almost unrealistic last week and a half. Wrap a frayed mind around the fact that the only grandfather I'd known was gone.

Piano music floated from the speaker on the passenger side. One of my favorite songs.

I heard there was a secret chord/that David played and it pleased the Lord/but you don't really care for music, do ya

Frickin' tears. Felt like this was all I'd been doing for days, and it was partially true. It was all most of us had been doing. Hard not to. Just kept wiping them away.

And I've seen your flag on the marble arch/love is not a victory march/it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Don't keep seeing his smile. The big red van going around the corner. Him feeding the chickens. Learning to drive the riding lawn mower around the upper field. Leaving corn on the salt blocks for the deer. The smile on his face after successfully tying his ragged shoelaces and his equally ragged work boots. Don't remember he's the one who taught you..

Don't remember, and don't forget.

And the holy dark was moving to and every breath we drew was hallelujah

Damn it.

Don't see his smile coming down the hill the first time on a bicycle - no training wheels.

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah.

I smeared hot tears across my cheeks, not sure how the car stayed in its lane, and really not sure how the sign reading twenty-two miles to Geneva was comprehensible.

Damn it.


The room was cold. First order of business was heat, then Henry on his stand and...more or less getting all the stuff from the hallway into the corner single. Then back in the car and back home and...

Breathe. Breathe. Deep in. Deep out.

I sniffled, swallowing hard. Turned, looked, and froze, my ability to get a handle compromised by the body leaning against the door frame.

"Shit," I muttered, pushing back the too-long sleeves on my borrowed flannel shirt. Murph looked at me, hazel eyes unreadable.

"You gonna be around for a little while or is this a dump and run?" he asked.

I stuffed my hands in my pockets. "A - A dump and run."

"When's calling hours?" His voice was soft. Like he knew it wouldn't take much to break the cracks already there.

"Six to eight. Funeral's at eight." Son of a bitch. Don't poke me too hard, Murph. Not entirely sure I can handle it.

"Let me help you." He pushed off the door frame to stand in my personal space, one of his boots in either side of mine. "We'll make your bed before you go, yeah?"

"I'm not sleeping in it until tomorrow night," I snorted, hands out of my pockets to do that damn self-hug around my middle. Touching Murph right now meant losing it epically. "I'm staying at the house tonight and driving up tomorrow morning."

He nodded. "Okay."

"I hate this," I whispered.

Murph moved first, pulling me to him to engulf me, holding me tight because he knew - he had to - that he was the only thing keeping me together right then. I wrapped my arms around his middle, fisting his t-shirt at the small of his back to ground myself.

If there was a way for me to crawl up into him and the love and safety and Murphy-ness of him, I would have done it. But this? Me grinding my forehead into his sternum in an effort not to soak his shirt with tears was working, too.

I don't know how long we stayed like that, but we had to separate because I had to get going. Murph helped me make my bed, and when we had that done we sat on it and just looked at the stuff I was going to - eventually - have to unpack. But it didn't matter. What did matter was his large hand, warm and safe, around my own cold one.

It was the way he'd said I love you loud and clear. And exactly what I needed.

"You look so pretty, Ollie," Grandma Boyd said, her old wrinkled fingers touching my cheek.

"Thanks, Gramma." My face had to be red and splotchy, considering I burst into tears even looking in the direction of the casket. So it was safer in the secluded area by the doorway to color with El. She was a little subdued, of course, who was happy in a freakin' funeral home?

Gramma Boyd tottered over to my cousins - Kip and Joe - who sat watching the memory slide show.

"Aunt Ollie?"

I opened the clear plastic bag with the crayons, thinking she was going to ask for another color. "Yeah, little one?"

"Why are there two Morephy's?"

O-kay. This was unexpected. And kind of like a punch to the gut. Murphy the cat was at El's house, and Murphy the boyfriend was in Geneva.

"There - Murph's at college, hunny." I looked at her serious blue eyes and turned to follow when she pointed. The two fairly large men in the doorway - in dark suits, too - looked an awful lot like Murph and Liam.

Holy shit. That was actually my boyfriend and his twin. In the doorway.

"Morephy?" El asked, looking between me and the boys.

"Yeah. Murphy." Great time for more waterworks as Murph came over, knelt to be level with El, and set about explaining that Liam was his brother. Liam sat next to me, watching his twin, and it was best for me to just process at my own pace the fact that they were even here.

"So, he's your brother?" El asked, looking between Liam and Murph.

"Yup. Just like your Aunt Ollie and your mom are sisters," Murph said, holding his hands out.

El nodded like a bobblehead.

"Everything okay?"

If Izzy felt unnerved about having two identical stares leveled at her, she didn't show it. She looked between the twins - much the same way El had - and settled on the warm body next to me being the right one. "Murphy?"

Liam chuckled, standing and holding his hand out. "Liam. William, actually, but Liam. Please."

Pretty sure my brain had stopped all higher functions. Quite possibly fallen into an alternate dimension. Maybe the Doctor's Tardis was parked out back.

"Well, I feel like an idiot," Izzy muttered.

"Everybody does it," Liam said with a smile. "We do it intentionally with our new teammates."

"Makes me feel a little better." Izzy sat down on the bench across the small space. "If you want to check in with mom and dad..."

Murph looked at me. "Probably should hi to your parents and thank them for the card." He smiled gently at El. "And thank you, El, for your card when I was sick."

El beamed.

He stood; I got to my feet and straightened my pant legs. It had been a while since I'd had to wear my dress pants - and heels - but it was a small inconvenience, all things considered.

Murph had found my parents, Izzy and Dean were with El and still coloring, Kip and Joe were sitting already, an empty chair between them for me, and Liam had just been waylaid by Gramma Boyd -


I beat feet over, meeting Liam's eyes over the top of my grandmother's head.

"Olivia," Gramma Boyd said, "your boyfriend is a very handsome young man."

"Yes, yes he is." Murph was indeed adorable. "But this isn't Murphy. This is his brother, Liam."

"Oh." She seemed taken aback. "You're still a very handsome young man."

Liam went pink in the cheeks. "Thank you, ma'am."

I scrubbed my forehead. That's my grandmother. "Gramma, I think we should go sit down."

Liam looked for his brother while I led Gramma Boyd to her seat next to Aunt Janelle. The twins were somewhere in the third row, and I was between Joe and Kip with a death grip on a hand on either side of me. The open casket was in front of me, and a lifetime of memories lay behind it.

Drained. Funeral services were draining. I adjusted my gray sweater before slinging my pea coat on. Pretty sure I'd cried more in the past hour than in the past year.

Gloved fingers slipped between mine. Didn't need to look to know it was Murph.

"You okay?" Murph as asked as we stood on the sidewalk looking across the street at the park. The Christmas decorations were still up, lights reflecting off the snow.

"I"m gettin' there." It was the truth.

He squeezed my fingers.

"We're thinkin' about goin' to Dunkin. You wanna come?" Murph glanced at his brother, who nodded. "We can take you home after."

"Let me tell my parents."

In the span of roughly two minutes to find my mother, hammer out the details, and go clomping back across the tiny parking lot, Kip and Joe had not only met the MacRiley twins but arranged a happy family-esque trip to Dunkin Donuts. And also explained how I was going to get home without making Murph and Liam drive up the hill in the middle of January in he opposite direction they needed to go.

Neither Kip nor Joe said anything about me climbing into the back of the Honda with Murph. The ride to the other end of my painfully small town was in silence. Thankfully, Murph and Liam understood my need to decompress.

Pretty sure the Dunkin night crew didn't know what to do with the five of us arriving en masse. Murph's hand was a steady presence at the small of my back. A medium hot chocolate, vanilla frosted donut, and four offers of chivalry later, I was at a high table by the window with my cousins across from me and Murph next to me.

"When do classes start?" Kip asked.

"Tomorrow," Liam and I said together.

"Are you going back tonight?" Joe asked me, sipping his coffee. If possible, he drank more caffeine on a regular basis than me.

It was luck we hadn't had heart attacks.

"No, I'm driving up tomorrow morning in time for class." Which, maybe not one of my brighter ideas, was certainly the current master plan. Happy sophomore spring.

"What are you two majoring in?" Kip asked.

"History," Murph supplied, and a beat later Liam chimed in with, "Sociology."

My cousins' expressions were priceless.

"So, how..."

"Pre-season," Murph and I said together. "I whacked my head off a Ford when the football team was moving in. And Murphy and I just kept running into each other."

Murph nodded with a what-can-ya-do kind of shrug.

"And I met Ollie when Murph wound up in the ER after taking a picture frame to the back of the head at Colby's house."

"I had to call him for a ride back to campus." Which, to be honest, was probably the one night permanently burnt into my head. "But Mama and Dad don't know that," I added casually.

Kip and Joe saluted with their cups.

We passed some more time trading a few stories, simply decompressing. Until someone caught sight of the clock and we knew we had to go. It would take the twins at least forty-five minutes to get back. And God only knew what was going on up on the hill.

Filing out of DD and across the parking lot, Murph pulled me into a hug, kissing the top of my head.

"How about we go out to dinner tomorrow night? You and me?" Murph said.

"Ice cream. I don't care where we go as long as it's got ice cream." My hands fisted the back of his coat. Damn, the tail end of break had been rough. "Call me when you get back."

"Call me if you need me." He stepped back slightly, dropping a kiss to my forehead. "Love you."

"Love you, too." I had to make myself walk away and get int the back of Kip's car.

And to think, this was only the beginning of the semester.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Project ADD

Today, for a little while longer, is October 31. First and foremost, Happy Halloween, and hope everybody had a lovely Wednesday. Mine was rather interesting, considering it was business like normal. But as my chemistry professor was giving out extra points for costumes, my morning consisted of wracking my brains - because, honestly, I was supposed to plan? - and figuring out that with my closet of clothes I could pass myself off as a "starving artist." From a novelist point of view, anyway. One mason jar with a few dollars in it, jeans, layers, flannel, boots, and a cardboard sign with "Will write for food" on it, I was all set to go.

They do say the accessories make the outfit. In this instance, it was more than true.

Tomorrow is the first day of November, and everyone in the writing community has been gearing up for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to crank out a novel of at least 50,000. Ironically enough, Sage started out as my NaNo project back in 2009. Clearly, I failed, as I only finished the manuscript this past June. It's the thought that counts, sometimes, I guess.

Anyway. This isn't a post to tell everybody about the exciting new NaNo idea I'm going to run with. I'm not specifically starting a new project. If I happen, by working throughout November, wind up with 50,000 words of a project, or in editing and rewriting, then fabulous. But there's too much going on - including a possible date with a boy, which as soon as I can sort through all that, I'll let you in on - for me to be able to say with any certainty that I'll sit down and pound out a brand new novel, start to finish, in 30 days.

As always, I'm plodding along with Sage, and perhaps some Murphy and Me: Sophomore Fall, too. But I'm also writing new stuff, like Terrathela, and might even wander back to working on The Icicle Man or Waitress in Love.

If I'm really good, I'll get my ass in gear and start churning out Murphy and Me: Sophomore Spring, but I think my sister's thinking pigs will fly before that point. If it makes anybody feel better, they're currently stuck at the Dunkin Donuts in my hometown, and I haven't quite figured out how to get them out of there.

So, that's kind of a quick update on the project front. I'll have news about The Boy shortly, once I kind of figure out what I'm doing. Then again, not knowing is half the fun, isn't it?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Water-Tight....Not So Much

There was a post I meant to put up about a week ago - last Thursday, actually - more or less outlining my plan to drive to Vermont to see my friend who's at UVM Med School. I don't think I'd had a decent way of closing it, so I more or less saved it, and forgot to post it. Which, sadly, happens with me more than I'd like to admit.


Last weekend I spent 6 hours in my lovely little Buick driving no less than 70 on the highways on my way to Burlington, Vermont, to spend the weekend with two friends I haven't seen since graduation back in May. We had a blast. I arrived in the evening on Friday - I had classes earlier that day - and after pizza, beer, and the decision to make pancakes the next morning, figured out there was this really cool thing called the Giant Pumpkin Regatta happening on Sunday.

Take a giant pumpkin (900 pounds and up), hollow it out, put it in Lake Champlain, and stick somebody (or two people), give 'em a paddle, and let 'em race. It was so fun. It's a waterfront festival as well, so there were vendors, food trucks, a Ben and Jerry's tent (we are in Vermont, after all), and it was a great day to spend down by the lake looking out across at New York with the Adirondacks rising in the background.

We had eaten our way through Vermont the day before, starting with Ben and Jerry's, Cabot Cheese, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and Cold Hollow Cider Mill for cider donuts. Then up through the Green Mountains - Mount Mansfield specifically, through Smuggler's Notch - and then back toward Burlington for dinner at our friend's parents' house.

All in all it was a great weekend. If you check my Twitter, there are lots of Instagram links to photos I took while I was getting there, there in Burlington, and then getting home. And, because I love my camera slightly more than I love my iPhone, I took regular pictures, too.

I need a little more time to process my past week before I figure out a way to blog about it. It's midterms. That should be a big hint.

Burlington, Vermont Waterfront Park (looking toward New York)

900+ Pound Floating Pumpkins

People from local businesses man their pumpkins.

They really don't float too well.

HWS Classes of 2012 and 2013.

Apparently, when I see a body of water and walk a beach, I must put my feet in it. Lake Champlain in October.

Downtown Burlington.

On the Charlotte-Essex Ferry coming back to New York.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things to Know V: The First Week Back Edition

As we near the end of the first week back to class, I thought it appropriate to do a Things to Know. Because this week has been chock full of them. Some of them are funny and some are...they just are.

- From the outside of my apartment, the windows are street level. From the inside, they start six feet off the ground and require a chair for Louise to even reach the sill.

- The bedroom window doesn't open fully.

- That might be a good thing, in the long run.

- My kitchen table is dominated by a puzzle.

- The puzzle is not complete yet.

- I get roughly five to ten minutes of pretty church bell songs every three hours.

- Mostly because the Methodist church is right across the street.

- I required a slight tutorial on how to use my shower.

- It was frighteningly simple once I was shown how.

- Some things are easier the second time around.

- Always look before you put something in the toaster and push it down.

- Case and point: Having a new toaster. Cardboard left in it. Flaming cardboard and a screeching fire alarm at 8:15 in the morning on a Thursday.

- The apartment still kind of smells like smoke.

- Be wary of standing in chairs to flip the fan from intake to exhaust.

- Fall off the chair and nearly gouging your chest on the screws sticking out of the awful paneling in the living room is a great way to start the morning.

- While the fire alarm continues to blare and there are smoking cardboard remains in the kitchen sink.

- I met the Boy Next Door because I stress baked my little heart out on Tuesday and produced cupcakes.

- BND is rather attractive.

- Have I mentioned the apartment still kind of smells like smoke?

- Tonight feels like a macaroni and cheese and chicken nugget kind of night, but I really don't want to cook after the whole Flaming Toaster Incident.

- Capital letters are totally appropriate.

- I got all my work done for this week done by this afternoon. I feel rather accomplished.

- My writing workshop was not what I thought it would be. Rather than drive myself nutzo for the next however many months, I've dropped it.

- I do feel very, very relieved.

- NYS local Riesling is quite tasty.

- I kind of don't want to work tomorrow night.

- Mostly because I'd rather try and hope for dinner with the BND.

- I think the previous is and probably always will be just a pipe dream.

- Hope your week was as exciting as mine (but with no Flaming Toaster Incident).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Jam

The phrase Summer Jam has a few different meanings for me - one more rooted in heresay and secondhand stories than anything else, and the other as the core of this post. At one point, Summer Jam meant a huge concert series about two miles up the road from my house that brought tens of thousands of people to the area and basically shut down the county.

In this case, it means I heard some interesting music this summer, and want to review my favorites and the moments that will always be linked to them. Much like that line in Eric Church's Springsteen where he says, "Funny how a melody sounds like a memory/Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night."

So, yeah. Here we go.

Call Me Maybe: This was my manager's ringtone at work, so whenever the gift shop called to let us know we had a new reservation, this would blare from her phone. There were also moments when we would randomly dance in the kitchen, singing this at the top of our lungs. This was also the pick-up line for many a night when there were attractive, single men. (Not for this chick, though, I had to worry about not dropping cheesecake trays and whatnot.) Sadly, we did not make a boat version of this video. We should have.

Brokenhearted: When you work enough Teen Cruises, and have a best friend who is more than willing to indulge in the idea of mix CD's with you, this is what happens. This kind of became our Monday night anthem. Along with the next video.

Whistle: When Em and I first heard this song, it more or less....I dunno. We became attached to it. It's catchy. It went on our next mix CD. 

Pontoon: This is a Legacy song. As in, I will always be reminded of breakin' it down in the kitchen, belting the lyrics we knew, and just...this will remind me of two of the people I've worked with the longest at my job, and make me smile throughout the rest of the year. 

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: This is just catchy as hell. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my Summer Jam. There are definitely others that will always bring up a memory or two, but they also contain enough F-bombs to blow my PG-13 rating like a popsicle stand. Have a good weekend, and most likely the next post will be from my new apartment in Geneva on Sunday.     

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Sleepless Writers

Many of you know I write. Many of you also know I know quite a few people who share the same passion for writing and hopefully one day being published. We talk on a regular basis, and then, one day, somebody had this idea that we should start doing vlogs about writing stuff.

With the power of the internet at our disposal, we became The Sleepless Writers, made our own YouTube channel, and got busy making vlogs every day about a variety of different topics. After some feedback from our viewers, who thought our videos every day were a little heavy-handed and kind of spam-like in their feeds, we decided that we would take some time, have some interesting Skype discussions, and figure out a new way to do what it is that we love to do and what we offer to the wider audience.

Re-vamped, with newer purpose, and with our relaunch approaching on August 20, we are The Sleepless Writers, a collection of bloggers and vloggers. We'll talk about writing, book reviews, the life of a writer, and general randomosity, and we'll give stuff away, too.

You can follow us on Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Facebook...we're pretty much everywhere.

We also blog.

This could quite possibly be the start of something really, truly fabulous.

The Sleepless Writers

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moving Up and On

Sometimes it's the unexpected that does the most good. I was not prepared, Friday mid-morning, to be leaning against the counter of a souvenir kiosk and have my ex-boyfriend's wife go walking by with other members of her fire company. Really, the first thought upon seeing her was, to be honestly, incredibly shallow on my part in I was wondering how exactly she had passed the physical training aspect of it. Then I realized that really wasn't any of my business.

Even more surprising was the utter lack of emotional response the mere sight of her drew up. I wasn't angry. I wasn't sad. I simply...was. He'd moved on in a direction I had no intentions of going any time soon, and I think I finally realized in that moment I was good with who I was, and what I'd done so far in my twenty-two years on this planet.

Kind of also didn't surprise me to see said ex-boyfriend's sister on my walk back from getting coffee. She gave me a hug, there wasn't too much chitchat, and then it was back to hawking souvenirs and ringing up credit card purchases.

The ending gambit to all of this was, roughly in the same position as when I first saw his wife that morning, I saw the pair of them walking by. He looked much the same as the last time I'd seen him - only a little plumper, as not doing three sports a year like high school will do that to most of us - and, again, there really wasn't a whole lot of emotional reaction. It was like he was just another person passing by, though at one point he'd been much, much more than that.

I'm good. I'm good with who I am and what I've done so far with my life. This little series of events over the course of one day, almost totally randomly in a place where it definitely wasn't expected, proves it to me. And when I came to the conclusion that I was, indeed, not a complete wreck at the mere sight of them - together - well, I'm incredibly happy that I'm in a place where, I might not have expected a few years ago, but I'm more than okay with.

I'm more than okay with me in this moment.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


There are these certain moments of clarity in your life when, if the time is right, and the situation presents itself, you more or less find a direction in an otherwise dark, unknown place and pull yourself forward. And sometimes that direction matches up to the one you've had for a while, that dream you've been chasing. Other times, it takes you a little sideways.

But sideways can be good.

Recently, I've more or less figured out what I want to do post college graduation. It involves going back to school, and for someone who doesn't plan very well, I'm startling content with the path I'm aiming for.

Which happens to be a patisserie diploma from a culinary school with campuses all around the world. The one I'm aiming for happens to be in London, England.

Well, what about forensics?

The idea of being in a lab day after day - because with this kind of work and the degree I'll have, being a technician is probably what I'd be heading for - doesn' doesn't appeal to me. I know plenty of people who work in a cubicle all day, and that's not what I want for me. I want the chance to travel, to try new things, and make people happy. Generally, when people eat good food, they're relatively happy.

I love to bake. I'm good at it. And having taken food chemistry this past semester, I think that really cemented the sort of track I want to follow. Of course there will always be writing, as I'm looking at starting my third draft of Sage either today or tomorrow. My query letter needs to undergo some overhauling, and then I'll start sending out little packets of hope disguised as Publish me, please letters.

And in a few weeks, I'll be returning to college for my final semester. It's not going to be easy, I know this, but having crawled out of the academic basement between fall and spring of last year, I know I can do it. And that, sometimes, is more than half the battle.

So, this is where I'm at. It's been a fairly light summer for me - mostly working - and not a whole lot of blogging, and for that, I apologize. I'm still here, though. And that has to count for something.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Personal Infringement

Manager: "S is going to be my agent for when I publish my book."

Me: "Your bartending book?"

Manager: "Yeah. She's going to be my agent. She's going to organize my book signings and tell me where to go and everything."

Me: "It's....not that simple...."

Ever have those moments when you just want to reach over the bar, grab somebody by the front of the shirt, and say, "That's my dream, back the hell off!"? I understand that more than one person can dream - and dream big - but, it just makes a knot in the middle of my chest because being an author is something that I've wanted since I was six. It's not on my bucket list. It is, but not because it would be cool to do, but because it's something that I've been working toward for years. If you take that initial dream of a six-year-old and come up through to twenty-two, that's a lot of time spent reading, writing, and thinking of how damn cool it would be to see my book and my name on a shelf at Waldenbooks.

Which, I'm pretty sure I just dated myself gloriously.

I've spent nearly eight years working on one manuscript - that's almost finished - and over the past two and a half years, I've finished two others. I'm on page 197 of 362 in terms of editing and retyping Sage, and the sheer amount of work and heart put into finishing one novel, let alone two, makes this much, much more than a simple bucket list endeavor.

This could be quite petty of me. Jealously is not a good look on anybody, but I can't help but think, in the ensuing conversation earlier, that some people just don't get it. She wants to write her book in her spare time, well, fantastic. But it takes work. And then it takes querying.

I did feel slightly bad because the smile kind of faded when I went into how much work it is to query and then try to get an agent, and that the agent is responsible for dealing with publishers, and, oh, yeah, agents are kind of picky and will only take a small percentage of new writers.

That was probably petty. But it's the truth. I've got a stack of rejection letters to prove it.

I guess what bugs me the most is the natural assumption that it's easy. That once you've written the book, agents and publishers will fall all over you to take it and print it. But that's not the way it works. Her thinking that it's easy, that it'll be a great way to make millions, just sort of cheapens it.

And that is something I have a problem with.

In any event, I'll wish her good luck, periodically ask how the writing's coming, and hope that one day maybe the pair of us are in the same bookstore, looking at our work on the shelf.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Almost Like a B&N

I'm not one for self-promotion - especially when it comes to my writing - but I thought I'd try something a little bit different.

Many of you have probably figured out that I'm a little stuck with Murphy and Me. Mostly because I finished Sophomore Fall and started Sophomore Spring to have an excerpt to apply for the Trias Writer in Residence Workshop, and I kind of haven't touched the new writing process really at all yet, and I've been trying to edit my way through the first 59 pages of printed manuscript. So that's kind of stalled out right where it's at and I'm not entirely when I'm going to be doing something new with it, since I chose the retyping the whole damn thing route in terms of editing. I was already leaning that way, my professor also suggested it....


Maybe some of you knew this - and maybe some of you didn't - but I have this tendency to work on more than one project at a time. That way, if and when writer's block (yes, it's a real thing, and really frustrating to work with at times) hits, then I'm not totally stuck not writing for however long it takes to break out of the funk. In some cases - like with parts of The Crossing, that massive thing in composition books - it could be anywhere from a couple weeks to over six months. Patience, when writing, is key.

I have other projects, other novels in progress, that while not in the same sort of genre as Murphy and Me are somewhat in the same style and voice. So I thought I would go ahead and share their blurbs, their links, and a little bit about the inspiration behind the story. That way, while you're waiting on Murphy and Me to do something or actually go somewhere - hopefully in the direction of a publishing contract - you might find something else you like just as much, maybe more.

Eleanora Hope knew from the tender age of four what she was destined for – she was the latest in a long line of Sages, those charged with keeping the dead beneath the graveyard ground – and she had more than willingly accepted the task at hand. At eighteen she was the youngest Sage, a byproduct of the passing of her grandmother, Lynette, fifteen years after the murder of Ella’s parents. And while the dead might deem otherwise, Ella was more than content with the life she had reconciled herself to.

Until Azrael and Aeryn literally drop in and introduce her to part of reality she hadn’t rightly considered. With two voluntary fallen angels – one who might not be as angelic as he should be – they turn Ella’s quiet existence as Sage sideways. Now with the possibility of an apocalypse and a power-hungry council of women after her graveyard, Earth seems to have become the proverbial war zone, and the lines between angel, demon, human, and Sage are more than a little blurred.

But if life weren’t complicated, it wouldn’t be worth living. And life for this Sage is far from simple.

Sage was born out of the cemetery by the Colleges and walking through there with my best friend and her camera in the fall of our sophomore year. It originally started out as my National Novel Writing Month story, but I didn't finish even remotely close in the month of November, and it's sort of turned into an ongoing project. 

The Icicle Man
Mari's life was to look after the animals on the small farm she and her mother kept in the New York Adirondacks. Other girls had come back from college looking to settle down, shack up, and raise babies. She'd come back to the farm and its simplicity. It was all she wanted. Until she met Jack. Or rather, Jack met her on her way through the forest to her grandmother's.

Convinced she was one of those piper-stolen children, he cages her into returning to his palace, for he is the Icicle Man, Jack Frost. Mari's not sure what to believe, but she knows she's no piper's child. Jack's plan, whatever that may be, is turned on its head when Mari gives him a challenge he can't refuse - what it means to be human. As Jack steps out of his centuries-old role, Mari discovers what makes the frozen Winter Prince tick.

And what it means to be truly human.

The Icicle Man started out as a play text - and is actually still in that form, as well, though not here, here is the novel form - and was started during my semester abroad in Wales in the fall of 2010. It's a retelling of the European fairytale Jokul Frosti (Jack Frost) mixed with a little bit of The Pied Piper. And a whole lot of fun.

I'm hoping that while I figure out what I'm doing with Murph and Ollie that you'll take a look and maybe find something you enjoy just as much. Or maybe you spam my inbox with messages looking for more Murph and Ollie and that will kick start me into writing them again. Either way works for me, truthfully.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

High Winds of Change

I moved out of that house on main street Tuesday back to the little hamlet that's always been home and breathed one hell of a sigh of relief. Another semester over. Two-thirds of senior year - because my senior year has three parts instead of two because I'm good like that - is over and hallelujah for that. The last three weeks got incredibly rough, including when my caffeine intake and subconscious anxiety decided to push itself over the normal threshold into something rather scary. I'm okay, but it seriously freaked me and everybody else out, so now your favorite coffee addict really only gets one mug a day, and to tell you the truth, decaf tea's not that bad. That and I'm making sure to keep a lid on my anxiety, which I hadn't considered a problem before now.

What's even more impressive is the turnaround my grades did in the wake of the semester from hell - Fall 2011 - to the point where even I'm proud of me. I sacrificed a lot to be able to put in the time and effort to go from a 1.33 to a 2.93 in a little under four months. I stayed in on my weekends (which, okay, not that big a deal because I didn't go out much on the weekends in general), didn't leave assignments to the last minute, and took my independent study as seriously as though it were a regularly scheduled fourth class. For the first time, I really felt like I had this college thing under control and was good at it. My exam grades weren't always great, but I had the material, and the professors could see I was working hard and all of it together was a combination that just worked.

My parents are incredibly proud of me for such a turnaround. And me? I'm happy.

Now if I can just do the same thing this upcoming semester, I'll be golden. But between then and now is a whole summer to fill with...Stuff. Work. Soccer. Refereeing.And anything else that comes up in between then and now. Mostly though we'll just roll with the punches and go with the flow. Which, you know, sounds great on paper and works ever better - or worse - in real life.

And, of course, there will be writing, querying, and whatnot this summer because I have a draft of a book and now it needs either an agent or a publisher. Hopefully both.

So. Hello summer. Bring it. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday

It's been a while since I've done either a Wordless Wednesday or a Thankful Thursday, and while I'm sitting here reading an article about working mom's that I picked off of Facebook - because while I really should start my two page position paper for my food chem course, I honestly can't bring myself to even open the damn document at the moment - I realized that I hadn't really talked about anything that happened last month (couple weeks ago, really) during Spring Break. I spent it in Virginia, doing community service in Pocahontas State Park (again) and I really enjoyed it. I did it not because it's going to look great on a resume, but because I enjoy doing things for other people and get a good feeling when somebody benefits from something I can do for them.

And, while I have no idea the true cause for this, I would happily weed somebody else's flower beds but the ones in front of my house. I honestly don't know why, but hey, I think that's the feeling a lot of people have.

The thankful part comes in because I'm thankful I had the opportunity to spend my break doing something like this - working in the middle of the woods with people who's lives are pretty much an episode of Parks and Recreation in the making - and it was fun to meet and have to live with different people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Things to Know XXIV

- I find it ironic that I'm watching The Social Network while my other tab at the top of my browser is open to Facebook.

- Which, considering little squiggles didn't appear, Facebook is actually a word.

- I'm taking a break from trying to chew through my Food Chem reading.

- And have cracked open a hard cider.

- I am ready for the semester to be over with.

- They make Starbucks coffee in an economy-sized package.

- They also make extra-large bottles of coffee creamer.

- I am really ready to be done with this semester.

- My fantastic Focus, Murfee, has gone missing. I'm guessing he's down by the boathouse, again, attempting to swim in the lake in the middle of April.

- Or maybe he's on the train tracks, I really don't know. I just know my Focus is missing.

- I am trying not to be a very lonely human being right now. And probably failing miserably.

- My break's been long enough - time to get back to work.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Murphy and Me XXXXV

[I...I have no words for this. I'm actually almost in tears at this point. This is the last chapter of the first draft of Murphy and Me: Sophomore Fall. Thank you so much for sticking with me in what went from a smartass beginning to make my sister snort a banana through her nose to a full semester's worth of a love story between a science geek soccer player and a history buff football boy. Thank you.]

I stood on my tiptoes, balanced by Murph's hands on my hips to kiss him goodbye. The Honda was packed, Liam in the driver seat with Dev talking to him through the open window, the pair of them graciously giving us as much privacy as we could get in a public parking lot.

"You'll do fine tonight," Murph said, one hand coming up to cradle my face.

"Thanks." I looked over at the Honda. It wasn't fair to hold Liam up much longer. Not with such a ride ahead of them. Leaned up and kissed the underside of Murph's jaw, discovering he hadn't shaved when he'd gone back down the fishbowl. "Love you."

"Love you, too, Ollie." He gave me one last rib-breaking hug and a kiss, and headed for the passenger side of the Honda, bumping Dev's fist as he came around the trunk.

Dev and I stood on the sidewalk to watch the Honda pull out toward St. Claire, the twins waving from their respective sides of the vehicle. Dev gave me a short, one-armed hug before we headed back inside, him to pack and me to study for physics.

And to look up exactly how long winter was, almost down to the minute.

Physics was a train wreck. Not a HAZMAT-size train wreck, but more than train meets car kind of deal. I'd somehow pulled it out though, managing two C's - orgo and physics - an A- in acting, and pulled a B+ out of a random body orifice for T-S Britain. My GPA wasn't the greatest, but it would work, and there were more requirements for my degree done, which was kind of the point. And once grades came out - about a day before Christmas, which was about the best present ever - it felt like I could breathe properly again. Which was a welcome feeling.

Christmas passed in a bit of a blur. We had a full house, as usual - even the ones from Michigan this year - and the sheer amount of food was almost unreal. I could practically see Murph's eyes bug out of his head when I told him we'd had thirty-five people in the kitchen and, even more wondrous, was the fact we'd managed to eat at the same time and not in shifts. El had wanted to know about "Morephy" and my heart nearly burst, simply for the fact she remembered him.

A few days after New Year's the restlessness set in. Not so much to see Murph - he'd convinced me to sign up for Skype, and we had less-than-romantic, slightly awkward internet dates at least once a week - but to be busy again. In short, I was ready for the fresh start a new semester brought and more than ready to go back to class. That's just how I was.

As for being home and in my own bed, there were some nights when it felt too small. It was hard not to try to imagine a larger, furnace-warm body curled behind me, one huge hand splayed open against my belly. The way he'd snuffle in his sleep sometimes, other times murmur words - English or Gaelic, they were usually too low and garbled to tell exactly which language - into the back of my neck. The way good morning was said with a hug, a shift of a leg between mine, and the trail of kisses along the top-most knobs of my spine. Sometimes beard stubble, too, when he hadn't shaved in a while.

All of it was Murph, his presence, his comfortable-ness, and his love. And it was mine.

And it was good.


I jerked further awake, rolling over to stare at the stars on the ceiling. Sounded an awful lot like dad.


What did he want at - good Lord - eight-ten in the morning? "Yeah?" I shouted back, not inclined to get out of the warmth yet.

"Olivia Mae!"

Damn it. I rolled - literally - out of bed and jogged down the hall toward the stairs. Dad was at the bottom, looking at me with an expression of absolute grief that made my lungs forget to function for a second. "Dad?"

In this instance I saw my father - the strongest, most collected man I know - do something I hope to never see again.


"Dad?" It was barely more than whisper, and about the only volume I could manage at the moment.

He rubbed a hand over his mouth. "Harris died."

My knees gave out and I slid to the floor at the top of the stairs, head resting against the wall with a thump with my knuckles against my mouth, not sure whether to sob or puke.

Harris, my grandfather in all but blood, was dead. It was then the tears came.

Murphy and Me XXXXIV

[This is the second to last chapter in Murphy and Me: Sophomore Fall. But don't worry, because after the fall semester comes the spring semester. Happy Monday.]

I keep swearing every time a big paper comes up I won't do this. It's not fun. It does nothing for my blood pressure and my brain melts right around two-thirty, three o'clock. These don't get any easier. Might actually get harder, come to think of it.

Which is why all-nighters aren't good for the human body. Which was why I was not totally coherent.

Which was mostly why I was falling asleep in my omelet in Saga the second day of finals. My T-S Britain paper was due at eleven, and Em and I had handed ours in at ten-thirty after starting them at six the previous night. Not a moment of brilliance on my part, and if there was a way to mainline coffee, I needed to do it. Preferably an hour ago.


Not a voice I recognized, first of all, and, to be frank, my outfit left a lot to be desired. Murph's flannel shirt, rolled up to the elbows, William Smith soccer sweatpants, the legs pushed up to my knees, and my beaten New Balance sneakers. A hot mess, that was me.

I looked up, blinking hard to get the fuzziness out of my eyes.


I was not awake enough for this shit. That much I knew.

"Hi." She looked like she hadn't just ripped an all-nighter - more like she'd come from the gym, with all her carefully applied makeup still intact - and she sat delicately across from me.

My appetite promptly fled. "Morning."

"Yeah." Manda shifted. "So, you're Murphy's new girlfriend?"

If she meant "new" as in "together officially for four months" then yeah, I was the new girlfriend. "Kinda, okay, yeah." Really hope that made some sort of sense.

"Well, there's some things you should know." She shifted again.

What happened next was more...verbal vomiting from a sleep-deprived brain that did not want to deal with this shit. Not now. Not ever.

"Wait a second."

Manda looked at me - actually looked at me for the first time - and froze.

"If you're going to sit there and tell me secrets - dirty secrets about Murph, then I don't want to hear them. Not from you." That damn Boyd temper was rearing its ugly head. "Any secrets," I said, calmly gathering my things, "about Murphy I plan to learn from Murphy when Murphy is ready to tell me." Didn't care she had to look up at me. "I have no desire to hear anything you might have to tell me about Murphy. Good luck with your finals."

And I walked away. That was a moment of brilliance.

Packing was a good way to procrastinate on studying for physics. While listening to music, of course. My orgo exam had been more of a train wreck than originally thought and the act of decompressing from that was more to let my brain solidify again by random action than anything else.

The little black flip phone buzzed against the bed frame.

you upstairs? from Liam, of all people. He must have been visiting his brother. I sent back an affirmative and seconds later - which told me he'd been standing outside the door - he was knocking. A quick trip to open said door, then around the piles on the floor to turn the music down.

Liam must have figured the only safe place to stand was leaning against the door. "So...You walked out on Manda."

I moved a pile of sweatshirts and sank into the moon chair. "Yeah. Guess I did." To be honest, that whole exchange had a funny, almost out-of-body feel to it. More like I watched it happen than actually did it.

"Thank you."

Again, not what I was expecting.

Liam opened and closed his mouth a few times before he found the right words. "When Murphy was with Manda he...He wasn't happy at times. Downright miserable, really. And when you're the older sibling - by a whopping minute and forty-five seconds - you want your younger sibling to be happy." He put his hands in his pockets. "I haven't seen my brother this relaxed in a long time and he's content with you in a way he never was with Manda."

I clutched the pile of sweatshirts tighter, not sure what to say.

"I don't know," he said, "if I were in your position, if I would have walked away. I really don't. And to do that took a lot and, just...Thank you for having such faith in my brother."

Liam was open and raw in a way that was almost shocking in its intensity. It made me wonder what exactly Manda had done to him, and why anyone would ever want to hurt Murph in any capacity, but especially on this level.

"You would've," I said. "You would've walked away."

He shrugged. "I don't know. I don't have a solid answer for that."

Just because he wasn't sure didn't make me the better person. Did it?

"You're good for him," Liam said. "And thank you for that." He smiled softly. "And he is going to be unbearable for the majority of winter break."

I blinked. "He won't be that bad."

Liam outright chuckled at that. "Oh, yeah, he'll be fine for the first two weeks and then he'll be bear to live with." He brought one hand out of his pocket to swipe at his nose. "But you're good for him." He fumbled for the door handle.

"He's good for me, too." Not sure if he heard me, but he smiled one last time and left almost as quietly as he'd arrived. I sat in the chair, still clutching the pile of sweatshirts, and trying to put my newly melted brain back together again.

It really helped to put perspective on things. What perspective on what things was a little vague, but at the end of it all it boiled down to being with someone - loving someone - and being loved in the capacity Murph and I had found in each other. This was probably one of those cases where the head had problems reasoning through what the heart could understand instinctively.

It was more than slightly confusing when a critical examination was attempted. Better to just go with it, no questions asked.

There was another knock on the door. No point in me getting up to sit back down. "Yeah, it's open."

Murph slipped in and had no qualms about navigating the piles to sit on the only space on the bed not covered in physics material. "Hi."

"Hi." Now I was not only procrastinating at studying but also procrastinating at packing. But Murph was always a welcome distraction.

"So, Liam's done tomorrow at eleven and then we're packing the car and heading home."

"I have the seven to ten tomorrow."

"Shit." Murph scratched at the slight stubble he had going. "You'll be around in the morning?"

"Yeah." My room was a mess but he'd probably seen worse. "You wanna stay tonight? Up here?"

He hesitated, glancing at the open physics book. "You have an exam tomorrow."

"Tomorrow night." There was this almost tangible I sleep better when you're next to me that we both acknowledged but didn't verbalize. "I have all day to study for physics."

"Like you've done so far?" He smirked.

"Funny." Smiled anyway. "But really. Stay, please?"

He looked at me, then looked down, then finally back at me. "If you're sure."

"I'm sure." No hesitation on my part. There probably never would be, either.

Murph looked at my clock. It was late. "You want me to go grab some pajamas?"

"Yeah. I'll stuff all this stuff...Somewhere." Have I mentioned my hatred for packing? I asked Murph as much. He grinned. I scrubbed my hands over my face and mumbled, "I need to go to bed."

"I'll be right back."

The door swung shut behind him and left me there staring at the piles of stuff on the floor and wondering how I was going to get all of it home. Then again, did it all need to go home in the first place? Regardless, it went into the hamper and the hamper - now bulging - sat by the closet.

A pair of soccer shorts and a tank with a built-in bra were pajamas, and I was tugging the hair tie from my curls when Murph came back in, dropped both warm hands to my hips and tipped his forehead all the way down onto my bare shoulder.

Neither of us needed to say anything. The how long is winter break and I'm going to miss you was clearly there. But that was going to be then. We wanted to stay in the here and now for as long as possible. Here and now in this corner single with Murph and Ollie and nobody else, not even in memory.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rust Bucket

My legs hurt, but I feel better than I have in a long time. I'm going to need to spend time - preferably while I read a hundred and something pages of Lear tonight - with my legs upright against a wall to drain the lactic acid from slightly abused muscles. My ass hurts. I've drank more water in the past two hours than I have all day.

I blame - and thank - all of this on my pal, Rust Bucket.

Let me back up before you guys think I'm more nutzo than normal. Remember all those commercials New Balance put out about people getting back together with running? How it shouldn't be difficult to have a relationship with running, and that getting it back is a good thing? Well, I don't have a relationship with running. I have one with Rust Bucket.

Rust Bucket is my bicycle, appropriately named because the thing is a bit old. I mean a good ten or eleven years, and we got him fairly new - maybe a year or two old - at a yard sale one summer when I was in middle school. So RB has been with me a while and of course made the move to college. He's a sturdy little shit, despite the startling amount of iron oxide (rust) on him, and he and I have gone on many an adventure, both here at college and at home.

RB and I haven't gone for a ride in the past four months. It's been the middle of winter; the tires needed some air (and actually wound up getting replaced yesterday), but none of that seemed to matter because rather than doing this damn formal lab report on Co(III) complexes, we took advantage of the nice weather and went for a 7.8 mile ride.

Yeah. My lower body is going to hate me in the morning.

For as much pain as rolling out of bed is going to be tomorrow, it was worth it. Really worth it. It feels really good to have gone for a ride.

Though maybe next time we'll start a little smaller.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Murphy and Me XXXXIV

[College. 'Nough said.]

Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 10:30 AM

In celebration of a successful sophomore fall, I thought we could have dinner at my house - something easy, like pasta - and just hang out.
Of course if you have other plans, that's cool, but it was really fun to watch movies with you guys - and girls - but taking you all out to Parker's might break the bank, but we could, if you want to. But maybe movie at my house as Ollie's room is a small and Murph and Dev's isn't much bigger.
So - dinner at my house or out somewhere? And the movie or whatever we're doing after. Or you could all eat and then abandon me, too.
I'm okay with whatever, as Todd and Charlie - my housemates - are going downtown that night.
Just let me know.

Amazing. Colby had the ability to ramble in an email.

RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:15 AM

I think all of us cooking would be fun. Something like lasagna maybe?
Ollie Karizslowski
WS '12

RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:20 AM

Is this what you were typin' in the library? I thought it was your English paper.
Lasagna sounds good. Bread too?
Murphy R. MacRiley
Hobart 2012

RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:22 AM

My brother the carb junkie.
Dev - can you bring apples to apples?

RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:25 AM

I see everybody knows how to use Reply All. Lasagna, bread, salad. Golden.

RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:37 AM

How the hell do you get Sasha from Alexandra?

RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:39 AM


RE: Dinner Friday (12/11)
December 7, 2009 11:50 AM

Hi again
Murph just reminded me - shindig starts at 5:30 (to start cooking). Tunes will be provided.
See you all then.
P.S. - Here's how to get to my house - 4th house on the left on Pulteney Street, other side of 5&20

Dinner at Colby's
December 9, 2009 12:24 PM

Hey guys,
If you're coming to dinner, maybe bring a few bucks to chip in? Colb's gone grocery shopping out of pocket.
See you Friday!

RE: Dinner at Colby's
December 9, 2009 12:45 PM

Of course.
Ollie Karizslowski
WS '12

RE: Dinner at Colby's
December 9, 2009 12:55 PM

No shit.
-Liam and Murph

By the time Friday hit three classes was almost three too many. Finally it was hallelujah time. First thing I did to celebrate was take a beautiful, nearly two hour nap. Made since, since yesterday's bedtime was actually two-thirty this morning.

Yeah. Nap time.

Once awake it was just glorious to lie there staring at the ceiling with Edgar looped under one arm. The ambient noise from the hallway filtered through the closed door. It was no only peaceful but relaxing, too. Can't remember the last time I was able to do this.

Someone knocked on the door.

"Yeah?" The door, hopefully, was open. No way in hell was I getting out of bed.

Murph's head and shoulders appeared around the now open door. "Did I wake you up?"

"Nope." Rolled over to curl on my side. "Whatcha doin'?"

"Comin' to see you." He came all the way in, the door shutting behind him. "You sure I didn't wake you up?"

"I'm sure." I scooted to put my back against the wall. "You don' anything at the moment?"

"That sounds like an invitation."

"You betcha." My boyfriend was no dummy.

Murph left his shoes by the closet and dropped his keys and wallet on the desk by my laptop before climbing into bed in jeans and a layered button down. He got settled, head on my pillow, and blinked.

"I was napping" Our legs tangled. "And then woke up and was just lying here." Shrugged. "It's warm."

He moved closer, resting a large hand on my side. "It's nice."

"Do you mind if Jo walks with us to Colby's?"

"Not at all." He inched a bit closer, tucking one leg between mine. Forgot how big his thighs were. "Liam's coming here after his last class."

"Sasha and Cara are meeting us at the bottom of St. Claire Street." Screw this shit - I tucked myself against Murph, plastering us together from chest to toes with his belt buckle digging into my hip. "Will you move your belt buckle?"

"Yeah, no problem." He reached between us, yanking on his belt, knuckles dragging against my belly. That odd feeling was back, a fluttering in my gut that scared me. That same arm came up, working under my head and the pillow. The other came around my side, sliding under my borrowed flannel shirt to splay open in the dip at the end of my spine.

Tit for tat, my own hand snuck under his button down to rest between his layers, halfway to his heart. He shifted minutely. Away from me.


He buried his face in my hair.

"If it hurts..."

"It doesn't hurt. It's just..." He readjusted us to better look me in the eye. My hand stayed where it was. Unless he got very uncomfortable, that is. I wasn't going to push this, though it was getting more obvious what the cause of his insecurity was.

"Your scars?" I said softly.

It was emergency surgery. It was bound to be messy. My own scars were fairly tiny and straight forward. Murph's probably not so much.

"Yes." He paused. "I'm a little sliced and diced down...there...." Color filled his cheeks.

I picked up what he was trying to get out, as that's where mine were. "Between your belly button and your..."

"Yeah." He was a shade of red only seen in a twenty-four count box of crayons. "They're huge."

"You had emergency surgery." My fingers found the dip in his shirt belonging to his belly button. "It was bound to be messy."

He flinched.

"Sorry," I muttered. "Have you seen the scar on my knee?"

"Which knee?"

"Left." The hand on my back ghosted down to the joint in question and I had to work very hard to stay very still as the area was rather ticklish. "Do you know how I got that?"


"I was in first grade and riding the bus. Not sitting up in the seat in the back and the driver stopped suddenly. The heater sliced through my leggings and into my knee. Started screaming. I couldn't stand the idea of stitches so they put a giant band aid on and sent me home." I leaned back to see him a little better. "Never had stitches until the dissolving ones they put in me both inside and out."

His hand slid up my leg to cup my thigh. Considering I was using compression shorts as pajamas, there was a lot of bare skin under his palm.

"Whe - When they're less red and raised," he said.

"Whenever you're ready, Murphy." And that was all there was to it. He'd be ready when he was ready. And he'd get the space he needed, too.

With some pulling, poking, and prodding, we found one of our most comfortable positions: Murph with his head tucked under my chin, one arm curled around my torso - which kept most of his weight cleverly on the mattress and not all on me - and me with a leg on either side of him, the fingers of one hand through his belt loop and the other still between his shirts.

Comfortable. Very comfortable.

"You're too good to me, you know that, right?" he murmured against my throat.

"Just returning the sentiment." That didn't sound quite right. "More than that, you know. Right?"

"I know."

We stayed like that for almost an hour, talking casually and occasionally stroking patches of skin - within reason - and generally just...There's not really any good way to describe it other than we were still getting to know each other and doing a fine job of it so far. Murph and I didn't know everything about each other - which we shouldn't, not this soon - and there was the notion we wouldn't know everything. My parents have been married for thirty-four years and they're still learning about each other in some ways.

Murph and I had only been doing this boyfriend-girlfriend thing for going on four months. Definitely not long enough to know everything about my partner.

It was nice, trading memories with Murph. Sharing bits of childhood.

Around quarter to five the room started to get nighttime dark and we separated, mostly because I needed to change into actual clothes. Jeans, my favorite red-striped collared shirt with a long-sleeved tee under it, and Timberland boots, as it hadn't stopped snowing all week. Mis-matched outwear on and then it was out the door. Jo sat in the beaten armchair; Murph leaned against the table.

We had to collect Dev and Liam from the third floor fishbowl, wait while Murph got his coat, and then went thudding down the stairs. It was a dark, snowy walk to St. Claire and Pulteney. Sasha and Cara were waiting by the trolley stop.

"Hey." Sasha had her arm looped through Cara's and we were a rather motley group walking down the street.


Murph tangled his gloved fingers with mine, tucking them into his left coat pocket. As it didn't make walking awkward - and kept my hand warm - it was fine by me.

"I am so glad to be done," Dev said. "No more freakin' spreadsheets." He nudged Liam. "Until when? Thursday?"

"Wednesday morning." Liam shrugged. "I'm not worrying about it until Tuesday."

"That's the spirit," Sasha remarked.

We chuckled all the way down to five and twenty. A snowplow went through. The streetlights were a little more spotty on this block, but we were only going four houses down. The tree out front was oddly familiar from mine and Murph's first ER trip when he'd been hit over the head with a picture frame. The seven of us crowded up on Colby's small porch and rang the doorbell multiple times like little kids.

Before Liam turned the knob and we barged in like hooligans, at any rate.

Colby's head appeared in the kitchen doorway. "Hey."

Coats went on the peg, shoes on the mat, and we traipsed into the kitchen. Boxes of pasta, jars of sauce, and what looked like two pounds of mozzarella sat ready and waiting.

"You can eat this, right?" Colby asked, handing me a box.

"Yup. You did good."

His eyebrows hit his hairline. "I'd hold off on that until after we actually eat."

"You got a backup plan?" Dev asked.

"Yeah, it's called ordering pizza." Colby began rummaging for appropriate pots and pans. With some direction as to where things might be, we split into teams - which wound up being Hobart on one side of the kitchen and William Smith on the other - and began to make a sort of assembly line. Colby, Dev, and the twins took over the stove while we found something to actually bake the stuff in.

Jo held up a nine-by-thirteen. "You think?"

Sasha and I looked at each other.

"It should." Sasha glanced at Cara. "Cara?"

Cara gave us all a how the hell would I know? look and, in the end, we ran with it.

Someone had put Murph in charge of getting the cooked noodles out of the water, and he did a decent job - until about halfway through none of them came out in one piece.

Two stuffed pans later and there were still some doubts. Namely whether it was going to overflow. We put them in the oven anyway - at the same time - and cleaned up our prep mess before retreating to the living room, Liam setting a timer on his phone. Dev dug out a pack of regular cards and we settled in for a rather raucous game of bullshit.

Colby had no poker face. Jo had a keen sense for bullshit, and Dev and I had at least half the deck between us. Murph was down to three cards, Liam only one, and Cara laid down what she had left with a smug, "Two fives."

"Bullshit," Sasha, Jo, and Colby said together. Colby turned over the cards in question and winced.

Liam rubbed at his eyes, sniffing. "It smells like smoke."

Cards went everywhere; Colby nearly ran his head into the wall trying to get to his feet and the kitchen at the same time; the smoke alarm went off with a banshee-like peal, and nobody really moved until Colby yelled for someone to get the fire extinguisher. We couldn't move fast enough then. Liam was the first into the kitchen, grabbing said fire extinguisher from where it hung on the wall and dear Lord, those were actual flames. Lasagna-induced flames.

I threw the door to the back porch open as well as the window over the sink, hoping to move some of the smoke out and still marveling over the fact Liam knew what he was doing.

Sasha, Cara, and Jo crowded in the doorway, a stiff December breeze blowing from one end of the house to the other.

Colby took the fire extinguisher from Liam and leaved heavily against the counter.

"So," Dev said as Liam's alarm tone - the Star Wars theme - played for the timer. "Mark's or Dominoes?"

"Liam," Sasha asked, "where did you learn to use a fire extinguisher?"

The twin in question paused, slice of pizza halfway to his mouth. We'd managed to clean up the disaster in the kitchen - including scrubbing the inside of the oven as much as possible - and now sat in the living room, pizza boxes on the coffee table.

It was an innocent question, to be honest, one most of us were probably curious about.

"Our Da taught us," Liam said, setting his pizza slice back on his plate. "When Murph and I were in middle school, we'd go to Da's studio after school. The forge is always lit there, for the glass, and Da wanted to make sure in case somethin' happened we knew how to use the fire extinguisher." He took a bite of pizza, finally.

"So one night before Ma got home, Da took us out to the backyard with one of the studio's fire extinguishers," Murph said, picking up where his brother left off. "And started a small fire there for us to get practice."

"How old were you?" Jo asked.

Murph had to think about that for a second. "Ten. I think."

It was my turn for a question, this time for Colby. "Why is there a fire extinguisher in your kitchen?"

Colby swapped one of the empty pizza boxes for the dessert pizza, ripping open one of the vanilla icing tubes and handing it to Jo.

"Well," he said, "our landlord used to live here. And ex-wife number three used to like to bake. After he lost the second oven, he invested in a fire extinguisher."

"When did your landlord tell you this?" Cara was appropriately skeptical.

"We have him over for dinner a couple times a month." Colby shrugged. "He wonders why he hasn't gotten notification from the police and stops by to make sure we're still breathing. Compared to other houses, we don't cause much trouble."

"Except for that one time," Dev put in; Murph blushed.

Colby shot his friend and teammate a glare. "Except for that."

"What happened?" Cara and Jo asked almost in unison.

"Dev tried to be a gentleman and Murph took a picture frame to the back of the head," Liam deadpanned, giving both Devan and his twin a stink-eye El would be proud of.

"Anyway," I said, snagging a piece of dessert pizza as it went by and accepting the icing from Murph. "Which final are you dreading?"

"Sociology, oddly enough," Dev said.

"Economics," Liam reached for Dev's backpack, presumably to grab Apples to Apples.

"Shakespeare Comedies," from Sasha.

"Chem," was Jo.

"Calculus." Murph turned pink as we all stared.

"Calc?" No idea my boyfriend had been taking math. "Goal?"

"Yup." He looked at Colby. "Colb?"

"Poly Sci."

"Physics." That was me.

Liam broke open Apples to Apples and started handing out cards. First green card was comfortable. My opening hand sucked and I tossed a card purely for the fact it was required of me.

Liam was equally impressed by the selected answers. "Canada? The Gulf War? Hot Lava? Big Foot?" He glanced around the circle. "Did any of you even read the description on the card?"

Cara shrugged. "Who says we read?"

Jo nudged my side. "When was the last time you read your physics textbook?"

"Yesterday night," I said immediately, not looking up.

"More than the homework problems pages," she clarified.

Damn it. "September." No ashamed. Not at all.

We all got a good chuckle out of that. I'm not entirely sure how long we played cards, generally shot the shit, and decompressed from a semester that had never seemed to end, but the next time check anybody did revealed it was half past ten.

That and the return of a slightly tipsy Todd and Charlie - Colby's housemates - had us pulling on coats. Murph stayed to help clean up, and I naturally lingered, too, putting pizza boxes in the trash. Which is when, in the process of trying to leave the kitchen in the same condition we'd found it, we discovered the bags of lettuce mix originally bought for salad. Colby sighed, grumbling about making space in the fridge.

"Dude," Todd said, hanging onto the kitchen door frame like it was the only thing holding him up, "should we get Joe's Hots delivery or walk?" He looked at me, then looked me up and down. Awkward as hell, considering Murph was in the room. "Hi."

"Hi," I said quietly, not entirely sure what to do.

Murph must have the ears of a damn bat, and he made sure to take the long way to the fridge, calmly not breaking eye contact - no glaring - to slide his hand along from hip to hip across my belly and press a kiss to my cheek, bag of lettuce in his other hand.

Todd promptly disappeared into the living room, calling out, "Chuckie! We're walkin'! Let's go!"

Murph cast one more glance at the door and handed the lettuce to a slightly bewildered Colby.

"Did I miss something?" he asked, closing the fridge.

I looked at Murph, who looked at me, and I shrugged as Murph said, calm as ever, "Nope."

Colby wisely left it at that.

It was still snowing when Murph and I left the house and started the walk back toward Campus. The world had a snow silence to it - everything blanketed. Muffled. There weren't any cars out. Not a whole lot - if any, and I couldn't hear them - college kids either.

Five and twenty was untouched. Covered in a layer of snow - about four inches, from the feel - it was deserted. Not even a snowplow had been through recently.

We didn't wait for the walk sign. In the middle of the four-lane, Murph spun me around gently.

"Hold up," he said, and we stood there alone in the middle of the silent winter night approximately over the yellow center line.

Maybe I should have felt it. But it's not like the world shifted. Or maybe it did. There was this look in his eye, the same look he'd worn in the Pub back in September.

His bare hands framed my face as he leaned down. "I love you," he ghosted over my lips, the corners of his mouth twitching upward. The words seemed to echo oddly. I huffed out a small laugh with a jumble of emotions behind it.

He chuckled, grinning. "I love you." The kiss was short and sweet, almost chaste. He took a deep breath, hands still framing my face.

If time hadn't seemed to stop before now it slowed considerably in this moment. His thumbs brushed over my cheekbones. "Ta me chomh mor sin i ngra leat," he said, slowly and carefully. "I love you so much."

My only response was to gently take his hands in mine, extend onto my toes to be cheek to cheek with him, and gleefully whisper, "Every day I love you more and more."
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz