June Blogs: Beth Anne

Hello everyone! I am taking over Jen’s blog today. My name is Beth Anne and I blog at BethAnnesBest.com. I blog about a lot of different things there mostly my life, my catholic faith, and anything else I find interesting. I am a Link-Up Junkie so you can find me linking up with the 7 Quick Takes series and the Not Alone Series a lot.

Off-line I live in St. Augustine, FL, I am a fellow Crazy Cat Lady and my spoiled cat Milo is proof of that, I love Disney and I am addicted to Bullet Journaling.

I met Jen through our blogs. When I started blogging I was joining the 7 Quick Takes Link-Up. We would “fight” over the #1 spot when the link-up went live. We would alternate for it and therefore, would read each other’s blogs and talk on social media.

My favorite summer memory is hard. I have had the opportunity to go to so many awesome places on my summer vacations. Even though I don’t remember a lot from this trip I think my favorite summer memory is when I was 6 we went to Disney World. My Grandma would argue with my Dad that we were going to have to wait hours to go on the Dumbo ride.

My Dad said no way! One day during our trip we got to the park when it opened for rope drop and when the park opened we RAN for Dumbo and we were the first ones on the ride for the day. I don’t think I ever saw my Dad run so fast but he was determined not to wait forever for that ride.

June Blogs: Laura

I was never one of those horse girls. You know the type. They’ve got shelves full of model horses. A pony they borrow or own at a local stable. Lessons they’ve had since the moment they learned to walk. They read Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, and the Thoroughbred series. They love all the horse movies, especially that one where the girl and the horse dive into a swimming pool (why???!).

I’m Laura. I blog over at CopticDadandMom.com. I’m a Coptic Orthodox priest’s wife, and I’ve been blessed to meet Jen through the vast and insanely supportive network of clergy wives here on the interwebs. She wrote me some awesome guest posts, namely here and here.

As I was saying, I was never one of those horse girls, but one summer in my late teens, my sisters and I had the opportunity to have weekly riding lessons at a nearby farm. I can’t forget the smell the first day. I thought I would never get over it. I thought I would never wash it out of my hair.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was never one of those girly girls with the makeup and the hair and the things. But I certainly wasn’t a tomboy. That first day of riding hard in the heat and humidity of a mid-June day, I felt very unlady-like soaked as I was head to toe in sweat. Did princesses really do this?

And my job after riding for an hour in this heat? Clean the horse from head to toe. This was too much. You want me to pick up what? and pull what from where?

If you’re one of those horse girls, it won’t shock you to learn that after three weeks of this–of being drenched in sweat every Wednesday and dislodging rocks from horseshoes–I was completely transformed.

Never had I thrown myself so wholeheartedly into something (besides a book). Never had I dared to be present in my body and use it to its full capacity in such a way. The routine became essential to my life. Wake up, saddle up, ride hard, brush my horse, head home to shower and nap.

You couldn’t be disappointed on horseback. You couldn’t have your heart broken. You weren’t graded on anything but your improvement from the week before.

It was only one summer. The summer of the horse. The stable sold the horses and shut down, and I was off at college anyway, photographing models on the backs of polo horses (but that’s another story).

But summer for me will always be that breath you take when you’re coming around the second turn, breaking into a canter, and aiming for the fence.

June Blogs: Crystal

Hello! I’m Crystal, and while I’m a feminist who (theoretically) rejects our culture’s obsession with both youth and manufactured beauty, I have to admit that I’ve been on the weekly existentialist-crisis plan since I turned thirty-six last November. (And let me tell you, neither the frequent references throughout media – both social and mass – to milestones of my adolescence being “ohemgee, over twenty years ago, can you believe it?!” nor the ominous shadow cast by my fast-approaching twenty-year class reunion is alleviating those issues.) Luckily, existentialist crises are rife with opportunities to enjoy some of my favorite authors (especially Walker Percy, Sylvia Plath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald) even more deeply, which complements my career as a teacher of English literature and composition at the high school and college levels. Plus, the navel-gazing that ensues keeps me in touch with my Generation X side (over twenty years after Reality Bites first hit theaters).

I first met Jen through our online journalling community, circa 1999. Incidentally, she was also real-life college friends with one of my friends from church, which was especially cool back in those early days online when most people scoffed at us for sharing so much of ourselves on the Internet. 🙂 I’m grateful for her ongoing friendship over the years and especially her love of snark and kitties and saying the right thing before I even know I need to hear it.

Living in California’s Central Valley has always meant oppressively hot summers, often in swamp-cooled homes with dusty yards, but it’s also meant my favorite holiday: the Fourth of July. For most of my life, my parents hosted this gathering, which meant that we could have a some of our friends join the festivities and that we (my mother, sisters, and I – plus any friends who happened to be hanging out) had chores to complete as the day drew nearer. Extra work may seem like a detractor from holiday fun, but having something to plan broke up the monotony and aimlessness of mid-summer. Plus, there is a strange joy in spending the evening of July third hoeing and burning the tumbleweeds that had long since taken up residency on my parents’ acre of dirt and weeds. The highly polluted air gives us brilliant sunsets, and without fail, I would look around in the fading twilight, sweaty and dusty and sore in that satisfying way that only comes from yard work, riffing on stories and inside joke until the joy that was swelling in my chest exploded into uncontrollable and highly contagious laughter.

Eventually, the last pile of tumbleweeds would be burned and doused, and we’d linger, chatting as long as possible before exhaustion sent us retreating to our respective homes for showers and sleep, quiet smiles on our faces as we drifted off in our finally-cool sheets under the swaying ceiling fans, achieving the sort of contentment that so often eluded us. These are the moments that I now know author Kurt Vonnegut would “urge [us] to please notice[…] and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” Thank you, Jen, for giving me the opportunity and inspiration to do just that here.

June Blogs: Kym

Good Morning!

My name is Kym, and I live in the foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains. With good traffic, Lake Tahoe is about a 2 hour drive. I have 3 cats, and live in a cozy apartment. I work from home, doing computer stuff, am an Episcopalian (raised Baptist – talk about a culture shock!) and may one day go to seminary. I collect cat things, coffee things, clocks, and Christmas trees. I am a member of Food Addicts in Recovery, a 12-step program for those of us who have problems controlling how we eat. Like AA, only for food. I fight chronic, clinical depression, and have since I was about 8. Seem to be on a good cocktail of psych drugs for now, and I hope it lasts. Medication roulette is no fun. What else? My BFF lives in Texas, near Dallas, and volunteers at In-Sync Exotics – a big cat rescue in Wylie TX, I’ve been there, and it is way cool.

Jen and I first met online in a LiveJournal group called “Customers Suck” where we hit it off pretty well, and it has just grown from there. We have only met in person once, and while I was hoping it would happen again before she moved, life intervened. We met Memorial weekend of 2011. I had been in a really bad car accident (I don’t recommend flipping an SUV), and I was in the TICU in Roseville, and she came to visit me, which I greatly appreciated. I’ve been a reader of her blogs for years. I think she is a very special, stronger than she realizes, incredible woman.

(Jen’s note: Kym baked cookies for the nurses and staff at Daniel’s NICU and sent me one of the cutest onesies on the planet — it said “got milk?”)

My Favourite Summer Memory

Actually, I’m combining several summers and their memory, because my family did the same thing every year for more than a decade. We rented a house for a week on Balboa Island, near Newport Beach. It might be July, it might be August, but we did it every year. My mom and I, my aunt and cousins (first one, eventually 3) and my uncle would come down on weekends. We played in the sand, fed the ducks, took the ferry back and forth across the bay. It was 10¢ to cross as a pedestrian and 50¢ for a carful, and the 3 ferries were named Captain, Commodore, Admiral. We’d go to the FunZone and arcades, take the harbor tour where you could see John Wayne’s house and yacht, Buddy Ebsen’s home as well. My aunt and I were almost run over by John Wayne one time. We were crossing the “main drag” on the island – it had lanes in “both” directions – and he was driving a battered old station wagon and not paying attention. When he stopped, he got out of the car and profusely apologized, and went on his way. Balboa bars (like an Eskimo Pie, but dipped in toppings, not just chocolate – my favorite was butter brickle), eating breakfast at the Pavilion restaurant, walking the circumference of the island at night, all the fun little shops – that was always such a happy time.

I remember one time, I was maybe 8 or 9, when I decided to collect clams to see if they had pearls in them. So I gathered up about 50 itty bitty (about ½ inch across) clams, put them in a shoebox and brought them home. That had been our last night of vacation. About a week later, my mom comes into my room and asks, “what is that smell??!!” Alas, all my clams had died, and not a pearl in a single one. Ah well.

I have been back to visit many times since then, but it is not the same. Some of it is just the rosy memory of childhood, but some is also that it is no longer an unknown place. UCI students have discovered it, and so now there isn’t room to breathe in the summer on the island. It kind of makes me sad, because it was so quaint and special. Progress, I guess. But when I need to go to a happy place, Balboa Island as a child is one of the places I go.

Good luck with the move, Jen.

June Blogs: Rebecca

Rebecca is my BFF who was my maid-of-honor in 2002 and is Daniel’s godmother. I swear the two of us were separated at birth.

I am Catholic and an information science professional. I love reading, long walks, sports, and spending time with friends and family. I enjoy opportunities to be creative especially making cards and using paper beads to make jewelry and rosaries. I believe that all human beings are deserving of dignity and respect. Right now I am wishing that the laundry would do itself.

How I know Jen
I met Jen in high school and over the course of our friendship we have developed an almost spiritual twin connection that can be disconcerting. I texted her complaining about a problem with a pharmacist. She asked me if I was having problems with mine or if I had read her blog post. Even when we were at separate universities she could always tell when I had missed Mass. We have a similar sense of humor. We bond over the challenges of living our faith in the often messy and frustrating “real world”. We also bond over our love of the San Francisco Giants and can happily spend our “Starbucks hour” discussing James Martin’s books.

A Summer Memory
One summer night when I was in college I had a late dinner and dessert with friends. None of us wanted to go home, but we could not figure out what we wanted to do that was still open. One of my friends suggested we go up one of the local hills and look at the stars. We spent a couple of hours simply talking and looking at the stars.

June Blogs: Hevel

First of all I’d like to thank Jen for the opportunity to guest post on her blog!

My name is Hevel, and I’m a 34-year-old Irish born Israeli man living with my fiancé and our kids and pets in the most gay friendly city in the Middle East. Maybe it is the only gay friendly city in the Middle East. I’m an ESC (Eurovision Song Contest) fan, a reader of urban fantasy, a crocheter, and these days more and more of the stereotypical gay rights/disability inclusion advocate that your priest has warned you about. When I can find the time I blog at Kosher Kola.

I started reading Jen’s posts several years ago when I first discovered Seven Quick Takes. I loved that there was a non-Catholic voice! I stopped doing or reading Seven Quick Takes, but I still love Jen and her blog!

Summer in my early childhood usually fell during a random weekday. Nowadays our winters remind me of those summers! There are many very different memories of summer in my mind, from my first visit to the Western Wall as a 13-year-old and realizing my own Jewishness, to enjoying a very special summer in Kerala, India, where I could learn first hand about the peaceful coexistence of many world religions, to the Gay Pride Parade two years ago in Tel Aviv with the theme of families when we had the after party in an awesome park with the best playground as our kids played, and enjoyed finally meeting others with same sex parents.

I think, however, that my favourite summer memory is from the summer of 2006. Kevin and I were still living in Budapest, Hungary with our then much smaller family. My grandparents came to visit us from Eilat, Israel. It had been almost 50 years since the last time they had been in the city of their youth, having left in late October 1956. Despite having access to some of the nicest hotels in the city, they chose to stay with us, in the very house that my great-grandfather built for his growing family. During those two weeks I had the opportunity to accompany them to many places in the city and in the countryside as they revisited sites of their lives. We had coffee in the trendy coffee shop that is now at the site of the cake shop where my great-grandfather bought ice cream for his children on Sundays after school. We went to the ice skating rink where Grandpa first met my Grandma. It being the summer it was a small lake, and Grandpa took Grandma on a romantic row boat ride. The kids and I went with them to Palatinus, a pool on Margaret Island where they hung out with friends before the war tore into their lives, and the Jewish laws forced them out. There is a photo from the early 50s with my grandparents and their four young children there, too. And then, many decades later, they were back there. We all ate a lángos, and the adults had a beer, and my grandma, then already over 80, wore a two piece bathing suit.

It was lovely to see them enjoy themselves and relive memories. Some of those memories were sad, stemming from the incredible loss they suffered when the Shoah chopped off many a branch from our family tree. Most, however, was filled with joy only those can experience who truly live and cherish their lives.