Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reflecting on my high school reunion

Last night, Vic and I attended our 20-year high school reunion. We had a really good time, despite the fact that we arrived an hour late to the dinner dance (due to bad time management on my part).

I wasn't very excited about going, especially after finding out that some of our closest friends weren't planning to attend. It would be like going to a wedding where you don't know anyone, I thought. Plus, Vic and I have been so consumed with home and work responsibilities lately that we haven't really been focusing on us - our relationship, our history, our past, present, future. I had been kinda grumpy about it for the past few weeks and asked Vic if he was looking forward to the reunion at all.

"Sure!" He smiled. "I mean, the 10-year worked out pretty well for me." I was a little surprised he was so cheerful about it, but happy he remembered the last reunion as an important turning point for us. After all, that was when we had started dating again. We had been together our senior year of high school for a brief period, but it was at our 10-year reunion that we really got together. After that event was over, we spent the next several hours catching up on everything we had been up to since high school. Following that, we maintained a long-distance relationship - Cleveland/Los Angeles - for several months and then moved to San Francisco together.

Ten years later, we are married with two young boys. We've moved back to Cleveland and we're building a life together that is crazily overstuffed. It seems that this has been the case for many of our fellow high school classmates. In reading my classmates' bios in our reunion memory book, it was plain to see that we have traveled similar emotional journeys. Along the way, we've lived through joy, disappointment, births, deaths, marriages and divorces.

Last night, I reconnected with a number of old friends and acquaintances. We talked about our growing kids, our ailing parents, our jobs, our hobbies. I talked to a few women about the classic push-pull of being a working mom.

Today, thinking about my conversations from the night before, I was reminded of something I read in college in a creative writing class I took with Mary Grimm. The novella, The Age of Grief by Jane Smiley, stuck with me over the years. Even though it moved me then, it didn't seem nearly as relevant as it does now. This part, in particular, resonates with me:

I am thirty-five years old, and it seems to me that I have arrived at the age of grief. Others arrive there sooner. Almost no one arrives much later. I don't think it is years themselves, or the disintegration of the body. Most of our bodies are better taken care of and better-looking than ever. What it is, is what we know, now that in spite of ourselves we have stopped to think about it. It is not only that we know that love ends, children are stolen, parents die feeling that their lives have been meaningless. It is not only that, by this time, a lot of acquaintances and friends have died and all the others are getting ready to sooner or later. It is more that the barriers between the circumstances of oneself and of the rest of the world have broken down, after all -- after all that schooling, all that care. Lord, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me. But when you are thirty-three, or thirty-five, the cup must come around, cannot pass from you, and it is the same cup of pain that every mortal drinks from.

I'm not feeling defeated and fatalistic about things, but I am feeling a bit melancholy. At one point during the reunion dinner dance, Vic turned to me and said, "Wow, when did we become middle-aged?"

For a banquet hall full of middle-aged people, I think we all looked pretty good, overall. We're older, of course, and some of us are grayer, balder, heavier. But it seems like we've weathered the years pretty well. It was fun to reconnect with people who shared a common set of experiences.

Later in the evening, Vic and I danced to Billy Joel's "This Is the Time", which had been the theme of our Prom(see below) and Berlin's "Take My Breath Away." It really brought me back to 1988, reminding me of the emotions I felt as a high school senior.

Anyhow, it was a wonderful evening and the organizers did a superb job putting the reunion weekend together. Despite my initial reservations about going, I'm looking forward to the 30-year event!

(Writer/Editor's Note: Vic and I were supposed to have gone to Prom together, but *someone* dragged his feet getting his tux and our tickets, so the other person decided to find another date. It is still a sore subject we don't like to talk about.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nolan rocks at Rock Band - well, not quite

Now that Vic and Nico have both become Rock Band junkies, it is time to get Nolan involved in the new family obsession.

Check out this video of Vic enouraging Nolan to get into percussion:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vic rocks at Rock Band

I may have created a monster. Or monsters.

Vic and Nico have both become Rock Band junkies. Nico, it turns out, has inherited some perfectionist traits from his nutty parents and is now obsessing over Rock Band like it's his job. He insists on listening to Rock Band songs at bed time, particularly Deep Purple's "Highway Star".

Anyhow, Vic and Nico spend about half an hour each day rocking out. Check out this video of the two of them performing Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun":

And here is a great acoustic version of Chris Cornell performing it solo - I luuuuurve Chris Cornell. He is dreamy.

Nico rocks at Rock Band

So for Father's Day, I gave my husband, my darling Guitar Hero, a new game: Rock Band.

The game comes with a drum kit, so it was much harder to hide from Nico. With Guitar Hero 3, we would just wait until he fell asleep before busting out the game guitar. Then, when we were done, we'd simply stash the guitar in a closet. We got away with this for months. Nolan was part of the conspiracy too. As his big bro snored away, Nolan either sat next to us on the sofa or bounced along as we Baby Bjorned him while rocking out.

Because the Rock Band drum kit is not easy to stuff into a closet, we decided to let Nico in on the family secret that we have XBox 360. Now Nico is a hard rockin' fool. He isn't very good at the guitar or drums, so he puts all his energy into singing. Check out this video of Nico's first foray at Rock Band. He's singing Radiohead's "Creep".

Nico didn't really know the lyrics so he was mainly trying to read along. He was stunned, though, when the crowd turned on him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A year ago today

It's hard to believe that one year ago today, Nolan wasn't born yet. Vic and I were, in fact, quite worried about the pregnancy then. Today, Nolan is a robust little boy with four hippo teeth!

Last summer at this time, I was anxious and having a tough time dealing with the modified bed rest order. This year, thankfully, our family of four has been having a busy, active summer. We've been spending a lot of time outdoors with friends, walking to the library and to various neighborhood restaurants, playing catch in the back yard (Nico has improved a lot!), going on rides at a number of church festivals and splashing around in the community pool. I haven't been riding my bike, though; these days, I'm mostly pushing around Nolan in his jogging stroller.

We've come a long way and we are so lucky that all of us are healthy.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Child's play

I recently had the opportunity to work with some great people on a fun project - a Web resource for parents and caregivers, focusing on children and play. is a partnership between Step2, a local toy manufacturing company, Optiem, an interactive marketing agency, and the Schubert Center for Child Studies, which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences (where I work) at Case Western Reserve University.

One of the most fun parts about launching this resource was spreading the word about it. Kim Wheeler, an anchor and education reporter for WKYC, did a great story about it.