Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Giorno Diciotto: Best moment of my life.

Okay, so the middle of the month with this whole Blogember thing went down the drain a little, which could've been expected, and I know that today is also the 20th and I'm doing Day 18 (Diciotto in Italiano!). But I really wanted to do this one, and the next string of prompts really, so I'm going to catch up, even if it's squeezing a few prompts into the same day.

It also may be silly that I want to do this prompt so badly because it is going to be SO. CLICHE. Like, so cliche I can hardly stand myself, but who cares because it makes me so happy. The best moment of my life was my wedding.

Kathy and I had a somewhat tumultuous year before our wedding, probably the hardest year we've ever had together. And leading up to the day, we had no idea how we were going to pay for any of it (which is why we had already delayed it for like three years), and then everyone kept telling us to prepare for things to go wrong because they always do, but then the whole thing was pretty much perfect. The weather was perfect, the people were perfect, the dancing was perfect, it was all perfect and we were just happy happy happy. And anytime I look back on it since then, I can't believe how great it actually all was, which I think is because so much stuff happens all at once during a wedding that it takes a long time to process it.

The night before after a family gathering at my amazing cousin's where my mom made all the cupcakes and all the food in general and there were all the babies and also cups with our pictures plastered on them, we went downtown to hang out with some friends in a loosely planned "bachelorette party" and then, like, everyone came. Like so many friends from all walks of life came and stayed out past the last T, even though many of them had flown and driven for many hours that same day. Sam and Steve made us t-shirts and organized what bars we'd go to and everyone bought us drinks and then we walked over the bridge back to Cambridge at the end of the night and it was all brilliant and hilarious and good.

I should also back up and mention that a few weeks before this all happened, we had a Portland Love Ceremony that was also perfect and super sweet and full of wonderful people and DOGS! and buffalo wings and Mt. Tabor and a cake from our favorite bakery which is now out of business (RIP Sweetness) and which I can't find a photo of now but it said "Love is all you need" because Beatles. And a week before the Boston ceremony, we got to hang out in New York and do a bunch of our favorite things in Boston and basically just do awesome things, I mean when I wasn't crazily trying to make personalized mix CDs for people because I thought that was the most sane idea for wedding favors, so who even needs a honeymoon?

Our hotel suite where we stayed in Cambridge was amaaaazing, and the day of Shane helped us organize the music and Manda helped Kathy get ready and my mom did my hair and I kept worrying about being nervous but then I was just happy. Also did I mention my mom made my dress because she is incredible?

And then the food was good and the cake was pretty and the toasts were perfect and we danced our first dance to Stevie Wonder which is the only obvious choice and people were practically shoving each other in order to reach us and say how much they loved the CDs and then everyone danced and danced forever on the humongous dance floor that we had requested. There was a pizza hat and inappropriate touching and photo boothing and three playings of Call Me Maybe and a dance circle and sweat and bruises (sorry again, Sam).

We also had random tourists from Georgia tell us that they were so happy about our gay marriage, and while our actual wedding coordinator at the hotel had been just so-so, the lowly hotel employees who probably make way less money than her who gathered all of our stuff up at the end of the night were so friendly and happy for us too and no one kicked us out even though we stayed past our time and then lots of people hung out in our suite where there was honest to God champagne and chocolate covered strawberries and a sombrero and gorgeous nighttime views of the Charles and Boston and we only got yelled at for being too loud a few times.

And yeah, this was basically just an excuse to waste way too much time looking through our wedding photos again and maybe it was vain, but it was totally worth it. The year and a half since then has been one of the best year and a halves of our lives, and every day I am just so happy to be married to Kathy Dougherty.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giorno Dodici: My first pet.

Our family's first pet was a little schnauzer mix named Casper and he was a terror.

He was picked out by my brother when I was only a very tiny person, because my brother was the oldest and got the first pick. He picked poorly. Hence began a long line of pet tragedies in the Guccini household.

Maybe I'm exaggerating; to be honest, I have very little personal memories of Casper in our house. As I mentioned, I was a very tiny person. I just know he was mean. The famous Casper story goes like this: one of my brother's friends came over one day during winter before going skiing. As Casper often did with guests, he decided this friend was evil and bit his leg. But Casper didn't play with his bites, and this one went through snowpants. Through jeans. Through long underwater. AND THEN HE BROKE THE SKIN.

Eventually, our family must have come to a general consensus that he was just too mean for a sane family with three children to own, so we gave him to my grandma. Haha! Which sounds weird, but for some reason, my grandma was the love of Casper's life. And like most small, mean dogs, Casper lived forever from that point on, protecting my grandma from harm for many, many years. Their love for each other was pure and true, although it did make giving my grandma a hug a somewhat dangerous endeavor for a long time.


The first pet I owned as my own adult person, however, was a sweet gray kitty from the Animal Rescue League of Boston. She was surprisingly heavy in the cardboard box as I lugged her through the uneven cobblestones of the South End to the T, where she rode the train back out to Brighton. Kathy had to work that day, and was worried Lily would be hiding in a corner once I opened the box and set her free. I texted her to let her know that Lily was, in fact, snuggled in bed with me. Kathy always talks about it as one of the bestest and happiest texts of her life.

Lily; bedroom.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giorno Undici: 3 (or 10) (or 15) Albums You'd Take to a Desert Island.

Okay, so I slacked off for the last two days of Blogember, because every streak has to end sometime. But there's no way I couldn't hop back on the bandwagon for today's prompt, because MUSIC. We're supposed to list three albums we'd take to a desert island, and after long, hard consideration, I have come to the conclusion that only picking three is impossible. Seriously. IM-POSS-I-BLE. 

So I'm going to narrow it down to 10, but only TALK ABOUT my top three. This is a decent compromise, right? RIGHT. I can do what I want! We eat what we like!

1. Simon & Garfunkel, Greatest Hits

Paul Simon will be the best songwriter of all time forever in my mind. I know every single word of this album and always will. I can listen to it happy or sad. Every song is perfect.

2. Fleetwood Mac, Dreams

Born out of passion and drugs, this will always be legendary to me. I never think of it as a collection of individual songs, even as much as The Chain stands out, or as songs from individual artists, as big as their personalities are and as much as I love Stevie. Anything from this album is a part of a greater whole; in my mind it's all just Rumours. The album is the thing.

3. Hanson, Middle of Nowhere

So this selection is obviously influenced by nostalgia (but most of these choices are), and I had a hard time deciding between MON or This Time Around, since I never can decide exactly which one hit me the hardest. But this will always remind me of a time in my life when I felt so much so acutely. And I still like all of these songs, even from a more adult and critical eye. This is a good album.

And the rest:

4. Radiohead, The Bends

5. Sleater Kinney, One Beat

6. Brandi Carlile, The Story

7. Pearl Jam, Ten

8. Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life

9. Counting Crows, August and Everything After

10. Florence and the Machine, Lungs

For the record, I still feel completely unsure about pretty much all of them. Ugh. This isn't fair.

Okay. I mean. If I HAD to choose more, I'd then probably go with:

11. The Beatles, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heartclub Band

12. Van Morrison, Moondance

13. Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing

14. Billy Joel, Greatest Hits 1973-1985

15. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head

Make fun of me for the Coldplay and Billy Joel; I don't care. And I'll stop now, and not mess with it anymore. But still, this is HARD.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Giorno Otto: Time.

The prompt for Day Eight of Blogember is to write for five minutes about time, and because I am neither a physicist nor in the right mood to be philosophical, let's talk about what a great song "Time" by Hootie & the Blowfish is. Because RIGHT?

I will sometimes wake up and for no reason get this song stuck in my head and sing it as I'm eating my breakfast. Like, now, in 2013. I don't know why! But tomorrow's just another day, you know? And I don't believe in time.

Also, children killing in the street, dying for the color of a rag--I mean, there just aren't enough lyrics in pop songs about gangs these days. Even aside from that, everything about this song is perfect. The spare, dramatic opening, the super catchy chorus--TIME! TIME! TIME!--the sing along melodious quality in Darius Rucker's voice that allows me to remember all the words to this day even when I haven't actually sat down and LISTENED to this song for years. Until tonight, when I just looked it up on YouTube to embed in here. And listening to it, it totally stands up to my memory. Overly philosophical and a little morose while keeping a steady drum beat: pop music. Also, the classic '90s trick of ending a song by repeating the very first line. I miss that trick!

You ain't no friend of mine! He's just wasting! Wasting! Wasting time!

In other news, a future prompt this month for Blogember is to write about your first concert, and spoiler alert, mine was totally Hootie & the Blowfish, which means I will presumably be writing about Hootie & the Blowfish on my blog TWICE in one month. Discuss.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giorno Sette: A day in the life.

7:40: Slept in later than I should have. Last night I stayed up too late reading, and had also drunk some beers, both of which make waking up difficult. (Haha what am I talking about; waking up is always difficult.) Was finally forced out of bed when JP jumped up on it while whining full throttle, which she only does when she really, really wants me to get up.

Woke up feeling good. This is an important part.

7:40-8:30: Woke up, fed all the animals, gave JP her meds, took JP on her walk.

8:30: Watched a few minutes of last Saturday's Melissa Harris-Perry while eating cereal. Read a few more pages of A People's History of the United States, a project I've been working on since early summer. (I'm on page 469!)

9-11: Transcribed a file about fair labor laws.

11-12: Took a shower; started to get myself ready for a Day Full of Errands, one of those really nice days that working from home allows me to fit in sometimes. Had especially a lot of errands to do because Manda is arriving tonight, and I wanted to get things ready for her and Georgia.

12-3: Errand central, with JP in tow in the car. Went to: the library, the post office, Goodwill to drop off a bag of clothes, Home Depot, Target, the bank, the hardware store to make some copies of keys. BOOM.

2:50: Contemplated whether or not I should get a burrito at Taco Bell on my way home even though I've already eaten Taco Bell this week and there are leftovers are home that are going to go bad if I don't eat them soon.

2:55: Got a burrito at Taco Bell.

3-6: Transcribed a British cooking show about vegan cheesecake. Did laundry. Got Manda & Georgia's room ready. Put away Halloween decorations. Cleaned the bathroom.

6:00-6:30: Took JP on a walk; put real pants on again.

7-9: Trivia at Bare Bones with Kathy and Erica. We lost!

Right now: Made box mac & cheese, something I often get an urge to do after trivia; watched the Portland Timbers v. the Seattle Sounders (Timbers just won!); about to do dishes.

Sometime today, also: Started J. Courtney Sullivan's The Engagements. Watched 10 minutes of an episode of Torchwood. Got rid of an old chair via Craigslist.

In about an hour: Will drive to the airport to pick up Mandaaaaaaa!

I don't know if that sounds like a really boring day or a really awesome day to everyone else. But I thought it was pretty awesome.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Giorno Sei: Cinque Favorite Apps.

Day Six of Blogember involves listing our five favorite apps, which is sort of like a HAHA in my face right now, since I have been phoneless since Friday when I dropped it. Mind you, I have dropped it a million times in the past--I even once faceplanted while running and used my iPhone to break my fall, which it did beautifully, and survived--but this one little drop from my chair made its screen display blue stripes of death. I can't afford the $200 to get a new one until this weekend, so I've been going around phoneless, trying to tell myself it's a good thing, that it is OKAY to not be checking my phone every five minutes like I've gotten used to. Like I would maybe have some moments of human clarity like Louis CK rants about. Because I feel you, Louis.

But the truth is when I'm out and about without my phone, I feel anxious. What if something has happened to Kathy and she hasn't been able to get a hold of me? What if I lose track of time? What if something happens to ME? And maybe I have had a greater center of gravity: I've spent more time reading books in my spare time than checking Twitter and Facebook and being on my other favorite apps. I've been less connected, and maybe there are positive aspects to that, but I do also LIKE knowing what's going on with people I care about. I feel slightly guilty that I've been a little out of the loop this week.

Anyway, the point is, so what if I'm a creature of the 21st century. Technology isn't all bad, okay? Sorry, luddites.

So here are five of my favorite apps that aren't just Twitter or Facebook or Gmail:

1) Duolingo. I just blabbed all about this in another blog post a couple weeks ago! Embarrassing. Duolingo aggressive. Follow me, tho. Language!

2) Instagram. I know, boring. But...I've really missed being able to Instagram. :\ Because I sort of really love it. :\

3) Gojee. Just a really beautiful food & recipe app, although I took a couple steps away from it recently after realizing that the recipes I kept making from it were maybe not turning out super great, because they are maybe from chefs who are above my league? Hoping to come back to it though when I've either learned more cooking skillz or am better at discerning what will or will not work just by looking at the recipe.

4) Untappd. Beer.

5) The Multnomah County Library App. HAHA, what a nerd, but okay, I have been using my library's app a lot recently and it is awesome. I used to put books I really wanted to read on my to-read list on Goodreads, where they would then sit forever unlooked at again. But now when there's a book I really, really want to read, I immediately type it into the app and put it on my holds list on the library. That way, even if it's months from now, when it becomes available I will HAVE to read it because the library will be like "THIS BOOK IS WAITING FOR YOU, BITCH." Which has now led me to a somewhat obsessive checking of my holds. Anyway, it's a good app!

Yeah, okay. I want my phone back now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giorno Cinque: Una ricetta.

We'll be flying to my hometown for Thanksgiving this year, a holiday that I love deeply and that I actually can't remember the last time I was home for. I am real excited about it. At the same time, over the years when we've been away from family, we've started to develop our own holiday traditions, which I love equally. In particular, the last few years we've spent our Thanksgivings in Oregon in Eugene with our friends Kim and Cliff, and in honor of my mom's legendary pie tradition at home, I got into the habit of always bringing a couple of pies, one of which was always my mom's Chocolate Fudge Pie. Because why put things like fruit into a pie that might give you at least a smidgen of vitamins and nutrients when you could just have chocolate instead.

One of the only photos I could find that included the chocolate pie.
Kathy has long hair, as a sign of how many years I've made it.

So for day five of Blogember, which involves sharing a favorite recipe, since my mind is all wrapped up in the upcoming holidays, I figured I had to share the chocolate pie recipe. Kim and Cliff, feel free to make it if you miss us. (We'll miss you!)

Also, it is one of the most simple things to make in the world.

In a small pan, melt over low heat:

1/2 cup margarine or butter (one stick)
3 squares (1oz each) unsweetened chocolate [SIDE NOTE: The baker's chocolate we always get has now started packaging theirs in 1/2 oz squares, which I personally think is buuullshit because you get way less per package, I mean WHAT EVEN. But so with the new bullshit packaging you'll probably need six squares. Which are thinner and flimsier and hence break off more unevenly, like a crappy Hershey's bar. Ugh. Yeah, breaking off the 1oz squares was near impossible sometimes, but that added to the satisfaction of it somehow.]

Remove from heat. Stir in:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup Karo syrup
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt [I also feel the need to note that in my mother's recipe for this pie that she sent to me, TEASPOON is spelled out and capitalized because one time when I was a youth I made this pie with her and put 1/4 tablespoon salt in, and we ended up with chocolate salt pie, which was not as good. So, don't do that.]

Stir in:
3 eggs, slightly beaten

Pour into a 9 inch graham cracker crust, and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

My one tip for the pie, as I've made it several times at this point with varying results, is to not overbake it. You might keep sticking a knife in it and it'll keep coming up gooey, but if the top is set, take it out anyway. It'll thicken as it cools, and then it'll be nice and fudgy. It'll just be tougher otherwise, which is still good, because it will still be chocolate pie, but not quite as amazing.

Also, if you have more than one piece of this, you might feel like your stomach is suddenly made out of lead and you will want to die. But before that feeling, man, it is delicious.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Giorno Quattro: Liberta.

Day four of Blogember is to write for five minutes about freedom. And maybe this answer will make me sound really insufferable (I am also really cranky and tired right now), but:

Whenever I think about the word "freedom" nowadays I just think about how many people still don't have it. Rich people are more free than poor people; people who are born a different color are less free than other people; people who happen to be born in a different place are less free than others in other places; women are less free than men (and men can be less free than women in certain areas). And maybe that sounds like I'm taking too literal of a reading of it, because "true freedom lies within," which I know is true, to a point, but sometimes that can just be a privileged view of the world. If people always talk about dying for our freedom and stuff, I really feel like those same people ought to really think about freedom a little harder, because I think some people really want it for everyone but some people only think freedom is okay for some folks. And if you fall into the category of just not thinking about it that much, you're in the second category.

That said, I feel so grateful for all the freedom I have, which is a lot.

(That was cheery, wasn't it!)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Giorno Tre: 5 Favorite Blogs.

Giorno tre of Blogember is your five favorite blogs, and I'm going to do this in a sort of weird way so as to actually include more than cinque because I am sneaky.

1) My fave Hanson ladies: I suddenly realized yesterday how neat it is that Tahnie, Manda, Cat and I are all writing in blogs together for this thing, just like it's 1998! Except via Wordpress and Blogger instead of Angelfire and Geocities! It warms my little heart. So thank you, Tahnie.

2) Hyperbole and a Half. Because, obviously?

3) Tumblrs from people who aren't really my friends but I like to imagine we are: Richard Lawson and Rachael Maddux. And I don't mean their Tumblrs in the way of reblogging GIFs and quotes about self-confidence, which I also really, really like, from everyone, but I mean their Tumblrs in the way of sometimes they write long personal things on it and I don't just scroll through it all until I find the next GIF, but actually sit and read every word, because they both write the way I would like to write. I like Richard Lawson's self-deprecating yet hopeful writing about New York and pop culture and horrible people, and I like his nostalgic rambles during trips home to Massachusetts, and I like how everything that Rachael Maddux ever says about music or politics or writing is always somehow perfect, like what my brain would say if my brain was better at saying things, and how she is like a year or two younger than me but is in fact at least ten years wiser, and funnier. Also she and I used to both like Hanson, and Richard Lawson went to college with my cousin, so, you know, we are all pretty much BFFs.

4) Looks and Books. Back in the day during what seems like a long time ago now, Jill D. (who is now ALSO a Jill G.) and I worked together, and while we live on opposite sides of the country now, she and I continue to have a heck of a lot of the same interests, including both books and fashion, which she mixes and mingles really interestingly on her blog. Okay, I don't know a TON about fashion, but I admire it, and you know my Project Runway feels. But seriously, Jill has been keeping up this blog pretty consistently for years, and it is always really well written and great, and I admire it/her.

5) My wife. So my wife has a blog, and she is also pretty great, and yeah, she's only written in this blog three times this year, but the point is that she is really a really, really great writer and I feel like sometimes people don't know that about her. And maybe putting her on this list will encourage her to write in it more. Because as we all know, publicly pressuring the other to do things they don't actually have time to do is totally part and parcel of a successful marriage, right? Yep.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Giorno Due: Favorite Quote.

It's day two of Blogember, and I have decided to use the titles of these blog posts this month to help me practice my numbers in Italian! Because I am learning Italian and you would think knowing numbers would be a basic thing when learning a language, but I still don't really know them!

So, giorno DUE is a favorite quote. I love a good quote and always tell myself I should keep a quote journal, but instead I read a good quote and say, "That is a good quote!" and then it immediately erases itself from my head. So for this one, I'm going to pick one that I know is a bit overdone, but it is one that I still really like and that I can't ever forget because it's on my fridge.

"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" - Emerson
I like this because I feel like it pretty much sums up, like, everything. I didn't realize until I typed it up that it even includes the "false friends" part that I babbled all about yesterday. And I like that it sits on my fridge surrounded by things that affirm it: amazing family members laughing at our wedding, a flyer for our first black president from way back in 2008 (speaking to the "intelligent people" and "leaving the world better" part), among a whole bunch of other things. And while it's pretty self-congratulating as a whole, the "appreciation of honest critics" part is really important, and really hard. 

PLUS, this quote makes me feel that whenever I garden in my little gardening space, I am doing something REALLY MEANINGFUL AND IMPORTANT. So, whether Emerson said all this stuff or not, who cares, I still like it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Blogember, yo! Day 1: A life lesson.

Going to try hard this month to follow through with my friend Tahnie's Blogember challenge, because she is awesome and so am I. 

The first prompt is one of the best lessons life has shown you.

Hooey, which is kind of a tough start, because if it was a LIST of lessonS, I could throw out a list of more concrete things like: move across the country if you want to! Never feel "guilty" for eating ice cream! Don't be afraid to be gay! Take as many road trips as possible even if you know all that driving is bad for the environment! Read National Geographic! Read the paper! Always realize that there are people out there who make less money than even you do and being poor is hard, so have empathy! Stuff like that.

But breaking it down to just ONE brings the pressure. But I've been thinking about this for a day, and this is what I've come up with.

People in your life are going to change a lot. 
But you have to always be okay with yourself.

When I was an angsty teenager, all I ever thought I needed/wanted in life was someone to love, someone who would love me back. Since I am the luckiest person in the world, I have found that, and it is indeed important. It is the most important.

But what I feel like I didn't know was all the hurt that would come from friends changing. Friendship, in general, is never given as much attention in books and movies and stuff as romantic love, but it's just as much a part of any worthwhile life. And I thought that friendship drama would mainly be relegated to the teen years, to that weird transition in middle school where people who used to seem like Normal Kinda Girls were suddenly Super Cool Girls who acted weird, and you didn't want to act weird, or rather you DID want to act weird, and not normal, and so you split off. But it was fine, everyone got over it, it's cool.

But what no one tells you is that you may be, oh, I don't know, 30 years old, and driving around your town where you now live and where you are so happy, and you will still sometimes think about that friend that has known you forever, that suddenly decided within the past year that you are an asshole, and cut you off without ever saying a single thing to you about it. In fact, after a lifetime of being a pretty innocuous person who always tries to be kind to strangers and a good friend and stuff, as you move swiftly into adulthood you'll find more and more people who think you are an asshole. And you will tell yourself, whatever, you don't need people in your life who think you are an asshole, because clearly they never knew you anyway, so it's fine, and all that, but still, it will always seem kind of weird to you.

At the same time, the strangest, kookiest assortment of folks will end up forming the people you admire most. Like, random kids from your class in high school who turned out to be super awesome people, whose Facebook posts you secretly adore, who you wish you had been better friends with back in the day, who you feel stupidly proud of even if you're not actually like, friend friends. You will meet people who don't know anything about your past but still welcome you openly. You will meet people who are just so, so interesting and passionate and great. You will meet people who are uncomprehendingly funny. People you went to college with will end up being super successful, with their names flashing across your TV screen, and you don't necessarily feel proud of them like the people you went to high school with, because the connection wasn't the same because "people I knew in college" is probably the most superficial and flimsy type of connection you can ever have, but still, the fact that you know the human beings who are now writing and acting on TV shows reminds you that life is crazy and weird. And then the people who you knew in college that you actually DID know, like in a deep way, like you never really knew what friendship was before you met them way, they will continue to be awesome, and love you, and often feel like the closest people in your life, even when they live really really far away.

So the change can be bad, but it can also be good. They both seem remarkable to me.

The being okay with yourself part mostly has to do with the first group, the ones who change in weird ways, or the ones who decide they don't like you anymore. And being okay with yourself isn't really just saying, "C'est la vie, screw that." Because sometimes you HAVE done something wrong. Not always; sometimes people are just disappointing. But owning your shit is part of being okay with yourself. Being okay with yourself is saying, right, that thing I did wasn't great, and I can see that now, and I should have done that better, and I am always striving to do things better.


I am still not an asshole.

Because in the end, that is the important thing to know, and that is the thing that the second group, the group of people that surprise you and that will always believe in you, they're the ones that will help hold you up if you start to doubt it. So I guess this is my life lesson: 

Never let anyone make you believe that you are an asshole.

Because seriously? You are probably pretty great.