A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

bad juju August 26, 2014

Filed under: kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 12:06 pm

I realize I’ve spent most of my adult life wondering why I am still single, why I can’t seem to have a healthy relationship and working very hard to get my shit together, aka getting a good therapist to help me work out my issues.

And all this work has been immensely helpful. I am such a better version of myself. Yes, I still have work to do, but don’t we all? The question still persists in my mind though: why am I still single.

I think I’ve found the answer.

Bad juju.

You see, a few weeks ago I was talking with a friend and she commented on how pretty my ring was. I told her that my Aunt Linda gave gave it to me, that actually she took her wedding ring and used the diamonds to make herself, my sister, and I all the same, matching ring. I’ve been wearing it everyday since I received it.

“Did you smudge it first?” she asked.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

She then explained that gems, in particular, carry the energy from their past owner and that before they’re re-worn they need to to be smudged in a lengthy (though I guess you can find out how to do this on youtube) ceremony involving sage, usually white sage.

Whatever, I thought, I don’t believe in such mystic shit.

Then the other night I was at my mom’s house for dinner with my dad and Aunt Judy, who is visiting from New Jersey. My aunt asked if she could give Maddie some diamond earrings. I thought about it and said it was fine as I had received my first pair of diamond earrings from my great-grandma when I turned 12, which I still have and still wear. My mom then asked if I still had my other great grandma’s ring–a ring my mom had made for me a my sister (again, matching) from an old diamond ring of my great-grandmother’s years ago. I explained that while I did wear that ring religiously for years, I put it away when I received the ring from my Aunt Linda.

Then, remembering the conversation with my friend, I broached the subject of bad juju in gems.

To which my mother and aunt both looked at me horrified and said, “you’ve never had them blessed by a priest? But you must! Gems carry energy!”

Well, if I haven’t smudged my rings then I definitely haven’t had them blessed by a priest. I also thought, Am I the only one who’s never heard of this?

Slowly, my mind started thinking of the rings and earrings I’ve inherited. My Aunt Linda’s ring came from a wedding that ended in a bad divorce. My great-grandmother’s diamond earrings she wore–and she was married like 3 times. The ring from my other great-grandmother, I actually have no idea if she wore a lot, but both her husbands died. She had been, sadly, unlucky in love.

I actually started to panic a little and realized: Maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s bad juju. And my mom’s side of the family has fucked me!

So my dad, ever the pragmatic, said, “Here. Let’s try this. Give me your ring for a month and see if your luck changes. The you’ll know.”

So I took off my ring and told my dad to keep it somewhere safe, but my mom and Aunt Judy banished it to the garage–just in case.

I mentioned how naked my finger felt. I’ve had a family ring on that finger for decades.

Aunt Judy excused herself and came back with a ring for me. She said, “This was Nana Ann’s ring (my grandma on my dad’s side) and she had a great marriage. There’s no bad juju in this ring.”

It’s a beautiful ring, and I’ve been wearing it since Sunday now:





But I might scrub it nonetheless or at least drop it in some holy water at the mission. Nana Ann might have had a great marriage, but who knows what secrets she held.

This seems crazy I know, but I’ll let you know what happens in a month. I mean, it really can’t hurt.


my summer by numbers August 23, 2014

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 9:00 am


My beautiful car hit the 100K marker this summer:



I love this car. I bought it in 2006. It’s taken numerous trips from the bottom of California to the top. It took Luke home from the hospital safely. It’s been littered with trash from the kids (and me), covered with stickers, towed in San Francisco, and other than some transmission work and regular care, has never broke down or given me problems. I used to say that when I had enough money I’d upgrade to a Volvo. I no longer think that. I’ll probably be a Subaru owner for ever.


This is the number of miles from Barcelona, Spain to San Luis Obispo, California, which is about the amount of miles our 16 year-old Spanish exchange student, Berta, traveled to stay with us this summer. Maddie begged to have a foreign exchange student stay with us for 3 weeks during the summer. I was hesitant at first, but Kirby convinced me it would be a good experience for Maddie, so I agreed. Plus, 3 weeks isn’t too much of a commitment. then I found out there would be a home inspection and interview, which I assumed we would fail given our “different” living situation. But we passed! I guess the Spanish (or at least Berta’s parents) think our living situation is quite normal. In fact, when Berta arrived and I was in the midst of arguing with Luke’s dad (see last entry), Berta was pretty astounded. She told me that her 12 year old brother still sleeps with her grandmother, that Spain has an “open-door” attitude to living with family and friends, and that being a single-parent is no big deal. “Why would anyone even ask,” she wondered.

I think I’ve gotta move to Spain.

Berta was a wonderful addition to our family. She was kind, spoke perfect English, and really enjoyed spending time here. Maddie and Luke had a great time with her as well.





(I think Berta loved shopping the most. That’s Maddie, Berta, and one of Maddie’s friends at Urban Outfitters. Luke is in the middle with the unicorn hat on. Oh Luke….)


(Maddie, her friends, and Berta enjoying Farmers’ Market)


The amount of miles we traveled for our summer vacation.


(Good-bye town!)

We stopped to see the elephant seals first.


Then we drove to Big Sir to camp.



(Thank God the river still had water. It was still low, though)


(The back of our campground. We lucked out with a great campsite, but we were attacked by ticks. Thank God the camp store had bug spray)


(A beautiful morning)


(Of course, Luke was the first up, so I built a fire and we discussed life according to Luke)

We departed Big Sur and stopped at a beautiful beach close to Carmel.



From there, we headed to the Santa Cruz mountains to camp at Big Basin. I’ve never been there before, but it was amazing. Surrounded by the redwoods, bathed in heat: this might be my new place to camp.


We took quite a few hikes:




(Sadly, there was barely any water in the creek)







(helps with relaxing)


After a fun night, we packed up camp, and went over the Golden Gate Bridge.


And to Healdsburg, where we met with my sister and her family, my Aunt Debbie and her husband, and my Uncle Michael for our annual holiday to watch my uncle compete in the Vineman Ironman. Thankfully, this year, he didn’t compete in the full ironman, but instead just did the AquaBike–the half marathon and half swim.

The house we all stayed in was right on the river and just beautiful. I loved being able to walk right down to the river with the kids and catch a deer crossing the property.






IMG_0967 IMG_0957 IMG_0940 IMG_0935 photo

We watched my uncle’s race.




(I must say, all the hard work my uncle does really takes a toll on me as well. Hehe)

We had time to go to the Korbel estate:



And overall, just had a fantastic family vacation:


But we weren’t finished yet. We left Healdsburg and headed to Monterey, where I rented a hotel for the night.

We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium:




And then I forced the kids to go to the Steinbeck Museum with me:







And then we finally made it home. Overall, it was the best family trip we’ve had in years.


The dollars I spent taking the kids to the fair for one day. Ridiculous. But the kids had fun, and I found out that Luke LOVES roller coasters and isn’t scared of them a all.







(Luke also happened to be a whiz at throwing darts at balloons. He won something at every stand we went to. Which was 4. Now we have 4 more stuffed animals to clutter our house.


(I saw a barn owl at the fair, which made it all worthwhile to me.)


Pretty much the amount of writing I did for myself. Did I write the few articles I told myself I would? Nope. Did I work on my novel at all? Nope. Did I write any blog posts? Just a few.

I had been feeling disappointed in myself for not taking advantage of the only free time I get during the year to work on my interests, but then I realized that this summer was really devoted to my family, and I feel alright about that. With Maddie and Luke starting school on Monday, I’m glad they had a great summer. Maddie even told me the other day, “Mom, this was the best summer I’ve ever had.”

That feels so much better than finishing an article.


I’d become a lesbian for you August 9, 2014

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 10:08 am

A few disclaimers first:

1. I’ve never had a lesbian experience. Shocking, I know. It seems like almost every woman I know my age has, but I missed the whole give-it-your-best college try, and I don’t think lesbians are attracted to me since I’ve never been hit on. And even if I was, I’m just not into girls. I really like men. Men with beards. Not that I’m against lesbians–I have a lot of lesbian friends and I respect their choices. But, yeah, I haven’t had any interest in trying that path.

2. I’ve been to a lot of live shows and I’ve met quite a few musicians, and I’ve ALWAYS kept my cool around them. I realize they’re just people, like me, with a different job and a lot more fans. So I treat any musician I meet just like I’d treat any other person. I don’t ask to take a picture with them, and usually we end up talking about regular stuff, like our kids.  And if I meet a musician that I’m a big fan of, I stay cool. I wait until I’m at home to squeal with delight and then wish I had taken a picture.

But both these disclaimers went out the window when I recently saw Sarah Jaffe live. I’d been turned on to her music about a year ago, and back in December, when I went to San Francisco to see Andrew Bird, I’d gotten tickets to see Midlake perform the night before, but mostly I was excited to see Sarah Jaffe as the opening act. Unfortunately, we got to the show 1/2 an hour late (which normally is no big deal) and we missed Sarah Jaffe’s performance. I was so bummed.

So, our little town has been getting quite a few big(ger) acts coming through. It makes perfect sense: we’re directly a half-way point between San Francisco and Los Angeles, so it’s no big deal for musicians/bands to stop, stay the night, and play. Plus, the venue–SLO Brewing Company–has been killing it in regards to their booking person. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty excited. I love being able to walk down to the venue, see a show, and then walk home. No driving!

Thus, a few weeks ago, the Polyphonic Spree was playing and though they’re not a favorite band of mine, they’re pretty good, and I thought it would be a fun show. I bought tickets for myself and Maddie and Maddie invited some friends, so we all went together.




We all got there around 8:30, which I knew was a bit early, but the girls wanted to be on time. As we we’re walking up, I noticed a sign that announced who the opening band was. To my complete surprise and delight, it was Sarah Jaffe. It became apparent as I spoke to a few friends I saw that other people knew about this, but I had no idea. I was giddy. Seriously, giddy.

Because Sarah Jaffe is just that good.

And while the Polyphonic Spree was good (21 people on a small stage–that’s amazing) and Maddie had fun:







I was most impressed by Sarah Jaffe. She was just as good live as on her records.



And I freaked out. I went up to her after the show, gushing about how much I liked her. She honestly looked tired and I could tell she didn’t want to really talk to me, but I couldn’t stop. I kept talking, telling her how I missed her in San Francisco, posing for a picture with her:



And then I honestly said (and it really just slipped out because I can’t imagine that I was in any rational mind set and also for the record, I wasn’t drunk) AS I WAS HUGGING HER, “I’d turn lesbian for you. That’s how much I like you.” Ummmm….that is the perfect way to freak someone out. Which I did.

I’m pretty sure any possible love affair with Sarah Jaffe ended that night. But I’ll always have the humiliating memories.