A Year of Thanks

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a thrilling/nerve-wracking/what-am-I-doing endeavor February 22, 2012

Filed under: favorites,work — courtsbrogno @ 1:43 pm

Naps are good. I love them. Usually I love them because I get a few more hours of sleep in the day, and nothing feels better than curling up on my bed, in the sunlight, and dozing off for an hour or so.

But sometimes naps provide inspiration via dreams.

Or so I’ve been told. It’s never really happened to me unless you consider a dream of me making out with Jeff Tweedy inspirational (and in a way, it is inspirational, but also hugely disappointing once I awake).

But then something happened the other day. I was taking a nap–a really short nap, I think I had only been asleep for about 20 minutes–when an idea came to me. A good idea. An inspiration.

Well, that’s not entirely true. For a few days I had all these ideas in my head–from President Obama’s State of the Union address to a student commenting on the un-importance of writing due to SIRI to a fan letter I sent–but they were just ideas, things I was thinking about, but during my nap, it all came together: an idea, a creative endeavor.

I’m going to write a book. Non-fiction.Concerning writing and reading.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

But it won’t be. In my nap state, everything came together with such clarity. I knew how I wanted to write it, how I wanted it to look, and the overall purpose of it.

The feeling was exhilarating.

But then came the logistics: while I know I can write this, I also know that I’m going to need help, probably from an agent or a publishing group. And not necessarily in terms of money, but more in the ways of making connections. So, I thought. And thought. And thought. And I came to realize:

 I am nobody. It’s true. I have no real ethos for this kind of endeavor, except for a few articles I’ve written and a book that I myself have termed “incredibly shitty.” What I do have is passion and a deeply rooted sense that I can do this. But I doubt I can sell myself on this alone.

So I thought. And thought some more. And I realized:

I am somebody. And I believe in myself and this project. I can do this if I set my mind to it.

And I thought and thought some more and realized that I’m going to need a few chapters written before I start pitching my idea and trying to sell myself as a writer. So I called some friends, and they believed in me, and helped me see the connections I already do have.

So, here I go. An idea I believe in. A hope that some friends can connect me to a few important people. Some time to write a few great chapters. An overwhelming sense of fear that I’ve just added one more thing to my already busy life, but a feeling that it’ll be worth it in the end.

Because I care about the arts and I feel creative and I want to encourage creativity, and for the first time in my life, I really believe in myself and my ability.

Wish me luck.


something lost, then gained July 19, 2011

Filed under: family fun,favorites,friends,self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 12:38 pm

Yesterday I was talking with a friend. The conversation is really unimportant, but a comment I made has my mind working overtime.

I said, “so and so is just rational, and I’m so much more emotional.”

What? Did I really just say that?

I am not emotional. I am the exact opposite of emotional (minus the years 12-16 when I was an emotional wreck. My mom will tell in great detail how tortured of a soul I was then. Come on, it was hormones. I also blame The Smiths.)

I pride myself on my rational mind and heart. Though I also know that this rational side has become a little (or maybe a lot) too hardened. Too protective. And I have been working with my therapist to soften this side of me, but I didn’t think I’d actually made any gains.

Until I said that sentence. Out loud. And even my friend looked at me quizzically and made a comment about how I’m not really emotional.

I can’t even blame The Smiths this time around (though I did listen to their album Louder than Bombs [their kick-ass compilation album] last night and then seriously thought about putting on all black and smoking a cigarette in bed, but OBVIOUSLY I wouldn’t do that because smoking is bad and even worse when your 3-year-old is sleeping next to you and also because it would be odd to wear all black in bed with a sleeping child, but still…).

Anyway, all last night I started thinking about this whole emotional side of myself emerging, because yes, it is emerging, and I think it all started with a breakthrough I had in therapy, then a sad movie, and the next thing you know I’m all tears in Harry Potter 7, and well, I might be on my way to actually being a somewhat normal, emotionally healthy person.

How very, very frightening.

My major breakthrough in therapy occurred last week. And it was one of those breakthroughs that I didn’t even see coming. There I was just discussing my week, and my therapist started really pushing me with one particular part.

He said, “Well, what does that mean?”

I said, “I don’t know.”

He said, “Yes, you do. You do. What does this mean? Why is this important to you?”

I said, “Ummm, I don’t know. Cause I was raised Catholic?” (Ha. My go-to answer for everything).

He said, “No. What does this mean? You know this.”

Finally, with much frustration (on both our parts, I think), and together, we came to what was probably pretty deep beneath my surface but what was also bubbling up and pretty damn obvious.

Breakthrough. Big time.

And I know this is vague, but it’s also too personal to write about, but it was like all these little lights, like the ones you use to decorate Christmas trees, lit up in my brain and then all connected.

Magical progress I’m making. But also very, very scary. It’s like being on uncharted territory (what a terrible cliche, I know), and I’m not sure what to do from here.

But still, progress is good. I think.

So a few days after this amazing breakthrough, I went to the movies with my friends Andy, Jason, and Emily. And I really wanted to see Buck, this new documentary that looks amazing, but they all wanted to see Tree of Life. I had read so many reviews of ToL and they were all mixed and mostly negative. But my small vote to see Buck was diminished by their 3 strong votes to see Tree of Life. So I went in all cranky and upset that I wasn’t seeing Buck, but within 5 minutes of the film, I was drawn in and sobbing, and I pretty much cried the entire film, and poor Andy kept handing me his popcorn stained napkins to dry my tears. And after the movie, though we had plans to all go get a drink, I just couldn’t. I felt incredibly emotionally drained.

That’s not to say that everyone should see this film. I do understand why the reviews were mixed, and some of my friends vehemently hated it. I think there are some parts that could have been edited out (like those stupid dinosaurs), but as a mother, I was engaged in the story, and the feeling of being emotionally drained stayed with me for a few days.

So for a few days, I walked around in a weird haze, and life around me seemed to be covered in some sort of mesh material. And I felt rather like I lost something, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

This weird haze engulfed me as I went about my week. Maddie and I had a few date nights when Luke was with his father.

We rode bikes:

We hiked a lot:

(The family that iPods together, stays together!)

We went and saw Harry Potter 7.2 with my sister and her son and our friends Brian and Jen and Jen’s little sister.

And I cried. Even though I’ve read the book and knew what was going to happen, I  couldn’t help but get choked up during a few parts.

Luke and I also have had some date days and nights. I love watching him and Cate at music.

(15 seconds later he pushed Cate off the stage, but still, he does love her)

And can I just say my boy’s got moves:

As a family, we also entertained a whole lot, and I’m pretty sure in the past 10 days or so, I’ve had people over for dinner or meetings at least 7 of those days. I didn’t take any pictures because I was having too much fun, and I’ve tried to make it a point to leave my phone in another room so I’m not disengaged with my friends.

Luke has been needing a lot of outdoor time, so I took him and Maddie to see my friend Reese’s band, The Kicks, play at an outdoor event. Kids were all over, people were dancing, the sun was shining: there’s not much more we could ask for.

We also went and celebrated a neighboring town’s 100 year birthday. There was a block party, lots of friends, tons of kids, a parade, and even fireworks.

On my own time, I’ve been spending a lot of time writing my novel (it seems so pretentious to call it this, don’t you think? What would be a more humble and true name for it though? My work-in-progress? I like that better. From now on, I’ll refer to my writing project as my work-in-progress. No, wait. I like writing project better. I’m going to use that.)

So I’ve written 24,000 words, which is good, and I have a more clear direction of where this story is going. But still, some more writing worries:

1. A colleague and friend (who teaches fiction writing and has published a few good novels. Quite good, actually.) once told me that no one can be a writer if he/she doesn’t know the craft of fiction writing (i.e. has an MFA or even a PhD). If this is true, then I am  seriously screwed.

2. Another colleague and friend (who teaches poetry writing and has published books of poetry and is very accomplished) said recently that a writer is not made, s/he is born. That a writer has always been writing: at 5 writing rudimentary stories, at 12 more involved stories, at 21 more introspective stories, and so on and so on. I called my mom and asked, “Did I write a lot when I was a child?”  The answer was no. I’m prone to blame my own mother for this lack of creativity, but there’s really no merit to this except for the fact that I wanted to keep a diary but was too afraid that she would read it (and case in point, she DID read my sister’s diary and then my sister was grounded for, I believe, LIFE. In fact, she’s probably still grounded in my mom’s eyes.). Regardless, I wasn’t an avid writer when I was younger, though I was an avid reader but that’s not the same thing, so I feel like I’m doubly screwed.

3. Do writers have kids? I know this is a stupid question and the answer is “YES,” but my bigger question in HOW. I can’t write with my kids around; I get nothing done. And so this limits how much little I actually write. Which is frustrating. Writers are generally poor, correct? So who watches their kids? Surely not a well-paid nanny. My only answer can be “the spouse,” which I don’t have, nor necessarily want. But if ever there was an impetus for me to find a spouse, this is it. I can already see the craigslist ad: “looking for a husband to look after kids while I write. Will cook and clean in return.” But you know what I really need then? A freaking wife. And since I’ve never had lesbian tendencies then I feel like I’m kind of shit out of luck.

Despite my fears, this whole writing process gives me such an incredible feeling that I crave the time I do have to write. I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person, but at the moment, my whole being feels like it’s giving birth to something really creative (and not creative in the sense that I think what I’m writing is great or even good, just in the way that I feel alive from the inside out, which is an amazing feeling). I don’t feel reigned in at all. I feel free. I feel different.

Partly I feel different because my life has taken on a somewhat introspective, somber tone, which is fighting with my happy outlook on everything. I’m not depressed; I’m more just different. Like crying during Harry Potter or while alone in bed late at night.

Something kind of broke in me this past week or so, and it feels like I lost something. Perhaps what’s been lost is one of those high and guarded walls. Which is terrifying, but liberating at the same time. Because when the walls start to come down, I gain something in its place. Something that makes me feel more like a real person. Unguarded, sure, but real nonetheless.

It’s like a text I sent a friend the other day, which had nothing to do with this overall conversation about who I am, or maybe who I’m in the process of becoming, but still, I think it speaks volumes for where I’m at right now:

“I feel really comfortable in uncertainty.”

I think.


the present is always the past June 29, 2011

Filed under: favorites,friends,self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 12:05 pm

Warning: This is a long post, which is why it’s going up Wednesday. I only finished 3/4 of it by midnight and then called it a night.

There are times in my life, more so in the past year or so, that I begin to feel like a I belong in the Talking Head’s video, “Once in a Lifetime:”

t’s not that I want to be in the video, so much as I completely understand this song, and really, deeply understand the meaning.

I think David Byrne is a genius, especially lyrically, and his genius, I would argue, is most apparent in this song. Here is a guy who wakes up suddenly and wonders, “You may ask yourself: where is that large automobile? You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house. You may tell yourself this is not  my beautiful wife?” This man is in the middle of an existential crisis, surely a social commentary of the high living, skyrocketing income, and coke-snorting mores of the 1980s. At the end of the song, after trying to “let the water hold [him] down” and even “the water flowing underground,” the man cannot achieve any sort of renewal (water as a metaphor for baptism), and everything will always be “the same as it ever was, the same as it ever was, the same as it ever was.”

Existential. Sisyphusian. True.

Though I’m not quite near the state of mind Byrne is in this song, I think it does speak to me in a sense of growing older, growing up, and realizing that so much of life can be the same.

I guess the feeling of life remaining the same comes in a weird sense of time passing for me. There are days when I wake up, take Maddie to school, drop Luke off at daycare, go to work, and then repeat everything the next day. And then the next. And then I feel the monotonous “sameness” of life.

And I have a flexible, always changing job. Imagine all those who don’t. Those who sit in the same desk, in the same office, doing the same thing.



Getting out of my routine and enjoying the lazy days of summer causes me pause as well though. I don’t find myself doing the same routine thing so much as I take the kids to the park, or the beach, or on a hike, but all of a sudden I freeze up. I look around. I notice the green lines in a leaf, the century old shaved down smoothness of a beach stone, the cracking plastic of an aging swing.

I think: I’m 35. When did that happen? How did this happen? Where did these kids come from? How did they grow so fast?

It honestly seems like just yesterday that I was the lost 18-year-old student that I now teach. It seems like just yesterday Maddie was two years old….or not even born. In one swift blur, as I stand at the park or on a trail or at the beach, every moment of my 35 years hits me.

“You may say to yourself, well,  how did I get here?”

And it’s in these moments that I turn and stare intently, and most likely quite rudely, at the oldest person I can find. I stare at her wrinkles. I absorb her attitude. I wonder, “Is she happy. Was her life fulfilling? What does she wish she’d done differently? What can she teach me? Is she bitter?”

Then I find the youngest person to stare at: a young adult just starting life. I stare at his flawless skin, his confidence, his bravado. I want to tell him, “Do you know how fast this will all go? Do you realize that every decision you make WILL impact your future? Will you always–please, please, please–use birth control diligently until you are ready to have kids. Oh, and don’t be ready to have kids until you’re in your mid-30s. Oh and don’t get married until you’re at least 30. Oh and….”

I promise I’m not crazy nor having some kind of break-down, and I actually believe 35 IS still very young. But sometimes these moments give me pause. And I rather examine my life pauses than ignore them.

Which is all to say this past week, in some cosmic intersection of oddness, brought me back to my youth, my younger years.

Starting with the fact that Luke’s father and I had mediation to reassess our parenting schedule and we decided to block out Luke’s time more with his father to lessen Luke’s developing transitional anxiety. What this means is that Luke’s father gets Luke 8 more hours a week, which isn’t really that big of a deal, but what is a big deal is that I have every other weekend without Luke. I thought at first this would be really difficult, but it wasn’t at all. It was needed. And Maddie was with my parents all weekend.

Which meant I had 48 hours, basically, all to myself.


This is the very first time I’ve ever had this amount of space to myself.

Wait. Scratch that. When it was just me and Maddie I took a few trips without her (once to Chile when she was 2 1/2; once to England when she was 7; and a few weekend trips–and I really mean just a few–throughout the years). But since Luke’s been born I haven’t really been apart for him for more than 24 hours, and even the one time he was gone with his father for three days, I still had Maddie. Sure I get a night off from both my kids here and there, but an entire weekend….

…be still my heart.

My weekend started Friday night with dinner and drinks with my sister and my sister’s sister-in-law. It was a good time and the fact that I didn’t have to worry about getting home at a certain hour was liberating.

Saturday morning I woke up and went to Jon, my brother-in-law’s, birthday party. His one request for his birthday was to play sloshball. Talk about bringing us all back to our late teens and early 20s. Sloshball is a form of baseball that involves drinking a beer at second base. usually played by young, obnoxious, drunk men in college. However, we were going to play the game with a bit more class (or so we thought).  A bunch of Jon’s friends came into town and even my dad played the game. It was such a fun time, and I think Jon had the best time of all.

(pre-game relaxing)

(reviewing the rules of the game)

(my sister at bat)

(my dad at bat)

(2nd base drinking)

I left the game a bit early because I had another engagement at a winery. I was a little hesitant to leave the game and drive up to the north county, but I am so very glad I did. The summer solstice wine event was fun and the wine was good, but even better was the little reunion that occurred.

When I moved to this town in 1995 I was 19 years old. I moved with some friends, and the first person I met outside my roommates was Matt whom I worked with. Matt was actually from a town that neighbored the town I grew up in. Matt had been living in town for about a year, I believe, and I’m not kidding when I say about 20 or so of his friends also lived in this town. Through Matt I met many friends, including Maddie’s dad, my friend Colleen, my friend Jenn, and Steve.

It was an incredible time and there was this two-three year period (before I had Maddie) when we all hung out all the time. There was one house that we all seemed to gather at–a house where about 5 boys lived. These boys were honestly the first men I met that taught me what good men, gentlemen really, are like. I was so used to boozy, immature high school boys from my home town that meeting these boys can be likened to opening my eyes to manners, and respect, and consideration. They opened doors for me and all their guests, women and men. They offered friends water (or beers). They cooked dinners. They were considerate when I was at their house and doing homework. They tried–unsuccessfully–to teach me the fine art of baseball. They were so different from boys I had known before. Kind really. In fact, I often think how much I’d like to thank their moms for doing such a good job.

After I had Maddie, I quietly slipped into the life of a mom, a student, an employee, and person with responsibilities and many of these boys moved back to their hometown, and other than the friends that still live here, I haven’t seen these old friends in over a decade.

Until Saturday at the winery. The main reason so many traveled up to the area was because another old friend, who still does live in the area though I rarely see him, is part-owner of this winery and invited everyone. To show up to this event and see all these people I haven’t seen in a decade was not only fun, but almost magical. We sat around a table, drank wine, and told old, old stories that made me laugh until my side hurt. In many ways, we’re exactly the same, though more mature with kids and responsibilities, but still…the core of our personalities is still there, and it honestly felt like no time had passed.

From the winery, I met my friend Leslie for a movie and then a glass of wine. And I wanted her advice.

I had–rather all of a sudden–been thinking about a novel I started writing about six years ago and this past week I revisited it, knowing where I wanted the plot and character to go. It’s silly how this story came back to me, but it basically started with me commenting on a friend’s facebook status, and I liked what I wrote, and then suddenly, I just knew that comment would, or maybe could, be the first line of that old novel I had started so long ago. I had abandoned the novel because I felt stuck and lost with the writing, and quite frankly, my life was going too well for me to write. I tend to write better when I’m depressed. I’m in no way depressed right now, but there’s something about this summer, this moment of pause I’m having about my age and life, that makes me feel better equipped to write more truthfully.

I wanted Leslie’s advice because I know nothing about fiction writing and she has an MFA. While her MFA is in poetry, I still figured that she’d have some good thoughts. Right now, the novel’s in first person, but I’m debating changing it to third person. Leslie advised to stick with the first person as it offers more immediacy and intimacy with the reader. Which felt good, because writing in third person may be too difficult for me: I can’t fathom how to get in every character’s head nor do I feel the need to have any God-like powers over my characters (even if I decided to go with a third person limited  point of view).

I shared with Leslie the whole plot and my struggle with how the ending should go since I still haven’t decided what decision the main character will make. And she liked my idea, which made me feel ecstatic. And ready to write again. So I made some serious edits because a lot of what I wrote six years ago is embarrassingly bad.

But I’m also nervous. I think I can do this. I mean, if I write 250 words a day then I can foresee finishing a rough, rough, rough draft by the end of summer. But the mountain seems so high right now, especially after talking with Leslie because she is a poet, and I love beautiful language even more than plots, and Leslie just gets the beauty of language (I mean, even her facebook posts are gorgeous. Case in point, her last update:  “Tonight I believe we each have one honest gesture; not that other gestures are dishonest, but one, in the course of a life, might change things. So every note, word, touch becomes practice for something greater…yes, I’m talking about tilting a life on its axis.”).

Seriously, who writes like this?

Leslie. Which makes me feel like I’ll never accomplish beautiful language, but that’s alright because I’m not Leslie, but I’ll use her not only for advice (and our obvious friendship), but also as a challenge: a challenge to make it up the mountain, to the very top and look at the words I wrote spread across the sky, scattered and disconnected, and then rearrange them into something honest and beautiful.

Well, I’ll try at least.

The weekend ended Sunday morning when I woke up–still without kids–and went over to my friend Andy’s house for coffee, conversation, and the New York Times.

(NOT bloody mary’s. Smoothies.)

After this long, fun weekend my kids returned to me, and I felt relieved and happy to have them back in my arms. But there was a part of me that was longing for the freedom I had this weekend. The freedom to roam where I wanted, to wake up when I felt like it, to take care of no one but myself. I never appreciated nor thought about this before I had kids, and I became a parent at 23 years old. My entire youth shifted and all my focus has since been on my kids. Which is good. And I think the parent in me, the all-consuming mama, is the best part about me and my character.

But sometimes there is this purling inside of me to step back in time. To be 21 again. To have no responsibilities. But to be this way with the sensibilities I have now. I’d like to go back to the young me and whisper in my ear, “Leave. Go travel the world. Experience everything you can. Let go of that Catholic guilt.  Roam the streets of Italy by yourself. Be more comfortable with who you are. Be more self-assured and confident. Don’t be afraid to show emotion. You don’t always have to be so hard. Open up to the possibilities.”

The thing is most of this advice I have learned throughout the years and the younger me wouldn’t have understood it. I still need to work on some of it, but I believe having these few free weekends a month will help me accomplish that. No, I can’t go to Italy for the weekend, but I can do something just for myself. I can be open to the possibilities. To the brief freedom.

I think this will make me a better mama and a better person.

The past is sexy, always.so.damn.sexy. The movie Leslie and I saw was Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. And it was so good. Amazing even. Sure it was not as deep as some of his finer films (though not as bad either as some of his newer films like Match Point) and the literary characters were a bit overdone, and the main point was rather didactic, but still, it was whimsical and witty and it tackles the whole idea of longing for the past, though in this case the past is more generational, but the point holds true for all of us looking backwards. The main character, Gil, learns that it is better to accept the present for what it is. And then he quotes the famous Faulkner line: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

At some point we all must have a moment of pause where we wonder, like David Byrne, “well,  how did I get here?” I think it’s good to stop and think this.

I think it’s good to consider that it’s the “same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was.”

Existential. Sisyphusian. True.

But that doesn’t make it unconquerable.


coming down the mountain May 17, 2011

Filed under: family fun,favorites,friends,kindness toward me — courtsbrogno @ 7:45 pm

On Friday, I was tired. No really I was exhausted. But I didn’t have the kids, and I felt like a hike. I took my dog, a bottle of water, and headed up the mountain. Only a quarter of a mile in, I stopped. My body felt depleted of energy, my soul seemed sapped, my mind was on overload. I thought about turning around. But instead, I forged my way up, trying to appreciate the burn in my legs, fighting the exhaustion in my mind and body. By the time I reached the top, and watched the evening fog rolling over the mountains, I felt at ease, in every possible way, and thankful.

This week has been a series of ups and downs. Just like climbing the mountain, there were times that felt strenuous and not worth it. But following through, going to the top (or in some cases, just close enough), made the week’s adventures worth the hard work.


My collaborative meeting group ended last week with a big dinner where we discussed all we had learned and how thankful we were for the opportunity to get together, become friends, and improve not only our teaching skills, but our professional development as well. This group has been amazing in every possible way, but it’s been incredibly exhausting as well. We kept ourselves on task and assigned readings and little assignments to keep every member engaged. There were times I walked in so exhausted, I believe everything that came out of my mouth sounded like nonsense. Teaching a full load, having 2 kids, arranging babysitters to meet from 7-9 in the evening was taxing at times. But the benefit, the end result, was so very worth every late night. I know I’m going to miss this group an incredible amount, but I also know that we all need a well-deserved break.


My sister’s son, Braden, had a birthday this past week as well. It was one of the most successful birthday parties I’ve ever been to. She made it simple (though, to me, it looked rather complicated) by having a bunch of kids meet at a park after school for a game of baseball. Then there was pizza and cake. I really think Braden had the absolute best time of his life. In fact, every kid seemed to be having the time of their lives. Braden was in his element, surrounded by friends and family who love him so much. He’s a pretty amazing little guy (actually, a pretty amazing BIG guy now) and it was so much fun to celebrate this new year with him.

The only problem, for me at least, is that as soon as I got into my car at 4 to drive out to the party, I almost wanted to weep from exhaustion. I couldn’t even fathom how I was going to be a good aunt, a fun parent, an involved friend, when visions of my bed and pajamas were running through my head. It had been a long day, full of grading and lecturing, but the moment I arrived at the party, my whole mood lifted. Sure, I didn’t talk to many parents and spent most of my time pushing Luke on the swings, but to see 3-6 year olds running all over the place, having so much fun, made it impossible to feel tired or even sorry for myself. And I had fun. And the pizza was good. And the cake was better. And I’m thankful for Braden.


Friday night, I though about all the grading I had to do and my serious intentions of staying home, taking a bath, and just giving myself a quiet night. But since my hike refreshed me, I let my friend Jenn convince me to go to a rugby game with her. It was a pretty big game as our town’s team was playing against a team from Scotland.

I’ve never watched a rugby game, and I don’t know the rules, and while I’ve heard that the “only rule in rugby is there are no rules,” I’m going to beg to differ. There seem to be a lot of rules, and once someone explained to me what they were, I could at least follow the game a bit more, though it still seemed to make no sense. Weird huddles, full-on violence, singing at the end: it was an experience. An experience that I enjoyed so very much. And even though the teams seem to battle it out on the field (brutally), they have such respect for each other. When the Scottish team was down a player after so many had been taken out of the game for injuries, the coach of our town’s team stepped in to play for Scotland. I love that kind of camaraderie: everyone playing to play. In the midst of bloody noses, the sound of bones crashing into each other, and injured players, my heart warmed, and I was thankful I went out.

On a side note: Though I know we speak the same language, I couldn’t understand a damn think those Scots were saying. I talked to a few of them after the game, and hell if I know what we discussed. Their accent is so thick. But it’s also incredibly sexy, so to make do with a conversation I didn’t understand, I just imagined they were telling me how much they wanted to make love to me (I mean, these were some seriously gorgeous, Scottish rugby players. Can you blame me?). It worked beautifully, and I stayed interested in our never-going-to-understand-you-conversation.


Some weird things have been going on in my life, and I’m just not sure how I feel about it. First, I received the mystery book package in January. Which I loved, but it didn’t have a sender, just a nice note.

Then last week, I got in the car to take Maddie to school and noticed a CD in my driver’s side car door pocket. I keep a few CDs in there (and some receipts, and a pen, and a few other things as well), but it was such a colorful CD I instantly reached for it. It was the newest Broken Social Scene album, “Forgiveness Rock Record.”

Which I hadn’t bought. Nor remember borrowing. I sent out a text to all the friends I could think of whom also like this band (it’s kind of an obscure band) asking if I had borrowed it from them. They all replied “no.” I’ve wanted this CD for a while now, and even a few weeks ago, I watched some videos of the band from when they played at this years Coachella music festival, and I even thought to myself, “I HAVE to go buy that CD.” The CD wasn’t sealed, and there wasn’t a note. I reasoned that perhaps someone could have dropped it off in my car, but then I also thought how did it get into my car side door pocket.

Then I had a memory. I remember a week or so before I had gotten into the car and sat on a CD on my driver’s side seat, and in my mind’s-eye I can see the bright colors of the CD. I was in a rush, so I took the CD and hastily shoved it in my driver’s side car pocket. So maybe someone did put the CD in my car, throwing it through the crack in my window (I always leave my windows open a bit).

I put out a message on facebook, but no one responded that he/she had left me the CD. In the end, I shrugged it off, and have been listening non-stop to the CD, hoping I don’t have early on-set Alzheimer’s and did borrow it from someone and don’t remember or slept-walked to the record store and bought it in my pajamas. Neither are very likely though (mostly because if I borrowed this CD, a CD I’ve wanted for so long, why would I not have put it right into my CD player?? And also because if I stole it, I’m sure I would have woken up in jail.)

Then today, I walked to my car after teaching, and in my driver’s side car mirror was this beautiful flower:

It’s not really a flower, so much as part of a bush, and I thought it must have fallen from a tree and how beautifully, and perfectly really, it had landed. But then I looked up and there were no trees around. And then I walked around the parking lot and there weren’t any of these flowers anywhere in the vicinity. And then I thought maybe someone placed it there.

And then I just started thinking how weird all this is. And it could just be conjuncture on my part, and it seems pretty egotistical to think that someone is leaving/sending me stuff. And the flower could have been a student just passing by, and the CD could have been something I did borrow and just don’t remember from whom (though this seems like a stretch). Or all three could be from totally different people.

I’m just kind of weirded out and I don’t know what to make of it. I’m both flattered and scared.

But mostly, I’m just confused. I don’t think I like mysteries one bit.


The community college finally ended this past Monday, and I was so thankful to be giving a final and ending my days of teaching in the morning. So on Monday, as I walked to my classroom, I was practically skipping. I felt like I had scaled a huge mountain this semester, full of tiring and endless work, and now I was at the top.

I got to the classroom, collected essays, and students started writing their final. I sat down to do some of my own grading. Then Student F (as in failing) came up to talk to me.

Student F has been a complete pain in my ass all semester. He started the class a week late (and it’s  a 9-week accelerated class), but had some lengthy excuse for missing the first week. I believed him and set aside time to go over the syllabus with him and what he had missed the first week (a lot!). From that point on, he missed class often, didn’t turn in assignments, and pretty much showed up when an essay was due. But he always sent me long emails about why he’s not making it: his car broke down, his computer crashed, he’s sick, etc.. Finally last week, he sent me another long email about how worried he was about his grade, about possibly failing. He had a bunch of excuses and told me if he doesn’t pass my class, his parents are going to cut him off, and so could I please just consider passing him with a “C.” To which I replied, curtly, not to insult me (the whole “give me a C” thing), that I was over his excuses, and that he just needed to show up to the final with his last essay.

Back to the day of the final: he comes to my desk and says, “I left my binder outside with my essay in it. Can I go get it?”

“Sure,” I say.

He leaves, comes back in empty-handed, and says, “I actually think it’s in the library. Can I take the exam and then go get it.”

“Sure,” I say, “you have until 11:45, when the final’s over, to get me your essay.”

He takes the exam. He takes a long time. He finishes. He leaves for the library. Guess what? Five minutes later, he comes back and says, “It’s not in the library. I’m going to have to email it to you later.”

“Nope,” I say, “You have until 11:45 to get me your essay. Otherwise I won’t accept it.”

It’s 11:15. He asks if I’m serious. I nod yes. He then proceeds to have a complete meltdown and starts screaming at me in front of the 3 students left taking the final:

“You’re such a bitch. You’re a bitch. You’re ruining my life. You don’t even care about me. I was in the E.R. twice this week and you don’t even care. You’re such a bitch…” blah, blah, blah.

The poor students left taking the final were so caught off guard. And I just stayed super calm and said:

“Student F. Leave my classroom. You have no one to blame but yourself. And you’re right, I don’t care. Get out now.”

He replied, “I’m going to talk to your principle.”

I said, “We don’t have a principle, but why don’t you go complain to my Chair.” And I told him how to get there.

Twenty minutes later, he came back into the classroom, and said, “Your boss said I have until Friday to turn in my essay.”

I said, “Get out of my classroom, Student F.”

So I went to check with my Chair, and of course he didn’t say that, and I explained the incident, and he is going to fail, but now I have to write a detailed incident report, which just means more work from me, and I left with my Chair’s warning to  “lock my doors” at home.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Just when I thought I had scaled this great mountain and everything was done–I mean I was skipping to class– Student F sends me straight back down. And while I was calm throughout the whole event, I just felt exhausted afterward.

So I took a mental health day at the university and called it a day.


I’ve been dating. I know. Like actually going on dates with men. And it’s fun. And I like getting to know different people. And I like talking and I love hearing their stories (and note: none of the weird mystery gifts from above are from these men).

But damn if it isn’t so confusing sometimes. Just when I think something is completely uncomplicated, a little complication arises. A kink. A moment of pause. Because it’s hard for me to give my heart to someone and be vulnerable, and it’s even more difficult to decide who to give my heart to–even if it’s just a little piece of my heart, a tiny piece really. I’m not ready for a full-blown relationship, but I have to give trust at some point. I have to be vulnerable.

Because an old friend of mine, Greg, once told me I was a man-eater. And I think this was in jest, but this week he said, “Courtney, you just need a strong man who will say NO to you.” And he’s correct. All this dating has helped me figure out what I do like in a man: someone who’s honest, kind, funny, not a serial killer, etc…all the usual things. But I also like men who are a bit eccentric. Men with a sense of style (and not a specific style). Someone who doesn’t care about wealth. Someone who likes to have fun. Someone who’s a bit artsy. Someone who will read with me. Someone who doesn’t judge. Someone who likes to take hikes.  And dammit, someone who is a strong man, someone who will put me in my place (and not in an abusive way, obviously.).

But Greg also said this week to me, “I just call it like I see it Courtney. [You’re like:] No need to get up gentlemen, I’m just passing through.”

And the thing is, I kind of think he’s right (and also funny). Because I am afraid of getting hurt so it has been easier–and it is easier–to just stay for a bit, to kind of pass through. How safe. How unobtrusive. How easy.

But the real challenge now, I think, is how to stay. How to be vulnerable.  How to find the right person to do this with. How to trust. How to give my heart out a little at a time. But also how to be smart about it.



Finally, last Friday on my hike after I reached the top, I came back down. The sun was setting behind the mountain. My head felt clear. I felt a moment of perfection. A brief moment where suddenly everything in the world, in my life, made sense.

And then the moment was gone.

How confusing this all is. This game of love. This game of life.

But how very worth the climb.


figuring it all out April 26, 2011

Filed under: books and reading,family fun,favorites,friends,kids,self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 8:17 pm

Spring Break

Last Thursday was the last day I taught at the community college for a little over a week. Yes, it is officially spring break for those students. I felt so happy and light when I left campus, and then I came home and looked at the stack of work I have to do while on spring break, and since the university is still in session (and going strong), I still have to work my entire spring break. But, it’s like this every year, and I’ve figured out to be grateful for the extra time I do have to grade. And, quite frankly, with gas prices as high as they are right now, I’m also grateful for driving less this week.

Readers’ Group Movie Night

Every once in a while, when a movie comes out from a book my readers’ group has read, we try to organize a night when we can all get together to see the film. Friday night we did just this. The movie: Jane Eyre. Since we had done a meeting last summer to Bronte vs. Bronte, seeing the film seemed obvious. But seeing it together made it fun.

I started the night out by walking over to my neighbor Andy’s house to make sure he didn’t flake on the movie (also a readers’ group member). We wound up chatting for a bit, drinking a glass of wine, and then riding our bikes downtown. My bike is still getting fixed, so Andy’s neighbor kindly lent me his. However, he’s much taller than me, and though I did ride is successfully, it was rather difficult at times (especially stopping when I had to jump off the seat as my feet wouldn’t touch the ground), but I haven’t ridden a bike in almost a year, and the feeling of being on a bike again was one that brought back so many old memories. Plus, it’s such a freeing experience. I love the wind flowing through my hair and the freedom to ride between lanes. I’m thankful for that bike ride.

We got to the movie, met the other readers’ group members, and settled down to watch Jane Eyre. I have to admit I wasn’t very impressed. The film lacked transitions and I really think you must have read the book to understand what was going on. I also thought the dialogue was incredibly cheesy. But, our entire group was split, and there were several of us who loved the film.

After the film, some of us went to Mary Kay’s house, another RG member, who lives close to downtown. We sat around, drank wine, ate cheese and crackers, and all talked. While we get together to discuss books, and while I work with many of them, and even more importantly,  consider them friends, even dear friends,  we’re all so busy,  we rarely see each other except for when we meet to discuss a book. Watching the film and meeting to discuss it was wonderful and I’m thankful we all figured out a time to get together. I’m thankful to have spent some extra time with all these friends.

After the film, Andy and I hopped back on our bikes and headed to a local wine bar that has a great lounge area with a DJ every Friday night. I love this wine bar and their lounge area is intimate and really, just great. Andy and I drank some more wine and ran into some other friends. It was a great last-minute decision to go. It was great to catch up with other friends. In general, it was just a fantastic way to extend our evening out even further.

(Andy, enjoying his night)

(Zach. So nice to run into you. So nice to share stories)

Then Andy and I were back on our bikes, riding home. I returned his neighbor’s bike and we sat around and all  drank a beer together.

I stayed up way later than I had anticipated, but what a wonderful night I had. I’m thankful for it all.


I’m just going to say it: Easter is my least favorite holiday. I hate dying eggs, I hate hiding eggs, I’m not a huge fan of ham, and in general having to buy big Easter baskets for my kids filled with chocolate and candy kills me.

So this year, I cut back on  a lot. We didn’t dye any eggs, and instead I bought 10 plastic eggs that Maddie filled up with 3 jelly beans each and then she hid them (she was so happy to do this for Luke). Neither kid received one Easter basket from me (or, ahem, the Easter Bunny). Luke woke up and gathered the plastic eggs Maddie had hidden, and he enjoyed every second of it.

The rest of the day was spent just hanging out with family, eating together (yes, and I actually did enjoy this year’s ham), and letting the kids collect empty easter eggs all day long.

It was one of the simplest Easters I can recall having. And it was wonderful because I figured out how to make it fun and simple and somehow meaningful (and not comprised of candy). The only thing we all really indulged in was talking. OK, and I totally indulged in banana cream pie, but only because it’s my favorite and I never eat it, and I just couldn’t stop myself from gorging.

(But damn you banana cream pie. I ate so much, I felt ill the entire rest of the night. So worth it though.)

Being Cranky

Monday morning, yesterday, I woke up cranky. Really cranky. And I have no real reason to explain this crankiness. Nothing is bothering me; nothing is going wrong in my life right now. But still, I was cranky. And the thing is, I’m never really cranky, so I don’t know exactly what to do with this feeling.

I thought by the time I got to school, my mood would improve. But it didn’t. Not at all. Instead, my student irritated me and I felt even more on edge. So as soon as I left campus, I changed my clothes, grabbed my neighbor Andy and my dog, and headed up a local mountain for a hike. With both my kids gone for the night, I had all the time in the world, but even that didn’t ease my mood. However, laughing and walking up the mountain helped change my mood almost immediately. I realized that because I hadn’t hiked or really gotten outside on Sunday like I usually do was probably part of the reason I felt so irritated. And because we didn’t even start our hike until 5:30p.m., it was chilly and the fog was rolling in. I love hiking in the fog. I love not being able to see the view from the top, just dense, moist clouds that surround me.

At the end of our hike, my mood significantly lifted, Andy and I were both hungry, so we ordered Thai food, settled in his house, and Andy, his neighbor, and I all ate and drank some wine, told stories, laughed, and listened to Wilco’s album, “Yankee, Hotel, Foxtrot.” I left feeling completely back to normal. I’m thankful I figured out that all I need to feel better is to be outside, eat good food, and surround myself with friends.

Therapy Experiments

It’s no secret that I love my therapist and I especially love how he constantly challenges me. Every time I see him, I feel like I’ve grown and become a better version of myself. But sometimes, I have a hard time articulating exactly what it is I’m trying to accomplish. Then this morning, I was responding to an email from a friend, and I was just writing, and in the middle I wrote this:

“A year ago I started going to therapy. I have no deep hidden problems; I’m no more damaged than the person sitting next to me at any given moment (and actually, perhaps a lot less damaged). I’m not suffering from depression, I am not bi-polar, I have no suicidal tendencies. But something was seriously broken in my life and I couldn’t figure out what it was. And when I saw my therapist and told him about my most recent life-failure of marrying matt, he asked me how it was that I could marry someone when I hid, literally hid, from him our entire engagement. In discussing this event, I realized I had completely divorced my feelings (gut level instincts, ones that led to hiding) from my thinking (i.e. this is a good thing. I’m 31. I should be married). Then I realized I had not been feeling anything at all for many years. Partly this is because I had Maddie young, had to get my shit together–finish school, get a job, pay my bills, work hard, hard, hard, pay off debt, etc.–and that’s all good. And necessary. But somehow for about a decade, I had stopped following my instincts and become completely encompassed in my analytical mind. Anyway, seeing this disconnect and all that had manifested from it, caused me to pause. And change. And experiment. Now, I try to stay out of my analytical mind as much as I can. Now I’m enamored in my feelings. How does my gut feel is almost all I’m concerned about.

I used to hike and do yoga because it was good for my body, healthy, toning. Now, I just want to feel my body. I want to–literally-roll in the mud. Lie against a tree. Stop and stare at a bird. I don’t rush. I used to have dinners all the time and invite friends over to cook and talk and catch up on life. Now, I still have the dinners and invite friends, but I find myself wanting to almost make love to my friends–metaphorically, of course. To dive into their bodies and connect on some different, deeper level. Before, I hated my breasts. Now, I love them. Oh, I know that they are not ideal, far from it. I will never make it onto the cover of playboy, and I guess, technically I could have a boob job (and I often tease that i will), but I gave life to two kids, and though they definitely show that, I love that about my body. If someone has a problem with them, I understand, really I do. But it doesn’t make me love them less. I’ve always read for pleasure but now I read to be one with words and sentences. To take a word and put it on my wall. Or write it on my body with a pen.”

The funny thing is that what I wrote, casually and without really thinking every much, was not really connected at all to what the email was about. Well, loosely connected. It was for certain a digression and it did–somewhat–have to do with a bigger argument I was making (not about therapy, rather about photographs and images) , but the words just flowed. And then I hit send.

And then a few minutes later, I thought about this email I had sent and how odd it was that I included all this extra information. But then it just kind of hit me. In some way, in a way I’m actually discussing in my email, I had left my analytical mind and had traveled into how I felt. This is what therapy has taught me the most. That I was able to articulate a change in myself through a casual, seemingly meaningless email message made the lesson seem even more important. I feel like I just stumbled across the greatest change I’ve made in my life. I’ve figured something HUGE out, and I’m so thankful for that.

Sharing an Inspiration

This afternoon, after grading, I went to my favorite coffees hop to catch up on some grading, and as soon as I walked in I ran into the son of a my former mentor. My mentor was an instructor at the university that I worked with for two years while I was a grad student, studying his teaching style, grading for him, and even teaching some of his classes. The reason I initially began working  for him was because he was battling a terrible form of cancer, but within days of taking the job, it no longer seemed like a job. Rather it seemed like the greatest experience in my life, a time to learn from one of the greatest minds I’ve ever known. To learn from the best. Tp be critiqued by the best. he taught me more about life than I think he even did about teaching. sadly, he passed away years ago. But his teaching lives on in all those he mentored, me included.

His son was in college in Texas for the majority of the time I worked with his father, and we only met a few times. Since his father’s passing, I’ve run into him a handful of times, and we always say hello and I ask about his mother and just generally express pleasantries.

But today when I ran into him, I sat down and we started chatting–about what he’s been doing with his life (now that he’s been out of college for a while) how his mother is, etc–and then I just started sharing how much his father meant to me and how much of what I teach today I learned from him. I mean, I almost couldn’t stop talking.

But then, suddenly, I stopped. Had I gone too far? Was I bringing up painful memories of his dad?

His comments to me assured me that I hadn’t. He seemed so pleased to know his father’s legacy lives on in so many of us. He’s trying to figure out still how to live without his father, and I’m trying to figure out still how to teach without my mentor, but we both expressed gratitude for what he bestowed upon us both.

It was a great conversation. I’m thankful for the chance I had to express my feelings. I’m glad I told him how much his father meant to me, how much he changed not only how I teach and what I teach, but how I look at life.


1640 words of “the end,” paralysis of analysis, Prufrock, and a new start (and I’ll keep blogging) March 22, 2011

Filed under: favorites,self-discovery,self-growth — courtsbrogno @ 6:44 pm

It’s obviously been more than a day since my last post. Quite awhile. And while I’m usually a quick writer, I began to feel incredibly stuck with writing a significant last post. Usually, my writing process starts in my head. I mull over what I want to say and organize my thoughts all in my head. Then I set out either writing an outline or just going for it. For this blog, I usually just write quickly whatever may come to mind. There have been some posts that have been planned, but I’ve felt no obligation to be deep or even grammatically correct. I knew when I began writing this blog, I wouldn’t have the time nor interest in aiming for perfection or deep insight.

But my last post? The end of my year of thanks? I knew that should be deep and mindful and even inspiring.

So I started thinking and reading some old posts, and then I froze. I just didn’t know what to say. So much happened in the past year and I was overwhelmed. I didn’t even know where to start. Every day I thought of a story to start this important blog post. Perhaps I’d write about the time I started a photography class and then quit. Perhaps I’d start with an early story from my childhood, one that elicited when I broke, when my emotions shattered from disappointment and how I built myself up from that. Maybe I’d start with how hard I worked to put myself through school, all the late nights spent writing long essays about, oh, say, Tennyson and how much I’d grown from those experiences.

But I didn’t write a thing. I developed paralysis by analysis. I couldn’t put into words how I was felling or how much I’d learned. I spent over 2 years reeling in the muck of my life, beating myself up for past failures. Then I spent a year building myself up, working diligently to change my viewpoint by chronically what I was grateful for and delving deep into my insecurities through therapy.

I didn’t know how to record the changes, the deep, deep changes I’d made in myself. Plus, I wondered how much of these deep changes were even tangible. Again, paralysis by analysis.

So I did what I always do when I’m stuck. I went for advice in the best, greatest minds. I perused my bookshelves and reached for the first book that called to me. Surprisingly, it was a book of poems my T.S. Eliot.

I can’t even remember the last time I read T.S. Eliot. Probably in graduate school. And I don’t know what drew me to this particular book, but I grabbed it and sat on the couch. I turned to my favorite Eliot poem. And while I know “The Wasteland” may be his most famous, I can’t help but love “The Love Story of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

I read. And I thought. And I knew that while I had healed myself in a number of ways, I had also turned slightly into Prufrock. My life had become Prufrockian.

Case in point: I read this stanza at least 20 times:

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair–
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin–
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:–
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

Is it even more prophetic that I was actually reading this as I stirred the sugar into my coffee with a spoon? Oh Prufrock, you may be a man, but you summed up how I was feeling, as a woman.

Had I over-examined my life?

Had I stopped living?

Was I dealing with the same overwhelming life question of Prufrock:  How can I live a meaningful existence within a modern society and within my own mind with walls built so high that I can barely see over them?

Have I been a passive observer of my own life?

Finally, who is the intended audience of my life?

Paralysis of analysis.

I have accomplished so much in the past year, the least of all actually staying committed to writing for an entire year. I have looked backwards and forwards and mostly stayed in the present. I have felt some old wounds heal and watched new ones grow. I have become stronger, more dedicated, and less prone to self-doubt. I have realized the wonderful and devoted friends that surround me in all aspects of my life. I have felt loved and less lonely (when, truth be told, I didn’t even realize how lonely I had been).

But I hadn’t really put all of that analysis in action. And I got stuck with the question of NOW WHAT?

I looked back to the “About” section of my blog in which I hastily wrote on March 4, 2010 as I was just learning how to put together a blog:

After 3 relatively messy, lonely, boring, and thought provoking years, I am attempting to re-center myself. First step? Taking a year to note what I am thankful for. From there? Live and move on.

I believe I made a commitment before I even started writing to finish the blog and then to “live and move on.” Good advice from over a year ago. Wise advice. Live and move on.

Gratitude has been great, overwhelmingly good for me. Living out my life, not passively but actively, will be a bit more difficult. Difficult and unsure, I will live life, full of gratitude and composed of action. Yes, I will observe and record, but I will also write my own story.

So let the adventure begin.

But first, my birthday. It was a grand day.

Starting with hearing my best friend Sofia tip toe into my house at 5:15 a.m., driving from San Diego all night after she got off work. Then at just 7 a.m., coming downstairs, wide-awake and ready to walk downtown to take me to coffee. Sofia, I’ve decided, doesn’t need sleep. She may be a vampire. But she’s my best friend, my love, the woman who constantly inspires me.

(walking downtown with the kids, Sofia, and Sofia’s daughter Isabella)

(Isabella and Maddie: happy best friends as well)

Then we came home and my brother-in-law was cleaning up my yard and my friend Jenn was cooking in the kitchen. We talked, cleaned a bit, and waited for Jill and Ryan to arrive, my best friends coming from Orange County.

They arrived and Sofia, Ryan, Jill, Luke, and I all went on a hike. Taking a hike was the one thing I really wanted to do on my birthday, and I even chose a path I had never been on before. Having my best friends there to accompany me made the hills, the sky, the air even more magical.


(Jill, Sofia, and Ryan: they make me so happy)


(I glow with happiness to be with such great friends, on top of a mountain, surrounded by my beautiful town)

Once we returned to the house, we were on a quick run of cleaning the house and getting ready. Kids were gone and bottles of wine were opened. I had wanted to take picture of every one of my friends who came, everyone who helped mold and change my life in some way, but I was having too much fun, and the following photos don’t capture all the dear, dear friends who came and helped me celebrate turning 35, but for everyone who was here, and for all the friends who couldn’t make it, I am incredibly grateful to have you in my lives. Truly, this was more of a celebration of them than me.

(My  sister and Jenn. Without them there would not have been a party. They did everything!)


(Sofia. She may be a vampire, but if I was a lesbian, she’d be my wife.)

(Colleen, who helped cook and get the party ready. She is an inspiration to all who know her)


(Mike: the kindest man I know)


(Sofia and Grace. Grace is the epitome of her name. I love her so much.)


(Mike and Reese, the best musician I know)


(Michelle, Jill, and Grace. I’ve known Michelle since I was 15; Jill since I was 17. I look up to these women and aspire to be like them)


(Malik, the best DJ in town and Tim, a wonderful food-savvy friend)


(My very, very best friends)


(All of us together)

(A party in action)


(My beautiful birthday cake, brought by my best friend, my soul-mate, Denise)

(That’s a lot of damn candles)



And so it ends, the year of thanks. It’s been a good year, a healing year.

A year that I already miss, but am thankful to for.

And yet, surprisingly, I’m missing writing.

So there will be more.

Thankful Tuesdays will start next week. And while I know Thankful Thursdays sounds better (that great “th” alliteration), Tuesdays I don’t have Luke and so I have more time to write.

I will still be thankful, but I promise I will also be active.

Because as Mary Oliver says, “”Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Oh, Mary Oliver, I plan to do it all.






happy town January 26, 2011

Filed under: favorites — courtsbrogno @ 8:21 pm

It’s been made official by Oprah and other media outlets: I live in the happiest place in America.

I totally agree.

I’ve lived here for almost 16 years, longer than any other place in my life. And I must say, I do (mostly) love my town.

Someone even put together a great photo montage of my town in all its beauty.

It feels pretty great to live in such an amazing town, and for that, and the past 16 years that I’ve lived here, I’m infinitely thankful.