4/2/2018

Dear Stuart,

The mini fridge in this Airbnb room is buzzing so loud and dogs are barking outside forever. But it's warm in here and the bed is comfy and I'm halfway between here and there, north and south, family and you, home and home. It seems only right to send one last letter through the cyberspace to tie up this 2018 Adventure. Oo, the buzzing just stopped.

Saturday night my family left for Aruba; we hugged and said our goodbyes and then did it a second time to be sure. Zach and Kim stuck around a little longer and by the time they left, I had to make myself a quick dinner and get ready for the Easter Vigil mass at 8:12pm, sunset. I dressed up.

When I arrived there was a bonfire crackling outside of the church and a large-ish gathering of people huddled between the church doors and the fire, all holding unlit candles. There were whispers, but it was mostly quiet until the priest commenced Mass. Once commenced, the Easter candle was lit by the bonfire, it's light was shared with a nearby parishioner, who shared it with his neighbor, who shared it with his neighbor and slowly, one by one, that candle shared it's light with all the people in the crowd. It was really sweet to experience the brightness slowly graduate as the flame raced around the group. A living chandelier, we shuffled into the dark church together to hear stories from the Bible, starting with the story of Creation. It was good.

The priest's homily was about the Dark Times of Lent. The darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the solemness of the sacrifice Jesus made for us and then... THEN... the glory of his resurrection! The joy! The light! The life! Rebirth! New beginnings! There is no death, only Life.

And what better time to celebrate new life and new beginnings than springtime, after the death of my grandfather, as I prepare to head south once again with a renewed spirit. It was so fulfilling, validating, hopeful to hear. It all felt so right, so perfect... like it was part of a plan...

The sun shined on Easter Sunday and I rollerbladed around a little bit before the 3pm dinner. It was good to see everyone, catch up with Julie, learn about Buffalo tradition and Polish customs, laugh, eat, drink, celebrate. This morning I woke up tired but as I prepared myself for my journey South-- cleaning the countertops and putting the last of the things in the boxes-- there was a definitive sense of finality, that I had done what I came here to do, not just with my Nonno but with my family and with myself, too. It was time to go forward with a trusting heart and enlightened view.

And so now I'm here, halfway to you, in the relay of family past and future but both present. You know what I mean?

As I drove off with that feeling of completion I still had a lingering sense that it wasn't enough. But you know what? It will never be enough, not here, not in this life. There will never be enough days to show my love for everyone in this world, never enough hours to practice gratitude or the piano, never enough time to see all the places or read all the books or make all the miniatures or hear all the stories or solve all the problems. No number of lifetimes strung together will ever be enough. And that idea used to rattle me into a deep dark hole, but now I find comfort in it. Relief.

And that, that is enough.

The dogs are still barking.

I love you so much Stuart. I'll see your face TOMORROW!

Love,

Emily :)

 

3/25/18

Dear Stuart,

I feel like I never write in the times when the most is happening. And when I do make the time (now), I don't even know where to begin.

Can I just give you bullet points and maybe try to craft the story of the day later? 

-I woke up at 7:20am and prayed
-I made a smoothie this morning! Very peanut butter-y :D
-9am mass. I drove separately because I didn't want to be late. It's Palm Sunday!
-Mom, Luke, and I go to see Paul: Apostle of Christ at Regal movie theater at 11:30am. 
-We eat lunch, and munch munch munch
-I go rollerblading, wearing my Alaska baseball hat and a winter hat over it
-Luke and I practice some ukulele, I teach him basic chords to Riptide
-Luke and I play basketball and I learn how to shoot a hockey puck. Luke says you're better, grrrrr
-I made pumpkin muffins, wash salad and bake butternut squash. Dad grills steak
-After dinner mom and I look at old photos for almost 2 hours. Mom seems sad
-Luke, Mom and Dad watch The Office and laugh loudly while I wonder how this day has affected me

How is it that every moment affects the next, molds and shapes us into ourselves, and yet so many get lost forever in the throes of time? In the movie today Paul says, "Pick up a handful of water from the ocean and watch it slip through your fingers: that is your life on this Earth. Then look out into the water of the ocean.... that is your life in Heaven."

I love you Stuart, oh so very very much.

Emily

 

3/21/18

Dear Stuart,

Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

The last three days whizzed by, somehow, and I didn't get to writing. Each time I laid in my bed to shut my eyes I thought, "Oh dang" and then promptly fell asleep. Today, I'm not havin' none of that.

I won't bore you with details on the last 3 days (also, I barely remember), but we did go to the Broadway Market on Sunday which was nice. As I listened to one of the vendors talk about the tradition of painting eggs with his family every year, I really understood what your mom (maybe) feels about wanting that. An activity that holds value for everyone and that holds value on it's own, just in being a tradition. There's something powerful about doing something that your ancestors did all those years ago, too.

Speaking of which, going through the solid hope chest in my grandma's room was a total time warp yesterday. The chest was FULL TO THE BRIM with beautiful, delicate, hand-embroidered, hand-stitched, carefully-crafted pillowcases, handkerchiefs, sheets, coasters, table runners, table cloths, aprons, matching table cloths and aprons, etc. It was incredible. What a different world, you know? I wish I knew how to do all that stuff now. Not that there's the time anymore, but still. It's so cool! So timeless!

Today we began tackling the basement. Pots, pans, and other memorabilia. It's so dark down there, and I wore two sweatshirts. We went through a small box of my mother's favorite trinkets and we found a "luncheon set"; a ceramic tea pot with matching plates and saucers from Germany. What do you do with that stuff? Stuff. Stuff stuff stuff.

Cooking for my family has been a double-edged sword. One edge is the happy one in that I get to do something I love, alleviate my mom (although I think she generally likes doing it), and feel productive and autonomous. The other edge is that everyone is much less interested in how the food actually tastes and more interested in it's nutritional value and when it will be ready. Please, Stuart, promise me that you'll never go on a low-carb diet. 

I feel like I'm getting wrapped up in details and it's not important. Important things of today are:

-I am trying to get in a groove of adding prayer to my morning routine*
-I learned about this weird habit I have of bouncing my hand when I eat. Do you notice this? My mom pointed it out to me today and I was in disbelief. I had no idea!!**
-The Flagil doesn't seem to have taken effect yet. Boo.
-The Austin bomber has been found
-I love you. 

Another day. I'm tired but my brain won't shut up. 

Warm fuzzies,
Emily

*I have no morning routine
**Ok, this is maybe not that important
 

 

3/17/2018

Dear Stuart,

It's St. Patrick's Day! We never do anything for St. Patrick's Day, but I am wearing some green. 

It's only 2pm but it felt fine time to write. And I have the ability now, to just do things on my own schedule. It is a blessing but feels like a curse. I guess that makes it a learning experience... or a new perspective... or just a time.

I poached an egg today! I think it came out alright, except I was too excited and made it much too long before my desire to eat it. I eventually gave in to just eating it, 45 mins later, and the yolk was a good runny, but the whites were firm and cold and it overall was kinda tasteless. Anyways, it made me think of you and smile. :)

Much of my conflict here at home revolves around me feeling guilty for not being more a part of the family unit. As with roommates, I find it hard to share space because it involves many people to keep in consideration. I realized today that a lot of my desire to organize the kitchen may not come from me being a "control freak" (I'm biased...), but instead just trying to solve the problem (messiness and disorder) instead of adding to it (shoving cans and bags and boxes precariously on the unorganized shelves). Right? I'm right, right?

In a larger way, I think these frustrations come from a belief that I'm doing the right thing mixed with a number of other peoples beliefs that they're doing the right thing. For instance, my mom probably believes that she's doing the right thing by pouring herself and her energy into other, "more important" things, my dad believes he's doing the right thing by just "letting it go" and focusing on other things. Luke, well, Luke's at the stage where he's more worried about school, girls, abs, hockey, abs, etc. than to even think about it. And undoubtedly, he believes that focusing on himself in those ways is doing the right thing. And maybe it is! Maybe they are all right!

So now this leaves me stuck, frustrated, and alone, wanting to discuss this core of the matter but being shut down by my busy and skeptical family who all believe they are doing the right thing. Being right is very, very isolating. For everyone.

So what do I do? Do I also just "let it go" and try not to let it get to me? Do I constantly bring it up and nag? Do I just keep fixing it until I leave?

This is why I have trouble with roommates. :(

I want to be better! I want to know how to do it the right way! But I feel like my family is so stuck in their ways and too busy to try changing it that it may never be resolved. This is a small example of a bigger issue of being home without purpose, feeling misunderstood and not listened to, and then feeling guilty about my callousness because my family provides so much for me (even though part of that providing is also a reason I feel frustrated. I like doing things myself sometimes). Help!

I guess one of the reasons I bring all this up to you is to help you understand my thought processes. I talk a lot and bring up my feelings a lot and it makes things messy and confusing sometimes, especially when I feel so unsure of what I want or what I want to say, but it's all in an effort to help you understand where I'm coming from. I don't want to be a control freak or super perfect and disciplined, but I do want to be able to talk about things and share in ideas and thoughts so we don't get stuck in our ways, stuck in certain ideas of each other (aka, she's a control freak and she doesn't like oil, lol). I really hate being boiled down to specific philosophies or habits or likes/dislikes because I never feel like it's a fair representation of me. I personally see everything as case-by-case. I like things organized, but there are days when I don't care. I like pizza, but there are days that I don't want it (seriously). There are so few things that I want, need, like, feel up for ALL THE TIME. You know what I mean? 

Anyways, thanks for listening to the long, long, long, long ramble. I love you so much and miss you dearly. Everything makes me think of you. I had a memory today about us scraping off the burnt bottoms of those almond cookies for Bounty and Soul. Hahahahahha.

I love youuuu Stuuuuuu!

Emily <3

3/16/2018

Dear Stuart,

I didn't get my nature dose today. The day felt long, tiresome, and lazy. I still haven't changed out of my pjs since 2 nights ago. That kind of gives you an idea of the wallowing. Boo.

My uncertainty and insecurity about what is next for me is being spotlighted by all this time all of a sudden. I guess I just assumed that I'd bounce right back into routine and schedule and purpose, but after you left I suddenly felt very, very useless. I miss you, by the way.

We went through a bunch of paperwork at my grandpa's today. Photos, receipts, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. I get overwhelmed looking at all he's done, all he's learned, all he's helped. This kind of stuff adds to the mini existential crisis, and after only a couple hours I feel agitated, restless, and I just want to come back to you and carry food on trays and move forward.

The past few days I've spent too much time looking up low FODMAP recipes and dreaming about when I can eat bread and garlic again. I napped in my car for an hour today while I waited for my mom to come let me into Nonno's house. I drove to Chestnut Ridge and looked at the skyline and said a prayer and mostly thanked God for you, you beautiful beautiful human.

I hope you know how much I love you. I really, really do.

Big hugs and kisses on the lips (!),

Emily :)

 

3/15/2018

Dear Stuart,

Here we are again.

I want to say today was miserable but that's not completely true. 

Iris said that it's good that I'm exploring right now. Today was a good reminder that the "exploring" phase of life can be endless and exhausting though. So when do I stop exploring and settle down? Find my place? Stick my flag in the dirt and appropriate everything around me? 

My stomach hurt and the whole day has been cut with a mild but throbbing depression. I spent a lot of time online trying to figure out more about IBS and the FODMAP diet, only to find too many opinions and no real reliable sources. I'm yearning for creative outlet but not able to find my way to it. I'm not going or coming or even in between. I'm just here.

I went to my grandpa's today and was useless. I sat in his study, surrounded by all the books on the ground that Zach had organized by category, and just cried. There's so much.

I came home shortly after and slept. I have been sleeping ever since pretty much, with the exception of dinner and a solid hour and a half of my dad reading me online articles about IBS to only further confuse and frustrate me. He was trying to help.

I'm realizing that I need nature. I have been so far away for so long. The stress, discontentment and hypnotic quality of ads and stores and business has absorbed me these past few weeks and I'm yearning for peace, solitude, and fresh air. But I can't get it because I feel too cold and tired and sad, and it's still winter for a long, long time.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel differently. A day like this I wish to turn to prayer and trust in God. I just feel so terrible and helpless and pathetic... and now guilty, too. I miss my Nonno.

I love you Stuart! I'm sorry to be so sad.

Love,

Emily

2/16/2018

Dear Stuart,

I have to start writing these to you earlier because by the time I get to it, I already told you everything. 

I feel really happy about the quality of time I got to spend with my mom yesterday. She really is an incredible person, and I overlook/ under-appreciate her kindness and selflessness because she's my mom. And moms are always the default scapegoat for everything wrong in the world. That's part of the reason they're so great. ........................................................................................ Right?

Anyways, I feel like I'm finally getting to a point where things don't feel overwhelming and stressful and messy. I'm not sure if it's a temporary sense of relief and letting go, but either way, it's there. I'm just enjoying it right now instead of trying to immediately exploit the time for creative endeavors and dreams. And that's good. When my mom came in the house yesterday Nonno was sitting in his wheelchair, right in front of the armchair. My mom asked, "Are you going in [to the armchair] or coming out?" "I'm just here," my Nonno said. I'm just here.

Over lunch my grandpa and I discussed the differences/nuances between children and "adults"; expectations? inspiration? energy? innocence? ignorance? Do we naturally lose certain child-like traits as we grow older and learn more, or do we choose to harden and re-prioritize?  Is there a way to continue having wonder, adoration, big dreams and high expectations while still having a grounding sense of realism, duty, responsibility?

Lately, being home has got me like:

Through God meme.png

That's a pretty good feeling. 

Love youuuuuu,

Emily

2/15/2018

Dear Stuart,

"When will I have time for art?," I ask myself daily while I spend a good hour a day on cleaning and reorganizing things. Every. Day.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, so I went to mass to get ashes. "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return," she said as she marked my forehead with a black cross. Between that and the song that the man on the piano was singing, it made me cry.

My Nonno was in pretty good spirits yesterday, despite his legs being extremely weak. I had to cart him from his armchair to the kitchen table, something I've never had to do before. We talked about pasatelli for dinner but we didn't have enough Parmesan. So we made do with polenta, homemade sauce, and a fried egg. Feast from Scraps, it felt like. My favorite.

The day went by fast and I was once again reminded of the poor lighting at my Nonno's house. We began watching Gigi, the 1958 musical, and I kept asking my grandpa, "Why is he doing that?" "How do they know each other?", "Wait, what's the point of that?". "You're trying to create a story," my grandpa kept saying, kind of frustratingly (he was falling asleep and I kept him up with my questions), "when there isn't one. It just is what it is."

I came home and watched a little of the downhill skiing Olympics with my dad, discussed with my mom where we'd go for dinner tomorrow (today), and then fell asleep early. I was exhausted at 9pm and even more so at 10:30pm. I knew your package would be arriving and wanted so much to stay up and make sure you got it, talk to you, hear your voice in the darkness of my room and feel a little warmer. But I was too sleepy. I worried for a few minutes before I fell asleep, waking up again at 3am to see if you had called me yet. Whoops.

I suppose that's it. It's 9:20am now, I've been up since 6:30am, and I can't say I've done much. No art... yet. Time to get on with the day! 

Love you xoxoxo,

Emily 

2/14/2018

Dear Stuart,

One weird thing about these letters now is that I'm *supposed* to be writing about yesterday (I guess), but it's today... 

So, Happy Valentine's Day!

Yesterday was really good, consisting of:

-FaceTime with YOU

-some organization/cathartic cleaning

-catch up with Caleb

-TWO Fasnachts (one with Nonno and mom, one with dad)

-Beer with dad

-CLIMBING! Even though I almost didn't

-Some productiveness

-Some rest

-Many reminders of Love in my life

My dad said that the nearby convenient store (where I purchased the other fasnacht) is noticing how traditions are being lost in the current generation. "We used to buy 12 trays of these [fasnachts] and they'd sell out. Now, we buy about 3 and theres still some left at the end of the day."

I've really been thinking about this ever since I came back here. I've forgotten or muddied a lot of tradition for the sake of convenience or the desire to learn/do something new instead. I've reevaluated a lot while home and am reexamining some of my hopes and dreams for the future. I'm excited to share and discuss and refine them together. TEN MORE WONDERFUL DAYS UNTIL ANOTHER MOST WONDERFUL DAY! We are so blessed.

Love youuuu!

Emily :)

2/13/2018

Dear Stuart,

Well. This new posting schedule is going to take some adjusting to! The day has whizzed by and it's almost 6pm. So much for a morning letter!

But it's ok. I talked with YOU this morning instead and would never trade that for any silly letter thing.

Yesterday feels so far away now. It was an emotional day starting at 6:30am when I woke up to do online patient portal paperwork (say that 5 times fast) for my gastroenterology visit. I left my house around 7:30am (yes, I was early) and made it in time for yet another doctor's office to take my information and my photo and my vitals and my money.

I was so tired and sad and frustrated when I got home I fell asleep, and then woke up in a fog (also in jeans and a sweater vest) and hurriedly rushed around to finish some things before I went to my Nonno's. We quickly ate lunch and started to prepare him for the doctor's office. I was feeling weepy, and when my grandpa asked, "So what's new with you?" I broke down a little and vomited all these words about feeling frustrated and stressed and sad to be far away from you and my friends and my home, or the place I plan to return to and someday have a home. Ack, it was all a cascading string of words followed by a rush of extreme guilt and then a barrel of quick reassurance that it's not his fault. It's really not.

At the doctor's office I sat outside in the waiting room instead of going in and started to read Mr. Sciacca's book. I suddenly felt a wave of inspiration to stop reading and just pray, like actually try to pray. So I bent over in the chair, face in my hands, and I attempted. I fell into a deep state of something peaceful, until a man came over to ask, "Ma'am, are you ok?"

The rest of the day was ok. I actually found joy and inspiration and some peace of mind. In an attempt to keep my grandpa awake, I took out an old painting I had started in his basement and together we analytically looked at it, making imprecise measurements with our fingers and pencils, and I started to rework it. He dozes a bit, and mumbles some information about his prayer and bible groups, and then I cooked venison steak and warmed up our pizza and between that and a small salad we had ourselves a feast. 

I didn't expect to come home to a box from Stuart-in-Joy but ah! He's too good! After cutting some leather with Dad I sat on my bed and gushed from the middle of my heart out all the wonderful feelings of gratitude and joy and love and tenderness and guilt ("ugh! I don't send him enough!") and sacrificed the chance of lesser sleep for the ability to talk with you through the Evil Blue Light of my telephone. Luckily, I slept despite it. I am so endlessly grateful to have you as my teammate-partner-boyfriend-friend-lover. I love you so so much, THANK YOU for the joy you bring me everyday! Chocolate or no chocolate!! xoxoxox

Emily :) 

 

2/11/2018

Dear Stuart,

As I sit here in the blue-light of my computer screen (the bad blue-light, not the good kind), I think about how I'm suppressing the melatonin in my brain from producing, how I couldn't think of the word 'suppressing' and how my lack of consistent circadian rhythm is affecting my ability to reinforce the things I have learned. I used to think how this letter was a great night-cap, a way for me to reflect and articulate a few thoughts and feelings and moments in order to immortalize this time as Special and look back in a more comprehensive way than just a vague "these were some of the best months" or "this was a very hard time".  

Perhaps I should start writing to you in the mornings, after I have healthily slept in the absence of Evil Blue Light and gone deeply in the REM cycle where I prance around another world, relearning all I have learned in the daytime. Perhaps I should just stop trying so hard to make each one unique and meaningful and thoughtful. Perhaps I should just stop altogether. Perhaps I should stop thinking about it so much and just go to sleep. 

Let this be the beginning of a potentially new posting schedule? For our Salud!

Love, 

Emily :)

2/10/2018

Dear Stuart,

Even though the computer says it's February 11th, it's still the 10th to me. I'm getting farther and farther off sleeping schedule. Aye ma mi.

I spent the last hour looking through old miscellaneous photos, trying to find a few of me and Selena to send her for her birthday. I laughed a lot at all the fond memories and got sucked into What-Once-Was-Land again. It was pleasant; I wished you went there with me. 

Mr. Sciacca says our generation is too self-absorbed and consumer-obsessed. "Success is valued above sacrifice; the immediate is preferred to the ultimate; image is more important than substance." My Nonno and I discussed over dinner why anyone-- even in his generation-- would make anything from scratch nowadays. It's faster, cheaper, and good-enough to make it out of a box or use the microwave. How do we stand firm and confident in our shortcomings with a strong wind of insecurity and perfection blowing all around us? 

I was cushioning Nonno in his lift chair, preparing him for his midday sleep, placing pillows every which way; angling and folding them to create the most pressure and softness I could. He mumbled, "Now I know what it feels like to be a piece of pottery." He's been saying things in a half-awake half-asleep state that I sometimes choose to ignore, because he's frustrated by everyone always asking him to repeat himself. But this one made me curious. "What do you mean?" I asked. 

"A piece of pottery," he repeated. "Getting all packaged up."

I liked that.

I love you Stuart, thank you for being in my life! You are my light, and you shine so full and bright I can't help but smile from the inside out whenever I think of you.

Love youuu,

Emily :)

2/09/2018

Dear Stuart, 

My sugar Rumspring began with sugary granola, sugar pumpkin butter, sugary bread, and promises of a sugary donut that wasn't. That's what tomorrow is for though. Christmas is saved!

I had a stomachache all day and felt very distracted. Nonno was talking to me about the Catholic Church over lunch and I eventually asked if we could stop talking about it, because it felt like a lot of information at once and it was giving me a headache. (It was that, not the full stack of pizzelles I had consciously just wolfed down.)

Nonno and I have been talking a lot about religion lately and I've been feeling really interested and scared by it all. It's something I really want to find for myself and have really wanted to find for myself, yet have put off, day after day, week after week, in hopes that it will just happen. I'm eager to understand more about the faith I grew up in, as well and explore and look into other practices or doctrines I know less about. 

I had a moment at the kitchen table today, while Nonno was talking about how the Catholic Church was established (by Peter, who was designated the job by Jesus aka God), how and when the Protestant Reformation began (1900s, Martin Luther, rejection of some Church practices that were-- even Nonno admits-- questionable) and why the Catholic Church is the true church (it is the original Church Jesus preached to be built. All other sects of Christianity were formed by humans wanting a change in the original practices and traditions). I thought, there are so many things I don't know, there are so many things I need to know, there are so many things I want to know and there are so many things I feel I must understand, participate in, and create (rearrange, whatever) as an engaged citizen of the Earth. Religion, gardening, cooking, social justice, food justice/security, art, nature, finances/economics, vocabulary, literature, history, geography, technology, lineage, heritage, culture, politics, travel... I could go on... forever backwards in time, forever forwards in thinking, forever laterally in the present...

But instead of deeply studying or understanding these things, we wrap ourselves up in jobs and TV shows and shopping and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. And that's ok too. I think. I was being serious when I said I was getting a headache during lunch from the conversation, not the pizzelles. 

Today actually was a pretty good day for some reason I can't pinpoint. But it's about time it ended. I love you so much!

Emily :)

2/08/2018

Dear Stuart,

I wasted too much time when I got home, starting things, stopping them, opening tabs on my computer and then closing them, waiting for a page to load then getting distracted by something else and then losing track of what I was doing to begin with. I'm having trouble quieting my mind, and staring at the computer screen numbs me out in a terrible way.

No matter what I think in my brain to write to you my fingers type out something else. It really is remarkable the difference between what my fingers type and what my hand writes. It feels like two different people. I guess that's the beauty (or mask?) of editing.

Anyways, I felt pretty positive today, despite my time with Nonno beginning on a harsh note. He's been eating breakfast early and then sloppily snoozing throughout the morning, up and down but overall "resting". This is the second day now, that by 1pm when I get there, he's so weak and hungry he can barely get himself from the chair to the kitchen table without crumpling to the floor. I sat there and watched him struggle with the idea of moving, hand over his face in shame/agony/confusion/exhaustion/frustration. When we finally got there (50 minutes later), he could just barely hold the spoon up to his mouth to eat, and after a while I helped him hold the bowl to his mouth so he could just drink it. It was an awful, painful, confusing beginning. Nonno wanted to be left alone, I wanted to be attentive.

His soup and ravioli powered him up though (relatively). He could hold his head up and carry on conversation not long after lunch (Long After Lunch... good album title...). I cooked spaghetti squash and roasted eggplant and sautéed some tomato sauce from the San Marzano tomatoes I probably paid too much for at the Italian grocery. We opened up a new bottle of wine, and cheers-ed to a Salud!, because we could use health over 100 years at this point. 

Day after day I plan to achieve certain goals. I bring with me to Nonno's a book, journal, computer, my uke. I have been doing this kind of thing for years. In New York City, I carried around an obscene amount of items in a backpack; sketch pad, journal, at least one book, podcasts, letters, a sound recorder, a newspaper, climbing shoes. When the hell was I going to use all these things? And yet I couldn't part with any one of them, because they were all dear outlets to me and I was never sure when I might find the time or inspiration to use one or all of them. It's a habit that sets me up nicely for daily disappointment; a daily reminder of my human-ness lack. It also makes me grateful for my car, which can hold all the aforementioned things much easier than a backpack.

But, I can't Let any of this Go. Because it feels like Giving Up. So I have a lot of hobbies. So what.

One day Nonno and I were listening to the Native American flute music, and Nonno commented on it's constant rises and falls in melody. "You think it's over, and then a new note comes," he says. "I'm so used to music having a beginning and an end." "It's Zen," I said.

Does my inability to finish much of the things I start make me Zen? Please?

I love youuuu,

Em

2/07/2018

Dear Stuart,

I got fitted for a teal, glow-in-the-dark retainer today. I'm a big girl!

My grandpa is declining rapidly-- either that or he's in a really bad slump. It's so hard not to have every little dip in energy, mood, strength... anything feel so big and heavy. The weight of Life is bearing down on me every day and I feel exhausted by trying to suck every last ounce out of it. 

There have been giant ants crawling around the house and all I can do is kill them. Yesterday I thought I crushed one, but when I threw it in the toilet I realized it was still alive. I stared at it, floundering in a pee-filled toilet bowl. What do I do? 

It's hard to watch but it's even harder to walk away. That's how I feel about Nonno.

I love you so, so, SO much Stu. Thank you for supporting me and I'm sorry it's not fair to you.

With all my love and kisses,

Emily 

 

2/06/2018

Dear Stuart,

In all the days I've written to you, I've never worried about running out of things to say. That seems like a miniature phenomenon. What the heck do I ALWAYS have to talk about?

Today.

It started with a good exercise in Letting Go, where I was placed in a beautiful kitchen and stocked pantry and fridge, full of things that I had no desire to eat. There was oatmeal and boxed eggs and apples. There was whole milk and sugary fake-healthy cereals. There were crackers and lots of nut butters, much of which I've been subsisting on while home. There was no more coffee left. There was frozen fruit from Mexico.

I found myself getting really frustrated and irritated. That led to deep guilt-- what a bratty thing to feel! This led to sadness and confusion... I wish I felt one way but I feel another. Then I realized, 'Oooo! Here's a moment I could "let go"!' And so I breathed and I tried and it kinda worked. I made a peanut butter and warmed-up-frozen-fruit wrap which was more filling than I thought it would be and it tasted ok. It's fine! I'm letting go! It really was pretty good. 

(It put my stomach in a weird bloat-y-but-still-hungry state all day. But it's fine! Really, it is.)

The day went on with little ups and downs but steadily hovered around "ok". I went to Guercio's, a super Italian grocery store downtown that my Nonno and I used to go to. I spent too much money picking up nostalgic snacks and treats for him (us); I guess it was like food souvenirs. Then when I brought it all over I remembered how different it is now, how his appetite is slim to none and food no longer brings him much joy. It was disappointing, mostly me being disappointed in myself. How could I forget that? I got wrapped up in my own nostalgia and excitement and impulse bought too much squid ink spaghetti and taralli. Ugh.  

I dropped off some more rocks to Thin Ice today and picked up a pretty nice check! It felt good to earn money in that way, more so than usual. 

When I came home around 8:15 pm I wondered what to do. Not that there wasn't a lot I could do, just not a lot I wanted to. I get this feeling towards the end of the day sometimes, and in these moments I miss you more than usual. When there's two people it's easier to sit and just sit and not think than when you're by yourself. Or, when I'm by myself.

I listened to a interview today with Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran minister in Denver. It was intriguing and made me feel and question and squint a lot. Sometimes I feel like the more I learn and am exposed to, the more unsure and inadequate I feel. 

But that's not going to stop me from learning and going, that's just an observation. 

Anyways, I hope I'm not too rambly and blah. I hate to be blah-y, I really do, but today was kinda blah-y. I wish I was more even-steven, chill-yeah-its-cool-I'm-chillin-no-worries-you-good kind of a person. 

BUT, "we're better than we think and not as good as we want to be."

I love you my dippy, creamy, pecano punkin pie. Why am I crying right now. Ugh.

xoxoxo,

Emily

 

2/05/2018

Dear Stuart,

Oh, Stuart. How I miss you so. Today was a day, and I feel exhausted inside my brain and behind my shoulders.

Tomorrow I am free of responsibility toward my grandfather, but I'm not sure what I will do. It doesn't feel relieving, honestly. My days "off" make me feel more aware of my lack of comforts and autonomy here. 

What am I taking with me from the past and bringing into the future?

I'm tired, I'm cranky, and I miss my Stu-babybaby.

Waaaaah.

Love you,

Emily :)

2/04/2018

Dear Stuart,

The Eagles just won the Superbowl. I watched. Justin Timberlake did the halftime show and even my grandpa agreed; it was super groovy. 

The day today was good. I had four things on my to-do list that were starred-- must-dos-- and I did 0 of them.

I woke up before everyone else and had breakfast. Oatmeal again. Before I knew it my dad, then my mom, then Luke got up. We somehow got to going through old pictures, and I got sucked into a morning of looking at myself and my family grow up all over again. It's always strange to look back, but it's good to remember. 

Nonno got out today. It took me, my mom, my dad, and the Aid (as well as almost 2 hours), but it happened. We went to mass. Today was the feast day of Saint Blaise and after mass we had our throats blessed. I didn't know much about Saint Blaise, but he died for his faith and miraculously cured a boy from choking while imprisoned. Apparently he's a big deal in Croatia.

"Those individuals who do not look upon themselves as a line connecting the past with the future, do not perform their duty to the world." That's a quote in Mr. Sciacca's book.

There's so many ways in which we should serve in this world. So many things we should do, want to do, need to do, are called to do, are pressured to do, we do just because. So many ideas of how best to live, how to be happy, how to be fulfilled, how to be "free". My grandpa has a prayer called "Just For Today" hanging on his windowsill, that outlines all the things we should strive to do... just for today. But if we truly strive to do all of these things, today and every day, it leaves very little time left for ourselves. Not only ourselves in the 'selfish' sense, but in the sense of building a close-knit community with those and that immediately around us. Take for example the humanitarian who is too philanthropic to care for his own family. I suppose it--just like all of life--is a delicate balance. I constantly find it hard to balance the weight and needs of the world with that of my own and the people around me. When do I let go, and when do I give up? I cannot do it all, of course, but how much can I do? 

I tell my grandpa, "I'm a jack of some trades, master of none." He disagrees. "What am I a master at?" I question.

"At being a student of life," he says.

Hmm, to be a Master Student of Life. I think of the passion, stress, pressure, drive, intrigue, curiosity, research, time, perseverance and pushing of myself that it took to be a Bachelor Student of Film. A Master Student of Life? Sounds exhausting. Why couldn't I just have been a natural-born pianist?

My grandpa thanks me tonight for all I do for him. He looks me in the eyes; his eyes are sad and tired, and he says "Thank you." 

I respond by saying I wish I could do more, I'm never sure how best to be with him. "You're being here is the gift," he says. "You help just by being."

Which brings me to the quintessential question of my life, the question that sums up every other question I have so far.

How do I be?

I guess I don't. I just be.

Hmph.

...........

..................

...................... hmph. 

I love you so much Stuart, please know this. 

xoxoxo,

Emily

2/03/2018

Dear Stuart,

I told you about Padre Pio-- the Saint card that my friend and I traded back and forth in middle school because he was the créme de la créme of Saint cards. One of the reasons being that he had the power of bilocation, meaning he could be in two places at once. This is real, by the way. 

I wish I could bilocate. I want to be there with you so much, but I also very much want to be here. Perhaps I'm just tired (and I am), but everything feels hard, my body feels fatigued, and my mind feels foggy. I can't think straight but I'm thinking a lot. It all feels like a dark grey shaggy blur. If only I could be there with you, in the vacuum of your house, where no one can see us or hear us or need us and we can just be there for a little while and everything can be ok and pleasant and cozy and relaxing.

But no, not right now. We will, but not right now.

There's so many things I want to do. And it's late now... but it's not that late. I'm still young... but I'm not that young. There's time, but there's never enough!

I'm going to go to sleep now. Good night my love, my light. I can't wait to be with you, wholly and completely.

Love youuu,

Emily :)