Niagara Falls


Why do I suck so much? I have a ton to catch up on. Baby life, I tell ya. I can't really make the excuse of having a newborn...I feel like we've passed that stage. But still, I feel like maybe sometimes you can use that excuse until the baby is or something.

Anyway, this one time in September we invited ourselves on a trip to Niagara with some of the first year MBA couples. I blame bucket-listing and all that for my rudeness.

Also, haven't you guys seen Niagara, that 1960's thriller with Marilyn Monroe trying to kill her husband and seduce all the other married men (I guess that's basically all Marilyn Monroe movies). I do love that show and I've been aching to go there since I saw it years ago.

So one long weekend, we packed up our little car and little family with all the warm stuff we had and headed up north.

We stayed in a tiny little trash motel near the falls, ate donuts for breakfast, did Maid of the Mist on the American side, jumped over to Canada to see that side and ate some Italian to finish off the day. And then more Canada, because in this one case, it's much better than the U.S.

pictures! onward!

This, my friends, is the view from the American side.  I was actually pretty let down, because all those big, nice looking buildings are on the Canada side, looking all touristy and taken care of while the American side looks rundown and a little (dare I say it?) trashy.

Still though, we were pretty amazed at the beauty and power of what we saw. It's pretty ridiculous, right?

So, we headed out on the Maid of the Mist, which if you don't know, is a little boat that takes you right up to Horseshoe Falls and lets the water beat the crap out of you and leaves you soaking wet (hence the plastic bags over us). We were pretty excited, obviously.


So here's me, thinking i'd just bring my nice camera on the boat to snap some up close and personal shots of the falls......

HA! Nice thinking. As we got closer, all of a sudden it felt like we were in a tropical hurricane storm, water beating down on us so loud we could hardly hear anything or walk anywhere. I definitely couldn't see anything, but as I was trying to keep my poncho covering my baby and my hair and my camera that was wrapped around my arm, I managed to snap this picture of these two before they took cover below deck. It was pretty insane and awesome. And despite my best efforts, Mo and I got totally soaked. This was my favorite thing we did while we were there. It was AMAZING.  Later, some of the workers told us that typically wind is blowing so it blows some of the water around, making mist and dispelling some of the downpour. That day there was a surprising lack of wind so we got the full effect of water beating us onto the deck.  Honestly, I would've been let down if we would have experienced it any other way. It was so cool.

This is our group afterwards, and although we don't look worse for the wear, mostly all of us got pretty wet. 

So, although this is kinda turning into a sort of travelog, which I generally try to avoid at all costs, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to play catch-up with the little spare time you have..... Anyway, bear with me here.

On that first day, Dale and I wanted to see all we could see since we knew we wouldn't be up there again. We had brought our passports and the kids' birth certificates, so our group went their separate ways and we popped over to Canada to kill time before dinner. 

We headed over to the Canada side of the falls, and let me just say, I was awestruck. Between seeing how much nicer everything was over there in terms of landscaping and being welcoming, and how close to the falls you could actually get, nothing else could really compare. As we parked the car and walked towards the railing, I realized that we were actually at the edge of Horseshoe Falls, and it looked like we were at the edge of the world. The closer we got, the more soaked we became. More and more water started falling like rain and the roar of the falls filled our ears so much we had to yell to hear each other. We realized that Mo was getting super wet, and although we were all wearing raincoats, the wind from the falls blew everything everywhere. We had to take turns taking shelter in a building nearby while one of us would check out the precariousness of the falls. I stood on the brick wall and held onto the railing as I looked over the edge into what I can only describe as an abyss of water. I was so close that I could have reached out and touched it as it rushed to wildly barrel off the edge. If it sounds like I'm not describing this well, it's because I'm not. I really am lost for words at how breathtakingly majestic and powerful this experience it was -- truly a magnificent world wonder.

Unfortunately I don't have many pictures because that day was so bright I couldn't adjust my camera settings enough to get good pictures. Also, I could hardly take out my phone because it would instantly get soaked from the water spraying from the falls. 

Needless to say, it was completely amazing. I very highly recommend visiting Niagara Falls and please don't forget your passports because you'll DEFINITELY want to go to the Canada side (it's totally worth it).

We headed home afterwards to meet our group for dinner, and the next day we headed back to Canada to see the butterfly conservatory there and check out the falls one last time.

I thought Viv would love the butterflies fluttering all around us, but turns out she did not. She was super scared of them at first and would let them touch her. 

The butterflies were great - we both loved them, especially when they landed on us. We snagged one with a broken wing so it wouldn't fly away and tried to get Viv to hold it, but she didn't like that one bit. I did, obviously, and so did a sleeping Mo.


So, that was our trip in a nutshell. Sorry for the jumbled and highly unreadable quality of this post....I need to get my mojo back somehow, so this assortment of crap might just have to do for now.

Onward! Catch up! Halloween, Fall Break and Mo, oh my!

A scary story


This piece is a product of a prompt from my "Writer Wednesdays" group I started last year on this blog (should we start that up again? I'm strongly debating it). It remains one of my favorite pieces that I've written, and it's superbly creepy and dark, which is right up my alley. I'm at my best when I write dark and twisty. Enjoy, and try not to think of me as a serial killer in your sleep tonight. Happy Halloween!

Do you have secrets?

I mean the kind that come from the deepest part of you. The darkest. dank. infested. The place in your soul that you turn into on those cold midnights sitting at your kitchen table under a swinging, single light bulb, hanging, alone in yourself. The secrets are so hidden by heavy darkness that even the light bulb falters. Struggles for air. Kicks its legs and fights for life. Dying. Like your heart. Suffocated. Struggling like a candle in a lidded jar. Suffocating like  someone dragged down to the dregs of an ocean by the heavy gravity hooked to his ankles. Frantic. Dying

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has a dark secret that they shield from the world, curled into their gut to hide it from the blinding light.

Mine just happens to be this.

Just this:

I kill people. Those beautiful people walking around above us.

I have to. But I don't relish it. At least I pretend not to.

And maybe you are judging me. But.

Have you lived in a house where the air shatters with silence? Have you hidden between your pride and the couch to keep from being sliced by words? And punched by looks? and kicked mercilessly with indifference? Have you lived in fear of the night because of what it brings?

Have you?

It's no

but there it is. I am what I am. I have been made into what I am, just as you have.

Walk a mile
in someone's shoes, can you?

And while we're on the subject of walking...I do walk. I walk everywhere. I like feeling the air blow through my riddled brain, blowing snatches and bits of the things I have seen and done-- the things I relish-- out into the open air. I see them spiral out of my brain, through my ears, stream out of my mouth in a shivering whisper of insanity and hilarity and need. They leave me. They bleed out into the ink-filled night. Life extinguished, slowly, slowly bleeding, shuddering, and then quiet. Gone. 

And they are not my problem anymore. they leave me, the pictures. They leave me and I can think like what I imagine is normal. I can think about the bright winking of the stars and how long they have been alive; how many people like me they have seen shiver and slink in the shadows beneath them. 

So I walk.
and walk.
and walk.
and I forget while I walk.

But when I'm not walking, I'm doing my secret unmentionable, hidden guilty need in the dark. 
And I watch.

I carry on in my life, watching you from my vantage point. Acting normal. You'd never know it if you passed me in the grocery store. But I see it. 

I see the boy shuffling his feet by the magazine stand, a boy with his eyes down and his sleeves pulled across his ripped wrists, hiding his shame and hurt and lonely heart in the jagged lines and blood beneath his skin. I see me in him.

I see the mom buying a candy bar for the whiney brat glued to her side. She gives him a kiss on the cheek. But I know what she does at night when no one is looking. She thinks her secret is hidden. But I feel it. I feel the darkness seeping from her skin. I see it lying there, waiting under the shiny brightness that encases her smile. And in the darkness, the shiny brightness is stripped away, and nothing is left but the darkness.

I see the husband kissing his wife in the baking aisle as she turns away her purple and black ribs towards the sugar and chocolate chips. I feel the darkness of that husband as he goes home to force the love and feeling from her unwilling body. mean. hateful. The abuse like a bruise, swelling, an angry welting purplish black, like his eyes. Dr. Jekyll in the baking aisle, Hyde at home.

We all have a case of Jekyll and Hyde. Our dark side wants to Hyde. HA! isn't that a funny coincidence? our Hyde wants to Hide. ha ha ha.

I feel the darkness in the beautiful people, rushing around in the brightness, hiding in plain sight in the blinding light. I feel it in you. I see. The darkness is our kinship. My darkness reaches its long fingers, probing for your darkness, sensing and enveloping and relishing in the sameness. the connection is welcome. comforting and real. You and me, we are the same, in the darkness.

So that's it. 
I watch.
I walk.
I do.

And I wait for that reckoning. Because I know it's coming. For you too.

Because of our secrets.

It has to.




a perfect fall day


Sometimes you get lucky enough to have a perfect, quintessential day.

The other day was just that.

Multiple times a week, cooped up kids and harried moms hear the strains of playing outside, and wander out from their respective apartments onto the joint compound at Winston Court, affectionately known as the Toy Graveyard, and gather together to have sane adult conversations while the kids burn up all the energy that was making us crazy 10 minutes earlier. Sometimes we congregate by the swings that are always being fought over. Other times we sit on concrete steps of a building and hand out shovels and snacks and wipe noses and referee squabbles like it's our job (it is).  If it hasn't been raining we'll sit in the grass with backs to a mossy tree, dusting off the occasional mosquito and picking at dead leaves on the ground, talking about inconsequential things like parenting and the arrival times of husbands on the bus, or our lack of dinner plans or how much we like pizza and what antics our kids are up to that day. 

It's relaxing and full of camaraderie. Something as simple as sitting in damp grass chatting about nothing and everything while our kids get filthy dirty playing in rocks and splashing in mud puddles makes me feel closer to my friends then a lot of things do. We usually stay out as long as we can, only darkness or hunger or returning husbands can get us back inside, but sometimes even those don't work. We delay the inevitable boredom that being trapped in a small apartment with prison windows brings. 

On this particular day when the witching hour was hitting its peak and I was wondering how I'd get through the rest of the day, I heard that tell tale sound of laughter outside, looked out my window and saw our good friends playing in the fallen leaves and digging in the gravel on the road. I hurried to get kids dressed and feet shod and we trudged out into the crisp autumn air. 

Viv saw her friends Stu and Graham across the way and called to them like she usually does "Mom! Stu and Daham! Let's do it!", so we crossed the street and joined them in their leaf-piling endeavors. They were slowly filling a small ditch in the ground with dead leaves, and by the time we got there, the pit was pretty full and a prime spot for jumping.  Per usual, my friend and I sat in the grass nearby and let our kids do their thing while we took a break from little mouths talking nonsense 24/7. 

Inevitably, the leaf piling turned into leaf throwing, and a war ensued with much giggling and leaf bombing. I've never seen kids so happy as they were when they ran down the hill, jumped into the big pile, getting tangled up with each other and throwing big armfuls of leaves into each others faces. 


And, like it always does, the sound of fun being had floats through open windows and kids come out in droves, joining and adding to the chaos. Soon we had more friends join us, and Dale got home early. He's never one to leave something alone if he thinks it can be better, so he grabbed a big shovel from a nearby porch and started shoveling all the leaves off of the hill and into the pit, resulting in a humongous pile of with enough insulation to keep them from ever hitting the bottom. 

Dale used the shovel to throw huge amounts of leaves in the air, and they scattered around the dancing kids, getting stuck on clothes and faces and entwined in wild hair while they giggled in hilarity as leaves chased them.

There were so many smiles and so much laughter that day. No fighting, no problems, only fun for the entire evening. The leaf pile (or leaf PIT as they so adamantly wanted to call it) provided endless entertainment, so much so that I had time to sit and enjoy it, and then get my camera for candid shots of so much joy.


We stayed on that hill for a long time, wasting away the day in perfect autumn weather, enjoying the company and happiness of the moment, simple dead leaves keeping our kids entertained the entire time. 

If there is anything I will remember about our time here in Ithaca, it will be these lazy days with good friends, sitting outside talking and sitting in shared silence that only good friendship can bring without things getting awkward. 

These are my favorite times. And this day? Well, it was perfect. 

Quintessential, even.



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