The one where I try to sum up my 2013

This was the year I regained my senses (at least sight and hearing), became a Catholic, and reconnected with high school classmates that I have not seen in 39 years.

That about sums it up.

The forbidden Wild Cheetos tree, the fruit of which, inspires Steelcase designers

The forbidden Wild Cheetos tree, the fruit of which, inspires Steelcase designers

Ok, if you insist, here are some details. First, the senses thing. The world had very quickly become dark and blurry in 2012. I went to see my new eye doctor (a BCHS grad) and had cataract surgery on both eyes before February. What an amazing procedure – but, I hate to think about the first person who had it, “You’re doing WHAT to my eyeball?”  I also developed some hearing problems that I didn’t take care of right away because I kinda liked having the world be not so loud. But, fixed that in the last couple weeks. I realized that I am more distracted by sounds than sights – hence, the beagle running through the house is OK, but his barking/howling bothers me.

 

Beagles, as a species, would be extinct if they weren't so cute.

Beagles, as a species, would be extinct if they weren’t so cute.

Second, it took a year for me to become an official Catholic, and I have so much more to learn. I love the Mass and have found comfort and power in the Rosary. I have met amazing people on my journey – Father Mel, Rhonda, Dan and Betty, Gene, and my sponsor, Linda (a BCHS classmate). I find that I love Ordinary Time. Perhaps I’m getting old, but I also appreciate vanilla ice cream, plain bagels with plain cream cheese, black coffee, plain chicken and rice, unflavored potato chips, simple dark chocolate. Ordinary – no frills.

And……I'm in!

And……I’m in!

Now, when I’m asked about my time on staff at an Evangelical megachurch, I can respond, “Well, I’m Catholic now,” and leave it at that. (It was the staff retreats at St. Mary’s Seminary that got me started if you want to know, not the shaming or the pressure to reinvent Christianity every week.)

Third, in a project that went way beyond what I had imagined, I started hunting down and meeting with members of my high school graduating class. I thought, with our 40th reunion looming, and with my returning from Chicago after several decades, what a great excuse to reconnect. Not everyone is on Facebook and not everyone has email.

It's good to have friends/classmates in high places.

It’s good to have friends/classmates in high places.

I found and talked to about 35 so far, out of a class of 109 graduates. We’ve had two small get-togethers and I started a newsletter. I’ve also been so impressed with the changes in my little hometown that I’ve been researching and writing about it (see my blog at www.cynthiahoppe.com).

The summer went by way too fast and I got too few walks on my beach.

Not my beach. Saugatuck, where we go when being around people is OK.

Not my beach. Saugatuck, where we go when being around people is OK.

I am discovering other county parks in the area (thanks to Bob, a BCHS classmate). And stay tuned (for those of you who know me at all, you better sit down) – as I start as a substitute teacher (there is, of course, a story). Yeah, just gonna drop that one there and wish you all a great 2014.

 

Tractor Envy at the Fair

For many years growing up, my year was driven by the 4H Fair. I didn’t have any cool animals like horses or cows. My area was sewing. I have been this tall almost since birth so making my own clothes was necessary, and I enjoyed it (both being tall and sewing). In fall I would get to pick out a pattern and the fabric for the outfit I would work on all winter. My mother insisted on plaids as she said they were harder to work with and would impress the judges more.

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Getting together with the other girls in my 4H group every week, the goal was to work on our project and help each other. More talking than work was done – and we were giving up watching The Monkees on TV that night. So as spring arrived, we had a fashion show to prepare for. It was the week before that all the work got done. There were tears and ripping out of seams and redoing to make the stitches neater. But, then the Saturday would come when all the 4H groups from the county would get together and we would model our fashion projects.

I could make a mean plaid outfit!

I could make a mean plaid outfit!

We would be judged and blue (1st place), red (2nd), and white (3rd) ribbons would be awarded. Then couldn’t wear our clothing until the summer 4H fair judging and display. I can still describe all of my projects.

I was curious how the Hudsonville Fair, which included 4H exhibits, would compare. I did not go until the last day of it. The animals and the care needed for them was the same. Camping out at the Fair and sleeping on straw with the animals still goes on.

 Prize Beet

Prize Beet

The sewing projects were all very simple (no plaids) and were either in glass cases or out of reach. The food items had been on display all week under plastic in open-air buildings and most had developed coverings of mold. The vegetables and flowers were droopy and withered. There was a whole building for businesses to have booths – like a local convention area.

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There were the usual Fair Treats – various items involving frying and sugar – the stuff that will not only kill you but make you suffer as soon as you eat it. Several churches had areas where they served food and had tables to eat at. I went up to one order area that listed pie. I asked if it was homemade as kinda the whole point of this fair was to highlight local and homemade. “No, we used to have homemade, but we can’t anymore because of government rules,” the woman at the order window informed me. Sigh.

I did enjoy the heavy equipment display.

This I could use for clearing snow off the driveway.

This I could use for clearing snow off the driveway.

There were no window stickers like on cars, so can’t even imagine how much they cost.

Could use this in pothole season.

Could use this in pothole season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way out, stopped by the rabbit barn. I had rabbits growing up, just as pets, not as fair exhibits. I had a white rabbit, Petunia, as a pet and we “loaned” it to Mary Post so “it would have babies”. Mary brought me a baby rabbit, it was so cute. I asked her when Petunia was coming back.

Not Petunia

Not Petunia

She looked a little puzzled, “We ate it.”

 

A Personal Visit to the Medical Corridor

I spent yesterday in the Grand Rapids Medical Corridor. I hadn’t planned to. I was scheduled for a simple diagnostic test at the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavillion and ended up staying for a biopsy.

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Let me just say that I am so glad to be living right now in this place and there is a special day spa in Heaven for anyone involved in the discovery/creation of any pain killers, numbing agents, and anesthesia. I can’t even hear about, say, the amputations done during the Civil War without almost fainting.
This Medical Corridor concept took place while I was away. When I left 30+ years ago, everyone looked to Steelcase and GM for jobs. Now everyone is training for something in the health field. That’s fine – I seem to need more health things than I did before and I might as well take advantage of them while they are still available to me.

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There are beautiful new healthcare buildings – all named after a few people who have really poured their money into Grand Rapids -DeVos, Meijer, Van Andel. Amway may be a punchline, but they have made some people some money and these people have been generous at giving back to the community. All the things they have built have been functional and beautiful and really served to encourage the other blossoming group here: artists.

P.S. I’m OK.

Regrets? Yes, no, maybe?

I’ve got Frank Sinatra in my head right now and he’s singing, “Regrets, I have a few, but then again, too few to mention.” When he takes a break to have a cigarette, Phil Cooper from the movie The Big Kahuna steps in. “I’m saying you’ve already done plenty of things to regret, you just don’t know what they are. It’s when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you’ve done, and you wish that you had it to do over, but you know you can’t, because it’s too late.”

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First, let me say that the voices in my head do have names and they pop in and out giving their opinions whether I want them or not. Second, I’d like some new voices with some positive, actionable directions.
I went to Brainy Quotes to see what they had on “regret”. Mostly celebrities, many under 30 saying they have no regrets. Here are some others I liked:

  • “We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.” – Jim Rohn
  • “I regret not doing a film I was offered with Clark Gable because the script was not good enough.” – Leslie Caron
  • “I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.” -Drew Barrymore
  • “Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” – Sydney J. Harris
  • “I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret…if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” -Katherine Hepburn
  • “But we have been to the Pole and we shall die like gentleman. I regret only for the women we leave behind.” -Robert Falcon Scott
  • “I have tons of regrets, but I think that’s one of the reasons that push people to create things. Out of their angst, their regret, comes the best from artists, painters, and writers.” – Sylvester Stallone

What do your head voices say to you about regret?

2012 Christmas Letter

 

As I sat down to write this Christmas letter and looked at my notes for each month, the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, as he’s trying to update Westley, who’s been “mostly dead”, come to mind. “Let me explain,” he says, ”No there is too much – let me sum up.”

To sum up:  I moved back to MI, married my high school sweetheart.  There are challenges.  I am very happy.

I have so much to be thankful for.  So here, in no particular order, are some of the things I’m thankful for from this past year:

My beach, and how close it is now.

The Second City Sketch writing class for letting me play with them.

Chris & Dave and Don & Dee for giving me my very own place my first month here.

Sharon for getting me caught up on old friends.

The “girls” at Mariano’s for showing their strength and resilience when faced with very difficult life transitions.

Pat (and Larry), for well, a long list of looking after me from everything at my wedding (“the shoes were mine”) to helping paint my office to showing me all the great resale shops. For introducing me to Asti Tosti and reminding me of the power of bleach.

Kevin for loving me and bringing me back home.

Kevin’s family – now MY family – for accepting me and being with me in some dark times.

Nancy for the hours she spent with me, feeding me and just letting me take a nap when I really needed one.

Tedd for believing in me and being my first client.

My new MacBook Air – I can now work with my laptops side-by-side.  An A.D.D. delight.

Good health.

The fun of reconnecting with friends from high school.

The fun of reconnecting with friends from high school from a writer’s perspective.

Amy at JCP Salon for keeping my hair red and giving me a new look.

Holy Redeemer Parish where I’m doing my RCIA and I can ask all kinds of questions.

Steve and his family for the happy times and the love they gave me.

Angella, Diane, Ginny, Rachael, Jerry, Mary for talking me out of things, off of ledges, and being voices of reason.  It’s not your fault I ignore the voices of reason part.

I’m looking forward to a year of building on the foundation laid this year.

So, 2013 – Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Where am I now?

Because of my instant “change everything in my life” this summer, I find myself having to remember where I am – several times a day. And just remembering. Remembering what I was doing at this time last year in Chicago. It all seems like so long ago, yet I can remember the taste of particular meals and what work I was doing and who I was with.  This remembering often comes with a pang of sweetness; and then the pain of loss. I chose to leave it all behind. Some days I think of it as a failed thirty year experiment and on better days I marvel at the adventures and love I had the privilege to enjoy.

Times of my Life

7:10 AM to get the school bus

7 PM to get to play practice

9 AM to get to church

7 PM Monday nights to watch Laugh-In

10:20 AM for an ideal college class

11:11 PM for ceasing studying and breaking out the Chips Ahoy

8 AM to wait for the 151 Sheridan or the 156 LaSalle bus

8 PM for the last flight out of O’Hare on Sundays

4:30 AM wake-up to get on the first flight out of O’Hare on Mondays

3 PM to head for the vending machine for M&Ms

4 PM on Tuesdays for organ lessons

6 PM church on Sunday nights and friends afterwards

7:30 AM Mondays for the Laundromat

5 PM Fridays for Portillo’s

12 minutes for a batch of ribbon cookies

1 hour and 15 minutes for a crab and mushroom cheesecake

1.5 minutes in the microwave to heat water for tea

3 minutes in the microwave for bacon

4 hours to drive from Palatine, IL to Holland, MI

5 years at MSU

15 years in marriages

12 years with dogs named Pansy

30 years of writing (some years more than others)

37 years of lovers (real and imagined)

I ask for more minutes, hours and years.  And for more life for my times.