Chris and Martin=Too Cute
Ok, I admit it. I have a crush on Chris and Martin Kratt
, the stars of the PBS show for kids call Zaboomafoo.
It's usually on TV every morning when Molly watches the show as I am finishing up getting ready to leave the house in the morning (if I didn't keep her occupied by the TV for 20 minutes, leaving the house on time very difficult--thank god for PBS). Ed takes off for his commute just as the show is coming on.
Can you blame me for loving Chris and Martin? They are too cute and have that whole rugged, outdoorsy thing going on, smart and even a little goofy, AND they like kids.
Plus, I learn a lot about animals when I'm half-listening and half-watching along with Molly.
Last year, before I even had heard of this show, I heard one of the brothers interviewed by Terry Gross on
, and I have to say I noticed that he (can't remember which one) had that whole "golly gee" kiddie attitude and tone in his voice for the almost the whole interview. Kinda weird.
I'm sure they've got a darker, adult side to their personalities. At least I hope so.
Memories of Michael
On my way to work today I was thinking of Michael Tafel.
He died 3 years ago today in an auto accident while on vacation in Africa.
It's funny, because if it had been anyone else, I might have heard the news and thought: "Africa? vacation? When did they start doing adventurous things like that?"
But not with Michael.
Of course he was on vacation in Africa!
As he got older, Michael seemed to embrace life and its many possibilities in a way that he had been working toward all his life.
He had a difficult childhood and spent much of his 20's and 30's working on "finding himself" in a very active, deliberate way. In a way that was admirable but sometimes drove me--and his other friends--crazy. But Michael was determined to march to the beat of his own drum. In that way, Michael was a role model.
I met Michael in 1993 when we were both single and living in L-ville. We met through mutual friends and quickly started dating. I loved his genuineness and his playfulness and, as my aunt once said, he was a "hunk."
I think he really liked my honesty and my ability to be cheeky and fun in any situation. On his 31st birthday, shortly after we started dating, I covered a piece of paper with stickers and wrote "Thirty-wonderful" on it and hung it on the door to his apartment. He loved stuff like that and so did I. I still do.
He painted his apartment in red and blue, to represent different sides of his emotional life. He didn't own a car and was proud of the environmentally-friendly way he got around town. He had the local dry cleaners deliver his crisp white shirts he wore to his job as a waiter at an upscale Spanish restaurant.
One time, we went to the movies and he brought a large,stuffed raccoon. I got a kick out of seeing other people react to this 6ft 2in guy carrying a stuffed animal around with him. Michael was really into people--talking to people he didn't know, really listening, making a connection.
In fact, "making a connection" was one of Michael's goals in life, it seemed. To make a connection to his authentic needs, his goals, the people around him he cared about, to connect to life in really meaningful way. Again, this was very admirable but sometimes it made me a little crazy. Sometimes he would practically insist that everyone in a room get up and play a game of charades. Sometimes he would give away quirky gifts to store clerks or friends in a way that would embarrass me.
Michael moved out of town just as we were starting to get serious as a couple.
He moved to Atlanta because he thought it was a cool city and he wanted some distance from Lville and his family.
I was crushed, of course, but I wanted him to do what would make him happy.
He said something about wanting to "play the field" in "Hotlanta" in terms of dating, but he also broached the subject of a long-distance relationship. I had been badly burned by a long-distance relationship a few years earlier, and I couldn't stomach it. He moved away and we stayed in touch. I went to visit him and we had a fantastic visit.
After that, though, we decided to just stay close friends.
The amazing this is this plan worked. He would come to Lville for holidays or other visits and we would hang out and talk, but as really close friends. Sometimes, however, we would fall back into a dating-type relationship and it was hard to resist Michael's adoration for me.
With Michael, I really knew what it was like to be adored and loved. He saw qualities in me--and named them and appreciated them--in a way that no other man had done before. Who wouldn't love that? But, at the same time, Michael was very intense and sometimes I found it difficult to emotionally "keep up" with him.
When I left town for graduate school in 1995, we were still just long-distance close friends. In 1996, however, we had some meetings that tugged at my heart. I wondered if we should get back together. He took me to the airport once, when I was flying back to grad school after a visit at home, and he was wearing a suit and wingtips (he liked to dress up), and I remember wanting so badly to start dating him again. To just be with him. He had some similar feelings.
In the summer, we decided to go on vacation together to explore the idea of getting back together. Unfortunately, any romantic feelings felt out of sync for me. I still loved and respected Michael, but a lot of stuff annoyed me. Little stuff like you would experience with any friend who you traveled with, but I wasn't sure I could see us a couple again.
It just felt like we were slightly 2 different people than before when we were in love.
The next month Michael came to stay at my apt. for 4 or 5 days. He had become a massage therapist and had a job interview in my city. He didn't get the job, but it was a relief, because I finally told him the night before he left that things weren't going to work out about us getting back together. I just didn't feel "it" anymore, but I loved his friendship and our closeness. Michael was pretty upset, mostly because I had been feeling that way for a month and had not said anything. He was right--I should have told him earlier. That was disrespectful. I do regret that a lot.
Michael was really, really upset--I think it was not just the fact that we wouldn't be getting back together, but he felt very hurt that I hadn't told him earlier about my feelings. He stayed up all night, wrote a poem, and then left it for me at crack of dawn before he left for the airport.
My memory of the next 3 months is that I wrote him a letter of apology and Michael accepted it, but there was some distance. At Christmas that year, we met up and went for coffee and Michael seemed to be making overtures about "Maybe I was pushing too much..." and "Maybe I should have asked you to marry me long ago..."
This was really hard to hear. I had just put our romantic future to bed, and now he was bringing it up and I felt confused again.
I was trying to break free of a difficult dating relationship with someone else that month, as well. It was hard. I had to cry and turn him down (again), but we managed to leave things on a honest, healthy note. That was the very best thing about our relationship. I treasure that we could always do that.
The next month I met and starting dating Ed, who I married 2.5 years later. During that time of dating Ed and getting serious, Michael was very supportive and happy for me. He had moved on and was dating other women and I was happy for him. We stayed in touch, even though he was still living in Georgia.
Michael moved to Spain to teach English and French shortly before Ed and I got married. Michael and I exchanged letters and emails, but we kept a healthy distance and I told him that I needed that distance a little bit, esp. since I was getting married.
In early 1999 he mailed me a photo of himself in Spain, hiking in the countryside. There were two photos--one of a random cow he came across on his hike (a typical gift from Michael) and one picture of himself on the trail. I kept the one of him on the trail in a cubby on my desk. Later, I was so thankful I had kept that photo.
In August of that year, I was spending the weekend with my parents in Lville. That was when Michael was in Africa with his new girlfriend in a rented car, hurrying to the airport to catch their flight home, when she lost control of the car and Michael was killed in the accident.
I heard the news at home, from my parents, for which I am grateful. I was devastated. I was able to meet up with Jane, a mutual friend I met through Michael, and then go and visit Michael's sister with Jane. It was so important to have that time to talk about and process the loss, which I have come to found out, is an ongoing process.
When I got home, I immediately went and found that photo of him he had sent to me. I put it into a frame with a quote that was on my "quote a day" calendar from Aug. 21 of that year. I am paraphrasing it when I say it says, "You are special because you are here to be special." It was incredibly appropriate for Michael. He "lived up" his specialness, he shared it, he celebrated it and sought out specialness in others. I have that frame always where i can see it and remember him.
I'll never forget when Michael met my Michigan friend Joy and simply said to her, "I love your name." At the time, it kind of embarrassed me, but Michael wasn't afraid to seek out joy--his own brand of joy--wherever and whenever he could. I miss that.
I miss him and everything that he brought to my life. The best I can do --as cliche as this sounds--is to remember the lessons Michael taught me by example: be honest, be loving, strive to be real, and embrace life.
Too Much Stuff
Friday I spent part of the day organizing stuff--lots of it--for our yard sale. I also made some signs and had them printed at Kinko's. Went to bed Friday night exhausted from trying to get all of that stuff in our garage ready for the sale. More than half of it came from my aunt's house--all kinds of stuff.
Saturday morning people started arriving early and groups of garage sale folks arrived on and off throughout the day. I made my goal of selling at least $100 worth of items, but a ton of stuff did not sell. Mostly little items.
So, we're going to donate the useful items to charity and send the rest to the recycle center.
The nice thing about the recycle center is that you're not dumping your used TVs, old garden hoses, etc. into a landfill. It all gets recycled in some master plan, and we just pay a minimal fee to leave it with them. And it's near our house, which is good. Otherwise, I'd feel overwhelmed with all the stuff that is stuffing my garage.
The best part of the yard sale is that it was also organized by my neighbor Linda and a friend from work.
It was a lot of fun to chat and just hang out throughout the day as we waited for people to buy our stuff.
We also scored some nice items from our neighbor, who was selling a bunch of toys their kids don't use.We got a really nice Fisher Price workbench for Molly, complete with plastic drill, hammer, tool belt, etc. She loves it. It was $5.
We also "traded" our computer desk and hutch for my neighbor's sofa bed. They threw a toddler bed frame into the deal, as well. We'll need that next year.
So, then we spent Sunday cleaning up and reorganizing some areas of the house--moving around couches, getting rid of a full-size bed that was taking up way too much room in the guest room, moving bookshelves.
The house is finally getting into shape in terms of making the most of the small space we have and the nice furniture we've been given from family members, rather than just using the sometimes crappy furniture we made do with as graduate students. Getting the house together is going to be a long-term project, but it is underway and I'm happy about that.
I was way too exhausted on Sunday to go to our family reunion nearby, and I was bummed out about that. The garage sale just took up all of my energy this weekend.
Sunday afternoon Ed took Molly to the pool and I vacuumed and did laundry and read the paper and got some quiet time. I really needed it.
Meanwhile, if you're in need of a hot tub heater, a filing cabinet, a bunch of old paperbacks, etc., just email me. They are in my garage...