Memorial for my father

Yesterday would have been my father’s 55th birthday. It was his favorite time of year, his natal week as he called it, and he’d call me at the beginning of the week, every year, to remind me, though I never needed reminding.

Heather, it’s your father.” He started every conversation like this, as though I wouldn’t be able to recognize his booming and cheerful voice.

Hi Dad. I know who you are. I can’t imagine why you’d be calling today…” I’d bait him, because I could just hear the excitement in his voice and I’d make him tell me why he was calling.

It’s my NATAL WEEK! It’s BIRTHDAY MONTH! Tell your father how much you love him.” He was singing. And shouting.

I’d laugh every time because it never got old with the new year.

Happy Natal Week, Dad. You know I love you. How are you going to spend your big day?

He ignored my question and moved on to what I knew he loved most. “Where are your gifts? They must be in the mail.” He’d ask and I knew he really wanted gifts. He loved presents and blowing out candles and people singing to him while admiring him.

I would have paid any amount of money yesterday to be in a room with him, admiring him and laughing with him, giving him trick candles or a tiarra or a fancy wrapped box of smoked, dried meat I’d bring back from Germany for him.

But I wasn’t with him for the fifth birthday since he died and the emptiness without him this year was as awful as the years past, but this year I was lucky enough to spend the day with my sister and my stepmother.

This year, we decided to celebrate his life and to give him the memorial we had been putting off for 5 years.

Katie and I decided to buy him a bench to be put at Fort Foster, facing the ocean, in a quiet spot that we could visit every year. We don’t really need a spot, but we thought it would be nice to have something to touch, to look at, to remember him with and so the bench was perfect. We could sit together in our most favorite spot in the world and talk about missing him and the fun times we used to have and what he’d think about our lives today. And so for us, it was perfect. Even more perfect is that we were able to keep a secret for months and surprise Judy with it on his birthday.

And the three of us together

And the view from the bench…

And me on the bench

And the view from the sea

The day was dreary and muggy and filled with fog, laughter and great memories. We all laughed hard together, especially when Katie, as soon as we had set up our picnic lunch, reached in her bag and pulled out something and set it on the table in the middle of us. Before we could even look up she announced,

So I brought Dad to his birthday party.” I looked over and sure enough, there was my father’s urn on the picnic table. We laughed hard, wished him a happy birthday and went back to sharing memories.

Because bringing your dead father’s remains to the beach to eat lunch with you is totally normal.

Maine, Maine, Maine

Until the first week of June, I’ll be here:

Hope to update with stories soon, but it’ll all have to wait until I’m done eating my way through the state, snuggling with that cute baby and catching up with my family.

Enjoy the week! I know I will. 🙂

Heading back to Maine

I’m flying out (again) tomorrow morning to head home to Maine to see my family. I haven’t been back in 11 months and I am SO EXCITED. I have been missing home lately and am looking forward to some much-needed relaxation on the coast with my family and friends.

So today we’re going to do a picture and video blog about all the reasons I’m excited to go home. I’m too tired to be anything but visual today. Here we go.

First, I get to meet this little man, the reason I’m actually coming home:

Awww, what a face.

Then we’re going to do this:

Going to eat my face off.

And I’m going to the outlets to do this in preparation for all of my summer adventures:

Except I hate shoes.

And then obviously, Katie and I will make more dance videos while driving around on errands and Maine adventures. Expect a lot more of this:
When sisters make music videos

And hey, you’re welcome for the sweet dance moves.

Monkey Mountain in Affenberg

So today I declared loudly, OHMYGOD I think my life is almost complete, after feeding and holding hands with my first monkey ever.

Yeah, a monkey held my hand today, which totally made up for the fact that another one attacked one of the Craven girls by leaping at her, latching onto her hair with both hands, making her scream and cry and then another monkey open hand slapped the other Craven because she dropped the popcorn he wanted.

What was I doing during the primal assaults? Laughing and clapping my hands and squealing with delight, mostly because I have no maternal instinct and monkeys behaving badly is kind of funny.

In case you have never heard about me talk about monkeys, you may not know how excited they get me.

I’m borderline cross-eyed and drooling, I’m so excited to be near monkeys.

If that mental picture doesn’t give you an idea about how pumped I was today, then nothing will.

Well, or you could read about a serious monkey analysis I did last year around this time…
Last year’s thoughts on monkeys

Either way, if you haven’t been to Affenberg, you are missing out.

Man’s Day in Germany

So I wrote yesterday that Man’s Day is something about men being dragged around in a cart, drinking beer from sun up to sun down, right?

And we all thought, yeah right, not in Germany. Man’s Day isn’t that simple, is it?? It cannot just be a celebration of being a man, doing men things, can it??

And then the world couldn’t make it any fucking easier on me. I get back from driving from Hohenzollern castle today and me and the Craven ladies are getting out of the car, standing in my street when we hear lots of loud music of a festive nature and I’m all, No, it’s a holiday, the Germans are not blasting music anywhere.

Just then, one of the kids says, “WHAT IS THAT?” The tone of her voice seemed scared/excited.

And then I see it.

A cart, with flags waving, music blaring and men drinking. Happy Day Being a Man, having kids and sending Jesus to Heaven. It really is a joyous day, apparently.

Germans on Man's Day. Win.

Man’s Day. No kidding.

The neverending Jesus holidays

So I’m getting ready to host the Irish clan and of course the day I am going to take off is a German bank holiday, surprise, surprise, because EVERY day here has the potential of being a day off.

Then I was told it was Father’s Day, which is fine but actually makes no sense because Father’s Day should be celebrated on a Sunday when everyone can relax and BBQ and truly appreciate the giver of half your genes and Thursday is no good for real celebrations.

I also don’t support it because it is too close to Mother’s Day (last Sunday) and kids can and should only be responsible for one parent at a time and one gift at a time so UM GERMANY, can you please move Father’s Day to June? Thanks.

So then I’m in work telling someone that I have no idea if monkey island or Hohenzollern Castle are even open on Father’s Day, which is going to be a nightmare and then two friends chime in and tell me the following:

It’s actually Man’s Day in Germany tomorrow. I think that means everyone is actually celebrating cock tomorrow, then, and in that case, I’m going to wear a party hat and eat cake because I’ll never turn down a penis celebration.

Just another Man’s Day in Germany.


Actually, if you’re interested in what Man’s Day is supposed to be about, the internet tells me this:

Groups of male friends or male relatives spend a day together. They often take part in an outdoor activity, such as a walk in the country or a horse-and-cart ride. Afterwards, they have a communal meal.

So basically it’s a full guy’s day out without all the angry Frauen, which is reason enough to celebrate, I guess, because Frauen are really just SO AWFUL. German FRAUEN, ekkkk.

But no, we can’t just stop at a bunch of German men wanting to spend the day together….Then I found out that everyone was also celebrating JESUS GOES TO HEAVEN DAY.

Well, what the HELL, Jesus? Another holiday? REALLY?

Jesus, stop being a selfish prick. First we are all expected to shut down on your birth, which is still suspect because if we were to celebrate the births of every fatherless child in the world, fucking christ, none of us would ever get anything done.

Then we have to celebrate your life by mourning your death. That seems to last forever.

Then I have to deal with Your Rising and that’s another damned party and shopless day.

Now I have to celebrate, Jesus goes on permanent vacation to heaven day? What the hell.

Not only that, but I thought to google, “How many Jesus celebration days in life are there?” and Google wrote back:

Stop being an asshole, Heather, but if you’re interested, here’s a link.

ALL DAYS PEOPLE USE JESUS AS AN EXCUSE NOT TO WORK, NOT TO PROVIDE ME WITH OPEN STORES AND ALSO FOR EATING AND DRINKING (which I’m fine with)

What I’m NOT fine with?

Feel free to google, “Jesus’ circumcision” for this awkward photo


Ummm. Feast of the Circumcision of Christ Day. I’m not fucking lying. Not only am I not lying, I’m also gagging because I do NOT like the word FEAST in the same sentence as CIRCUMCISION, forget a feast FOR a cutting. Ohmygod.

And since when am I required to celebrate the circumcision of Jesus? Why would we do this again? What type of festival are we hosting there? Does it center around calamari? Are their penis shaped parting gifts? Are we all drinking and talking about how great it was the day Jesus was cut?

Jesus, you are really pushing it.

Entertaining the Irish

Yes, friends, I have been a horrible, terrible blogger lately. In twelve days, I have posted once and it was this dreamy picture and dreamy quote and before that you got a story about me being (almost) diddled by someone I don’t know so I kind of figured that’d last you for a while. Sorry for being distracted. Lots of work going on and my May is crazy. I am home a total of 9 days all month, 5 only at work. Last week I was touring 5 villages worth of castles for work, this week I’m entertaining friends (the Irish are coming!) and then next week I go to school in Brussels, then I’m home for two weeks in Maine. Wooo. Can’t wait.

But see? I really am busy….but feeling awful about neglecting my official story telling duties…

So. Back to the Irish. They’re coming, and normally the Irish would be an easy group to entertain. Just get them some beer, put on a game and we’re set, right?

Well, maybe if they weren’t eight and ten year old girls. Well, in fairness, their mother is coming as well, one of my best friends here, but when it comes to children visiting, I realized the other day when I was in the store looking for welcome gifts for them two things:

1. I don’t know what to buy for kids that age and I don’t know what to choose for events. When I was that age I had head-gear and I read books in a closet and I wrote to the President, all very normal behavior. So. For now, I’ve put visiting monkeys on a mountain on the agenda, a chocolate factory, shopping and ice cream eating. I figure if these kids don’t like monkeys and ice cream, they can go back to the land of rain and green and we’ll part ways noting our differences.

2. Drinking our way through Germany one stein at a time is not an option. Neither is showing them golden gnomes doing the nasty hand waving motion or making them walk through town picking out all the marooners. So what else am I supposed to do with them? Hmmm. Monkeys, show them German monkeys. Hopefully that works.

And also, the kids were supposed to come by themselves this summer for German/American summer camp at Aunt Heather’s house but my friend clearly doesn’t trust my nonexistent maternal skills and so she is coming probably so I don’t leave her kids in a cross walk somewhere, cut their hair or give them spiked shirley temples, all things even I wouldn’t put past myself.

Hey, kids should have fun, too. They are just mini adults, right?

So these kids. I love them. They are amazing.

The older one looks just like her mom and oh, would I love to tell her that one day I’ll tell her great tales of wine drinking in foreign lands, but I think that might get me and her mom unfriended for now. In the meantime, here is a conversation she had with me in October when I first met her at her house. Keep in mind, she has bitter and indifferent down like you wouldn’t believe and if I had a euro for every time she rolled her eyes, I’d be a rich woman.

Bitter child: “So. Why don’t you have kids? Don’t like kids, huh?” This was in front of her mother, who looked away and tried not to make eye contact or laugh and my husband, who I’m sure loved this chat already.

Me: “Because I don’t. Are YOU going to have kids, nosey pants?” Calling kids anything with pants on the end makes it less insulting, I figure, but dammit she was nosey.

Bitter child: “Kids? No. Never. I am going to move to New York and get out of here,” she said here like Ireland was filled with snakes and gypsies (which I think it might be) “and I’m going to marry myself a doctor and we’re going to have two dogs and be rich.”

Me: (loving this girl) “A rich New York doctor, eh? With dogs, you say? What’s wrong with kids, judgy pants?” I love challenging kids, because sometimes we’re on the same mind game level.

Bitter child: “Have you SEEN THESE KIDS?” She motioned around the room at her three younger sisters, looking bewildered. “I am not having kids.”

Me: “You are one of them.” I taunted and she made a sour face at me.

Bitter child. “You have kids.” And with that, I think she won and then she smirked at me and I wondered how she had outsmarted me.

So that’s the ten year old. She’s a feisty one that constantly must remind the world she is too good for it, even though I know she really just wants to come to my house because I told her we could watch all the Twilight movies and maybe get her a Rob Pattinson poster but I’ll do us all a favor and not talk to her about my sexy thoughts about doing RP in the moonlight while other vampires watch.

Well, what? I do have limits.

And the eight year old?

This one is even more amazing. She is a nut. She is off the wall funny, full of middle child syndrome, needing attention and provoking the world with her sarcasm and wit. And also, she told her mother she wants to be just like me, to which her mother said, No, you do not, which I take great pride in. I’m a goddamned rock star in her eyes and she texts me from her phone when I send her money to top off her minutes.

I taught this one how to do yoga last time I saw her and I gave her silly putty and free rein to brush my tangled hair. When I left, I gave her a Beatles tee shirt to wear as a nightgown and she told her mother this week, “You MUST iron my shirt so I can bring it to wear at night at Heather’s.” When she texted me the other night, she wrote, “Yeah, hi. What are you doing and I hope you’re stretching.”

Normally I’d wonder what pervert was on the end of that text but then I realized it was her and so I tried to pull my leg over my head.

I will not be outdone by an eight year old. Not in leg stretching, anyway.

And so tonight I made up their beds and layed out their gifts—a pile of chapstick and sunglasses, bendy straws and playing cards, sidewalk chalk and jump ropes. I’m going to set up the sprinkler and get out the cupcake mix and practice my shirley temple making skills.

I’m going to be the best goddamned American friend they have.

And when they’re worn out from Heather’s summer camp, I’m going to get their Mom so liquored up that she falls off a chair.

Welcome to German/American summer camp at my house. It’s going to be awesome.

Dreaming…

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before–Edgar Allan Poe

The day my masseuse gave me a (surprise) happy ending.

I can’t decide what to write about today. I’ve started and stopped three stories now and then thought maybe I’d just give you a quote or a picture but no, story telling it is.

I was going to write a “How to Buy a Mother’s Day Gift” tutorial because I spent ten minutes teaching the men in my office which flowers to order and which flowers NOT to order from some gross catelog for their mothers but then as I was typing the post, I started hating myself because I really don’t care to write about that. If you can’t figure out what to buy yourself, you are probably an awful and ungrateful child with no personality or brain cells. Good luck.

Then I wanted to tell you about the time I think I was being offered a happy ending without realizing it until it was too late and then I played dead.

Well, that’s the summary anyway. I’m actually not going to tell the full story here because I am going to write it and put it in my proposal that will one day turn into a book that one day you will have to all buy.

In the meantime, I have told said molesting story to a few people and they all had a similar reaction: What do you mean you THINK you were being offered a happy ending?

Well, I mean, really. How can I be sure? Since I didn’t show up asking for anything, and I can’t imagine I looked like I wanted it, and I don’t think the kid massaging me was just trying to get some in his WORKPLACE, what do you mean WHY AM I CONFUSED?? Further, I am well aware that this shit does not happen to everyone and I want to know why it keeps happening to me.

I feel like God is always pranking me just for a good laugh.

Also, NEWSFLASH: I’m kind of oblivious about most things in life and BIGGER NEWSFLASH: I’m not a guy. I don’t know where you all go to get serviced and I don’t know if the word “happy ending” is featured in an actual ad or if there’s a super secret symbol maybe on the door, say by the “We accept credit cards and hard-ons” section of the window or is it a look you are given if it’s your lucky day sometime in the middle of a regular massage or is there a secret code like if you are grazed mid-massage, you are supposed to make a certain nose which either means, yes, I’m in for the molesting or no thanks, my goods are fine.

Where do you learn these life lessons? And why don’t I know any girls that know the answer to this question?

Oh right. Because we don’t need to go into a grubby sex massage parlor for a random grabbing. We’re not animals.

So how does it work? I’ll need to know for future potential molestings. I need to be prepared, unlike last time. Last time I did the following:

1. Jumped a mile but kept my eyes closed and hoped the masseuse didn’t notice.
2. Played dead. I acted completely corpse-y and just layed there completely frozen, thinking if he thinks I’m dead, it’ll be no fun to try to molest me.
3. Held my breathe. Because that seemed to be a normal reaction.

So I’m not sure what you’re all up to today, but I’m going to get back to doing my research for the full story. Googling “does shiatsu massage involve touching my groin region and do shiatsu massages lead to happy endings” is considered research, right??