For the love of a little boy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I wouldn’t have known I could love someone so much… I am incredibly blessed to be an aunt to the two most handsome, charming, smart, funny, loving little boys. From the time I was a little girl, I daydreamed about the day I would be an aunt. Max and Jude absolutely made it worth the wait.

"Homo-loving sons-of-guns."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I love to watch The Oscars. Well, um, honestly I actually only love to watch about 1/3 of the show, but that third is amazing. I remember being ten years old and actually praying that Dustin Hoffman would win for Rain Man. (He did.) I love the dresses and the anticipation, the glamour and magic of it all. We all love movies for so many different reasons. As a little girl growing up in an even littler town, movies, for me, represented the big world that was out there somewhere...

As I've gotten older, the dresses, while still very important, have had to play second fiddle to the speeches as my favorite part of the very long ceremony. I love the crying and the shout-outs to moms and dads. More than anything, however, I love when an actor takes their one moment to speak on behalf of a greater good. (Some people don't like their actors political. I, however, am not some people.) This is an incredible opportunity and the Oscar stage is a platform like no other.

My all time favorite speech was given by Adrien Brody, my Hollywood crush, after he kissed Halle Berry and accepted the award for The Pianist only four days after the Iraq war began in 2003:

"... you know, it fills me with great joy. But I am also filled with a lot of sadness tonight, because I'm accepting an award at -- at such a strange time. And you know my experiences of making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at times of war, and the repercussions of war. And whomever you believe in, if it's God or Allah, may He watch over you, and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution. Thank you." - Adrien Brody 2003

This year's ceremony had many beautiful moments. I loved Penelope Cruz's "Art is the universal language" speech and the words spoken by Heath Ledger's family were heartbreakingly touching and lovely. I am a huge fan of Kate Winslet and was so happy she was finally able to take home the gold she has deserved for so long. It was Sean Penn's odd, funny and moving speech, however, that really won me over this year.

First of all, Sean Penn is just plain cool. He's talented, smart and outspoken. He somehow survived being married to Madonna, which I can't imagine was any small feat, and married the Princess Bride herself. (It doesn't hurt that he also looks like my devilishly handsome boyfriend, but that's really neither here nor there.) When introducing him as a nominee, Robert De Niro said, "Tonight it’s great to be an actor, in life it’s great to be a good human being and that is Sean Penn." I loved that. What else did I love? Any speech that starts out, "You commie, homo-loving sons-of-guns" is alright by me. When I was in college, I did a research project on Harvey Milk and was particularly touched by Penn's plea for equal rights, "for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support." Gay marriage is a human rights issue and I was moved that Sean Penn took the time to lend his eloquent and eccentric voice in support.

Oh, and next time Sean, thank your wife.

"the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Almost two weeks ago, the newest addition to my family was born, Nova Vivienne Connolly. Isn't she just the most lovely baby?

I am very, very blessed. My sister Monica married Michael who has a twin brother named Brian who is married to Yen. Got it? So, not only am I an auntie to my sister's boys, but also to Brian and Yen's three little ones. This is what I love about life. You are born into a family and that family changes form as you get older, just as the love in your heart expands and shifts into something more unexpected and more vast than you ever could have foreseen. Right when you begin to wonder if there is any more room in your heart, a new person comes into the world, into your life, maybe into your family, and into your heart and, almost magically, there's more love than there was before. Of all the things I am grateful for, and there are many, my family is at the top of that list. The fact that the people who I am related to by birth and the families these people have married into are the very people I would have hand picked if I could have, makes me one very lucky girl.

Welcome to the world, baby Nova. I've only just met you, but I love you already.

(Thanks to my dear friend, Jen Beckwith, for introducing me to the lovely lyric that is the title to this post. You and your little birds, Lila and Lucia, mean so much to me. This post is about family and friends are the family you choose. I chose you all those crazy years ago. Thank you.)

Revisiting the Past: A Cautionary Tale

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For the last few days, I have been re-reading some of my old journals. I have always been an off and on journal keeper (with far more offs than ons). I started when I was ten years old and have sporadically tried to continue throughout the years. I told a few friends that I was doing this and they each reacted similarly, "Oh, I could never do that. I would be way too embarrassed." I thought about it and decided this was an unlikely response for me because I am of the belief that if you aren't at least somewhat mortified looking back on your younger years, then you didn't do them right. I am okay with the fact that I was a dork. Who wasn't? (One of my best friends in the whole world, Danny, called me a "dork princess" at some point in high school. I'm still not sure who should be more embarrassed by this.) The only thing worse than being awkward and gawky in high school is not being awkward and gawky in high school. Peaking before the age of eighteen? I've seen it and it's not pretty.

In my previous incarnations, I was gangly and painfully people-stop-you-on-the-street-and-tell-you-to-eat thin with big hair and a big nose. I was idealistic, opinionated and kind, but I was single minded in my plan to, as my mother would say, get the hell out of dodge. I wanted so desperately to leave the isolated, close-minded, small town I grew up in and I think I believed the only way to do this was to abstain from anything that too closely resembled fun so that I wouldn't get sucked in. (Now, of course, I did have some fun, but those years were far more serious then I would wish for any potential future child of mine.) At the time, I believed the only future for people who stayed in my town was to become one or more of the following: a fisherman, a fisherman's wife, a drunk and/or a bigot. (Nothing against fishermen or their spouses and absolutely nothing against alcohol, but from a very young age I wanted something different.) I wish I could go back and grab my smaller self by the shoulders, shake her and encourage her to lighten up, have more fun, take more chances and, for the love of God, drink an alcoholic beverage before college! However, as Maya Angelou has said, "You did then what you knew how to do." I doubt very much that she meant, "If you knew enough to go back to your teenage years and try a little experimental drinking, you would have." You never know though, you just never know.

My journals outlined my achingly isolated life and how deeply I longed to experience more of the world, how deeply I longed to experience... joy.

As it turns out, I was wrong. It is embarrassing to go back and read my entries from the past. Some of the content of these diaries has made me call my best friend Carina, who I met on the last day of kindergarten and who was by my side through many of the adventures I wrote about in these journals, at midnight crying tears of hysterical laughter. (For example, the entry in which I wrote down all of the lyrics to, ahem, a Celine Dion song because it was the only way I could possibly explain the deep feelings I had for a boy whose name I can no longer remember had us rolling.)

I guess, more than anything, what I learned from going back and reading my old journals (other than the humor found in childhood entries that contain, "I get to spend the night with Heather! Hooray! She has a hot tub and a Nintendo and a puppy!") is that I have always walked a line (cue Johnny Cash) between pride and shame regarding my past. I am torn between being embarrassed by the pages and pages of unrequited love rants I wrote about twelve year old boys (I was, thankfully, also twelve years old at the time) and knowing that this is the job of sixth grade girls the world over. I am torn between being proud I found a way to get through what felt intolerably oppressive, even if it meant becoming a somewhat prudish sixteen year old, and wishing I could go back and tell that girl to sneak out of the house at least once. I walk the line between being incredibly thankful to have grown up amidst such hard working people who were, without a doubt, doing the very best they could and being so relieved that I, for lack of a different phrase, got the hell out of dodge and experienced things found only outside the confines of that small town.

Maybe this is why we grow up: to look back and think how very lucky we have been to have come so very far. What I know for sure is that, through it all, I still embarrass myself regularly with my awkward dorkiness. I still write down lyrics to songs and get excited about hot tubs and puppies and the occasional video game. I long for the simplicity of the place I used to call home, but am happy to only visit and then come back to the city with big plans for big travels ahead. I love to listen to John I-still-miss-the-Cougar Mellencamp sing, "gonna die in this small town." However, I love to travel far too much to ever die (and these are probably famous last words) in the town where I was born and raised. Although I can still be very serious, somewhere along the way I discovered a love affair with silliness, said goodbye to my past prudish tendencies and started a very long term relationship with cocktails.

If I could tell that younger, skinner, more idealistic version of Kathleen anything, I would say: Someday a part of you will love where you grew up. You will be proud of where you came from and you will be proud that you knew, even at such a young age, that you wanted more. Someday you will find that more. Someday you will find like-minded, equally opinionated people who don't, for example, talk about those outside of their race with hatred. Someday you will find those people and you will fit. Someday you will travel and you will travel far. You will fall in love with seeing the world through different eyes, through different cultures and these travels will change your life. Someday love will no longer be unrequited. Someday you will surprise yourself with your own confidence, your own uncontrollable laughter, your own joy. Someday you will be happier than you ever thought possible. I can't promise it will last. In fact, I can promise that it won't, but it will keep coming back to you, again and again, because you are, at your core, a deeply and unapologetically happy person. You just don't know it yet.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

... is just to love and be loved in return. - Moulin Rouge

Happy Valentine's Day!

{images via the lovely
Le Love}

Come and play with us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I love lots of things, but nothing more than good old fashioned spook. Friday the 13th is the perfect occasion for cuddling under the covers and watching the best of your local video store's horror section. I am spending this holiday (yes, I consider it a holiday) in bed continuing to nurse the mother of all flu bugs, but plan to do so while watching my all time favorite scary film, The Shining.

I first watched this movie when I was thirteen with my mom, aunt and cousins. My mother and I were the only ones to stay up throughout the entire movie and I sat on her lap and cried because, well, I was just that scared. For three weeks, I slept with the lights on. That was the first scary movie I had ever seen and it did the job. I've been hooked ever since. I'm still afraid of those two spooky girls standing at the foot of my bed saying, "Come and play with us. Forever and ever and ever."

This is what they call happy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In this blog, I have omitted, until now, one of the aspects of my life that makes me the most happy and excited: my sweet and ever so handsome boyfriend, Jenner. I like to sometimes refer to him as my manfriend, but he is not a fan of this term. I have wanted to mention him many times here and certainly several posts have been inspired by things I have learned from our time together, but I've been trying to figure out how to write about my relationship in a way that is both mature (even though I would love to gush, go on and on and use terms like OMG, but, well, that's just not going to happen) and honors what is so special to me. There's really nothing like a relationship to mirror the things about ourselves one cannot easily see alone. One of the many things I've learned through this mirror is that I am fiercely protective (sometimes to a fault) of my heart and often keep my cards close to my chest. I've also learned that when I eventually let my cards down, I can be far more ridiculous, silly and even joyful than I ever knew.

I love the picture I posted below because Jenner looks so funny and I look absolutely, unabashedly happy.

The bitch is back.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I have been working on several posts that may or may not be of more substance than this one, but I've been battling a nasty flu bug the last couple of days and this is currently all I can manage. I have been in bed all day compulsively spraying Chloraseptic sore throat spray and asking myself some deep questions. For example, How does the octuplet mom look exactly like a creepy cross between Janeane Garofalo and Angelina Jolie in her interviews?

A highlight of this rather low day was finding
W Magazine's March layout of new Madonna photos. I have loved this woman since I was a little girl (even though I have the sneaking suspicion that if I met her, I would probably not like Ms. Ciccone). Although I have been somewhat turned off by the split with Guy Ritchie and the whole A-Rod fiasco, these pictures take me back to the 80's when my room was covered in similarly unsuitable images and I tried to convince my best friend, Carina, that I liked Madonna more than she did. (Oh, and let's not forget the time I told my mother that the word virgin meant tiger. There was a tiger in the video, after all.)