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Thoughts One Year Out From Losing My Dad

November 12, 2016 Leave a comment

daddyMy father passed away unexpectedly a year ago today. I was 29 then. I’m 30 now. It wasn’t something I was prepared for although we realize now that on some level he must have known it was coming. The doctors said his organs had been shutting down for months and even if he had come in for help sooner there’s very little they could have done. That’s some comfort to both my brother and I who wondered if we had gotten him to go to the doctor sooner if it would have helped. You didn’t push my dad to do anything he didn’t want to do though. I think he knew what was going on, on some level, and wanted to deal with it in his on way on his own terms. And doctors and hospitals were not his own way.

My father and I were quite close in spite of the physical distance between us. I know some people think that the 2 to 3 hours between Boston and where my dad lived in New Hampshire isn’t that far but you have to understand to people in rural New England it is far. It’s a whole other world. I grew up and moved away not down the road. In spite of that I talked to my dad almost every day. He was the first person I called when I was excited or upset. I called him for advice all the time. I never asked for financial support since I hit the age of 18 but I did bend his ear an awful lot.

Something like this doesn’t happen without changing you.

You can’t go through your father’s personal items, letters, finances without feeling different. What was once off-limit now isn’t. You get to know your father as a more complete person. I didn’t make any earth-shattering discoveries but I have come to think of my dad as more of a whole other person than simply my father. And my heart just aches wishing my dad had had an easier life.

Things change a lot when the first person you always turned to is gone. In the past year, I was interviewing for new jobs. I used to always call my dad to get a pep talk right before an interview because no one was more in my corner than him. I couldn’t do that this time. I had to figure out other ways to pep myself up. (I wound up making a playlist on Spotify called #girlboss to pep up right before going in). I also got a new job that’s a wonderful step up in my field. I picked up my phone to call my dad only to suddenly realize I couldn’t. It’s other little things too like when our cat would do something cute and I’d take a picture only to realize I couldn’t send it to him. Or when I wanted to learn how to brine meat and realized I had to google it instead of calling him. It forced me to be more self-reliant, and honestly I already thought of myself as pretty damn self-reliant to begin with.

It also forces you to deal with your own mortality. I’m 30 now; my dad was 58. I know that was a young age to pass but it’s still a mind-fuck to think about how I’ve lived over half of my dad’s lifetime. And that changes you. I am far more selective of how I spend my time now both who it’s with and what I’m doing. I give people less chances than I once did. Not in a mean you’ll never change way but in a life is short and we’re not a good fit way. If I don’t want to spend my time watching a movie, I’ll tell you. And I also have confronted the fact that if I want to age well I need to change some things. I already worked out a lot and ate fairly well but there are other self-care things I wasn’t so good at. Managing stress. Sleeping enough. Moisturizing. I would say I was functional but not preservational. It’s improving. There’s room for more improvement. But life is too short for stress and bullshit.

I was going through my dad’s records this week, and I found an album I used to listen to with him all the time. Olivia Newton John’s “If You Love Me Let Me Know.” It was beat up, which if you don’t know records, that means it was most likely listened to a whole lot. I remembered so many of the songs so well. One is about a girl growing up rural who wants to move to the city, and when she gets old enough her dad tells her to go. It reminded me so much of when my dad encouraged me to follow my dreams and leave, even though it must have been hard for him to watch me go. Another was this one. I think it’s a great representation of that “the world’s going to hell in a handbasket but I’m not giving up my hope” mentality that I’ve learned over the course of the last year my dad had.

My dad had a hard life, and he sure as hell got frustrated with the world and all its bullshit. But he also undeniably had hope. You can’t have kids without having hope for the world. And he was so sure that both my brother and I would improve upon his lot in life (and we did, at least I think so). The only times he’d get frustrated with me were when I was either too full of myself or repeating his own mistakes. Well, daddy, I’m doing my best to learn from them and not do that. But I also am trying to hold onto the hope you had.

 

 

Categories: Life Updates

Thoughts on Marriage on Our First Wedding Anniversary

September 26, 2016 2 comments
A collection of selfies from our first year of marriage.

A collection of selfies from our first year of marriage.

It may perhaps seem odd to some given that my parents divorced when I was 15 (messily) and I’m not religious, but I actually view marriage with a real serious near-reverence. I think it’s important, and I don’t think it’s something to be entered into lightly. I think it’s something to be entered into with a clear mind of a fully-formed adult, and I view the commitment it entails very seriously. If your life is a wheel then your marriage is at the center of it with everything else flowing from it. Your decisions are no longer what is best for me but rather what is best for us and our marriage.

I know I’ve only been married for a year so it’s not like I’m some giant sage of wisdom. But I do think a year out I can answer some questions people who have never been married have about marriage and what it’s really like. And I think too that as the recipient of much (unasked for and asked for) marital advice that I can offer up the one that I’ve thought about the most over the year.

So first, to answer the questions: Yes, it does feel different. Being married is far different from being in a long-term relationship or living together. You are a family unit, one that is recognized by society. And there’s (for me anyway) a certain level of certainty. I can (and should) make decisions taking my spouse into account because he’s my spouse. I can 100% know that making this decision by taking into consideration his needs and desires is the right thing to do because he’s always going to be there.

And on the other side of the coin, I know if I have a bad day or if something awful happens that I can depend on him to be there for me because that’s what being a spouse is. It’s being there in the good times and the bad, and I can rest assured that he will be. It’s a sad fact that my father passed away in the first year of our marriage, and my husband was there for me. In the middle of his own grief, he put mine first. He held me. He brought me food and got me to eat. He helped clean out my father’s trailer, taking charge and much of the weight off of my brother and myself. And he gave me space to be angry about it too, and let me know that was ok and valid.

Another question people ask is: how hard is it really to change your name? Damn hard. In fact, I’m only halfway through it because it’s all awful annoying time-consuming paperwork and honestly I got a bit derailed when I was grieving. But I wouldn’t change changing my name for the world. So, I’ll tell you this: if you’re considering changing your name for any reason besides it’s what you want don’t do it. The only thing that makes all the hassle something I’m able to deal with is because of how very much I love being Amanda Nevius.

So what’s the piece of advice I’ve meditated on the most? It was from an article that a college friend posted, actually, and I can’t remember the name of it, but the gist was: don’t lose your marriage over a wet towel on the floor. What does that mean? The petty things can build up over time and make you start to resent each other. So if your spouse perpetually leaves a wet towel on the floor, choose how you react. Don’t let it annoy the crap out of you. Consider: is losing my marriage worth the fight over this towel? And if it’s not (and it shouldn’t be) then just pick it up and put it in the hamper yourself and choose not to be annoyed.

On the flipside of that, if you’re the spouse leaving a wet towel on the floor and you know it bothers your spouse even though you can’t for the life of you understand why (it’s the bathroom floor after all) consider: is losing my marriage worth the convenience of dropping this towel on the bathroom floor rather than putting it in the hamper? If it’s not (and it shouldn’t be) then just start putting the damn towel in the hamper because it’ll make your spouse happy and choose not to be annoyed about it. Obviously this extends to other things, and it makes a real difference on the whole tone of the relationship. It’s not “stop doing X annoying thing” it’s instead “I love you, so I’ll modify this small part of my behavior for you,” whether that’s picking up the towel for them or remembering to put it in the hamper in the first place.

I think it also an excellent reminder that there’s things that aren’t right or wrong; they’re preferences. And being aware of your spouse’s preferences and being sensitive to them is an act of love. I view it as an active meditation on love.

A year out, I feel closer to my husband now than I did on the day of our wedding, and that’s good and right and how it should be. I look forward to growing closer to him every day.

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 3

April 30, 2016 3 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

My what a busy month April was over here. I’m afraid that reflected some on the blog, with less posts (particularly reviews) than I would have liked. I’m hoping that May will be a bit better planned around here. I’ve been very busy with work; I even had a trip to Pittsburgh for a conference. (If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (username: opinionsofawolf), you saw some of the fun details of the trip and probably learned a few things about Pittsburgh!) But I still found the time to stumble upon a few new favorite things.

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 3

Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I had a small bit of free time from my conference, and when I googled what to do in Pittsburgh I found this. It’s an eclectic collection of various history exhibits to do with Pittsburgh, and one of the collections is all about Heinz the company, since the founder was from Pittsburgh. How cool is that? Part of the exhibit is this ketchup bottle made of ketchup bottles. I learned a lot about Pittsburgh from this history center, including: the liver transplant was invented there, Jehovah’s Witnesses started there, Andy Warhol and Heinz Ketchup were born there, and Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) lived and died there. I really enjoyed this quirky museum and have had a lot of fun telling people about it.

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 3

Seeing Wild Belle in Concert

A few months ago I was moderately obsessed with the Major Lazer song featuring Wild Belle called “Be Together.” My husband noticed the band was coming to a venue near us, so he surprised me by getting us some tickets. This particular venue is nice because it’s rather small, so even if you’re in the back of the crowd you still get a great view. Both of us thought that the back-up singer/tambourine player and the tom-tom player were particularly impressive. They could so easily start their own group.

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 3

Hanging out on our new porch

Our apartment didn’t come with a porch, but our landlord chose to install one starting last fall. This month the workers finally finished it! Which means we get to grill at times when we’re not camping. But also, we’ve discovered our cat is totally willing to put up with being in her come with me kitty harness in order to hang out in the sunshine. What this means for book blogger/author truly is that I can hang out in the sunshine with my husband and a purring cat while I read and write, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 3

New Nintendo 3DS XL

After wanting one since I first heard of a Gameboy as a kid, I finally broke down and bought the newest 3DS, along with one game: Frogger 3D. I have some gaming systems, but I don’t use them much, because I like to hang out with my husband while he does things. I love how portable the 3DS is, and how easy it is to start and stop games. I don’t have to turn on a system and wait for things to boot up. I can just open and close it. On days when I really feel like I need to have a win in something, I’ll play a round of Frogger. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the XL has a larger screen, and I’m really glad I went for it over the regular sized screen.

And finally, my favorite book since the last episode.

 

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 3

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

This humorous chick lit with a surprising heart of gold and inspiring message really hit me where I needed it this month. Basically, a high-powered lawyer has a freak-out and winds up working as the help in a wealthy home and falling for the gardener. It was the exact stress relief and encouragement I needed, both giving me laughter and helping me to refocus my priorities.

That’s it for April. Be sure to tune in next month for episode 4 of Wolfy’s Favorites!

What were some of your favorite things in the month of April? Did you have a favorite read? What’s the most entertaining museum you’ve ever visited? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 2

Hello my lovely readers!

I hope you had wonderful Marches and enjoyed welcoming spring. Boston’s weather was very all over the place. Spring-like one day and snowing the next. I can tell you that shoveling snow another time when I’d thought I was done with it was *not* one of my favorite things this month! Lol.

Wolfy's Favorites -- Episode 2

Turkey Cordon Bleu

I have a severe food intolerance to chicken (something that took years to discover and before you ask, trust me, it’s gross, you don’t want to know). Back in the day, chicken cordon bleu was a favorite meal of mine, and I’ve really missed it. One day the thought struck me that hey, I bet I could make this with turkey. I discovered that it is possible, although turkey tenderloin is much larger than chicken breasts. You have to cut them in half width-wise, or they’re too wide, and you have to sometimes cut them down by size even more to make the pinwheels the right size. However, after that cutting, the rest of it is pretty much just like chicken cordon bleu. Using low fat swiss cheese and high quality ham slices along with minimal shallow pan frying in ghee kept these a low-calorie dinner….., and we ate them at least twice this month. At least.

Wolfy's Favorites -- Episode 2

A screenshot I took of the livecam. So majestic and yet so derpy.

Washington DC Bald Eagle Nest Live Cam

So the American Eagle Foundation has had a mated pair of bald eagles in the National Arboretum since 2014. They are named Mr. President and First Lady, and this month they hatched two eaglets, and you can watch the mated pair care for their eaglets 24/7 on a pair of live cameras at the nest!! This has honestly been a bit of a time sink for me, and I don’t care one iota.

Wolfy's Favorites -- Episode 2

This is a screenshot. Click out below to watch the video!

Who Is Calling Me – A Short Documentary by Olivia Nevius

My littlest sister-in-law is a cinematographer and photographer, and this month she completed this short documentary about their family and their love of ham radio. My husband and his whole family have ham radio licenses, which I think is quite the unique family hobby. (Before you ask: yes, I intend to get my license too). We’d heard rumblings of the documentary, and I was vaguely around while various filming was being done (most particularly, I was cooking dinner the night she interviewed my husband for it via Skype…she lives in Chicago, and we live in Boston). I was really excited to get to see the final product and very proud of her.

Wolfy's Favorites -- Episode 2

Bunny Leggings by CowCow

These bunny leggings arrived just in time for springtime mountain biking with my husband. I was worried since they’re white they’d be see-through, but they actually are opaque, no worries about that! They’re a stretchy, slippery fabric that is just right for spring temperatures.

And finally, my favorite book since the last episode.

Wolfy's Favorites -- Episode 2

Rymellan 1: Disobedience Means Death by Sarah Ettritch

This is one of my 2016 ARCs, and it left me on the edge of my seat so much that I immediately read the next two books in the trilogy. The first entry has a dystopian-style military regime that may pull the f/f couple apart (for non sexual orientation reasons). I got so invested in their relationship that I just had to find out if they end up together.

That’s it for March. Be sure to tune in next month for episode 3 of Wolfy’s Favorites!

What were some of your favorite things in the month of March? Did you have a favorite read? Have you tried out any of the things I’ve mentioned? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

Wolfy’s Favorites – Episode 1

February 29, 2016 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I had a few things from the month of February that I wanted to tell you all about, but all of them were kind of short for their own posts. I got to thinking how a lot of bloggers have a favorites post they do once a month, and I thought that’s such a great idea! It’ll be a monthly feature that will showcase a range of things I’ve enjoyed in the last month.

We’ll start off with the two biggest things.

February Favorites

Screenshot of a quick video I took about a new book I received on PaperBackSwap. That little wolf is my periodic “Wolfy” representative for myself in videos or pics (although you *do* get to see the real  life non-Wolfy me sometimes too!)

Snapchat (username: opinionsofawolf)

I finally got on the Snapchat train! After hearing so much about it, I just had to download the app and see what all the fuss is about. I have to admit, I love it. For those who don’t know, Snapchat lets you post photos or videos (and annotate on top of them) that last a maximum of 24 hours before they disappear. It’s very stream-of-consciousness, and I love having a new format to talk about books, writing, and life in. (And there are definitely some videos of my cat). If you have (or get) Snapchat, friend me! My username is opinionsofawolf.

February Favorites

Instagram collage of my reading location one weekend when I attended my friend’s wedding. The lower left is the wallpaper in the hotel room, the upper left is the view, and on the right is my kindle with the two mugs that were our wedding favors.

Instagram lets you easily manage multiple accounts. Finally!

I’ve had a personal Instagram account for years (sorry, you can’t have that username!), but I found trying to manage a personal and a professional/hobby one to be frustrating, because the app forced you to log out entirely of one account before logging into the next one. There was no simple tapping back and forth between accounts. Well, this month Instagram finally fixed that! So I get to join my fellow book bloggers in the virtual world of #bookstagram. Please do check it out for shots of reading locations, real time mini-reviews and pictures of books as I finish them, and quotes from books as I read them, among other things! Username: opinionsofawolf.

Next up, two smaller, but still exciting to me, things this month.

IMG_6808

Nuun

I actually have another book blogger to thank for this discovery. The awesome Running ‘N’ Reading posted a few times about the recovery drink Nuun. Replenishing electrolytes and rehydrating are very important after working out. It helps with muscle recovery and just general hydration. I’ve struggled because I’m not really a fan of Powerade and Gatorade, especially for the calorie content. (The ones with zero calories don’t taste good to me). I love coconut water, but it’s full of calories and expensive to buy. Nuun comes in tubes that each contain 12 tablets. You drop the tablet into water, and in two minutes it dissolves into a drink. Each tablet contains 8 calories. The tablets make it easy to order online and stockpile into your home, as well as convenient to take with you on longer fitness excursions. My husband and I are both pretty addicted to them now! And we’ve both noticed less DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) after hard workout days. Our favorite flavors are lemon-lime and tri-berry.

February Favorites

Bunnies at HomeGoods!

I love bunnies, and this month HomeGoods stocked up their spring holdings. I was hard-pressed to select only a few items (I’ll find almost anything with a bunny on it adorable), but I did my best to stick to what we need. My husband and I each have our own bowl for mealtimes (they do not match) but mine was a bit small for meals like soup or stew. So I picked up one that is about the same size as his. We also had large plates and small plates but no medium-sized ones, so I picked up two of those. Finally, I can always use more kitchen towels, so I got a set of two with this cute bunny on them.

Finally, a book!

cover_blackout

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola

I want to wrap up these monthly favorites posts with a quick comment about my favorite read of the month. I devoured Blackout in a mere two days in audiobook format. I basically was searching for any task I could do as an excuse to listen to it. It’s that good. First five star read of the year! Review to come.

So that’s it for February. Be sure to tune in next month for episode 2 of Wolfy’s Favorites!

What were some of your favorite things in the month of February? Have you tried out any of the things I’ve mentioned? Tell us about your experience in the comments! (Especially feel free to let me know your Snapchat or Instagram usernames).

In Memory of My Dad

November 17, 2015 5 comments

dadpic10On November 12th, my dad, William Frank McNeil, passed away.  He was 58 years old.  You may see his obituary here.

Yesterday was his funeral.  I gave a eulogy there that I have reproduced below. 

dadpic17

 

In Loving Memory

One of the first things people often say to me when they get to know me is, “You’re such a daddy’s girl,” and my response always is, “Of course, why wouldn’t I be? I got a great one.”  I hear so many stories of absentee fathers. Quiet fathers. Fathers who don’t know how to talk to their daughters. Fathers who clearly wish their daughters were sons.  I never had any of those problems with my dad, and I know he had to fight to make that so.

My dad had a hard life. He lived so much in his far too short 58 years.  He worked so hard. Harder than I realized when I was little.  One of my earliest memories is of running to the door to meet him at the end of a workday yelling, “Papa Papa,” and he would pick me up and immediately play with me.  As an adult now I realize he was coming home from often 12 to 14 hour shifts doing physical, hard labor. He could have so easily begged off as being tired. Too tired for the antics of a 4 or 5 year old. But he never did. He always met me with this overwhelmingly positive response. It was like I was the center of his world.

But my dad didn’t just love me or spoil me. He was also tough on me in lots of little ways that helped me be who I am today.  My friends often tell me, “Amanda, you’re so brave.” What they don’t realize is that I’m really not.  At least, not naturally.  My dad taught me to be.  The best example of this is when I went away to college.

When I was 17, my dad took me to tour Brandeis University in Boston and he told me, “This is it. This is the one for you.” And I listened.  But when I got there, I had a major freak-out that many first-generation college students have.  Brandeis was a top-level, historically Jewish college, and I was there on scholarship.  I was surrounded by people and a culture that I knew nothing about. I felt like I was on an alien planet…or at least in Europe.  They talked about things I had no understanding of and bonded over going out shopping and to restaurants….and to their ski chalets.  When my computer broke the first week of school, I cried, and my roommate said, “Well just buy a new one” not understanding that that was just not possible.  I called my dad crying, begging him to let me come home and go to culinary school instead.  He told me no, that being a chef was a hard life and physically difficult, and he wanted more for me.  He told me, “You belong there, Amanda. You’re smart as a whip and you are not a quitter. Don’t forget our family motto. To conquer or die. You can conquer this.”  Then he made a deal with me. He said if I was still miserable by Christmas I could come home.  I thought he was caving. I realize now he was just smarter than me and knew I would be happy at Brandeis by then. Oh, and he somehow magically got a computer and sent it down to me.

My dad was not perfect. He had a hot temper when I was young…it mellowed with age. He was stubborn. He would have periods of being very down and sad. He often didn’t take care of himself as well as he should, putting oxygen masks on literally everyone else on the plane before himself (that’s a metaphor, my father did NOT fly in airplanes.)

But. My dad was always willing to admit when he was wrong and say he was sorry. He always tried…so hard. So incredibly hard. He didn’t stagnate. He changed his opinions if given enough new factual information.  He was funny. So incredibly funny. His dry wit in the face of terrifying things like a triple bypass is something I strive to live up to. He had a near-magical way with animals. I literally never saw him meet an animal that didn’t immediately glom onto him with love. And he was so incredibly smart. He was able to do insanely complex math in his head…math that would make my head spin if you gave me a high-powered computer to help me do it. He read voraciously at a speed I have never seen anywhere else. He had an eye for beauty. His furniture he crafted were truly works of art.

My dad always told me that my brother and I were the best thing he ever did. That he’d go through everything again just to have the two of us. All he ever wanted was for us to have better lives than he had. To have physically easier jobs. To get to enjoy life more. To have partners who truly loved us. The best advice he ever gave me was to never settle and to wait for your one true love.  It was hard in my early 20s when it seemed everyone else around me was coupled up. But my dad’s assertion that it’s better to be alone than to be with the wrong person kept me strong and waiting. And then I met Phil. And I brought him home to meet my dad. My dad was a bit skeptical since Phil is an engineer….and my dad did not have the best experience with engineers in the shops. So he quizzed him with a math problem that usually stumped the engineers, and Phil got it right. And my dad said well, he’s an engineer but he’s no dummy. He was just teasing us though.  He sat me down and told me very seriously how much he liked Phil. that Phil clearly made me happy. Happier than I’d ever been before.

Seven weeks ago, my dad came and stayed with us for a week while we got ready for our wedding and got married.  Daddy helped me bake my bridal pie. It was the last time we’d ever cook together, after 29 years of doing so, though I obviously didn’t know it then. He watched me marry my best friend.  He danced our father-daughter dance with me, and while we were dancing he whispered to me, “I am so proud of you,” and I swear that he meant it more than he did at my college graduation.

There are so many things that I will never get now that my father is gone.  I never got to go to a Patriots game with him. He won’t see me turn 30. He will not get to see me pregnant or meet any kids Phil and I may have one day.

My world I live in now is so different from my father’s world. I worry out loud to my husband that no one will know where I come from.  And he tells me. You are your father’s daughter. Your father lives in you, whether you realize it or not. You have his sense of humor, his chin, his temper. You are short and stubborn. And incredibly determined.  But what I really hope is to emulate my dad in another way.

My dad was a good man, but he was quiet about it. He was never ever prideful. In fact one of the few times he would yell at me was if I got too full of myself.  He lived Jesus’ commandment, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” I think this commandment speaks to more than prayer. It speaks to any good you do.  My dad did the right thing because it was the right thing to do, and he never called attention to it.  And he was rewarded for it.  Just look around this room, and you can see it.

Daddy, in the face of so much hardship and opportunities to do otherwise, you were a good man. And I will miss you every day of my life.

dadpic3

 

Announcement: I Am Married!!!!

October 11, 2015 11 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

You may have noticed things have been kind of quiet around here the last month or two.  That’s because I GOT MARRIED!!!

On September 26th I married my best friend, and our wedding was amaaaaazing!!!  It was more than I ever dared to hope for.

weddingshot1We had a small wedding at a girl’s summer camp in Massachusetts.  What mattered the most to us was that our wedding matched our personalities. Every time we had a choice, we just basically did what suited our personalities the best.  Phil’s shoes he found while we were thrift shopping one day the year before the wedding.  For me, I knew I wanted go-go boots, and I think yoga pants are the most comfortable thing, so going with that plus a mini-dress was practically a no-brainer.  Where our personalities really shined through though was our ceremony.

ceremonyshotWe each had one person stand up with us.  We walked to the fire ring at the camp (rather than “down the aisle”) together.  We each came around the corner of the dining hall, which had a beautiful wrap-around porch, and saw each other for the first time then walked down the steps to the fire ring holding hands while “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes played.  Our good friend officiated for us (this is legal in Massachusetts), and the ceremony opened with our maid of honor and best man playing drums and digeridoo.  We had a handfasting (since we are both of Irish descent) and a san san kudo ceremony (since my husband is baptized Shinto).  We wrote our own wedding vows and didn’t know each other’s ahead of time, and yet they matched up incredibly well.

I will write a few more posts about the wedding.  I’ll write one with more details about exactly how it went and how we planned it.  I also plan to write a post on wedding planning tips with all of the many things I learned about the horror that is wedding planning (on a budget–we threw our wedding for under $5,000).  I also plan to write a post about some of my favorite parts of the wedding, and the things that were the biggest hit the day of.

I will also write up a post about our incredible 2 week honeymoon we just got back from! We went to Mexico, Nashville, and the Smokey Mountains (where we motorcycled the Tail of the Dragon).

For right now, though, just know that I got to marry my best friend, and while wedding planning was terrible, the wedding itself was incredible, the honeymoon was awesome, and being married is amazing.  Also, my married name is Amanda Nevius, but I will still be publishing under my maiden name, which I now dub my pen name, Amanda McNeil.

Boston Marathon Bombings

April 17, 2013 2 comments

Hello all.  I just wanted to take a moment to let those of you who don’t follow me on twitter or facebook know that I and my loved ones are safe, although a student who goes to the university I am an academic librarian at is one of the (currently) three dead.  My medical library serves the medical school that is affiliated with one of the Boston hospitals caring for the victims, and we also serve as the medical library for that hospital.  Today is my first day back at work after my long weekend (which was pre-scheduled for Marathon Monday).  Things are very subdued on-campus.  My morning commute had a side of national guardsmen and extra police presence as I commute directly through part of the area that was put on lock-down after the bombings.

I am full of mixed emotions.  I am incredibly grateful that myself and my loved ones are safe, but I am also full of empathy for everyone who cannot say that.  I am angry that someone would attack a bunch of innocent people on a day that is about so many positive things.  The Boston Marathon is about athleticism, cheering on the accomplishments of others, and fortitude.  But it also takes place on Patriot’s Day.  Patriot’s Day is celebrated in Massachusetts, Maine, and Wisconsin to commemorate the first battle of the American Revolutionary War.  It celebrates our freedom, and in Boston, it’s about celebrating being the birthplace of our nation.  And I hope that the people of Boston won’t let the events of Monday ruin our celebrations in the years to come.  You defeat terrorism by refusing to be terrorized.  My boyfriend and I have already made a pact that next year we are going to the marathon and we are cheering our guts out.  In the meantime, I am just continuing to live my life and trying to do whatever small part I can to support those who have much tougher rows to hoe.

If your heart has been touched by what has occurred in my city, I ask you not to pray, but to do something.  If you can afford it, donate to the official One Fund set up by Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino.  It is a verified safe way to get the funds where they will reach those in need.  If you can’t afford to donate money and are close by, donate blood. Or donate blood where you are in honor of the event.  If you can’t do either of those things, or even if you do those things, then please show support in other ways.  Express support online, offer a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen.  Try not to let anyone fall through the cracks.  Let those around you know that somebody cares.

 

Adoptionversary!

October 27, 2010 10 comments

One year ago today, I picked up my kitty, Ayla, from the MSPCA. Two days earlier, we chose each other.  I was looking around, trying to decide on an adult cat.  Ayla was cute and timid.  She seemed sweet, but a bit overwhelmed.  I was trying to decide between her and another cat.  I opened her cage, and she timidly stuck her head forward and licked my hand.  My heart melted.  She’d chosen me.  Who could refuse that?

When I first brought her home. She was so tiny!

When I first brought her home. She was so tiny!

Although the first couple of days were interesting getting to know each other, she’s quickly become my furry best friend.  Ayla keeps me company at night.  She meows excitedly at the door when she hears me getting home.  She plays with me.  When I got the stomach flu, she put her paws up on the edge of the toilet and licked me while I was puking.  She snuggles me and purrs.  She’s the perfect, sweet, snuggly kitty-cat match for me, and I’m so glad we found each other.

Ayla now. She loves to steal my boxes.

Ayla now. She loves to steal my boxes.