Oh how I love long weekends… Yesterday, Friday, I slept in (however woke up before my sister to get the first shot) and then went outside with Chloe to take pictures. Yes it was cold, and I kept her outside for longer than I said I would, (hence pictures 4 and 8) but I love these pictures of my bright, sunny, milk and honey sister. I also love the new green grass which has replaced the dead blades of winter, and the rows and rows of daffodils that come at this time every year. I love spring. 

Kendall

The Fifth of a Series of Ten (or so) Things About Me

I took a little hiatus from my “10 Things About Me” series. Actually, I didn’t think I would even finish it and instead I would go back and change the titles to “A Series of 5 Things About Me”. However, like usual, I eventually finish what I start, just maybe a little later than conventional. 

I always read in the morning, right when I wake up. I can’t always promise myself a dose of pleasure reading during the later hours, between readings for school, other homework, sports, and just the general daily grind that is my life. However, I wake up early enough for school so that I always end up with an extra 15-20 minutes before I have to walk to class. This general ease of the morning that comes from my bounty of time is only enhanced by the my ritual of reading. The words that come from the ivory pages grace my eyes, stain my mind, and linger for the rest of the day, guarding me from the confusion and heartache of life. No matter what the day brings, I have these sweet reminders of my pure and yet untainted mornings. 

The Funny Thing About Time

This morning I was awoken out of a glorious, heavy sleep to the sound of my buzzing alarm, waking me up to take my ACT. I didn’t see the light for five hours, and once I came out of the building the warm air filled my lungs and the sun pierced my eyes. I drove home with my windows down, the ripe smell of manure swimming through the air, mixing with the sweet smell of blooming trees. I came home and sprawled out on my bed, taking in the new breath of spring, and defrosting my soul from the long winter. I got up and worked on one of my commissioned paintings, perfectly content, perfectly calm.

Tomorrow is back to the real world, when I will be reminded of my status as a junior in high school. Tomorrow I will have homework, and papers, and tests to study for. I’ll have a room to clean and errands to run. Until summer appears, these lazy will become scarcer and scarcer, so that I may earn my summer and fully enjoy it when it comes. There will be no more snow days, as school will simply never be cancelled for beautifully sunny day. There are no more two week long breaks, and only two more long weekends left.

Adults always say that the time between spring break and summer flies by, however I think it is absolutely the longest strip of time of the entire year. There is just too much anticipation for summer and too much work to be completed for it to be a quick and easy stretch of time. Sometimes it feels as though the fog of stress will never lift, and I will be in this standstill for the rest of my life, waiting for summer. Then I realize that my family history paper is due in just two weeks, which may as well be tomorrow as I know these two weeks will go by so fast. Two weeks, let alone two months is just an absolute eternity, yet I know it will past, just like everything. That’s the funny thing about time. 

I should make this a ritual: A random Thursday post.

Listening to: anything by Lana Del Rey. She has such a unique and beautiful voice, as well as amazing music videos, many of which she does herself. Such talent. I’m seeing next month!

Reading: The Great Gatsby. Love, love this book. I am reading it for school, and I just can’t get enough. Also, The Other Boleyn Girl. This book is seriously so hard to put down. 

Watching: The Tudors. This show inspired me to start reading The Other Boleyn Girl. My mom has long been obsessed with the Tudor era, and now I find myself incredibly intrigued as well. There’s so much drama and emotion. It’s quite graphic both in sex and in violence, so be warned if you decide to watch it. Also I am watching Felicity. As you very well may know, I am rather obsessed with all things college, so naturally Felicity is a perfect show for me. I just started it, and haven’t had that much free time to watch it yet, but so far it’s really good. 

Looking forward to: honestly nothing in particular. How sad, right? I’m excited for the weekend I guess, oh, and summer. I’m super busy this next month, but not with anything exciting.

Not looking forward to: the ACT this Saturday… Also prom because I don’t, and likely won’t have a date. Also, the girls at my school talk about it to the point of nauseum, which makes me even less enthused by the idea. 

Links I have been inspired by:  

http://news.distractify.com/people/complex-humans/?v=1 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/01/homeless-shelter-turned-restaurant_n_5069403.html

Happy birthday, Mac! You’re fourteen today! I love you so much, even though you can be incredibly stubborn, and at times quite annoying. You are such caring, determined, and funny person. You are so, so smart, and at fourteen you are already very independent, and have been ever since you were very a little boy. I remember when we went on the cruise when you were about six or seven, and you were happy to hang out by yourself around the boat, and could easily get yourself back to our room from anywhere on the boat. You make friends without even trying, and it stands to reason, as you have such a magnetic personality and gentle demeanor.
So here’s to fourteen completed years, sweet brother, and to many more to come. Here’s to many more days sitting in front of the tv watching Psych, Monk, How I Met Your Mother, or any rerun out of the plethora of different shows you and Chloe watch. Here’s to many more baseball games, as both an attendee, as well as a player. Here’s to many more fights over who gets to sit in the front seat, and whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher. Here’s to your ever growing legs which are sure to surpass mine in length any day now. Here’s to you. I am so happy I was given the privilege to grow alongside you.
Love, 
Ken Ken

Happy birthday, Mac! You’re fourteen today! I love you so much, even though you can be incredibly stubborn, and at times quite annoying. You are such caring, determined, and funny person. You are so, so smart, and at fourteen you are already very independent, and have been ever since you were very a little boy. I remember when we went on the cruise when you were about six or seven, and you were happy to hang out by yourself around the boat, and could easily get yourself back to our room from anywhere on the boat. You make friends without even trying, and it stands to reason, as you have such a magnetic personality and gentle demeanor.

So here’s to fourteen completed years, sweet brother, and to many more to come. Here’s to many more days sitting in front of the tv watching Psych, Monk, How I Met Your Mother, or any rerun out of the plethora of different shows you and Chloe watch. Here’s to many more baseball games, as both an attendee, as well as a player. Here’s to many more fights over who gets to sit in the front seat, and whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher. Here’s to your ever growing legs which are sure to surpass mine in length any day now. Here’s to you. I am so happy I was given the privilege to grow alongside you.

Love, 

Ken Ken

Just a Random Thursday Post

Today was warm and humid. The morning started off with a wet chill racing through the air, by two o’clock the sky was cloudy with yellowish tint, and the clouds were spitting out tiny drops of rain. By three there came a sudden intense downpour which left the ground soft and yielding to the brand-new tennis shoe. At badminton practice, my body was in little time covered in that sticky damp sweat of summer.

My team is made up predominantly of different cliques. The only four other juniors are of course the cliquiest of all cliques, which is really saying something considering I go to an all-girls private boarding school. Thus, I have had to make friends with the sophomores. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the sophomores and would gladly hang out with them, it’s just sometimes I feel like I’m intruding on their private little club… of sophomores.

Today really was a good day. It started off strange, as I woke up in my own bed, unlike most when I wake up at school. Last night I went to a baseball game, and so I slept at home afterwards. I got to school a little after seven, and since my school starts at nine on Wednesdays, and I had a free first period, I didn’t start class until after ten. Once school did start, it was a full, vibrant day of note taking and sculpture making, questions and quizzes. I ended the day sort of doing my homework in the room of two close friends, and we laughed hard and long about completely dumb things, shared gossip, and debated about women’s rights and other such political matters.

Sometimes I forget to be social. It has never come naturally to me like it does to some people. I have to consciously think about finding someone to hang out with, I have to remind myself to talk. As a result, I often find myself sitting in my room with my computer as my only companion and the words to songs as the only voice I hear. I always wonder that if I did not have my stutter, would I be more confidant, and thus more naturally inclined to spend more time with friends? Either way, when I do make the effort to hang out with a friend, I am reminded of the sheer, simple joy it is to spend time with other people, specifically girls. The same joy just cannot be felt through spending time with a guy. Even though I’ll admit, I haven’t had much experience with having guys as friends, I can’t imagine that talking with them could ever possibly be the same as talking with a girl friend. Jemima Kirke said it so perfectly, “I’ll never have a best friend who is a man. It just doesn’t work that way. So many times young girls will be like, ‘I’m a guy’s girl.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you’re not. There’s no way a man can understand you like a woman, and you’re a guy’s girl because you’re threatened by other women.’ I was like that.” Don’t get me wrong; when I finally break out of this cell that is my all-girls school and enter into the real world, I want to have loads of guy friends. But I also want to have loads of girl friends, too. Life would be simply too hard without them. Who would you talk about the common gripes of being a girl with? I’m sorry but guys will simply never understand the pains of PMS.

Anywhere but here

The funeral was great… Well, as far as those things go. My mom and step-grandmother rekindled a tolerance for each other as they walked together down the aisle with my grandfather by their side, in his casket. It’s interesting how weddings, funerals, and births bring people together, almost artificially. After they’re over, there’s really no reason to see family members again, or at least until the next big event. So, as I said goodbye to withering relatives, I was likely saying goodbye forever.

The very same day as the funeral, we made the six hour journey back home to Baltimore. Road trips are so cleansing and inspiring for me. We took two cars, and so my dad and I rode together, and the rest of my family, including my dad’s parents rode in the other car. Once all the pressing topics of conversation had been had, we settled in and were rather silent for the rest of the way. No one in my family is a huge talker, so this is usually how road trips go. Thus, I was able to dream wild dreams, and step into the ecstasy of possibility. It was just me and the beautiful monotonous scenery of the east for the entirety of the trip.

The return home was where it was tough. The realization of my dreams, and how they weren’t likely to come true, mixed with the already emotional day was tough. I cried. I went into my mom’s room and told her my dreams of travel, of a gap year in Spain possibly, but how I could never have the strength to do it, alone, and with my parasitic stutter. She told me frankly that she didn’t even think I could do it if I wanted to, that she didn’t know how she would support me for an entire year, on top of four additional years of college. I got irrationally sentimental how my life is on such a narrow track; graduate high school, college, get married, have kids… die. My mom said it was because I am just nervous for college, but she was over simplifying it, probably just to calm me down. While I know she’s right, I am nervous for college, I know there is truth to my sentiments as well. I want to live an interesting and different life. I want to be cosmopolitan, to learn Spanish, among other languages, to have crazy stories. It isn’t often that I dwell on my stutter, but sometimes, when I think about it too much and for too long, I get really depressed about it. When I get nervous, it comes in stronger waves, and I can hardly get through a single word, let alone a sentence without stumbling over a word. Combine that with the natural nervousness of speaking a new tongue, and it’s a recipe for disaster. However, I don’t want that to be an excuse. There is no excuse for not learning a second language. It’s so, so important in our ever increasingly connected world. Maybe I’ll try yoga to help my disfluency; my mom’s convinced it would help me.

I know I talk about it all the time, but I really am nervous for college, like my mom said. Not only the college part, but also the getting in part. I have pretty good grades, well ever since last year; freshman year is a different story. I worry that I will be arbitrarily rejected from even my “safety” schools, as schools sometimes do. I worry my counselors will scratch their head with worry when I share my intended list of schools, and that they’ll tell my to reconsider, looking at my transcript. I also worry I won’t like my school when I get in. I worry I’ll pick the wrong location, or that the work will be too easy, or too hard, or that I won’t fit in. That the school will be too big, or have an ugly campus, or an additional plethora of unwanted oddities. I know I sound like a broken record, but this is where I am in life right now. For my entire high school career thus far, I’ve been counting down to the day when I could think about and plan for college. However, now that it’s finally here, I wish I could either fast forward a year, or go back a year. Just anywhere but here. 

After the bleak plague of winter, and just when the desolation seems as though it will never cease, suddenly the world is reborn, and carries on as if nothing ever happened.

James Caccamise
-Oil on canvas by Kendall Shriver (me)

In Memoriam

You know what’s fucked up? My grandfather died not even twenty four hours ago and I still haven’t shed a tear. My forty seven year old dad has probably cried, and he borderline hated the man. It’s not that I’m not sad or anything, because I am. However, it’s more of a sadness and pity for my mom, who, in the matter of an instant became completely parentless. The same thing happened when my grandmother died two and a half years ago. Although, for her I felt even more reverence and sorrow. I immediately felt a sadness for her, yet, still I could not cry. The tears didn’t come until nearly a year later, randomly and out of the blue, yet forceful as hell. I wept and wept for the loss of my sweet grandmother.

It’s hard losing someone when the last time you saw them they were at their weakest. My grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and slowly her immune system weakened so much that a simple cold took over her frail body completely and she died on morphine. I watched over her as she took her last couple of breaths, not knowing they would be until we were driving home and received a call from the hospital. As everyone in the car burst into tears, I looked out the window to the most beautiful sunset, unable to produce tears. Why is it that I’m so quick to cry at everything else? Why do I cry at SPCA commercials, and heart to hearts with my mom? I almost cried during a really inspiring college admissions video. Why then, can’t I at least cry the most appropriate, least selfish occasion? If not stemming from my own sadness, then at least out of respect for the person who is hurting the most.

My grandfather, James Caccamise was born in 1932 in Upstate New York, and was the second of five children who belonged to two poor parents. He finished high school and then got a job selling cars. He worked all the time, he worked hard, and he saved. Within a few years, he bought the dealership, at which point he met my grandmother, who was six years older than him. In 1966, he had his first and only child, my mom. During my mom’s childhood, he bought a school bus company, and when he wasn’t doing business matters he drove them himself, and sometimes my mom, at three year would drive around with him in the mornings. When my mom was eleven or twelve, her parents got divorced. Then, years later when my mom was in her college, my grandfather remarried to a women fifteen or so years younger than him, with two teenage daughters. However, said ex-wife turned out to be the biggest c*** and has basically fucked up the homeostasis of my mom and grandfather for the past three years. But that’s really all I am going to say about her; this post is about my grandfather. 

My grandfather, even before his dementia took over, was a very serious, and dare I say, grumpy old man. It was as if being nice was so hard for him that he could only produce niceties in small quantities and be social when it pleased him. Despite this, it would be horribly negligent to say that he never did anything for me. My memories of him are centered around our summers spent at his house in Upstate New York. He always smelled of that shaving cream, mixed with cologne and whiskey. He walked with his hands behind his back, holding one in the other, and dramatically shifted his weight from one bow leg to the other. His nose came from his sliver of Italian heritage that he prided himself so much on. He listened to oldies and drove a red convertible which he kept in his summer house in Florida.

When we were really young, he had this old, blue Victorian house in New York. It had old creaky hardwood floors, and beautiful stained glass windows going up the staircase. My brother and I would play with Legos on the front porch while he and his wife would sit in big Adirondack chairs, drinking beer. In the mornings he would pick me up and place him on the bathroom counter, letting me play with his shaving cream while he shaved. When we were older, he moved into a smaller house just down the road. Here too we spent many a summer, playing outside, jumping from bed to bed in his guest room, and watching movies and eating ice cream until late at night.

My dad always stayed home when we made these trips, for he could hardly stand the man. All alone, my mom occupied herself by watching us like a hawk and protecting us from her sensitive father. She was paranoid that my siblings and I would annoy or upset him, simply by bickering with each other or playing too loudly. I’m pretty sure this was her leftover only child mentality, wanting to constantly please her father by showing off her exceedingly well behaved and obedient children. Rarely did my grandfather even care about our behavior or hear us at all, and thus my mom would end up upsetting us and ruining our moods needlessly.

My time spent was him was a mix of fear of setting him off, and a general fondness for the man I called my grandfather. He loved giving advice, usually about morbid topics, and talking about horrific stories on the news, like the man who had just graduated from college and was killed in a car accident. I swear he alone could keep newspapers in business. As I got older, this attitude and obsession with depressing topics made me never want to spend any time with him. He quickly started turning into an even grumpier old man, rarely smiling or laughing, obsessed with talking about death and his funeral, and several times took me to his grave site. But upon leaving his company, he would never cease to appease my siblings and me by giving us a twenty dollar bill.

This summer was the last bit of time I spent with him. He had to stay at our house because the nursing home that he was housed in had to recommend his removal, as he was very violent towards the other members of the community and the staff. In his normal mental state, before old age overtook him, he was never all that violent. Sure, he was rather an angry drunk and could defend himself if need be, but he never was violent unless provoked. Anyways, he stayed in my brothers room for about three weeks, one of which I missed as I was in Sweden. It was so hard to see him so out of it. He would just sit outside on our porch, and grumble, and boss everyone around. Every day, one of a group of three or four women rotated and spent about six hours with him, making him lunch, helping him dress if need be, and simply keeping him company. After he left, he was placed in several more nursing homes, one of which, as I said earlier, was a behavioral rehabilitation center. In January, my mom and I went to go visit him at this center. Upon arriving at the front desk, I was asked for my age, and was told that I could not visit him, even though I was just a few months shy of the legal age. When we went back the next day, I was asked for my age again, and was too stupid and selfish to lie. At this point, I knew I would never see him again, yet at the same time I was afraid to see him so helpless and incompetent. My mom told me all about her visit, and said he would only stare at the wall, barely talking, and when he did, only every fifth word or so was recognizable.

Last night, my mom called me to the top of the stairs, as she often does, usually about trivial matters. However, I immediately knew what it was about when I saw the tears streaming down her face. I just got a call, Nonno died peacefully in his sleep.

 I wish I had some profound way to end this. I wish I could relay a piece of advice he gave that changed me, or some memory that was a defining moment in my life, but alas I have nothing of the sort. Instead I’ll end this with sentimentality, and simply say that I am going to miss him so much, and that I am so thankful for all that he’s done for me.