The Joy Project

Little Moments of Big Love

Category: Lovely friends

It All Started With 2 Tickets To Europe…


Sorry I disappeared this summer.

I was on the biggest Joy Project of them all.

This is where I went.



I Miss Your Face Like Hell (Rivers and Roads)

It used to be that everyone I loved lived in a five mile radius of my house.

These days you are own your own adventures in Kansas and London and the City of Angels.

This morning I am missing you.

A lot, a lot.

I sing the lyrics to this song out loud so you can hear me (can you hear me?). But when I get to the line “and my family lives in a different state” I get choked up.

Not because I’m sad, but because I love you.

PS: Who wants to be in my band?



Circus, Circus

A few months back I travelled to my favorite spot in Mexico with a few good girlfriends.  It was lovely.  They are the girlfriends that know me and love me still.  This far into our friendship, I didn’t think there was much that I could say or do that would surprise them.

One evening on our trip we were enjoying a lovely dinner outside, people watching, melting into the candle light, discussing life.  All of a sudden the sound of a booming man’s voice came out over unseen loud speakers, children started running towards the sound.  Soon a black truck appeared, swarmed by the kids, and their parents, the mexican man’s voice still booming and bouncing off the walls of the cafe.  Calling the children to come closer, hurry, hurry, hurry! And into our view, behind the truck came the source of all the joy and excitement; there was a cage with one sad tiger, and it’s shaggy, sleepy lion friend.

The Mexican Circus was in town.

And on this little island in Mexico, it was big news.  Even thought it was well past ten in the evening, more and more  people came streaming down the street, babies were pushed up against the cage to see the big animals, cameras flashed, the loud-speaker still cracking, the truck stopped in its tracks as the road became impassable.

And as my girlfriends sat a bit confused, a bit dismayed at the state of the animals, I swooned.  I said dreamily; “the Mexican Circus makes me miss my boyfriend.”

My gals pals swiveled their heads from the melee back to look at me.  I think maybe they thought I was making a joke.  When they saw the far away look on my face, they realized I was entirely serious, and right in the middle of a world-class twitterpation.  The Mexican Circus was my Paris, my Venetian gondola, my champagne and fireworks.

When I finally snapped out of it and saw that they were looking at me as if I just said “Sometimes I eat my own fingernails” or “Let’s watch some football”, I realized I had surprised my unsurprisable girlfriends and needed to clarify.

I said, “He and I like the circus.  It’s kinda our thing.”  Not like Ringling Brothers clowns and screaming children, but like old-timey-Water For Elephants-Depression-era carnival-Bearded Lady-Circuses.  We like the idea of them.  I think they are quirky and romantic and nostalgic and old-fashioned.  Just like we are.

“But Mexican circuses?” my gal pals asked.

“You see”, I explained, “right before I left for my girlfriend trip, the boyfriend found a documentary about Mexican Circuses, because he knew I liked Circuses and I love Mexico”.

“And he actually watched it with you?” they asked.

“Yes, of course, that’s how great he is.”  He watches documentaries about Mexican circuses with me.

And they said “wow”, which I think was part “you have a really nice boyfriend” and also “you are super weird”.

And it made me realize that I am quirky and so is my relationship but it is special just for us, and what works for me might not work for others and that I don’t have a boyfriend that has stock options or a briefcase but I do have a boyfriend that loves me enough to watch a sad lion tamer yell in spanish subtitles.

And that makes me think that the world is right, and just as it should be.

Image via Tumblr

To Be Known

I was having lunch the other day with two lady co-workers who are both my age-ish, and both in committed, but unmarried, relationships.  And they were talking about how they wish their boyfriends would hurry up and propose already.  Because that’s what ladies my age-ish talk about at lunch.  Unless of course, their boyfriends have already proposed and they’re married and pregnant and then they talk about placentas.  Which is gross.  So of the two choices, I prefer marriage lunch talk.

And then, because I was nodding my head and making eye contact, and saying “me too”, which all indicated a safe environment for sharing, my lady lunch friends admitted that even though they really want to get married, they are also scared.  Scared of the marriage ending, of being hurt, because the men change, or the men refuse to move back to Wisconsin so they can have babies near their mom, or what if their husbands leave them for young pretty blondes who aren’t in non-profit, and look good in skinny jeans.

And then, because they also were making eye contact, and nodding their heads, I felt safe and vulnerable. And I said I was scared too of failed marriages.  But not scared for the same reasons they were.

I took a deep breath and revealed my greatest fear to my lady lunch friends.  I admitted, “I’m scared I might be the asshole.”

You see, the scary part about marriage isn’t that I might get left behind because marriage was just too tedious for my partner, or that my partner will someday turn into some icy cold version of themselves who says cruel things and no longer thinks my Tina Fey impersonation is funny, or that one day the person I love most will hurt me in the most painful way because they know exactly where my most vulnerable spots are.

What is scary about marriage to me, is that I might, one day, do all those things terrible things to the person I love most.

I might be the asshole.

When I hear stories about marriages ending and the terrible things people do to each other, I never would have thought that those people had such nasty things hiding inside of them.  What if it’s hiding in me too?

Do I have what it takes to be true and generous and loving and committed and vulnerable and altruistic and steadfast and interesting for the rest of my life, so help me God, amen, to the same person who will also be changing and growing and imperfect and scared? What if I get bored, or lonely, or weak?  Will I still be kind?

Sometimes when my cat is annoying and wakes me up too early in the morning, I have fantasies that he would run away and never come back.  And he’s basically just a chubby, hairy, hug who loves me unconditionally.

I fear I might be the asshole.

So I say all this to my lady co-worker friends over lunch, because I thought they might understand.

But they don’t.

And they stop nodding their heads and it’s suddenly very quiet and I am keenly aware of the birds chirping and the traffic in the parking lot.  And they stare at me unblinking and my hands flap around awkwardly and now they know me.  The real me.  And they don’t like what they’ve learned.

And then I am certain I am the asshole.  And now I am also alone.

But then a few nights later I had wine with my real, good, long-term girlfriends, who know me and are honest and funny and gusty and happily married.

And I take a deep breath and I try one more time.

I admit that I am scared that I might be the one who does the hurting. And then I hold my breath and wait.

And immediately my girlfriends nod their heads and make eye contact and say “me too”.  And they tell me that already in their marriages they have been the asshole.  They have hurt and been hurt.  And have been forgiven, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a long period of time. And that they are always trying to be a better person in their relationships.  To keep the asshole at bay.

And then I feel understood.  And I feel better.  I’m still scared.  But I feel better.  Because they know me and they still love me.

Even the part that might be the asshole.

Let Them Drink Boba Tea!

Karen and I travelled to visit the lovely Dada in SF, before she packed her bags for a new and illustrious adventure with Starbucks in Seattle.  We ate a lot.  And did some walking.  And looked for Uncle Jesse at the Full House house. I sure love that city.  And those girls.

Andrew is Funny

My friend Andrew is funny. (He is also slightly scary if you are a ponytail-weilding bicyclist but that’s a whole other story)

He taught me that the weird flappy skin on your elbow is called a weenus.

Feel free to use that on your friends; “Hey, you’ve got a nice weenus, Jim.” and then act all offended when they freak out. It’s good times.

When I first met Andrew I found him in my bedroom lotioning his weenus. It was weird.

Also, his dad likes to call a single martini a “martinus” which is really funny when Andrew says it in his Australian accent. His dad also believes that the word “patio” should be pronounced “pay-she-o”, similar to the way “ratio” is pronounced (I am inclined to agree with him).

Lately I have been fond of saying “I think I’ll have a martinus on the paysheo” and then giggling.

So maybe it’s not so much that my friend Andrew is funny as he says things that I repeat like a parrot and then I think I am hilarious.

I should re-title this post to be called “Andrew probably makes up ridiculous things to make Alison sounds like a moron when she repeats them because she is naive and like a child.”

May I Pee on Your Metaphorical Welcome Mat?

I had a great date yesterday.

Sometimes after a great first date like this I feel like the gangly untrained puppy who might pee on the stranger’s welcome mat from excitement.

Dating calls for restraint but it’s really difficult when you meet someone you might really like…you want to call and text and spoon and monogram towels…but too much exuberance might freak them out and leave you  alone with the proverbial wee stain…

I am going to try to redirect my excitement towards the other lovely people in my life and hope I can give the appearance of cool and collected to this new person.

I apologize in advance if I lick your face.


My foreign pen pal always uses farenheit when discussing temperatures in emails (believe me, it comes up more often than you think).

I know he uses celsius in real life like the rest of the civilized people of the world but he converts everything to farenheit for me. Like it’s no big deal. And he never rubs my nose in the fact that I can’t convert to metric or spell colour or flavour like the Queen, or find Luxembourg on a map.

If I could covert kilos to tons in my head I would be throwing it in everyone’s face all day. “1 pint to 2 cups; booooyah!”

Friends who do conversions for other friends and don’t even brag about it make me happy.

Touche John Donne, Touche.

It’s been said that no man is an island. I tend to disagree.

But then I got some bad news the other night and fell apart all over the best friend. The next day I apologized profusely and expected that she should chide me for acting all uncivilized and blubbery, and perhaps for getting snot on her car seat. But instead she thanked me for letting her into the inner workings of my heart.

(I’m so happy she is my friend.)

The next day my bonus Dad, mom and kid-sister’s boyfriend spent their whole Sunday vacuuming rotted leaves and prehistoric worms out of my pond, chopping wood, reaching things that were taller than me and other general homesteading acts as assigned. It was like a modern-day barn raising.

(I am so happy they are my family.)

And today I asked my posse for rides to and from the airport and they said yes. They said yes to a round trip drive to the airport when they could spend that precious time doing something else infinitely more interesting.

(I am so happy they are my posse.)

I’m known for keeping people at arms’ length (anything closer than that feels all stiflely and scary) and trusting or asking for help is really, really difficult for me. But lately I’ve got this amazing group of people who make me want to move off the island and consider a time share in their safety nets.

Thirty is the new Ten

I celebrated my birthday yesterday with a fabulous group of friends and family.  It was low-key and a month early and totally perfect.

There was live music and twinkly lights and old friends and new, a homemade drum kit, Mad Libs and fresh flowers.

If the evening had a color it would be all swirly golds and blues.

Perhaps most interestingly, for the first time in years I spent a birthday sober. At a puppet show/rock concert.  My parents were there.  I didn’t take a single shot.  My hair was really big and curly. I wasn’t preoccupied by a boy. At the end of the night I really wanted a milk shake.

Turning Thirty feels remarkably like Being Ten.

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