You know you're a Menke when...

...You can turn this:

Into this:

And still not plan on checking any bags. (I'll let you know how it turns out.)

(Update--10:40 PM. I don't think the "before" picture does adequate justice to how much stuff I did indeed cram into 3 smallish bags. I should've taken a top-view picture. Or taken the before and after from the same position. Either way...I'm still impressed.)


Highlights of the Day, Deanna style

I'm inspired by my sister's newsy updates on her Herald Herald and thought I would try it too.

Puzzle with Mom. I have lots of good memories puzzling with the fam. Sometimes I feel bad for my mom cause I get really into it. But we get lots of good chat/reconnecting time too.

Walking with Dad. For the first time in my life I feel in the same physical shape or better than my dad. (He's likely just holding back to make me feel good.) While running, I could run longer than him, but he can definitely run faster. Weirdly I can't tell the difference in altitude between here and St. Louis. Also, we have super interesting conversations.

Crab Legs. Mom bought crab legs for a special family meal (a first for our family I believe) The crab meat was so-so, but the meal was full of laughter as crab meat went flying and we invented new ways of getting the small bits of meat out. I love laughing.

Reconnecting with Lauren. Lauren and I went for a night hike tonight in Ute Valley Park and stargazed for a bit until we froze and then sipped Maté in the car. Lauren and I have been friends for 10 years now. I think getting the rare face-to-face time is important to maintain the friendship so it's a good thing our parents are likely not going anywhere so we'll always have the occasional Christmas to be in the same state at the same time.


All is calm, all is bright

Mom and I both agree that "Silent Night" is the best Christmas Carol. It's just so gosh-darn pretty!

We had a different sort of Christmas this year and it was really nice. This was my parents and my "off year" where my sisters spend Christmas with their in-laws. Since I'm partner-less and kid-less, I instead spent Christmas with my parents. It was...quieter.

(But I did miss the manic time that happens when the whole family is together. Deanna jokes that our family is bipolar when we all get together. The more we joke about, the more I think it's completely accurate.)

Just about every year we have a big discussion about which Christmas Eve mass we will attend and before it even begins we all know that the midnight mass (Mom's favorite choice) will not be the winner. Despite knowing this information I tried yet again. "But dad, we haven't gone in years! And we may not have the chance to do it again for many more years because we don't have grandkids around this year!" We grudgingly settled on the 8:30 service yet again but Christmas Eve dinner at a friend's house ran late with singing Christmas carols and rather than leave abruptly to get to mass on time, we enjoyed the evening. Totally by accident we went to the "midnight mass" (now at 10:30 PM).

Nativity at my parent's church, Holy Apostles

Yes, I probably haven't been to a midnight mass in over 10 years and I have totally forgotten the appeal. I've fought for it because I know my mom loves it but didn't really know why. The mass really was beautiful. The music was phenomenal, the candles and decorations were gorgeous and the whole experience just felt holy. This may just be a tradition I keep alive.


Shots in the night

What is the appropriate time to wait to go outside after you hear gunshots?

Last night I heard gunshots from my house in East Saint Louis. This isn't a new occurrence for me, but it is an unpleasant one. The first few times I heard it I tried to convince myself that it was just someone putting of fireworks. It's not. What made this time different from the numerous other times I've heard gunshots was that I was planning on leaving my house again that evening. (In fact, should've been leaving as I heard the gunshots) I waited. And waited. And then about 10 minutes late I made my way to my car and drove off and was just fine.

I always think of what circumstances caused someone to fire a gun. What was the trigger that turned an argument into a shooting? Violence is dumb.

I hate weapons, especially guns.


Merry Christmas!

I really love the Christmas season. Now that our family doesn't exchange presents any more, I've been able to enjoy the season even more. In high school I used to host sleepovers pretty frequently, and this picture is from one in about 2002.

Kaleena sporting short hair, sitting on Santa's lap (Santa is my mom--we like to play "dress-up" in my family)

Merry Christmas!! I hope you can enjoy this time too!


East St. Louis' Neighborhoods

This would've been a lot more helpful if I found this when I first moved here. These are the neighborhood names of East St. Louis. Currently I live in #6 (Edgemont) and work in #17 (South End). For several weeks I kept hearing these names and had no idea what people were talking about. I feel like a native now!

(click for a bigger version)


Monday Inspiration: Throw Caution to the Wind

Soooooo, I'll finally get over my embarrassment and post again. "Embarrassment about what?" you may be thinking, and if you are thinking this then you probably are not subscribed to my blog via rss. For the last month, I've been journaling daily on a private blog for a game I've been playing with my sister and some of her friends. About 3 weeks ago I wrote this rambling post full of self-deprecation (and not in a humorous way) and hit "Publish Post" only to realize that I posted the stinkin' post to my very public blog. (I've now deleted it, of course, but everyone that subscribes to this blog would've been able to read it in full) Whoopsidasie. Thanks for those subscribers that stuck with me despite my clumsy posting. (Maybe you found it interesting and stuck around in case I do it again? I probably will...)

I'm considering another life-change. A move...possibly into St. Louis proper. Tonight a perfect-sounding place, more importantly: within my price-range, was posted to the St. Louis couchsurfing board. What makes it even more perfect was the cool quote I found on the profile for my would-be, new housemate.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

- Mark Twain

I love trying new things, but sometimes I get caught in the comfortable routine. I like the reminder to stretch yourself so you don't have regrets later.