Friday, November 9, 2012

a simple guilt. a treasured quilt.

Once upon a time my sister attended college in Fredonia, NY.

On her way home she passed some store some where with some deal that put into the family a few quilts.

One such quilt was green, predominantly, and as a kid I came home to my mother asking me if I liked it on my bed.

Truth be told, I liked another one better.  The other quilt went on a full sized bed and my bed was just a twin.

Years went by and the quilts got softer and worn.

Our family and house fell apart and one quilt stayed with me, another with my sister.

She visited me once, with her family.

She asked for the other quilt, her younger daughter having slept under it just that night under my roof.

Covering her with it was a joy that choked me up.

I didn't let her take it.

Some of the patches on it have come undone.  The stitches no longer hold.

I told her if she ever found herself living alone on her own I would send it to her.

Envy being the monkey's paw.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

a letter to the man who used to cut my mother's hair

Hello Matthews!

I am glad to have found you on facebook, I haven't lived in the Syracuse area for years, but I wanted to share a memory and if you could please pass this on to Matthew himself I would appreciate it. 

Back in the early 90s my mother and older sisters used to love Matthew's salon. My memories of each time I had my hair done at the salon are very dear to me. Since I was pretty young it was a really big deal, in fact one of the few times was my older sister's wedding. 

I remember sitting in the chair and Matthew playing snoopy music. On one occasion he brushed out my hair with this big paddle brush and turned it up into an unusual knot. I was ten and my mother thought it looked so amazing she bought all of the aveda products and the paddle brush for me. We went straight from the salon to an impromptu portrait session at JC Penny. I'll never forget that day with my mom.

I never had a great school picture but those pictures from that day make up for it and then some. 

I left Syracuse for college, and have only been back to visit. Mom passed away in 2002 with cancer so none of the Holmes women have been in to see Matthew for ages. 

I thought of this today because twenty years after the day my Mom splurged and bought me a $20 hairbrush (unbelievable by her standards), the brush is finally going to be retired. It just lasted and lasted until recently.

I've been trolling etsy and pinterest trying to find a fitting second life for the brush.

Anyway, after all these years I wanted to thank Matthew. It was a moment I won't forget. 


Mary E. Holmes

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

chapters, if read, are remembered most, by those in love with the characters

Driving over the Bay Bridge, a good soul will note the remarkable feat bridge building is.
The expanse goes noticed and awe is expressed.

A good soul works tirelessly, to see the pieces of their heart under one roof.
Come rain or shine, that heart is like a hearth of sun when the house is full of joy and noise.

Such a darling soul will cry, with grace and gratitude, when surrounded by those near and dear.
Overwhelmed with thanks that the near and dear surround.

The sweet old soul places value in the things that we need most, and stretches far to bring the gold of life together.
Even if the effort tires and pains.
Those rich this way don't know anything but light.

If it weren't for this gold soul, we'd just be masses minding our own lots of happiness.

But for her we are better, she made friends of strangers, and for decades ever after -
I hope we'll have each other to thank her for that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the cost of this is time

In the weeks before I started law school I was sailing around the coast of Turkey and cut my hair to less that an inch long. In the last two and a half years, my hair has now reached past my shoulders and life has moved so far, so fast.

I have never, ever, done anything the easy way. I'm feeling the exhaustion of that at the moment, but my 31 years have taught me this too shall pass.

Its true that not long after I left DC for NY I was desperate to get back. It has made completing my degree a logistical nightmare, but I feel the content is pretty incredible.

In undergrad I insisted on studying abroad, and as a science major, this meant having a schedule quagmire that took testing out of four classes to graduate on time.

Law school has been a more interesting ballet. I am certain that I am the only student in my graduating class that has attended four law schools. Albany, American, GMU and Georgetown.

I thought, for the sake of my own sanity, I would make a list of everything I have done in the last couple years to get me through the last stretch.


I have traveled to over 20 countries while in law school including China, Peru, Guatemala, South Africa, Senegal, and Turkey - I even lived for a summer in Holland.

I have run two Marathons.

I have jumped off cliffs into the ocean, sat on a surf board in the dark sea under a full moon, sipped wine on an African Safari, hiked the Great Wall and rode a horse around Mayan ruins.

For the last year I have worked full-time while maintaining just enough credits to not violate the ABA rules. This was the big deal. When I showed up to work at the Patent Office last January I knew I could never go back to class full time and call that career preparation, I needed to work now and not hope for a job later.

I have moved TEN times. Eight of these moves were across state/country lines.

Thanks to the constant moving I have had to sacrifice truckloads of things. I have handled that as best I can. I am happy to say I have been living in my own little apartment for nine months and have no plans of leaving anytime soon. I recently ran out of dental floss, for some reason that makes me feel somewhat settled. Its been a long time since I lived anywhere long enough to run out of dental floss.

I have sat in courts from The Hague, Shanghai and DC. All around the world, a court room is about the same.

I will graduate in a month and I am employed in a job I truly enjoy.

While I understand that law school is expensive and a risk that can be a poor choice for some, for me it has actually been something I am absolutely sure I needed.

As I spend each night and train ride listening to Bar Exam lectures It occurs to me that so much of what I am memorizing is practical and provides me with sounder footing the rest of my walk in life. That is priceless.

Everything I have done over the last thirty months must come into focus over the next four.

I did this for myself. Everyone needs a renaissance. I may have done so to the beat of my own drum but it brought me to a steady rhythm.

I feel like I can stand perfectly straight and walk calmly and happily alone, with deep appreciation, high expectations and reasonable certainty that even the unknown will be remarkable from the proper perspective.

Finally accomplishing something written as my bio in my sixth grade year book, this degree moors me to me.

I am sufficient unto me.

There have been hard times of crushing pain in years part, that I never imagined I could feel this way, yet I do.

And that is the memory, that there will be lows again and that fortune is a tide and happiness is a choice. It will be hard to convince me otherwise ever again. I have earned this truth.

It amazes me how short life is and that what is dear takes precious time.

Thank you, for your precious time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

free will

God gave us free will.

Limiting a person's choices to, by some standard, a more "moral" selection does not make the person more moral.

It takes away their free will.

It prevents them from having their own faith.

The ends cannot justify the means.

You cannot save society at the price of the most vulnerable and needy in it.

Rape victims, pregnant women, pregnant girls.

You can't make the best of a bad situation when that situation is your whole life, or a whole new life. Lives are NOT situations.

Priests know nothing of duck lips, hysterectomies or the pain of a polyp being removed.

Introduce me to the Priest who was raped as a child, contracted HIV and still insists condoms are a sacrilege.

Or, a PRIEST who, like most humans becomes exposed to HPV, and later had to lose HIS uterus to cervical cancer.

Never mind, just let me meet the Priest who bled through his dress when his incalculable cycle caught him by surprise twenty minutes before a major meeting at work.

Birth Control is not about religion. Some religions don't practice Birth Control.

Free Will is everyone's GOD given right.

Even if your will is to live without God, that will is freely yours.

By the way, Jesus dined with the sluts.

Roughly eighteen years and $200,000 dollars in tuition invested in my Catholic education and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, this is NOT the right conversation.

For all of the incredible clergy who have taught me, supported me and inspired me, this is not the church that was represented to me through their loving and wonderful spirit.

This stand by this church is a failure to minister and is not indicative of so many great men and women who have in their hearts nothing but love and faith.

The community of Georgetown standing by Ms. Fluke is, however, exactly the church I believed existed.

Catholic leaders aim for either the classroom or the pulpit and I cannot reconcile the two, as they seem so very out of touch from one another.

I have ingrained in me the kind of good sense and passion that comes from classrooms helmed by the Sisters of St. Francis, and I cannot in good conscience rest silent when I see something unjust and wrong.

I would love to see Sr. Carla punish Rush Limbaugh right about now.

I am sure the nuns who fueled my dreams would be hurt to hear I am no longer a Catholic. But, then again, a couple of the nuns that fueled my dreams left the convent to fuel their own.

So while I do think they would respond with prayers, I don't think they'd waste them praying for me. Those women know me well enough to know I am more than fine. I believe they'd pray that this church learn to minister to the women it has raised before it loses them all. Before it rejects them all.

I was taught Jusitia et Pax.

Jusitia et Pax.

Jusitia et Pax.

Free will is a human right.

In grateful thanks to Ms. Millington, Sr. Elish, Sr. Carla, Sr. Daria, Sr. Donna Driscoll, Sr. Margaret Patrick Faye, Sr. Ann Kenyon, Sr. Anne Hennigan, Sr. Nancy, and all the Sisters on the west end of Syracuse who took the time to give a damn in my life.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

remembering their brands

Let's see if I can place these...

Grandma Rhoades - Parliament
Aunt Sharon - Parliament, or maybe it was Virginia Slims
Mom - Carlton, soft packs
Dad - This weird kind this peace sign looking thing in the filter
Berney Kraft - Newports
Uncle Art - Pall Mall

Remember Others? Share.

Monday, January 23, 2012

wish you were in my shoes

What happens when Bill Withers is wrong?

When you want to be used up rather than neglected,

but the using up of you doesn't feel good.

Yet, still better than forgotten and not used all.

What happens when you feel like you found home,

and are no longer lost,

but still locked out?

Looking at the line where what you matter to them


short of what you are by universes

is crippling.

They see what they can take,

cause of what you have given,

but can only guess at the true treasure

and underestimate

to the detriment

of better than this.

Mr. Withers, I think you were lying.

Or maybe the truth is

being used

is was what it felt like to be loved.


you didn't know the difference.

I concur.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

baby sister

I am writing her a letter.

Cause I met her when we were new here.

A decade is nothing after all.

She's gone off thinking we are meant to be sad.

Thinking she's done wrong and hurting.

Trapped in things I can't free her from.

I used to tell her not to play in the basement, and I keep repeating myself.

Its cold there.

Come on up cellar.

They think they've got you diagnosed and dosed you full of fear.

Fire and brimstone could kill you.

Come on up cellar.

Here we love your mistakes but more importantly, you love you.

No more days in agony and heart ache. We haven't got time for that.

Come on up cellar.

These are your real first steps.

And I am still here, if you fall I will catch you, kiss you, hold you.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

turbulence: the near death experience experiment

While returning home from a trip to South Africa my plane enroute from Johannesburg to Dakar encountered the kind of turbulence I had previously deemed mythical. Driven to pure panic I wanted only one thing, to tell everyone I could how much I loved them.

The bumps were nothing short of normal at first. We had spent an hour parked on the runway waiting for a storm to pass but it was clear we were now in it. Not yet over 10,000 feet if I turned to see either wing through the windows I would catch glimpses of lightning.

I was worried but not frightened.

Then the bumps became crashes. Not in the sense that we were hitting anything, just in the sense that it felt like we were. I was ripped up from my seat, the free falls started to last far too long and the luggage fell from above.

The cabin became a hurricane of anything not belted down. The jerks, crashes, falls continued over and over.
Along with screams came rising chants of prayer, cries and hysteria.

Calm was abandoned. The man next to me, who was traveling alone, was in tears.

We were alone in the night with the lightning. I tried to prepare myself to die.

The back of my remote was a phone, the kind with the credit card reader. I was fumbling with it trying to figure out how to get it to work. If I had one phone call right then it would be to my brother Peter. I don't know why exactly but at that moment I needed to know I was calling someone who would pickup without fail and who could hold it together long enough for me to handle business. The business of relaying my absolute love to a list of people most importantly my father.

The phone idea didn't work and I dropped it from my shaking hands and joined the screams in the cabin as the plane yanked and banked, fell and thrashed.

I confess I didn't pray. They say there are no atheists in fox holes, so apparently divine inspiration isn't airborne.

The last thing I had done on land was trap my boyfriend into a very long and ridiculous session of public affection. It was the kind of kissing that caught stares in the airport terminal. He was waiting for another plane. I was so thankful he wasn't going down with me. I'm enough of a train wreck to be a plane crash too.

I thought of all the things I had done alone, at least this time someone would be able to say I was happy up until the very end.

I recently had a thought of someone going through my bookshelf after my death. It was from the words of Peter Hitchens on his brother Christopher's passing weeks before. These thoughts didn't reach me on the plane but I was certain I had told people I loved them when we last spoke, I was hoping they really believed it.

All of you believe it, I beg you. I probably won't let you forget it now. That was it. That was what I wanted when I was certain I was done, do they believe I love them? I hoped so with all my heart.

It was right when I was reaching the conclusion that the only regret left by my death was the thought of the people I cared about not knowing what they meant to me that the plane started to act relatively normal.

While the chaos ensued not one mention had been made by the crew. Which contributed greatly to my panic. Not hearing from the pilot that it was under control made me sure it was over.

But now, he was speaking, joking, saying he wasn't charging for the roller coaster ride.

The smell of vomit lingered. My hands shook and sweat rolled off of me.

Ten minutes later the drinks started pouring. I was offered beer to go with my wine, I declined the gracious mercy.

I had seventeen more hours of flying ahead of me before I would be somewhere recognizable.

That was yesterday for me.

Today, after a ten hour rest in my own bed and hours of research into turbulence later I can say I was a fool.

Its incredibly unlikely anything was wrong. While its true that the rare turbulence related crashes occurred in similar conditions, even they belonged to a time of older aircraft and technology.

I was deceived into a near death experience, but it was real enough to have effected the rest of my life.

I am a little more self aware, I hope a lot less foolish and very much alive.