I officially get to list “AINS” after my name now that I passed the final exam in the program last month. It came at a weird time…my exam was scheduled two days after Grandma’s funeral and two days before her burial. It was a relief to pass because my mind and heart (understandably, I believe) were not in it. I’m about a third of the way through my final course to complete the API program—my test is scheduled for November 11th, and it will be here sooner than I expect…that’s just how time seems to work. Even—I’d even say especially—preparing for something, it happens…leaving you feeling off center and bewildered with its arrival. Anyway, hopefully more initials to add to my signature line by the end of the year.

After catching a Saturday evening movie at the theatre, we were in the car when a cover of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” came on the radio. Nick and I tried to sing along, but it just wasn’t the same without Bill Medley’s deep baritone. Inspired, I found the real song in my iTunes library and played in through the car. We were almost home, but we drove around the neighborhood belting out the lyrics (windows up, of course…it was late, after all)…me finding amusement that I automatically go to the low parts while Nick aims for the falsettos.

I looked over to him and felt tears gather. I was perhaps a little maudlin as this was around the time my grandmother died…but it was a living photograph. One of those perfect moments in time, over too soon, that I hope I remember forever. Laughing and loving and having a devoted friend when life gets hard…12 yeas ago, I was in a very different place, and I never thought I would find myself here, feeling so incredibly blessed with my life.

We attended a lantern festival two weeks ago. In my head, I imagined that it would be transcendent, and I was not disappointed. I don’t know what it was specifically, so I think it was a combination of everything—the black of night broken by floating flame, the cloaking music, the collective awe at seeing the lanterns pepper the sky, and the unity with complete strangers. The political climate has polarized us in so many ways…it was nice to have an evening when everyone just accepted one another, no questions asked. We were all there to experience the show and we were all there the create the experience.

Sick of the touchy-feely stuff? Well, I’ll leave with this little Nickism:

The news one morning reported that a bunch of clowns were going to show up at an IT movie premier to protest the negative impact the film is having on the clown profession. Nick added that the protesters were all going to carpool and arrive in a little car…I giggle whenever I think of it.

Over and out.

Nickism No. 6

I hear grating, chewing sounds that can only be Sophie being naughty. “Sophie,” I call across the room. “What are you into?” The tags on her collar clang as she sprints out of the room (so she can nonchalantly reenter channeling absolute innocence).

At my call, Nick jumps to investigate the area in the entryway where we have stacked our luggage and other road trip whatnots (having only recently returned home). “I don’t see anything,” he says, questioning my judgment.

“I heard something that sounds like Velcro!” I defended my perfectly capable ears. Our spring jackets rustled softly as he nudged them with his foot.

“Well,” he began, “then it was either your jacket or mine…not sure which. I’ll hang mine in the coat closet and see if you hear it again.”

Nickism No. 5

The things that come out of Nick’s mouth…you can’t just make this stuff up.

We’re out for a walk to enjoy the sunny evening as dusk falls. Rounding a corner, Nick sees a sign advertising for psychic readings.

Nick: Do you want to know your future?

Me: I’m better off not knowing.

Nick: You know what I think? I think that if I am going to schedule a psychic reading, a good psychic would call me first to help me make the appointment.

Nickism No. 4

The things that come out of Nick’s mouth…you can’t just make this stuff up.

I was sitting on the couch all mopey because one of my favorite treats had betrayed me. Nick walked in from work and sat on the couch to give me a kiss. Understanding my misery, he gestured toward the pantry to suggest that I comfort myself with a replacement treat.

“Why don’t you have some Cheerios? No, not Cheerios. Have some Fritos. No, not Fritos. Hmm.” He was spinning his tires, and his face looked pinched as he tried to do a mind-meld with the pantry before locking me in an intense stare. “Crunchy. Orange.”

Cheetos?” I offered.

“That’s the one! See? We’re perfect for each other.”

Nickism No. 3

The things that come out of Nick’s mouth…you can’t just make this stuff up.

So we’re in Minneapolis. Normally the fates aren’t in my favor for traveling. I seem to come down with terrible viruses and experience maddening insomnia. That hasn’t been the case for awhile now…actually, Nick has been carrying the virus burden lately. He doped up on decongestants before we left yesterday (he was feeling better by nightfall).

I felt great and slept like a baby…except for that jolt awake after “somebody” kicked me. We were walking together later that morning when he apologized. Awake now with my logical sensibilities, I questioned it all.

Me: “How the heck did you happen to kick me!? It was a king-sized bed!”

Nick, sputtering, blushing: “I was trying to get closer!”

His INTENTIONS are so sweet…it’s the follow through that we need to work on.