Monday, December 26, 2011

If Not For The Cat

Everyone needs love. This is indisputable. Whether one wants it or not, our hearts need nurturing and sustenance. No matter how long we deny it, or avoid it, we will die without it.

Today I spent much of the day in bed. It hasn't been a good holiday here at my father's but I do have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in and a little tiny bit of hope. I'm either depressed or anxious and panicky as I go through great changes in my life, not knowing what's around the corner, or who I can depend on.

It's raining and bitter cold and snow is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday so I will be trapped here in this house with an angry bitter father and an ailing bitter grandmother. No one wants to come here and see them because they reject the smallest bit of kindness and I threw a monkey wrench in their arrangement of mutual misery by moving in. I tread around both of them carefully or avoid them altogether because they fly back and forth between a rare show of support (here's $20 for gas to get to your brother's on Christmas Eve) or because their bitterness provokes them to lash out with no apparent reason, often only because I'm present (You wouldn't need the money if you hadn't left the man who provided for you and gave you a good home) but not just, as I can hear them alone from this room; they yell at the air and at each other and my father's cats who flee in here and pile up on the bed with me with what can only be described as confused terror. This is yet another personal hell.

Now I know Donny's anguish and deep loneliness and desperation for it to end. He told me, but I had to experience it for myself to fully appreciate such sorrow.

My cat is the one solace I can count on regularly that I can actually touch; All else is either supernatural (God) or digital (internet or telephone). I have little interest in TV and the comfort of music has at least for now been lost as I grieve over Spooky Oats. I tell myself I won't contact him again, but I know my heart will betray me. The loss of his friendship and love is no different to me than a death, only I catch a glimpse of the ghost if I look hard enough. I vow not to look. Some days, I'm successful. Other days, I get into a frenzy of panicked tears which ends with a sleeping pill and closing the door and pulling the blankets over my head. Again I betray myself by obsessive thinking, turning it over and over and over again. Why? Why? Why? But the ghost is silent. I don't understand. I still love the ghost. I still haunt the graveyard.

There is an atom of faith in some equilibrium in the universe that I will have closure but it's suffocated by everything else screaming for me to STOP JUST STOP JUST STOP AND LET IT GO AND HAVE SOME FUCKING SELF-RESPECT but as I told him, when it came to him, I had no dignity. It's true. I have none. Only shame. And confusion.

I have nowhere to go in this house. My father makes loud demanding noises in the kitchen as if to say, 'Come in here so I can punish you for my life' and the kitchen is not welcoming. It's very dark, cold, hard and drafty.  The living room is his domain and the TV the altar at which he worships. He occasionally calls me from my room when I'm home, to join him but I'm wary of him. His moods are mercurial and he is apt to begin shouting at the program or something he's dropped or me for asking or answering a question quickly aimed to begin a fight.

Then he plays the 'It's my house, my remote' game. I usually have no interest in the TV so if I join him I bring a book. He'll complain he's wasting electricity on me when I turn on the light to read. I usually don't stay long. He watches football all day long and during commercial plays the remote like a roulette wheel. He stops on something guaranteed to enrage him and I am to sit there and be the congregation for the eulogy of frustration and ire. He is inconsolable and any attempts to appease him angers him more and worse, he will turn on me and attack something, anything, about my person, my history, my thoughts and beliefs, and my endless failings.

If he finds nothing on TV to excite his wrath, he clicks through and watches me. Something may catch my ear or eye and the moment my head rises to look at the screen, he changes the channel triumphantly and says mockingly, 'Oh, were you interested in that?' I've been down this road many times before so I take that as my cue that my presence is no longer welcome. The fights are exhausting and overwhelming (and over nothing) -he creates chaos's almost a gift if it were an admirable trait. So I get up with my book and walk in here.

There is one pedestal lamp in my brother's room. There is room for nothing else. I've taken the dark shade off because the lamp is across the room and is the only illumination, and in fact, though poor, the best light in the house. I'm surrounded by my brother's belongings which no one will move since his death in March by accidently overdose. They all say 'too soon, too soon'...'everyone has died'.....I say...'but I'm still here..'  Aren't I? I'm fading but my heart is still beating because I feel it breaking.

I wonder if desperation can be accidental or deliberate. God I miss my brother. And my sister. And my mother. And my godmother. And Peachy.

My belongings consist of several bags of clothing, some nightstand and bathroom items and more bags and a laundry basket and books and cds on the bed. I keep a gratitude journal that I sit and look at and try, God I try. I keep another journal that's supposed to be focusing on myself but I keep talking to Spooky Oats in it and know that when it's full, I have to burn it because what if something happened to me and it was found among my things? It's just words. Just words. Meaningless. As time passes, would he even remember me?

Across from and next to me are dressers full of my dead brother's clothing that I'm not allowed to touch or move, nor do I want to. I don't want to get too comfortable. I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to be here, so I lay my scarf on the blanket thrown on one dresser, the blanket he died in, and I put my Christmas candle on the giant TV that doesn't work, nor do I want it to. I'm only sorry it partially blocks the morning sun from the window behind it and very sorry I can't find anyone who can carry it out of the house and my life forever.

Besides being a surface to put my candle it serves another redeeming purpose; my cat, my only consolation in this totally fucked and cursed life of mine, needs to step on it to get to the windowsill when she awakens; her one morning ritual.

She sleeps in an office chair across from me or at my feet and no matter how much time I spend in here, even when heartsick all day and night, refuses to leave except to relieve herself or have a drink of water, when I do. She follows silently behind me. My father often jeers at my 'loyal dog'. I recall my ex used to do the same thing. If I eat a piece of chicken or lamb, she will eat from my plate if she desires. She can have the last bite. That is her right. I freely give it. She is the child denied me. Her life is now more important than my own. .

From our first meeting when she could fit in the palm of my hand, she has put her wee paw on my leg, or arm or cheek while I cried brokenhearted and lonely, and stayed beside me. Even her sleeping form gives me peace. I believe in her more than I believe in God. At least she responds with love and touch. I say this with dread because God has taken away nearly everyone I love. He is indeed, a jealous god.

When I have to leave for the day, they tell me she panics or hides or sits in the window waiting for me and doesn't respond to them, not even for a treat. I left her only once when I needed to protect her from the monster I married and brought her here and it traumatized her. She wouldn't eat or drink  and thought I'd abandoned her. Until I was able to join her, I would visit weekly and plead with her to come out and eat, to forgive me, that we would be together soon, and I would go home and lock the bathroom door and sob. My father and grandmother demanded the details of what the monster did to me and I humiliated and humbled myself to have somewhere to go, to have somewhere for Wonton to go, for us to not be separated. They didn't approve, but they let me stay. They tried to make me stay with him. They yelled that I would lose the house, I would lose everything and so I have. I have lost it all, save my own life, my poor aging car, and my loyal Wonton. I had already wished myself dead and had disappointed everyone by cracking the beautiful veneer of my horrific marriage and breaking the heart of the prince I left.

I do have hope but right now, I exist and hang by a very thin thread. I do not belong anywhere. I do not have a home. If not for the cat, I am alone and belong to no one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Lot Of Little Pieces

I used to love him but I let him go. Still we are friends, and although the years pass, the friendship, when we do pick it up is as if time never passed. We laugh, oh how we laugh, and he knows exactly how to exasperate me in a way that's both endearing and utterly frustrating and he loves that and it only encourages him more.

The warmth and camaraderie between us was palpable when we were together and it sings through the phone and the computer as well. And how could I not love someone who never fails to find some way to point out my spirit and beauty in every conversation? It would not be an exaggeration to say he's a longtime loyal member of my fan club. In fact, he still gets to keep a little piece of me, even after all this time.

He'd been wondering what was going on and I didn't know it but he'd been looking out for me. He held back and respected my silence until finally he reached out and asked me and all the questions tumbled out and I told him all that had happened during the silences. I didn't realize I had my own silences, but I had, and his memories of things I thought only I could recall, bore witness to that.

When I love someone, they get a piece of my heart. If they love me in return, they give it back and a piece of theirs too and back and forth it goes, give and take, sometimes one of us gives more and sometimes one of us takes more but it balances out, if we are lucky, and if we are careful and aware that we hold that little piece. Sometimes they take and walk away with that little piece and we feel lost and torn.

Sometimes we walk away because we feel that little piece has been found unworthy and sometimes we don't know what happened only that little piece is missing and what remains is a very painful emptiness where it once was. Our other loved ones, the ones who look out for us, try to fill in that emptiness when they see us suffering and if we're capable, we accept it and move forward.

I moved forward many times but I knew there was a lot of me that I gave. Although I didn't ask for it it return, the heart needs love. It needs nurturing. It needs to know that it's wanted and significant. Or it becomes numb, or cold, or bitter. It becomes forgetful and I forgot a lot. For a long time, I forgot who I was in the process.

I trusted my love to people who didn't value it and I mistakenly thought that meant that I wasn't worth it but I am. I've always been. They may have lost a lot of little pieces along the way themselves and didn't know how to accept when a new piece was offered to them, freely and without condition. They may have forgotten, themselves. They may be afraid of losing too many pieces and be left with nothing, not even for themselves.

As my life evolves and changes, and with reminders of who I am, how strong I am, and that I have great value, those little pieces I thought I'd lost or forgotten are returning to me. And they not only fill the emptiness I thought I'd have to live with, but overflow and allow me, even compel me, to share more pieces of me.

I have learned that a broken heart can be mended and become stronger than ever and help heal other broken hearts and sometimes, even hearts that don't even know they're broken, or want to be healed.

Time has shown me that I'm not forgotten. I'm not abandoned. I'm not worthless. My true beauty, my heart, and yours too, is composed of a lot of little pieces. If you don't believe it, keep reaching out, keep embracing, try to trust those who are more worthy and appreciative, even if your heart's been broken, don't regret that little piece you gave because one day it will return to you and multiply and your heart will overflow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Sing

She was standing a few feet away on the side of the road, wringing her hands. I'd been sitting on the steps of the deck of my parents' summer trailer at Eagle Lake, enjoying the day and hoping to see the face of someone I loved, and perhaps have a quick conversation and immersed in my thoughts and anticipation, didn't notice her at first.

Her hair was that particular shade of henna red and it was pinned up in a beehive-y bun. She was buxom and plump and although probably in her sixties, it was evident that she'd been a great beauty in her day, the remnants of that beauty making me look twice as she stood in the sunlight hoping to catch my attention. She did.

"Can you help me?' she asked in a thick Russian accent as she walked around my car parked in the driveway and separating us. I smiled and said, 'I'll try. What can I do for you?' She explained that her 'men' (husband and brother-in-law) had dropped her off at that trailer they bought over there and she just realized there was no propane in the tanks and they would be home after dark. What propane company did I use and how much did it cost and how could she get a delivery?

I explained that it being Sunday, there would be no deliveries but I had a cell phone (back when cell phones were uncommon but becoming more affordable so was just months before the industry exploded) and if I could find a signal because there were few cell towers then, I would call for her and arrange a delivery and, waving around my cell and walking a few feet in circles, I finally got a few bars and did what I promised.

Bella was impressed and announced she needed one of those phones and where could she get one. I explained I got mine back in my hometown from a convenience store and bought monthly minutes but there were other options. She thanked me and said her men, when they arrived, maybe could go look for a store to buy one the next day and I told her to go get her purse and we would go now if she wanted. At first she was very reluctant and said she didn't want to inconvenience me and I said, 'Bella, I'm just sitting in the sun and can do that tomorrow. Get in the car.' And she did.

I had the radio on and there was a popular station which played the best pop music of the 60's through the 90's and I sang along at first, hoping she'd be more at ease, because she fidgeted beside me but then spoke up and asked me where the store was. I said that I had no idea but we'd look for one. I thought maybe there was one about five miles away so I figured we'd start there. She was amazed that I just said 'let's go' but didn't have any real destination to speak of. I laughed and soon enough we reached the store but it had switched to one of the first generations of an internet cafe. We went inside and I asked the manager if he knew where we could find a cell phone store and he gave me a few leads but said they'd all be closed on Sunday and I thanked him and we walked back to the car. I apologized to Bella because we weren't able to accomplish what she wanted but she was delighted and said no stranger ever did that much for her so quickly without hesitation so it wasn't in vain.

On the way back to the lake, again I sang along to the radio and during a commercial she asked me if I liked music and I said indeed I did. She asked me if I liked to sing, and again I said, indeed I did although my enthusiasm far outweighed my skill. She laughed and said, 'I sing.'

I was intrigued and asked her to tell me and she explained that she had been an opera and cabaret singer. 'I have sung before prime ministers and kings. Opera houses and famous nightclubs all over the world, and even on TV. I was a star!' she said proudly. 'Would you like me to sing for you?' I said of course I wouldn't turn down such an opportunity and turned off the radio and she immediately began to belt out arias and show tunes and my eyes widened and my jaw fell open as she sang. And sang. And sang. I drove around and around so the spell would not be broken as she sang her heart out for at least a half hour, blending one torch song after another until finally at a traffic light I stopped the car and applauded. 'Bravo, Bella!!! You ARE a star!' She was very pleased and I was thrilled. We pulled into the driveway and stood talking for a few minutes as the sun set and then a half hour more, and then a half hour  more and then she said she'd better light some candles and turned down my invitation to stay the night at least until her men arrived and I watched her walk away.

A few minutes later there was a knock on the slider door and I turned from the kitchen to open it and Bella was standing there and I invited her in. She handed me a rolled up poster and a cassette tape and I opened the poster and it was for a big show she'd had somewhere in Europe I can't recall. She was the headliner and it was obvious she was the diva she said she was. I had no doubt though, the moment she'd opened her mouth to sing. She told me to listen to the cassette later and she had to go and I thanked her profusely and took her hand and she kissed both my hands and said, 'No, thank you for a wonderful afternoon.' and slipped out the door and into the night with just a little flashlight like a firefly bouncing in the moonlight.

Soon after, my job duties didn't allow me to come to the lake as often as I wanted that summer and not long after that I began to date someone else seriously, someone who lived nowhere near the area, and although I missed it, I found myself spending less and less time there and eventually my parents purchased a house at a nearby lake and sold the trailer. I would listen to the cassette from time to time but my boyfriend wasn't a music lover and preferred talk radio and soon my music, like me eventually, became an irritation and inconvenience and for a while, a very much missed part of my life.

Except for that night, I never saw Bella again, nor did I ever find the poster or the cassette but I'm so grateful that for a few minutes, I had an opera singer serenade me for the price of a random kindness and it was, and Bella is unforgettable. 

Recently a friend reminded me that I sing. I had forgotten. I'd put it aside in order, sacrificed it,  to help someone when I was younger but before that I actually used to perform as long as I wasn't required to read music as I'd never been able to master it, no matter how much I'd tried. I'd never had formal training, just enthusiasm, as I'd explained to Bella but to me it was like a form of worship. When I sang I felt the most alive and both vulnerable and naked, and powerful and invincible.

I write too, and try to keep up with that and although my access to my old songs and poetry has been temporarily blocked by way of a hostile impending divorce, I was a lyricist at heart. Music moves me and deeply touches my soul and I'd missed it so much, especially after marrying that man who literally detested it. I still don't understand how THAT happened. I continued to write poetry though, songs without music, save for what was in my head and not long ago, grieving over a lost love wrote the first actual song in ages and it was amazing. It was also so angry that I didn't share it with the individual who inspired it but the fact that I wrote it at all gave me hope, even if all hope may have been lost with the subject matter.

I've begun a new life in the past few months and have made many changes and accomplished quite a few goals. I have a lot more to do and look forward to each accomplishment and count even the small ones as great leaps. I think of a woman who said she was a star and I believed her and think of me, who people too often say I'm a star and while I once forgot, I believe them and know, I sing. Again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Because I Loved You

I prayed to a God who I didn't believe
Because I loved you
I didn't give a rat's ass what you couldn't achieve
Because I loved you
I hoped you were safe and had all that you need
Because I loved you
I waited for weeks and silently grieved
Because I loved you
I let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go and still I held on
Because I loved you
I waited for a single word or a crumb
Because I loved you
But there isn't even any writing on the wall
No response when I yell or plead, weep or call
I don't even know if you know that I gave you my all
Because I loved you

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Last night I had a dream that disturbed me so much, I woke up in tears. Tears are nothing new to me lately; I'm a veritable water fountain akin to something you might find in an ancient piazza, but driving to my therapist's office today, I was still bothered by it and it rolled around and around in my head and not even the beautiful view of Autumn along the highway could shake it and I mentioned the dream to her when I got there.

In it, for some reason I had to show up at my ex's new home and went with a friend, who I couldn't identify upon awakening but implicitly trusted, and it turned out to not be a home but a spacious apartment. It was quite lovely and modern and the rooms were large and well placed even though the entire space was nearly empty of furniture but what struck me most was the most breathtaking shade of green the walls were painted.

My ex was nowhere to be found and in fact, wasn't even on the premises and as we moved further and further into this place, we came to the end where there was a wall, archway and hallway and a man who it was understood to be the real estate agent, turned and said to me, without missing a step, 'Nice what he can afford now that he doesn't have to waste his money on you.' and I was struck by the utter cruelty of his words and woke up very sad and utterly alone.

My therapist asked me who the man was and I said I didn't know and I didn't think it mattered. He was just a nameless entity who didn't even stop to speak. He just kept walking. And she took a breath and told me that what had happened to my marriage was not my fault and I had to start believing that. I told her I did and she said that I didn't but I would and we would work it out and I pet her little dogs and drank my iced tea and talked for another too short half hour while the sun shone through the windows.

I stopped what I was saying and said, 'This is what I want; I want to heal. I want to forgive. I want to not be triggered by minor things and think it's a devastating rejection. I want a new life and I don't want a big cold spacious apartment but a little cozy warm place where the sun pours in on me and I want a room where the walls are painted that stunning shade of green and I am happy. And then when I'm better, I want a healthy relationship where I am loved as much as I love.' She said, 'Good, because you deserve all of that. You're worth it all. And you can and will have all of it.' She hugged me goodbye and I drove home still haunted by that dream but feeling better all around.

I began to keep a journal of my thoughts, my dreams, my mundane day-to-day stuff. I got one of those sturdy marble composition pads and it sat there on my bed for days waiting for me to crack the binding. But I couldn't begin.  I needed to write to someone, not just blindly, so I chose the first person who came to mind and started. I don't know if I will ever show it to him because that's not really the point of the journal but maybe one day I will; I don't know and I'm not going to analyze that just as I'm trying not to analyze us. Although I have come so far, I have a long way to go and I want this person to be part of that journey, no matter what, as long as I'm blessed with him in any capacity. I'm not afraid of risk. Okay, yes I am. I'm terrified, but I still forge ahead because that is my nature.

But I had to confess something and it was as if it began to write itself. Shall I continue because of a childlike hope? Shall I stop because I may become discouraged? Will it be doomed like the letters and poems and fairy tales or is it exempt because of a slight technicality that may be all in my mind but fooling no one least of all him. Why did I stop believing in Santa Claus but not fairy tales? Why did I stop believing in faith but not love? Isn't love faith? All love?

I saw a photograph that wasn't any of my business to see and what I saw in that photo stopped me and made my hands shake. I saw love and hope not for me but was so beautiful that it made me burst into tears and want that love and look for myself, selfishly. I thought of all the times I asked for nothing and gave and gave and gave all my life and sat there in wonder at the eyes of someone I loved more than I thought, and as I wrote down those thoughts, I realized those eyes were the same exact shade of green as the walls in my dream. And I still sit here in wonder that some things, no matter how painful, we may never learn the reason for, but they lead us somewhere to dreams we don't dare not dream. And I'd rather take the chance, the risk, the dare, than be a coward and never know.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ~ Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bubble Island

Insomnia is an old friend that comes and goes and I've long made peace with it since I was a child. When I was very small, I used to sleepwalk and while I have no memory of it, my family remembers with equal parts of horror and nostalgia. Finding a four-year-old in a white granny nightgown standing in the middle of the street at 4AM is not on the top ten lists of any parents' ideas of fun things to do in the middle of the night, but eventually they put the locks higher up near the top of the door and I was pretty safe from my late night wanderings and they too got a lot more sleep.

Now, as an adult, I find myself in the throes of insomnia again, but this time I know it's induced by depression over a broken marriage and the belief that although I did all I could, I wasn't really worth it enough to someone to even try to fix it. So now I wander, again, only this time on I-84, back and forth, back and forth, between visits from my former beautiful village which I no longer have any love for, and my dad's house, my brother's room, where there is no room for my things, most of which I left behind anyway. So, until that gets sorted out, I play Bubble Island.

I like it because it's not really competitive, I don't need to draft friends and acquaintances to be neighbors to fertilize crops or milk any cows and I don't have to have a co-op or commercial venture to move ahead. It's just me and the bubbles to knock out of formation at my leisure, and only in competition with myself to see how far I can get before I run out of lives (hearts) or patience and I've been stuck on the same level, same stage for some time now. It requires maneuvering around clear glass balls and having to get on top of them to knock them out of the way and I can't count the times my dad, sitting in the living room watching Monday Night Football screaming the same obscenities at Michael Vick that I'm screaming at the bubbles, tells me to quiet down. When I'm not crying out of overwhelming grief over my situation, it makes me laugh.

My dad is at a loss at what to do with me. I can't and won't eat so he can't feed me and I wander, like the little sleepwalker, back and forth like a ghost, in and out of the house, asking if he needs anything from the store, maybe something from Dunkin Donuts or Burger King or if I go out with a friend, I bring him the dinner I didn't eat and he picks at it just to be nice. He asks me if I want to go for a drive, he'll drive, let's go for a drive, Elaine, but sometimes I'm crying so hard, I get sick and I can't hear him and he wrings his hands and curses my ex. He won't be going to the house with me to retrieve my things with me when I'm ready. I don't think close proximity to something he hates with a passion now will do anyone any good.

There is nothing like the love of family and friends who reach out to you when they don't know what to say but they try anyway. I'm too tired and distraught to reach out myself. I can't relate or have any tolerance for their broken nails and bad hair days (and now ruefully remember my own petty complaints) when I don't know what my future will be a month, six months, a year, two years from now will be. It all depends on......well....a lot, much of which is out of my hands, and also at $125 an hour for attorney, rather expensive, so while I refuse to become a jammie wearing couch potato as Spooky Oats fears, when overwhelmed, I do retreat to my brother's room to play my little pointless bubble game.

I wonder why I keep playing this level over and over again and remember that a few days ago, I played another level over and over again and learned a couple of new bubble game skills. I kind of toughened up for the next level and got more hearts in the process. If I run out of hearts, I can spend some of my gold coins to buy another heart, or I can start over the next time I have more hearts, but I worry that I might lose the levels I was on before a flag which signifies that I don't have to go back that way again. I ponder this while my grandmother tells me she won't go to bed until I smile and hands me a mug of cherry jello and demands I eat it and I think it's all about love.

I feel alone much of the time, although I know I'm not. My dad and gran have been hovering so much sometimes I need my bubble time more than ever, and I also have a rich online life, a household routine, some writing too, not to mention the friends who make an effort to see me. Some people from my long ago past have even offered to lend a hand and I know I can count on them but the reaching out part is tricky and ironic considering that's part of the great advice I know how to give, but never seem to gracefully take, but yes, I know I'm loved, and thoroughly.

As one friend put it, I don't think you really really realize how much you ARE loved, and that's probably true because of the blinding numbness of grief. I count on everyone to reach through the fog, as I try to myself and I got an email from a woman who I used to babysit when she was a small child. I remember the little girl when she had gangly knock-knees and she's grown in a beautiful woman and her mom, also a friend, either must have told her what was going on with me or it's just so glaringly evident on my FB wall that anyone in a similar situation would know and now in retrospect, a few friends did say they knew something was much for discretion, never one of my strengths.

She told me her story, which was eerily parallel to mine and then she said, Elaine, I know what you're thinking but don't give up on love. I hadn't said anything to her or her mother but had been thinking it, surely. I've said here and everywhere that my heart is a wide open road but this blow has been nearly fatal and although my husband left me in spirit a long long time ago, the walking away, the finality has come down on me like a ton of bricks and I did say, Oh God...never again. And yet those stupid bubbles kept bothering me as if there was some lesson in them.

If we learn anything from our mistakes, then they aren't mistakes but learning experiences and while there's the chance I can continue over and over again-why, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so when I sat on the bed and logged on my computer and opened up another window for some YouTube music, I approached those bubbles in a different way and after a few tries made it to the next level.

Each new level took some time, and often a new outlook, but looking back, I realized that the things I found the hardest to do, I'd become quite adept at and was prepared to face even more challenges, much harder than the ones before and I think back to my friend's email and knew I could never give up on love. Yes, It can be very hard and sometimes seemingly impossible but right or wrong, I'm a fighter--why else would I keep at this level 40 times if I didn't have hope I could finally make it, and why did I fight so hard to repair a ten year marriage--because I'm not a quitter until there's no chance, so I won't give up on it.

Right now, I can't imagine THAT. Well, I can, but only in a 'one day YES but not now' sort or way. When my attorney told me now that I was legally separated I could date, I burst into tears. I know she meant well, but I'm going to need a lot of time with that and I don't do casual anything so there won't be any 'the best way to get over someone is to get under someone' either as two other friends have suggested.

I'm not in any shape to be anything other than me and remain true to myself, so I'm working on healing and accomplishing real life goals as well as moving up in the ranks of Bubble Island and maybe earning another heart for the next level. The best things in life are worth waiting for, fighting for and persevering and even when I've felt totally defeated, I've always known it and thanks to those who love me, are reminded of it everyday.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Value of a Diamond

Although I felt that I was in real danger, I figured I wasn't ready to leave an abusive relationship until I got all my ducks in a row. It was very difficult living the last few months quietly without tipping off any kind of alarms and it took a toll on my health, physically and emotionally. Until today I was unable to eat and was dropping weight so fast my family and close friends were worried I would end up in the hospital. I cried (and still do) at the drop of a hat and just recently I stopped looking over my shoulder with a feeling of dread and hopelessness. Ten years is a long time in today's modern world and I gave it my best shot. In return, I walked out with as many bags of clothing as I could fit in my bag, a few momentos I could quickly and unobstrucively tuck in my pockets, my Wonton, and my jewelry.

It's a funny thing, my relationship with jewelry. With the exception of pearls which are a personal symbol, I don't ever feel like I have to have it. My mother used to love to window shop in jewelry stores and knew all the sales personnel on a first name basis, and I was content just to tag along. On occasion, I would purchase something that struck my fancy; a gold cigar band ring that actually fit me without re-sizing, a pair of dainty pearl earrings with gold puffed heart diamond accents, and another ring that many years later, the style the style of which would be admired and copied everywhere, but I had it first and loved its simplicity. Other pieces I bought and later gave away when I lost interest in them or someone admired them. It didn't matter to me if they were precious metal and genuine stones; if I felt its time with me was done it was as if I had moved along and so they did too.

I have had a real passion for earrings since my ears were pierced when I was 5. A neighbor who had no little girls of his own asked my parents if he could take me and a chaperone (my godmother) to a jewelry store where he would be honored to buy my first pair of earrings and so we went. They were tiny gold fluted hoops and if I look hard enough, I'm pretty sure I still have them. Some jewelry is quite symbolic and I am a sentimental romantic soul and always will be, so those pieces stay with me.

But sometimes things change. I bought a pair of earrings from a friend who makes such lovely pieces that every single thing on her Etsy page looks like a piece of candy to my feasting eyes. It arrived after I left my husband and not having spoken with him since I left, I had no real idea what had become of any of my things and won't until I feel ready to return to retrieve them, but more than anything I'd been expecting in the mail, I wanted those lovely earrings, made with chandelier crystals, silk and Swarovski pearls.

I'd had my eye on them for some time but doubted the wisdom of a purchase especially in light of so many changes in my life and considered it my last little splurge and today, they appeared, with other mail, in a large unmarked box, just as cold and impersonal as the sender himself. I took the envelope to my room and opened it and sighed. They were even more lovely than depicted. I was happy but I burst into tears. They were no longer symbolic of my last treat before I flew the coop. They represented a new life and good things to come.  Even though I still don't think the worst is over, I still can look forward to a brighter more joyful day.

It does, however bring me back to another piece which has meant a great deal to me for well over a decade. I think of my mother and sister's jewelry most of which may not have a great deal of monetarily value, but still know that they who loved jewelry far more than me, would urge me to sell much of it to start a new life and that I will, but this one special piece I purchased for myself and know they would discourage me from doing this.

When I started to model for a designer friend, he helped make a dream come true for me, and the first time I appeared in public, it actually made the local paper with a nice write-up. Not long after that, my mother wanted to go jewelry shopping again and dragged me along and something caught my eye. It was a diamond tennis bracelet and an absolutely decadent splurge and I nearly rejected the impulse to buy it but had a premonition that the man I would soon meet and marry would never buy me a piece of jewelry so I decided then and there to purchase it because I was worth those diamonds and so I did. It is the one thing I wear and never ever take off except to occasionally clean. I wouldn't even consider leaving it to be repaired but would go to a shop that had on-the-spot repairs so I wouldn't be parted from it for long, so attached was I to it.

Sure enough I did meet that man and true to the premonition, he didn't buy me one diamond. I pretended that it never bothered me, even though he, and later, we could certainly afford it but it did. It had become very symbolic of what I meant to him, at least in my eyes, and in time, also proved true. I knew that whatever I asked him for, I was guaranteed not to get for whatever reasons I no longer wish to analyze because I look to the future and not to the past. I never look back.

I have plans next year to travel with Spooky Oats and it's going to be a great adventure. We've been talking about it for a long time now and unless the Universe has something else planned, it's a done deal. All we need is for him to earn the money for his part and to cross an ocean and we'll go anywhere within driving distance our hearts desire. Or not. Maybe we'll just do a lot of hanging out, but something has changed and that's my ability to pay for my share of the road trip so I've been giving it a lot of thought and even a few tears.

One day I looked at the diamonds glittering on my left wrist and realized that the symbolism of the bracelet had changed. It wasn't about me being worth the diamonds anymore. It was about me being worth more than diamonds. Being worth more than a trophy wife. Being worth more than a bird slowly dying in a gold and lonely gilded cage and it wasn't even a decision, really.

Oh no, I wouldn't sell one diamond to pay for legal funds to get rid of a man who never saw fit to buy me one. I'll figure out some other way to pay off my attorney, but I could sell it to fund an adventure with a true friend and confidant, for myself as a reward, and also for him who's doing everything he can to make it happen too. This wealth is on my wrist; his wealth is in things that are of more lasting value and that's how he'll earn his way.

Who knows what will happen. Anything can happen in a year. I have a lot of healing and regrouping to do, and lots of goals. Some are small like a tiny pair of indulgent earrings, and some are huge like a diamond tennis bracelet, but I will accomplish each with with as much grace as I can muster,and failing that, humor.

 When (fingers crossed) Spooky and I do make that trip, my wrist will be bare, but I'll have exchanged what was on it for freedom and a new life and that's the kind of symbolism I like the best.

I'd forgotten that my value is worth far far more than I ever gave myself credit for, and I will never forget that again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Butterfly and Pearls

When I stood at the altar, the man I loved was standing on one side of me, and my best friend Lizzy was standing on the other side as my maid-of-honor. She'd done far more than the usual call of duty because my mother was dying and it was apparent to everyone that this would be her last event so Lizzy  made it her personal responsibility to make this wedding as beautiful as possible in the three months given, rather than the originally planned year.

She recruited family members to make my gown, organize, make favors for and serve at my bridal shower, and professionally photograph the wedding and during this entire time, she consoled me because I was grieving for a mother who was slipping away by the day, while trying to encourage me to enjoy the upcoming festivities.

On that day, my parents' house was bustling with activity and there were three women in the guest room helping me get dressed while my mother slipped quietly into the master bedroom to dress herself, don her makeup and put on a wig. I had shaved her head a week before on Mother's Day because it had fallen out from chemo. It was such a struggle for her and she was a trooper and came out of the room looking stunning. In her hand she had a gold necklace, with stations of pearls, and slipping it into Lizzy's hand, asked her if she'd like to wear it. Lizzy was honored because my mother had been cool and distant and there was a feeling that she didn't approve of her, although she never voiced it. I think there was some 'not good enough' but I felt Lizzy was 'better than' so nothing was ever said to that end.

My sister, a bridesmaid, walked in and demanded to wear the necklace. She threw a tantrum especially since she was possessive of me and didn't want to share me with any female friend. In her mind, there was room for only one 'sister' and she often referred to Lizzy as 'that cow' whereas Lizzy, one of 12 children, knew there was more than enough love in my heart for many sisters and regarded Lisa as an annoying mosquito which only enraged Lisa, and amused me.

Lisa was born into my love, but Lizzy had more than earned it and my loyalty would not be swayed but this day, I was too distracted to intervene, and my mother was too ill, so Lizzy graciously demurred and said as Elaine's sister, Lisa should wear the necklace. My mother observed quietly and found the simulated duplicate in her jewelry box, which Lizzy wore with pride and my heart was full of love for both people most important in my life that day.

A few harrowing months later, my mother died, and I sat in frozen grief and an overwhelming feeling of being so lost and having lost my direction, my husband, nowhere to be found, when Lizzy arrived bearing food and staying with me and my family, watching me, fussing and feeding and making me feel loved even through that black cloud of emptiness. At one point, I sat down with her on my parents' bed and remembering my mother's wishes, slipped the genuine pearl necklace into her hand. Lizzy knew it was symbolic, that my mother had found her 'better than' and more than acceptable. In the end, my mother loved Lizzy as I did.

Over the years, we were sporadically in touch, always trying to make time, but time having a mind of its own, slipping through our fingers...we didn't see each other as often as we would like. She would always check up on me on the phone and we often missed each other. My love for her was steadfast though, and I referred to her as my 'butterfly best friend.' because she was always in flight, tending to so many in her vast extended family.

One day she called me and heard something different in my voice and insisted I tell her. I burst into tears and told her about problems in my marriage so she began to call me more often and left messages on my voice mail and Facebook, little things only we would understand, but meant she was looking out for me, even when in my pain, I couldn't reach out to her.

Recently, I walked away from that man who I stood beside and I felt more alone than I ever had in my life even though he'd been emotionally absent for many years. No matter who loved or supported me, I had lost myself and was a shadow of the effervescent person I once was and didn't know if I'd ever find her again but my friends, some of whom I hadn't heard from in 20 years began to gather and appear as if sent and then finally, Lizzy.

She demanded to know what had happened and I begged to see her, just to be with her would be healing and she talked to me all night trying to make me laugh and finally when I did, she said, 'THAT'S what I've been waiting to hear for FOUR HOURS!' and made plans to see and also help me move. She knew I'd have emotional support but I needed real action, real physical help and while a few wonderful friends offered and I knew they'd be true to their word, I knew it would be Lizzy who'd take charge of the troops. My spirit was broken but Lizzy said she'd personally see to it that Lainey would be back and because it came from her, who'd been there from the beginning, the little heartbeat of hope that my other best friends restarted, began to strengthen.

Last night, the phone rang while I was sleeping. My cell was in its charger in the kitchen and I didn't hear it, but when I got up in the morning to get dressed to see Catherine, my other true sister/friend, who was driving up to see me and make sure I ate, I checked the phone. There was only a number, no message, and it was Lizzy, and I called her to ask if all was well.

There was so much static on the line, I barely heard her but she assured me she could hear me well and I told her I was just walking out the door and she said,' I wanted to tell you what happened, really quick.'

She said, 'I lost your mom's necklace a while ago and couldn't find it anywhere. My niece, Jillian, just found it last night and held it up to me and said, 'She needs you.'. I said, 'What did you say?' Jillian, who doesn't know me, nor do I know her, said again, 'She needs you.'

My mother who has reached out from the grave, more times than I can count, went to the one person who knew would hear her and listen and it was then that I knew everything would be okay.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Darkness and the Light

The Darkness and the Light

He never let me get close enough
to see if he wore cologne

I asked him to sometimes wear it
because it kind of turned me on

He turned around and walked away
and then, still there, was gone

Though physically he still exists
a ghost lives in my home

So accustomed to the darkness
the sunshine hurt my eyes

I avoided doors and windows
because what was inside made me cry

Until I looked into a mirror
where I knew I couldn't hide

And drew a breathe and moved in closer
the light had always been inside

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love Song to Spooky Oats

Relax. This isn't another Love Letter of Dooooooom. I've stayed true to my word and while I couldn't resist a poem a week or so ago, there are no odes to any crushes or lucky bastards I'm smitten with that I will regret in the morning and ultimately in perpetuity. I've learned my lesson which is not so much to guard my heart (still working on that one) but not to, as one wit said, announce it in surround sound. Now that I think about it, I'm failing that one miserably too but I'm TRYING!

It's true that when I care about someone I gush. I'm effusive and tell them how I feel, partially because it's a natural inclination, and partially because I've lost roughly half of the most important people in my world in the past few years, and nearly lost my own life as well. In fact, twice I considered taking my own. Not something to be proud of, but nevertheless, a fact. What I've learned through it all is that life is too short. Take a chance. Take a risk. Wing it. Say it. Say how you feel. Say what you mean. Communicate while you still can. And communication to me, especially from people I care about are little pearls. However you feel about me, tell me, because I'm telling you. That's a gift, my love.

A lot of people know who Spooky Oats is because he makes no secret of how he feels about me too. He is one of my best friends and while there may be 2000 miles of ocean between us, I trust him implicitly and instinctively and he has always, even at my most unreasonable demand, dropped everything when I needed him. I was there when he needed me and always will be and the day that one of us lands at the others' airport it will be a happy day but until now we get by via the internet's various means. He's seen me on Skype without makeup and still loves me. What more could a girl ask for?

I'll tell you. When he comes home from an exhausting day or night he IMs me and his adrenaline is so sky high that I get thrilled just listening to him talk about how awesome this or that was. I know who his heroes are. I know what makes him cry and I know his best friends' names. When he had a break-up and was confused, I hurt with him and cried and when I cried over two different men, he bent over backwards to make me feel lovable because I felt so lost and rejected. He asked for nothing in return but that he hopes he never makes me cry.  He pores over my blogs and dissects my poetry. I know the words to most of his songs and watch the YouTube videos of his band religiously, proud and excited for him. He's my superstar. I'm his princess.

People think we have a 'thing' but I don't really care what people think.  We make asses of ourselves posting here and there to each other for all the world to see. He says, 'You're my favorite,'. I say, 'I better be!' and he says, 'There's no competition.'   There's a lot of chatter about me because when I talk, chat or write, whether it's about myself or others, my heart is open wide and what you see is what you get with me. I don't have a separate internet persona. I am as true as the words I write. And I can count on Spooky to be truthful to me even if it hurts, because I know in my heart, as flawed as he might think he is, he too is true and honest. I know where I stand with him.

Tonight I shared something very painful with him that only one other person knows and that person who I also care for deeply is choosing to remain incommunicado which had been killing me and we discussed that too. That person to the best of my knowledge doesn't ask me about myself or read my blogs and probably doesn't even know that a poem was written for him, poems that are becoming, I see, the newest incarnations of the Love Letters of Doom, jinxes all, yet still I write them, and as Spooky calls it, I am indeed a fickle woman and I asked Spooky if that person could redeem himself and he said,  'In reality no, but in your eyes, if he tries his very fucking best just because you hold less of a grudge than Karma does,' and it dawned on me that he knew me better than I gave him credit for. I didn't know that he knew how I could and have forgiven so much and let so much slide but he'd been listening and observing the whole time, patiently, ready to pick up the pieces, ready to hold me as best as he could from across an ocean.

Two out of three we have, and one day we may have the third, but you forgot one more; Gratitude. My cup runneth over.

Now write me a song.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Light-Years to Mars

I'm sorry that I'm not a puzzle
Or a cryptic and strange secret code
I guess that I made it too easy
When I offered warmth when you liked cold

It's true I'm not so formulaic
And don't know a lot about clues
I'm too busy feeling what's inside
To recall any absolute truths

You probably could say I'm a fool
For Believing and Wishing on stars
I guess there's a lot more to distance
Than packing for light-years to Mars

I never thought I had the answers
But I figured I'd wing it and try
I honestly didn't expect that I
Wasn't worth five minutes of your precious time

Well here I go burning more bridges
But it's my talent or so I've been told
Don't apologize, there's nothing to forgive, mea culpa
It's just my heart is a wide open road.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Uppity Fatty

I laugh when I hear 'conventionally attractive' and 'normal' because it's like trying to nail jello to a wall when you ask someone to define what those terms mean. Recently I heard a woman who weighs over 350 lbs. proclaim she has 'some thin privilege' because of her height (she's amazonian) and her activity level the description of which left me exhausted. How do we come up with these terms and why do we continue to use them since they seem to change direction with the wind?

When I was a kid and used to read Mad Magazine, one of my favorite recurring sections was the inside back page where one had to fold twice to get point 'A' to meet point 'B' and it would give a visual representation of whatever the joke was. In one most relative to my point, was how the standards of beauty change over time, so the original image was of a woman who was pleasant looking with regular features, bright smile, eyes and shiny hair and once folded, the visage now showed a person with a gaunt face covered in tattoos, piercings, impressively garish scars and the like with the heading, The Future Face of Beauty. The sad and scary thing is that face does in many eyes represent the face of beauty to many people and the pleasant original face is now often considered boring, bland and passe'.It's not so dismaying that the former is embraced but that the latter has been discarded and found lacking.

I suppose I could come up with a pie chart and some statistical trends that occur (and interestingly ebb and flow) to support my thoughts but that's what your fingers and Google search is for so go knock yourself out. If you want facts or factoids or things that are baloney but are stated with such emphasis and authority that they must be true, then Wikipedia is the one for you because as you already may have guessed:

Everything you read on the internet is true ~ Thomas Jefferson

At this point I probably have to also add my own disclaimers. I have 'beauty privilege' 'mouthy broad privilege' and  'are you gonna eat that cake or what privilege' because I get away with a lot that being a fat person, by conventional standards, I shouldn't be. Some say it's my charm. Some say it's my chutzpah. I'd like to think that nobody puts this baby into a corner because there isn't a corner big enough for this baby.

One thing I don't lack is self-esteem. Due to a recent cover of Village Voice profiling a couple (among others--SHOUT OUT TO MY MY GIRL 'CHARLOTTE'), one of whom was an FA (Fat Admirer or Guy Who Likes Fat Chicks) and the other, a stunning fat webmodel, both of whom I sorta kinda know in an interwebzy way, we (fatties and the ones who love us) are getting a lot of attention both from fellow fatties joining in (MY PEOPLE!) to haters admonishing that we're all gonna die of teh dethfatz. We tend to laugh at the doomsayers who also like to throw out the 'fat girls are easy' line---Every guy who never got me only wishes this, the 'fat girls will go out with anyone because there's less of a pool to choose from'--which is why Spouse has to beat them off with a baseball bat when they approach me IN FRONT OF HIM, and 'Fat people are lazy slobs who've given up on life' which um....there isn't enough bandwidth to address this one.

You don't have to like me. You don't have to like my fat. But I'm a human being same as you and you're no better than me. Oh and you over there, you little chubster who says, 'Well, at least I'm not THAT fat or I can always pull back'--you're no better either. You're one of us. One of us. One of us. You're making it worse for everyone and everyone includes you, I promise you it will come back and bite you in the ass.

And while you can cowardly hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and try to shame me because not only am I not ashamed but also have the audacity to be arrogant and say, 'No, you don't get it. I wouldn't fuck YOU.' you might want to do two things. First, look in the mirror. Then think about what you say when you're out in public spouting your shit and pseudo facts because there are a lot more of me than there are of you. We're not only getting fatter. We're multiplying and we're not going away.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Run Llama Run!!!

Every woman has had a million (hyperbole thy name is Elaine) moments of internal strife and struggle when she stands in front of her closet and says in all sincerity, 'I have nothing to wear.' If that woman is me, she will also stomp her foot and might possibly fling the nearest pillow for full diva effect because I take my melodramatic moments quite seriously.( Owing it to my adoring public of one; a small black calico who is more interesting in licking her ass than my performances. Critics can be so brutal. Still the show must go on.)

Glorious spring is here and I can already smell summer in the air, which in the country is actually quite pleasant although sometimes the fragrance from the prizewinning llama farm just down the road can get a little ripe. I do remind myself that the owner of aforementioned farm is also a philanthropist and conservationist and sells that llama hair (it's hair, not fur) and milk for a fortune and that he's also a sentimental crazy old coot as evidenced by the fact that he will only sell his llamas in pairs (because they get lonely and who wants a lonely llama) after a strenuous and lengthy adoption process in which there's a distinct possibility you may not even be approved. And for the love of God, do NOT insult his devilled eggs which are lovely dyed pink in beet juice by his manservant and secret lover, Teddy.

I get to see the llamas for free because he throws an open house once a year to the public but also a separate neighbors' get-together on the veranda (I shit you not) where we sip champagne with berries and eat organic (grown in his own garden, fertilized by llama poo) tomato and llama mozzarella appetizers while perusing pics of llamas and gossiping about that asshole who keeps building houses where the deck bannister is built into a kitchen window which renders it impossible to open or the time the deck support beam stopped 18 inches ABOVE ground. We wondered aloud who would buy such a house, not realizing the new owner was sitting among us. Awkward and here's your welcome basket.

I don't need a llama because some kid with too much time on his hands keeps going back to the private road none of us are allowed to use unless a state of emergency is called because evidently prizewinning llamas are in such demand that more than once very bad people have pulled up to the back gate of the farm with a tractor trailer and stolen some of the beloved camelids.

The boy himself doesn't want to steal them, though. He just likes to open the gate and let them run free sometimes so it isn't an unusual sight for me to see from my patio door one munching on a white pine in the woods behind my house. I call the philanthropist's secretary, she calls one of the stable boys, llama gets apprehended, I get a lovely flower arrangement (and depending on the time of year, a half ton of organic zucchini) and am ensured another invitation to the next neighbors' wine and cheese party.

We ooh and ahh during the tours and at the array of ribbons on the stalls and doors and are encouraged to take as many prints of photos as we'd like. We also get little souvenir bags of llama silk, which I'm told is worth a lot of money and I ponder how much silk it would take to make me something to wear to this First Holy Communion my sister-in-law's sister's kid is celebrating tomorrow.

I find something new and lovely with the tags still on and feel triumphant and do a little happy dance around the room while Wonton enthusiastically chews on one of the ribbons I never throw out but tie to the drawer pulls of my antique dresser because I think it looks so shabby chic but since her arrival now just appears shabby.

Spouse comments on this frequently which is why I will NEVER remove the ribbons if only to irritate his decorative sensibilities which extend mostly to wondering aloud if particleboard is an endangered wood species and naugahyde no longer exists because wild herds of naugas were hunted into extinction in the 70's.
I don't speculate on his obsession to recreate a casino in the basement (five slot machines and counting) so I dismiss his opinion on such matters with impunity.

The top/tunic is flow-y and I've found the perfect pair of faux olivine earrings to go with it (thank you Heidi Daus and HSN) but it is an off-the-shoulder top and it's too late for me to find a strapless bra in my size which is not 'plus' or 'queen' but 'empress of the universe' and therefore fittingly rare, but I vaguely recall owning one that not only is exactly what the doctor ordered BUT doesn't make me feel like I'm going to spill over and do a burlesque number every time I reach for my martini.

Now another source of contention is that I have a lot of clothes. No, really. I used to model for a short time (the putting the clothes ON, type of model) and was fortunate enough to work for and collaborate with some great designers and their advice (and perks) is priceless but THAT comes with a price; there are three closets in the room and two large dressers and except for two drawers for Spouse' tees, boxers, socks and jeans, they're all mine. There is also a large dresser in the bathroom filled only with my panties because I have a very slight lingerie fetish.

And I can't find that bra.

Okay I have other bras I can wear. One is nude and convertible but I can't find the damn extender and the clips to switch the straps always come undone at the most inopportune time, like when I'm curtsying before the Queen, so....pass. Then there's a couple that I could technically wear while tucking in the straps, because they are pretty supportive but they're all lace and will affect the appearance of the top I'm wearing so, although quite beautiful and the perfectly appropriately matchy-matchy to them too and now I'm getting desperate. Oh damn, I should have followed Ginny's advice and just bought a smaller one with boning and just mofo'd the hell out of it with extenders but I'm so freakin stubborn. SHIT.

And then....while I'm hopping from foot to foot because suddenly I have to pee but am too willful to give up my search, I reach into the back of a drawer and not only pull out the equivalent of winning the lottery (okay, okay, a free scratch-off ticket) but the little bag containing ALL the convertible accessories and I HAVE SCORED!!!!!! And I forgot because it's been so long but it's silk, hair...awwww...

I look for Wonton's approval to share my success but she's left the room which is unusual because of our four cats, she is MY shadow, MY confidante, MY furkid as opposed to the other three who only deign me to live in THEIR house with Spouse. She thinks they're all peasants so I'm quite content to be beloved by her only, because of her impeccable taste. My outfit for tomorrow properly assembled I walk downstairs in search of a Diet Dr. Pepper and my cat.

Evidently there is a union meeting and I wasn't invited to serve donuts and coffee. All four have come to a temporary truce and are sitting shoulder to shoulder at the patio door. Because it's a warm breezy day, it's open to the screen and four tails are twitching in unison, four rumps are hitching for a pounce. I look for the squirrel who frequently comes to visit them at the door and burst into laughter.

There's a llama on my deck.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let Me Not Forget

There are moments in life that are so branded into our psyches that there's no need to tie a mental string around one's finger. Like the firsts; first time I tied my shoes, first time I rode my bike without training wheels, first day of school, first pet, first A+, first time I stood up to a bully, first time my performance earned applause, first crush, first kiss, first raise, first car, the list is long because my memory is legend but also because I'm hopelessly romantic and schmaltzy sentimental.

But then there are those times that I've been hit by such an overwhelming wave of emotion and feeling that I forget who, what, when, where and why and knew in the depths of my bottomless soul that I needed to mark the moment lest I forget amidst the noise of my beating thrumming heart. And in truth, the fear of what could go wrong.

Some of it I've shared with you, gentle readers, here, there and everywhere, like the time I was kissed the way I was born to be kissed. Like Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, I waited for what seemed like a lifetime for that kiss and was taken breathlessly by surprise when it happened but I clearly recall saying in my heart as he held me in his arms, 'Let me not forget this moment, ever' a plea, a supplication to a higher being perhaps that in hours of need that I could visit upon that moment and remember for a few moments I was deeply wanted and needed and that moment was full of possibility. That I remain good friends with this man fifteen years later is a testimony to how time (for me at least) tends to filter and soften the focus of pain and disappointment and blur the memories to bittersweet treasures. That his hands shake when we see each other, still, even now, too is a treasure, a little pearl.

Speaking of pearls, they are a personal icon. The tiniest innocuous irritant makes its way into the imperious impervious lip of an oyster in an endless ocean full of countless grains of sand and countless oysters. They find each other or perhaps the current ebb and flow of life throws them together but either way the grain of sand rests and nestles in the heart of the oyster. No matter how much it tries, the oyster cannot expel the little interloper so it releases nacre to cover the grain of sand in layer after layer after layer until a pearl is formed. A precious natural jewel created from something so relentlessly even ruthlessly rejected. Oh how could I not relate? How could I not adore such irony? How could it not

Then there was the time I though God was lost to me. That we would be strangers, that I wasn't good enough and I would be a spiritual orphan because I couldn't fit into the box of 'should be' and couldn't reconcile that any intelligent God would expect me to suspend logic to believe and follow Him. One day, I joined a gathering of people and after years of wondering if it was possible, I felt a spiritual awakening. One night after many nights of prayer and meditation both on my own and with my friends, I felt as if a river was rushing and bubbling through my entire body and as I held the hands of my friends on either side, they felt it too and I said aloud, 'Let me not forget, ever, please oh please'...again a prayer.....and the tears on my cheeks even now are proof that whether you believe or not, I know that *I* felt it and needed it for whatever reason and I fully embraced it and do now. Oh, I do believe, I do believe as the Cowardly Lion said.

I am blessed. I have had illuminating moments that were joyful and some that were agonizing and perhaps because I AM so stubborn and willful I had to experience them both to learn. So many lessons learned and so many more to come. So many answers give rise to so many more questions and I stand in awe and amazement and wonder of it all. That I get one go-round on this beautiful earth is blessing enough. That I share it with so many amazing people and experiences is the cherry on the cake.

Some more Let Me Not Forget moments:

When my late mother visited me on the day of my sister's funeral to tell me she was now safe and no one could hurt her again.

When I knew I no longer loved someone but it wasn't my fault. I really had done all I could. And I was able to and did forgive him. And the one after him too.

When I was both devastated and relieved that the person I thought was my soul mate, wasn't.

When my dearest friend who lost everything she loved most still loved me and held me when I lost everything.

When a group of beloved friends had to repeatedly remind me who I was and did not let go until it sunk in.

When I poured out my heart to someone and he ran away and I never expected it.

When I poured out my heart to someone and he still didn't run away even though I fully expected it.

When a friend told me the brutal truth and I was ready to accept and embrace it.

When I finally believed it after denying it for years that I am amazing and there's nothing wrong with believing it.

When I was ready to give love a chance again in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds.

When I was ready to breath and stand on my own two feet.

When I was ready to start writing again.

Let me not forget. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Crying over Spilt Chocolate

In the space of less than seven years, I have lost half of my family; my beautiful mother and only sister Lisa and my sweet baby brother Donny. My father sees no reason to celebrate or observe any holiday today and I can't blame him because the loss of my brother was so recent, but I am deeply grateful for my many blessings, most especially, that I still have him and my brother David, my continuing improving health, the love and affection of friends near and far and even a couple of men who I still don't understand why they put up with me.

Today talking with David, we both mentioned simultaneously that it's 'just us' and I dissolved in tears. I don't like to dwell or wallow and don't want pity but I ache for what I've lost.

I do know that there is a future for me and a bright one at that which I anticipate with the same relish I have for the hollow chocolate bunny whose head I'm currently bashing in. Like the bunny, today is bittersweet.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When children have nothing to do they'll conjure up anything to entertain themselves soon after discovering stating aloud that they're bored will earn them two days cleaning a garage that has accumulated 24 years of unwanted stuff that somehow escaped eviction. Sometimes this isn't a total failure; it's amazing the things one can do with 11 cans of used lead paint and a rusty hacksaw not to mention 8 stale packs of Winstons my grandfather used to hide in the drop ceiling when he would run downstairs every twenty minutes to 'check on the boiler.'  Don't ask me about the razor blades or the matches, please, but my brothers and I do have some interesting scars.

My house was the one on the street with all the kids inside, outside, everywhere, always. My parents put up with it with good humor mostly because at least they knew where WE were, except maybe at dinnertime when we descended on the kitchen like Mongolian hordes. When we weren't playing wolf-pack out on the street until the lights came on signaling it was time to go home or at least plotingt the next slumber party, we were devising more ways to maim and disfigure each other.

My sister being the youngest and therefore more fragile than the rest of us peasants (I had demonstrated my ineptitude at keeping her in once piece by shattering her collarbone in an unfortunate jungle gym accident), spent much of her time with my mother, shopping or on errands, so I the lone girl, would play with my brothers and my uncle, John.

John was my worst nightmare. He was what people back then called a 'change of life' baby as in, 'Ooops...heh heh..I thought I was too old to get preggers but GUESS WHAT HONEY?' so when my mother and father were dating, my grandmother was foisting her toddler on them to kill two bird with one stone--get some free time away from a screaming snot nosed angel and said cherub with stinky cloth diapers and rubber pants would be the best birth control chaperone one could ever hope for only that didn't work that well because somehow I was born six months after the wedding. So much for precautions.

Grandma was already tired and Mom had us like stair-steps; four one after the other so what was one more? The thing was though...I was technically the oldest of MY PARENTS' children but because John entered the mix, he was the oldest of the group. Because he pulled the YOU'RE NOT MY REAL MOM card on her every change he got, he was able to torture me without restraint and did so gleefully. His pulling rank made Lord of the Flies look like a lemonade stand in comparison and my grandmother was no better.  She owned our house and if John convinced her we were trying to decapitate him, she'd get all nasty with my mother who'd get medieval on our asses.  I learned to independently and stealthily fight boys pretty young and damned effectively as a result. Bones were broken. None were my own.

One rainy afternoon we were killing each other over the Colecovision controls and screaming over the proper way to blow on the cartridges to get supreme effectiveness. DON'T SPIT YOU PIG! when one of thought up a new war game. Bomb.

My brothers ran into their secret lab errr...bedroom which in some states should have been closed down by the EPA and CDC but because we were in New Jersey, they were able to obtain access, and searched for every sock that had lost its match. They quit counting after about 600 and we set out to the task of stuffing balls of socks into a giant misshapen lump. This would serve as our ball as our eavesdropping mom had kiboshed our first idea of a brick wrapped in a pillowcase. I still don't know what her problem was. I figured they should have stopped at me anyway and would be doing the human race a favor by allowing us our own Darwin Awards competition but.....she was the adult and out of cigarettes and chasing my sister around so, "Keep quiet and don't bother me unless you're bleeding or something is on fire."

We took that as a direct challenge. She threw down the gauntlet. It was our honor we had to defend.

The game of Bomb was simple. Divide the living room into two halves. Push all furniture to the walls and make a low wall of whatever might pass for sandbags in foxholes to approximate the terrifying exhiliaration of impending death. We used down pillows, couch cushions, misappropriated rolls of Bounty towels, and when the going got tough, my sister's mangy stuffed dog, Scroungy.

Then we divided ourselves into teams. John was the bully and always a team captain. Sometimes he chose wiry Donny for maneuverability, sometimes he chose muscular David for sheer ruthlessness. By default and my big mouth, I was the other team captain and got whoever was sniveling that he wasn't picked, for John's team.

A countdown began. If the game was short, we started at twenty. We all counted off solemnly, steadily, chanting 17.....16.....15.....14.... lobbing our ersatz ball at and over the head of each other scrabbling around on our knees because standing was not allowed and other than the count, speaking wasn't either. Grunts and groans were though, and an occasional screams should we nearly brain ourselves on the corner of the coffee table but the game MUST NOT STOP until the count was over and whoever had the bomb on their side was dead replete with as many blowing up sounds as we could muster. I must say we were very good at explosive sound effects. I also recall there was a lot of spitting when we attempted machine gun fire.

Many days my mom would walk into the den and find us strewn around the floor like so many corpses. We even practiced not breathing but she always faked us out by reanimating us with, "Okay, who wants a snack?"

There are no atheists in foxholes, and evidently no Hostess Cupcakes either.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Losing My Religion

There are many people who don't believe in a higher being. I'm not one of them. I look at the world around me and see the touch of a master's hand in what can only be described by my mind as beautiful design. I don't consider myself religious by any means but I do consider myself spiritual insomuch as I believe in God and communicate with Him and am comfortable with that. I don't need to search for answers or to be convinced for or against and respect how you feel about the matter too. You don't have to believe. It's okay. I still respect you and your right to not believe. I even understand the ire, disappointment and bewilderment that onlookers feel when they see those who believe, whether they flourish, flounder or fail. And many of us do fail spectacularly, don't we?

I was 'born' Roman Catholic to a family that had been that way for many generations. I loved the universality of belonging to such a huge 'family' and feeling cared for and I loved (and still do) the ritual and mysticism. I especially love the devotion and unselfishness of the believers. Not so much clergy, although Sister Eileen at St. Mary Star of the Sea was a peach, but I always took issue with authority figures because I've found that power is intoxicating and most don't handle it well, and my personal experiences bore that out.

I don't know what was the catalyst but my mother and grandmother began to go to a tiny pentecostal congregation some nights and before I knew it, my entire family with one exception, me, had converted and embraced their new religion with fervor. For a long time my family seemed drunk with happiness but I was skeptical. I was asked to shed many beliefs in favor of frankly fantastical stories based all on the Bible and subsequent interpretations of spiritual authorities and I was doubtful. I participated in the small church of warm friendly and generous people and I made a half-hearted attempt at saying the Sinners Prayer but I felt nothing much the same as I felt nothing when I was in the Catholic Church. I kept waiting to feel 'something' and was disappointed when I was told by my pastor that my problem was that I was thinking too much. I realized that any God that required me to suspend logic wasn't the God for me and quietly withdrew while remaining cordial to my friends and family within the community.

Thinking for myself, according to many, my parents, religious teachers and the little church was always a problem it seemed. Around the tulmultuous ages of 15-20-ish I decided that I had to choose between God and myself and chose my own desires. The truth was that I felt rejected by God because I felt He didn't care enough for me to give me some huge epiphany or the gift of speaking in tongues as everyone else in my congregation had. I felt left out of God's Club and although they loved me, I was more of an auxilliary member stuck in some sort of limbo because I hadn't cracked the code. I felt like I failed God and them and drifted away but I had friends who kept reaching out and loving me and pulling me in with their love.

A few of those friends were considered rogues within the church because they challenged authority, not with defiance but with their own fervor and zeal. They loved regardless of whether one towed the lined and it exasperated and later enraged those in power because as long as believers did what they were told under the guise of being a good Christian, everyone would be good well-behaved little soldiers. Eventually my friends would literally be barred from entering the church in a shameful display of abuse of power and I stood there and wept because while I was in good standing with the congregation for appearing every Sunday and tithing, I felt spiritually empty, while they were driven out because their passion and spirituality didn't fit well.

My dear friends didn't even use that horrible experience to their advantage as they well could have. Instead, they began to conduct little bible studies in their home on Tuesday nights and had an open house to anyone with an open heart and it was there that I first felt a spiritual awakening.

I am reminded of a little joke about how some churches like to clean a fish before they catch it, because I had been found wanting many times in the little church. I was a smoker then, and refused to wear skirts or dresses at the time because I was very self-conscious then about my weight and I was penalized by not being allowed to teach Sunday School or sing in front of the congregation (until they got choir robes) all of which drove a further wedge into my feelings of rejection and not being up to snuff. Contrast that to the humble little bible group that didn't care what I did as long as I wasn't disruptive. I and subsequently, my spiritual life bloomed under such freedom and acceptance and I had a real thirst and curiosity to know God.

I also realized that my withdrawal from God was a mistake. I had blamed Him (and I do think of Him as a 'him' but am comfortable with other descriptors) for other people's mistakes. The distance between us wasn't because He had rejected me; I was just led to believe I didn't know the magic formula to be favored, but that was human error, on my part and on others I trusted with my spiritual life. Now I see that while we are all on different walks on our spiritual journeys, should we choose to follow them, we owe it to ourselves, to God and to each other to be honest and responsible. What I believe may not be what you believe but if I'm going to believe in God, to put Him in a box and try to define Him for others is dishonest, self-serving and destructive.

The best way that I can show I am any kind of believer is to live my life in a way where others might wonder and seek out answers and desire it for themselves and if they need my input to tell them, this is how I feel and what I think, but you have to think and decide for yourself. Don't let anyone tell you because there are no magic tricks or secret handshakes. There IS love and compassion, forgiveness and gratitude and power and humility and if it seems so simple, it is. If it seems more universal and less religious, it is. Maybe that's the point.