Thursday, December 9, 2010

it's soooooo me...

“Oh My God! Look at this! You MUST buy it!” my friend exclaimed, “It’s soooooooooo you!”

I was out doing some good ol’ multi tasking. Social interaction with friends and Christmas shopping. Popping in and out of stores not really task oriented, just getting ideas. And picking up some things, mostly for myself, along the way.

The sweater that my friend held up was cute. But not for me. There were several things standing in the way of it ‘being for me’. One was it was pink. I don’t do pink. Secondly, cascading down the front was a plethora of sparkly sequins. I don’t do sequins. And third, it was cropped. I don’t do cropped.

As she stood three exclaiming how purrrrfect this would be to wear to a holiday party “with grey straight leg jeans tucked into over the knee boots” I wondered how well my friend really knew me. I mean, I’ve known her for years, but did she really know me?

Grey jeans? Me?
Tucked into boots? Over the knee high boots at that.

I don’t think so. The only thing that was me about that sweater was that it was a cardigan. I do do cardigans. But they must be rather classic in style and usually in shades of gray or black. Pink? Um, no.

Over the years I’ve met many a person that has claimed “Oh Nancy, I know you.” Some really do and some might think they do, but they really don’t. Perhaps my friend saw in that sweater a Nancy that she thinks that I should be. Pink sequins? In her eyes am I really a pink sequin donning girl?

I have a friend who wears color well. Everything that I’ve ever seen her in is brightly colored or printed. And it looks great on her. The more embellishment the better. She can pull it off. I on the other hand would feel as if that embellishment was wearing me. My style is low key, laid back, no color and classic. Delving into the dating world I question the good sense given by magazines for ‘date night dressing.’ Is this where I’m going wrong? Do I need to take their advice and wear a red dress when out on a first date as opposed to my black turtleneck or white non-iron French cuff shirt?

Is that what is expected of me? Is that what men want?

I find reading such things as I wait for my manicure to dry ridiculous. Maybe it might be good advice for some young girl who hasn’t quite found her own sense of style yet, but I find dressing in a manner unlike you to be somewhat absurd. What if I did show up for a first date in a red dress. Perhaps my date would like that kind of low cut style and color. But that’s not who I really am. So who have I fooled? Myself? Him? Would I now need to change my entire wardrobe and outlook on clothing in order to dress to impress? Do I really wish to attract a man with said red dress as opposed to the real me?

I like red dresses, don't get me wrong. Just in magazines or on other people. It’s not who I am. Or at least the me who I have always thought I was.

I’ve been trying in these past few months to do things outside of my norm. I went out to eat the other night just by myself. I used to travel to Cincinnati quite often for work. I would stay in a hotel downtown. Once the store closed I would go to one of the nice restaurants in the square and enjoy a good meal before retiring for the night. There were groups of men after work, groups of females finished with their shopping and romantic couples at most of the tables. At the bar would be men on business sitting alone having a bite to eat. I would always ask for a table. It made me uncomfortable to saddle up to the bar by myself. Like I was there to pick someone up or something. Blame it on the movies I’ve seen, but my sitting at the bar alone all Sharon Stone-esque just isn’t quite my bag.

As I sat, alone, waiting for my meal I would hear others coming in. “A table for two, please” a man said with a girl hanging on his arm. Bah. She was wearing a red dress. Go figure.

I signed up for an internet dating site. They send daily ‘matches’. I read some of the profiles and then archive them. Some of the guys I don’t even read their profiles. One look at the picture they’ve uploaded to ‘attract their mate’ turns me off to the extent that I almost feel compelled to message them to let them know it’s not working. Really? That’s the best picture you can find or get your hands on of yourself? Tell me it isn’t so.

These poor souls. These saps. These losers…and I hate to say that, but it’s true. The main profile picture of one guy standing in his garden (ok, he works for a greenhouse…so I get the garden thing) in an ill-fitting t-shirt that shows off nothing except his beer gut. Or the guy that obviously set up his camera on his dresser in his bedroom to self timer, ran in front and put his leg up on the bed, elbow on his knee. Did he realize that his shoes were on the bed and he was in his socks? Did he take into consideration that the old floral bedspread that his wife or past girlfriend bought for him might not give off the ‘strong masculine’ ideal that his pose is trying so hard to present? Did he take into consideration that there was a cheap oval mirror in the corner of the room that reflected both his flat ass and the camera on the dresser that still held his wedding photo?

I don’t think so.
These aren't the men for me. How would I got 'matched' with them in the first place amazes me.

I didn’t message him. Although I should. Just to let him know. I figure that many people might not see all the detail in his photo, but I did. Can you say ‘archive’? Yup. As fast as my fingers could manage it.

I have met a couple of people through the site. A nice New Zealand man who plays professional squash. In Cleveland? Who knew such a creature existed? He’s got a nice smile and a tremendous accent. Is it a match made in heaven? No. I don’t see myself smiling in the photos of the log-in page with a ‘Nancy and Ray ~ matched November 2, 2010’ anytime soon. But to share a pint or two…sure thing. Larry was a nice man. Really nice man. But I just wasn’t attracted to him. And his familiarity in conversation wanting to make me dinner and rub my feet just kindof weirded me out. I mean if we were IN a relationship, sure. But I met you once for pizza. I don’t want to come to your home for a second date. His stories of others he’s met online were interesting, but they all made references to sex in some form or another. There was one where the woman posted photos of herself that turned out to be at least 20 years ago. When he told her he felt duped, that he didn’t want to date her because he thought he was meeting the woman with the red hair, not gray…she said, “so do you just want to have sex then?”

Funny? Yeah…no, weird. Why do all your stories have sexual inneuendos to them. Sorry Larry, I don’t want to have sex with you. You’re a really, really nice guy and all, but no nookie from Nancy. Sorry.

I’ll keep looking. At least until my subscription runs out. I highly doubt I will renew. Although the photos and profiles thus presented have been highly entertaining. One guy in Strongsville seemed promising. We went through the question process. He was complimentary. He seemed to have his shit together and then when it came time for ‘open communication’ he just phoofed. Nothing. Gone. I could see that he would check my profile every few days or so…but I couldn’t mail him. I had to wait for his response and none was forthcoming. Every three days he would look at my profile, but he wouldn’t send a message. I found that odd. And slightly troubling. It made me feel sort of angry in a way as well. What kind of game was he playing? And if fact he was playing games…then would I want to meet him anyway? Perhaps he was in communication with someone else and waiting to see if that match panned out. That’s fine. That’s even cool for you Steven of Strongsville…but you know what, let me know! Just send a message stating that and guess what, I’d probably wait to see fi it worked out between you and if not, then lets have a glass of wine. Or coffee. But nope. Just lurking my profile page. So I closed him. Take that. Good luck to you, buddy.

Maybe I will buy that sweater after all.
But in black.

Maybe it’s time to break out some sequins and sparkle on my next pint with Ray. Who knows, maybe that hidden me that my friend seems to know should come out and play.

But I am not buying gray jeans.
Or tucking them into boots. Especially over the knee high ones.

I’ll save those for when I wear red.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

wrong place, wrong time...

I see it everyday. Every single day as I drive to work I see it. Sitting there in the middle of the Shoreway, just inches from the center lane white lines it lays. Each day getting a little smaller. A little flatter. A little less noticeable as to what it might have been originally. But it’s there. I see it. I wonder if anyone else sees it? Does anyone else know what it is?

And it makes me sad.

My drive to work takes me through a really pretty area of Cleveland. Being a port city for Lake Erie, our forefathers were thinking accessibility. Not profitability. The coastline near downtown isn’t full of high-rises like Chicago. Nor hotels like California. Or casinos like Atlantic City. It’s a port town. And there’s a port.

The city itself is on the lake, but separated from it with a freeway. The Shoreway runs from the Westside, where I live, all the way down the lakefront. Curving with the lakes shore it winds past the large beach and park, multiple yacht clubs, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Browns football stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center.

It’s a beautiful drive actually. It’s uplifting to watch the waves and how the light plays on them as I drive. Except for my seeing this item that lies in the road. Two weeks now its been there and probably will remain there until a snow plow this winter sweeps it away.

My ‘To-Do’ list was staring me in the face. Having woken up in the middle of the night I grabbed a pen and pad of paper and wrote down all the things that I’d like to get accomplished once I woke up. For real. I had lists of things running in my head. I was slightly anxious about starting my new job and wanted to make sure all the household ducks were lined up before dropping Bear off at school. I suppose my anxiety is what was keeping me up. I figured if I at least wrote it down it might empty my head for a bit. At least an hour or two, that’s all I was asking for…another two hours of sleep.

Which worked. But the first thing my eyes focused on upon opening was “the list“.

I sat up and looked it over. Miss Queen of Procrastination residing on my left shoulder was already mentally marking things off. “That can wait. That can wait, too. Even that. Don’t even start that task…please.”

I usually try to tune the Queen out. I rest better when my list gets attended to. But looking out the window at the sun streaming in, I thought she might be right. At least for today.

“Boo Bear…time to get up doll.” I said quietly upon creeping into my daughters room. Boo sleeps like a log. She tumbles in her sleep and ties herself up in her blankets. Four Ugly Dolls were looking at me from under the blankets and another was tucked under her arm. “Bear?”

The blankets were pulled up high and I could see her feet and the top of her head…but nothing else. “Boo?”

“Huuuhhhhhhhhhhh?” came a soft reply. “Do I have to go to school today?”

“Um. No darlin’…it’s Sunday. Do you want to rake leaves or do something fun?”

“Sunday!” she bounced straight up in bed. “Cool! Let’s go to the science center and see the Imax.”

The Great Lakes Science Center is just a few miles from our home. We’re members and go quite regularly, but hadn’t been in awhile. The usually have three different Imax movies running and I love the feeling of being IN the screen.

“Great idea! Let me see what movies are playing.”

But when pulling up the web sight it notified me although the center is fully open, the Browns were playing today. They let fans use the parking garage on home games. The stadium is located right next door. Parking would be a hassle, the center probably packed…yeah, that idea was no looking so stellar right now.

“How about the art museum? I haven’t been since they reopened.”

So the art museum it was. She invited a friend and we commenced on our adventure.

The best way to get there is taking the Shoreway. It’s quite curvy at points following the inlet of the Cuyahoga River. Today as we made our second turn just past the beach, there was a police cruiser parked on the right side of the road, flashers going. The officer was standing in front of his car. I looked in my rear view mirror and there was another police car coming up fast. I pulled over to the far left and checked my speed.

I hate rubberneckers. You know the type. They slow down when they see emergency vehicles or an accident to crane their neck to see what’s up. It’s human nature I suppose, to look at accidents. It’s sometimes gruesome. Sometimes not. But always it messes up the traffic pattern for no real reason.

Today I was that rubbernecker. I looked over as I passed by and there in the road was a young buck. He was down with his legs tucked under him, head upright and proud but obviously hurt and in shock. The officer stood with his arms down by his sides just looking at the buck about three feet from it. It seemed surreal.

I wondered how did it get here? Where did it come from? There isn’t a park or woods any where close by. How did he get in the highway? What if he tries to get up? Someone must have hit him coming around that turn. Someone rushing down to tailgait for the Browns game. They obviously didn't even stop. I wonder if they knew they hit it at all? They were probably already tailgaiting and couldn't risk stopping for fear of a DUI slapped on them. All these thoughts running in my head as I drove by watching the scene as if in slow motion.

I even saw the bucks eyes.

Shock. Definitely in shock. There was blood all down his left side. The legs were at an unnatural angle.

“Mom, why are you going so slow?” The girls were singing along at top volume watching some music video on my phone in the backseat oblivious to what was going on beside the road.

“There’s a buck. In the road.” I was now twenty or thirty feet beyond the accident sight. I could see them in my mirror but I had picked up speed. It was then that I saw it. A large chuck of flesh in the center lane of the highway. Whatever car or truck that had hit the buck the flesh dropped off their bumper as they drove on.

Right there. In the road. I started to weep.

Everything inside of me that needed to cry itself out came out right then. That piece of flesh in the road was the trigger. I couldn't help it. I couldn't stop. I just...cried.

I cried for the buck.
I cried for me.

I thought they’ll have to send someone to put him down. That proud beast. Poor thing. My mind rushed back to when I was 16 and hit a rabbit scurrying across the road. I had looked in the rear view mirror then and saw it spinning in the road. I remember going home and the sinking feeling that I had killed this little bunny. My mom made me some hot chocolate and sang to me to calm me down.

I felt the same way looking at this buck in my rear view mirror now. But there wasn’t anything that I could do about it…so I drove on.

We had a great time at the art museum. There were some special exhibits going on with people dressed in medieval costumes and teaching us to dance. We got to try on armor and helmets from that period. We made our own helmets of craft paper and feathers and engaged in sword play. It was a fine day.

I forgot about the buck.
I didn’t even look for him when driving back home.

But I remember him now each and every morning.
As I drive to work and that chunk of fur and flesh is still in the road.

I’d like to stop and get it out of the road so I won’t have to look at it each time. But running across a busy highway to remove this part left behind of the buck wounded on the Shoreway would probably end up with my own flesh being torn off and deposited another twenty or thirty feet beyond.

But there it is. Right on the line in the second lane.

Living in Cleveland where we get hit with lots of snow fall, I never thought I would pray for an early snow. But I am now. Chances are it will remain there until that dreaded fluffy stuff does fall. Then and only then will my drive be weep free.

Because with the snow brings the plows. And then the plows will get it.
That poor piece of buck left in the roadway.

How many people drive over it each and every day and don’t even know what it is. Oblivious to that poor bucks peril two Sundays ago.

But I do. I saw it.
I saw him.

Poor thing.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And now all that's left is the sad reminder left on the Shoreway....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

on a roll...

I’ve been busy.
I am on the proverbial roll.

I’ve been cleaning the house of the big items…i.e.-boyfriend. And cleaning the small items as well… i.e.-lazy suzanne and pantry.

The recent change of relationship status in my life has spurred on a cleaning frenzy unlike any I’ve ever experienced in the past. Oh sure, I’ve seen in movies where women are scrubbing toilets with their ex’s t-shirts or toothbrushes and laughed at the thought. I’ve not gone down that road, but boy, the house is looking quite orderly and clean in the aftermath!

It started with my scouring the house looking for remnants of life with the boyfriend. All of it had to go. I didn’t care where, as long as it was not within the confines of my personal space. Boxes upon boxes of his fathers books had been brought to my house for future perusal when his parents recently moved. Lots of treasures from their attic that they didn’t want to mess with were brought here and stashed. And when I say boxes, I mean boxes. Plural to the 14th power. Maybe more. There were some in the garage, some in the spare room, some in the basement. His dad was a professor of history and books were his thing. Some interesting titles and some not so interesting titles. But I’m a book lover, so for me, all books are treated with care and respect.

There were plastic bins of Naval uniforms, medals and photographs from the boyfriends time spent in the Navy. Some really cool items that I was tempted to keep just for future costuming (we’re big on dress up here at my house) but that didn’t seem quite right to keep. So out they went. Rubbermaids of high school trophies and little league photographs. School photos of girls with 80’s hair with loopy handwriting of “Great to know you! Keep in touch!“ Bins of his past life that ended up in my basement.

Pictures of his brother found buried in the attic of his parents house. High school portraits, wedding portraits, football portraits. He hasn't seen his brother in years. Both boyfriend and boyfriends parents are estranged from the brother. It was my idea was to bring them here to someday, hopefully give back to him. But obviously that's not going to happen. The boyfriend can figure out what to do with them now.

There are the large items like the treadmill, the heavy bag, the snow blower and the miter saw. His big leather chair that somehow I managed remove from the house all by myself, leaves a vacant spot in the living room. All things belonging to him are now gone. All the clothes and shoes and stuff that took up space in the dressing room. Gone. No reminders. No photographs. No nostalgia. All gone.

But surprisingly, it doesn't look empty. It looks...good.

One of the most noticable changes for me, is the television gone from the bedroom. That was his as well. The wooden stand remained with the cords jutting out from the back of an unhooked up dvd player and cable box. A silent reminder of whats missing. It would be easy to purchase another in its place but I’ve made the decision to NOT replace the TV. I’ve been reading more of late without the box in there. So out the stand went. Although I couldn't do that one onmy own like the chair. Had I tried to negotiate that down from the third flloor master I be presently typing this from the confines of a hospital bed.

I used to like to snuggle deep in the down comforters and pillows nursing a glass of wine or cup of green tea and watch movies. I had a membership online with Blockbuster that would automatically rotate 3 movies delivered to my door. I canceled the subscription the day after the split. Somehow it seemed sad to continue to open movies that I had obviously put in the queue with boyfriends interests in mind. We used to watch a lot of movies. That was our thing. Movies of action, movies of horror, movies with an oriental theme, movies of suspense. I never added chick flicks, he didn't like them. No Indie or foreign films, he didn't care for those either. I know I could keep the subscription and change the titles to those I’ve denied myself of watching over the years, but I’ll just keep that extra twenty bucks in my checking account each month instead.

I’ve been curling up in my big chair in the living room with the fireplace blazing, dogs at my feet, reading. Finally getting to the ever growing stack of literature that I had not taken the time to read. I’ve been enjoying my time alone.

Bear and I have been enjoying all this time as well. Not having a third person to add to the mix we don’t have to think about anyone else’s schedule. Before we had a routine, but no longer. I don’t have to worry about having meals ready at any certain time. Some evenings Boo and I will eat early. Some nights we go out. One night neither of us were really hungry so we went and got ice cream instead. It’s been fun approaching our evenings with a “ So....what’dya want to do tonight?” careless approach.

This purging of all things boyfriend has spurred on more organization throughout the rest of the house. The bookshelf in my office, just to the right of my desk becomes a catch-all. It gets piled high with papers that I need to attend to, to file or to mail at a later date. Even the cleaning people have been bypassing this disorganized mess for fear of messing up my ‘filing’ system. The dust bunnies were turning into dust creatures. Well guess what…it’s now nice and clean and organized and dusted.

My tool chest in the basement was getting extremely unorganized. It started by taking a tool and then not returning it to where it SHOULD go, but just lazily laying it on the top. In theory putting things away where they should go is fine, but didn't happen. But hey now… I’ve got that all organized, and labeled as well. And the garage? Let's talk about the garage. All the seeds, the fertilizers, the leaf bags…all put where they are supposed to go. All these little projects that I would think about, but never quite found the time to get around to do…amazingly enough, without boyfriend, I now can complete them all.

I’ve more time.

More time for myself. More time to do what I want and not what I felt I needed to do. Unhindered by someone else’s schedule (which I did to myself…I know) I’m now able to get more things accomplished.

Bah! To putting another’s schedule before mine.
Bah! To putting myself last on the to do list.
Bah! To all of it.

I’m reveling in the fact that it is ME that I now have to answer to. If I want to get up in the middle of the night and read….I’ll do it. Or if I want to go for a walk late in the evening, I’ll do that too. If I don't want to make dinner, of coffee, or do laundry...I won't do it.

My time is my time.
And damn, if it doesn’t feel good.

But in retrospect, after all the things on the back deck were picked up and long gone, I have but one remorse. I should’ve kept the white navy uniform with the Dixie cup hat.

I would’ve looked hot in that for next years Halloween party.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


A few years ago I got a frantic call from Nana. “Nancy, you MUST turn on Oprah. There’s this amazing book that will transform your life!!!”
I was glad she couldn’t see me through the phone line because I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, “Uh-huh. How?”

“Really! You just put what you want down on a piece of paper, place it under your pillow and it’ll happen.” she continued, “It’s called the Secret and it’ll open up the power of the universe to you….”

Yup. I’m sure it will. Just a mere $24.95 investment and you’ll have the all the wealth, the happiness, the power for ever and ever…Amen.

I don’t think so.

I DO believe in Karma.
I DO believe in paying it forward.
I DO believe in the golden rule.

I do NOT believe that a book on Oprahs book list is going to change my life.
I do NOT believe that putting something under my pillow is going to get me everything that I want in life.

I DO believe that is basically up to me. AND I can keep the $25 bucks in my pocket while it’s happening.

I listened politely. And then hung up the phone. It’s not the first time that Nana has been swayed by what she’s seen on TV, or heard from friends, or picked up in an infomercial. People like Nana are suckers for such advertisements. She buys things that people call and tell her about on the phone. She orders amazing hangers that will enlarge your closet space 4 times! only to have it end up in the trash a short time later. She’ll vote for the candidate with the sleekest campaign.

There has been jogging in a jar; vinegar and cider mixture that is supposed to make you thin. Special pills that will increase your mobility. Or pills that will increase your mental awareness. Or pills that will lengthen your life.

Shoes that will improve your posture and exercise equipment that is nothing less than a miracle for only $299. Tony Little with his mullet wonder and spandex target women like Nana.

I’m not immune to advertising campaigns, but I am highly skeptical of most. Which allows my bankroll to remain relatively unscathed when it comes to products too good to be true.

I DID buy that uber expensive Perricone eye serum. At $195 for .5 oz I expected to look years younger after using it. Improvement? Maybe. But who can keep buying it with those prices? (especially since you need the entire system in order to work correctly. If I’m not mistaken that’s an investment to the tune of $600+ every 3 months. Not me. But damn did I use that to the very last drop.
I DID buy a pair of Shape-ups walking sandals. Does my butt and legs look better than they did? Probably not. But they are super cute.
I DID buy a diet pill that is supposed to not only curb your appetite, but give you more energy AND improve your sex life. It did curb my appetite. I might have had more energy. And did it improve my sex life? No. Read previous blog post….it just made me know that I wasn’t getting what I should even without the pills.

It just goes to show that everyone wants to look better, feel better, be better than what they are. None of it is going to be found by buying it. Granted, MY skin looks better than my neighbors (who is the same age as me) because I use lotions and beauty products by the boatload. And she doesn’t. I figure they can’t hurt and you know what? They don’t. At last years garage sale someone asked me to ask my mom what the price was. Ouch.

But boil it all down and what you get is usually measured by the effort put into it.

I KNOW I get results when I walk everyday.
I KNOW that not eating that piece of cheesecake will definitely make my bathing suit look better.
I KNOW that having that extra glass of wine and staying up late is not going to make the puffiness or fine lines around my eyes go away. (but it might be worth it depending on the company!)

Even with what I KNOW, what I do NOT, what I DO and what I hear about that I should have, blahblahblah….sometimes things actually DO happen. Just because. Without effort. Without money. Without energy.

Like yesterday.

I don’t know about your household, but I get maybe 10 calls a day from some political party or another, some veterans group selling flags or bags, someone wanting you to sign some petition or another and then give a donation to help fund the fight. It’s endless.

I love caller ID. Yes, I’m guilty of screening calls. Yes, sometimes I should pick up when my dad calls even when I’m not mentally prepared for that guilt trip I’ll be embarking on. But is it’s ca call from some area code other than my own, or a cellular call from a number I don’t know, or a block call or Unknown Caller….yeah, I don’t usually pick up. That’s why I pay for voice mail.

But yesterday, yesterday the phone rang and I looked at it and it said “Unknown Caller” and yet here I was moving my thumb over the answer button like it was possessed.

“Hello?” I answered with a upward lilt to my voice knowing that this was indeed a mistake.

“Hi!” an overly cheerful voice said, “Is this Nancy?”

Here is goes…another minute of my life wasted on telemarketers until I wait for a break so I can hang up…”Yes, this is she.”

“Nancy! I’ve asked many people there in the Cleveland area and your name keeps getting referred to me!”

Oh geez….what could this be about. Another fund raiser at the school? Easter seals wanting me to send out envelopes to my neighbors? A magazine drive? A catering gig? Argh….my heart was dropping with each word she spoke.

“I’m Patty, the district manager of Talbots and we are creating a new position and are looking for a full time visual person. I know you live on the Westside and this is a Legacy Village position….Do you think you might be interested?” she said all in one breath.

Amazingly enough I was able to hear all she said. I was expecting some sales call and as such I wasn’t really paying attention and holding the phone a little distance from my ear. As soon as she said ’Talbots’ I had that contraption pretty much implanted into my head. Have you seen the new catalog? Have you seen some of their clothes? Talbots has come a long way baby and the holiday stuff is just gorgeous.

“I’m not afraid to cross the river…(east siders and west siders joke about crossing the Cuyahoga River) and I was just circling all the newest fashions in your catalog! I’d love to hear more about it!” I could barely contain my enthusiasm.

Just last week I realized I now have extra time on my hands. Not doting on and doing errands for the ungrateful boyfriend freed up the biggest block of time, but Boo is at school later this year than last because of choir, band, newspaper, Girl Scouts. Almost everyday she doesn’t leave school grounds until almost 5. Sometimes later.

I had been thinking about going back to work, full time, but was unsure of whom to contact etc right now. With the economy as it is, many of my freelance jobs have dried up. So to have this manna from heaven just drop into my lap…? Needless to say, I’m flabbergasted.

Full time. Benefits, including vacation, dental, medical and a discount! Can I hear a WooHoo!?


The paperwork is Friday morning. They’ll have to get my salary approved (it’s a little higher than they allotted…but hey, to get the best you must pay for the best!) from corporate, but it’s looking pretty much like a Shoo-in. A Shoo-in, Joey!

Let’s all collectively hold hands, keep our fingers crossed and sing Kumbayah. That’ll make everything go smoothly on Friday.

And the Secret? I never did buy it. But there’s a sequel called the Power. Maybe I’ll fork out the dosh for that one. Maybe there was something to Nana’s call after all…

...perhaps she put this wish for ME under her pillow.


Footnote: The photo above is the fortune I got this afternoon while having lunch with my dad. THAT just made me smile....

Double Footnote: Well now! The interview went great! They want me and are now negotiating with corporate to get my rate. Full medical. Full dental. Full eye. AND they'll match my asking salary (or come pretty damn close). HOW FABULOUS! Drinks all around! I'm buying!!!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

enough is enough...

Enough is enough.

How many times have you heard that phrase? Have you really understood what it meant? At least by the person that said it?

We live in a time of control. Of time tables. Of deadlines. Of limits. If a person can’t get their work done, they are labeled as lazy, or a procrastinator. Always ten minutes late? Some researchers say it’s because of an inability to control impulses. Like eating the last few bites of anything on your plate even though you are full. Impulse. Lack of control.

I get stressed out when my calendar gets too crazy. Rushing gives me anxiety. I hate not being on time. I don’t enjoy nagging my daughter to "Hurry Up! We’re going to be late!” as she tries to get the perfect twist of her bangs to clip back when getting ready for school. As I stand there watching I don’t see any difference between the first clip and the eighth. But apparently number eight was a winner because now she’s ready to go.

I have lists that run in my head. Sometimes it keeps me up at night because I am thinking of all the things that I need to get accomplished the next day. It’s a catch 22. There are times during the day that I run out of steam to get everything done. Then I don’t sleep well. Then I am tired.

It gets rather annoying.

But enough is enough. I’ve started taking things off my schedule that aren't absolutely necessary. I’ve learned that you don’t have to eat that last slice of pizza. It’s okay to leave things on your plate. I've been okay with saying 'No'. I’ve learned that when you feel that you’ve given something your best shot and it hasn’t worked out…you walk away and say, “Enough is enough.”

It’s a big sentence considering it’s only made up of three words and fourteen letters.

Enough: adj.  occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.

My big enough is enough happened ten days ago. After trying to communicate that I was unhappy and have continued to be unhappy with my relationship with the man I was dating for some time. I didn't mean for it to go the way it did. Normally, I would get to a point where I had to say something. We’d talk. Time would pass and nothing would really change and then many months later I would end up getting to a point where I had to say something. We’d talk. Time would pass and then many months later I would end up getting to a point where I had to say something. We’d talk…

Do you see a trend?

Do that for six+ years! Oh yeah…I had a enough is enough moment last weekend. Like an Oprah ’Aha!’ moment and I called it off. For real. No going backwards. No accepting of lame apologies or excuses. No listening to any of the banter that kept me caged in a codependent relationship for six fucking years. Everything that I've been unhappy with came rushing in and smashed through the wall that I've been building in my brain to keep all the bad out.

How did I get here? I am SO much smarter than this!
How did I get to a point to let myself be manipulated and then demeaned? I deserve more than this!
How did I allow myself to be mentally abused? I AM better than that!

I didn’t grow up as one of those girls in high school that felt ruined if she didn’t have a current crush or boyfriend. I dated, but it didn’t define who I was. I had friends in college that always had to have a guy taking her out or she would cry. That wasn’t me either. I've had my share of broken hearts. It’s never easy. It’s never fun. But sometimes it’s takes as broken heart to find out more about yourself in order to make it heal.

I’ve done quite of bit of soul searching in the last few months. During that time I discovered that I had become complacent about my level of unhappiness. I didn’t speak up for what it was I wanted. What I needed. I became disheartened by having to ask for approval, for acceptance, for love. I was in denial, no doubt about it. I shielded myself from the real truth and pretended that everything was okay. But it wasn’t. I did not have the mental strength or fortitude to put it to rest and move on.

But I did.
Yup. Finally. I finally got up the nerve to address it head on and say, “Enough is enough.”

Each day gets a little easier. I have moments of weakness when I want to call, to reach out…but why? And each time this urge comes about there's been a sign that has kept me from picking up the phone. A total stranger rings the doorbell. I answer with red rimmed eyes. She asks, “Is everything okay?” I apologize for my appearance and tell her that I’ve a recent breakup with a long time boyfriend. She nods in understanding. We talk for bit about why she’s on my doorstep. I sign the petition. We share a few laughs and as she’s walking down the sidewalk she turns and says, “Stay strong. If he didn’t try to win you back, he’s a fool and you’re better off without him.”

Words from a stranger. Perfectly timed.

Yesterday I sat down in my office to check my e-mail. I picked up the phone sitting beside me and dialed his number. There was no answer. Thank God. In the next few moments though I got a text ‘Hey. You okay?’ ‘OK’, I responded, ‘You?’ I don’t want to let on that I’m having a tough time this morning. I feel empty. Sad. I want to keep it brief, impersonal, but I have things that I‘d like, need to say to him. ‘Can we talk? ‘Sure. When though?’ he answers.

During this brief exchange the dogs start to bark frantically. The kind of bark that lets me know someone is in the driveway. I had forgotten that I asked my window cleaner guy to help me move some stuff that’s too big for me to move alone. He is standing on my deck. It interrupts the messaging.

“Are you okay?” Chuck asks, concern on his face, "You don't look like yourself." I haven’t showered yet although it is mid morning. I’ve dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep. I know I've had better days. I briefly explain the recent turn of events. As I fill my mug, I offer him some coffee. We have a nice talk. I’ve known Chuck for 10 years, maybe more. He’s a sincere and honest guy. He’s had his problems and his demons but he wears them as a badge of honor. He’s a This is where I’ve been-This is where I’m going kind of guy. He shares with me a story of when he saw my boyfriend at a bar years ago. They were talking. They got wasted. They got into a debate that turned into an argument. My boyfriend does that. He likes to push buttons. He likes to get a reaction, especially wilst drinking. Chuck doesn’t stand for that shit. He wouldn’t stop pushing so Chuck knocked him off the barstool. "I just brushed him off and he fell." Chuck told me. The bartender came by and said she was going to call the police. Chuck said not to bother, he was leaving anyway. “No. Not because of you…because of him.” she gestured to none other than my boyfriend.

I had never heard this story. Apparently Chuck had been asked not to share it. “She doesn’t need to know where I am…all the time.” Really? With the amount of freedom the guy has I had no idea what bar went to with friends was a secret. Perhaps there was more to the secrecy than I’ll ever know. Chuck told me, “I liked him, or tried to, Nance, because you did.”

A sentiment that has reverberated through everyone that I’ve spoken of this to. “It’s you we like. It was never him. We liked him because you did.” Brooke told me, “You’re a Rock Star! Don’t ever be a groupie. Especially to him. YOU’RE the star.”

Now this may be banter to make me feel better. And I admit that some of it does. But at the same time, if that had been the case, shouldn’t some of my friends said something to me about their worries of my mate before? It might have saved me some time that cannot ever be replaced. 2,390 days to be exact.  2,390 fucking days.

Now granted, it wasn't all bad. We did have some fun. I enjoyed my time spent with him. Early on. So you can shave off a few of those days for that purpose...but geez, that's a lot. A LOT of wasted time. All things have their time and place. It’s like the saying, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Perhaps I was that horse. Not yet willing to drink. Not quite sure if the water was just right. I wanted to wait. I had hopes. Hell, I'm an optimist.

I once read something from my fellow blogger Mike who wrote, 'It brings me great joy to see the light in my fiancées eyes when she smiles…' I never got that from my boyfriend. I would hvae never gotten that from him. I don’t know if he even noticed if I smiled or not. As it turns out I've been living the life of a battered woman. Always there to take a little bit more.

He sent a note yesterday. One of apology. One of supposed remorse. “I feel so bad to have caused you grief and sadness. I miss both you and Boo each day I’m not there. I love you both." Bleck. Make me puke. "I do wish the best for both you and Boo and hope that I can send you things, such as gifts and messages and funny jokes and maybe we could hang out sometimes…”

Did I read that right? Are you fucking kidding me?
Hang out? Send us things?

Yeah…lets hang out over a pint of beer and discuss what a fucking joke I’ve become. Lets go and have a discussion at the pub while your married ex-girlfriend with two kids sends you text messages about how she 'listens to your voicemails and dreams of your hands on her and how you rip her clothes off at a party in a closet.' Lets talk about the return reprimand of “why do you do this! You know Nancy sometimes checks my Blackberry” when she asked why she should use the other e-mail address.

The other e-mail address? Well now. There’s a whole lot of nothing good going on with that, I’m sure. Granted, this is not breaking news. That e-mail? That came a year ago. The e-mail change request was in March. Nothing new, but the hurt is still there. The hurt never goes away. It just gets buried until…well, now.

Sure. Lets go ‘hang out’ and be best friends. Sounds like a great night out. Bah.

Get a grip buddy.
You had plenty of time to ‘hang out’ with me. You just took it for granted. You messed up. Big time. You don’t treat people like that and then expect to be friends.

No. You cannot send us gifts.

No. You cannot send me messages or funny jokes.

No. I do not want to hang out with you ever again.

No. You gave up the right to be my friend.

I think my response shocked him. ‘Wow’, he texted. Apparently he thought he had subdued the real Nancy into a pile of mush without backbone that would say, “Ok honey. Sure that sounds great! Should I pick up your dry cleaning on the way?”

“I don’t believe that we will never speak again or that we won’t be friends (at least I hope not)….” he writes in the letter. Friends? Talk? Seriously?

I have half a mind to send Annas husband the transcripts of her messages. I wonder if he might enjoy her prose. I bet that would make for some wonderful holiday season fodder. Perhaps each of her kids could draw out pictures of their whoring mother on their Christmas stockings.

But I won’t.

I can think of that and it brings me pleasure to think of it, but I won't. You see, I'm human. I get hurt. I have thoughts of retaliation but I’m not cruel like my boyfriend or his texting girlfriend in Washington State. No, Karma is a bitch. I’d place bets that both will find out that you can’t dodge Karma.

Enough is enough.

Fourteen beautiful little letters to live by.

“I hope you can forgive me.” he writes. Forgiveness. Perhaps someday, but not today. Not tomorrow. Not anytime in the near future by my predictions. This isn’t the only texting experience that I’ve had to endure. There have been two…No, five altogether, not including the hookers called from the land line. Five. Yes, the man (if he could have that title) has had plenty of opportunity to straighten up. He’s had a chance to fly right. I've forgiven him many times. Already. But no…he chose to make me believe that this was indeed MY fault. Because I ‘couldn’t fulfill him sexually.

Excuse me? Come again?
Please tell me you didn’t say that. And to my face.

Fulfill him sexually.

Get a load of that.That is the excuse made for all of his indiscretions. That is the basis for all wrongs commited towards me. He has continued to use me  for two thousand three hundred and ninety days because it was convenient and comfortable for him to do so. And I allowed him to do it because Bear loved him and would sit watching television holding his hand.

I’m so glad I finally found my mind that I’d managed to misplace. I am sitting here wondering how I could have possibly been attracted to such a man? Why would I have put up with all of this for so long? Why would I believe anything that he ever said to me? "I hope you can forgive me." 
I’m actually a bit happy to hold onto this anger for the time being. It allows me to stay focused. It keeps my head clear of ‘woe is me’ thoughts. It creates a mantra in my mind…

Enough is enough.

I have had enough. Enough to last me my lifetime, thank you. I might have this sentiment tattooed on me so I will never. Ever. Forget it again.

Footnote:    Yes, to those of you might have already guessed. This is the same friend who told me that ‘My blog doesn‘t matter.”

As my mother might have said...Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

it's been how long...?

Break Away (intransitive verb)

        1 : to detach oneself especially from a group : get away
        2 : to depart from former or accustomed ways
        3 : to pull away with a burst of speed

The word break always has intrigued me. It means so many things. For instance, I love breakfast. I would break away from the pack in past track years. Taking a break and going on vacation. Getting a break on the price. I had to break into my car when I locked the keys inside. I broke ground on the new deck addition. I broke my knee skiing. My divorce broke my heart. My daughters loveliness breaks my heart. Breaking the silence. Breaking the news. Breaking 80 golfing. Breaking a sweat. Give me a break.

It goes on and on.
Variations of the word break, in so many forms, meaning so many things, pop up daily.

A few weeks ago I was dismayed to find that several of my fellow bloggers, ones that I adored and read religiously, decided to take a break. To stop blogging. There are several others that have stopped blogging because they are now focused on writing in other forums. Such as working on books.

I dig that. I get it. I understand.
I was also disappointed.

Add to that a slight downtown in my usual positive attitude and I decided to take a break myself. It wasn’t anything that I actually did intentionally. It just kind of happened. I didn’t sit down and say, “Nance…take some time. Don’t write on your blog. Don’t read any blogs. Just. Don’t.”

I didn’t have that conversation in my head. It just happened.

One day turned into two. Two days turned into five. One week turned into two and now here it is, almost four weeks since my last posting and I felt I had something to say.

My down turn happened basically due to a close friend giving me some ‘friendly advice’. I took it. I don’t know why, but I did. He said, “focus your energy and attention on something that matters. Your blog doesn’t matter. You’re not going to make any money on your blog.”

Who said anything about money? Did I start this to make money?

I mean yes, you read about those bloggers that now that it's their work. That they now employ several people to maintain their blog. But c'mon. Me? I don't see me being the next Dooce. (although, wouldn't that be nice! One can only dream...)

I should’ve dismissed his criticism right there. Not listened to another word. I mean, sure, making money is a great thing…it allows us to afford things, or do things that perhaps we wouldn’t have thought of doing before because we didn’t want to spend the money on it. Last year I received a payout from a life insurance policy my mother had. It was bonus money in my eyes. So I did something out of the ordinary with it.

I should’ve replaced the furnace.
Maybe bought a few new green windows, or solar panels.
But instead we went to DisneyWorld…the happiest place on earth.

And we had fun.
Lots of it.

We ate out. We stayed out late. We woke up early. We got room service. We stayed at a luxury Disney hotel. We lived like Kings. Or queens and princesses’ actually, but you get the idea.

My mother was smiling down on our festivities. We smiled right back up.

But my friend has a way of turning everything into a way of making money. Or the thought of HOW it could make money. I have a sewing machine that does embroidery. He feels I should do something with that to make money. Sell my embroidered items on eBay or etsy. I have a knack for display. He feels that I should send resumes to Cedar Point, Disney and all the department stores. I’m a good cook. He thinks I should package my sauces or spices for sale in stores. (I’ve already done the catering thing and that, my friends, is just too much work and stress…for me.) It goes on and on…

I get a little tired sometimes of listening to this banter. I like to do things because I enjoy them, not because it might have the possibility of making me money. Of making me rich.

It may be naïve, but I think that a person is rich because of their experiences. The love, the friendship, the joy of doing things and being with people that make you smile. That make you enjoy life. I think that if you do what you enjoy then you are truly both blessed and rich.

Not everything comes down to money. To dollars. To cents.

It annoys me.

I listened. I thought about it. I did lots of things this past month. I’ve worked hard, and I’ve played hard. I went golfing several times. That was lots of fun. I love this time of year on the golf course. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. I used to belong to a golf club. I lost that membership with my divorce. Sure there are many public courses around to play at, but I don’t know anyone to play with. When at the club, Tuesday mornings were a given. It was the day the ladies played. 9am tee off. Simple as that.

I played with the A-group. Chris Grace, Ellie Colton and Nita Doyle. They were the old timers, the club regulars. When I joined the Country Club, they for some reason, took me under their wing. Between the three, all of them were always in the running for Club Champion. Ellie took her golf pretty seriously. She was a great golfer. Steady. Sure. She could always score. Chris also was a good golfer. She was just a little wild at times, but could pull off shots that would make Tiger Woods take off his hat in respect. Nita was a par player. Tee shot. Chip shot. Two putt. Tee shot. Chip shot. Two putt. Steady as she goes. No wild card there.

I was the newbie. The rebel. I had a strong tee shot and a good short game. I was either On. Or I was Off. Not much in between. I had, at the time, a higher handicap, but could play. I helped their game. I was the wild card that could make our team win the tourneys. Or not. It all depended. But there was always the steadies to make the score. I was just the gravy. With all the regular play I had (at least twice a week with the ladies and once or twice on the weekends) I mangaed to lower my handicap to a 7.
Not bad.
Not bad at all.

I played a course last weekend that I hadn’t played in twelve years. Elyria Country Club is a gorgeous course. Designed by William S. Flynn who designed other beauties like Shinnecock on Long Island, Homestead Cascades in Virgina and Cherry Hills in Colorado. There are two other courses in Cleveland that he designed and they are both great challenges as well. I remember playing it with the A-team a decade ago on a club swap day. The 12th hole is a par three 165 yard beauty with an elevated tee box down to the green. I mean elevated. Like 50 feet elevated. It’s a gorgeous view and just a tad intimidating. If you miss left, you’re all right. Miss short and your in the water. Miss right, you’re in the sand. Miss long and it’s in the trees, baby.

As I stood on the tee box looking down I wondered which club to pull. I could hear the ghosts of the A-team deciding what to use. Ellie taking out her 4 iron. Chris with her 5 wood. And Nita with her 3 wood. I normally would hit an iron here, but today there was a headwind making the hole play more like 180 or 190. I nodded to my ghosts of the past and played a 3 wood. The wind took it a little right and I was pin high, but in the sand. No worries. I could see my ball.

It was interesting hearing those voices of long ago, from a seemingly different life, spring up in my head. It was a glorious afternoon. I was basking in the beauty of the course, the time spent playing. It took me back to a time when I didn’t think about money or how to make it. I hate to admit this, but I was busy living my privileged life and was thinking about whether or not I should buy that new driver in the club pro shop. Bah to me. Taking that all for granted. Then my divorce.

I no longer had the club membership. So I no longer played.

For some reason it took me two years to take out my golf clubs again. Somewehere in my brain golf was the one thing that I could control since the rest of my life seemed to be in shambles. I was on the course when my marrige came spinning to a close. On the back nine. Hole niumber 16. I just walked off the course. I heard people talking about it in the clubhouse. I heard whispers among the waitstaff. I saw the looks in peoples eyes. I started getting flowers from other club members delivered to my house. Flowers? Really?

I was humiliated. And I never went back.

I left everything in my beautiful wood locker with the brass tag with my name on it. I left my extra shoes that were being cleaned by the locker attendant. I left my trophy winning the tournament out at Springbrook in the trophy case. I only took my clubs, put them in the back of my car and drove away never to see the caddies, the valets, the waitstaff ever again. I no longer could, even if I wanted to, play with the A-team again.

But, it's okay.
That was eleven years ago. A lifetime.

Almost the same as it feels when I hit this publish button. Three weeks gone in the blogosphere? THAT’S a lifetime. Fact is, no one may even read this posting? I may have lost all the contacts that I had out here. The internet has replaced my space with someone else and now I’ve got to fight the curtain back to make room for myself again.

And then again, maybe not.

Maybe I’ll see comments from those that I’ve come to regard almost like family. Like Heather and Carlos and Chrissy and Katherine and Ron and Indigo. There might be a word from Julie and Lora and Lisa and Christine and Becky and Angelina and Kim. There are so many of you that I can’t even name you all, but you know who you are. And I know who you are.

I feel badly about not being around. About not being here.

It was a break.
A break away. Away from my friends.

Geez. And here I thought I didn’t have anything to say. Well, lookie there pal...I guess I did. I’m not making any money on this little blog of mine. But Bah to the naysayer’s. Who really cares!

I don’t.

Oh...Thanks for agreeing with me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

years passed by...

I stood at the gate entering into the orchard. But the gate was gone, just the weathered corner concrete corner posts were standing, rebar showing in several places. The finial decoration worn off to just a nub. The orchard was gone as well. Once a delightful mass of fruit trees lining the path to the front porch. I fondly remember gathering the fruits and helping my grandmother can them for the cold months ahead. My mouth started to water thinking of her fresh baked bread with a healthy dollop of plum spread.

Nannncccyyyy!?” she would call out. All names were drawn out and got louder nad higher toward the last syllable. “Run to the cellar and be a dear and get a jar of something sweet for toast”, she’d say.

I disliked the cellar. Steep stairs into darkness, cool and enveloping, the cellar was perfect for it’s purposed of storing the canned goods, but not a cheery place that a eight year old likes to hang out. At least this eight year old. That being prior to scary movies too. I just didn’t like it. The single bulb hanging from a chain the only illumination. AND you had to get to the bulb before you could turn it on. By step four you were already groping the walls to guide yourself.

Pinching my finger as I unconsciously feeling the crevasses of the corner post I turned to my right and looked out towards the pasture. The cow barn still stood, but barely. It was leaning at an angle I’m sure my daughters early algebra class could use as an example. I wondered how long it could sustain it’s own weight pitched to the side as it was.

It was never a pretty barn. One only of function. The glass window still there in the hay loft that I remember peering out of as a child. Again memories of milking the cows and gathering fresh water from the pump behind the barn came swirling at me at a fast rate.

The Keep on Trucking sign was still there blocking that hole ol’Bessie kicked that one year. I remember when Grandpa put it there. I thought it was hysterical. My brother had a t-shirt with the same logo. I think there might even be a photo of him standing next to it that I took once. I made mental note to go through the albums to see if I could find it.

The house, originally built in 1901, had tell-tale signs of recent insulation. Little holes poked into the sides of the clapboard then covered with disks. It had also been painted a nice creamy color. My initial thought is ‘Mom would have liked that’. The roof seemed in good condition, but the windows I think should be replaced. The front porch has been rebuilt, but not as big as it once was and the front door doesn’t look like that entrance is really used much. I’m amazed to see that the screen door is by God the same one that has been there since I can remember. As John and his wife exit the house, the same reassuring slap of the wood on wood as it closes brings back memories.

I had returned to the farm. My Grandpas farm. My moms farm. Now my farm. My Grandpa bought 64 acres in 1914. He then married my grandmother in 1915 having enough land to woo Great-Grandpa Sipes for his eldest daughters hand. Great-Grandpa Sipes owning a large chunk of land himself of the north side of town had had three daughters, May being the eldest of the three. The Sipe farm had found oil on their property. The back acres were farmed, but the front of the house had rolling pastures.

My Grandmother, May was the most practical of the three sisters. Warm, sturdy and friendly, but tough as nails. She was the epitome of a farmers wife. Erma was the feisty middle child. She actually went to finishing school. She liked flowery dresses and jeweled tortoise combs for her hair. She didn’t have the opportunity to marry. She died young in a car accident way before I was born when her vehicle went into a ditch and subsequently rolled over her. Aunt Florence was the youngest and was in the car when this happened. She was thrown clear, but it scarred her for life. She was always cautious, skittish. She stayed at home caring for her parents until their deaths. She never married. After grandma died she then took care of my own Grandfather by stopping and bringing fresh bakery and enough food to last the week on his own.

I hadn’t been down here to the farm in many, many years. Standing here now as the memories come flodding in, I wonder 'Why?'. My brother and dad were are going to the Ohio State game on Saturday and I thought, we should all go to the farm. “Charles, can you leave on Friday instead? I’ll meet you there. You’ll be SO close, it’d be a shame to not take the time.” My dad has been talking about going to the farm for awhile. But he no longer drives long distances, so either my brother or I would have to chauffer him down. The farm is about 120 miles from my house, 112 from my dads and add on the extra coming from Michigan it’s about 200 for my brother. North of Columbus, the farm is smack dab between Marion and Mt. Gilead in the small rural town of Cardington.

Cardington made national news only once. When a tornado plowed through the downtown square in the 70’s and wiped out all the buildings. It’s still a one stop light town. I drove through showing my daughter the sights, as it were, that I remembered spending summers here. The grocery, the hardware, the bank…they all have the same square box look. They are all made out of the same brick. It’s odd to have rebuilt the buildings taken away by the tornado with all the same materials. Same architect. Same height. It’s weird. Just like Cardington…building for necessity, not for aesthetic interest.

There are a few homes just down the main street that even to this day take my breath away. Large brick Victorians with porticos and wrap around porches. These were the movers and shakers in this town when it was established back in the 1800’s. I always imagined living in one of those grandiose homes when we would drive by. My daughter had the same impression that I did as I looked at them when I was young. “I’d like to live there if we ever came down here….” she said as she peered out the window at them. “Yeah…I know that feeling. I had the same thoughts many times darlin’.”

Charles was running late in getting to Cardington. My daughter and I had some time before they would arrive so I headed up to route 529. I wanted to see if I could go by memory and find the ol’ Sipes place. I explained to Boo that the breakdown armoire in our dining room is from the Sipes house. As is the oak folding table downstairs that I now use for laundry folding. I make a right onto a unmarked road that feels like the right one. It’s gravel. That’s the same, but stuff looks different. ‘This might not be the right one Bear, I’m not sure…”

Quarter mile down the road and there it is on the left. The house is still there. The barn seems to be gone and they’ve changed the porch area a bit, but it’s the same house fer’ sure. “let’s go see if we can find the cemetery…” I know the resting place of my relatives on this side of the family is not far from here. I remember a one lane bridge, but not much else. We drive up the gravel road leaving a trail of dust behind us. I wouldn’t know if someone was on my tail or not with this huge cloud, but these country roads don’t’ get lots of traffic. I’ll bet as I slow down places looking about, the folks within are wondering who these out of towners are.

I make a right turn and it just doesn’t seem right. Another right and there is the one lane bridge. On the other side of the stream is the cemetery on the right. I'm amazed that I've been able to find it. It's been at least 15 years since I've been here. The last time I also had my mom telling me where to turn. Bear and I park and let ourselves through the gate to go visit our relatives laid to rest. The cemetery has been recently mowed. Everything is in good order. It’s small and I don’t think used anymore. There aren't any new headstones that I can see. Some of the older stones date back to the early 1800’s. Many, I explain to Boo, are small stones for infants. There were many childbirth and infant deaths back in those times out here in farm country. There are three off to the side around the main headstone of my Great-Grandparents. They lost 3 sons before the age of 1.

Bear’s eyes glisten as I tell her about the stones. She’s such a caring, sensitive child. I move closer to clear a weed from Grandpa Hacks stone. ‘Don’t step there!” she calls out to me. “You’ll be stepping on his head!” I smile. Again as I look at her I consider how blessed I am.

We wander about a bit looking at the different dates. The sandstone ones have taken a beating over the years, but all the marble is still beautiful. There are some with dates in the 20’s that have such intricate modern detailing that I pull out my camera. “Amazing….” I say quietly. To myself actually. “Would you like one like that?” my daughter says as she comes up behind me. “I’m not sure…but look at that. Isn’t it beautiful?” They don’t’ make stones like this anymore. The carving of doves and angels on some of these markers is quite incredible. The artistry. And this just a country cemetery…

“It’s time to go Boo. Uncle Chuck and Grandpa should be getting close by now.” We climb back into the car and head back to town. The one light downtown. We stop at Suz-E-Q’s and get a soft serve ice cream for the remainder of the short trip. I stop to take a photo of Center United Methodist Church where I would go when visiting my Grandparents. I can hear the old hymns being sung. I can hear the creaking of the wooden pews. I can hear the pump of air of the organ being played.

My Grandpa owned two suits. One tan one for summer, one gray one for winter. He owned two pairs of dress shoes; black for winter and brown for summer. He had two dress hats. The rest of the time he had on blue jean overalls and cotton button down shirts. He always smelled of grain. Sundays were days of rest on the farm. Everything could wait. It was the day that the family went to church and then returned home to feast.

We’d extend the table in the large working kitchen and just feast. Never ending plates and bowls of potatoes, vegetables and meat piled high. Fresh baked bread and honey from the beehive and pies made of whatever fruit was available presently. All of this prepared on a wood burning stove.

Friends would visit on Sundays. Grandma would usher them into the rarely used parlor. The parlor was set aside for guests only. After a time with tea and cookies, I’d be asked to play on the piano. A large upright in the corner with two ivories missing. There was a low D that didn’t strike anymore. After enough niceties, the kids were allowed to change from their church clothes and then we would start running about the farm.

There was no TV. No Ninetendos. No Wii’s. My grandparents had a telephone, but it was a party line. You weren’t sure if you could use it if Gladys from next door was on. She was a talker, Gladys. Her remaining family had long since moved away, to the city. So her Sundays she didn’t get many visitors. So she talked on the phone, eating her cookies and sipping tea long distance.

Being set free from the confines of nice society, we kids chased after the chickens. We terrorized the sheep. We played in the barn, counting the feildmice as they scurry away from our footsteps. We made up games and continued to play until Grandma calls us in for the evening meal.

Everyone grudgingly  would go back inside to have hands, feet and faces scrubbed with cold well water before settling to the table and saying Grace. With no TV to entertain as it gets dark, the family gathers on the porch. Those of us with still enough energy try to catch the fireflies as the sound of rocking chairs and squeaky porch swings echo.

Sleep comes easy. It always had when down on the farm. I’d wake partway when hearing Grandma tuck me in and bless me as I slept. I could hear the train rumbling closer on the tracks a couple miles off. The sound was soothing. Grandpa would gently wake me just before dawn to help him with the morning chores. I learned from him how to make a mean chicken feed. Sometimes I wonder if I still could if I stood in front of those bags of grain. Hmmmm...1 tin of whole oats; 2 tins of cracked corn; 1 ½ tins of flax; ¼ tin of ground millet, 1/4 tin of layer mash. Mix some water with it into a dry paste. BAM! Feed for the chickies….Yup. I still could.

I loved the farm.
I love the farm.

Standing here now I know that I can’t sell it. Gary, who lives next door and farms it, has wanted to buy it since Grandpa died in ‘81. Mom wouldn’t let it go. John and Deidre who have lived here since then have a questioning look on their faces, hidden, but there. Ican tell they think they might soon have to look for a new home. They wonder if this visit was to assess the property and decide whether to keep it or sell it off.

"We loved your Mom." John says to me as he comes out to greet us. "We really miss her." The sincerity of his words makes my eyes tear up. "Thank you. That means alot...." I respond. And it does.

If I have my way, I’m not going to sell it. My dad doesn't have any real connection to the property. He's of the mind set to rid himself of any extra burden. The farm is a burden. A paper burden. Something to have to file taxes on, deal with farmers about, figure the time to sell the harvest. Everything that takes time. My brother has a little more connection. He used to spend time here too. He has memories of the farm of his own. He also knows how much this place meant to mom.

 But I have visions of replanting the orchard and rebuilding the fence line. I’d like to maybe build a little place back in the woods to escape to when I want to get out of the city for a bit. Back near the spot that Grandpa and I would feed the cows and then nap until the sound of Grandma’s voice calling us back would wake us.

That’d be cool.
I’d like that.

I think I may just do it. That would make Mom happy...


Monday, August 30, 2010

water water bo boater...

I have always lived near a large body of water.
I consider myself blessed.

The water is a source of energy, of inspiration, of centeredness for me. In one fell swoop it makes me feel as if I can do anything and also makes me fully aware of how small I am. It’s powerful. It’s serene. It’s…water.

I live on the shores of Lake Erie. Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes and the fourth largest lake in the United States. It’s the thirteenth largest lake globally. Its sheer surface size and what it all connects (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Canada, Michigan and New York) you can easily travel between states, hop to the islands or bring your passport to visit another country.

It’s also the shallowest of the lakes. Its average depth is 62 feet. For comparison; Lake Superior has an average depth of 483 feet deep. That makes our lake the warmest, which is great for water sports, and also the most violent.

I used to own a sailboat. I loved it. At times I wish I still had it. It was one of those things I gave up when I got divorced. Every time I look out over the lake and see the sails, I feel a pang of envy. All those people still with boats...damn them. When there is a stiff breeze, my first thought is, “time to set sail”. But I've no boat to set sail on. So I damn them all again. Many times as the wind picked up, my ex and I would head down to the marina. It was if we were drawn to the boat by the wind. Chores were set aside, work left unfinished. There was a good wind and we must take advantage of We had it down to a science how fast we could set sail. As we were heading out putting on our foul weather gear, we'd pass the power boaters heading in. They'd shake their heads wondering 'why?' and try to give us warning of the rising waves on the lake. Too choppy for them; perfect for us. Our sailboat was perfect for Lake Erie. At 30 feet it was large enough to have several people on board but small enough that I could sail it on my own.

As a sailor, I never pre-plotted a course. I’d hit the mouth of the river and see where the wind was coming from. If our preconceived notion of where we wanted to go was changed by wind direction…well, we’d just change the destination. If there had to be one. Most times there was no destination...just the joy of being on the water was all that was needed. Once when wanting to go to Chez Francois for dinner, the wind was coming directly from the direction that we needed to go. Go figure. So instead of heading to Vermilion we ended up in Leamington, Ontario. It’s due north of Cleveland. Many times when sailing Lake Erie you’d tack back and forth between the US and Canada.

“Hey, could you grab me another glass of wine?”
“Eh? We’re in Canada now. How a’boot a Molson instead? We'er in Canada now don't ya know...” (insert Canadian accent)

But we didn’t always go out when the wind was at its height. There are many times where we would just go and lull about in the summer haze when the lake is like a sheet of glass. Just get out on the water to take the edge off the day's heat and take a dip in the cool of the water. Once while swimming right outside the break wall to the left of the harbor lighthouse we tied rafts to the boat and just bobbed around. When you leave the break wall of the Cuyahoga River, five miles out lies the water crib which is the water source for Cleveland. When the big ships leave the Cleveland Port Authority they head out to the water crib before turning and heading west towards the St. Lawrence Seaway or Highway H2O as it’s called.

HWY H2O Serves Nearly One-Quarter of North America’s Population
HWY H2O is a 2,340-mile marine highway that flows directly into the United States and Canada’s commercial, industrial and agricultural heartland. The waterway carried more than 300 million metric tons of cargo in 2004, valued in excess of $300 billion. HWY H2O ports are often closer to European markets than East Coast or Gulf ports. For example, the distance between Cleveland and Hamburg, Germany, is shorter than the distance between Baltimore and Hamburg.

On this particular day visibility was low. The haze hung low and thick over the still water. My friend Jennie and I lazily resting on rafts. Michael was taking the opportunity to wipe down the sides of the boat. I saw the ship coming down the river. The railway lift bridge had signaled to rise and let the huge tanker through. When it reached the lighthouse it immediately started to turn, instead of heading straight out.

“Ummm…Michael? Look at that ship. Where is it headed? It’s not going out to the crib!” I was slightly alarmed. We’re just this little boat out on a silver piece of glass. The sky and the water were all the same color and the chances of the pilot even seeing us in this glare was remote.

“Get on the boat. Get ON THE BOAT! Now!!!” he screamed to Jenny and I. The ship was looming in the haze. It was starting to pick up speed as it passed by the lighthouse marking the mouth of the river.

We frantically pulled at our lines to get our rafts to the railing. I wasn’t making good enough progress and left the raft and swim as fast as I could towards our craft. Jenny wasn’t a strong swimmer, so I pulled on her line once on board while Michael tried to start the engine.

When docking our boat, people would assume we were die-hard sailors. We would sail up the river and dock, never turning on the engine or dropping sail until we were close to our slip. Fact is, we just didn’t like using the engine. It was a 1 cylinder diesel that knocked crazily in the hold. I hated the sound of it. So we hardly ever used it. It wasn’t the silent engines that are on the new boats allowing them to glide along in peace. On some days when the wind left more to be desired we’d see other sailboats cruising along at 6 knots. In this wind? How did they manage it? It turns out they were technically under sail, but had their engine running as well. It was silent, so if you didn’t see the slight wake coming from behind their boat, you wouldn’t have known.

Since we didn’t use it that often, sometimes the damn thing would be a little temperamental…to put it mildly. “Damn thing won’t start!” Michael was cursing at the switch like a trucker. Flick on, pump, pump, flick off, push. On the third try the engine sprang to life. The sound of its banging sounded beautiful to me on this occasion. He engaged it to its full capacity and we swung the wheel hard left towards the break wall. The lake was perfectly flat, the only ripples caused by our trailing rafts. The Edenborg, which is 450 feet long, passed right over where our boat had been just minutes prior. We were hyped up with the adrenaline of almost being crushed by this huge ship looming above us a mere thirty feet from our stern. The power of it’s engines rocking our boat as it passed.

Lake Erie can catch people unawares. It's not an uncommon thing to read about casualties and boating tragedies in the paper. Even the most careful of boater has gotten themselves into trouble one time or another by not paying attention to all the signs Mother Nature is delving out.

On a gorgeous day one September some friends asked if they could take the boat out for a quick sail. We’d been out earlier and were content remaining in the pool at the marina. They were seasoned sailors, presently without craft and thought it not a problem to let them take the boat without one of us on board. A sudden storm blew up and pitch poled the boat. Susan had been below when it happened and was white as the sail itself when they came backs. “I’ll never go aboard a boat again…” she said as she hopped off onto the dock, “Ever.” The wind has gusted just twice up to 75 mph, they got caught broadside and Wham! Mast to the water and then back up again.

I’m happy to never have had that happen directly to me. I might have the same view as Susan.

I like power boats, but I've never owned one. There are some good times to be had on a power boat. Have you ever tried tubing behind a sailboat? Fun, but not quite the same. I’m glad that my next door neighbors have one. And last evening I got a call. “What are you up to tonight?” Kevin asked.

“Nothing really, why? What’s up?”

“It's a beautiful night. Melissa and I were thinking on taking the boat out to Lorain and eat at Jackalope’s. Do you want to come with us?”

Without a moment's thought, “Fab! I’m in!"

Ten minutes later, camera in hand, bathing suit on...I was all aboard the USS BoatYetToBeNamed with drink in hand, ready to embark on an evening of adventure.

When we got out on the lake it wasn’t as flat as it had been earlier in the day when their plan had hatched. But with two foot rollers and the wind at our back, the fifteen mile journey shouldn’t be bad. It was the return trip that had Melissa’s bathing suit in a bind. “Do you think it’ll lay down?” she asked speaking of the waves that seemed to be building rather than flattening themselves down.

“Yeah…I think so.” I replied. Usually after sundown the lake usually calms down. I’m an optimist, I always hope for the best. Although the last two times I had a boat outing with Kevin and Melissa, the weather wasn’t accommodating. I didn't want to return to the dock because now I was looking forward to being out on the lake. I kept my fingers crossed, prayed to the wind Gods, gave a knuckle bump to Kevin and he hit the gas.

Jackolopes was great. We watched the sun come down over the Lorain Lighthouse that has been standing watch over the harbour since 1898. No longer actually used as a lighthouse, it is still lit at night, has tours (both by land and water) and is a historical landmark for the lake. My steak was perfect, my drink strong, the company fabulous and the conversation even better. After a couple of cups of coffee, we decided that we should start back home. Melissa had already received over a dozen calls and texts from their daughter wondering when her “errant parents would be home.” Katie’s the watchdog of the family.

We were pleased to see that indeed the lake had calmed itself. The moon sat low and bright in the sky, illuminating a path of sparkling diamonds on the black water for our return. Sitting at the bow in the lounge chair I enjoyed the trip back immensely. The constant purr of the engine, the sound of the spray off the hull with a little David Gray giving a soundtrack for the journey home.

With Cleveland illuminated in the distance, the dazzling lit path on the was like we were skipping along on our way to Oz. It was beautiful.

Although just slightly eerie this late at night as well. The water was so, so dark. Black, really. No one else visible on the lake. You could pick up the smell of fire pits from the shore. And a burst of laughter every now and again. But we were at least a mile or two off shore. That's a really long swim. At night. After a few cocktails. Let's just pray that there are no floating logs out here in our path. That takes out several boats a year coming back late from the islands.

As our boat sped across the water we startled a few gulls which gave flight. The idea was bounced around to take an evening dip. I declined as every horror movie involving water started playing in the recess of my mind. There ain’t no way/ no how I was going to jump into the lake last night.

My mind KNOWS jaws doesn’t live in fresh water Lake Erie.
Nor does the Loch Ness monster.
Nor Jason.

There have been some fishermen pulling some large ass Bass out of our lake, but I hardly thought they would be big enough to eat me. Nonetheless…I wasn’t even going to dangle my toes in with it this dark. Perhaps with a few more cocktails in me I could’ve been persuaded when my guard was down, but once those movies thoughts start running...that camera won't turn off.

Maybe another time. Once I get my brain to dump all the nonsense horror crap.

After such a great day spent on the water I feel energized. I feel refreshed. I feel inspired.…
Man, did I sleep good last night.

Just keep Nessie on the other side of the pond...


Thursday, August 26, 2010

send off week...

It’s been a send-off week.

Boo started this year of schooling on Monday. What happened to starting after Labor Day? Apparently youth is not as important as it once was. Everyone is in a rush to grow up, do something, go places…be somebody.

Bear’s entering into the sixth grade. They started changing classrooms for different subjects last year. It was a transition for getting organized for my Boo. She ended up in the hoosegow more times than not for forgetting a paper, a notebook or a textbook when arriving at the next class. Three minutes between classes just didn’t cut it.

One of Bear’s classmates was so afraid of not having something she needed at any given time, she never put anything in her locker. She carried it all with her. All the time.

Her damn backpack weighed over 40 pounds. She only weighs 65.

The mothers would get together and bitch about it. But we never said anything…to the school officials at least. We would just talk amongst ourselves.

I guess we must have spoke loudly. They okayed the use of rolling backpacks this year. AND they bought new textbooks that are split into several sections so each textbook doesn’t weigh 7 pounds, only 1. That’s good stuff. They’ve also changed it so there is 6 minutes between 4th and 5th periods. It allows the kids to get the stuff needed for the second half of the school day. But they aren’t allowed to carry backpacks at all this year. They must carry their books and folders needed in hand.


They must have those little developing backs in mind. For once. I kept thinking that if my daughter develops some sort of back trouble later on, I’m holding her elementary school accountable.

They must have heard how loudly I was thinking that. Thus the change. I wonder if I'll get some sort of waiver soon in one of the weekly news envelopes...

But the start of school and sending Bear off on her daily routine isn’t the only send-off I’ve had this week. As you might already know, my best friend Chrissy’s dad past away over the weekend. I didn’t get the word until Monday. I went to the wake. I went to the funeral. I held it together.

I wanted to be there for Chrissy, but I hated going. It brought up all the thoughts of my mom and her funeral just over a year ago. Her dad was to her as my mom was to me. Indispensable. Fantastic. Wonderful. The more loved parent.

I hate funerals. They make me physically ill. I can feel the bile rising if I think about it too much. Funny that I was going to go to medical school. When death makes me sick. Literally. I guess all my patients would have to stay alive. Or I'd be a mess. Could you imagine me tending to a terminally ill patient? "Hi, Mr. Corrigan. How are you feeling today? The chemo helping out at...." Spew. Chunks. It's probably a good thing I changed professions before continuing with that line of work. Too bad I decided after I'd taken the MCATs.

The funeral was beautiful, although I didn’t get much of it. It was all in Armenian, except the Eulogy. That was presented in broken English. My brain didn’t even register it was in my own language until the third sentence. I didn’t know when to stand, when to sit, when to join in what sounded like the Lord’s prayer or when to give the sign of the cross. I was definitely an outsider; an ‘Odar’ or non-Armenian.

I always like to take in my surroundings. I was sitting with several of Chrissy’s close friends, one that she’s known since they were 4. I’ve met them all before, but it had been many years since I’ve seen any of them. It’s a East side-West side thing here in Cleveland. For that matter since Chrissy’s moved back to the East side I hardly see HER anymore. Which sucks donkey doo if you ask me. It's only 18 miles. You'd think she lived in another state. Maybe if she lived in another state I'd see her more. We'd plan things. We take for granted that they are here. You know?

But as I looked around this church, which happens to be the only Armenian church in Cleveland, I notice that the depiction of Mother Mary over the alter is of distinct resemblance to Chrissy herself! I mentioned that to the other Odar’s with which I was sitting and yup, it was unanimous that if Chrissy were indeed wearing red lipstick, she’d look like the mother of Jesus.

Wait. Red lipstick?
Yes…the Mother has some rather red lips. Who knew? And it was the main alter she presided over with the baby Jesus giving what looked to be a high five surfer hand signal. I'm used to Mary being on the side and a simple cross hanging above the alter. Mary's usually at the side.

There's a tortured looking Jesus was on the left side of the church in a little alcove apse. And some dark, brooding, sinister looking guy on the right side. There was a red veil over some old black leather bound book of Gospels. Who is that scary guy? I haven’t a clue. I couldn’t imagine sitting there as a child. Those images might give you nightmares. They would me.

Chrissy’s dad was very involved with the church. The rest of the family…not so much. Chrissy herself said that she hadn't been there in fifteen years. She told me that the priest made her very aware of that fact. Go figure. It was obvious that St. Gregory of Narek was going to miss him. I heard it mentioned several times that they wouldn’t have been able to build the cultural hall without his overly persuasive letters sent out to parishioners and local business’s to support the project. At least two people attending the luncheon following mentioned ‘No one could possibly say 'No' to that man and his letters’. That made me giggle. It was hard to imagine George as a mafia-esque money gatherer for the his congregation when the most recent photo I’d seen of him wearing google-eyed spring glasses.

George was a veteran of the Korean war. So the Honour Guard was at the gravesite. I’ve seen the Honour Guard in movies, but never in person. Quite a moving sequence of events. I was curious how long they trained to make their folds in the American flag…just so. The salute crisp. The steps perfectly planned. Taps played with just the right tempo and volume.

Chrissy approached me after the conclusion of the internment service. “Thanks for coming Nancy, I really appreciate it….” she said through red rimmed eyes. Her hair was pulled back tight in a high pony. Her mom had made mention that her dad liked Chrissy with her hair away from her face. Chrissy’s mom is well versed in the passive aggressive. Chrissy was sure to have not a single strand anywhere near her cheekbones. Her red eyes didn’t shock me, I’d witnessed her crying several times off and on throughout the services. What shocked me was her rapid approach.

Geez…she saw me last night at the wake. I know it’s been awhile before that, but what the…..her hand was rising towards my head. I thought ‘should I back up?’ That brief moment where the fight or flight instinct kicks in…”Nancy! Don’t MOVE!” Whack. Her hand smacked through the right side of my head.

Whaa………?” was all I could manage.

The people lingering at the gravesite started to turn to find out who could be upsetting the youngest daughter of the recently departed.

“A spider. A big spider. It was IN YOUR HAIR!”

How long had it been there? Where did it come from? There weren’t any trees nearby. Did anyone else see it and think it a hair decoration like the peacock feather headbands all the rage? Had I actually reached up and fluffed my hair and had a spider bite my hand, or fall out on my clothes, or make it’s way down into my clothes, or my neck before she killed it….Ugh. The mere thought makes my skin started to crawl. I’m sure I probably would’ve passed out right then and there.

Maybe even died of a heart attack.

They could’ve just rolled ol’ George-y over a notch and I’d join him in his eternal resting place. The priest was still there and all. I’m sure he’d have said a prayer for me. Even if I were an Odar. And it would make his wife Jean happy…she’d only have to pay half the funeral cost. A discount. A bonus.

And maybe, just maybe, with giving the funeral home business for two services instead of one, she’d get Chrissy that date with the single brother of the funeral home...after all.


Please say a little prayer for Chrissy and her family.
I love you, Christine.