Monday, November 21, 2011

12 step scrabble...

I love playing scrabble.

It was one of those games that we used to play at home growing up. Sure we had the games of Mousetrap, Operation and Twister that all kids had, but when it was game time with the parents we either played cards; Hearts in paticular which usually left someone in tears (me) when my dad would get them all and we would all get 36 points; or Scrabble.

I have fond memories of playing it with my mom and dad. We played lots and lots of games. Most were unmemorable, the ending always the same with my dad winning. My mom was a good player, but didn't have the savvy my dad did. He could get 30 points with just playing one letter. As a kid, it was highly annoying. But I continued to play. My mother used to write down the unusually high scores in the lid of the scrabble box with the date and who was playing.

As you might know, my mother passed away a couple of years ago. We had somewhere along the line replaced the older version of our scrabble game with a new one as one of the tiles got lost somewhere in the 25 years that we had that particular game. But I still have the original box and game. It’s old, the cardboard sides are broken, the velvet bag torn…but I keep it. I pull it out from its nesting spot under my bed and look at it from time to time. I read the entries in my mothers’ neat hand and caress the well worn tiles. It holds a lot of nostalgia for me.

One particular memory holds like it was yesterday. I had come home for a visit from college and played a quick game with my dad before going to bed. It was my dad’s birthday and as a joke I had given him a paperweight. I had it engraved with “Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Scrabble Play”. I thought it was funny. It did bring a smile to his face. And it still to this day sits on the bureau in the living room.

Ironically it was that very night we played a quick game. And I beat him.
For the first time in my life.

I had come close several times, but I had never won. His vocabulary was just superior to mine own, his plays more clever, the use of tiles played close to not allow others free play. Triples were guarded and rather than make the big 6 letter word that might open up one for the next player, he’d be content taking a lesser single score and look for that spot the next turn. It was like when we played chess…he was always severals moves ahead.

But this time it was I who won. And he couldn’t believe it.

Oh sure, he gave me the congratulations. When I went up to get ready for bed and then came back down for a glass of water, there he was...sitting on the couch RE adding all the scores just to make sure.

The game HAD been close.
I won by a mere 6 points.
But I won.

It was the first time that I really felt as if I had become a young adult.

Here we are so many years later; Enter Words with Friends.

Help me.
There must be a twelve step program for me somewhere.

I am addicted.

You’ll find me in a basement somewhere, iPhone tucked into my palm nervously glancing at it to see if any one of my 23 opponents has made a arecent play.

“Hi, I’m Nancy. I haven’t played a word in 46 seconds….”
"Hi Nancy..." all the other people with smart phones will answer.

I wake up in the middle of the night and make a play. I’ll take a break from work to see what the score of a particular game is. The other night my daughter had crawled into bed with me. My phone was under my pillow. I heard the familiar ‘ding’ when someone plays. I pulled out my phone to see…”Mom? Are you playing words? What time is it?” came her voice. I had forgotton she was even there. The glow from my phone illuminating the room. “Uhmmm, yeah. I’ll turn it off. Sorry. It’s late.”

And I did turn it off.
For a moment.

I grabbed my phone and snuck into the bathroom for a quick bladder release and a double word score.
I know. It’s sad.

It’s been years since I downloaded the app. At first I was just playing with my then boyfriend. He had a Blackberry so we would just pass my phone back and forth between us to play. We'd be out to dinner and between bites we'd make plays. I should've seen this addiction coming. But I didn't.

At the time I thought it odd to just pick up a random opponent.  But one afternoon I got bored waiting for him to get home from work to play. I wanted to play NOW. So I did. I hit the Random Opponent button. Enter in Justbreysmom. Turns out she lives in Arizona, her name is Melissa and yes, she has a son named Brey. We’ve now been playing for over 3 years. I can’t even fathom how many games we’ve completed. I feel as if I should send her a Christmas card.

I’ve many games going with people that I feel as if I know. But don’t really. There’s Km in Malassia whom I can’t tell if she cheats or not. Her knowledge of the English language is seamingly better than my own. Or sparkles4u, she (I assume she’s a she…but I really don’t know!) she either plays poorly or really really good. I’ve had to look up a few of her words just to know what they are.

The Facebook connection has gotten me playing with a lot of people now that I DO know. But I still like to pick up random games from time to time. You can always tell if they are newbies by the plays they make. Simple two letter words from the get go. One I started yesterday; her first play was “no”. Which I turned into “noirs” making it a double word, she added “head” to the s which opened up the triple.

Silly girl.
Leaving open a triple.

I’m currently beating her by 160 points. We have 48 more letters to play.
Her screen name is aptly named WeepingGirl.

Joe146 couldn’t take the heat and quit the game when he opened up the triple and I added a s to his play of zinc. It was an 86 point play. C’mon dude. Play it out! Bah.

The highest single play that I’ve ever made was 162 points. I played a triple word with the Q and Z with the Z landing on the triple letter. It was beautiful. My opponent, Jennifer, didn’t resign. She just played harder. She’s a tough competitor. Her husband, also my friend and a good scrabble player, I’ve played as well. He is currently on Words Hiatus as it was taking over his life. I'm sure I'll see him in the basement with all of us trying to desparately break free of the Words bug.

Jen and I are pretty evenly matched. She makes some stellar plays that I even scratch my head at. “Wow Jen….that was a doozy! Take it easy on me!” In our games, the median play is between 30 and 40 points. We’ve had some pretty high scoring games.

That’s all a far cry from when I used to play on that old board with my dad.

And although I love my electronic version of scrabble that I play…the memory of my playing with my folks I will always hold dear.

Oh…and the last time we played as a family? daughter joined us.

Guess who won.

She did. With a little help from dear ol’ mom when grandpa was in the bathroom. THAT score I wrote on the box.

My mother would have been so proud.

Happy Thanksgiving!
And if you want to pick up a game, you know what my screen name is: f8hasit. With a little f. Someone out there has taken it with a capital F...but that ain't me. :-)

Monday, November 7, 2011

costume miss hap...

I love Halloween.

I love the season it’s in, I love decorating the house, I love the costumes, I love the idea of playing dress up. We’re big dress up costume people year round in this house. If anyone ever needs a costume, for Halloween or otherwise, they usually call here first.

And chances are I have it, I can make it, or I can find it.
All I need is an idea…and I run with it.

My daughter a few years ago was going with a group of friends for trick or treat. They gathered at Chloes house for a tete-a-tete to figure out what indeed they would be. They poured over the most recent costume catalogs. “We can pick out whatever you want.” Chloe exclaimed, “my mom will buy them for us!”

My daughter, although enthralled with all the costumes, immediately replied, “My mother would never allow me to wear a store bought costume. Never.”

Smart girl.
And she's right.

It’s true. My thought is you can buy ‘things’ to make or go with the costume, props and such…but going to Target or Sears and picking something up? That uses no imagination. Isn’t that what Halloween costumes are about? Using your imagination?

There are several costumes that I’ve seen over the years that I thought were brilliant. Some are outstanding just because of the attention to detail in bringing a costume to life. Others are because of the wit behind the get up.

I remember one year having a party and Pete came with a head band that read “Go Pete!”. He was wearing medals around his neck and a jacket made of sponges. He carried a book around that he showed to everyone titled “All about Pete”. What was he? Why, the self absorbed man.


This past Halloween I went to a party and the host had the most elaborate costume with full duster coat, leather gloves, eel skin boots –with spurs mind you, AND a Stetson royal flush hat complete with playing cards tucked into the silver concho band. He had an intricate latex mask of a skull. What was he? Death.

Very cool. Well done, my friend. Kudos to Death.

Guys costumes are usually pretty straightforward. But I don’t understand the trend in the costumes that the girls are wearing. Not the little girls like my daughters age or her peers, but the adults. Going to an adult costume party does not mean that you need to buy your costume at Fredericks of Hollywood.

I was astounded by the amount of fishnet hose, corsets/ bustiers, platform stilettos and ruffled panties. Each outfit seemed to have at least 3 of the 4 and some went even further in pushing the envelope. I didn’t realize that the queen of hearts from Alice in Wonderland had such a low cut top that when bending over her breasts would fall out. Not to mention that her uber short skirt and sheer panties, her outfit pretty much left nothing to the imagination. And she was not a runway model by any means. She was quite the ample girl. I just didn’t get it.

And her friends? They all had that same slutty mindset. Alice in Wonderland - Same outfit…fishnets, stilettos, ruffled panties and major pushup bra throwing her boobs into our faces and drinks. A pirate'ess- again, more of the same but this time with boots that I didn’t even know came that high, or tops that low. Uh, matey...your nipple has fallen into my drink.

There were in attendance all the cliché costumes. The French maid, the pussy cat, the playboy bunny, the belly dancer, the nurse, the naughty schoolgirl, the sexy nanny, the police woman....the prostitute. Yup, they were all there.

Sure, there were a few of us that had on more traditional garb. In that I mean I donned a turtleneck to go with my black angel of death outfit. Or Brookes kitshky white sheet ghost costume. Even the Bride of Frankenstien, which was fabulous, didn't have to expose tons of flesh to look wonderful...and sexy.

As I stood there assessing the costumes that the women were wearing, I started to wonder. Why is it that Halloween, for women, has become a time to get your slut on? I don’t get it? It didn't always be this way. Just because it’s an ‘adult’ party does not mean that you need to dress like an ‘adult entertainer’. This was not the playboy mansion. Our host was not Hugh Hefner. And we were not at a club.

Hell, earlier in the day I was down at Edgewater Yacht Club for their annual kids ‘trunk or treat’. Some of the members get really into it and decorate their cars for the event. There are those that even get dressed up. But the lady parked next to us was dressed with long blond wig, fish net hose, short French maid outfit and heels…at 1:00 in the afternoon for a CHILDRENS costume party. Really? And honey…look at your drivers’ license. Your 62. AND perhaps 40 pounds too heavy for that outfit to begin with. Uhmmm. Can you say ‘Inappropriate’?

There was a documentary shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year that won awards. And for good reason. It was recently aired on the Oprah Network and has a Facebook page. I believe the director, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, has her finger on the pulse of what’s happening. This isn’t about Halloween and the lack of inspiration for appropriate costuming. It’s about the media and how young girls and men perceive themselves and what they feel is the norm, or expected.

When we are constantly barraged with sex, from every standpoint, it’s no wonder that the Queen of Hearts thought her outfit was fitting. Darlin', it was TOO fitting. Trust me.

The documentary is called Miss Representation. (see the trailer here) It’s fantastic.

“In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, not in her capacity as a leader.”

Watching this film really got me to thinking about these girls dressed in their hooker outfits and what they really must think about themselves. I do believe that we, as women, are extremely influenced by media. The magazines, the catalogs, the movies. Who doesn’t want to look like a Victorias Secret model? But what is the cost?

When I was a manager at VS I found it amazing how men coming in the store would talk to us. Making sexual based comments when we would ask what they were in shopping for.

“You know, something to make my girl sexy…like you.” he said as he obviously checked me out from top to bottom.

Brushing the comment aside and trying to be polite and proffesional I asked, “is there a specific color or item you have interest in?”

“Red. Red is sexy. And slippery. I like slippery...Like silk or something.”

Alright, got it.
I steered him over towards the satin chemise’s. They are always a big seller at that price and I could add on other things to go with it depending on his input.

“What size do you think she is?”  I asked. Always a loaded question but one that you need to know to go forward. I’d almost cringe immediately after asking because you know that that's when they would look stare at you, stare at your breasts, hold out their hands like about to grab melons and say “About this big.” Or “Her tits are bigger/smaller/same as yours.”

Yeah. Amazing, huh? And a completely true story.

Many times after work the girls would go out for a drink before heading home. I loved the gals I worked with…still do! Our uniform was to wear a black suit. Didn’t matter if it was a skirt, or pants or what you wore or didn’t underneath it…just as long as it was a black suit. When we’d walk in an establishment it was pretty much known that we were the VS girls. It was like the girls in the Robert Palmer video “Addicted to Love”, heads would turn and the men would flock around us like WE were the supermodels. It was really weird.

I work for VS.
I am not in the catalog.
I am not your fantasy dream girl.

I do, however, own a lot of their lingerie…perk of the business. I am STILL after all these years pulling out of my drawers bras and panties that I bought that still have the tags on them. Thank goodness too since I like the old construction and material to the new one!

I’m a not a big womens libber or anything, but I was raised with the notion that there is nothing that I can not do…just because I’m a woman. I’ve lived by that statement my dad made to me at a very young age my whole life. I’m strong. I’m capable. I’m fierce.

I like to look good. I like to feel sexy.
But I am a very capable and smart woman too. I can’t, nor do I wish to, live any other way. I’m not going to be the one saying “Honey, I can’t get this…can you do it for me?” while batting my eyelashes and twirling my hair. Chances are that I’ll have figured out a way to accomplish my goal before I would even think about asking for help.

That being said, you can place a safe bet that it will not be me you find at a Halloween party displaying my goods. You want to see them? You’ve got to earn that right. Now granted, I’m not about to don an unattractive outfit, but I think one can look fabulous without all the low cut, up to there gear!

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker.

So what is really up with the kinky, racy, naughty outfits?

Personally, I don’t think that wearing itsy bitsy costumes brings out anything fierce in a woman. It leaves precious little to the imagination and feminine mystic. I understand that Halloween costumes are a chance to don another persona for a short time, but is that to say that every womans other self is a whore? Say it isn’t so.

Halloween in America has become a 5 billion dollar industry. And the media drives it, so all those little outfits bought? It just feeds the machine that continues to demean. And women have bought into it. The costumes used to be bought for private role play and bedroom use…now it seems everyone has deemed them appropriate for public wear.

I took another glance around at those at the party. I shook my head and I vowed that if one more girl walked in the door with one of these get-ups on, I would have to spew my drink....
THAT would have been a horrible trick.

What are your thoughts?
As women? And as guys?
…enlighten me.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

just another day on Facebook...

I’ve been bad. I've been very bad.

Well, not in the normal sense of the word. I’ve been good really. Very, very good. But I’ve still been bad.

I’ve neglected my blog. I’ve neglected my blog reading. I’ve neglected my bloggy friends. And I am sorry.

I have been writing. I just haven’t been posting.

The other day I was on Facebook. Yes, I know…the ultimate usurper of time. It doesn’t help that I have the app on my phone. Thank goodness I had the sense to turn off notifications pr I might not get anything accomplished. However I would know when Chrissy was stalking the Home Depot paint counter…again. Lots of people have been complaining about the new interface that Facebook has. I kindof like it so haven’t entered into that arena of conversation. I personally like that little ticker on the right for updates and the section that gives you the ‘people you may know’.  Most times they aren't people I know, or perhaps people I have known and don't care to know now and then surprise, surpirse! today that little box showed a name and face of someone that I hadn't thought about it awhile. There it was! A bloggy friend from across the pond.

My mind jumped and I smiled at the computer screen. “No! Can it be? Matthew!”

I found Matthew by accident a little over two years ago. One day early on with Blogger I was clicking the ‘next blog’ tab. I was new to the whole blogging experience, didn’t have any followers and wasn’t following anyone myself except for Chrissy who got me into the whole damn thing. I was entertained by what would come across my computer screen. Some blogs were in languages I didn’t even know existed, some were on topics that I had no interest in, some were just online photo albums so Auntie Gam and Uncle Ed could see how big the twins were getting. But one more click brought me to AbodeOneThree.

He stopped blogging a little while back, took some time for himself. I used to go and check...sneak in to see if indeed he truly had. He DID announce that he was shutting it down, but I didn't want to believe that he would, so I would check. He was a man of his word and nothing new would appear. And one day I just stopped checking. So imagine my surprise to see his name. And then to find that he IS writing again! (However...he didn't renew the domain name AbodeOneThree and someone snatched it up. He is current;y under the moniker of ReloadAbode-which you can click on and find here...)

Sometimes I ponder on how amazing the effect of “coincidence”. Is there truly a thing of coincidence? Is it really fate in some other form? Is it destiny? What IS it, exactly.

I’m a believer in free will. I always have been. I like to have a certain amount of control over my life. Oh sure, there are times that I’ve not had any control and hand my fate and happiness over to others. THIS practice has not turned out well for me in the few times I’ve done it. Note to self: I am my own captain. This is MY ship. I’m at the helm. And double note: DO NOT EVER FORGET THAT.

I never thought of myself as a control freak, but the other day during a small dissagreement my ex-husband told me that I was. Personally, I think that he was just trying to push my buttons and wind me up, which it did, but his comment got me to thinking about control, free will and coincidence. How much of my life do I really control? I find that in my life ‘things’ happen that I have no control over, some things I force into being and others…well, who knows. I’m still on the fence whether those things actually happened or if it’s was just some huge conspiracy to make me believe that they did.

Was it coincidence or fate that brought me to AbodeOneThree? Was it fate that landed his blog on my computer screen? Was it fate or coincidence that by reading HIS blog I strove to be a better writer myself which in turn gave me many followers? And was it coincidence that made me write this post today after seeing his name 6 hours ago? The many followers then became friends of sorts. Many of whom I’ve never met, but feel a connection to just the same. Is it fate, coincidence or destiny that two of my followers, Jules and Carlos, who live in different countries altogether are now a couple because they were both followers of my blog? Is it coincidence that when I am in need someone or something just pops in and takes care of it? Or is it fate that I met this man whom I really enjoy on the anniversary of my breaking it off with my old boyfriend? He whom I met the day that my ex-husband was getting married? Is that me that is controlling these things, or is it a destiny of sorts…

After his comment, I had to look the actual definition of ‘control freak” up in Random House. It’s answer: “to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command…To hold in check; curb.: it’s origin is the Latin “contra” meaning “against” and “rotula” (wheel), indicating movement. So essentially – control means to move against. The exact origin of freak is not known, but possibly can be traced back to the old English “frician” which means “to dance”. To put this all together then, we could say the control freaks are those who “command the dance” or those who “move against the dance”.

Maybe I am in a way a control freak. I DO like things the way I like them. I would rather drive than be a passenger. I feel more comfortable when I know where it is I’m going…so I plan ahead and map things out. I like being on time. And like it even better if I’m early. One way to stress me out is to be late meeting me for a tee time…I’ll be the one jumping about from foot to foot looking like I have to use the toilet simultaneously looking at her watch every 5 seconds! And I AM one hell of dancer that commands the dance. So do those things make me control frenzied?

I also did a Google search just to see if there were lists of signs and symptoms control freaks. Then I thought…”Wow. Is this being too controlled researching control?” Yikes. All this thinking about control is making my head spin. And the list? Yowzer…look at the list!

You might be a control freak if you are:
Preoccupied with negligible details?
Want to present the “right” appearance?
Fail to let go of unfortunate details from the past?
In ‘work mode’ while not at work?
Huff, rage and/or pout when you don’t get your own way?
Critical of others or yourself?
Concerned that others may do things “wrong”?
Attempt to get another person to change?
Feel paralysed to act because you might not get it “just right”?
Tell others how they should live?
Feel uncomfortable if you don’t’ get the last word?

As I was reading through, I was nodding my head in agreement “Yup”, or nodding in dis-agreement “N.O. with a capital on both!” or tilting my head from one shoulder to the other “Well- it’s all in the interpretation….see.”

I mean, I DO like details. And schedules. But I can roll with it, I just like a plan. It keeps me in my comfort zone. I prefer to be knowledgable or have knowledge of stuff so I’m not caught by surprise. MacGyver would be proud. Present the right appearance? Sure. I’m not about to show up to a black tie affair in a pair of cut-offs, or a wake in a low cut red dress. You probably know me well enough by now to know that I probably wouldn’t WEAR a low cut red dress anyway, but you get the idea.

How about details from the past? Sure sometimes. It’s hard not to! If you were me you’d still hold a little grudge against someone who daily judged you and withheld physical and emotional love all the while taking everything you had and gave with nothing given in return. But I don’t consider it dwelling… I consider thinking of it as a warning to myself so I will never, ever be in that predicament again. It’s a good thing.

Work mode? Bah. That’s my parents fault. THEY taught me work ethics. And again, it’s good. My home is always ready if guests arrive. Huff and rage? No way. Critical of others? Guilty. But YOU would have criticized that gal at the Bier Market too if you’d seen what she was wearing! And of myself? Not too much. There’s always room for improvement. One more lunge set couldn’t hurt. But no…I’m now on the top of my game: emotionally, physically and mentally.

Yes, yes, no, no and well yeah, maybe.

As I finished with my nodding and taking notes I realized that I didn’t WANT to be considered a control freak. There is such negative connotations with that phrase and yet as I’m bobbing my head to the beat of the sentences, I guess maybe I am. A little. But that would mean my ex-husband was right?! That I am? Oh boy. THAT in and of itself could land me into more therapy sessions if I actually subscribed to the practice.

Recently I hung a board on the wall in my daughters room next to her bed. It looks like a big shiny opaque glass sheet but it’s a dry erase board and it’s magnectic. I like to sneak a peak at it from tine to time to see what she’s put on it. Photos are posted, like the one of her above; quotes and sayings floating around her group of friends at school; names of some of her 'besties' know, little pre-teen girl stuff.

The other day she added in bold letters: “I wasn’t born perfect. I was born my SELF.” Pretty cool statement from a pretty cool kid. I love that. Maybe I'll turn her statement into a self mantra or tattoo it on my arm so I won’t forget. 'Cuz I like it. She's got a great attitude and view.

No. I don’t think I’m a control freak. I just like a reasonable amount of control. It’s more of a responsibility thing, something that I've aquired over the years. That and knowing I’m just in a position now that I know what it is I want and know how I should be treated by those around me. My friend Harlan left me amessage the other day on the one year anniversary of my kicking shithead out of my home...he said "Yea is right nancy and BRAVO! You found the self respect to demand the same in return adn you deserve to settle for not ONE IOTA short of that!" If I’m not agreeable it’s probably because I’m now learning that I don’t have to bend to others demands or wishes. I AM Helen Ready singing “I am woman”.

And this woman, whether a control freak or not, has had one hell of a summer. (and early fall...)

I apologize for not sharing that with you earlier. I bought a picture at an art fair this summer that reads “Life is a Daring Adventure or Nothing.” Something about it spoke to me. Was it coincidence that I found it? Or divine placement of something that I needed to see. Whatever you want to call it, I like it.

Yes. Guilty. I’ve been bad. I’ve been gone. I’ve been away.

But I’ve been living an adventure. MY adventure.
It's been pretty awesome.

And look-y here! I’ve lived to write about it! You can thank Facebook for that too. Because I wrote this after I saw Matthews name on that little sidebar of 'people you may know'. See how this works?

Bah. It’s kismet.

Footnote: Thanks you Matthew for your silent inspiration! It feels good to be back amongst my friends...

Monday, May 30, 2011

'dem jes stoo-pid...

My daughters most loved shoes.
As you may know, I like to people watch.
I’m a people watcher from way back. Some of the things I see amuse me. Others stun me. Some have even disgusted me. But I enjoy every bit of it.

It’s my nature to see details. I work in an industry that requires me to see details that maybe someone else does not. Some details I find in said sport of people watching is almost painful to behold. But I hold my tongue and hope that someone, somewhere might share with these poor souls that they appear the fool.

I’ve always found fashion to be a quirky thing. My own personal style leans to the far right classic, with a twist of dishevelment. My casual wardrobe consists of distressed jeans and exposed seams. I like buying new clothes that look as though they have been in my closet for my lifetime. It’s comfortable for me. Like a favorite pair of worn in blue jeans.

I had a pair of splotted cargo pants. Uber comfy to the nth degree, I loved these things. Each time I wore them someone would say, “Have you been painting?” I’d look down at my pants and think ‘Ummm, no. I bought them like this.’ Actually, had I been painting they wouldn’t look like that. I’m a very neat painter and have never gotten paint on myself…ever. Really.

If I’m dressing up? I usually don a blazer. I’ve got many.22 black ones to be exact with a few white, tans and grays thrown in. But I’ve been breaking the norm lately and buying some things that are a bit outside my comfort zone. And I have to admit, it’s been a bit fun to experiment.

I wore spring green silk basketweave blazer the other day. I felt a little uncomfortable at first wearing so much color…for me.
Nancy?” one of my co-workers asked, “Is that you? Isn’t that….color?”

“Why yes. Yes, it is.”

“It looks…GREAT!”

And I felt pretty good in it too. Of course, I paired it with a basic white T and my distressed jeans, but hey…baby steps people. Baby steps.

But some fashion is just that. Fashion.
It’s meant for runways, and shows, and theatrics. Not for people to put into their everyday wardrobe. And yet, I see it. Everywhere.

The worst of the offenses are usually with shoes. I have a few rules about fashion and function when it comes to shoes. My first rule of thumb: If you can’t walk in them or look stupid walking in them…don’t buy them.

How many times I’ve seen someone who is clomping about in shoes that obviously hurt, or worse, she just can’t walk in them. Why? 5” heels (or more) should really be left to Lady Gaga. She’s got handlers (sic: The View when she wore 14” platform shoes with two guys helping her to the couch.) that will get her from point A to point B.

Secondly: Wear appropriate shoes. Nothing is more painful (or humorous) than seeing someone at Cedar Point for the day with high heel thong sandals. Hello? Miles and miles of concrete? Yeah, those are shoes that should be reserved for summer weddings and back yard barbeques. Or the gal I saw this winter trying to navigate an icy sidewalk in a pair of open toe high heel booties. And they were just going IN the Pub. If she failed rule #1, she was obviously going to miserably fail #3 (see below). Her boyfriend was trying to help her, but as I watched I silently was willing her to fall. That might teach her a lesson. It’s Cleveland! It’s winter! Why do you have on those open toed high heel shoes? Can’t you see there is a foot of snow on the ground? Silly, silly, silly.

And my last rule and maybe the most important one: If you can’t walk in them sober, what’s going to happen when you’ve had two martinis?

Nuff said with that.

Today it was an absolutely beautiful day. After soooooo much rain, everyone was out to enjoy the reprieve of precipitation and see what that glowing ball of light in the sky was. I rode my bike down to the park to sit and well…people watch. I was amazed at how many girls there were out trying to walk around in these horrendous shoes. Just because they are in the Victoria’s Secret catalog does not make them sexy. Many are…well, just fugly. Ummm…park? Perhaps some flip-flops or sandals or tennies? NOT uber high platforms.

I saw one girl actually take a spill in the soft turf due to balance issues. Even better, her boyfriend reprimanded her for her shoe choice. “Why you got ‘dose tangs on?” he said as he was trying to help her up.” I hate ‘dose damn tangs. You can’t walk in ‘em and dey look stoo-ped.”

Well said, my friend. Well said.

I DO own a few pair of wedges myself. Not the sky high ones, but I actually prefer them to regular heels because normally they are more manageable to maneuver in and still wear heels. I like them. They make me feel kindof…sexy. But of course, they have to pass all three of my rules before ever wearing them out in public.

Years ago I remember I talked my mother into buying me a pair of wedge heels. Straight from Sears Robuck catalog, these were the hottest thing going. My best friend Kic had her mom buy her a pair too. We both thought we were very, very cool. We were in 7th grade with these 5” cork heel wedge platforms. We towered over everyone at school. We were amazons. Supermodels. Unstopable. Until Kic fell.

She broke her ankle and ended up in a cast for the remainder of the summer.
I put my shoes away and never wore them again. As I peruse the aisles at DSW I chuckle to myself as I see many variations of the same shoes that I had way back then. I wish I still had those, I could sell them on ebay as vintage. But anytime I am tempted to buy anyting similar, I think back to that full leg cast of Kic’s and I steer in another direction.

There was a blurp I read on Yahoo the other day where a staffer had her boyfriend dress her, head to toe, accessories and all for an entire week. She then posted the photos and gave her input to the choices he made. This was a dare after she stood in front of her closet and deemed that there was nothing to wear. He didn’t do too badly, but overall it was apparent that he didn’t care about accessories. Particularly the shoes. He even commented that he didn’t understand all the nuances between the shoes. She asked him, “But don’t you like these better? Don’t they make me look more attractive?” His answer? No.

Oh sure, there are some men that do appreciate fashion. But most of the over-the-top stuff does not impress the guys. If it looks too unnatural, it’s not a turn on. I have a friend who shared with me a story about a girl he picked up one night while out. He thought she was quite a knock-out. More fashionable than his usual tastes, but he liked her appearance. He asked for her number. She gave it to him. They spent the rest of the night canoodlaling. She invited him in when he drove her home. He went in. And found out that she had on fake nails, fake eyelashes, gel inserts for her bra and she was wearing a wig.

He didn’t call her again. He said he was too confused.  

Just the other day I had a discussion about fashion with a guy I've been seeing. I confessed to him how undecided I was when choosing what to wear for our first meeting. I thought, should I wear a dress? No, too formal. A skirt? It’s a warm day, shorts? No, too much leg. Don't want to give off the wrong impression in case I don't like him. Ugh. Decisions! Decisions! Everyone (magazines) says that for a first date you should wear a dress. But I’m not that comfortable in dresses. I have a few, but I’m more the trouser type. I changed clothes 8 times before making my final decision. And after all that, I wore the first outfit I had chosen.

I ended up with my favorite jeans, white linen shirt and flats. Simple sterling cuff and earrings and I was ready. I figured…this is who I am. If he likes dresses with ruffles and frills, well…that just ain’t me.

I’ve always had my own sense of style. I know what I like, what works for me and what I’m comfortable in. Being comfortable = confidence. And people are drawn to those with confidence. And no, that doesn’t give you the go ahead to show up to a first date in your sweat pants. Unless, of course, your first date is conprised of yard work. And that doesn't sound like a date at all.

He told me about some of his past 'firsts' that never made it to a 'second' because he just couldn’t get beyond that they had on too much perfume, wore too much make-up, had too much jewelry on or just looked downright uncomfortable in their chosen ensemble. Do you know what the number one turn-off for him? Women who played with their hair.

Which is funny, because the very same magazine that says you should wear a colorful dress for a first date is the same one that says playing with your hair silently tells a man that you are interested in him.

So we’ll add another rule to my list of do’s and don’ts.
Don’t pay attention to the magazines.
Pay attention to yourself.

So, did I pass his test?
Let’s just say it went well. Very well.

He likes the way I dress.
He likes my sense of style.
He likes that I’m open.
He likes…me. Just the way I am.

Cool. Which is just the way it should be. It's nice to feel appreciated for just being me.
Oh. And as a bonus, he hates all those shoes too.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

crumbled and transparent...

I stood at the very end of the pier.

It was early, way before sunrise and I was alone.

Grasping the handrails, my fingers felt the grooves of the many hands that had stood there before me over the years. This was a fishing pier, one that protruded well out into the ocean to get to where the fish were no matter what the tide schedule. I gazed at the dark water. There was nothing as far as I could see. No fishing boats, no lights from large ships…nothing. Just the hint of the sun on the horizon.

I turned to my right and looked down the beach. Far off in the distance was a lone figure was walking with a dog in the haze of pre-dawn light. To my left just an open stretch of beach wet from the tide retreating leaving little lumps of jelly fish to dry when the sun rose.

This island is my happy place. It’s a zen place for me. It is my daughters namesake. It’s a place that I feel entirely at home, comfortable and peaceful. I know nothing in the world can really trouble me while I’m here. Nothing. No world news; no word from home; nothing can penetrate the positive vibe that surges through my soul while I’m here in this place.

When I last saw D to wrap up some business issues, I had just returned from a skiing trip. I was rested, happy and my skin had a golden glow from being high in the mountains. I felt good and I looked pretty good too. Shadow came over his face and instead of saying anything positive he said, “You mean, you were skiing while all those people were dying in Japan?”

Yep. I was. How thoughtless of me.
I resented his comment. I tried to shake it off, but instead of a “I’m glad you are happy and enjoying life.” I got more criticism and negativity. It got under my skin and bugged me.

But when I'm here, it can't get to me. Nothing can.
When I’m here, I'm safe.
I like to walk. And I enjoy to walk the beach. I prefer the mornings before others come down. In the morning, this is my beach. This is my pier. 

My time walking is spent in silent reflection. When I get back to the cottage I usually jot down my thoughts. If I put it down on paper, it allows it to get out of my head and I can sort it out later. If left to bounce around in there, it can create havoc and mayhem. There is a large pile collecting of these random thoughts, written down on scraps of paper all wadded up in a bowl, right next to the oranges.

My pocket is full of all these scraps of paper.

I dig down deep into my faded jeans and grab a handful. I held them out over the edge of the railing. I struggled inwardly. I’m fearful. There’s a part of me wants to hold on and keep them. I quickly decided that yes, I needed to do this. I must. I extended my arm as far out away from the railing as I could, and then….I let them go.

The crumbled bits of paper flit this way and that as they made their way down to the roiling water below, immediately becoming transparent and disappearing into the surf. One piece blows back onto the boardwalk and rustles there in the breeze hanging on to the weathered wood. I strain my eyes in the low light to read the writing. “Resentments” is printed in bold letters across the top with several lines in script below it. Including the last comment from D. I eyed it carefully, leaned back to get a good angle and then nudged it with my bare foot and pushed it over the edge. It clung to an upright post just below the decking, fluttered for a moment…and is then was gone. Out of my eyesight and into the blackness below.

These small pieces of paper hold all that has troubled me. All things bottled up that need to dissappear. There is stuff from as far back as I can remember. Small things and big things, there is no differentiation. They range from the continued grief of my moms passing, to my decision to not pursue medical school, to failed relationships. From bad decisions made to stupid drama. All the things that I wish I could do over but can’t, all the things I wish I'd said but didn't. All of my pains, my fears, the that crap that has managed to dig into my psyche with its negativity.

I wrote it all down.
On little pieces of paper.
Which I shoved into my jeans pocket this morning before leaving for my walk.

I literally…let it all go. And it felt good. I felt relieved. I felt lighter. There were no burdens still clinging to my shoulders bearing their weight down on my soul. Nothing but the gratitude that I was standing here. In my spot. On my pier. On my island.

When going through my divorce my estranged husband would say to me, “Stop being a victim.” I hated it. I think that he knew it as well, which is why he said it so often. I hadn’t chosen that path. I had no hand in what was being dealt out to me. I was just trying to keep my head up and breathe.

I realize now that I had unknowingly become a victim. And have somewhat remained there for all these years. I have allowed my capricious happiness to lie in the hands of others. I have pondered what I may have done differently if given the opportunity for a re-do. But I believe that the burdens of heartbreak has made me who I am today. And I like that person. She's wise. So yeah….if I had be there again, I’d say,”Bring it.”

My father used to tell me, “A mistake is worth making if you learn from it. If you repeat it, then the fault lies within you.”

All those mistakes?
All those faults?
All those resentments, fears, and emotional baggage is lying with the fishys in the ocean.

And as I watch my woes disappear into the waves, I know that I have finally entirely reclaimed myself. I want to bottle this euphoria and stay here forever. But I know I can’t, I’ve got things to return to. My home, my dogs, my job…there are responsibilities at home that I cannot shirk. I walk the five miles back to the cottage to find my daughter still asleep. I stand over her and look down into her face. It is beautiful, peaceful, and serene. Her innocence is apparent on her perfect, rosy complexion.

I want to wake her; to hug her; to hold her. I want to tell her how wonderful I feel. But I let her sleep. She’ll wake soon enough, and then we'll talk.

It’s a beautiful morning. It’s a beautiful world.
And as for me…?

I have a beautiful new life. With memories, yes...but no baggage to hold them to draw me down. They be all gone.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

problem solved...

“You can read it, Mom, but don’t change anything.”

The other day my daughter and I were in my office at home. She on the desktop computer, I on the couch with the laptop cradled in my lap squished in between two dogs vying for my attention. As I tried, unsuccessfully, to elbow a place for myself, I glanced over from time to time to see what Boo-est was up to. She had her math simple solutions book open, some loose leaf papers spread out, the other laptop had some game on it and on the large flat screen was an open word document. Earlier, her little fingers had been typing away fast on the keyboard and I was dying to see what she had been writing.

“What are you typing Boo?” I asked her. Trying to sound not-all-that-interested. If you express TOO much interest, you won’t be able to see it. Either shyness or protectiveness sets in and you won’t get any closer.

“A creative writing project for school.” she answered, “But it didn’t turn out anything like I thought it would. What I wrote on my papers as notes didn’t make it into the story. I don’t know why….but it just changed.”

She turned to look at me in the big office chair which used to engulf her and now she fits in rather nicely. “Does that ever happen to you? Do you start something thinking it will turn out one way and then it just goes off in a completely different direction?”

Boy. Does it ever.

“Sometimes, doll. Actually, most times.” Immediately, her words started a little script in my head…I have to write that down…”More times than not, for me at least. Can I read it?”

"In a minute. I’m not quite done. But don’t change anything…okay?”

I agreed. I wouldn’t change anything. But I was now really dying to see what she was working on. She got up from the chair allowing me to take her place in front of the screen and removed herself to her room, plopped down in her large pappason chair and turned on her TV. If I’m looking at something she’s created (which is a lot…she’s always creating something) she has to leave the room. She, like most people or at least like me, fears judgement. She’d rather wait to see what your response is rather than see it firsthand.

I looked at the screen and this is what I read.

Creative Writing: Solving Problems

This is when the problems started to happen. With my best friend hating me, Judy Youth, and just about everything was going amok. My name is Rachel Charlotte First, and this is the whole reason that I am telling you this story.

In the beginning, me and my best friend John were playing basketball in the back parking lot of our apartment building. John lives two floors down from me and Mama. Daddy passed away when I was little. Our apartment building is on 32nd street, NYC. Well, anyway, I don’t want to get off track…so where was I? Oh yes! John and I were playing some basketball when, my arch nemesis, Judy Youth showed up. I’ve hated Judy since Kindergarten, when she poured her wild berry scented bubbles in my hair-ON picture day. NOW my kindergarten school picture forevermore has me soaking wet.

Judy is the kind of person who would do absolutely anything in order to make sure that her enemies are absolutely miserable. That is exactly when she took John away from me. It was lunch time. Judy asked John if he wanted a sandwich. Automatically, he said “Yes“, because we were all hungry. Then Judy says “John, you do know that I work at the deli, right? Because if you do, then you do know that I get a discount there, right? Jhonny (the owner) told me so.” That’s when John said “If I go, does that mean that Rachel can come with me then?” “I’m only allowed to invite one person John, so sorry.” replied Judy, in quite a bitter tone. That’s when I expected John to say “Sorry Judy, I can’t leave Rachel behind.” But, of course, he didn’t. He went with her to the deli. Leaving me here with a nearly deflated basketball, only hearing him shout “Bye Rachel!” with an echo-y ring to it. I really do hate hearing that, ‘Bye Rachel‘, that is. It really doesn’t seem right to me. It sounds like someone is just letting you go a-drift, and that is what fears me the most…someone letting you go.

When she took John, it started to rain. So I sat down in my gym shorts and tee shirt, right smack-dab in the middle of the parking lot. That’s when I thought about what I should do. I can’t just sit there and do nothing while she takes nearly everything away from me, piece by piece. I have to ask her why she does this. But how? She goes to a different school, lives pretty far away from me, and never talks to me. How can I tell her?

Once I got home, I started thinking about those words again. “Bye Rachel!” They just about kill me. I was angry, furious. I yelled at the top of my lungs as loud as loud could go, and started to cry. I thought things like: “Why do these things happen to me?” and “Who does he think he is, leaving me out there?” and some other things like “Why didn’t Judy choose me?” But I didn’t say these things, I only thought them. After that I went to bed and tried to forget about the whole thing.

The next day, I tried to call him, no answer. Over and over again, I called. He never picked up. Judy must have been my replacement. Or so I thought. He was out back again, I could hear him with his basketball, He was with Pat, from school. Yet he still doesn’t talk to me. I don’t understand how people think. One day they’re your best friend, then the next, they’ve forgotten all about you.

I went outside to see if I could hang-out with them. Once John saw me he said “Coming ma’!” in a nervous, embarrassed kind of voice. He called me afterward. He said “Rachel, I know that you want to be friends, but you kind of embarrass me…” I replied “What? But we’ve been best friends since 1st grade? What do you mean that we can’t be friends anymore?” He told me “We just can’t be friends. Bye Rachel.” And there it is again, that fatal sounding Bye Rachel. That’s when I knew that I had to stand up to Judy.

I rode the bus straight to the top of Judy’s street. She answered the door asking me what I wanted. I told her that I wanted my friend back. That’s when she told me “He chose me over you Rachel, I don’t understand why you don’t just let your friends go when they turn on you.” “That is why I don’t want to let him go, because you don’t really care about John, do you? You don’t care about life, now do you Judy? And most of all, you don’t really know what friendship is about. Tell me if you do Judy, because from the looks of things, it doesn’t really seem like it.” Judy didn’t respond. She left her mouth open real wide and stood there until I left.

Obliviously, she must have called John. He told me how proud he was to be my best friend, and Judy had given back what she took, without really giving back anything. I found friendship without really trying as hard as you might think. And that, is where all of my problems were solved.

Now, remember, my daughter just turned 12.
There are a couple of things in this little story that jumped out at me, the nearly deflated basketball, the echo-y ring to it, the bitter tone in her voice, even the fact that daddy passed away leaving just her and her mom. But it was the “Bye Rachel”, the fatal sounding “Bye Rachel” that kind of blew me away. The one day they are your best friend and the next they’ve forgotten all about you.

Things have been really, really good for me as of late. My daughter and I just came back from a vacation leaving us both refreshed and rejuvenated. She’s always rejuvenated, but this vacation did my heart and soul a world of good. The time for reflection has allowed me to really stand back and look at what a mess I have left behind when setting my old boyfriend loose. I didn’t realize (because when in the trenches you just can’t see the view) how depressed and suppressed I had become.

I didn’t ski much in the many years with my boyfriend, because he didn’t like the cold. I had heard that he used to ski, but I’ve never known him to or express an interest in the sport. So I stopped skiing. Except for that one week a year when Bear and I would join our old friends in New York.

I didn’t dance any longer as my boyfriend didn’t like to dance. He could dance, I’d seen him do it from time to time, but would he go with me? No. So I stopped dancing. Fact is, he didn’t really appreciate music that much, so when in the car, we would have talk radio (which I dislike) or comedy on instead of music.

I didn’t go to art openings, restaurant openings, fine dining restaurants or music venues any longer. He didn’t want to do those things. Even the choice of films changed into only going to see the things he liked or had an interest in. Fact is, even my style of dress had been subdued. I have always worn black, gray or white but he’d comment if my shirt was cut too low or my heels too high. “Looks like you’re trying too hard.“ Too hard for what? To feel good? Hmmm. My jewelry is never flashy, I don’t overdo, I’m not a trendy but a classic dresser…so how could I look as if I were ‘trying to hard’. Somehow I morphed me into what he liked. How in the hell did that happen? I suppose women do these kind of things, but really…give up skiing? Give up dancing and music? Give up things that I enjoy in order to just do the things that he enjoys? Did he ever do anything for me that he didn’t want to because I wanted to do it and he felt compelled to do it in order to make me happy? No. I don’t think so. I’m racking my brain trying to come up with at least one instance…and I’m failing.

The other day when Bear and I were on our way home, listening and singing at the top of our lungs to some song on the radio, I realized how full my heart was. In the car I find myself not on the verge of tears, but on the verge of laughter. My eyes are smiling, my lips are smiling, my heart is smiling.

It was a warmer afternoon when we got home and she and I went out back to the trampoline in the backyard. We cleared away the remnants of the fall leaves and bounced. We bounced and bounced and bounced and spun and spun and spun and laughed and laughed and laughed! I felt like Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat up in the air on her sitcom. Big grin on my face and just enjoying life!

I felt something, an emotion, that I hadn’t felt in a long while. It took me a moment to put my finger on what it was.


I felt joy.

But the ‘Bye Rachel” in Boos story kept resonating in my mind. When we split, he did send Boo a text at Thanksgiving, but had skipped wishing her a Happy Halloween. He didn’t give her anything for Christmas. He didn’t even send even a lousy Christmas card. He tried to make up for his gaff for her birthday, but it wasn't the same. She sort of just set it aside with not much comment.

“Is he mad at me?“ Boo asked through big crocodile tears. “Has he forgotton about me?“

“No, honey. He probably is confused as to what to do. He hasn’t forgotten about you.“

I tried to console her. Whatever is/was between us, he shouldn’t take out on Bear. He walked out of our lives and left 7 years of his association with my daughter behind. He’s known her since she was 5. Her father left us when she was 3. Her dad lives in town and is a good dad and very involved with her over the years, but I think that it has left residual scar tissue.

It was because of her relationship with my boyfriend that I stayed in that situation for as long as I did. Even with my level of unhappiness, I dismissed it because Boo would be sitting on the couch holding D’s hand, looking at him with loving eyes. But I can’t help but think that, at least subconsciously, the part of her story where ‘one day they are your best friend and the next the have completely forgotten about you’ is in reference to D.

I’ve talked extensively to Boo about this. She’s rather sophisticated; an old soul and understands complex issues. We decided, together, that its best for both of us to have him not be part of our lives, at all. There is really no need. He did send her a text the other day, telling her that he misses her-thinks of her often-and that he loves her. She answered back, because she’s polite in that regard but came and told me later of the exchange.

“I understand, Mom, why you needed to let him go. I also understand why you let him stay. Thank you. And thank you for telling me. I loved him, but I'm going to let him go too. I love you, Mom.” And with that she gave me one of the biggest Bearhugs of all time.

JOY. Ultimate joy.

“You seem so much happier now, you glow.” she told me. So you see, it doesn’t get much better than that. I’ve got to go stock up on those Life is Good t-shirts.

Low cut ones that I’ll wear with heels. Problem solved...

Footnote: My friend, Intense Guy, made me think a little with his comment. Yes, I was hurt. Yes, I was angry. Yes, I felt betrayed in some weird way even though it was I that had broken it off with D. If I didn't have those feelings I would be devoid of having any feelings at all! AND I had reached out to him in December to see if in fact we were doing the right thing and wanted to try to work things out between us.

I am so glad that we didn't go down that path. Can you imagine the mess we would be in if in fact we WERE trying to work on our relationship only to find out that the rebound girl was expecting? Now THAT would have been an even worse thing to go through than what I did...

They say there are no such things as coindidences. This may just fall into that category. Timing, I guess, IS everything!

And Iintense Guy...? I hope to NOT have any fodder of such a negative nature that I must write about! I hope all things will stay on the positive as well!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

gone baby gone...

It’s textbook, really. So somewhat expected in a warped way.
But it’s still a big Wow.

I can’t stop laughing. I find myself shaking my head and chuckling, muttering, “Holy Christ. He’s fucked.”

It’s a bittersweet feeling, this euphoria knowing that indeed karma is alive and well. There have been moments of tears mixed in, moments of self doubt. But even if my heart is heavy at times, my brain knows that this indeed is what I needed to put it all behind me. Finally, and for good.

I learned this week that my ex-boyfriend, with whom I devoted the last six years of my life to, is expecting a child with his new girlfriend.

Let’s see now shall we?

I split with him in October.
He joined eHarmony.
He met this girl in November.
The baby is due early August.

Yes. He’s having a child with a woman that he has known for just a few months. They hardly know each other. They are marching forward together ‘very much committed’ to ‘do this’.

He’s getting his masters degree. He’s 36.
She has her masters. She’s 30.

Aren’t there things people do, adult people, intelligent people do to prevent such surprises? For two supposedly educated people, getting knocked up by a veritable stranger and raising a child for the rest of your life isn’t exactly what they teach you in Sunday school.

To each their own I suppose. I can continue to shake my head at their situation all I want and the only thing I can come up with is, “It ain’t my life….thank you God.”

And “It’s not my worries either. Thank you again God, my dear Lord and Saviour.”

But it still has me shaking my head in disbelief and shock.
BIG Wow.

When I found out I was expecting my own daughter, I was totally freaked out. I had been married for five years at that time and although on one hand I was very excited for the future…I was petrified. Petrified! I had never babysat. I didn’t ogle at babies in the grocery store. I really didn’t want a child…I had nothing against children but my life was perfect. I hadn’t really considered it. Fact is, I’m not sure if my husband and I had even had that conversation.

I knew my life would change. Drastically.

No more jaunting off to ski in Aspen on a few days notice. No more joining on business trips with hubby until the baby got bigger. Hell, even my golf game was off. To play a round of 18 while the other ladies were getting drinks and peanut butter I was in the locker room using a breast pump so I wouldn’t explode on the 16th hole.

Not fun.

I love being mom. It’s one of the most fulfilling things that I’ve ever done. And I can't imagine my life without my Boo, but, that being said, I can’t imagine doing it with someone that I hardly know. No fucking way. Not that the two of them can change what’s happened, but me thinks that they might have been a little smarter in planning than they obviously were.

Part of me would like them to be happy. That this is a match made in heaven for them both. That they will grow to love each other and in turn the baby will be raised in a nurturing loving environment. It’s been known to happen. Friends of a friend got pregnant on their second date. They now have 3 children together and seem to be content with their lives. However statistics would show that there is a better chance for me winning the lottery than that happy ending scenario. Ultimately, it’s the child who is going to suffer these fools, whether they stay together or not.

“Do you love her?” His mom asked him. “What is love…” was his reply.

And then there is the part of me that wants his little trip into the sunset to turn into a nightmare. The percentage is not evenly distributed between the two. It’s currently hovering at a 5 to 95 ratio with the 95 winning on his life being fucked up for the remainder. I’m not proud of that, but it is the truth.

I’m a people pleaser. My first knee jerk reaction was to call him and ask him, “are you okay?” stemming from my own knowledge of what I would think or do in that situation. I’m sure he’s stunned. “I’m here if you need me.” I told him.

He sent a message, “I’ve got a lot to contemplate and think about right now. There are no plans for marriage, but we are both very much committed to do this and that’s as far as we see it right now. No big decisions made on top of this huge one as of yet.”

“Thanks for being there.” He added at the bottom.

We made plans to get together to talk.

One of my best friends Morgan sent me a note in which she points out some pretty glaring details which I have a tendency to overlook. “I feel so little, Morgan. He replaced me so quickly.”

“The one thing you need to know, and please don’t forget it…you are IRREPLACEABLE. It does not mean he has replaced you. D can’t replace you. He can find a different relationship to move onto. D has a wealth of issues to work through and he is incapable of being alone. This woman is a temporary distraction to his long term problems. You were someone special to him. He is, unfortunately, too screwed up to be the kind of man you need him to be on a consistent basis.”

I sense some sort of underlying hidden agenda lurking in the background. However much I dislike the idea that I was so easily replaced, I still don’t think that he intentionally was thinking about starting a family. What I DO believe is that as a trained serious athlete that competes in triathlons, that went to college on a swimming scholarship, that graduated from high school with a 4.0 AND attained her masters degree….I think that she might have had some sort of knowledge of what happens when you spread your legs. As should he. Unprotected sex is just so….ghetto.

Perhaps it’s something locked away in her psyche unacknowledged, but an unconscious wish she wanted to fulfill. Having gone through her own painful breakup from a long-term relationship earlier in the year followed by participation in a friends wedding, at 30, maybe she wants to show everyone that she too can be married and have a family. She is pushing for marriage in this after all, not just getting the sperm donation so she can have a baby. I wonder if he knew (and yes, he should have asked, it's his responsiblility too) that she wasn’t on birth control that he would have been so willing to inseminate. They were both probably drunk and it wasn’t even discussed.

His mother told me of the pregnancy. He didn’t even bother to do so.

We were talking on the phone and she said, “I’ve know something that everyone tells me I shouldn’t tell you.” You can’t say that to me and NOT tell me. So she did. She’s like a second mom in a way. We talk quite often.

“Oh my God. Are you kidding? Oh. My. God.” Is all I could muster. It sounded like a mantra. “Oh my God. Oh MY God!” OH MY.” The inflection on the different syllables getting louder as the reality of what she just told me sunk in.

“How long have they known? Were they planning this? Is he okay? Have you met her? Is he okay? Oh my God, I can’t believe it.” A stream of questions spewing forth.

“They are in the first trimester he thinks. No, I don’t think he was planning it, but he sounds like he’s excited about having a child. They have baby name books. He wants a boy, she wants a girl. No, we haven’t met her and aren’t anxious to.” She answered while laughing at my mantra of “Oh my….”

I’m shocked, but I’m really not mad.
And I’m really not angry.

My ego is bruised….but oh hell no. I’m so much more alive now than I was when I was with him. I no longer suffer from insomnia. I no longer suffer from headaches. I no longer suffer from sleep apnea. That alone speaks volumes. Add to that the weight loss from healthy living? I’d say I’m in a much better place right now than taking any more passive aggressive judgmental demeaning bullshit from him that almost sucked my life dry. I’m physically and emotionally in a much better place than I EVER…and I mean EVER was with him.

No, I’ve not felt this alive in years.

It was one thing to offer him my support “I’m here if you need me” when I thought it had just happened, accidentally after months of dating. But the timeline, it’s when I realized the true timeline that killed that notion of helping him emotionally, dead. That he conceived this child just weeks after our split…well, that hurts. I just can’t overlook the fact that it was just so fucking soon. That he was ‘fucking’ so soon. No time to himself. No time spent on grieving the end of a long term relationship.

So I withdrew my offer of friendship.

I don’t want to see him.
I don’t want to hear from him.
I don’t want to know what’s going on in his life or what his fucking baby will look like.
I don’t want to know. ANYTHING.

It’s healthier for me to create distance. I cannot offer him my support. I cannot be there for him. I cannot pretend to be happy for him, I don’t have it in me. I don’t need or want the role of friend to talk to about his woes with the new girl or the baby. I don’t need him to be part of my life and it’s obvious that he doesn’t need me in his. I even asked him to take my name off the publishing company we had started last year. There is no need for me to continue with any connections to him, business or otherwise.

I literally watched as the screen of About Us changed on the business's website. The name of the company was a mix of his name and mine with my mothers maiden name added. ‘…with his Deputy Managing Director, Nancy McD, now you know how the name originated.' It even followed with the use of ‘a dear friends deceased mothers maiden name’ (which is my mom). The copy now reads, ‘Where the ‘Mc’ comes from in the name will be forever a secret.’ It does continue to acknowledge my mom’s maiden name but the ‘dear’, from ‘dear friend’ has been removed to just say ‘friend’.  Technically, he should remove the title friend altogether as that is no longer the case. I won't complain about it. At least he followed through with the direction to remove my name ASAP with this.

I reached out to him in December with a “Congrats D, I heard you’ve got a steady girlfriend. I hope that she’s good to you and you are happy.” Just one more example of me trying to keep open the lines of communication and be nice.

“We’ll see.” He replied. “She’s pretty controlling and it may get out of hand.”

Does my turning my back on him at a time when he truly may need the support of a loving friend stem from jealousy? Something subconsciously wishing it had been me? No. I’m sure as hell glad it’s not me.

No fucking way.

But I’ve got to shake my head.
And thank the dear Lord for protecting my ovaries and eggs.

My friends have all rallied. Brooke said, “What a load of shit. My friends 8 year old has more maturity. Fuck him. You really ARE better off without him.”

Thank you, Brooke. I concur.

Melissa said, “Wow. I don’t even know her, but geez…That poor child. Two selfish people bringing another baby into this world in all the wrong ways.”

Yuppers, I’m in full agreement there.

“He’s a needy guy. He can’t be alone. I like him, he’s my friend…he amuses me. But I’m a dude.” Tom said, “As a chick? A girlfriend? No…the guys a dick. He treated you poorly. And you look great! Having him out of your life has done you good.” "Why didn't you tell me Tom...years ago." I asked. "Dude code. I couldn't."

Carlos added, “I know it sucks but I’m sure you know that you’ll soon realize how better off you are without someone like that in your life. You’re better than that guy, Nancy.”

Thanks guys. I love you.

Even Chrissy chimed in with "Did he tell you himself? Don't let him fool you. He's saying these things to convince himself. He didn't meet his long lost great love. He fucked someone, she got knocked up and he's trying to not sound like a dick. I'm sure he wants to run like hell. August is looooonng way away, you know. Don't let it get to you. You're smarter than that."

Amen, sister.

Indigo said, “Smile Nancy. He’s gone.”

You're right Indigo, Oh, how he’s gone. Just like the Ben Afleck film, Gone baby, Gone.

And that, my friends, is the last of that. I don’t care if he needs my friendship. I don’t care if he finds out he’s been trapped. I don’t care if the rest of his life is fucked. Or not, for that matter. It could turn out all rainbows and unicorns and it won’t make a difference to me. It’s not part of my world. But it does make me feel as if I broke up with him all over again. This time for real, this time completely. My positioning to stay friends was unrealistic, and unhealthy.

Chapter over, Book closed. I do hope he finally mourns. I hope that he cries sometimes for the loss of his best friend. I hope that someday he realizes what he did give up with his selfish behaviour. Do I really wish him ill-will? No. I had such love for him, and still do. I worry. I worry for him, but that's no longer my concern. Good-bye D. Good luck with all that.

Maybe someday we can communicate again. But it’s not going to be today. And I doubt it will be tomorrow. Or the next day, or the next month, or maybe even the next year. But never is a long time. My mind wanders and I wonder if the two of them be picked for the next advertising campaign for eHarmony?

Matched November ’10.
Knocked up November ’10.

I’m sure that will sell loads of memberships. He’s currently standing his ground on the marriage issue. “I’m not getting married because of the baby.” He always held disdain for the bond of marriage. I wonder how long that will last with a controlling girlfriend about to give birth.

Just what the world needs…another bastard child reared by a bastard.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Holy Kaka, Batman...

"How did I get here? How possibly did I manage to get myself into this predicament?"
Why didn't I listen? Or not really listen, I listened, I just didn't pay attention. Actually, I paid attention...I just had not heeded the advice. Go figure.

Only moments ago I was strolling on the beach, enjoying the sound of the waves, the wind in my face and the warmth of the rising sun on my shoulders. I was distracted by the merchants setting up their wares. I had taken my wallet with me on my morning trek along the beach and was now currently engaged in bargaining with a local over the cost of a cow hoof flask.

After aquiring said flask, I moved to the next booth that had a gorgeous hand painted sarong dispalyed. The next had adorable clay buses, laden with bananas, animals and ukeleles. The buses even had little drivers in the front seat in national garb. This was a must have to bring home for my daughter. An artist stopped me and held out a few of his paintings. The good composition and colors made them irresistable. I added those to my growing collection of souvenirs.

The next thing I knew I was several blocks from the beach, the sound of the surf had been replaced by the honking of horns. The sweet smell of salt air now hung heavy with exhaust fumes. The protection of the beach and its armed guards were far in the distance, barely glimpsed from where I stood.

I had ventured into an area that at check in, the desk clerks warned the clientele about.

“Don’t go beyond the borders of the beach. You can shop at the beachside stands, but don’t go inland farther than that. We can’t guarantee your safety if you disregard these guidelines.” The desk clerk told us as he handed over our keys to our room. “Unfortunately, there has been some violence that has broken out between some gangs….we want our guests to have a nice trip and be safe on their visit here.”

Morgan and I nodded in agreement, clinked our margarita glasses together and wished ourselves a happy and safe trip as well. That was two days ago and a venerable memory now that I found that I had wandered into the wasteland of the waring locals without having paid attention. Far in the distance held the security of my lounge chair and the tiki hut that gave me my free mojitas, with fresh mint.

It was at that very moment of revelation of “Holy Crap, where am I!” that I heard the sound. Distinct. And close. Too close.

I used to shoot skeet when I was in high school. I dated a boy whose father was the chief of police AND also the owner of a gun club on the outskirts of town. I’d go out there with Nick and shoot from time to time. I found that I was pretty good at it. On my 16th birthday when other kids were getting cars from their parents and friendship rings from their beaus, I got a shotgun. It was beautiful.

Shotgun fire has a distinctive sound. Like a mini canon. Handguns have their own heavy ping and machine gun fire…well, I’ve never heard an actual, real, live machine gun. But I can distinguish the sound as having heard it many times in movies on HBO. THAT was the sound I was hearing now. Machine gun fire. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat.

And it was nearby.

I ducked inside the makeshift booth made of plywood and canvas tarps, squatting down behind a table of clay pottery hoping that by staying low whatever was coming this way might miss me. I quickly looked around assessing my position and realized how out of place I looked. Obviously an American. Obviously from one of the posh resorts. Why the hell do I have my Raymond Weil watch on? And my gold and diamond stacker rings? I thought, “Sure as shit, I’m dead. I’m a walking fucking target.” I silently prayed and wished I had never left the beach. This may be the last place that I ever see….this dirt floor of this shabby shop on this dirty street. I felt like the characters in ‘An American Werewolf in London’ right before they were attacked. “Beware the Moors, stick to the road.”

They were on the moors when they heard the howl. They hadn’t stuck to the road. I was now in that same place. “What the fuck, Nancy. You are in serious deep kaka.”

I said a silent prayer asking God to protect me and if he couldn’t, for my daughter to forgive me if I didn’t make it back stateside alive. I promised that if I would live that I would always listen and take the advice given while on vacation. Or when anywhere for that matter. I promised myself that I would not buy another unneeded trinket ever, if I made it out of this roadside stand alive.

It was then that I felt the blast before I heard it. Literally felt it. I knew I was dead. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t scream. I was frozen.

You hear how when placed in certain situations how some people can react, others are unable to do so...frozen in place. Unable to run. Unable to move. Unable to scream. I always thought I would be the other kind. Ther person able to make a snap decision to save the day.

I was frozen stiff. Cold artic air pushed my hair back from my face and cold droplets fell onto my cheeks as I tried to protect my head in the…pillows?

"What the hell?"

I awoke from my slumber with a start! There had been an amazing ice storm the night before. The sound that my mind had associated with machine gun fire was actually the sound of the ice breaking off the branches and pelting the skylights in my bedroom with such force I feared they might break. The cottage windows over the window seat had blown open letting the raging storm into my bedroom. Sleet was dusting my face and arms unprotected by my comforter.

What had once been a wonderful recall dream of a warm tropical vacation had amazingly turned into a violent movie by the sound of the ice. I was safe. I was in my bed. I was not in the Dominican Republic. I was not being stalked by those with machine guns. I had, however, bought that cow hoof turned into a flask as a gift for my old boyfriend.

As I jumped out of bed to quickly close the window in my still sleepy state, I wondered if he still had that crazy vacation gift or had he tossed it out after our split. It was pretty cool. I wish I’d have kept that for myself as a reminder of my trip. I looked outside and was amazed at the absolute beauty the storm had left behind. Ice covered everything. The trees glistened like diamonds. Entire branches thickly encased in the freeze. It was early, but I had to capture this on film.

I grabbed my camera and coat and headed outside to photograph what I saw. Not only the beauty of it all, but the sound of the trees blew me away. As if they were talking with one another complaining of the extra weight their branches now had to hold because of their diamond burden. I stood there, mouth agape, taking it all in.

Absolutely stunning.

And at this moment I again heard the sound of machine gun fire, which made me jump, just a little, in my skin. "I'm awake. There is no machine guns here!", I thought to myself as I stood in my driveway at dawn still in my pj's and boots. Or at least I hope not.

The sound was coming from my Nikon. The lens clicking away like machine gun fire, Rat-a-tat-tat-tat, as I tried to capture, unsuccessfully, the absolute beauty that Mother Nature had left for me to behold.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

if only it could be that simple...

“Let her down easy!” he shouted over the clang of distant church bells. “That’s it….easy.”

I watched closely as the crate came down. Not as easy as the foreman was directing, but no sides blew off the container so I suppose it was considered a good landing. My crate, or actually my car’s crate, who was snugly packed inside, had made its way stateside. It was finally making it’s way home.

Three months prior I had been touring Europe with a friend. When I flew into Amsterdam to begin my adventure, I had no intention of buying a car. I had a large framed backpack and a Europass for the train. I was going to hitch, ride and walk my way across the countries of Europe. One misread train ride and I was ended up at a dealership buying a car as renting one was pretty damn expensive.

My car at home had blown its engine days prior to my departure and I figured I would just ‘deal with that’ when I got back. My ticket was open ended and I wasn’t sure when it might be. It could be a week. It could be two. It might be a month, but ended up as four. Four and a half to be exact. I would’ve stayed longer but I ran out of money and my parents refused to wire more. So home I was now, anxiously watching as my large souvenir from my European vacation arrived on the Dock C.

I remember the sound of the foremans voice as he directed the lift operator to take care with my car. Deep, resonate and slightly hoarse like he’s been smoking a pack or two of cigarettes a day since he was old enough to hold one. It was sexy in that rough worker dude way. I watched him as he moved under the crate, helping guide it to it’s final resting spot on the concrete. I remember the look of his well worn work boots. I remember the tag hanging askew on the pocket of his Levi’s. All strange detailed things to recall for a brief five minute meeting.

But it’s the words he spoke.

“Let her down easy”.

I was thinking about that the other day. Outside of the crate that held my car which made a safe landing, I’ve never been let down easy. It’s always been a big crate crashing ordeal with my heart ending up broken and in pieces.

Even when I’m the one ending a relationship it’s MY heart that is shattered. Why is this? Do I feel too much? Expect too much? Internalize too much? Why is it that others can go through the same process and never, ever look back and yet I do?

One of my co-workers recently ended her engagement. She made the decision and never looked back. She even started dating another seriously immediately while the firsts guy calls and asks her to give him another chance. “Hell. no”, she said. I asked her how she’s able to do this, not have any residual emotions bubbling to the surface especially since she had been so close to going to the alter. I mean, she has a child by this person and yet, she doesn’t look back. “He messed up. I hold grudges. For a long, long time….”

I told her she should hold seminars. There are many of us out there that could learn by her example. Especially me. There have been moments when listening to music that can reduce me to tears. This one gets me thinking about that guy in college. That one for my ex. The next making me think that maybe I was wrong to send my last boyfriend packing.

I used to have a favorite song years ago. The lyrics of this particular XTC song read, Everyone seems to wipe their feet with anything with Welcome written on it. I believe that somehow I have become that pervierbial welcome map.

“Come on by”, it calls to passersby. “There’s still a spot left unmarred on this baby. Spots still clean…wipe away!”

There was the boyfriend in High School that started dating the cheerleader while I was on vacation with my family. And the boyfriend in college that started doing my roommate while I was on spring break. The boyfriend who dated my best friend, the boyfriend who just dated, and the boyfriend that went to a party, brought home another girl and ended up marrying her. It seems that my history with men has not been good. Everyone I have relationships with stay with me for a long time and then leave to marry the next girl that comes along. All this after I’ve helped them with their careers, their school, their wardrobe and their vehicles. Once they’ve gotten everything from me that makes them a complete package…then they move onto the next. The next girl in line has a much better person as their companion than the one that I started with.

Yes girls…you all are very, very welcome.

I resent having done this over and over again. You’d think that I should see the signs. You’d think that I would know better. But no. I can’t seem to see it when in it. I just let it happen and happen and happen and then end up looking through stacks of correspondence that makes it all crystal clear. That if I could have staid the line I drew in 2004, or 2007, or 2010, then I wouldn’t be where I am now. Feeling betrayed and used yet once again.

But I’m done with that portion of my life. The next person that comes in will have to BE someone on their own merit. Not be-coming one with my help.

I have since 'the breakup' joined some dating sites. Match. eHarmony. OKCupid. It’s been an adventure to say the least, but none I've met has me feeling any emotional connection. Yet. At first I monitored them quite religiously and set up meetings and dates, but lately haven’t been all that keen to even follow up. So far I’ve met a potential companioion that ended up being good looking but not having much of a backbone.

I don’t mind having a bit of control in relationships….but I have decided that in this foray into dating I do not, repeat, do not want to make all the decisions. In choosing a restaurant “I don’t care, wherever you want”, or a day “Anytime is good, you just let me know”, or take the initiative “I was just going to call/text/e-mail you but you beat me to it”. C’mon. Really? Bye-bye Jimbo. Good luck to you.

Or the ego fragile Bradley. Good luck on your search I get in a text at 6am. What? I coyly answer him back How did you know I couldn’t find my matching earring? I get it. I didn’t answer him back in the middle of the night when he texted me. Uh, dude…it’s called ‘sleeping’. I like to do it from time to time. Especially between the hours of 11pm and 5 am. I understand that you are a construction worker and currently on leave so all you have to do is sit around all day and then can stay up all night…but that. Is. Not. My. Life.

Oh, and no. My hair is not long enough to put into pigtails. And no, I do not take random photos of myself doing random things to send via MMS to people that I don’t really know. “ALL girls like taking photos of themselves!” Well Bradley, maybe girls do…but I don’t. I suppose that makes me a woman. Who does not wear pigtails. Good luck in your search too.

Sure the attention has been grand. I love the compliments. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been showered with this much attention. Not that I really have the time to deal, but still…it’s great. It really is.

That and the side effect of not cooking three meals a day for a spouse that’s not really a spouse and the beer drinking and eating deep fried chicken wings that was his ‘fav’…well, I’ve lost a total of nineteen pounds to date. Without doing anything.

You read that right. Without doing anything.

I should write a diet book. It’ll be the new hot trend. Just get rid of the number one stress inducer in your life and watch the pounds drop off like magic! Remember the sleep apnea that I was diagnosed with? Gone. Completely. I sleep soundly every night without waking. I wake up refreshed and ready to start the day.

With a good attitude.
Feeling great.

Go figure!

AND I’ve got this whole single thing worked out. I don’t really need the internet. I don’t need networking with my married friends with single friends. I don’t need to join a book club or health club. What I need is to go skiing every week.

Yes. That’s the secret.
My friends daughter told me so.

See…Katlyn’s thirteen.
A tween’er.
And smart, with a the solution to all my woes.

Last week when in Western New York skiing she let me in on the karma of single life on the ski lift. I was actually talking to Kim, but Katlyn chimed in.

I was filling Kim in on what was going on in my life currently. We are great friends, but we don’t see each other as often as we’d like ever since our kids switched to different schools. But one week a year we get together and ski. It’s a blast.

I told her that I had about given up on the eHarmony thing (really? THESE are the people that are my matches by 29 dimensions? I think not) but that I was still engaging in conversation with some people on

“Match?”, Katlyn said with exasperation. “Match dot com? Are you kidding me?”

“Yes. Match dot com.”, I responded, “but, why the tone Katlyn?”

I mean sure. Tone is expected from a tween’er, especially a snowboard tween’er that refuses to zip her coat because it lowers the cool factor. But this was the tone of all tones.

“Oh….please, Ms. Mac. Match is for losers. YOU...aren’t a loser.”

First thought was, “Geez! Katlyn thinks I’m cool!” And the second thought was that I wished I were a tween’er again. Her solution to my dating woes were to ‘just ride the singles line’ at the ski resort.

As if it could be so simple.

Single? Need a date? Want a companion for life?

No prob. Just get in the single rider line at the Mardri Gras high speed quad. Three runs and you’re sure to find your soul mate.

Me and my helmeted head are sure to attract all the eligible single dudes. I’m sure of it. Being that you can’t see anything on my body save the tip of my nose from time to time beneath the goggles, the turtle fur, the helmet, the jacket, the pants, the gloves, boots and skiis….yeah, I’m sure that it’d be easy.

I thought, well hey, maybe I should give it a shot. I used to be a member of the Fagowees when I first moved to Cleveland. It was a west side ski club that my boss drug me to once. She was single and didn’t want to go alone. The Fagowees became the weekend home for the lost weekends.

We’re the Fa-go-wees = Where the fuck are we

There was alcohol involved.

And skiing. Lots and lots of skiing. Or was it lots and lots of alcohol with a little skiing. I get confused.

Whatever the configuration, it was damn fun in my twenties. Now in my forties, I’m not so sure it’d have the same amount of shine that it did back then. But you never know.

I promised Katlyn that I’d give it a try. I’ll try riding the singles lane a few times to see what conversation pops up. And I have.

So far a young snowboarder from Costa Rica. That was fun. He was hot. Really, really hot. So hot he undid his pants, I kid you not. Not all the way, but to ‘vent himself”. I tried not to fall off the chair lift.

And a retired man skiing on equipment that might be found in the Smithsonian.

A gay gal that wanted to have drinks and then there’s Michael. Who turns out to be a member on Match dot com himself. Actually I recognized him before he recognized me. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. He’s the ‘talldude’ from OKCupid that I’ve seen.

And he’s from Cleveland no less.

Tall, dark, handsome, funny and nice. He’s even a good skier. And got the voice (sans smoking) of the guy directing my crate from years and years ago.

Very nice…..

Hmmm, I wonder if he can golf?

But let’s get through the first few dates to see if this guy has backbone. And likes women that don’t wear pigtails.

Tomorrow I’ve got to go shopping. For some new shades.
All of a sudden my future looks mighty, mighty bright.