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The next thing I knew I was several blocks from the beach, the sound of the surf had been replaced by the honking of horns.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.