Friday, January 07, 2011

Once Upon a Time.........

Once Upon a Time…………..

Almost without fail, when we pick up a book and the first thing we see are those words, we know in our heart that what we are about to read is a work of fiction, a dream, and something that, in the real world, would never actually happen. We see “once upon a time” and we know that what we are seeing is the open door to the land of fantasy and imagining. I’m going to start this entry out with those words, but first I’m going to assure you that what you’ll discover here isn’t a work of fiction, is not a tale of fantasy, and most certainly can and did happen. I’m going to give you a little glimpse into the world of a true love story that I was blessed and privileged to share in a very small but powerful way.

Once upon a time I knew a lovely married couple. They were the parents of my very best friend in the world. They were tremendously successful and enjoyed their exclusive and special place within our community, him a retired and highly respected surgeon, and she his regal and beautiful wife of many many years. Everyone has known a couple of that type of standing who were more than particular about the company they kept. Not them. They were kind, generous, gracious, funny, at times irreverent, and they welcomed me into their extended family with open arms and a kindness that warmed my heart. She became a dear friend and a sort of second mom and to me, while he was the man who always had a smile, a kind word, a warm pat on my arm and all the fatherly advice I could absorb. The only thing that exceeded their humble and generous spirits was their love for each other. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have witnessed that kind of endless love story and partnership.

But we lost one half of that partnership this week. After a long struggle with that bitch Alzheimer’s and a failing heart, and while in the arms of the woman he had loved all his life, he left us Tuesday, and though we will miss him tremendously, he leaves behind a legacy of honor, dignity, spirit and love that few will ever match.

Every little girl dreams of growing up and meeting and marrying her prince, of finding the man who will treat her with care, will hold her heart in his hands as though it were a precious and fragile thing and who will move heaven and earth to see that she is happy and safe. Every little boy hopes that he will be lucky enough to one day capture the heart of a beautiful, intelligent, funny and caring young woman who will spend her life showing him respect, love, acceptance and appreciation for all he tries to give to her. Seldom does life cooperate with those hopes and dreams but sometimes miracles happen. Barbara and Nick were one of those miracles and a love story for the ages. I managed to watch that love story unfold for the last 11 years of his life and I am blessed and privileged to have called him my friend.

I will miss him but I thank him and I thank her for teaching me something so very very vital. That this kind of love, this kind of partnership IS out there. That a magnificent relationship borne of respect, compassion, understanding and love can happen, is possible, is not out of reach. The fairytale isn’t necessarily fiction. That once upon a time can also be right now. That a real man is the one who treasures his wife beyond all others all the days of his life, values what she so willingly offers to him, loves his children more than he loves himself, and understands that a gentle and graceful spirit is the true measure of the man. I love you Dr. Nick. And I’ll miss you very very much. Thank you for the lessons I learned from you, even if you didn’t realize you were teaching me.

And I’ll keep an eye on things for you. You didn’t call me “The Chairman” for nothing.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dude, I am BACK.

A couple of days ago, I heard from an old friend who was concerned about me given the tenor of my last post to this blog. I thought "now it wasn't THAT bad was it?" and went back to take a little peek at what I said since my brain resembles a fairly small kitchen collander these days and retains nothing but the biggest chunks that won't slide through the holes.

I just got done reading and had to sit and think for a while. I remember when I wrote that. I remember struggling to get the words out because that stuff was hard to write. And then I stopped again and compared where I was then to where I am now and thought "hot damn what a difference a few months make!"

So let's put this puppy back on track, the track upon which I belong, get into the frame of mind that suits me best, and take a look around the present.

"When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better." My mommy sent me that. She's a smart lady.

When God DOES answer a prayer, he simply does not dick around. When He finally decides to act, He does so with a bang like nothing you've ever seen. When He tosses you a gift, you'd better have both hands out and be ready to hang on for dear life cause it's gonna be a doozy. And it's gonna ROCK.

You can use a dinner knife as a screwdriver if you try hard enough.

There really is no law that says a female operating a television remote control is punishable by death.

And when a female operates a television remote control, the television will magically stay on one channel for the entire duration of a movie.

Curling up on the sofa and reading a fantastic book for as long as you want to doesn't make you a lazy bad person. It can, however, give you one crazyass cramp in your neck and make you realize that blinking is good.

It's really cool setting your own schedule, your own priorities, and making your own rules.

Having a pack of your friends over to your house for a girl bonding weekend is something I should have done YEARS ago, damn the fall-out.

My daughter is the most amazing person I've ever known, bar none. That kid makes me laugh every single day, teaches me something at least every other day, and has the kind of spirit, strength and integrity that could change the world if more people were like her. And she plays a mean Guitar Hero.

They say great things come in small packages, but I'm here to tell that you that sometimes incredible things come in really big forms too; things like humor, wit, kindness, generosity, brilliance, compassion, love and the best smile in the world, all in quantities so rich that they nearly don't quite fit into a six foot seven package. Like I said. God doesn't mess around.

Hindsight really is 20 / 20. Thank God for that.

I spend my time nowadays smiling, being thankful, looking ahead without cringing, looking back less and less, laughing, and knowing that while I'm thankful to be moving onto a new chapter of my life, it was the old chapter that made me who I am, shaped who I have become, gave me the best gift of my life in the form of a beautiful daughter, and will always be something that while I will never miss it, will always treasure. It's a part of my life. It always will be.

The future is bright because of all I have been through, all I have experienced and all that I have become as a result.

Thank you to my daughter for your never ending love and support. You are truly a one in a million special child.

Thank you to my sis for her scathing and hysterical commentary, complete lack of judgment, and open ear.

Thank you to my friends who never once left me alone, let me down, let me wallow, and who were there night and day, every night and day. The daily e-mails. The weekly cards. The constant love. You people are the best.

Thank you to my Mom. What in the world would I do without you?

Thank you to the six foot seven gift. There simply are no words.

So bring on the chocolate.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stepping Outside my Comfort Zone

I know that when I originally crafted this blog, it was ostensibly for the purpose of posting the silly and zany events of my life. While it probably will return to that in the future, I find that my life has taken a dramatic but not completely unanticipated turn. On some level, I understood that it was inevitable. But in my heart, I refused to accept that continued self-sacrifice and an iron will couldn't derail the train that has threatened to run me down for a very very long time.

The train caught me a few months back. The train ran me down. But that train didn't destroy me. It's going to take more than that because what I learned is that no matter how low you sink, no matter hard you're hit, no matter how outrageously you are betrayed, lied to and hurt, if you stop long enough to search deep within your soul, if you allow the people who love you to take your hand and help you in that search, you will find a tiny little glimmer of the light that once shone so brightly. I found that light. It was still there and it was just waiting for me to come and breathe gently breathe life back into it.

It's a slow, tedious and sometimes incredibly painful process. It requires hard work to shed the coping skills developed over the course of years that have taken up the space where your life should have been. It is hard and it hurts but the rewards are steady and never ending. Along the way, you learn:

You learn that not everyone deserves your love and devotion and that it's OK to figure that out long after everyone else has already done so.

You learn that even after you have learned the previous lesson, it's OK to have loved them and there is never any shame in having given your love, loyalty, devotion and care.

You learn that your capacity for forgiveness can sometimes be your greatest downfall - that every transgression can be forgiven, but not every transgression deserves a second or third chance. As the old song goes, "ya gotta know when to fold 'em".

You learn that the inability of another to accept you as you are is not a good enough reason to alter your very being. You learn that the inability of another to accept you as you are is good enough reason to instead surround yourself with people who can and do so freely.

It's OK to be smart.

You learn that if it looks like a lie and it smells like a lie, then it's a lie. Whether you like it or not.

You learn that life goes on. Maybe not in the fashion you anticipated and probably not along the path you had charted out ahead of time, but it goes on.

You learn that love can be blind but hindsight is 20/20.

You learn that although you were never really much of a Garth Brooks fan, you can still thank God for unanswered prayers, and that while John Lennon really did evolve from a really cute little fella to someone who looked like he had only a nodding acquaintence with a bar of soap there at the end, he had it right when he said "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."

You learn you can survive that which you didn't think was survivable. You learn you can move forward when you didn't think you had to strength to even stand. You learn that you can do it scared. You learn that you don't leave behind the love that another squandered but instead, you take it with you for more sensible distribution in the future.

You learn. You simply keep learning. You keep loving. You never quit. Ever. Because you know that if you quit, everything you love loses and the assholes win.

Never. Ever. Quit. Just know when to stop playing the same old, endless and unwinable game.

Keep your chin up. Keep your dignity intact. Keep your friends close to your heart. Hold your family dear. Never stop trying. Never stop loving. And never ever stop reminding yourself that you are precious, valuable, worthwhile, and special - even if you've been told you're not.

Let go of regret. Wish people well. Hope for the happiness of others and mean it. Laugh often. Cry less.

Just get on about the business of living the life you were meant to have.

And eat lots of chocolate.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If You See a Big Fat Fly

If you should happen to notice a large, hairy, discombobulated fly buzzing around the lamp next to where you're sitting some evening, quietly reading, having a wonderful cup of coffee and minding your own business, do not ignore the fly.

Kill the fly.

Kill the barstid immediately.

Otherwise, you may find yourself, having just returned from wandering to the kitchen and back, taking a big gulp of the fresh coffee sitting at your side, under the lamp, feeling something in your mouth that doesn't belong there, and spewing that gulp of coffee back into the cup. Where you will see the now dead fly floating around in your drink, having just been forcefully ejected from your yap. And you will not be able to shed that gacky feeling for at least 6 hours.

Trust me on this. There isn't enough spitting, hacking, tougue scraping or Listerine in the world to shake that experience.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Have I Known Peace?

My mom asked me yesterday whether or not I’d given up contributing to this blog. The answer was “I haven’t had anything to say.” The problem with that particular response is that it’s not necessarily true. I haven’t had anything funny to say and for some reason, I was, for the most part, limiting my posts here to the ridiculous, the funny and the outlandish episodes in my life. Since not a lot of ridiculous, outlandish or, God knows, funny things have been happening in my life here of late, I felt I had nothing to say where this blog was concerned.

It occurred to me this morning that this attitude was somewhat narrow minded and stupid. Hardly the first time, won’t be the last. As it turns out, I do have something to say, and those of you who know me well will now be thinking “We knew the peace and quiet simply couldn’t last. Here we go. Somebody either break that woman’s fingers or knock me the hell out right now.”

Someone very dear to me is going through a remarkably difficult time in what appears to me to be the culmination of a lifetime of never considering himself to be either good enough or worthy finally rearing its ugly head and making one hell of a good attempt at ripping him apart from the inside out once and for all. It’s a struggle we all have to eventually tackle, like it or not, and for some of us, the struggle is difficult. For others, that struggle takes on biblical proportions. I’d call this one semi-biblical. He asked me last night “have you ever known peace?” Well, me being me, I had an answer right out of the gate, but he asked me not to give my first thoughts. To stop. To think. To really consider the question. So I did, for all of about 60 seconds, which for me is taking some serious time to think about something before shooting off my mouth. But the question stayed with me, even after my stupid top of the brain answer. It stayed with me through the evening, right through a miserable and painful episode of American Idol, and was still there when I drifted off to sleep. I woke up this morning with an entirely different response.

When asked “have you ever known peace”, I immediately interpreted that question as “have I known peace in my life?” Well, yeah. Now and then. When the stars and planets align and everything goes right for maybe a day or so, I’ve known peace. When I’ve had enough money to pay my bills with something left over, when the scale is cooperating and I’m seeing the number I want to see without placing a hand on the bathroom counter and applying just enough pressure, when the sun is shining, and I have fun stuff to either do or look forward to, I know peace. When everybody I care about is reasonably healthy, I’m pooping on a fairly regular basis, and I’m in the middle of a really good book, yes - I’ve known peace. But upon waking, after giving my other brain, the smart one, time to really mull this over, I came up with not only an entirely different answer, but an entirely different answer to a completely different question. Perspective is truly everything.

Have I known peace? Why yes. Yes, I have. I know peace now. At a time in my life when just about all I hold dear is spinning in circles, when the outcome isn’t clear, and when I have no control over the finale, I know peace. I know that true peace isn’t all that other stuff I said just a paragraph ago. I don’t find true peace in absolute control. True peace is knowing a quiet calm within your own heart and being at rest with who you are, what you are and what that means. While my ego is clearly vying for space with just about every other function necessary for life, like breathing, it’s not enormous enough for me to presume I have the one-size-fits-all answer to this inner peace thing. I don’t know the meaning of life, I don’t know why we’re all here, I don’t know where that second sock goes when only one comes out of the dryer when you know damned well you put two in there, and I don’t know how to show the world how to attain inner peace.

But I know how I found it, how I maintain it and what it means to me. If it helps you, dandy. If not, thanks for reading anyway.

I once said to this same someone that my most urgent need in life wasn’t attention. It wasn’t being center stage, being looked up to, being catered to or being made to feel as though I was sitting up on some marble pedestal in the midst of my adoring public. My most urgent need in life is to find acceptance wherever I may be. Now please don’t misunderstand. I do not expect everybody to like me. I don’t like everybody else so naturally, everybody isn’t going to like me. That bothers me, yeah, but I can’t do much about it nor am I willing to do what is necessary to change their opinion of me, so it’s something I simply have to accept.

Acceptance. Yes. I crave and require acceptance from those around me but even more importantly, I understand that I must first and foremost accept and make peace with all that I am. Before I can ask for acceptance from a single soul, I have to first assess myself, come to terms with my limitations, my successes, my shortcomings, and everything that makes me me, and accept that the sum of all those parts is fine. Really and absolutely enough. On some days, it’s more than enough. One some days, it’s not quite up to par, but in the long run, when all the scores are tallied up and somebody other than me (because math is not my friend) runs the numbers, I average out to not half bad. Yes, I hate my legs. I fixed another part of my body I hated. I wish my feet were a little smaller, I wish I made a better income, I wish I had a little more self-discipline, I wish my memory were sharper, I’d like to not wake every morning with back pain and I’d like a lot of things in my life to be other than what they are.

But I like my eyes, my stomach is still flat at 50, I can pay my bills, I have some really cool stuff and could actually get by very comfortably on a lot less stuff, so clearly I have enough. I eventually get done the things I have to do, and I have become accustomed to setting up reminders for everything from dinner with friends to scooping the cat box on a regular basis within my handy dandy cell phone. While I’d like a lot of things within my life to be different, I wouldn’t trade most of what I am and what I have for the world.

I can’t. I won’t. It took me a very very long time and it took surviving some tremendously difficult life altering episodes to discover that I can’t be all things to all people. I can’t stop hurt from finding me by changing who I am. I can’t control the behavior of another. I can’t manipulate my future by manipulating my very being. I have to be content with myself, accepting all my warts and shortcomings right along with all the things about me that I proudly list on the “plus” side of my own personal spreadsheet. I try to keep that side of the sheet a little longer than the “you suck” side. And as long as I’m doing that, I’m ok.

Acceptance. Not from those around me – not at first. Acceptance from within. Acceptance that I’m doing the very best I can and that the best I can do will always have to be enough. Acceptance that not everybody will be enamored of the end result. Acceptance that I can’t change that inevitability. Acceptance that there isn’t anything I could do or would want to do to change that. Acceptance that embracing that philosophy could be costly and painful at times. Knowing that in order to be true to myself, I really have no choice. Understanding that for those who truly love and accept me, that will be enough.

So yes. I know peace.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dear "Anonymous":

Yes, I am.
Actually, they do.
And you smell funny.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Because You Can't Fix Stupid

Some of my best moments occur in the most unexpected of locations and situations. Take today for example.

I was sitting in the chair at my new dentist's office having my teeth cleaned and doing that chatting you do with your hygienist when you are trying to talk around a mouth full of hand. The girl from the front desk came bopping into the room. She is probably in her mid 20's and a pleasant if somewhat vacant girl. She asked the hygienist "Are you a vegetarian?" The hygienist, who for the sake of brevity I'll call "J", said "no, I'm not." Our hero, the receptionist, said "Oh. OK. I had a question." J told her to ask it because she could probably answer it.

So Miss Mensa says "can vegetarians eat animal crackers?"

I am not kidding here.

OK, some of you know me well enough to know that having two hands, a mirror and a sharp object in my mouth at this particular moment was probably for the best. I froze. J paused. And giving the biggest benefit of the doubt I've ever seen in my life, J proceeded to tell her about the different kinds of vegetarians and how different kinds of foods, depending on how they're made, are ok for some and not for others. By this time, she had her hands out of my mouth and clenched in her lap so what the hell, I joined in too. And when we were done, Einstein utters the following words, and I shit you not, this verbatim:

"Oh. OK. So the shape of the food doesn't have anything to do with it?"

J tried her best, but I could see the muscles in her jaw twitching behind her mask. I dropped my head. I gnawed the inside of face off trying to keep it in. And J quietly said "No. Honey, no. The shape of the food doesn't matter."

As soon as the room was clear, I lost it. I turned to J and said "Holy Jesus and little fishes, tell me you don't let her play with any of the sharp shit around here, OK?" J fell apart. I said "you should tell her that if you order chicken nuggets in the shape of tiny dinosaurs, it's still not OK to eat them just because dinosaurs are extinct, but first tell her what extinct means, and that even though dinosaurs aren't real any more and the food is SHAPED like dinosaurs doesn't change anything and that it's still friggin chicken, OK?" J had to take off her mask. She had to wipe her eyes and blow her nose and change her gloves.

I said is she for REAL? Really?

J choked out "Girl, this is every single day around here."

I told her I have a blog and we need to chat because I'm going to start an entire chapter on "crap I heard while in the dentist's chair that you are not gonna believe."

Can vegetarians eat animal crackers.

That is right up there with "Did Jesus have a dog?"

I swear to you if I had money falling out of my ass, I'd go call a basket company, have them fill it with animal crackers and send it to J with a note that said "I've hated the dentist all my life and I must thank you because never have I laughed that hard within 100 yards of the chair of pain. You have my thanks and my sympathies."