Sunday, December 31, 2006

End of the Year Post

Everyone does some kind of retrospective of the past year, VH1, MSNBC, even BabaWawa (why? why? why?) , and I keep feeling like I need to do something to "wrap up the year." Unfortunately, my life is too tidy to need that kind of review (and if you read my dating review - shut up). If I look inward, my goals for the coming year include running a half and a full marathon, saving more money each month, and spending more time with friends. See?...kinda tidy.. maybe that makes me dull, totally possible.

The news has been full these last few weeks, but I'm so .. over politics that I can't bring myself to write about that. Okay, one thing...I'm really bothered that Saddam's execution was the lead news story yesterday morning, while Gerald Ford was #2. Shouldn't the death of OUR (former) president have been #1?

I'm sad about James Brown. I can't say I was a life-long fan or even know his music beyond the ones everyone knows...but that man had color..and spunk..and I'm sad he's gone.

My mom told me some things over her Christmas visit; she told me her "last expenses" were paid for, her living will was updated, and that she wasn't going to be sad anymore. My mom isn't unwell. She's 74, walks about 4 miles/day, and keeps up with my sisters kids with no problem. The sad part, that's about my brother, her oldest son, on January 5th he will have been dead for 3 years. While the family is healing, we still can't sit down at a table together without feeling his absence like a knife between our ribs. It's just too hard without him. I spoke to him last on New Years Eve 2003, we wished each other a happy new year, and exchanged I love yous. Five days later I was returning a phone call to the Fairfax County Police Department with a sick feeling in my stomach..just knowing this couldn't be good. I don't know if she'll pull it off, the not being sad thing. I can't imagine how she feels losing him, really can't even come close to it. For me, the sadness has been slow to go, but there are days when it's with another person riding in the car with me and no matter how I try, I can't drop it off.

My friend Staci, who's a major source of inspiration (and laughter) for me, said her new years goal was "to live life hard" and I know just what she means. She'd argue the point with me, but this woman, she's fearless. I'll be spending the first weekend of the shiny new year with her and another friend (who will very possibly get us arrested or at least in a fistfight), learning to snowboard. I'm hoping along with some memories I take home some of Staci's fearlessness and zest for living in my duffel bag. She'll share, I know it.

So, it looks like I've got some work to do in the coming year. Maybe tonight, in preparation, I should just get some damn sleep.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wordsmiths Challenge - Tif made me do it...

So here 'tis. My first Wordsmith-challenge attempt thingie. I'd like to blame Tif for talking me into it. I'm as stalwart as cooked spaghetti when she asks me for something.

For those who read along that don't know the deal, here's a recap.. Wordsmiths posted a picture (below) and wrote the first paragraph of the story. Our task was to pick up the story and run with it, for another sad little 500 words. (FYI, sad and little were not part of the description - that's all me).

A loud rapping at the door awoke me from a deep dreamy sleep. It was early, too early to be awake, and certainly too early to be out in the streets pounding on doors. I thought that there must be some emergency in town and ran to the door to find out whatever news there was from whoever was there. Much to my surprise, there was no-one at the door ready to identify themselves and their message, and yet a package with my name on it had been left at the door. It was a most curious circumstance, and yet I saw no real harm in it, because secret gift giving was the hallmark of the holiday season. I myself had delivered many a gift in that manner over the years. The package was heavier than it should have been from its size, and once I had it indoors I eagerly opened it to find out what it was and who had sent it. Alas, there was no identification of the giver, and more's the pity because what was inside was a most remarkable carved wood box, worked with figures of animals and dragons all over, in a magnificent shade of red. Whoever sent it to me must have been a prankster, though, because I could see no way into the box, no clasp or lock announced itself, no hinge or platen presented itself as a means to the inside. I was locked out, and most frustrated by this unfortunate turn of events.

I dropped the box back into the packaging and headed for the shower. As my head began to clear I reconsidered the mysterious gift. Unusual yes, but not so unusual that it couldn’t have been purchased at any one of the dozens of New Orleans shops and stores found all over the french quarter. I’d start with the phone book.

More than two dozen phone calls and an hour and a half later I hit pay dirt. A young shop employee remembered a similar box being in the shop a week or more ago, but nothing more. The shop owner would be in later and should be able to give me the information I wanted.

I impatiently passed the afternoon, unable to finish anything I started. I kept finding myself staring at the box, running my fingers over it, tracing the outline of the dragon. Each time I touched the dragon, a warm, tingling sensation traveled through my fingers and up my arm, not uncomfortable but unsettling. I closed my eyes but still saw the red dragon, and then I heard screaming, and smelled blood, thick and fresh, and suddenly I was cold and very afraid. Dizzy, nauseous and a little out of breath, I jerked my hand back. I didn’t touch the box again the rest of the afternoon.

A bell announced my arrival into the patchouli scented shop. I walked around amazed at the cluttered shelves and tables stuffed and stacked with books, ornaments, figurines, dolls, not an inch of wasted space.

The voice came from the back of the store,
“So, you’ve come about the box.”

The man attached to the voice was as ordinary as cardboard. He was smoking a cigar and smiling, maybe laughing.

“Well, I was hoping you could tell me who sent it to me, it’s beautiful but I can’t open it and don’t really have any use for such a thing, but I should say thank you to the person who sent it and….” I trailed off, aware I was rambling wildly. This man made me uneasy.

“I sent it to you” he said, smiled, took another long drag of his cigar, exhaled, “and you can open it, in fact, you are the only one left who can.”

“Only one?” I asked confused, “what are you talking about, why me?”

Now he was laughing at me and not trying to hide it.

“You can open it, my dear, because you are his only surviving descendant”

Still confused, I dared not speak.

“The question is not can you open it, but will you?”

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The IPOD Shuffle meme thing..

I promised the mayor Spiffytown so here I am, home with a head cold on a WARM december-just-before-Christmas morning..doing this silly little thing..whee! For those of you that are interested, set your IPOD on shuffle and answer the questions below as they appear.

How am I feeling today?
Like a Stone/Audioslave

oddly appropriate

Will I get far in life?
Cold Hard Bitch/Jet

How do my friends see me?
Just like Heave/Cure

Where will I get married?
Rollin.. Urban Assault Vehicle/Limp Bizkit

Quick, someone witty interpret this for me..

What is my best friends theme song?
Cold Shower/Kix

What is the story of my life?
Wish you Were Here/Pink Floyd

again, oddly appropriate.

What is/was high school like?
Drop Dead Legs/Van Halen

How can I get ahead in life?
Dried Up, Tied Up and Dead to the World/Marilyn Manson

I'm not sure, but I think my IPOD just told me to go on a killing spree..

What is the best thing about me?
Killer Queen/Queen

heh. funny. that.

How is today going to be?
Pretty Fly (for a white guy) /The Offspring

What's in store for this weekend?
Dance with the Devil/Breaking Benjamin

oh..good.. something totally different.

What song describes my parents?

What song describes my grandparents?
Just Like You/Three Days Grace

How is my life going?

What song will play at my funeral?
No Sleep Til Brooklyn/The Beastie Boys

So, does this mean Hell is in Brooklyn?

How does the world see me?
Jump Around/House of Pain.


Will I have a happy life?
Loco/Coal Chamber

Um, yeah, there's a surprise.

What do my friends really think of me?
Fiend/Coal Chamber


Do people secretly lust after me?
Say Goodbye/Theory of a Deadman

How can I make myself happy?
Tuff Enuff/The Fabulous Thunderbirds

What should I do with my life?
Eye of the Tiger/Survivor

So... boxing?

Will I ever have children?
Savin' Me/Nickelback

What is some good advice for me?
Wild Child/W.A.S.P.

How will I be remembered?
Whiskey in the Jar/Metallica

Apparently as a whiskey-swilling lush.

What do I think my current theme song is?
Mic Check/Rage Against the Machine

What type of men/women do you like?

True that. You must be able to SPEAK. Oh, and spelling totally counts.

What does your man/woman love about you?
The Beautiful People/Marilyn Manson

shut up. I'm totally going to wait til you stop laughing.

What song do you secretly love?
Tainted Love/Marilyn Manson

I'm totally busted.

What do you want to do tomorrow?
Love Her Madly/The Doors

Now that is a surprise. Apparently I'm playing for the wrong team.

Thanks Biff, for the mindless entertainment. I needed that. Besides, it's way better than doing dishes. blerg.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dear Old Dad

Holidays are all about families, so I thought I'd share a little bit of my own.

Last Thanksgiving one of my sisters and I traveled to his my dad’s newly built home in Omaha for the holiday. Anytime a sibling offers to make this trip with me I jump on it. As I said, I love him, but being the only ‘new’ thing to focus on is far too much for me. I want some dispersion of all that crazy talk that’s going to happen. This particular sister is a great one to take this trip with because she’s the sibling that has always managed to maintain a peace with him that the rest of us have struggled with throughout our relationship with him. She’s also really funny, especially after a glass or two of wine, which, make no mistake, is another necessary ingredient in a successful trip to Omaha.

In the bathroom off the kitchen my dad has a plaque that says “I wasn’t born in Nebraska, but I got here as soon as I could”. So, normal is at a premium in these parts.

I started Thanksgiving day by going out for a run. I admit, I get a kick out of my dad shaking his head at me over his morning coffee cup and paper as I head out the front door, he thinks runnings proper place is boot camp and can't figure out why someone would willingly do it. When I run in Omaha, I’m amazed by the wind – it’s just different there, I can totally buy a windstorm that picks up a house ala Dorothy style. My dad shakes his head at me over this too, and usually says something like “we are in the goddamn plain states, what did you expect?” Ah, the cheery loving bosom of family.

After dinner, sister, step mom and myself clean up, do some dishes and settle around the kitchen table with a bottle of wine. Dad follows the American tradition of falling asleep on the couch. Upon awaking, my dad decides it’s time for sister and I to learn some things. He comes into the kitchen pours himself a glass of wine and plunks two hand guns down on the kitchen table. Try not to be alarmed at the alcohol/handgun combination. A lecture in how my sister and I as single women who live alone follows. We apparently should ARM OURSELVES, and if the GD airlines weren’t run by Nazis he’d give us these two pistols to take home. This lecture ends with him saying if our homes were invaded by PUNK BASTARDS who think IT’S THEIR RIGHT TO TAKE WHAT YOU’VE EARNED we should barricade ourselves in a bathroom and when they (the punk bastards) get to the door START SHOOTING. He goes on to tell us how prepared he is to defend his home against home invasion. Apparently, my father has enough guns in his home to arm a small country. Some are secured in a 300 pound guns safe in the basement, the rest are hidden all over the home.. just waiting for PUNK BASTARDS to show up and challenge my 75 year old father. Trust me, these PUNK BASTARDS will be very sorry if they stumble into my Dads quiet suburban, and yes, heavily armed, home.

As I recall my sister and I said things like “Yeah!” “Punks!” and “Great idea, dad”. Lecture finished, daughters impressed, Dad went back to his spot on the couch and commenced cussing at the football game.

The next day, my step mom had to run some food over to a member of her church. Apparently the wife of this family had had a liver transplant and the church had organized meal delivery for them. She tells me I should come, apparently these people spend a fair amount of time rescuing dogs and have quite a pack. Eager to get out of the house and with the lure of paw pads and wagging tails, I was in. In the end we all piled into my dads truck and headed out, fried chicken and sides with sister and I on the back seat. As we head down one rural mid-western road, my dad hits the brakes and shouts “Look Girls, there’s a dead deer!” Now, I admit to looking at dead animals when I pass, but not with this level of excitement. Sister and I exchanged a puzzled glance and made nice affirmative noises. Dad seems appeased, but then says “We’ll have to stop and look at that when we come back”. More puzzled looks pass between sister and I.

As promised on the return trip, Dad pulls off the road at the scene of the crime and insists we all get out and check out the dead deer. Sister and are completely flummoxed, and I at least am somewhat alarmed. We climb out of the car and watch as our father lifts the head of the deer by the antlers, clucks disapprovingly, and says “Yeah, he was a big buck”. Dad puts the head down and we all walk back to the truck. If my sister and I hadn’t had years of practice laughing silently we would never been able to make it back to the car without explaining to our father what was so damn funny. I’m not sure we even knew.

At home later that winter and shopping, I found a nifty wine opener that had all these exclamation points following the words "ergonomic" and "easy use" so I picked a couple up. My step mother suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and I remembered how she struggled with the one they had when I was there. I got a nice phone call from my step mom thanking me and telling me how much she liked it. Winna! Winna! Chicken dinna!

This past spring I tried to call my dear old dad on his birthday, and couldn’t reach him. He’s not usually difficult to track down so I called my sisters and asked if they had spoken to him. My oldest sister says she has, and everything is okay now, but the house was struck by lightning the night before and burned to the ground. He and my step mom were able to get the dogs, some family jewelry and THE CORKSCREW out before losing everything else. That’s right. They saved the corkscrew. The house and all of the contents are ashes, but the corkscrew made it.

We all need priorities people.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The suck

I think I need to have a "we need to talk moment" with a friend.
As in, I think I need to do the equivalent of breaking up with her.
She was the first person I met when I moved to NC that I actually wanted to hang out with outside of work. As I suspected we did have some really good times and shared some laughs. I got to tour Mayberry with her.
Early on I saw the warning signs but I held out hope that it wasn't really going to be a problem.
Turns out it is a problem.

I shouldn't be surprised and I definitely shouldn't be hurt. But here I am, both of those things.

It occurs to me that I can't even whip out the 'let's be friends' stand-by because, well, she's turned out to be rather bad at that, which is why I need to break up with her in the first place.
It also occurs to me that I've never done this with a girlfriend before. I've lost touch with people, drifted apart from people, physically moved away from friends I then didn't keep in touch with..but never have I felt the need to say to a girlfriend 'hey this didn't work out..good luck'
I don't even think I know how to do this. I'd almost like to hope that I don't have to, that I can just not do anything, but I know she's going to call tomorrow and behave as though everything is just fine. I can even tell you what time she'll call me.

This blows.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The dating year, in review.

I'm already thinking about the shiny new year waiting for us just a few weeks away. New years are like new shoes, I love them. I am bad at the standard new years resolution thing; that is, I've had the same one for the last three years, which in the resolution world, a three-peat = failure. So I don't bother with those anymore, but I do like to think about what the past year has brought me (good and bad) and what I'd like to change about my life in the coming year. That's positive, that's constructive, and totally uncharacteristic of me.
Tonight I'm thinking about the men I've dated this year. Now, here's an area that could use a big overhaul. In no particular order here's how DATE '06 went.

1. The engineer-guy. At dinner before our meal was served, he went into a diatribe about the chemical difference between equal, sweet-n-low and splenda. Shut.Up. No, Really,Shut.UP. A full hour later, I've eaten my dinner and spent the last 10 minutes trying to decide how to pretend I have food poisoning. Before I could feign GI distress, he decided that being I'm a 'dog person' I might be more interested in how dog food is manufactured. Turns out he was wrong. Dog food is not any more interesting than artifical sweetners, hard to imagine I know, but true.

2. The hit-man. I liked this guy, he was more than a little rough around the edges, but I liked him. He made me laugh - a lot. Not a manufacturing or chemical compound discussion in site.
On our third date, after dinner we went back to his house and proceeded to get hammered. I remember putting a movie in the DVD, but have no idea what it was. He then proceeds to tell me that his real job is a hit-man for the Mafia. The other job is just a cover. He may need to "take off" at the drop of a hat, or eventually he made need to "make a run for the border" and "disappear completely". I remember thinking that I needed to make my own "run for the border" immediately, however I had ingested a LARGE amount of alcohol and knew driving would be a very bad idea. Not to mention, if what he was saying was not just some weird delusion, he might whack me if he knew what I was thinking. So, being the resourceful girl I am, I kept feeding him drinks while I switched to water. He passed out. I sobered up and got the hell out of there. Take the cannoli. Leave the gun.

3. The cowboy.This one started off with a bang (Getcher mind outta the gutter) we really hit it off. Then came the date where he asked me back to his place..and I went. At the door I got the obligatory bachelor "my place is a mess" comment. I remember laughing it off. I think it was the smell that made me stop laughing. "Mess" to me, means assorted mail, newspapers, books etc., carelessly tossed around, a stray shoe on the dining room table, some dirty dishes in the sink, dusty furniture, floors that need vacuuming . This is what Merriam-Webster would define as early american crack house. Fast-food bags everywhere (and possibly, not completely empty, and partially accounting for the smell) a dining room table ( I think) so covered in dirty dishes, dirty clothes (again, juding by the smell) that I am still not sure there was a table, I just refuse to believe ANYone could have that much foul smelling laundry and distinctly furry flatware. The couch I was politely offered a seat on, leaking sofa cushion stuffing and covered in stains of I don't want to know of what kind. I was speechless. The last straw was the roach that scurried across the coffee table that the cowboy gallantly squished with his sock-clad foot that sent me out the door, my last thought that I didn't want to know what the bathrooms in this place looked like. Ew.

4.The army guy. I liked this one too. He was a little on the quiet side, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for a guy that knows how to shut up. We went horse back riding, and tossed back a few beers together. His weird schedule kept us from seeing much of each other, but when we did get together, it was good. I told a girlfriend that was visiting during the period I was dating this one that I felt bad that I couldn't get more excited about him. There wasn't a single thing wrong with him, I just didnt' get the butterfly thing us girls get. I stuck it out until after being "missing" (his words not mine) for like 18 hours, he sent me a creepy, freaky, stalker-in-the-making email written in the third person asking if after two dates, didn't I think I should be checking in with him? As Tif said "Jason couldn't find Cravey; and Jason was sad".. Ew. Crreeepy.

5.The boxer. Very cool guy, very sexy. Impossible to keep up with. Between his constant flying back and forth to New York to see family and his on again off again work schedule. We just couldn't connect. That and his preferred method of communication was email. So we'd make tentative plans for friday night and then he'd be unreachable, until Saturday morning when I'd get an email "how about tonight" and usually some form of accusation that I was toying with him and not really interested in him... Whatever. Next.

6.The radio guy. Wow. Sooo cute. So Funny. Sooooo high-maintenance. I now know what men are complaining about - what a pain in the ass. This guy would call me every night and talk to me for hours. If he couldn't reach me he'd leave messages, he'd page me, he'd email me. I was exhausted two weeks in. Fuggedaboudit.

7. The Aussie. I admit it, I totally fell for the accent. Perhaps this is a cautionary tale for meeting men online. When the calls start rolling in 6, 7, 8 times a day and before your second date he's talking about how he's going to spend three nights a week with you--the warning signs aren't just showing they are bashing you in the freakin' head.

Here's a glass raised to better things in '07.
Seriously, how much worse can it get.

On second thought, do not answer that.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

What's happening at the DMV?

For the second time in two years, I've had to make a trip to the NC Driver's License office.
The first time for the usual, ' I just moved to the state and need to transfer all my crap' visit.

At that visit, I thought it interesting that all the men working at the NC DMV in Cary, were clones of each other, all older men and wearing these awful uniforms.. kind of a weird 1970's police officer/mailman combo, complete with skinny tie and black-backed name tag (last name only, of course).

So after being pulled over for exceeding the speed limit for the triskillionth time since becoming an NC resident, I and the nice Apex police-man discovered that sometime in the last few weeks I've lost my driver's license. Not in my wallet, not in my checkbook, not in my glove compartment, not anywhere in my car (although there is an un-opened yoplait yogurt under the passenger seat - oh joy) but alas, no driver's license. The nice Apex police man let me go (the first time that's happened since becoming an NC resident) as long as I presented my new driver's license within 48 hours.

My kindly supervisor let me leave at lunch yesterday to go to the DMV for a replacement - this time I went to a different office.

This visit, there were all women in the DMV, all in the same horrible uniforms, and all sporting sparkly blue eyeshadow and yes, WINGS..ala Heather Locklear in her "Sammy Jo" days on Dallas. Disturbing. What's happening? Is there some code in NC that the office must pick an 'era' and all employees must oblige and style hair and make up to fit that era? Do they leave the office each day and re-enter 2006? Is there some sort of shower-in/shower-out policy like in a clean lab? It can't be that these women all just happen to prefer this style and all work together can it? I am concerned.

I really shouldn't complain. I was in and out in under 30 minutes the proud owner of a nice, shiny new NC driver's license, horrible picture and all.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

My peeps

In the mail, for my birthday, a friend sent me a book, and although I'm nowhere near finished, the chapter I just read this afternoon resonated with me. The author(s) are talking about finding *your* people, your chosen family. As I mentioned earlier, I have a pretty big biological family and an even larger, chosen family. This fall I have been feeling particularly close to these chosen family members, defying the geographic challenges inherent with these friends. My connection to these people often surprises me, but it's so overwhelming that I cannot question it. There's a cliche, that I hate (does anyone like them?) but it keeps making random appearances in my life.

It is what it is. And so it is.

The book contends that you have to be on the lookout, because *your* people are hard to find. I don't agree.

These people seemed to simply fall into my life, occasionally, when I needed a friend, but not always. In retrospect, I hope that at least once, they were the ones in need. I hope I was just the right friend at just the right time. I can think of no other praise as good as this.

Perhaps I am just maudlin, this the day after the marking of my "annual continuation day" as Katie Robinson used to call it., after all I'm a respectable 20-17 now, isn't that old enough to be maudlin?

Easily, the first person and longest standing member is Lace.

Claudia and I worked together for a few years, and never once during that time saw each other outside of work. The day I resigned we exchanged phone numbers and became instantaneous members of each others chosen families. I spent every major holiday with Claudia, her husband and her house of cats, and eventually the dogs. I can remember her first Christmas with Bartleby as clearly as if it was yesterday. I remember the mothers day her family decided to hash out the sexuality of a certain family member -- with me right there. I suppose I should have been embarrassed, but I instead I just felt lucky, and loved. I used to look forward to my birthday just because I knew Claudia would cook me some fabulous Martha Stewart-esque dinner complete with a flaming dessert. She taught me how to cook, usually over the phone, there were many times I'd call her and give her a list of what I had in the cupboard and she'd direct me over the phone and Walla! Dinner! She taught me loads of other things, but by far, the biggest and best lesson was just how to be a better friend to others and to myself. I remember when she quit her secure-corporate job to start her own business, she told me she was going to "follow her bliss" - ten years later, her business is still a raving success. Apparently, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

My friend Red walked into the hospital I worked in one day, nodded, smiled, shook my hand, and to took the job the shock of all of us. Red and I didn't click right away, but soon enough, when we were the senior staff, we were sending staff early because we really only liked each other. Those late Friday nights (they become late nights when you send everyone home) we bonded over shoe shopping, Mojitos and a common history of illicit drug use and vampire hallucinations. We were so annoying our supervisor eventually gave us the same day off. We used those Mondays, not a minute went to waste, we hiked with a pack of wild, crazy, beautiful dogs in places I still believe only fairies live, for hours and hours. In the rain, the mud, the heat, the snow, the ice. We went home with tired, dirty dogs and took our tired, dirty selves out for tex mex and root beer. No matter the weather it was always warm at those tables. On the worst day in my life, the day I thought no-one understood, she sat next to me, held my hand and cried, so hard it shook the entire couch..and let me know she did feel my pain, she cried for both of us, shock had taken away my ability, but Red felt it and let it pour into her heart when she could have walked away. She stuck and hurt for me.

Megan struts - she's got that kind of presence, she comes into a room and all eyes go to Megan. She's the friend you have that you can't figure out why someone like her is friends with someone like you. You know? She taught me to sing my name when running up hills got hard. Sometimes, when it really sucks, I sing her name. I think of Megan when things are hard, Megan, who cried when I ran across the finish line, who washed my tired and blistery feet in ice, who trusted me to care for Princess Myra. She's sharp and quick, and never fails to make me laugh even when you just can't imagine anything being funny. On the hottest day EVER while waiting for a baseball game to start, with screaming children on all sides, Megan will be the first to remind me that there is no crying in baseball.

Eileen and Red were friends first. I followed along and never looked back. Eileen is 10 times smarter than I could ever imagine being. She's like Einstein smart. She's a true 'Type A' personality, nothing she does is done slowly, or without the proper amount of planning, precautions, maps, a compass, a flashlight, a bag of handy-wipes and a bag of trail mix. In the event of a true threat of nuclear war, I'm moving to LA, this woman will dig us a tunnel, build us an underground dirt house, find the right amount of protein and carbohydrates (in non-exposed to the radiation bugs, of course) and in her spare time discover a cure for radiation poisoning for the rest of 'above ground people'. Yeah, she's that friend. I know in my heart if I ever need her, she'll move the Rocky Mountain Range to get to me.

The friend that sent me the book is Staci. I told her that I felt like she was the sister the universe forgot to give me. We found each other through running. We both share the illness that is defined as a love running. She's a bskillion times faster than I ever will be, but this is the girl I run with in my heart. She warns me that her positive attitude gets annoying after awhile. I think she balances my darkness. She challenges me to not settle for anything. On the day after my 20-17th birthday, I am going to take her up on that challenge. I may very well end up going ass over tea-kettle and landing with a mouthful of artificial snow, but I will not let her down.
There are some new people out there - people I'm hoping will cause my chosen family to grow again. There's always room for one, or four, or ten more.

I do not know how I've held on to these people over the years, or why they've held on to me. My life would not be as rich without them and I wouldn't give any one of them up without a fight. This kind of connection will not be defined by the completion of the human genome. It simply is what it is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Painting Lessons

You can forget Picasso, this ain't that kind of painting.

I'm painting my bedroom this holiday weekend; and in the spirit of share-y-ness and while I wait for my primer to dry; here's what I 've learned so far.

1. Do not believe hardware store guy when he tells you won't need more paint. Although he is hardware story guy, is wearing the hardware store guy vest, and is showing the appropriate ratio of bvd:butt skin-- he too will succumb to the universal law that Math. Is. Hard.

2. The answer to the question "Do I have enough drop cloths?" is No. Hell No.

3. Removing the occasional stray dog hair from just applied primer is not easy or fun. Thankfully, one more coat of primer and noone has to know.

Sidebar: I have had satellite radio in my car for about a year now. I love my XM. Next stop after painting is to go buy that bring-it-in-your-house-adaptor-thingie., because friends, FM just blows.

4. I never knew it until early this morning, but I never need to hear that "Mamma don't take my Kodachrome away" song again.

5. I am not Stretch Armstrong or Olga Korbut. My arm won't stretch to reach that last white spot; and I will not be able to balance the ladder 'just so' to make it happen.

6. I'm pretty sure that after "don't jump on the bed" comes, "don't dance on a ladder."

7. Those little 4 and 6" foam rollers, RULE. Completely worthy of one of those 'real men of genius' budweiser songs.

I bet the bruises will be cool.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Things that make me go hmmmm..

It's only 7:48 Am.

Here's what's happened so far today.

When I got up to let the dog out, on my deck right in front of the grill was a perfect specimen of the animal commonly known as 'grey squirrel'..perfect in every way except he was thoroughly dead. How did this come about? Why would you pick my deck to spend your last moments little squirrel? Imagine my dog's glee when he saw it. Imagine the wave of nausuea as I attempted to retrieve one dead squirrel from my dog who thought 'flip the squirrel up and try to catch it' was a great pre-breakfast game. Ew.

There was a message on my cell phone this morning from my friends in Virginia, I'm paraphrasing but the gist of the message was

"Hey, why don't you come up this weekend, A.'s roller ball team is having a jello-wrestling thing at a bar downtown"

First of all - ROLLER BALL?! Seriously? Who knew A. was playing roller ball? I thought roller ball was just 'real' in Happy Days re-runs. Second - what does roller ball have to do with jello-wrestling? Lastly, most importantly why do they think I want to go?

While flipping stations on my much-loved Satellite radio this morning, I stumbled across a band called 'GOAT WHORE'... so, there's a garage band (come on, has to be) and they are sitting around trying to come up with a name to plaster on their demo CD , and this was what they came up with? Please try to imagine the discussion that took place to arrive at GOAT WHORE. Talk amongst yourselves and get back to me.

Okay, so I admit after re-reading this that maybe it's not weird for some people but this is a weird start to my day. I'm a little scared of what's ahead.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

One foot in front of the other

On July 4, 2004, I quit smoking. I've never regretted this decision.

On July 5, 2005, I started running. Although regret might be too strong, I wonder about this decision for a few seconds to a few minutes almost every day I plan to run.

Running is hard.

In my defense, I was grieving. The weight of grief (which feels roughly like a dump truck parked on your chest) resulted in my inability to sleep for more than 4 hours at a stretch. Every night I would lay on the couch watching anything on TV until I drifted off to sleep. Four hours later, I'd be awake, staring at my living room ceiling, knowing I'd seen the last of the insides of my eyelids for this 24 hour stretch. So I'd get up and take the dog out to patrol the neighborhood streets for an hour or so. One of the many wonders of dogs is they never complain. So we walked. This wonderful beast of mine walked with me while I laughed and cried and talked to myself. Once, when I couldn't walk for crying so hard I stopped and sat on a curb and just wailed (my sincerest aplogies to the residents of E.Maple Street in Sterling Virginia) and this beast of mine he sat down next to me, leaned on me and waited.

Grief sucks.

So, I ran longer intervals every week., shorter walking intervals every week. I ran down every street in that Sterling subdivion. I made my first goal to be able to run all the way up the hill on E. Maple. It didn't help me sleep, but it made me feel strong.

Eye of the tiger, baby, eye of the tiger.

I talked about running, I bought clothes for running, better shoes, and the diety-blessed IPOD. There will never be a feeling that competes with the first time I made it up the hill on E. Maple with Rob Zombie singing "More Human than the Human" in my ears.

Wicked strong.

These are my most favorite memories of running. Not any of the races, not even the one marathon. The first runs. The runs where I learned about my limitations, how to push them, and that sometimes that isn't always smart. I learned that my physical exertion brought me closer to the pain in my life, and closer to the joy.

All of it is connected.

There is a rhythm in running that can soothe my frustrations, or it can be the back beat to pounding out those frustrations. When I run outside I feel small and insignificant but distinctly connected. When I run inside, I use it as a tool to disconnect from all the noise around me, and most importantly the noise in my head. Those first few moments of cool down after a run my thoughts are crystalline clear and as sharp as any blade. Even bad runs serve a purpose, they challenge all that power and clarity, taunt you to come back and try and get it right next time.

Bitch. I. will. be. back.

I'm sure there are people out there who will say physical activity saved their lives. The health benefits of 'just moving' are undeniable. I believe running saved me from a darker fate. I know I got a few good long looks at that fate while cruising the streets of Sterling with a german shepherd. It was ugly and scary there. I believe I ran for my life. I didn't run the grief out of my life, it's still here.

Nothing erases loss.

I ran this morning, one foot in front of the other, rhythm, breathing, pace.

Running made me strong, and maybe I didn't beat grief, but it didn't beat me either.

Friday, November 17, 2006

History Lessons...

Ever since my first "real" boyfriend, RT, broke my heart at 19, I've been a believer in the "this didn't work, let's pretend we never met" philosphy of ex-boyfriends. I've never once tried that 'can we be friends?' crap.

Now, I'll be the first to admit, my choices in men have not been stellar. Often when the relationships ended I was every bit as relieved as anything else. I can honestly say that after one of these relationships ended, I often suddenly realized that this person I'd been involved with wasn't really someone I'd even want to be friends with, that in fact, he simply wasn't up to the standards I hold my friends to. (Let's not look to deeply into the fact that I rationalized that despite I wouldn't have this person as a friend, I'd sleep with them). We'll save that for the therapy couch.

About 2 years ago, an ex-boyriend that I never thought I'd have a nice thing to say to or about ever again, made the effort to reach out to me when he learned of my brother's passing. We have spent a fair amount of time since then, chatting, instant-messaging., and yes, we've even seen each other several times. No, this is not a reconiliation, nor do I want it to be, but the hurt and anger and resentment are gone. He sends me text messages, little things from my past that make me laugh out loud when I'm cruising the grocery aisles for pudding pops. Just loud enough to make the woman in the same aisle hustle her sticky-looking children away. (A win-win situation in my book). It's nice. It might even be better than nice, but for now, nice is all I've got.

This might seem like nothing to the average reader. However, in my history., this is huge. I am one of those women that just isn't able to forgive those who were reckless with her heart. I don't plan their untimely demise, I just don't fully let go of the hurt. I am blessed or cursed (depending on my mood) with an almost photographic memory., so even when I want to, I'm never fully able to forget hurtful things that were said, no matter how insignificant.. like the equal packets, the infuriating equal packets. After your equal packet tantrum -- did you ever figure out I was intentionally leaving them in weird places? places you couldn't help but see them?, just to annoy you, and point out how stupid the whole thing was. Letting go is huge, and I feel like maybe I owe you a bit of gratitude.

I've jokingly said many times that I would learn forgiveness in my next life. Thanks to you E., looks like I'm getting a head start.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Also reposted from former blog...I just liked it. :)

My co-workers started an email chain the other day, I can't remember what inspired it, but it started out as 'what song or songs will make you leap to change the radio statio the second you realize what's coming on?'.
The girl who started it, (we'll call her 'Pearl') selected "We built this city" by Jefferson Starship., other contestant entries were 'She's like the wind' by Patrick Swayze; Hey Mickey (by that annoying 80's band who's name is gratefully blocked from my memory); and Tommy TuTone's 867-5309, and my personal most hated "I would do anything for love" by yep you guessed it, Meatloaf.
After a day of dragging things best left in the dark out into the light of day for one more round of insults we switched it up to 'what song/songs will you "throw a bow" into anyone who gets in your way as you head to the dance floor?" or maybe compel you to pick up the nearest hairbrush and 'air microphone ' your way around the house?
I was stumped. The emails were a-flyin' this category inspired everyone. One of my favorites that was offered up was "Meeting in the ladies room" - But when I started thinking about "my songs" I was empty-handed. I couldn't come up with anything. I couldn't believe it. I love music why couldn't I come up with anything?
I left work that day and mercilessly scrolled through radio stations looking for "my songs"... no luck. I looked through my CD's., nothing strikes me. This was just depressing.
It's been about a week, and I'm still thinking about this., thankfully, I've found a few... and in retrospect discovered that "my songs" are directly related to my mood. For example, the songs "Roam" by Metallica, "Raise Up" by Saliva and "Break Something" by Limp Bizkit not only pick my pace up when I'm listening to them on my Ipod while running, but get in my way and I will throw a bow at your azz.
John Lennon's Imagine still makes me cry., .. Steely Dan's entire Aja album makes me think of my brother..the very best memories I have of him., and (insert diety of your choice) help me, American Pie (Don McLean) makes me laugh until I cry. I have a very specific brother-Mark memory attached to this song, and it still makes me giddy. Miles Davis' CD, Kind of Blue makes me remember an ex-boyfriend who turned me onto Jazz, ultimate fighting and the problems that surround growing weed in your bathroom. All the great old Springsteen makes me think of my best friend from High School, when I got her wedding invitation this past summer with a Springsteen quote on it, I knew not matter how many years had passed, the 15, 16, 17 year old girl I had so much fun with, got in SO much trouble with was still *there*, Crystal Method, Chemical Brothers, that's all Heather, one of my favorite people of all time., Tupac's "holla if ya' hear me' doesn't make me think of anyone, but totally makes me feel cool, Marilyn Manson, an ex-boyfriend who wanted to wear my underwear, and a friend who, disgusted with my Manson fascination took me to a Manson show., thinking I'd "get over it". - it backfired on him. I lost touch with Jason, but everytime I see Manson's creepy anti-christ superstar look, I think of Jason Hersey.
So, I feel redeemed, I found them: my songs, my music.. and it was such a great journey., all those great memories.
What fun.
If you're reading, for whatever reason.. post yours..I'd love read what your associations are, and what they inspire in my memories.
Edited to Add: Lace, I don't know how I let WASP and Cinderella slip through without an honorable mention. I laugh everytime I hear ol' Blackie Lawless, the background music to my de-flowering... And Cinderella, well my history with you and that Cinderella album is cemented in my brain. In fact, make sure Nightsongs gets played at my funeral., and you, have my permission to sing "Spiders from Mars" on top of my coffin (should I have one)..or better yet, 'Proud Mary" Tina Turner style.
Peas and carrots:? maybe. but damn it, peas and carrots are good.

Random Friday night Ramblings

So, here it is another friday night, that I've chosen to stay home and ignore the urgings of others to join them at one drinking hole or another to watch Jennifer Love Hewitt talk to the dead.
What the hell does that mean? I'm old? I have a crush on JLH? (I am amazed by her perfectly in place hair - what makes it sooo.. stiff? super glue? Hurricane force winds can't move that shit, oh and what is up with her eyelashes, exactly?)
Seriously, I think if I ever have another night where I wake up in the morning and can't locate my underwear only to have it fall out one leg of my pants at the gas station a few hours later I might drive off the nearest suspension bridge. I don't need those kind of nights ever again. Those nights and paying for gas with CHANGE defined my 20's., and I don't wanna go back.
Perhaps, it's not age, perhaps it's what I affectionately call my antisocial nature. Merriam-Webster defines antisocial as (1)averse to the society of others and (2) hostile or harmful to organized society; behavior deviating sharply from the norm.
So, in the M-W sense of the word I'm not anti-social. I'm not averse to the society of others (ask around, I'm a nice guy!) and I'm only hostile when provoked by stupid people or their sticky-handed children who always want to touch me with their sticky-little fingers, and most of time my hositility is confined to cussing at my steering wheel, and taking out my aggression via angry, young white, probably drug addicted musicians playing what my co-workers call 'chainsaw metal'. Hey, don't hate, it's better than kicking pupppies.
So, alright, we've established that I'm not truly anti-social, however I do seem to choose the company of myself and my dog over that of a myriad of others (seemingly not abnormal others). So what is it?
I could wax poetic here, about solitude, like Thoreau style solitude, but even I can't imagine Holly Springs into a Walden Pond.
So the answer will have to wait for another night, for now, I'm going with the up side, I suspect that I like myself and whether or not the 'others' do is irrelevant., and it sure as hell wasn't 'back in the day'. Okay, so that's no revelation, no oprah-inspired 'light bulb moment', but it's better than focusing too much on the fact that I can't stop looking at JLH's eyelashes. We don't need to investigate that particular compulsion.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Speed Lacer

The last couple of weeks, I've been feeling really close to some far-away friends. I don't exactly know when it happened, but the connection between them and I just inexplicably strengthened.
One of them, I met in high school, and as she recently stated, 'how did I screw up so much in high school and still manage to pick you as a friend' (close enough). I didn't have an answer when she asked and still don't today.

In high school I was always picking up these people that were "damaged" somehow, I always thought I could 'fix it'. Ninety percent of the time it ended badly for me or my family. Cars were vandalized., I was threatened physically again and again, it was like an S.E. Hinton novel minus the Dallas Winston character to come along and save the day at the rumble in the vacant lot.

Lace was the other 10%. She was beautiful, and funny and so smart., and she could sing. Neither one of us can recall exactly how we met., there was a purposefully set fire in a trashcan at a police station, greasy pizza by the slice at Poor Pauls, lace gloves, Madonna, boxes and boxes of blonde hair dye, Bruce Springsteen, an angry skin head, a very cool human behavior class, numerous trips to Kings Dominon, a "band" of wanna-be heavy metal guys, the military guy with the cool car, the homecoming dance, and of course, the horse complete with cowboys.

Twenty years later and her name on my cell phone can still make me feel like I'm 17 and I better quickly come up with a lie to tell my mom, because I'm gonna need it. Of course it's no longer true. We both grew up and became responsible (mostly) productive (attempting to be) adults, with mortgages and vet bills and ..stuff. But for that 15 seconds when I see her name on my cell phone, all that goes away. It's magic. I'd like to tell her how much it means to find her and know her again after all these years, but she knows. That's magic too.

I remember shortly after she graduated from undergrad with a degree in sociology me asking her what she was going to "do with it" her immediate response was "frame it". The next thing she said was "I don't know why I ever went to college, all I ever wanted to be was a rock star."
Flash-forward 20 years and you'll find her finishing her PhD. and, if you're lucky enough you'll also find her in her city somewhere singing in her band. There are few people in my life that have had as many severe ups and downs as this girl (ups and downs I chose not to chronicle, [that's her story to tell]), but she pulled it off in bigger and better fashion and with much more style than I've ever had. Maybe it was her brains, her "good upbringing" her moral compass, that pulled her through, I can't answer that., and despite all things rational and logical I'm going with my gut.

I think it was Magic.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

And so it begins..

For as long as I can remember I've wanted to write. I wrote the typical angst-filled poems in junior high school, a couple which at least my mom thought were good. :)

My sophomore year in high school my oldest brother came to teach at my high school. He was a real writer, a poet in fact. Suffering from no more than the average amount of high-school girl insecurities this was enough to send me over the edge, I couldn't write or at least I couldn't write and show Mark. His opinion mattered the most., and I was too insecure, too afraid of letting him down. I let that insecurity get the best of me, and I just gave it up.

It's been (gulp) almost 20 years since high school and that same brother has since passed away. The last 5-6 years of his life, he was my best friend. I am still having trouble imagining my life without him. In the last few months I've been re-consumed with the desire to write. It's nearly out of control.,not knowing where to start, I started blogging on a dreaded myspace account. I've been amazed by my response to the exercise of putting thoughts, no matter how random, onto "paper". So I'm moving up or on to this as a permanent blog., I like the idea of being a little more anonymous, as well as being able to share it with whomever I choose.

I don't really know if this will lead me down the road to writing I've been imaging doing for so many years, but one never knows.