Monday, December 5, 2011

Phoning It In (More Old Poetry): Shaken

Since I didn't get rotten tomatoes thrown at me last Friday for posting the poem I wrote for my brother, and I'm super busy these days, I'll share another old poem.

Shaken

I cannot gauge the distance
Between St. Helens and Augusta
Not since the time
We were in both places at once
Kissing beneath her
Our every tremor seismic
And far-reaching
Where with god's sly eye she watched us
I can still feel the aftershocks
And you can hear my voice
You call me sweet love
You say you love to hear my voice
I tell you how to love me
How I love your hands
Moving over my body
Documenting the topography for past and future reference
Here and now we all wait
Everybody waits
I wait for you
I wait
Everybody waits

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Poem For My Brother

Poe's Raven by bryanwright5@gmail.com
Poe's Raven, a photo by bryanwright5@gmail.com on Flickr.
Okay, so I REALLY hate sharing my poetry because I always think it sucks, but I was inspired to share this when I read Michael Lassell's How To Watch Your Brother Die today. Here is something I wrote the morning my brother died.

"It's okay", I told him
"I want to be scared."
And I meant to hear him read aloud
Poe, you know? The Raven and Lenore
Not a 43-year-year-old never more
He held me
And he read to me
And he crashed the brown station wagon and fell down laughing
He disappeared under Daddy
And he just laid still
And he stayed on the floor long after Daddy had forgotten the morning
I sat there trembling
Afraid to touch him, afraid to leave him there
We rehearsed this scene so many times
Until we got it right, even Daddy
When he came home from work
At parties I shouldn't have gone to
And later, at the hospitals
The needles, his sleeves
His yellow, baron arms
You'd think they'd have carved something more interesting, more beautiful and true
Meaningful, but no, just yellow
He only a muppet
He loved me, secretly and away, but he loved me with all and then halted
I stayed
I stayed until I couldn't
I left
And he felt comfortable dying
He left
And I still needed him, who loved me most

So, I Have These Weird Dreams

The Ringmaster by Nevin
The Ringmaster, a photo by Nevin on Flickr.
And occasionally I write them down. I was just going through an old blog to find a poem I wrote about my brother (I will be posting that next) and I stumbled across a post about one of my weird dreams.

Here goes:

I was on an intercontinental flight with a hot guy who like-liked me, but was not my boyfriend. Even before the plane crashed, the dream was very sexy. The clouds took the shape of people having sex in unusual settings and when I got up close to the clouds, the figures turned into giant humans in the flesh...there was this one couple I distinctly remember--the guy was doing the chick from behind and she was pretty normal except for the strands of crystals hanging from her waist (like chandelier ornamentation), but as I passed the guy, I could see that he was wearing a bright yellow rubber ringmaster outfit with cut outs for, you know, and his penis turned into a giant red drinking straw and his movements were very stylized and exaggerated and all of this was going on IN THE SKY.

Then things started hitting the top of the plane and the plane was falling from the sky, but not super fast, more like a helium balloon losing air. Once we hit the ground, the plane became a futuristic office building and I was naked, draped in a cashmere blanket with hair wet from a shower, holding a toy airplane and talking to the captain of the plane who was now the CEO of the company.

I was being very flirty with him. He was not sexy to look at, but he was sexy to be around. He also resembled a ring master, but a classy, fully and regularly clothed ringmaster. Something about him made me want to have sex with him.

I had the blanket only around my waist at the time and he was totally staring at my uncovered breasts and trying not to get flustered as we talked, and I decided to press him a bit. I got up and pretended play with the airplane and 'accidentally' let the blanket drop to the floor, showing him all of my business and he got really uncomfortable.

He stuttered and said that he was married though and he reminded me of the hot-but-not-my-boyfriend guy that I had boarded the plane with and suggested maybe it was inappropriate for us to interact this way. I said something like, but we're in Europe now, can't we do anything we want?" and then my alarm went off.

Weirdness.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day: No, I Will Not Shut Up About AIDS Today

World AIDS Day by U.S. Embassy New Delhi
World AIDS Day, a photo by U.S. Embassy New Delhi on Flickr.
In case anyone was wondering, no, I will not shut up about AIDS today. It's World AIDS Day. WORLD. AIDS. DAY. Get it? You can't find any place in this world that isn't affected by this disease. If you don't like pollution, noise and over-crowding, you can move to the mountains. If you hate cold weather, you can move to Florida. If you have allergies, you can move to the desert. If you want to get away from AIDS and the terrible things it does to people, families, cities, and economies, your nearest option is Earth's moon.

I'd like to keep this post positive, so I won't dwell on the fact that when gay men started becoming seriously ill and dying horrific deaths in the 80s, the same world that is having an AIDS day today did nothing to stop it. Instead, I'll focus on the fact that today, AIDS is something we talk about in public. Today, AIDS has its very own day.

I remember when the first AIDS cases started presenting. I was nine. I watched and read everything I could about AIDS. I wanted desperately for someone to find a cure for it. I couldn't bear the thought that such wonderful people were dying in such a brutal, merciless way. I was terrified and somehow sure that one day I would lose someone I loved to AIDS. 'One day' was March 18, 2006 and 'someone I loved' was my brother Andy. I still watch and read everything I can find about AIDS, and I'm still afraid of losing loved ones to AIDS.

Today I kept correcting myself when I wanted to say, "Happy World AIDS Day!" to folks. I'm not sure why. Though it doesn't appear to be a celebratory holiday (like Valentine's Day), I'm still happy for the advancements that have been made and grateful every day that my friends who have been diagnosed with HIV are still alive and kicking ass. I'm happy I am able to raise funds for charities that help people living with AIDS and fund research that will lead to a cure someday (that will be a much better 'someday' than March 18, 2006). I'm happy to have the good company of others who are working hard to help advance this cause too. I'm happy to know all of the beautiful and inspiring people I've met on my path to help find a cure. And one World AIDS Day, I'll be happy we found a cure. I'm sure of this too.

Happy World AIDS Day, everyone!

Oh--before I go, I want to share a link to a profoundly moving interactive project called A Day With HIV In America. It's a photo project created and shared by Positively Aware Magazine with the goal of ending the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS. Visit. Enjoy. Share.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Am Trying To Like Christmas. I Really Am.

Christmas Lights, Bokeh by Phoney Nickle
Christmas Lights, Bokeh, a photo by Phoney Nickle on Flickr.
I can't remember the last time I liked Christmas, but I know that I did once upon a time. But in my recent memory, Christmas has been something that I have merely managed to get through. Every year, I try to like Christmas, but I can't no matter what I do. Sorry everyone. I'm a lousy American...or something.

I was walking home from work yesterday (yeah, I worked yesterday--an 18-hour corporate retail extravaganza) and I noticed my neighbors had a snowman seated at their little breakfast table on their balcony. My initial reaction was almost condescending. How cute! They've purchased and installed a large fabric snowman on their balcony in an effort to say to folks, "Look! It's Christmas time!" You know, in case the non-stop carols on Lite FM weren't a dead giveaway--a sign for the stubborn or obtuse. What a bunch of fools!

Bunch of fools...except I know this isn't the case. I don't know them personally or anything, but I know that people who do this sort of thing are generally nice and not foolish at all. It's fun and stuff. I know this by watching others and remembering glimpses of when I thought it was fun too. Ugh...I got a little bit blue when I remembered that. I know I used to think this was fun and magical and all that, but now trying to feel what it's like to like Christmas is like trying imagine a place you've never been. What happened?

Let's examine and look backwards.

I work in corporate retail now. I don't have time to enjoy Christmas. Fair enough.

Money was tight in the preceding years. Sure money can't buy happiness, but it really sucks not to be able to get your kid the things you want to get him. But that wasn't it.

My divorce was final December 19, 2000. Six days later, that Christmas was my first Christmas as one half of a failed marriage. One half of the family I always wanted and never had. I remember the Christmas Day phone call from my freshly ex-husband. It was a kick in the chest. It was breathtakingly sad. We were confused. We were alone in separate crowds. We didn't know how to live without each other--even though that was what we needed to do (and only one of us knew that). We were bereft on the most abundant holiday of the year. That's bitterly depressing, but we moved on; and that's not when the Grinch stole my Christmas.

Back further. I remember when I was still married, the holidays were something to survive. I was in a volatile marriage and made every effort to put on the happy face of one who is fulfilled, safe and secure when we went to visit family. Instead of enjoying my loved ones, I deceived them. I couldn't wait to get home and stop pretending. Oh, and I felt like a fraud.

Further still. I remember calling my aunt from a pay phone in a really bad section of Rodgers Park in the 80s to say Merry Christmas. I was cold, hungry, scared, sad and sick. I was maybe 16. I hadn't been home in years. I missed my aunt and my grandma. I stayed away from my old neighborhood because I was afraid I'd get scooped up by authorities and sent to foster care. My aunt could barely hear me because my voice was almost gone, so we didn't talk for very long, but I did eek out the most clandestinely desperate 'Merry Christmas.' Then I walked back to the shithole where I was staying for the time being. There was no mention of Christmas. It was just another day there. We passed the bottle and forgot that we were forgotten.

Before that, I...ah. I see it now. Before that I was a very young girl. I loved the smell of the cedar incense cones that hid in those tiny log cabin burners. I loved the way the outdoor lights illuminated the 'portholes' they made by melting circles in the snow that covered the trees they were nestled in. I was warmed from within by the glow of the multicolored lights my step mom wove into the silver garland that lined every window in the house.  I thought all-blue lights on a tree with just the right amount of glass ornaments and tinsel engendered magic. I knew there was no Santa, but I believed in him anyway.

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? It was. Until it was rendered absurd and meaningless by someone's violent, irrational whim. And it always was. Year after year. I started to 'know better' than to get caught up in the Christmas fantasy. It felt utterly foolish. It was a waste of time and energy. Better to focus on how to navigate the minefields and negotiate with the terrorists. That or just leave and go somewhere where there is no Christmas. See how that works?

I have pulled it together and ostensibly done all the Christmas things (buy a tree, hang lights, make cookies, wear an ugly sweater, etc.) most years--for my son's sake, but I can only barely remember the last time I felt it on the inside. I really wanted to yesterday (I don't know why), but I just couldn't and it made me kind of sad. I don't think I'm sad about it anymore--just a little curious still maybe. Okay, maybe there's some longing. Maybe. Happy holidays, y'all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Enough

'Enough' has been a daily struggle for me since I took my first breath. 'Enough' was something I never had when I was small.

Enough love.

Enough food.

Enough safety.

Enough shelter.

In my adolescence, 'enough' eluded me too.

Thin enough.

Pretty enough.

Numb enough.

Careful enough.

Grown-up me still feels around in the dark for it.

Strong enough.

Smart enough.

Brave enough.

Good enough.

I remember in grade school thinking about good enough in terms of my work. I concluded that 100% on an assignment was good enough, until I saw that a few other kids sometimes got that too. I kept pushing outward, trying to locate my edges. Where should I stop? What would be good enough? I ended up here: Better than everyone else. Yep, I decided that my school work wasn't good enough until it was better than everyone else's. That's how I knew I could stop. That's how I knew I had done enough. I have held myself to this standard in every aspect of my life ever since. I turn out a lot of great work, but it is fucking exhausting sometimes.

Today I ducked out of work on time because I decided that if I was going to work 7 long days a week for the next 8 weeks, I absolutely had to have one thing that was mine and only for me. That would be yoga. I am not right without regular yoga practice. I get all out of balance. I let go of my center and run off on a futile search for edges that don't seem to exist.

Tonight I had a teacher I'd never worked with before. She was young, bright and pretty; and fairly new to teaching--not the seasoned teacher I am used to studying with. I had gone in wanting to dig deep, to unearth, to expel. I wanted to lighten my load by jettisoning things which weren't serving me. She wanted to play. I had just left an environment that was as far from playful as could be--I still had my game face on.

I tried really hard to play with her. She was so sweet and so beautiful and so passionate, I wanted to indulge her. But I couldn't. The best I could muster up for the 90 minutes was mindfulness and non-judgmental self-awareness. In retrospect, I will say that this was in fact, good enough.

Anyway, through the whole practice, I got after myself for not being able to let go of my day and just play. By the end, I had negotiated a truce with myself and had worked pretty far toward accepting the fact that sometimes I can't turn off 'Serious Carla' mode, and that needs to be okay.

At the end of practice, as I lay in Savasana, covered in blankets, our teacher began chanting a prayer in Sanskrit.  Her voice was absolutely beautiful. Possibly the most beautiful voice I've heard live, in my presence. 'Enough' crept up and tapped me on the shoulder. I have been sick and haven't been singing. My voice is weak and breathy now. I started comparing it to hers. Even if I had been healthy, her voice would still be more beautiful. I wasn't the best, so I wasn't enough. Again.

"You don't need to be the best anything right now, you only need to be. And you should let yourself enjoy the gorgeous sounds you're hearing now too, while you're at it." That's what I said to myself just then. I surprised even me. What a relief to be let off the hook for a moment--by my most exacting customer, no less. I had lightened my load not by actively purging something, but by passively allowing something.

I'm not naive enough to think that in 90 minutes I've conquered my need to exceed every standard that measures me, but it sure was nice to take a little vacation from over-achieving. It was nice to visit 'enough' for a while too. Namaste.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Loved My Body Just A Minute Ago

My how times have changed by peppergrasss
My how times have changed, a photo by peppergrasss on Flickr.
This morning while I was walking my dog, I noticed a female runner coming down the street toward us. She was about 30 years old, and one of those stick-thin runners. I am one of those curvy, athletic-build runners. This will be important later in the story.

I noticed her for a few reasons. One, it was early--still dark--and my neighborhood isn't the safest place for ladies to run alone during off-peak hours. Two, it was cold and I hate running in the cold, so I was impressed by her indefatigable enthusiasm for our shared sport. Three, I've been too sick to run for two weeks and I'm finally feeling better, so I got a little excited when I saw her (not *that* kind of excited), because I thought about running tonight myself, since I am feeling much better.

So, I'm standing there while my dog pees, thinking about where I'll run tonight, when she whizzes past us and sneers in a bitchy Mean Girls voice, "How many marathons could *YOU* run?".

HUH??? REALLY???

She couldn't have been addressing me. Surely she was addressing my dog--he's a little thick and he gets tired after about two miles. Yes, that's it! No, that's not it! She wasn't talking to my dog, that's just silly. She was talking to me. Ouch. And what the fuck? And why? Why would a complete stranger feel compelled to say something that would send me on a vicious warpath toward my own body? This is the last thing I need at 6:00 on a Wednesday morning...or EVER.

I began to justify my existence as a runner (and a worthwhile human being). I thought about how girls with a little meat on them fare better at endurance sports than the skin-and-bones girls do (it's true--especially ultramarathons).

I started looking at my reflection in the windows of every doorway I passed. Did I look super fat today? Maybe this puffy jacket I just bought was doing bad things for my silhouette. Or maybe this nasty wisp of a girl can go fuck herself. Yeah. That's it. She can go fuck herself. Whatever, man...

As I walked back to my apartment, I tried to shrug the experience off and I realized I was more upset at myself for letting her get to me than I was at her for trying. Then I did this fun little thing I do when someone is a jerk to me--I whipped out Hanlon's Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

So I decided that the girl just didn't know. Whether I'm right or wrong, I'll never find out and my world is much happier when I think she was just stupid. So, nice girl that I am, I silently answered her question: Two. I've completed two marathons so far and I'm going to keep running them until I lose count.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Party Time

.: Intrigue :. by Stampest
.: Intrigue :., a photo by Stampest on Flickr.
Today my friend Chrisa is having a party--the first of the cold weather season. I am appropriately dressed in a red, sparkly turtleneck, hair up and no makeup, save for sheer nude gloss and a dramatic sweep of liquid eyeliner.

Chrisa and I hung out in her room getting ready while her husband ran out to get the ice we forgot. I borrowed her brush, her curling iron, a spritz of hair spray and a pair of giant faux diamond earrings, and finished dolling myself up while she got dressed and ready (shhh--she is wearing her leopard print bra and it's gorgeous). I had just as much fun getting ready tonight as I did when I was 12, sitting on my best friend Elizabeth's sink, getting ready to sneak off to a dance with high school boys.

We're not sneaking off to a dance, just heading downstairs to a house full of friends and whining dogs (okay, only mine is whining). I'm just feeling lucky to have such good friends tonight is all. It's party time! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Friday, November 11, 2011

'L' Is For...

My boyfriend (this phrase is still very new for me) recently told me that he digs leopard print underthings. Today while I was out running errands, a leopard print bra caught my eye. I hadn't fitted myself for a bra in quite a while, so I had to try on 6 different sizes in order to figure out what size I now wear (38DD if anyone's wondering--not bad, eh?).

While I was going back and forth in and out of the fitting room, a few other items caught my eye. My boyfriend also told me that he likes black and white prints, so yeah, I got an adorable black and white polka-dot bra to go with these amazing black and white polka-dot 5" heels I bought the other day to wear for him. Of course, I got a drawer full of panties to match each as well. I spent more on underwear today than I have in the past three years.

With each trip to and from the fitting room, I saw something else I thought he would like. It dawned on me that I hadn't given a rat's ass about who liked what--or whether my underwear was hot--in years. Years. The cotton Hello Kitty bikini briefs I bought in the Juniors' section had sufficed nicely until now. My vintage Sex Pistols shirt--see-through and full of holes; held together by a single molecule--was my go-to on Saturday mornings. Sundays were made for yoga pants.

Right there in the fitting room, I became aware of an external influence on what I was choosing to wear. In previous incarnations of Carla, I let a man tell me what to wear. A jealous, fearful and controlling man. I dressed to assure him. I dressed to conceal my attractive nature, so as not to make him feel threatened. I was stifled as a person. I ceased to exist and no one noticed--not even me for a while.

I sat there in the leopard bra examining my bust line, my behavior and my motivation...and then my bust line again (I looked REALLY good, if I may say so myself). I threw my guard up for a moment. Was I letting someone tell me what to wear? Mmmm...no. Was I relying on someone else to make me feel beautiful? No--but! Would I have been in a store with a basket full of leopard print bras if it weren't for him? Definitely not. Ah HA! Ah ha what? What was happening here?

I thought about it for a little while longer. It dawned on me that there are some things that happen in the context of a healthy and intimate romantic relationship that don't happen anywhere else in life. Things like a fella says he likes bras of a certain print and a gal goes out and finds them because she likes to see him happy and has fun with him when he's turned on. In the process, she feels a little extra sexy. And there isn't anything wrong with this. This is some of the sweet stuff of life.

'L' is for lots of things. 'L' is for 'leopard'. 'L' is for 'lust'. 'L' is for 'love'.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Benched

Bench by griangrafanna
Bench, a photo by griangrafanna on Flickr.
I have been benched. I was ready to work from home today, but my boss told me to rest until Monday. Oddly enough, this is what my doctor said too.

I went to the doctor yesterday and she put me on steroids and some ass-kicking antibiotics. The steroids go to work right away and make me feel like I am a lot better than I am. I know my boss is right, but it is still so hard for me to rest knowing that my whole team is working harder because I am not there. More than one person has messaged me to say that they really miss me. Ugh.

I have been sitting here, alternately dozing and wrestling with myself all morning. Why can't I just get up and work? My grandmother could do it. NOTHING stopped her. I remember a story about a time when all four of her kids were sick. She took them to the doctor and all four had Strep throat. On her way out, the doctor asked to examine her as well. He said she had it too and needed to rest. She thanked him very much and went home and took care of her family just like she always did.

There are countless stories like that about her. She could go on no matter what. So, no wonder I feel like an inferior loser when I have to stay in bed for three days to kick asthmatic bronchitis. I'm just laying here, fretting over not being with my team. I am really tired and would like to take a nap. I'm thinking maybe a mind dump would help. Sorry to dump my mind on you, dear readers, but I think this is the only way I am going to get to sleep. These are the reasons I am uptight about turning my work self off and resting:

1. I am going to have a procedure later this year to remove uterine fibroids. This will keep me out of work for one day and working from home/bed for two weeks. Knowing that this is coming already (and not being comfortable with it) is making me feel like I can't get sick and miss any other time.

2. My team is already taxed. I feel very bad about them having to add my work to their plates.

3. There are exciting new things going on and I am missing them.

4. I genuinely like and miss my team.

5. There are some things that won't get done as well if I don't do them (hello control freak).

6. Speaking of control freak, I don't like having down time forced upon me. I like to take it when I choose to.

7. I am bored (even if I am too sick to do anything).

8. I am lonely.

Oh, and I am whiny apparently. So yeah, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. I still don't feel better about being sick. And I bet this blog post sucks. It's boring, whiny and written by someone who is on some very strong cough medicine. I will check for grammar errors later. Meanwhile, I'll nap with any luck.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Where *Does* The Time Go?

TimeFlies by Redgum
TimeFlies, a photo by Redgum on Flickr.
My son needed my help with a homework assignment for his lifespan development class this week. He needed me to provide ten 'Snapple Facts' about him from birth to age five, and ten more from age ten to age twenty. I guess the professor doesn't care how awesome he was from age 5 to age 10. Let me state for the record that he was awesome. Really fucking awesome.

I'm feeling extra mom-ish this evening (and for those of you who don't know me, that means I have grown a second uterus and now have twice the estrogen coursing through my body), so I decided to share his 'Snapple Facts' with the world. These are definitely not the best stories about him growing up--I felt like I had to sanitize them a bit for his class because I didn't want to embarrass him too much--but they are pretty awesome nonetheless...and I know, I am now four blog posts behind. I'll get right on those...


0-5
  1. Only 10% of babies are born on their due dates. Flint was born on his due date, September 9, 1991.
  2. Flint's first word was 'hungry,' first spoken (barely intelligibly—sounded more like 'nnnnngeeeeee') at 4 months, and later very clearly at 9 months. Other early words include 'moon' and 'airplane'.
  3. Flint had his first surgery at 6 months of age—a set of ear tubes. By age 5 he had had 3 surgeries to insert 3 sets of ear tubes. He also had his tonsils and adenoids removed at age 3.
  4. Flint was speaking in complete sentences and conversant at the age of 1.
  5. At the tender age of 1, while sitting in his car seat in the back of his parents' station wagon, Flint began to sing Radiohead's 'Creep'. Actually, he sang 'Cweep.' *ADORABLE*
  6. At the age of 2, Flint displayed an understanding of the mathematical principle of subtraction while playing with Busy Bears with his mom. She took three yellow bears away, and quick as a snap, he said, “Now there are only two yellow ones, Mommy.”
  7. Flint essentially toilet trained himself. He saw Pull-Ups at Target on a shopping trip with his mom and said he wanted them. She said those were only for kids who went to the bathroom on the toilet. He said he could do that. She bought them for him and he did. Easy Peasy (see what I did there?).
  8. At age 3, Flint was the ring bearer at his parents' wedding and cut quite a mean rug with all the ladies at the reception.
  9. During his preschool years, Flint used to hide his mother's keys, every morning, in his toy box, in the hopes that they would just stay at home and play instead of both going to school.
  10. When Flint was 4, he had a crush on a girl at summer day camp—Nicole. When asked what he liked so much about Nicole, he replied with a sigh, “She has the most beautiful forehead.”
10-20
  1. At age 10, Flint could beat ANYONE at Mancala. Anyone.
  2. Flint had a red mohawk at age 12.
  3. When Flint was 12, he took walks through the forest preserve with his mom on the weekends—the longest walk was 16 miles.
  4. In 5th and 6th grade, Flint and his friends did their own weekly version of Mad TV/SNL.
  5. Flint played basketball, baseball and football, until age 12, when he discovered lacrosse. He has played lacrosse ever since.
  6. Flint was struck by lightning at age 13 while sitting on a chair near a window in his bedroom. His mother was totally freaked out.
  7. Flint was a starter on the high school varsity lacrosse team freshman year, lettered in high school lacrosse sophomore year, made high school lacrosse All Conference Junior and Senior year and was Captain of the high school lacrosse team Senior year.
  8. Flint crossed the finish line of the 2011 Chicago Marathon with his mother, after meeting her at miles  14, 17 and 19.
  9. Flint volunteered in a soup kitchen from age 12-19 completely of his own volition, without any prompting from his mom.
  10. Flint made the Dean's List both semesters of Freshman year of college.
See? Isn't he awesome? *sigh* I just love that kid...

Monday, November 7, 2011

OkCupid Profile: Deleted

love_ by supercoco__
love_, a photo by supercoco__ on Flickr.

I'm bad. I missed blogging yesterday. I now have three makeup posts to write in November. Can I mitigate your disappointment and stop your wagging finger, oh beautiful blogosphere, if I sway you with a fantastic excuse? Can I at least try?

Okay, good. So, I recently started dating again. I had stopped for a little while--okay three years, for several very good reasons. Maybe I'll tell you about some of them in those three make-up posts I have hanging over my head. Anyway, so I started dating again. And in the process I met someone special. He was also new to dating, just in a different way, so we both wanted to date other people for a while. We had mutually agreed to wait until after the holidays to discuss anything serious because my job is extra demanding during the holidays and that seemed a good amount of time for us to date around and make sure we both *knew*.

Recently I noticed that when I went on a date with someone who wasn't him, it seemed unnatural. I missed him. I compared my date to him. He always bested my date, hands down. Still I didn't want to say anything or push him to do something he wasn't really ready to do because I respect him and his need to experience the human phenomena of dating, and I know how to be happy even when I don't get everything I want all the time. I can be comfortable with uncertainty (thank you, Pema Chodron).

The person I love more than anything in the whole world lives in a dorm 350 miles away, and my heart breaks a little every day I don't see him. I know how to live happily for long periods of time without seeing someone I very much want to be with. Especially if it is what's best for him. It's best for my son to be away at school. Likewise, I thought it might be best for this fella I'm seeing to continue dating other people and enjoy that experience.

He had brought up the subject of exclusivity a few times and each time, I told him I preferred to wait until he was ready. I don't want him just to have him. I don't want to be with him just because we're afraid of the uncertainty. I want to be with him because that is what we both want more than we want anything else. Over the weekend, we discovered the latter is the case. So you see, I was busy falling in love, and I didn't want to stop to write or do anything else.

We are a couple now. We both cancelled our remaining dates and deleted our OkCupid profiles. And now I move forward on my path with someone special next to me for as long as it is meant to last.

Sure, I'm nervous. Being single for three years guaranteed no one would break my heart. No one would leave. No one would lie. No one would unlove me. No one would ruin everything (and I mean everything). No one would hurt me. I wouldn't have to make a choice. I wouldn't have to be wrong. 

There was so much safety in being alone, but it was...well, lonely, and I decided it was time for that to end this year. I decided that though I didn't need anyone, I could still want someone.  I could still share the beauty in my life with someone. I could still let someone share his life with me. And I just did. 

I can't remember a time I felt this vulnerable. I'm a stronger person than I used to be, so I feel brave enough to lay myself more bare than I've ever been. It's as scary as anything you could imagine, handing your heart to someone. You kind of need that to live. But it's also ballsy and deliriously exciting--like streaking or skinny dipping. And I'm a lot smarter about who I give my heart to (and where I skinny dip) these days. All I can do is promise my best, hope for the same in return and enjoy every moment of us.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blogging Naked

Nude 1 by amycgx
Nude 1, a photo by amycgx on Flickr.

I mentioned the other day that one of the things I agonized about before returning to the blogosphere was how much to share. I'm a very visible person professionally and socially and I'm not sure where to draw the line between enough and too much. I am not so concerned about my personal visibility--I know that everybody is 'weird' if you get to know them well enough. I'm cool with my weirdness and I know that anyone who takes exception to my weirdness is just throwing stones in a glass house. 

I think I'm more concerned about my professional image. How are people going to respect my judgement in situations with far-reaching consequences if they know that I once...you know! *sigh* You know? I also, for some reason, brace against showing any signs of being human in the workplace. I cannot be vulnerable there. That is my livelihood. That's what pays my rent and feeds my face. That's what keeps my son in a dorm at a university. These are my first priorities. Hello, Maslow's Need Hierarchy

BUT--and there's always a but (and a butt...heh heh), I HATE censoring myself. One of the reasons my last blog fizzled is that I started feeling things that I was fine sharing with the world at large, but didn't want to share with people I would see all suited up Monday morning around a conference table. This issue has been the most paralytic for me.

Could people trust me professionally if they knew that I sometimes doubted myself? That I have never been in a relationship with a sane, stable man? That I've failed people I love. That I bleed when I'm cut? Well, I guess I'm fucked, because they do now! Kidding...sort of.

As I wrestled with this issue, I thought about the bloggers I know and love, and how and how much they shared. 

1. The Doctor Will See You Now: Chrisa Hickey blogs about mental health issues, and concentrates specifically on child and adolescent mental health issues. She's an inadvertent expert. She is raising two mentally ill teens (and has another adult child too). She blogs naked, but not simply for the sake of blogging naked. Just as you can't get a complete physical without disrobing, a parent of a mentally ill child can't easily talk about mental health without getting personal some of the time. Her blog is both pragmatic and heart-breakingly beautiful

2. All Gussied Up: Alana exudes creativity and design, as is evident at first glance of her very awesome blog, Kitschy Kitten. Like the subtitle says, it'a a wonderful blog full of good things--her crafty projects, her adventures in her vintage camper and updates about her beautiful family. She stays fully clothed, and very stylishly dressed...well, sometimes she lets her spaghetti straps fall down. 

3. Aaaaand, ACTION!: Paige Worthy is not shy and frequently blogs naked. On occasion, she pulls off the literary equivalent of cinematic full frontal and it is stunning. But her nudity is never gratuitous, and is always tasteful and integral to the scene. I greatly admire the finesse she puts on her craft.

4. Naked As The Day She Was Born: @Lilnerdette is a naked blogging warrior woman. She's quietly confident that we're all beautiful--even when we're ugly. She doesn't hide. When I read her posts, I want to be as naked and brave as she is.

So, where do I fall on the blogging naked spectrum? I don't know. I'll have to keep feeling my way around...

Olive You Ladies

That was really bad, wasn't it? Sorry. But hey, I bet you thought I wasn't coming back! I know I promised a deep dive into the subject of sharing today, but I've had a long day, followed by a few martinis and I'm just not up for it tonight.

After a week of stressful fourteen-hour days, I crammed another fourteen hours of work into ten very intense hours today so I could leave work in time to celebrate National After Work Martini Day (I am pretty sure we made this up) with two very awesome ladies.

Alana drove me home from work and Chrisa met us at my apartment with booze and Thai food. We talked about work; we playfully debated the merits (or lack thereof) of a certain mutual acquaintance; and I caught the two married ladies up on the details of my dating life, as there are now details to catch up on (and a hilarious story or seven). I forgot dating can be hilarious.

Chrisa and Alana both re-imagined a vintage dressing table chair that I own and love, and Alana took it home to refinish it. Gypsy-Texican is what she's aiming for. All I know, and all I need to know, is that she's going to cover the seat in a fuchsia and turquoise fabric and there will be swirly, gold accents on the bone-white frame. I. Can't. Wait.

Man, I'm totally phoning this in. I know I'm going to read this in the morning and register for a remedial grammar class immediately following. Anyway, I have to work tomorrow in the morning, and in the evening I'll be...entertaining (both the verb and the adjective).

Until then...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Haven't I Been Blogging?

typewriter of capricorn by emdot
typewriter of capricorn, a photo by emdot on Flickr.
If you followed any of my old blogs, you have probably asked me that question. A few times. Some of you even reached out via email to see if something had happened. Well, a bunch of things happened, both internally and externally, that brought my blogging to a screeching halt. For some reason, before I start blogging again (that's what I'm doing here), I feel compelled to excuse my absence, so here goes:

1. My job is very demanding and more often than not it takes over my life--or at least a large portion of it. I work about 60 hours a week during our down time and 80 hours a week October through December. I'm often exhausted and I don't feel like I can string five words together at the end of a day. Hell, tonight I ate baby carrots for dinner because I was too tired for anything else. I know what you're thinking: Work-life balance. I'd love some, thanks! Right now I'm putting my son through college by myself, and the pressure to make sure the bills get paid is immense. This is not to say that I couldn't make enough money to pay the piper without working myself into the ground, but presently, this job is the job I have and for that I love it (parenthetical shout out to my grandmother for telling me about the Great Depression every day when I was small--I appreciate EVERYTHING I have because of her).

2. My son went away to school last fall and I got really depressed. I was blogging about becoming an empty nester for a while. My intention was to put on a brave face and write about all the fun things a person can do once she is finished raising children. The cheery posts became more and more of a chore, and as the summer faded into winter, I gave in to some fierce blues. Some weekends I didn't get out of bed; some weekdays it was a monumental effort to get up and get dressed, much less be smart, strong and successful. I was on the verge of tears all day, every day  (except when he came home for holidays) for 9 months until he came back. I stopped being so cheery when I posted to my empty nest blog. My boss joked, "Every post ends with you drinking wine in your underwear and listening to Le Tigre." She was right. I couldn't imagine why anyone would voluntarily submit themselves to reading about my extended emo vacation. I was wrong. Still it didn't matter, I was too sad to do anything I enjoyed. Or dust my furniture.

Summer flew by and he was gone again. I thought it would be easier this time, but it wasn't. The first two weeks were almost unbearable. I couldn't find my edges. I spent too much time working or alone. I was frequently tangled in a skein of existential crises. When I wasn't fighting my way through those, I was berating myself for every parental misstep. I felt I was unforgivable. It was awful. I tried every day to be happy, but my existence was dismal and no one knew. I finally 'fessed up to two friends about how bad I was feeling--because I was feeling scary bad, and that's when I started feeling better. They both came through for me in a big way. There were countless phone calls and house visits (there still are, only this time, they're much more joyous). At first it felt weird to be THAT SAD around anyone except myself--to be an open wound, defenseless and inert. Neither of them flinched; neither of them left. We watched movies and ate junk food; we went out to Sabatino's and drank too much wine; we went on mid-day coffee runs. None of these practices have ceased either--they are valued and cherished traditions now.

3. I am a perfectionist. For months now, I have deliberated endlessly on things such as: design, SEO, and topical focus. I'm not wild about the design of this blog, but I had to stop myself at good enough.

Is the font clean and readable?  Color scheme easy on the eyes? Yes and yes. OKAY! Good enough!

Do you really give a shit if lots of people read this? NO, NOT REALLY! Perfect. Good enough!

Do you really want to be fenced in by a topic? HELL NO!!! Oh, sweet freedom! Good enough!

*the needle screeches across the record*

But...How much to share? I've been agonizing over that too. And I'll share my angst-ridden thoughts on that with you sexy people tomorrow--I'm beat and I'm going to bed.