The Cat Doesn’t Care It’s Your Birthday

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You know, no matter what importance you want to put on it, the truth is outside of your mother, your birthday isn’t that  big of a deal. Sure we can make it a big deal, parties and the perfect gifts, but the reality is, it’s just another day with your tiny little whisper of a stamp on it.

If you’re lucky enough to share your abode with a fine feline, you’ll soon find The Cat doesn’t ever care that it’s your birthday.

The Cat has better things to consider. Like when you’re going to wave the stick thing with the feather on it at her again, so she can pretend it’s a giant eagle and she is Sheba, Queen of the Jungle, quietly stalking it through the fields of tissue paper.

Or when she can sit on your chest and give you opportunity to adore her tiny little kitty asshole. Lucky human.

I woke up early that day. Not because it was my birthday and I was excited. Moreso because I have plans stacking up, one on top of another starting with the birthday and continuing for a few days. That causes this mix of lovely excitement and horrible smattering of anxiety that limits sleep time. Excitement over the obvious; people I love to spend time with. A drip of anxiety over the small details I need to remember, and the preparation for the zero down time I’m going to have for a few days.

But back to the cat – I slipped off my new black silk sleep mask that I’m still not completely accustomed to and looked over at the furry grey partner of mine who takes up much more room than a non-paying roommate ever should. A good 40% of the bed space is used up by her lying horizontally next to me; or as she prefers to say, “Lying however the f*ck I want…”.

It dawned on me what day it was, so I turned over and whispered, “Guess, what? It’s my birthday.” and sort of giggled a conspiratorial giggle. She gave me the equivalent of an eye roll and went back to sleep.

Sometimes I think there is nothing more humbling than owning a cat. Mine specifically. She is a reminder of the real world.

I got out of the shower, and exclaimed in a slightly louder voice, “Hey! You! It’s my birthday” — she stopped licking her kitty vajayjay for a nano second, as if to ponder the prominence, before she realized it weighed of no importance to her immediate world, and she went right back to her grooming.

I contemplated what to wear, keeping in mind comfortable shoes for the walk through The District to meet the Wee One for drinks. I noticed it’s always a little surreal to have your birthday when you live alone. You aren’t going to be surprised by gifts in the dining area like I did for my kids for their entire lives. You aren’t going to be brought a hot cup of java that is called Birthday Coffee, even though it’s the same coffee you drink every other day that’s not your birthday. And the only living being outside of yourself sharing these same walls, doesn’t care.

I was glad I got a lot of household stuff done the night before since I won’t have a free moment to myself til probably Sunday night. I perused the house as I grabbed the keys, and recalled that I didn’t check The Cat’s food and water. After I fed her and got ready to walk out the door, I decided to give it one more shot, “Yup, work. On my BIRTHDAY, can you believe it?” and I swear she blinked back in response, “Are we still discussing this non-important event? That’s important why?….”

With a sigh, I grabbed my things and left.

It’s just another day.

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But What Does the H. Stand For?

Bible

I have a cousin I was once very close with. She and I drifted a few years back, and our story is a topic for another time, but the fascinating thing about her, has been her deep dalliances in religion over the years. They seemingly come out of the blue, although I’m betting it goes deeper than that. She wasn’t raised attending a church of any kind to my knowledge, although she might have done the tag-along church services as a child.

I think a lot of us who weren’t raised with roots in any one church, did this. On my own  tag-along process, I can say that I’ve attended dozens of services of religions all over the spectrum as a kid. It works like this: Your kid and I are friends and she is Christian Science? What the heck, I can be for a day too. I head off to services with her, and either it sticks, or it doesn’t. I suspect mostly, it doesn’t. My mom’s thought on it was as long as I was going somewhere where good behavior was expected and they weren’t teaching me anything cult like, she was good with it. Unless it was Mormon*. I brought home, The Book of Mormon one day, a school friend had gifted me with it, and by my mother’s reaction, you’d have thought it was the Original Book of Satanic Rites. My mom had deep seated issues with the Mormon’s having grown up in a few small towns in Utah as a Presbyterian, but I don’t think I really realized the scarring it did until then. Accepting Liberal be GONE occurred that day.

Anyway, back to the cousin. As an adult she really seemed to embrace religion. The first time was Seventh Day Adventist. That lasted about …. I’m going to say five or six years. She was heavy into it, but not with fervor or anything. She never got preachy with me. She’d just get up early on Saturday mornings and head out to church. She even looked for ones in my area when she came for visits. Then she went through a lull. A secular lull, where she didn’t follow any organized religion. I like to think of those as “The Fun Years”, because as she once noted to me, “Gina, Sin is fun.” That was probably for at least a decade or more, and then we lost contact for a couple of years. When we reconnected she was full blown religious once again. Made her Seventh Day days look like heathen’s play. I’ll be honest I was confused about the church she had joined. Services were Saturdays, but no, she wasn’t Jewish, or Seventh Day. She did relate heavily to Jewish practices and their holy days, but she was still a follower of Christ. So when people asked I told them she was sort of a Jews-for-Jesus kinda gal.

Myself? Even with all those tag-alongs as a kid, nothing really stuck. I was baptized and “raised” Presbyterian. I say raised, because my mom wasn’t a devout church attendee. She used descriptors like, “Jesus H. Christ” when she was angry. “God Damn it’s!” flew through our house on a regular basis. But she did take offense when as children we would say, “Oh God!” and she would correct us. I think she had to start popping us in the mouth, because those “Oh God’s” simply wouldn’t stop flying out of our mouths. Especially mine. The biggest fear that one of these gems would come flying out of our mouth’s when time came for the grandparents to visit. We never said prayers, or used the religious holidays for anything outside of the joyous kid loving days they were to us. To say she wasn’t a practicing Christian would be a wide fact. In fact I don’t ever recall her stepping foot into a service. Ultimately, she raised us to believe in God, and respect the rights of others and their choice of religion (except sadly, the Mormons).

When I was little, I went to the corner Baptist Church, within walking distance of our apartment in Hollywood. There I attended children’s Sunday School services, devoutly. I learned through felt-on-felt boards (does anyone remember those?) how Jesus loved ALL the little children. ALL of them. Red & Yellow, Black & White, they are precious in his sight …. At the end of these classes I handed over my dime for the donation basket and in return I got my watered down warmish kool-aide in a Dixie cup, along with a graham cracker or vanilla wafer.

I loved my time at Sunday School, even though the details are mostly a blur. I don’t remember the teachers, or even anyone else who might have attended that church with me. I remember putting on my school clothes, and school shoes, and being given my dime for donations, and walking the ¼ block.  I liked the stories and how the felt boards brought them to life. I completely bought into them, as children are wont to do.  Noah’s Ark. Baby Moses. Sampson and Delilah. But I really, really loved Jesus. He quietly offered me this sense of safety. Like someone warm and good and kind was always watching over me. For an overly fearful child, this is a HUGE comfort.  I would draw pictures of him off and on for years. On the cross. Close-ups of his face, head hanging, wreath of thorns on his head. The fact no one spoke of his childhood baffled me, so I created pictures of him as a child. I don’t know what my mother ever thought of this religious artistic phase I went through, or if she even wondered anything at all.

When I asked my mother once what religion we were, she told me Presbyterian, but that any church under the Protestant religion would suffice. So Lutheran’s, Protestant’s, Methodist’s and Baptist’s all sort of seemed like my Jesus-Cousins. It’s also why it was completely natural for me to attend a Baptist church. To this day, even though I don’t attend any type of church, I always feel a little child-like kinship with those under this “umbrella”. Like we’re supposed to give each other the little silent gangsta nod, the all-knowing secret Jesus handshake, that only us Cuz’s know.

Here is a weird little side note though; I don’t recall my little brother ever attending with me, and he doesn’t remember attending himself. The weirder thing, is I don’t recall that my brother was ever even baptized. I mean I have my baptism certificate. I most certainly don’t recall the event, as I was a less than a year old, but I remembered seeing that certificate, and learning that it meant it was sort of my ticket into Heaven.

Year later as an adult, my mother would make me a beautiful scrap book as a gift for Christmas a few years before she died. It held hospital records from my birth, and report cards, and one page, there it stood. The Baptism certificate, with all its holy scrolling, with my Grandfather and my Aunt’s signature there, as witness to the occasion. My Aunt was a mere 18 year old, and she still signs her name the same way. On the following page was a church program from a Mother’s Day event that same year. It took me a few go throughs in the book to realize I was actually baptized on Mother’s Day, 1965.

Maybe it was only my soul my mother wanted to save. I suspect it was more of one of those things where you do everything by the book for the first child, and by the time the second one comes around, you’re too tired. Too lazy. You mean to get around to it, but …. Anyway to my knowledge religion has never been a big deal for my brother in any form or manner. Is it the lack of holy water in his soul? Possible.  😉

As for me, I’ve dabbled. After we left Hollywood and the corner Baptist Church, my mom got real lazy about religious education. There was a beautiful Presbyterian Church close by in our new neighborhood in Redondo Beach, but not close enough to let your nine-year old walk alone to. So my only forays were the tag-alongs with other friends. Sometimes I would attend once, and other times I’d start up attending a few times in a row, almost looking like it was about to stick, only to have it sputter and fizzle out.

As much as I liked Sunday School, Church was another ballgame. It was scarier. You had to be more well-behaved. They didn’t welcome questions, nor those who questioned. It was stark, stern and frightening. Yeah from Day 1 I knew church and I were probably never going to be tight.

But things started back up when I was in middle school and became a Job’s Daughter. That was a big deal in my family. All the females (and we were the predominant gender in our small family) had at some time or another been a Jobbie. While Job’s doesn’t cater to any one religion, it’s no surprise it’s foundation is based on the Bible. I mean, after all, the name isn’t Jim’s Daughters. Like all of the other times, I took it super serious, until — one day I just didn’t.

That’s how religion has been for me for most of my life. I’ll visit it, sometimes I will immerse myself in it, and then – for a variety of reasons I will end up leaving it.

My last foray into it, I decided to take a bit more serious. I wasn’t doing this because of the guy I was seeing; that happened years prior, and while it was a good experience with the church, it was a bad experience with him as a whole. Nor was it because I was depressed and using religion as a cure-all; I had a friend who did this. To no one’s surprise it didn’t last. No I wanted to learn. Religion on a whole has always interested me, so I decided I was going to read the entire Bible.

I had a friend lend me a modern version of the Bible; one column had the King James based scripture, and then a modern day interpretation on the other. I’ll admit it made it for much easier reading, but just like when reading re-interpreted Shakespeare, something is lost. I tooled along, starting with the Old Testament, and making my way through quickly enough.

And then — I got uncomfortable. Unhappy. This book that was supposed to bring me peace and knowledge – it wasn’t. This God that I had been taught about, the benevolent old man, with the big white beard up in his throne in the sky – that’s not the God this Bible was teaching me about. This one was vengeful, and horrible in testing his followers. The ones who meant the most, seemed to go through the worst. He seemed to rule through fear.

IF religion was right, IF out of about 4200 religions that are in the world, this is the right one, it was terrifying.

I sat with the friend who had lent me this Bible (who let me tell you, surprised the hell out of me that her religious convictions ran so strong – she was almost the antithesis of what you expect from a “good little Christian”) who laughed when I explained how I didn’t think I liked this version of God I had been reading. She explained that I may have been taking things a little too literal, and as I completed the First Testament and got into the Second Testament, I would understand how God changed, and how in giving his only son — the Jesus part. That’s what I really wanted. I realized maybe it wasn’t knowledge I wanted as much as that connection with the Jesus that I knew as a child. I wanted to feel that childlike love.

Let’s just say that my passion for Christ (yes, I did a religion pun there) fizzled soon after, and I never made it through the entire book. So I am knowledgeable a bit in some areas, and completely ignorant in others. Fortunately I don’t think I’ll ever try out for Jeopardy, and that seems to be about the only place that lack of knowledge would truly hinder me.

Because as I see it, really it’s just a book.

This is where my philosophy on religion has pretty much cemented. I highlight the words my philosophy on purpose. Your mileage may vary. You might gain great solace, and comfort from the book. From the churches and the speakers. I don’t. I get the point behind it, but without intentionally insulting anyone, I view it completely different.

The happiness I had as a child from the teachings of Jesus, were based on the good. Anyone who has been taught, or practiced the Christian based faith knows that Jesus was kind. He believed in putting others first. Turning the other cheek. There wasn’t anger, or vengeance in his ways. There wasn’t ego, or small-mindedness. He put others first, and really, the Golden Rule sums it all, and I don’t need a 1200 page book to tell me:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Which brings me full circle back to my cousin. When my cousin became involved in her new church, she really removed herself from all things “Christian-like”. None of the holidays, which she said were actually pagan in nature. (Correct) She celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday, not Sunday (hence part of the reason I explain it to be something like Jews for Jesus), and the biggest; I noticed she didn’t call herself a Christian. I asked why, and she said the term meant to be “Christ Like” and in her teachings we may strive to be Christ like, but we can never expect to achieve it on Earth.

She read the Bible, at least a half dozen times. From back to front. This, from a non-book lover. Actually non-book lover is putting it to mildly. She HATES to read for pleasure. She never got what bibliophiles like myself get from it. But she studied the heck out of that book, and whenever I had a question, I could call her and if she couldn’t answer, she would look into it and come up with an answer.

I had to have some respect for her on that. She was my go-to person on anything remotely Biblical.

The biggest key of respect though? Was her ability to put aside her religious beliefs and do what she could to be Christ-like. She had flaws. We all do. But while many of us do nothing to try and change those flaws, she did. And for someone who follows religion to the closest she can to the teachings of her book, she was handed a doozy of a situation.

Her best friend was Gay.

I wondered soon after she announced her new followings, how this would affect their relationship. I needn’t have worried, because I immediately noticed she never stopped being his friend. Their friendship was as contentious and argumentative and loving and wonderful as it always had been. Being as Orthodox as she is, I marveled at how she managed that, because I knew how far from her world it was. I finally asked her about it, and she explained it simply. She didn’t have to agree with his choices, but it didn’t mean she didn’t have the capability to love the man.

That seems like the path of Christ-like to me. She never judged him. Or if she did, she did it quietly and to herself. She simply walked the walk that she was taught. She presented the best case Christian I could fathom, which is to place love before your righteous belief system.

Now of course I have a point to all of this. I am always very long-winded in getting to that.

One of my aversions to Church and church-goers is the general hypocrisy and judgement. It’s a huge aversion. It’s akin to the feeling you have in those “arrived naked at school” nightmares we all have had. I’ve attended, as stated above, a lot of churches over the years. I’ve yet to find one that didn’t feel exclusionary, and judgmental. I’ve done the Protestant umbrella, the Born-Again, the Non-Denominational, and every single one of them felt the same way. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh you need to try my church” and I have, and while I am with them, it did feel right, but once you’re alone, you are invisible to the people again. Or worst yet visible in the worst way.

Now, let’s take into account the history of the Bible per say. I have questions. Like I said earlier, too many questions. Some are silly child-like questions, like if Adam and Eve were the only ones on earth and they had two sons (Cain and Able) where did Cain and Able’s wives come from? (that question got me a stern warning in Sunday School once) Interpretations over the years, changes made on behalf of different churches ,  spins on things that suit different churches.

Let’s ice all that up with the historical and current power of the churches. Not just one. ALL of them. They build and destroy countries, and the people who follow along in the name of God, or Allah, or whatever name you use. Almost every war fought, had a religious undertone. Almost all powerful people were either fervent in their own religion, or were puppets to those who were.

But none of it, not one ounce of it followed the path of Christ.

So it confounds me. These people who fight, these people who exclude the unknown, these people who judge, are the same people who will stand and scream for doing things God’s way. We will kill doctors to save embryo’s. We will pour money into the coffers of the governments pockets, that won’t feed our homeless.

Our current administration, and many of their followers are using Romans 13 as an excuse on the immigration issue.

The same people who argue that we need to worry about our own kind before we start helping others, are the same ones I see posting “Type Amen if you agree” meme’s. The Bible Belters who stand fierce and strong are the first to  snarl at a small child being ripped from the arms of their mother, coming to this country desperate to escape poverty and violence of their homeland. The Administration who uses Roman’s 13, but ignores Matthew 25:31-46.

See as I see it, is many of these people, they all want to play the part of God in the Old Testament. They want to be the one swinging down the hammer of vengefulness and judgement. They want to be the scary one, but they forget that the true end of the story – at least how I see it, was the kindness that Christ that compelled to everyone.

I mean if we are going to tell the story, shouldn’t we tell the whole thing? Shouldn’t we stop the piece-mealing we are doing here. Grabbing the bits and parts that are relevant to the spin we want to place on something? I think when you open the Pandora’s Box of Religion, you better be able to dish as much as you spew.

I know, I know. Way to religious for some of you. Heck it’s too religious for me. But when in Rome, do as the Roman’s. I don’t pretend to be a good person, but I do strive for it. Most of the time I think I am reaching it, but I think we all have dick-ish qualities that seep out here and there. I know when I’m being less than what I should be, and not because God told me, or a Nun, or Minister, or Religious Person. It’s my heart. My conscious. I have a personal relationship with the God of my choosing. You’ll never knock the Christ out of me. It’s too ingrained and he is too much of a reverent part of my life to erase. While I can’t be certain where logic and fact blur the lines that intertwine with faith, there is little doubt I’ll ever follow an organized religion.

I have a few hot buttons, and hypocrisy is definitely one of them. We can’t have our leaders, who let’s be real here, were never religious before they took the current job (I think they call that pandering) use religion as a tool, if they aren’t going to use it all the way.

It is simply a way of taking what is important to someone (the Bible) and using it as a tool of submission. “Hey hey hey! I found this rule that says as Christians you need to follow my authority, or deal with the judgement that comes!” 45 might as well say.  But  wait, I have a question *raises hand frantically*

What about the separation of Church and State? If we are following Romans 13, isn’t that in direct contradiction to the powers of separation? Aren’t we also deposing the freedoms of religion and liberty? I mean we are supposing that the Christian way is the only way. No offense to my Christian brethren, but what about the voting Jews? And Hindu’s? And Muslims? I mean what IF I have a religion that states, I don’t know, that there are no such thing as borders. Does my religion trump your rights as an American?

No, you say? Then please for the love of whatever is holy to you, gives your religion the right to trump MY rights as an American? Why does your religion, your interpretation of the Bible, of Roman’s 13 give you the authority to imprison innocent children? Children whose parents are doing nothing more than seeking a better way of life, of political or personal asylum? For the record, coming here isn’t illegal. Attempting to stay here without the proper authorities is. So please, stop calling them all a bunch of illegals.

In a HUGE and overly worded, semi complicated nutshell;  you never know who Jesus is, so treat all as if they could be him. ALL. Including brown people crossing your border. With small children. This doesn’t mean open the borders and let all come and go freely. I’m not insane. But how about stopping the assumption that anyone who wants to be here is a criminal. How about we treat them as we would if Jesus H. Christ himself had come knocking on the door. That’s how *I* interpret the situation and Matthew 25.

And heck I know nothing.

*In an ironic way, my mother was nearly Mormon herself. Her mother was one. Her grandfather was an Elder in his church. Her older sister was raised Mormon for years. But for some reason, maybe it was a test of wills, or a compromise, or a change of heart, my grandfather won out with his Presbyterian ways, and the last two kids – my mother included – were baptized and raised Presbyterian. My grandmother eventually left the Mormon Church completely. Maybe she waited for her own father to pass, I don’t know the particular’s. I do know that I have a large family, through cousin’s (not the one mentioned here) and half-siblings that are Mormon now, so trust me when I say no ill intent was ever meant in any of my words here.

 Myself? I decided to break the chain of making your kid be whatever you were, for specifically this reason. I am only a hair away from having been raised Mormon, and while I am ingrained to respect the Presbyterian Church, it’s because my mother was, not because I found it on my own.

 Go out. Learn religion. Make an educated choice.

The One Where The Clown Uses the Eff Word A Lot

Juggling

Life can be so unpredictable for your average day circus clown. One moment you’re seeming so happy, smiling and being witty with all around you; juggling life in the form of bowling pins, or circus balls, or what-have-you — all with the greatest of style. Your family and friends are amazed at the ease of which one hand throws, as the other hand catches, over and over and over again. You make it look so fucking easy. Applause and accolades follow and the clown blushes and takes a bow.

The next moment you’ve tripped. Sometimes it’s on a small unseen pebble, and sometimes it’s on that huge boulder that you knew was there, but had hoped you could so deftly move around. The problem is you can’t move deftly with those huge fucking clown feet. You look up, and realize that those once so smoothly juggled items, are now moving in slow motion, flying through the air in various directions, most certain to break, or at the least become fairly damaged. You duck and cover, holding your large gloved clown hands over your head, hoping to protect yourself, as they fall precisely “CLUNK, THUNK, CLATTER” on your head one by one. Immediately your prettily painted smiling clown face is a mask of sadness and despair as you find yourself on the ground, a weeping hurting mass, both questioning and understanding at the same time, how this came to pass. Realizing that all the metaphors in the world’s largest fucking Big Top won’t cure what ails you.

I cannot Pollyanna myself out of this current mess. It left me crumpled and in silent tears yesterday, finally succumbing to the darkness of my bedroom, with even my cat finally finding disgust (as cats are wont to do) at the constant barrage of tears. Nightmares enveloped me, but those seemed better than the hulking realities that leered at me each time I opened my eyes. I remember this feeling; when the big break-up happened. When my mother died. When my son died. You wake up, and for a nano-second you forget that this THING has happened, and you take a half-sip of air, before reality comes crushing down on your chest. That’s how I felt yesterday.

It’s absolutely amazing how fast an angry dark cloud of depression can envelope you. I mean almost snap-your-fingers, lightning fast. Yesterday morning I was getting ready for work, all polka-dotted dressed up (no joke, I did happen to have on a black and white large polka dotted dress on) feeling a tad anxious but completely intact emotionally, and hours later I was a heaving weeping mess, that could barely dial my boss and explain I wouldn’t be in for the remainder of the day.

You know when they say, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, or any other comparison that describes the inability to just not be able to take shit anymore? I feel like I’ve reached that. I’ve felt this way before and bounced back rather quickly, so if I actually have or not, is too soon to say, but suffice to say it certainly feels that way.

The hardest part of depression for me is acceptance. Acceptance makes me feel weak. Like there is something wrong with me, so quite often depression quickly goes from sadness to anger. I muffle the fuck out of it. Shoving that five mile trail of clown scarves down it’s throat to shut it up. Shut it down. And it works. Until it doesn’t anymore.

Right now; this might be self-pity. It might be self-loathing. It might be fear. It might be menopause. But whatever it is, it’s real. I feel like the last five years have been this Circus of Self-Fucks that have me constantly teetering on the edge. I dealt with The Break-Up. I think, although I had some really rough times through it, I dealt with it decently. I didn’t run from it. I didn’t bury it underneath a new relationship. I didn’t wallow (too much, for too long). I think the worst part is I became either so frightened of a new relationship, or so lazy/secure in my current life, that I never really moved forward. But that not burying it under a new relationship? BIG move for me.

But after that? I didn’t do so well. I shopped a lot. A LOT. And when I didn’t shop, I traveled, which for me required more shopping. I basically found a new way to deal with the pain, without bringing another person into it. Some people shoot drugs? I shoot revolving charge cards. I laughed about the “retail therapy”, because every woman does this to a point. I just came late into the game, and only perused the manual.

Time passed, and then a blip of a health issue came into play. Nothing a pill and some small changes couldn’t handle. But no sooner did I deal with that, then Death came knocking on the door. Like Life was somehow challenging me. Like my reward for dodging the last crisis, was a bigger, badder ass crisis.

And you know what? I actually and stupidly said, “Fuck you Life, I can take your challenges.” And I did. And I shopped some more to reward my badass self for a job well done.

“I get it”, I tell Life. Death happens. Health issues happen. I really truly get it. I try and stay somber, but at the same time burying the grief. Burying the fear. The clown is pretty good at that. So I spend a little more money, travel a little more and tell everyone that everything is fine. F-I-N-E, fine!

So life lobs another health issue at me. Only this one comes with a huge price tag. Literally. It wipes me out financially.

Female Clown

You know that Murphy’s Law, that as soon as you seem to find your grounding, the rug gets pulled out from under you? Yeah that happened. I finally had a little cash stash. I had the ability to pay those bills that were piling up, but never past due. Because this Homey the Clown doesn’t play that way. I get off on the spreadsheets that have me paying my bills before they are due.

But this latest health ball thrown at me, makes me wobble a little. I feel like I’m just being added more balls into my juggling act. You can juggle three? Let’s make it four. You can do four? Let’s make it six.

Have I mentioned that managing my money has never been a strong suit of mine? I mean I can do it, but many many times I make left turns because I am holding the map of life upside down, and don’t see that it was a right turn that was necessary. It’s probably another reason I loved the spreadsheets so much. It gave me a sense of control over what normally feels the opposite.

All this time, as all this stuff goes on, I just wish sometimes I had another clown to tag in. A partner perhaps to take over the juggling, just for a minute while I go out back and sit and have a smoke. Catch my breath. Stop and take in my surroundings. Instead I keep smiling, and keep juggling, because the fucking show (of Life) must go on. And I get so tired. So very very tired.

I start to see this bigger issue coming at me down the road. I start to scramble and backtrack, but my big clown feet are tripping over each other. No sooner do I think I have a solution, a possible fix then life throws another bowling ball at me. “here, try juggling this!”, Life exclaims, and I bend to the pressure, but don’t drop the balls. These last two balls were again health related (Hello Diabetes!) and a really bad monetary decision.  It looked like a good one, but it ultimately left me fucked six different directions.

All the while I smile. I entertain friends. I stay committed to engagements I can, because honestly at this point the invitations are dwindling. I seem to cancel more events than I attend. Trips, parties, you name it. A small part of it was life. Work commitments. A larger part of it was money and sprinkled in between? Despair. Sometimes it hurts to smile so fucking much.

Depression is ugly. Especially on me. It’s this massive ball that fights itself. Anger with the actions that lead to it. Shame for those same actions, along with the shame on the depression itself. Self-pity that both wants and immediately abhors your attention to this. I think it’s the self-pity that is the strongest. It looks pitifully weak and demure, but it’s got this death grip that is amazingly strong. It will look up at you with this tear-filled eyes that reach out for help, but the moment you do, it will lash out angrily. Basically you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Leave me alone, and fuck you for not trying. For not being there. For not FIXING this!

My daughter emailed me this morning and asked if I had heard about Kate Spade. I hadn’t. I quickly typed her name into Google and read she had committed suicide. My heart broke, and I actually teared up. I don’t know a damned thing about Kate Spade, except that I love her bags. But that pain. Damn do I get it. I think God keeps people tethered to me, because I am such a fucking drama queen who lives SO in the moment, that one day —- well, let’s not even go there. I just know I love my people too much to hurt them with the permanence of suicide. But I get it Kate. I get those dark moments that sometimes feel like they won’t lift. I got it with Robin and Chris – I always get it.

This one is a scary one for me. It’s not worth my life. That’s not a worry. But it does leave me so sad. I write about it, because when I call it out, it lessens its power on me. My stronger self can look at this and go, okay, this is rough. But we’ve done rough. Hell we’ve chewed rough up and spit it back out again. My stronger self can try and rouse that dusty Pollyanna, that therapy told me to stop depending on years ago. I say fuck that, I need a Pollyanna right now. I need something that will convince me that things could be worse.

If I wasn’t so sad, I think I might break into hysterical laughter, and think to myself, “Oh my God, not AGAIN! HOW do you manage to step in every pile of shit that life has to offer, and seem surprised each time?!”  Instead I’ve made a couple of appointments. I’ve got a few hours to put a small speech together for my boss to see if I can explain without blubbering that I am going to need some time off here and there to take care of some business – therapy being one of them. That’s going to hurt. To verbalize it. To say it out loud without pithy entertaining ways that I so eloquently do here.

See? That there? That was a bit of levity in sarcasm. It shows you I’m not completely gone.

 

That’s a Pretty Big Matzah Ball

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This post isn’t so much about relationships as it is about love. You know, that thing that is on the tip of Cupid’s arrow. That gushy, heart pounding, mind-melting pheromone that initially makes you do crazy things. Or want to do crazy things. It’s that thing that eventually settles into something a little more manageable; more realistic. That thing we all hope will stay with us, with this partner that we have bestowed this feeling upon.

And it starts with three little words: I Love You.

It’s a statement that should be taken seriously. It’s a branding of sorts, that in many cases leads to a lifetime of commitments. The words I Am Hungry, don’t pack that same punch. Neither does You Are Funky. But say I Love You, and you’ll usually get one of two reactions; the return, or the run. In some cases, as you’ll see below, you get the awkward silence too.

I have told four men over my lifetime that I loved them. As in, the big I Love You.

The first was my first love; The High School Sweetheart – he was the first one I ever said the words out loud to, and the first one who said them out loud to me. Previously I had dated a boy who drew me a picture that said I Love You, but I don’t think that counted, and I remember being confused at how he could love me so quickly. I soon realized that “I Love You” to him was tantamount to “You should have sex with me”. Strangely it worked and I lost my virginity to him. Apparently, I’ve been a sucker for the written word since I was a kid.

But the boy from high school – that really was love. I loved him as intensely as teen love can. Fiery Romeo and Juliet love. Soul crushing love. He loved me back with the same intensity, which my soul lapped up like a starving dog. We were this team, that couldn’t get enough of one another. Then one day, maybe 18 months later, I woke up, and doubt had sprouted this tiny ugly weed in my soul. Maybe I didn’t love him as much today. And every day thereafter, that love ebbed further and further from me, as the weed sort of choked the love out of me. He didn’t do anything wrong, I just ended up outgrowing him as teenagers do. But my I Love You to him, was deep and sincere.

Another, I said the words because I think circumstances told me it must be love. I was having his baby after all. Isn’t that how the song went? “First comes Love, then comes Marriage, then comes Baby in a baby carriage?” We skipped step two, but of all the people in your life, shouldn’t you love the one you’re committed to raising a child with? But the ferocity with which we fought with, both when we were together and most certainly when we weren’t, shows there couldn’t have been love for one another there. Love isn’t cruel and cutting and all destroying. My memories of him all these years later, are so marred by the ugliness we showed one another, I can barely recall any of the good times. That’s definitely not love.

The one I regret with all my heart is mostly because I never meant it. I knew it then, and I know it now. I said it because I felt like I had to. Like he needed to hear it, and then it became habit. Like “Good Morning” or “Hello”. It was just a form of communication. The worst part was the first time I heard it from him, it made me sort of sick inside. I lay there with my back to him thinking, “Oh shit. No, no no no no NO. Can I just ignore this? What do I do?” I hesitated for a moment and he repeated himself, so I said “Thank you”.  He should have ran then. He should have known, but he held out, telling me that it was okay if I didn’t reciprocate immediately. I knew I wasn’t ready to hear it from him, and it felt confining; almost like a death sentence.

To be honest, unless I was absolutely 100% was certain of the reciprocated outcome, I cannot fathom why a person would say those three little words.

Jerry Seinfeld once told George Costanza that saying “I love you” without a return was a pretty big matzah ball hanging out there. After a while my Matzah Ball was just a reminder that he was waiting, so one day I said it in return.

Jerry I Love You

I convinced myself that maybe I did sort of love him. Or maybe one day I really would mean it.I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is.

The last one I told I love you to, I did in two different time frames; I was two different people when I said it to him; the first time a still screwed up teenager, albeit already an adult. The second time was decades later. I had my emotional shit together and he was kind of the mess. Both times I fell equally hard for him. Both times he eventually broke me. Both times I healed into stronger better versions of myself.

So half of the men I have muttered those words to, I shouldn’t have. 50%. Wow, that’s a pretty large percentage.  If I met a man who told me that half the women he ever said I love you too, he realized he didn’t mean it, I’d probably run for the hills.

Let’s complicate things further by adding in that, two other men I may have been in love with, never heard those words from me. I say I may have been in love with, because even today I’m not quite sure. I think one I loved for who I thought he was, and later I realized he wasn’t that person. I don’t think, — wait I KNOW, I couldn’t ever fall in love with who I know him to be today, but back then? Yeah it felt that way. Love can color your perception. The other one? That’s the one I question the most. I know that it was damn close at one point.  I was certainly walking that fine line of love with them. So six men; six major relationships, albeit it one in high school, so it doesn’t really count as an adult relationship. Nevertheless, one third of them got a true I Love You. One third got a false I Love You, and one third got nothing, when the feeling was probably maybe sorta there.

I think this sums up my love life perfectly. It’s a sometimes great and sometimes a really fucked up mess, and 100% due to the person running it. Me. Maybe now it’s a bit clearer why I have stayed single for so long.

Even though the above would suggest otherwise, I don’t usually throw the words around lightly. As shown by the two who never heard those words from me. Add to that the fact that, I’m a proud vixen, who would never utter those words to someone I didn’t think would reciprocate them. I’ve never expressed them first.

The truth is, as much as I am creature who loves to be in love, deep down, I’m really wary of it. I want to trust it. I want to pet it, and love on it, but a lot of the time, it scares the crap out of me. Half the time I’m afraid it’s going to bite me if I look it in the eye.

Today I view love differently. Which is why I think I can objectively look at those that I said I love you to, and know which ones were real and which ones were not. I think like everything in life, love changes as we get older. Love used to be something that was so passionate and fiery. It’s fire burned intensely, and for me, what burns hot and bright, generally burns out. Which means I equated short intense relationships closer to love than the ones that simmer quietly, keeping you warm without burning you.

I GET now, that love should be closer to that last statement. That you learn to keep love on simmer, keeping an eye on it, and making certain it doesn’t boil over, and worse yet burn off. I feel like I have the ingredients for love, I just don’t have the tools completely. Time has been my tool. I think my last relationship, the one I mourned for so long, and the one I know see so much more objectively for what it really was – I think that was pretty much as close as I’ve gotten for myself to perfecting what love is. I remember the feeling of sacrifice and compromise. Of having such joy in making him happy. And damnit, I know he was the same in return because he was so generous and giving in return. Remembering all that is also the reason that I shy from it so much. If I could get that close to perfect love, and still not have it work out – then am I meant to really have it?

I think I am.

The truth is, I miss having romantic love in my life. I juggle and weigh the pros and cons of having a relationship versus staying safely tucked away in my cocoon. I have done enough self-exploration to realize that all my self-bravado about being single; my Katherine Hepburn ways so to speak,  are more of a shield because it’s safer with just me and my cat. No judgement. No fear. No matzoh balls hanging out there.

But the want – it’s tugging a little stronger at the reins lately. I can’t say how, or when it will happen, but I suspect that I might have one more sincere, all giving I Love You left in me.

First Betrayal

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You know I have half a dozen beginning drafts of subjects to write on, but none of them really spur me on into finishing them. When that happens, I realize I’m writing more for the sake of writing, than to say something. My mother used to say I did that as a kid. Talked for the sake of talking, not because I had something to say. Then again, my mother was never one for childhood chatter.

Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts on my drive home. It’s a good distraction from the traffic (which to be fair, for Southern California I am damn lucky about the limited traffic I sit in, but I also pay for it. Literally; Toll roads) and is a breath of fresh air from the usual negative political conversation found on most talk radio or NPR. I love music, but sometimes it’s a tad jarring for me after a long day. Listening to a podcast is a bit more soothing and it completely takes my mind off of whatever buzz is going through my head at that moment.

I’ve finished a couple of series and am onto a new one that’s completely different than what I usually pick. For whatever odd reasons, my choices previously all have something to do with Crime. Old criminal cases, introspect to the criminal mind, and even podcasts from inside prisons. I’ve been a bit of an odd duck when it comes to serial killers and their thought processes. I love books about them, movies – hell maybe I was one in a previous life. It’s funny how every single bump in the night jolts me with spark of paranoid and imaginative fear, but I can read and listen about the killers themselves for hours.

This newer podcast though; it’s a beautiful story about a the pain the pain of a breakup of a marriage. Betrayal. Moving on. Being stuck. When I say beautiful, I mean as beautiful as looking at a sad painting that is meant to expose love on one side, and the dark underbelly of pain on the other side. The woman who does the podcast, also wrote it. You feel her love when she talks about meeting the husband, and you feel her pain when she talks about his betrayal to her. Throughout everything she says,  I relate so strong to all of it and each time I think this is what I should be writing about. Love and it’s sweet intricacies. Betrayal and the pain it brings. Everything in between.

That’s what this blog started off as. I titled it Single File Dating, as a truthful joke, that my relationships have been a single file of men and as soon as one rolls out, the next one rolls in.

Very early on, I realized that more often than not, it’s easier not to write about these glaring subjects, because too often they are a reminder of the past. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t look at my past as something that should be avoided, but when I started this blog, I think I was still coming out of a state of shock over the last relationship ending. Once the shock started to alleviate, I realized relationships were the last thing I wanted to write about, think about, or even be in.

Fast forward a few years. Shock has been gone for a long time. Healing has been done for a very long time. Yet I still don’t write, or talk about relationships, outside of friendships. Which I write A LOT about.

In the meantime though, this podcast has my mind running around like a puppy hyped up on garbage discovered coffee grounds. I’m excited and all over the place. The part I think I like the most, is that for the first time in a while, I feel a tad more on track with the theme of the blog, so here goes. It contradicts the notion that I can’t write about the past, because the past created the path to the future. In other words, there is a method to this madness.

Starting with betrayal seems odd, but it’s where my heart took me first. The word itself is strange. It has this flair of the dramatic. It conjures up images of dark medieval castle rooms where someone is about to be beheaded for their actions against the crown. But the reality is, handing trust over to someone and having them break that bond is simple betrayal. It can be in a friendship, a family, or as in this particular case a romantic relationship.

I think the first time it happens, it’s jarring. Like the first time you’re ever slapped across the face. It comes fast and hard and usually unexpected and it leaves you wide eyed, slack-jawed and in pain. I was 15 years old, which is amazingly old for never having experienced betrayal. Not in general but as a girl who had been boy crazy since the 6th grade, and had a boyfriend of sorts all of the time. I was trading in (and let’s be honest, being traded-in myself) for new and upcoming relationships for years. So, if you played Vegas odds, this should have happened much earlier than 15.  Don’t let heartbreak and betrayal confuse you. I had experienced the former before. Several times.  But I hadn’t felt the dagger that sticks in your back when you find out you’ve been lied to. Played. Deceived.

I was dating a boy named Dave. My off & on best friend had introduced us, and he and I immediately clicked upon meeting. Heavy mutual attraction, and just this sweetness between the two of us from the get-go. He was absolutely beautiful to me. Thick blonde wavy hair that ran a little past his shoulders, tanned and with these grey-green eyes that when added all together gave him this lion cub look. He was slight in build, but all sinewy, with broad shoulders; muscular from daily surfing. I will admit, I was pretty smitten. So was he, or so he told me. He found the same beauty in me, in the opposite way I found it in him. My dark against his light. We seemed to gel perfectly together, and he was one of the few boys I dated with no drama. He didn’t spur it in me, and he didn’t bring it with him. Neither of us were the jealous type, and in stead he was sweet and genuinely caring. While neither of us knew it, he was something I desperately needed at that time.

I wonder if at times, Destiny places people in our lives that have a purpose far more reaching than what it seems like. Dave was one of a large number of boys I would date, and while he did deceive me and got stuck with the moniker of the first, he wouldn’t be the last. But his impact on me was great, and surprisingly not in a bitter negative way. I recall his actions in a contradiction of being both a blur, and in great sharp detail. Part of that is due to age I assume. Partially to the importance to the overall picture of my life.

When I say he came into my life at a time I needed it, it’s true. It had been a rough emotional upheaval for quite a few months. Issues at home. A general unease. That outside connection, that lack of drama and sense of safety that I got from him, even for a brief 8 or 10 weeks was so very healing.

The friend who had introduced us was dating his best friend also a Dave, and it seemed perfect that four of us would hang out. We spent countless hours, I have to admit many of them stoned, with the four of us listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. When we weren’t at Dave #1’s house (hers), we were at Dave #2’s place(mine). Lastly, when we weren’t at either, we were at our happy place; the beach.

Neither of us drove, and we didn’t go to the same high school, so weekends were our thing. Being in those early stages of teen romance, we rarely went a weekend without seeing one another. So suffice to say I was bummed the weekend he told me he was heading for Catalina with his dad on a turn-around sailing trip. I was still at the age, where unblemished by lies, or betrayal, I took boys at their word. If he said he was sailing, why would I question otherwise?

With him not around, I had relatively nothing to do that weekend so I was able to answer the phone on the first ring when the call came through in the very early afternoon. It was the friend who had introduced us. She hemmed and hawed for a bit, and then asked me, “Did I know where Dave was?”. “Sure, he was sailing with his dad.”, I explained. “He was expected back later that day”, I continued. Her exact words escape me all these years later, but she got to the point. He had never had a sailing trip planned. Instead he was spending the time with another girl.

He was cheating on me.

All these years later, I remember that feeling of my heart vacillating between pounding and dropping. I didn’t want to believe this friend. But I also knew if anyone would know about this, it would be the girlfriend of his best friend. I ended the call, and immediately phoned his house, certain no one would answer, because they were sailing. They weren’t home. They. Were. Sailing.

Except they were home. My mind was still trying to formulate why he would answer the phone when he did. Surprised to hear my voice on the other end, because surely I knew he wouldn’t be there – why would I call? I was nonchalant in tone, but my heart ached with the possibility of this new truth. I asked how his trip went, not to trip him up, but to convince me that what I had heard was a lie. He explained they had come back early for some reason that is irrelevant nearly forty years later.

Weirdly after all these years, I remember so clearly that it was 1 o’clock and I knew they couldn’t have made it to Catalina and back again, and had him home safe and sound this early.

Was he with another girl? Was the sailing trip a ruse to give him time with her? I outright asked him.

He faltered initially, and finally – I like to imagine that maybe there was shame in his tone, he quietly admitted the truth. I am pretty certain she was there while I was on the phone with him. My pounding dropping heart splintered a little bit at that moment, as hot tears welled up and I hung up on him. No screaming at him. No outward dramatics. It wasn’t our style. My style. I didn’t even know what my style was at betrayal, because this was the first time this had happened to me. Inside me, a thousand raging battles were going on, but outwardly I was a controlled tempest.   This wasn’t that slow pain of realizing you were being dumped, or broken up. This was quick slashing unexplained pain that you were too slow to defend yourself from. My stomach and heart switched positions, while my head thumped with the razor sharp reality of the demise of our relationship. I went into the hallway of our three-bedroom apartment and quietly cried while softly bumping my forehead over and over and over again against the wall. The disbelief was overwhelming me. How? Why? WHY?

My mother finally intervened between me and the wall, and just held me while I cried. She rocked me in that dark hallway, just telling me in soothing tones that everything was going to be all right.

It’s so weird to me that of all things I can recall that day still with such vividness. I feel so sad for that young girl. I know my emotional state was still in a fragile place at that time and I am shocked I overcame this without intense bitterness. Recalling my mother being there for me with such quiet warmth, and me allowing it – it bridged this temporary truce between the constant fighting relationship that we always seemed to be enduring during that time frame.

I’ll give him this much, he tried to woe me back. He called back after I hung up on him but I wouldn’t take his call. When I finally was willing to speak to him, he apologized sincerely. At least I recall it as being sincere. He swore nothing happened and that nothing like this would ever happen again. He asked to see me, and I hesitated, only to give in and meet up.  I met up with him – once. I don’t recall the meeting in detail, except that I knew something had changed. I saw him differently. It was like his outer shell was made of beautiful carved ice, and he was melting right there in front of me. My fickle heart which had beat so strongly for him just weeks prior was questioning the thump-ity thump it usually felt. Ultimately – No. No this wasn’t going to work for me. My trust had been breached and even with all that emotional immaturity coursing through my veins, I knew I deserved better. I looked at him and realized that all those feelings, were dissipating at a rapid pace, and I didn’t trust him. This wasn’t fixable. His beauty, his sweet way with me, the way my heart would flutter and literally smile when I was around him, it didn’t diminish the fact that he was capable of wielding great pain to me so easily.

As for the friend? They always blame the messenger in these scenario’s. The innocent bystander who simply does the right thing by delivering the horrible news. We lash out at them, because we need to hurt someone, anyone. The child in us sees that if the one delivering the bad news hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t be feeling the pain we are.

Only I didn’t initially do that. After all she was the one who saved me from additional humiliation and pain and further betrayal. She was my friend.

But my mother, was a little wiser. When things calmed down the day of the phone call, she started to question how I got my information. I was feeling numb and a little bit destroyed, and told her which friend it had come from, and how if anyone would know it would be her. My mother had already distinguished that this friend of mine was a ball of toxicity years prior, and she prodded a little more. You know how mother’s just know this? I knew the good friends from the bad ones with my own kids, even when they couldn’t see it. But how did she know when he was with her, my mother asked. Specifically. I didn’t get where the question was going.

I learned a lot of good and a small part of bad about friendships through my mother. I think the loyalty that runs so strong in me, came from her. Girl code, weirdly came from her. High expectations also come from her, along with the slightly bad “Off with their heads!” mentality. She rarely forgave a friend who did her wrong, and it could be part of the reason she didn’t have a lot of female friends. I’m not sure. In this situation she smelled a rat in this little mouse of a friend. But she was smart. She planted the seed of doubt in my head and let it run loose.

After a bit, like 99% of every female who has been cheated on, I had to know the details. I think we need to punish ourselves in some sort of cathartic way, with this blade of truth that will slice up and down our emotional bodies. I think that’s why I saw him that last time. I had to know what happened. Maybe it was his hope that by being truthful, I would forgive him – but he told me everything. How my best friend had introduced them and how he swore nothing physical happened between them and  — wait, what?

My best friend introduced them. A week prior.

Yup. The little mouse, truly was a little rat. She introduced them, knowing he had a girlfriend, and the introduction was with motive. The fact that she and I were supposed to be best friends was a moot point. She knew they were together that Saturday, because she had helped orchestrate the date. Did it absolve him of blame? Absolutely not. He knew that and I did.

There were rumors and theories on why such a good friend would do this. Jealousy. It’s the go-to of every teenage girl’s excuse for a wrong doing. Dave and I really did have a sweet relationship, and I really was happy with him. She had one of those a-typical little drama filled relationships that was break-up every other day. Plus her Dave wasn’t nearly the eye-candy my Dave was. Was she bringing me down a notch or two? Showing me how she could wield her power? Was there truth behind the theories of this messed up jealous kid? Who knows. Kids, teens specifically are a messed up lot in general, and they do things sometimes with malice and motive and sometimes because they are just a messed up lot. This little chick-a-dee of a friend was already seriously screwed up emotionally before this all happened. My mom wasn’t stupid either. She knew something was up with that phone call, and probably figured while I was chasing the rat with a torch, why not take down the whole nasty barn?

I look back on 15-year old me at this time, and I’m thankful my mom was there for me. I also think “You go girl!” in how I handled things. I didn’t permit this behavior in my life. I didn’t start my relationship path with men who were full of second chances, although I suspect that wasn’t so much a sense of woman empowerment as it was the fact that my eye wandered a lot. Maybe I already had someone else in mind as soon as my heart slowed down. Regardless,  I didn’t let it make me bitter, although I can’t say that it didn’t make me a little wary at times.  I don’t look back on this guy Dave; who strangely enough I never saw again after our last meet-up — and think horrible thoughts.

I know my path wasn’t much different than most girls my age. Or guys. Like I said teens can be a rotten lot, as a skin bag of raging hormones taking them from point a. to point b.  – But then sometimes they are lucky enough to get those hormones on path, and truly fall in love. And what is sweeter than first love?

I’ll save that for next time.

Fake Knews

Dewey

Let me preface this with the fact that if you’re a Trump fan or supporter you might want to skip this blog. Oh don’t worry, I’m sticking with my anti-rhetoric stance on his politics for the most part. Or on most all politics in general. But I might be writing about his fans a little bit, which is more of a social commentary than a political one.

I’ve surprised myself in sticking to my guns regarding politics. I’ve even patted myself on the back for breaking up two political conversations recently for being the wrong topic at the wrong time. I mean here I had my chance to jump into a pool I neither dug, nor filled, and instead I blew the political whistle I wear around my neck and screamed, “Everyone out of the damn pool!”.

I felt so damn adult. And badass.

I deleted about a year’s worth of missives, meme’s, opinions and articles that were political in nature from my FB. I don’t get kudo’s for being PC in doing that. It’s mostly because I don’t want them coming up a year or two or three, from now, reminding me – poking the political bear and possibly waking her. It’s also partially because I realized if I died tomorrow and someone came across my page unlocked and wanted to get an idea of who I was, I didn’t want to be painted in remembrance as this very angry woman.

No, I don’t plan on dying tomorrow, and for the most part, if I am dead I wouldn’t care what a stranger thought of me. Hell living, I don’t really care what a stranger would think of me. But my page, was angry. *I* was angry. Am I still? No, I think I’m a bit more resigned to it. All that emotion; bitterness, anger, intolerance, puzzlement — it wasn’t feeding my soul what I needed on a daily basis. So I erased and adopted a more laid back style. I infused a little more humor, and brought back the parts of me that *I* enjoy. Painted a new picture so to speak.

Fake it til you make it someone once told me.

In doing these things, I’m sleeping better at night. I’m not pissing people off. Even better, people aren’t pissing me off. I read the big news, more so to get my fill of what’s happening. That will never change. I bypass 99% of the information that I would have normally read two months ago; the stuff that fed the political vampire (it shares sleeping space with the political bear and lives somewhere inside of me too, but it’s very unhealthy because it would just as soon live off of political arguments, and articles and lots of cigarettes and coffee).

I’ve rethought my news media sources as well.

Along with Fox News, I’ve pretty much banished the Washington Post. It was hard, because for a while there I felt that me and TWP were tight buds, but as my emotions were spiraling out of control towards the latter part of this first quarter, I realized that the Post was sort of feeding into my anxieties with absolutely no benefits. It was that friend who reminds you all the time what an asshole your ex was. You get it, You don’t need the reminder fifteen times a day. Although I tell ya, their news team can write one hell of a grabber headline. I actually laughed the other day to read the spin between what TWP and Fox were both trying to say. I ended up reading the same article written by a tad bit more of a middle ground and wasn’t grinding my teeth when it was said and done.

I still scan headlines, and once in a blue moon, like the sometimes cheating diabetic I can be – I’ll click on a story I shouldn’t. It’s so hard otherwise; their headlines play upon my fasting brain, in the same manner the smell of pizza plays upon my nostrils and saliva ducts. I know how bad it is for me, but until I see the bad effects once or twice I convince myself I can handle it.

The closest I came in screwing things up, was on my recent vacation when I almost asked a new friend about her political stance. She and I got along really, really well, and the old me was clamoring to know this information. Cement things in a new friendship? Destroy things in a new friendship? I think I just wanted a political fix. But I realized, I like this new friend. She is someone I could see remaining friends with beyond this vacation. Do I really want to open up that box that would immediately paint her, hell paint me for that matter, if she told me she was a full blown supporter of him? And I realized it didn’t matter. I actually didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to give myself that moment to judge (or be judged).

That’s freaking growth people!!!!! I’m telling you where are the Brownie points when you deserve them?

Plus to be honest. I was terrified she might be. And I really, really didn’t want to know. I didn’t trust myself enough to not allow some form of snark to slip through. I didn’t trust myself enough to stop a super fast spoken agenda to be thrust upon her, before I could apologize for getting too political. “Howcanyousupportamanwho (fill in the blank)” I didn’t trust that I wouldn’t give this fledging new friendship the chance it deserved based on merits of every other aspect of personality. After all, I have friends I still like, who didn’t vote like me. Lots of them. For that matter I have family who didn’t vote like me. And a lot of them didn’t vote like me before, and a lot of them won’t vote like me in the future. So what was my point in finding out if she preferred red or blue hats? Plus, I sort of suspected on this vacation I was in shark territory as it was. Well I say shark territory, but in all fairness I understand that the other side views my kind, (you know the humankind ..BA DUM BUM! Oh shit, did I let my outside voice say that?) with as much —– here is my chance to be thoughtful — views my kind, as misunderstood, as I view them. Now I made my little joke, but more so because the wording was so set up for it. I am not using this as my moment to demean, or insult those who don’t agree with me politically. I wouldn’t take that moment. I don’t consider myself that intolerant. I used the word misunderstood with purpose, because for the life of me, I cannot understand a lot of their stances and they cannot understand mine.

More specifically though, the ones that baffle the living shit out of me, are those who believe words like “Fake News” to be anything other than “News we don’t like”.

I get it when we can all agree that the media blitz is a complete shit show. So many factions running to be the first to release a story without checking the facts. Running horrible news for 24 hours, until our emotions are a limp as a wet paper bag. I think most everyone can agree there. But to claim real media – real reporting is fake news because we don’t like the facts dredged up? Can they be biased? I don’t know let’s check with Fox News. Hell yes, they can be biased. They always have been. For as long as I can recall, newspapers actually endorse candidates. Do I think it’s right? No, report the news, good or bad and stop picking a team. Because all this Fake News bullshit is being said loud enough and often enough some people are starting to buy into it.  It’s catching like this horrible virus; like a virus that convinces us reality TV is real, and real reporting is fake.

I feel like a part of the nation, is playing a really bad game of hide and seek with the President and the Press. The Press is saying, “He hides horribly and is awful at this game.” He in turn responds, “I do not, you’re all liars. You’re fake news! I hide wonderfully, ask my supporters”. Then he hides behind the curtains with his black shoes clearly in view and half of America, (and Kanye) says, “Wheeeeere’s Donny? I can’t find him, where could he be? He such a good hider!”, while they wink at one another. Donny is behind the curtain snickering, and clearly believing he is Master of Hide & Seek.  In the meantime the press is screaming, “He’s right there you blind idiots, you can’t miss him!” – Half of America is mad because the press called him out. Donny is mad because the press called him out. So to make this better, this same half closes their eyes and pretends the press is one huge lump of poop. Except Fox and Friends. They never lie, and they’re the best.

And Fake News is born.

I was recently told by a mid-western friend that I don’t get how much support he has. That outside the west and east coasts the inner America really loves him. That would make some sense in the fact that I’ve had to hide nearly every friend I had in Missouri. (To explain that, I used to think Missouri was smack dead center in the middle of America, but truth be told I haven’t found a Missourian who didn’t vote for him, so I’m kind of right)  When she said this it almost looked like her eyes were burning red embers and that her grin stretched from ear to ear in a very wicked manner, or it could be the copious amounts of vodka I drank. “Fake News!” I wanted to scream at her, my eyes bleary and welled up with tears while a trickle of snot ran down my nose.

Instead I took a deep breath and told her I didn’t get it. Truth be told, my eyes did well up a bit. And my voice cracked, while a tear or two tricked down. (For the record there was no snot) The idea of more animals being taken off of endangered species lists so that people could hunt them, along with the protected lands being opened up for drilling or commercial projects, saddened me beyond belief. As did our education and veterans systems being run into the ground by lobbyists or people who donated just the right amount to get the job. But explaining this wasn’t going to get through to her. We didn’t speak the same language. I knew that much. I speak Snowflake, or so I’ve been accused of.

Instead I did that — thing —- I’ve been talking about. Where I respect her opinion, and am polite and stuff. It hurt. It felt like it did when my cousin told me Santa wasn’t real. I wanted to be angry, but she, both my cousin and my friend, were simply telling me the same truth. I couldn’t call Fake News, like one calls Time Out! I swallowed hard. I teared up a bit at the sadness of it all, (and the copious amounts of vodka, let’s not forget that) and understood, it is what it is.

Life may remain the way it is for the next few years. Maybe it won’t. Politicians come and they go. Americans I hope, find a way to bridge this gap that grows. That someone — middle ground or otherwise figures out a way to knit things back together.

I’d better wrap this up because political bear is opening one drowsy eye, and sniffing the air as the aroma of politics tickles her nostrils. I hope this post didn’t insult anyone. Especially anyone from Missouri. I really am trying, and like many of my posts, tongue-in-cheek people, tongue-in-cheek. Don’t take it too serious.

And remember I think I’m pretty damn funny. Sometimes I just need to let the beast in me write it all out.

I Am a Freaking Good Friend

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I’ve been volleying this issue I had over a recently ended friendship. I call it an issue, because for most people the friendship ends, they move on, and that is life. Chapter closed. I’d like for it to be that way, but as I mentioned in my last blog, I dream the hell out of things, and this particular issue decided to visit me in my mind last night (along with a weird foot cramp, but I digress) in the form of a horrible haunting nightmare.

The details of the nightmare are a moot point, but the fact that this is still somehow an issue for me troubles me. “Why?”, my Therapist Mind asks me. “Why do you place so much importance on this?”. I had to think for a moment on this one, but with defining amount of clarity it came through:  “Because I am a damn good friend, and I don’t hand out friendship cards willy-nilly”, I retort. You may not realize this, but it’s a privilege to be my friend. I know,—  it sounds self-centered as all get-up to state it, but in falling in love with myself, I realize it’s a quality about me I’m very proud of.

I am a freaking good friend. And if I were selling myself to the public on this (which apparently I am doing now) this would be my list of attributes.

  • I’m funny.
  • I’m smart.
  • I’m always there to listen to you and usually make you laugh.
  • I will defend you to the end of the world and back again.
  • I am so fiercely loyal, it can be and has been detrimental to myself*.
  • I’ve got a great ear for music.
  • I give damn good advice.
  • I’m a great hostess, and love having you over my house.
  • I can put a Halloween costume together faster than MacGyver.
  • I’ll never post a bad selfie of you, just because it looks good of me. And if I do, it’s because I honestly thought you looked cute too, but I’ll immediately take it down if it bothers you that much.
  • I take pretty good pics of my friends, which means most of the selfies don’t fall into the above mentioned category.
  • I can usually pace myself drinking with you, which means you can occasionally let loose and not have to worry about the both of us being so trashed we get into trouble.
  • On the flip side of that, If you want to get in trouble, I am a great amigo to go along with your crazy shenanigans.
  • I’ll never throw you over for a guy.
  • I’ve got great taste in shoes and clothes, and will always lend you whatever you need. Unless you’re really skinny with a narrow foot, and in that case, chances are we’re probably not that good of friends anyway. (It’s not a preference, just an observation)

The downsides are – well they are downsides for God’s sake. They call them that, because they aren’t the good sides of life, or people.

  • I’m possessive. (see below – this was just added)
  • I’m hypersensitive and get my feelings hurt quite easily.
  • I’m cranky when I’m hungry or tired.
  • I’m a tad controlling. I think when I was little, they called that bossy.
  • I like to play my music, because well let’s face it; I have a pretty good selection of music. And that controlling thing.
  • Have I mentioned how sensitive I am?
  • I prefer us playing at my house, versus yours usually.
  • Have I mentioned I am a tad controlling?
  • I’m terrible at buying the perfect card for your special event. Birthdays, Sympathies, Anniversaries. They all seem to be the wrong card.
  • I tend to speak my mind without always thinking things through, and things can get lost in translation, causing your feelings to get hurt, which makes me feel horrible and I will overcompensate with too many apologies.
  • I mull things over – TO DEATH.
  • I’m stubborn as a mule when my feelings are hurt.

I think I’ve written on the subject of friendship more than anything else on this blog.  That’s how important I take my friendships. For as long as I can recall I’ve taken a lot of my friendships – well I assume, — I take them a lot more serious than most. Not in a crazy way, just in a more … committed manner.

On the outside at the start of our friendship, I am the cool cucumber, chilling about the possibility of us being friends. But if you fit my friendship criteria, inwardly my emotions are closer to a Midwest housewife who just hit her first big jackpot playing slots. I amistock_000057960836_medium-945x630 all over the place with giddiness.  For as much as I grew later to love being in-love, it started with me love finding that friend. The one you just click with perfectly. If we ever drink together and you’re the kind of friend I just described? I’ll let you know. Trust me. 😉

 

The problem when I was little was, it was like I was entering this super serious relationships after two dates. Emotionally I didn’t really know how to have that chill factor. I didn’t get big groups of friends, which could be pretty suffocating for a six year old. And for a 12 year old. And a 53 year old. I prefer smaller groups of people. I just get lost in the mix of those huge girl gangs.

But smaller also means more intimate, emotionally of course and for those who have the penchant for widespread friends it could be overwhelming I imagine.

A typical scene at 6 could have played out like this:

Her: “Hey man, this is great and all, but I really just wanted someone to play hopscotch with a few days a week during recess. Maybe get a juice box with during snack. This is getting really intense. Like, your freaking out about me playing Barbie’s with Millie after school was completely off the charts. I’m thinking that maybe we need to take a few steps back on this friendship….”

Me: Silent, with the big brown melting eyes, slowly filling up with hot salty liquid, palming the anniversary gift of our two week friend-aversary behind my back, not understanding what just happened. Again.

OK, so the dramatic license was used in that scene a teensy bit, but realistically that’s how it felt to me at six-years old. I was possessive (let me add that to my list of Cons. There, done.) and while I never had a friend ditch me with a “can’t we just be (less than) friends” speech, it felt like that to my dramatic little self.

Over time, and I’ll be honest here it took quite some time – I learned that while I was what I perceived as a great friend to have, I also had a very high level of expectation for my own friends. So inevitably, I’d get angry, take my proverbial and sometimes literal ball, and go home. Later I would calm down, and wonder why when I had cooled off, you, the friend had already moved on.

You were supposed to be pining for our friendship! Thinking about what you did wrong! – Why are you playing with her now?! I didn’t want this friendship anyway!”

While that didn’t exactly happen, in examining my early friendships I did have a couple of situations that were similar to this. One was a friend in fifth grade, and if there was ever a heartbreak over a friendship, that one was it. I honestly don’t recall what happened with us, but something in the back of my brain tickles with a scenario that fits the above mentioned. I also had a couple of those After School Special saga’s where you go away for the summer and you come home to find the best friend has moved on without you. Not literally moved, just decided to be best friends with someone else. While I can joke about it here, tongue-in-cheek, I do think it made me a lot more weary of friends.

I imagine with my being so very single now, I am back at that place, where I rest a lot of importance on friendships once again. In my previous relationships, my SO is generally speaking my best friend, so it takes up a big space, and probably a little of heat off the current stable of friends. It would make sense that if these (as I spread hands out in a very Jesus-like manner to all you friends) are my world, then losing one of them would be like losing a little part of me.

Take that, Therapist Mind.

This also doesn’t mean that I don’t have those friendships that are a little less serious. While I’m still not good with the gaggle of tight friendships, I am getting quite adept at following my chill factor and having these non-possessive friendships. I like to call them my Friendship-Light. They taste great, but they are definitely less filling.

In closing, this afternoon I was telling my youngest the story of the nightmare, and she asked why I thought I might be harboring these feelings. As we bantered back and forth on the subject she mentioned that her cold heart said good riddance to the situation. Her stating she had a cold heart was what caught my attention, and I asked in seriousness where it could come from. She’s the warmest person I know.

She answered me back with:

It’s because I’m the most fiercely loyal person in the world. So if anyone even remotely hurts your feelings, my gigantic heart wraps its arms around you in protection and then gut-kicks anyone in your direction.

*Kick* BACK OFF, DIS MAH MOMMA, BACK UP *Kick* EVERYONE BACK UP *Kick* *Kick* *Kick*

And I realized, OMG, it’s genetic.

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*For the record: I’ve gotten myself into a lot of situations defending friends from assholes. They didn’t necessarily ask me to defend them, but I think I suffer from White-Knight-Syndrome, and feel like I have to come to the rescue of anyone who does someone I care about wrong. Some of the time this can be done rationally. But more often than not, it plays itself out like a really bad, really predictable sitcom. I have control over the volley of insults being lobbed, being cheered on (sometimes just in my head) and feeling great about putting someone in their place, until ultimately I get too cocky or sloppy or maybe things were just misunderstood, and in slow motion you can see the “Oooooooooooohhhh nnnnoooooooo!” moment as it happens and I trip up, usually making the situation worse. By now all cockiness is gone, and I am babbling an apology, or just trying to retreat and it’s all like melted ice cream with me sliding all over the place, while everyone rolls their eyes in slow motion, and trying to look away from the verbal carnage.