Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rage, Rage!

My husband and I love to dance. Sometimes when we hear a good ballad playing, we’ll grab each other and break into an impromptu slow dance. Yes, our kids hate us.

Mostly we like to go out to dance. There are times when I think we’re too old. There are also times when I’m positive we’re too old. Like the time we were out on the floor bustin’ what we think are some real smooth moves and this barely pubescent couple shows up next to us. She is in a belly-baring top tied above her stretch mark free waist and he is in an outfit that coordinates with her schoolgirl, plaid mini skirt and black boots. Between the two of them, they’ve kept some tattoo and piercing parlor in business. Anyway, they sidle up to us and break into a full on choreographed dance number complete with hand-across-the-belly moves, spins and Madonna-esque vogue moves. We took one look at them, looked at each other, and headed off the dance floor. That night, we were too old to dance.

Despite the occasional momentary setback, I’m never going to stop dancing. It’s part of my plan to stay young forever.

For quite a few years now, I’ve been watching people age. I know people who have done it wonderfully and beautifully and I’ve been stealing their secrets.

My Granny Hazel was a beautiful example for me of how to age. She never had an easy life, but she made it happy. She was the perkiest person I’ve ever known. I can remember as a kid going to her house and doing cartwheels with her in her yard. She must have been in her mid to late 40’s at the time. I make it a habit to do cartwheels at every opportunity. She also stayed active until Death made her stay still. Well into her 80’s, she kept a garden, mowed her own lawn, hung her laundry out and never sat still for a minute. My husband gets onto me sometimes for never sitting down and relaxing. Doesn’t he understand that if you’re moving, you can’t be dead?! Granny taught me that.

Growing up I knew a lady named Dot. Dot is my other example of how to age. This woman had class oozing out of every pore but was a kick in the pants. I never once saw her without a full set of makeup and her hair done. If her husband wanted to go on a golf outing for vacation and she wanted to go to Hawaii, well, that’s what they’d do. The rule was that for every vacation they spent apart, they’d go on one together. She didn’t sweat the small stuff. After Dot’s husband passed away, she decided to draw her friends closer around her so she wouldn’t be so lonely. So, she instituted a weekly slumber party at her house for all of her friends. Everyone in her group of twenty or so had a standing invitation so she always had at least a handful of “girls” at her house every week to spend the night, eat M&Ms, watch movies and giggle. She carried this on until the week she passed away.

My Gram and Pa Colclasure were also fine examples of staying young. Up until The End, Pa took his Labradors and hunted regularly for racoons with his cronies. Gram & Pa also attended the weekly dance at their town square until Gram passed away. If you knew what my Gram & Pa looked like, this would make you smile. Both are under five feet tall and they’re old-time Pentecostal, so Gram wore her white hair in a huge beehive on top of her head, making her about 5’3”. When I think of them dancing, my heart skips a beat. Oh...here they are. See for yourself.

The example of these dear people and my own desire to stay on this rock called Earth as long as possible, keep me dancing. I plan on doing it until the music stops.


“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Ms. Matched

Sometimes (oftentimes) I look at someone and think, "Didn't they LOOK in the mirror before leaving the house?!" I know I don't. I have a checklist and all of the boxes must be checked before leaving the house and subjecting the world to Me.

Hair looking tame? Check. Color on my cheeks and a little splash of color on my eyes to make them pop? Check. Shirt hiding muffin top? Check. Butt looking okie dokie? Check.

So imagine my surprise this past Sunday afternoon when, after a full day of errands out at the store, cleaning and reorganizing the garage, etc. I'm standing and talking to my neighbor and his son. David, the son, kept looking at me strangely. I kept giving him a little smile that said, "What in the hell are you looking at, Crazy Person?" Finally, about five minutes into the conversation he asks, "Why are you wearing two different shoes?"

I looked down and there they were. One cheap little rubber Payless flip-flop and one too-expensive leather Bass flip-flop.

I think my mouth actually fell open. I looked up at David and busted out laughing.

Note to Self: Add new item to checklist...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Alex: A Day in the Life

As I was carrying my precious four-year old daughter, Alex, to bed last night she said, "Mom, tomorrow is Woody's birthday." I expressed surprise and inquired of her how old he would be. "Fifteen," was the reply. "We should do something special for him, don't you think," I asked? Her eyes lit up. So there on the edge of her bed, we concocted a plan.

Today Alex and I went to the store together to pick up a couple of items for Woody's birthday dinner. We came home and baked a strawberry cake and I put some homemade marinara on to simmer. Alex went to her closet to the rack that contains all fifteen of her princess dresses and proceeded to dress for the party. She arrived downstairs complete with tiara and lip gloss. That girl really knows how to dress.

Woody(You didn't think he was real, did you?)


We've called Dad to let him know not to be late for dinner. He promises, as any good daddy would, to arrive on time for the special occasion.

Alex is giddy with the anticipation of celebrating her friend's party and I'm so happy to be able to contribute to her glee.

Last night, Alex told me, "Everybody loves you, Mom, because you're the best food maker in the world!" How can I not love this child?!

When her daddy asks her how she got so beautiful, she points to me. When he then asks how she got so smart, she points to me. When he finally says, "Well, if your mommy gave you your beauty and your brains, what did you get from me," she responds with, "Farts."

Brilliant child, no?

Not two minutes ago, she barged into my office wearing a ballet dress and her glittery red Wizard of Oz shoes, toting a basket over her arm. As the door swung open and I looked up, she declared, "Hello there, Ma'am! I followed the Yellow Brick Road!" She then proceeded to whip a rolled up piece of paper and a pen out of her basket, drew a dot on it and told me to, "sign on the dotted line, please." What else could I do? I signed.

Some days I think my life mundane and boring. Those are the days I guess I'm just not paying attention.




Monday, January 26, 2009

Dandelion Wine


My annoying habit of reading more than one book at once led me to picking up Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. It was meant to serve as a palette cleanser between the heavier courses of the Lincoln biography I've been working my way through and a couple of books about the goings on in the White House during that dark spot in history known as The Bush Years.

What started out as being an easy breezy sort of read turned into a melancholy trip through time. If you've ever read Bradbury, you know you have to pay attention because he rarely just says something. The meanings of things are all wrapped up in beautiful little word puzzles which your mind is required to unravel in order to grasp them. It's lovely.

My childhood was not idyllic by any stretch of the imagination, but the one fantastic thing about having parents who are too preoccupied by their own lives to pay attention to you is that you're left to your own devices to entertain and educate yourself.

There were a few glorious years of my own childhood in Southern Illinois. There were tree giants everywhere and the world was green and vibrant everywhere I turned. Cornfields begged daily to be ran through with bare feet making child-sized indentations in the cool damp soil between the towering rows. Pennies smashed on the railroad tracks were prized possessions and the clay pots formed from the clay in the cliffs near our house were precious treasures. 4-leaf clovers were bookmarks and books were devoured in my own wooded secret garden near my grandparents farm house. Toys weren't needed. I had the streams, the trees, the cornfields, the whole of the great outdoors as my playground.

This is the essence of Dandelion Wine. Ray Bradbury is from a small town in Illinois and he captures the feeling of being a child in a time and place where childhood was a right of passage not skipped over as it sometimes is today. Summers were meant to be spent running free and wild and there were no malls or cell phones or Gameboys and not so many reports of weirdos on the news every night. He captures the feeling of being a kid during the summer so beautifully. It makes you long for that feeling again.

One of the passages that really connected with me was one where an old woman in the town attempts to befriend a few of the local children. As she tells them about herself and the things she did as a child their age, they refuse to believe that she could have ever been young. The old woman is angry and indignant because she still feels as young as the children, but as she ponders her feelings about aging, she remembers a conversation she had with her husband before he passed away: "It won't work," Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. "No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you're nine, you think you've always been nine years old and will always be. When you're thirty, it seems you've always been balanced there right on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You're in the present, you're trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen."

All in all, Dandelion Wine was a very pleasant trip back to a place and time of innocence and discovery.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Color of Happy


Purple is the very best color in the world and when I see it, I feel happy.Okay...to ME, it's the best color in the world. Geez.

My favorite flower isn't a flower at all I don't think. It's the Lilac bush. Our back yard in Oklahoma used to be filled with lilac bushes, among thousands of other beautiful flowering plants, but oh...the Lilacs!
Put me in a purple-ish shirt and take my picture and it's as though I've been Photoshopped. Seriously. Okay...no. But...I do look great in purple.

One of the top 20 songs of my generation? Purple Rain, by the King of Purple himself.

When Eric and I purchased our first ever home together, I painted an entire room Voodoo Purple. I loved that room. It was an incredibly deep shade of purple and my mother-in-law gifted me with a beautiful 8x8 square jewel toned rug with abstract jewel toned squares all over it. One of the colors of the squares was the exact shade of purple on my walls. *sigh*

One of the colors that our new First Lady is fond of is purple. She's been photographed in several outfits that are in hues of purple. It makes me want to hug her. Purple does that to me. Besides which...how totally cool would it be to hug the First Lady??!!

I'm not quite sure when I really began loving purple. I remember as a little girl that pink was my favorite. Hmm... I know that by high school, I was in love with purple. Mmmmhmmm...that's right.

Me, circa 1985

Purple grapes are also my favorite. Not so much for the purple I don't think. They just taste better...but they are pretty, no?

My friend Shannon and I used to talk and drink Merlot and the more she drank the more intense the conversation became. The more she drank, the more purple her teeth became and the more hysterical I would become. I remember vividly her telling me the story about how her mother went to college on a "twirling scholarship" and for some reason, between this new found knowledge and her purple teeth, I was soon holding my sides gasping for breath and had tears streaming down my face in hysterical laughter. I love Shannon, and her purple teeth.

A few years ago I went out for lunch at work with my friends. After seeing that there was "homemade blackberry cobbler" on the menu and inquiring of the owner if this was really homemade cobbler (I was assured it was his grandmother's recipe), I decided that I must have some. My Illinois roots took over, what can I say? Unfortunately, it had been many years since I'd eaten blackberry cobbler and didn't remember what it does to your teeth. It turns them purple. It also turns out that my next meeting after lunch was one at which I was running a meeting for the Board of Directors. I raced back to my office, grabbed my toothbrush and scrubbed viciously at my teeth. No luck. I chewed sugar free "whitening" gum all the way to the meeting. No luck. I arrived at the meeting and stood before all of those men and did the only thing I could do. I said, "I couldn't resist the blackberry cobbler at lunch and now my teeth are purple. If you'll please take notice, they perfectly match my ensemble today, so let's get on with it."

I want Lilacs at my wake. And some purple Iris's. Oooohh. I love those. I'm not planning on exiting anytime soon, I'm just putting in an early request.

That's it. End of blog. Fade to purple....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Randomness


Lately it seems as though my mind is stuck in some sort of ADD mode and I can't seem to focus on any one thought for too long. I've sat down to write a couple of things and then ended up hitting "save" to come back to them later. This experience is new to me. I'm a finisher of things.

So, in light of this development, I'm giving my brain a break. I'm going to just purge what's in it and see if getting some of the cobwebs out from between my ears helps the situation any.

*Jesus auditioned on American Idol last night. He had a pleasant enough voice which was suited more for a church choir than America's Next Big Thing. After some serious pleading and embarrassing begging before the judges, Jesus was told he was "going to Hollywood." Between you and me, Hollywood is no place for Jesus. He's going to get his ass kicked.

*President Obama and his First Lady looked smashing at last night's Inaugural goings on. I'm so happy that people such as these are the new representatives of our country. What will the world leaders think when they hear an American president speaking actual English?! They'll have to fire the Gibberish to English interpreters they've kept on staff for the past eight years.

*I just read an article online from Redbook about "Why Men Really Cheat." Nothing new...why did they waste the paper and ink? Men are basically ego driven and egos need constant care and attention. Begin paying more attention to the house, the kids, your own interests and the male ego suffers. Think of it as a pet. You have to pay a little attention to it every day and make sure to stroke it's little noggin affectionately as often as possible.

Eric was telling me yesterday about how his boss overheard him discussing with another manager about ways to save the company money and some new ideas he had, etc. When his boss made Eric aware of his presence, he smiled and said, "I KNEW you were the right guy for the job!" Eric was beaming inside when he told me. I was happy for him. I want him to be happy. But, selfishly, all I could think of is how I NEVER get praised in my line of work. Oh...my line of work? Stay at Home Mother. There is no pay, no bonus program, no promotions, no thanks, no validation that you have indeed chosen the right profession and there are no super fancy yearly awards banquet in Vegas complete with a stay at the Palms and a couple of steak dinners. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Lately, my four-year old is on an "I HATE you!!" kick. No matter how much I try to convince myself that this is merely a phase and to not take it personally, it's not very good for my ego. My tweenager's method of communicating to me just how fantastic she thinks I am as a mother is some serious eye-rolling and the frequent stomping of her foot accompanied by some irritating whining and the phrase, "OH MY GOSH!!!" My teenager basically either is on the phone, in his room, playing his PSII or a combination of all three. He communicates by telling me, "OKAAAAYYY!!" every time I ask him to do something.

And, through it all, I have to remember to stroke some one's ego so he won't feel unappreciated. Pardon me a minute while I scream into my apron.

*I've been reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln for awhile now. It takes some time for me to finish a book because I have to read in the spaces between Motherhood, and honestly...they're few and far between. Sometimes I'll literally read one paragraph and have to put my book down again. So far, not only has Abe been honest...he's been incredibly patient with me. To add to to the problem, I still haven't managed to break my habit of reading more than one book at a time. I have no idea why I do this. I think maybe it's because when I'm reading something brain intensive like a political biography or something scientific in nature, I have to really focus on it to get my brain to absorb it and my poor little Thinker Cells get fried. I have to then switch off with lighter fare in order to let my brain recuperate a bit. The lighter fare right now is Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.

Why can I not write like this?! Every sentence is poetry and imagery and it makes me want to crawl between the pages and roll around in the words. The more I read, the more aware I become of my intellectual shortcomings. Stink.

*My throat is is constant agony here. Arizona sucks. Something here is slowly killing me, I swear. Between my left ear and throat, something is keeping a raging itch going and it's incredibly annoying. Allegra is barely keeping it corralled and Claritin just makes it laugh. The only thing that seems to soothe it at all is drinking warm stuff like hot chocolate. Even my sugar free hot chocolate is 70 calories a cup. I'm going to be itchy and fat if this keeps up.

*I'm worried about my surgery in February. My doctor seems to feel that he can lessen the pain with this surgery as well as improve the look of my shoulder, which quite frankly, is hideous. You would think I would be excited about the prospect, wouldn't you? Instead, I'm nervous and anxious about another surgery. I've been under the knife three times in the past couple of years and each time I think, "Okay...this one's gonna be the one that gets screwed up." Not to mention, I hate having to recover. I've said before that I thought I wasn't a good patient. This isn't true. I'm actually a very good patient and do everything I'm supposed to. I'm also extremely pleasant to doctors and nurses because I know their jobs suck. What I meant is that I hate being a patient. I have no patience for it.

*I was in the store the other day and overheard two women talking while looking through a rack of track suits. One of the women was saying, these things are the only clothes I have in my closet anymore. That's pathetic, isn't it?" I wanted to walk by and say, "Yes...it IS pathetic."

When do married people lose sight of the fact that sexuality is a part of marriage and that sexual attraction, at least in part, is what brought them together? I'll bet that lady didn't attract her husband by wearing boyish track suits and no makeup.

Every day I get up, clean my house, get my daughter dressed and get in the shower. Every day, I put on something that is neat and clean and flattering. Most of the time it's a pair of nice fitting Levi's and t-shirt, but it's always something that's clean and neat and flattering. I style my hair and put on, at the very least, some eye makeup and color on my cheeks. This accomplishes two things: 1. I feel better about Me. If I have to run out to the store or the UPS guy shows up at the door, I feel presentable and unembarrassed about my appearance. 2. When my husband walks through the door at the end of his day, he sees his wife looking somewhat like the woman he fell in love with.(By the way...this is a goose/gander issue. Ganders, lose the gut and the five year old t-shirt...)

Making the effort and taking the time to look nice has that lovely double benefit of making you feel good about you and of making your spouse feel good about you. One of my "rules" of marriage is that if you want your spouse to find you attractive, then you have to make the effort to be attractive. Admittedly, some days it's a chore. In fact, some days it just feels like another chore to add to my list. But I'll tell you, it's worth it. My husband is very vocal to me and to others that he doesn't just love me to pieces, he thinks I'm hot.

Some flattering clothing and and a visit to the MAC counter will set you back a few bucks. Hearing your husband tell his friends he thinks you're "hot".....priceless.

I'm going to go take some medicine and hope I don't end up having to go to the doctor. I haven't found a family practice doctor I like here yet. Dr. Birkenstocks and Socks creeps me out and I'm going to replace him. In the meantime, I'll self medicate and complain a lot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009


Adding to my joy today was the Inauguration of our country's 44th president. A new chapter in our nation's history begins and it began with our President issuing a call to serve. Yes, I can! And...yes, I will.


With honesty, President Obama told us of the bumpy road that we must walk down, but he also encouraged us and ispired us by telling us that he believed in our ability to make that walk. Yes, we can...we've done it before.


For the first time I can remember, an American president included in his fold, "non-believers." He also talked about putting science back into the vocabulary of the Administration. Yes, yes, yes!!


For lack of a better word, "Hallelujah!!!!"




Monday, January 19, 2009

Dans les livres je trouve le refuge


My life is better because John Steinbeck chose to become a writer and filled my mind with images both sad and beautiful. He took me along on his journey with Charley, and I'm the richer for it. It is better because Holden Caufield told me his story and I sat and nodded, "Yes! I understand!" and laughed 'til I cried. My life is better because Ray Bradbury writes in such vivid prose it makes my brain whirl almost uncontrollably and I ache with awe because my writing will never come close to reaching the heights of his.


Anna Karenina shared her heartache with me and I am grateful. Dalton Trumbow taught me that peace is better than war any day and made up my mind for me that I would always stand on the side of peace. I owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Twain for allowing me to read his Letters From the Earth. They made me begin to question the absurdities and to begin the quest for my own answers. To Hermann Hesse I am indebted for introducing me to Siddhartha, who led me down the path of peace. Gavin Harrison has a piece of my heart for sharing his journey with me and for helping me learn to sit In the Lap of the Buddha.



To Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris...thank you all. I'm dumbfounded by your intellect and your ability to convey your beliefs in a way that leaves little, if no room for fairytales.


To Vonnegut, Orwell, Lewis, Golding, Lee, Hemingway, Huxley, Faulkner, Sinclair and the rest...I owe you all. Your words were my refuge when my childhood was just too much to bear. You unwittingly created my escape and set my imagination free.



"The book to read is not the one which thinks for you,but the one which makes you think."

Inauguration Exhilaration


Tomorrow, I will hopefully be able to stop holding my breath. I have a tendency to not breathe out when I'm experiencing anxiety of any sort. It's shocking I'm not dead yet.

The election of Barack Obama made my heart grow ten sizes with love for all of those like me who sought change and voted for it.

Although elated since his election, I've been walking around with breath held and one eye closed. It's fear that's doing me in. I know first hand the hatred that hides in the hearts of so many people in this country and those people frighten me. Whether they be the politically far "right", the overzealous ultra-religious fanatics who would gladly kill or be killed if their god "spoke" to them to tell them it was necessary, or just those who are so twisted inside that they loathe those who are of a different race, sexual orientation or culture than they.

It is a fervent hope of mine that our new president and his family will be protected by those enlisted to keep them safe. I hope, I hope.

As I listened to the pre-Inauguration music and speeches the other day, I was inspired and moved. I love reading and studying the history of our country and it always pulls at my heartstrings a bit to hear excerpts of speeches from the past great leaders of this country. Our new president inspires me to do more and be more. For the first time in years, I have hope that positive changes can and will come to this nation.

I am a mish-mash of Americana. My father is part Cherokee and raised me with a deep respect for the Earth. I suppose I owe my tree-hugging ways to him. I have studied Tibetan Buddhism for several years and have developed a love of many of its philosophies. I truly feel the connection between myself and my fellow man. I know that this world cannot survive in "Me" mode. I know that I must always strive to lift up my brothers and sisters in any way I can, big or small.

As we begin a new chapter in America, I hope that more and more people will begin to see that we cannot be the greatest country on Earth while we have children across our nation that are starving. And although our jobs might currently be secure, we need to be supporting those efforts by our leaders to create jobs for those who have been left jobless. We need to see that by helping each and every citizen in this country, we help ourselves.

I pledge to our new president to not throw my hands in the air if the promises of his campaign have to shift and change. Priorities sometimes have to be re-prioritized. This country is in a real fix right now and I don't expect that what might have been true or possible a year ago or six months ago or even two months ago is still realistic. I'm only an amateur history buff, but I can't think of any president in my lifetime who has been able to fulfill all of his campaign promises. It's the nature of the beast.

I'm just going to hope, like I have with all of the president's who have served during my voting history, that President Obama will keep We the People close to his heart while he serves and that he will do his very best to truly be a servant of the People.

I'm with you, Mr. President. Peace and love, Brother. Peace and love.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Forward


I did it. I cut myself off from Myspace & Facebook. It was so easy. A couple of clicks, some begging to stay from the respective life sucking sites and, bam! No more Myspace or Facebook. So, onward and forward.

Yesterday I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to go over my latest x-rays of my shoulder and hip. The prognosis on my hip is that it most likely will always pop and sound like a ratchet and that I will most likely never be able to do any activities that create impact on my hip/pelvic area. It doesn't bother me much, but occasionally I do have a flare up and have to take anti-inflammatory medication to ease the discomfort. Apparently, this will always be the case, so que sera, sera.

My shoulder is another story. I have a metal plate, four screws and some wire attached to my clavicle. The purpose of all of the hardware was to help my bones fuse back together. Sometimes the bones fuse first and sometimes the hardware fails first. The latter has happened. Two of the screws are wiggling around and creating "erosion" in my bone and muscle. My doctor wants to take out all of the hardware, saw down the bone a little, and see if the bone will finish healing itself. Right now, the hardware is actually impeding the rest of the healing process. According to him, this is the simplest surgery to try to resolve the problems I've been having. If this surgery doesn't work, there's another one he can do, but it's much more complicated and involves more hardware. So, we've opted for starting simple and working our way from there. Under the knife I go...again. I have mixed feelings. I cringe at another surgery, but the hope that I could feel better and possibly look better propel me forward.
January is almost halfway over and I have no idea where it's gone. This blows. The crazy phenomenon of time seeming to pass faster as you get older is just too much for my tiny little mind to grasp. It is however, a motivating force to get things done now as opposed to later, which may never come, or come way too fast.There are some things I just seem to keep putting off. When it's time for me to make my final exit, I don't want my final thoughts to be, "I wish I would have...." Maybe they will be anyway. I don't know. But, I do know that I want to move forward in my life with purpose and accomplish those things that are important to me.










Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cyber Withdrawal


Yesterday I posted notices on both my Facebook account and Myspace that I was going to cancel the accounts by the end of the week. I've been having second thoughts for the past 24 hours. Aaaaagggghhhhh!!!!!

So, here's the deal. After I finished writing the Joie de Vivre blog, I was doing some heavy duty brain work on the subject of happiness. I've definitely nailed down the fact that since our move to Arizona, I've been very unhappy. Besides the obvious issues of selling my beautiful first home, moving 1,000 miles away from all of my friends and family and the fact that Queen Creek is very possibly the ugliest smelliest place on Earth, I've been trying to really get a grip on why my happiness factor has dwindled so dramatically since we've been here.

Then, "BLING!" My inner light bulb went off.

Let me see if I can explain this without sounding completely brain damaged. Okay...one of my issues since moving here has been that I feel very isolated. Queen Creek is in the desert. Some brilliant yahoo got the idea a couple of years ago to turn it into the new, latest and greatest area to develop. Up go the houses and the beginnings of retail centers and down goes the economy. Now Queen Creek is this brand new town sitting in the desert, 20 minutes from anything, and an hour from anything good. So you see, the isolation complaint is not just an empty one.

But here's the thing. The isolation is more than geographic. It's an emotional and mental isolation as well.

One of the things that I've been doing much more since moving here is hanging out on Myspace and Facebook. Myspace is more of a blogging sight and is like e-mail on acid. You can easily post albums of photos and you can also just send quick "comments" to people instead of writing a full e-mail. I've had a MySpace account for about three years and for the most part have really enjoyed it. Through MySpace I reconnected with my best friend from years ago, met a new friend and maintained that relationship, and reconnected with a sister I hadn't seen or heard from in years. So, Myspace has been pretty decent. Then I got started on Facebook at the request of a friend.

Facebook is like crack. It's a quick "fix." There is no blogging, only "status updates" such as "Amy Is...." and then you fill in the rest. It shows how long ago you posted, which ends up putting some strange pressure on you to update your status. You can send private messages or e-mails to people, but the most common way to communicate is by writing on some one's "wall". You're basically just making a quick comment to them and they can quickly comment to you or on things you've posted. You're constantly being notified that you have new comments or that someone else has commented on one of your friend's posts. It's crazy. There are also "applications" that can be run like "poking" someone (not what you think, and not nearly as fun), throwing snowballs, passing a drink, etc. After about a week, I started hitting the "ignore" button on those. Anyway, the one cool thing about Facebook is that it enables you to connect to TONS of people and not just random people. It FINDS people you know for you based on your profile (scary....). In the past month, it found close to twenty people I went to school with and I've been in touch with most of them.

"Cool!" you say? Well, yes. I was really happy to be in contact with a few of those people. But here's the rub. You find yourself having these very brief "sound bite" type of conversations with people. With the exception of the initial catch up conversation of "How are you?! What have you been doing for the past twenty years?!" most of your communication is just these brief little comments. You find yourself checking the site constantly to see if there are any updates or notifications that someone has left a comment for you. Although you are an adult with a life, you end up kind of feeling like you're a kid in high school again, waiting for the In Crowd to acknowledge you and accept you.

Do you remember when e-mail came about? It was the most killer technology! You could instantly send a message to someone and get a reply, lickety-split. You could attach pictures and files and it was phenomenal. Then along came MySpace and Facebook and Skype and Twitter, etc. Now there are all of these sites that allow you to "converse" in lightening speed. There's not even a real thought process to it. Unlike sitting and writing an e-mail to someone and thinking about what you want to say and how to word things to convey your thoughts, these other websites simply let you say, "Hey! What's up?" and get a reply of, "Not much. Just waiting for work to be over so I can chill." (You'd be amazed at how many people are doing this stuff from work. Seriously.)

Are you getting my point here? These "relationships" aren't real. They're just very superficial quick fixes. They're relationship placebos. Yes, it's lovely to reconnect with old friends, but it's also a very hollow feeling. These people are spread out all over the U.S. and the chances we'll be having dinner or playing Scrabble together any time soon are almost nil. There are a handful of people I'd like to stay in contact with. I'm hoping those people will stay in touch via that old-fashioned technology, e-mail.

As I contemplated my overall happiness, I realized that the time I'm spending on MySpace and Facebook isn't time well spent. It hasn't contributed to my overall happiness. It might have actually done the opposite. Those people I was connecting with online weren't people who were going to have the ability to actually be a part of my life. They would always be cyber-relationships. A large contributor to my unhappiness in Arizona has been my inability thus far to find people to connect with. Real people. People I can call and meet for lunch and people who we can invite over for dinner and talk to and laugh with. Those are the relationships I need and want in my life right now and I need to be spending my time seeking those out instead of sitting behind a computer.

A few people on Facebook & MySpace have posted comments about my leaving. Sweet. I hope they can find the time to send me an e-mail now and then. I'd love to hear from them.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep blogging because it's my way of journaling. I get to sit and write, which I love to do, and then hit a button that sends my thoughts into cyberspace. That was the whole intent behind me starting a blog in the first place. Just to have a forum to empty the thoughts out my head. It gets mighty congested in there sometimes.

So now I have to make the move from behind the computer and out into the real world and seek out the freaks and the geeks like me. No small challenge, I assure you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Joie de Vivre


I resolved a while back not to make new year's resolutions. It's one resolution I've been able to keep.

This year I've chosen a theme instead. This is "The Year of Finding My Joy."

For the past year or so, for whatever reasons, I've been finding myself being less and less happy. I'm less interested in doing things I used to enjoy. I no longer find satisfaction in doing things that used to make me feel so content. Somewhere along the way, Joy has left and been replaced with Melancholy and Ambivalence.

Several years ago I spent about eight months going to a Buddhist therapist. It was one of the best things I ever did in my life. Every month, sometimes every week, I experienced epiphany after epiphany. I reached mental clarity for the first time in my life. Those months helped me have the strength to file for divorce to end a marriage that was toxic and dangerous. I learned so much about myself during those months of therapy and was able to alter my own behaviors and achieve a level of contentment and inner joy I'd never felt before. Those lessons stayed with me for a long time.

In the past year or so, a great many things have changed in my life. I've experienced several events which are considered "most stressful life events" according to mental health professionals. I don't know how much those things have and are affecting me, but I think maybe more than I've been willing to admit. I've also found myself having difficulty coping and remembering those lessons I learned in therapy that helped me through such a dark time in my life.

So, I need to find my Joy again. I'm driving myself crazy and I'm sure my husband wouldn't mind having his wife back.

Yesterday I met a friend for lunch. She has a new baby and she's kind enough to let me man-handle the child to my heart's content. As I sat talking to my friend, I held her tiny daughter and gently rocked her in one arm, holding her up close to me. Within a minute or two, little Gabby was asleep and completely at peace. So was I. I had arrived at lunch upset because I was late...again, and for a totally stupid self-imposed reason. Even though I adore my friend, because of the way I've been feeling lately, I wasn't completely excited about spending time with someone in the mood I was in. Anyway, as I sat there with Gabby in my arms, I was happy. My mood lightened and in that moment, I caught a glimpse of Joy.

Do I want to have a baby? Ummmm..NO. What I want is to be able to hold on to that ability to experience happiness and contentment even when the world seems to be in more chaos than I've ever known in my lifetime. When I looked at Gabby, I recognized Joy. I want to be able to recognize it in more aspects of my daily life, and when I do see it there, have the ability to hold it in my hand, turn it over and really see it.

Right now, the list of things I'm disappointed in and that I'm sad about comes more quickly to my head than the things I'm grateful for and happy about. This sucks.

So, here's to The Year of Finding My Joy. May I choose to find it everywhere.

Monday, January 12, 2009

...the kind you don't take home to muth-a...

I was talking to a friend today and we both agree that as we ripen...ahem...that we seem to like people in general, less and less. Couple this with what my husband says to me: "You're SO....dramatic," and you've quite the combo.

Although I consider myself a pretty happy person, I also find that a lot of stuff really pisses me off. It's not the kind of stuff that is life altering in any way...mostly. It's basically stuff that just gives me a reason to get my feathers in a ruffle and get my eyes seriously rolling.

For the sake of this particular blog, I will omit the things that REALLY get me riled. Even without them, you will indeed find that I am a super freak.

1. When someone says, "Love you!" my skin crawls. To me, that phrase stinks of insincerity. If you can't muster up an "I" in front of it, don't even bother. Leaving out the PERSONAL pronoun in front of the phrase makes it impersonal. (I promise I won't be offended if you tell me, "I really think you're neat" instead of telling me, "love you." I'm most likely not that crazy about you either.)

2. When someone says, "Have a good one!" I want to smack them. Hard. What is this phrase supposed to mean? I'm pretty sure this phrase was coined by people in retail who start their day at 8:00 a.m. and end it at 6:00 p.m. If they say, "Have a good one!" they don't have to damage precious brain cells by actually knowing what time of day it is. Again, this reeks of insincerity. Either tell me to have a nice day or to kiss your ass. Pick one. To me, they're the same.

3. When I read that a person is suing an airline for booting them off the plane for not purchasing two tickets when they clearly take up two seats, I freaking lose my mind. The math here is elementary. I've traveled with a small child who didn't even take up half a seat and I had to pay for the whole seat. If your ass takes up your seat and part of another, you're taking up two seats. Therefore, you owe the airline for both. This is not rocket science. Don't waste our time and money by suing the airline. Sue Hostess instead.

4. I yell at the phone every time I am requested to "press 1 for English." Ummm...I don't THINK so, Asshole. If I am an American citizen living IN America, English should be the friggin default on everything. I shouldn't have to select English as my language at the ATM or at the grocery store checkout stand. My can of Green Giant green beans should also not say, "frijoles verde" on them. When did the goddamn jolly green giant become Hispanic? Look...I have no problem whatsoever with anyone wanting to live in America. My problem is with those who seek to live here without the obligation and honor of citizenship. If you want to enjoy all that this country has to offer, then come here and become an American. Americans speak English (or at least a butchered form thereof). Don't make me have to press freakin' 1 for English. I will FLIP out on your ass. (Okay...this is one of the things that really gets me riled.)

5. I love barbecue pork rinds. This is disgusting and wrong but I'm perfectly fine with it.

6. Motorcycle operators who feel that they are above the law and who are also perfectly willing to risk their lives AND mine on the highway, not only scare the shit out of me, they piss me off. If you're on a piece of steel 1/8 the size of the piece of steel I'm riding in and you are traveling at 80 m.p.h. on a highway that has a speed limit of 65 m.p.h., you are putting yourself and me at risk. You put us both at greater risk if you are weaving between lanes of traffic without using your turn signal. I know that you're a super cool bad ass that is in an obvious hurry because your Viagra didn't wear off after 6 hours and you're on your way to the e.r. but please...if you don't value your own life, at least consider mine and those of the children riding in my car. Idiot.

7. When I was pregnant and the general population decided that because my stomach protruded past my "space" and into theirs, it was now public property. It's truly shocking how many complete strangers will approach a pregnant woman and TOUCH their stomach. Not only do most of them just touch it, they also ask questions so personal that it will make you blush. What in the hell is up with that?! I've actually had a complete stranger in a hair salon walk up to me and RUB my stomach. By the time I gained enough composure to close my slack jaw, she was walking away. I wish I would have had my wits about me enough to have turned around and rubbed her giant ass. Turnabout is fair play.

8. Telemarketers. If I want the shit you're selling, I'll call you.

9. When I call my local cable company and I am connected to my friendly customer service representative, Abdul Rashid, my teeth almost shatter. Abdul IS quite friendly, but cannot understand a damn word I say. I know this because he walking me through "solutions" that have nothing to do with the problem I'm having. I am repeatedly put on hold while he talks to the invisible English speaking schmuck so that the English speaking schmuck can tell him what to say. I also have quite a bit of difficulty understanding Abdul and end up getting testy with him. The conversation usually ends with a threat to cancel my service or with me screaming to speak to the English speaking schmuck. I once had to endure an entire series of these conversations which lasted about an hour in order to finally be connected to the English speaking schmuck who promptly informed my that yes indeed, I HAD turned in my cable box on the day I said I did and not only did I not owe them $175, I actually had a refund coming. Why in the hell did I have to sit on the phone conversing with Abdul and his idiot cousins for an hour?! Assholes told me I owed $175 dollars for a cable box. No virgins in heaven for you, Abdul!!!!!

10. Know-It-Alls send my eyes to rolling. With some people, no matter what you say, they have something to add. If you say it's 4 o'clock, they'll say, "Actually, it's 4:05." If you say, "Oh, I heard they're building a space station on Mars" (and you're totally bullshitting) they'll say, "Yeah...I know.....I read about that. It's gonna be cool." I know someone who thinks she's a freakin' human g.p.s. and she can't find her way out of a paper bag. She refuses to ask directions, can't read a map, has no sense of direction and will stay lost for an hour, all the while blaming YOU because you don't know where she is. Her most used phrase is, "I know." Food for thought: When every other sentence you utter is, "I know," you probably don't know shit.

11. The Know-It-All above is also the world's greatest One-Upper.If you've seen a concert, she's seen it twice. If you just got a new cell phone, she just got one that's better. If you just saw your first Broadway show...off Broadway... and are so excited, she'll pop your balloon by not so casually mentioning that she's seen Wicked twice...on Broadway. If you've been somewhere, she's been there. If she hasn't been there, she trash talks it. One-Uppers blow. They're glory stealers and party poopers...and assholes.

I actually think I'm going to start tracking all of the things that piss me off. Oprah has that crazy "Thankful Journal" or whatever. That really requires a lot of thought and a lot of bullshitting one's self. I mean really. Who REALLY is thankful for obstacles to overcome? Have they maybe resulted in my being a stronger person? Probably. Am I thankful that I had to endure them? Ummm..no. I'm sure they pissed me off more than anything.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2008- The Year of Lost & Found


2008 for me began with being heavily medicated. I was involved in a serious auto accident before Christmas and came out of it with a shattered collarbone and a fractured hip. I have no idea at all what I did for New Years. I only know that I was home with my left arm in an immobilizer and off my feet because I couldn’t stand. The first two months of 2008 are completely lost to me.

In early January, Eric had to go back to work after having stayed home for two or three weeks of being my nurse. The day after he went back to work, I was standing in the kitchen trying to figure out how to do a two-armed task with one arm and the phone rang. It was my sister, Inga. She asked me to go look out my window to see if she was parked in my driveway. She was. My dear sister who suffers pretty severe anxiety when she travels too far away from home, drove to Texas to try to help relieve my fear of my inability to take care of myself without Eric at home. I found out how much my sister loves me.

Sometime in January, I opened my MySpace account and saw that I had a message from a former friend of mine. I had severed a relationship from this person years ago. The reasons were selfish and immature and we ended the friendship at an incredibly tumultuous time in both our lives. This person had now worked up the courage to message me and include her phone number. I stared at the screen for about three minutes and then picked up the phone. We talked for an hour and decided that the past was the past and that the relationship that we’d initially had was something that we both missed terribly. Now we e-mail and talk regularly and I am incredibly thrilled that she is a part of my life again. I love her and I missed her terribly during those lost years. I’m so happy she found me.

In late February, a recruiter found Eric and told him about a company who wanted to interview him. Eric flew to Phoenix, AZ and within five minutes of leaving the interview, they called him and offered him the job. After nineteen years with the same company in Texas, he changed employers. Job found.

We then faced the challenge of putting our first home together on the market after only ten months of owning it. Eric started work within two weeks of being hired, which means that during the first week of March he moved to Phoenix while I stayed in Texas with our four kids to try to sell the house. One armed, I kept our home showroom ready so that we could hopefully sell it as quickly as possible. The market was just starting to decline and we were scared. Two months and exactly two showings later, we got a contract on our house. Home lost.

Before leaving town, our friend Kyle and his partner Eli, our friend and family doctor, Jeff and his partner Brian, took us out for a last hurrah. We ate, talked, danced, and ended up at an I.H.O.P. at 2:00 a.m. eating breakfast. We laughed at each other’s goofiness until we literally cried and held our sides. The ability to share these moments with them, lost. Memories that will last our lifetimes, found.

The middle of May, we watched our household belongings get loaded on two semi trucks and driven away. I cried as I walked through my beautiful home that was no longer mine. It was the first home I’d ever owned and I loved it. We picked the kids up from their last day at school and headed out on our new journey. We made a quick overnight stop at our friend’s house in Sanger, TX so that we could begin our trip refreshed the next day and so that we could say our goodbyes. As we left our friends Mike & Linda the next morning, we were all in tears. We had found a truly wonderful friendship over the past few years and we hoped very much that this move wouldn’t see it lost.

On July 15, after living in a vacation rental for a couple of months in Gilbert, AZ, we moved into our newly constructed home. It was much different from our home in Texas, but it was quite lovely. Everyone settled into their new rooms and adjusted to their new surroundings. Home found.

August is a banner month in our household. All of us with the exception of Abby have a birthday in August. Eric turned 41, Alex turned four, Ben turned 15 and I turned 40. I had no problems with turning 40. With each passing year, I feel more comfortable in my own skin. As Jon Bon Jovi so eloquently puts it, “I’m not old, just older.” Wisdom, knowledge, and self-confidence found.

For Ben & Abby, August also brought the beginning of the school year in their new school. With jittery nerves they went, and within the week had made friends. They also found that a large number of the kids they went to school with lived in or very near our neighborhood. A first for them. Friends found.

October brought with it melancholy and discontent. Fall is my very favorite time of year and I actually seem to have a mental/physical change at the onset of autumn. This year, things didn’t mesh. On Halloween, my favorite holiday, it was in the 80’s. There were no turning leaves. No leaves at all. Just a bunch of dirt and sand and ugly cacti. My beloved Fall was nowhere to be found.

November turned up family in record numbers. Eric’s family decided to hold a family reunion in Mesa, AZ this year during the two days following Thanksgiving. Everyone converged upon Arizona the day before or the day of Thanksgiving. I cooked for twenty-four people. It was quite something. Way too much food consumed. The reunion was nice & it was good to be able to visit with everyone. Even Bob. Renewed relationships with family found, waistlines lost.

November also brought with it the election of our country’s 44th president. I’ve been an Obama girl since way before he announced his candidacy for president. I’ve been a fan since I read his first book in fact. I suffered a lot of brain damage in November. I had immersed myself completely in reading every piece of news from every source, every day for months. By the time election day rolled around and I had been turned away from the polls for wearing an Obama ’08 t-shirt, (I turned it inside out and went in and voted.) I was completely mentally exhausted. The payoff was a new president found, and hope renewed.

Christmas is my least favorite holiday. In fact, I really don’t like it so it can’t even be on a list of favorites. I go through the whole mess of decorating and shopping and baking and blah, blah, blah. The state of the world, of the economy, the environment…it all just didn’t seem very merry. It’s been seeping away for years, but this year…Christmas spirit lost. Probably for good.

December did bring with it some good news. Our friends from Sanger, TX who own a construction company began doing work for Eric in Arizona. We’ve been able to spend some great time with them and it looks like they will be doing business here for a while. We’re so happy to have the opportunity to keep making memories with them. Our loss was only temporary. Friends found.

2008 also saw the loss of fifty percent of our retirement account. One of our credit card companies sent a letter informing us they were no longer in the business of credit. (However, please go ahead and pay your balance, thank you.) We’ve seen friends and neighbors lose their jobs and homes. We’ve watched politicians lose their freaking minds. We’ve watched the loss of life around the world and continue to watch in horror and sorrow at the escalation.

Personally, I feel like I have found a sense, at least somewhat, of renewed hope. I have great hope for our new president and for our country. I have also found that I am resilient. Not always without some complaining, but nonetheless, I can and do bounce back. I found that even when life-altering events happen, life really doesn’t change that much. I still have my sweet husband, my children, my health and friends and family who care about me and who I care about even though we’re thousands of miles apart. That’s not too shabby. I’d say I’m a pretty lucky girl.
Gratitude found.