Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflections on 2010

The end of the year is as good a time as any to reflect on what I've learned over the course of the previous 12 months. And since I love lists what better form to use for reflection than list form? In no particular order, here is a list of some of the things 2010 taught me.

1. There's always going to be someone(s) there for me to lean on. Lots of them in fact.

2. It's okay to lean on those people when I need them. When you reach out people reach back.

3. Everyone is doing the best they can. It may not be your best or my best or the best that we might want from them, but it is their best. And that's all we can ask of anyone. (This isn't something newly learned, but it's something I reinforced in myself this year.)

4. It's okay to light candles even if you're the only one around to enjoy them. In fact, that's the most important time to do it.

5. No matter how old I get I will always be the girl who falls too hard and too fast. I get my heart broken because of it. I'm okay with that and I wouldn't want it any other way.

6. My intuition and gut are always right. Always.

7. As crazy as my dreams are (and oh my god are they crazy) they always give me a clue to the issues I need to work out while I'm awake.

8. Letting go and trusting...two very hard things which I'm still learning how to do, but two things which can be the most rewarding.

9. Purling. Can't forget finally learning how to purl! Oh the beautiful things I can knit now!

10. I am enough.

11. I'm not willing to compromise myself. I deserve the best.

12. Dating just for the sake of dating isn't worth it. Even though you do get some good stories out of it. (I already knew this too, but again, it was simply reinforced.)

13. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be in my life even if sometimes that place makes no sense.

14. Everything I write here is my truth at the time I write it. I might not feel the same after I've written it and some of it might be written in the heat of the moment, but I don't regret a word of it. Even if I no longer feel the way I did when I wrote it.

15. I have nothing to prove to anyone anymore, including myself.

16. Reconnecting with old friends is very rewarding. Not only do you get to learn more about them, but you get to learn about yourself as well.

17. It's okay to ask for what you need. People can't read minds no matter how good their intuition is.

18. I am not broken.

19. As much as I might complain about my job sometimes, I do enjoy it or at least aspects of it. And the folks there have become a family to me in their own way (even when they frustrate the hell out of me). They will never know how much that means to me.

20. I need to be more open. This is a goal for 2011. I don't do resolutions, but I think goals are a reasonable alternative.

21. Fear doesn't protect you, it only holds you back.

22. There is nothing at all wrong with seeing the same artist in concert multiple times a year. Nor is there anything wrong with having perhaps too many jack and cokes during those shows and wooing a little too loudly and a little too much.

23. The Universe works in mysterious ways. You might not always get what you want, but you always get what you need. Instead of asking for what I want, I now ask only to be provided with what I need.

24. When I stop to listen my body tells me everything I need to know about it.

25. Instead of fighting the emotions and holding them back it's best to allow yourself to feel them, fully feel them, and then move on.

26. Giving feels infinitely better than getting. (This is something that Ms. Ex could stand to learn. I'd like to think she has in the years since our split, but something tells me this is a lesson she'll never learn which is sad.)

27. Some people are simply meant to be in your life and you recognize them nearly instantaneously.

28. When something feels right, it is right. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. Seems sooooo simple, but it took me thirty-five years to figure this one out.

29. In the past I haven't spent enough time telling the people I care about how much they mean to me. I'm working on changing this.

30. This one is something I didn't think I'd ever say again, but I am no longer averse to marriage.

31. Sometimes I just know things. I don't know how I know them, but I do and I am learning to trust in this knowing.

I'm sure there are more things I could list, but I think the list is long enough as is. I'm also sure that I've left some big self discoveries off the list, but that's okay. I've written what I needed to write.

Lyrics are hard to choose for this post. I mean, how do you sum up a year's worth of growth and learning and self reflection in a song? Instead I'm going to post some lyrics from a couple of my favorite songs from this year.

First up is Soldier by Ingrid Michaelson. I'm pretty sure I've used this song before, but I don't care.

I don't believe in anything but myself
I don't believe in anything but myself
But then you opened up a door, you opened up a door
Now I start to believe in something else.

But how do I know if I'll make it through
How do I know? Where's the proof in you?

And so it goes, this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won


Next up is The Light by Sara Bareilles.

In the morning it comes, heaven sent a hurricane
Not a trace of the sun, but I don't even run from rain
Beating out of my chest, my heart is holding on to you
From the moment I knew
From the moment I knew

You were the air in my breath filling up my love soaked lungs
Such a beautiful mess intertwined and overrun


Wishing you all a 2011 filled with joy and love!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I miss these Christmases. Not the being a kid part (although, that's totally appealing sometimes), but the getting together at my grandmother's house with my aunts and uncles and cousins.



But grandma's gone. And my cousins have families of their own now. And we're more spread out geographically than we were growing up. So, it's just me and my mom and dad at Christmas. And the older we all get the more I start to think about what it's going to be like when they're gone. Which is totally not what the spirit of the season is about, but it's where my brain goes.

I know I've glamorized these family Christmases. I mean, I do distinctly remember how awkward they would get. How no one really wanted to go, but we all did anyway. How we would all eat before we went because grandma's cooking was never very good (and often consisted of leftovers from a church supper, in like April) and gave everyone gas. How very COLD her house was and how we would secretly turn up the thermostat while pretending to have conversations outside the bathroom.

I guess...I guess I just miss getting together with my family. I never see one set of cousins anymore. It's been years. The other set I see once, maybe twice a year, which is partly my fault because I don't go home for every holiday. But none of us really make an effort. Which I feel bad about sometimes. But then proceed to do nothing about it. And then I feel bad all over again.

I kind of can't wait for the holidays to be over. I'm looking forward to returning to my normal routine. The one where people everywhere aren't so stressed with Christmas cheer and where traffic returns to normal and you can set foot in stores without wanting to hang yourself. And where I can stop thinking about the ghosts of Christmases past.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This Christmas

When I sat down to write this post I thought I'd just dash off a few quick words, something akin to "and so, you know, this happened five years ago and explains why I think all those "buy her a ring for Christmas!" commercials are such bullshit" and link to this post from a couple years ago and call it a day. There really isn't much more to say about Christmas of 2005 than what I've already said in that post.

What struck me as I re-read the words I wrote back in 2008 was how different a person I am today than I was then. Back then I was really focused on finding someone to be with. I thought that would make me happy. I think I had something to prove, to myself, to others, probably to both.

Since then I've realized that when you try to fill what you feel is a gap, a lack, an emptiness in your life with someone else or by buying more things (crap you simply do not need) you're doing yourself a disservice. Focus on yourself first and things will then fall into place. Focus externally and you will spend weeks, months, years and even decades feeling that emptiness and wondering why you never feel full or complete.

I'm not the lonely girl with something to prove to the world anymore. I'm just me. I'm happy, whole, complete and I have nothing to prove to myself or to you or to anyone else. I am blessed with the best friends you could ever ask for. My family loves me just as I am. I own a beautiful home. I have enough food to eat and heat on this frigid December night. I have a good job and health insurance and a car to drive. I have three wonderful four legged children who love me unconditionally (unless I forget to feed them, then all bets are off). There is nothing lacking from my life. That is a wonderful feeling.

And this Christmas I put up a Christmas tree for the first time since that Christmas.



And maybe, if I'm really lucky, I'll finish my Christmas shopping in the next day or two!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The voices in my head

I've been having long discussions with myself lately. Not aloud of course. Well, mostly not aloud that is. I do talk to myself with a frequency I probably shouldn't publicly admit to, but the voices never tell me to do anything bad....

Anyway, these self talks have been wonderful and very grounding for me. Or maybe centering is the better word. Regardless, what it boils down to is the fact that I feel myself again. And I can tell I feel myself because of things I've been saying to dear friends of mine. Things that would not have come out of my mouth (er, fingers? since they've been said via text and e-mail) a few weeks ago. Welcome back me!!

During these self talks there have been a few key phrases which have been repeated over and over and over ad nauseam. In no particular order they are:

- Life is short
- Get over yourself
- Listen to your gut
- It's not about you
- Let go
- No, really get the fuck over yourself

And so, that's what I plan to do. Get the fuck over myself because life is short. And you really don't know what tomorrow will bring.

We can plan for the future until we're blue in the face, but I think most adults know by now that life rarely goes as we've planned it. And that's okay. That doesn't mean you shouldn't make plans for the future or figure out a path and a way to follow your dreams, it just means don't be surprised if things don't exactly go as you planned.

Had my life gone as I imagined it would I'd now be married to a boy named Eric (or maybe James even), with a house and kids and all that. And as wonderful as Eric is (and James too), I would be completely fucking miserable because I don't like boys in that way (but James does, so we'd both have been miserable!).

So, here's me starting to get over myself. And letting go. And not being afraid. And all sorts of other good things that make me who I am, who I'm meant to be.

And I'm taking a friend's advice and not over editing this post. I have a tendency to write and re-read and edit and re-read and edit and re-read and edit instead of just writing. I need to learn to let go a bit better, in so very many ways....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Enough

I guess I decided not to disappear from my blog for too long. Apparently I have things to say even though I'm very much still licking my wounds.

One of the folks I follow on Twitter posted a link to this article today and it got me thinking. Okay, fine, what doesn't get me thinking? In this case, I started thinking about courage (If you don't want to read the whole article, at least read the last three paragraphs) and how it relates to my life over the past five years.

For most of my life I haven't let people see my vulnerable side. God forbid someone should think I might be weak! My answer to "are you okay" has usually been to paste on a smile and reply with "oh, I'm fine, thanks for asking." Very few people have actually seen me cry and I cry at everything, books, movies, music, commercials, you name it I cry at it. But I can't remember the last person I cried in front of. Might be Ms. Ex during one of our many, many, lengthy "discussions."

When Ms. Ex and I were having our issues during the 18 months it took for us to get engaged and then finally split up I kept everything to myself for the most part. All the screaming matches. All the "discussions" during which she repeated the same few phrases over and over and over again. I think I talked about it, really talked about it, with just one of my friends. Who lives 3,000 miles away. I might have shared bits and pieces with others, but no one really knew the full story. I kept all the pain and anger and shame and embarrassment and feelings of complete failure inside. It boiled inside me, bubbling to the surface only when I could no longer contain it all without exploding. But never in front of other people. It slowly ate away at me, making me feel small and broken. And so very, very, utterly alone.

When FMHW and I broke up I was more open with my pain. I started to open up about what I was feeling. Started letting my friends see my vulnerability. Sharing what I was feeling, letting them help me through the rough times. I was starting to understand that vulnerability didn't equate to weakness. I let people in, let them see the side of me that was messy. And for the first time in a long time I didn't feel quite so alone anymore. I even started this blog to share my story with anyone who might happen to read it.

What I've learned in the two plus years since then is that it's okay to be honest about how you're feeling. It's okay to have a bad day for no reason. It's okay to be sad or angry or hurt and to let people know how you're feeling. People will still like you. In fact, they will put their arm around you (metaphorically speaking) and listen, really listen. They won't turn away from you, leave you there raw and exposed and alone. In fact, they will begin sharing with you in return. All of this takes courage, not the heroic kind of courage we're so used to hearing about these days, the kind where a fireman runs back into a burning building to save an infant or a kitten, but the original meaning of the word courage, "speaking one's mind by telling one's heart" as the article says.

It also takes a bit of coming to terms with the fact that, no, in fact you aren't perfect. No matter how strong you might be there is still a weakness inside of all of us. A vulnerability which should be shared with friends and loved ones. The messy side of each and every one of us is a beautiful thing. And in that imperfection is where you find perfection. I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I say the wrong things. I do the wrong things. I make bad decisions. I quote song lyrics in an attempt to win someone's love (okay, so it was just that once, but it still haunts me). But all those things make me who I am, this perfectly imperfect mess of a person.

The hardest part of being vulnerable, of letting people in, is realizing that it's okay to just be me. That me, as I am, is enough. I am enough. Took me 30 plus years to realize this. For a fast learner I can be really obtuse sometimes.

No matter how broken I might feel, and believe me right now I feel so very very broken, deep down there is still a little part of me that knows I am enough. Knows that I am exactly who I am supposed to be and you know what? That's more than good enough.



So, yes, right now I feel broken. I'm hurt and angry with myself still (for fuck's sake I KNOW better!). There are tears (hey look, I admitted to the entire world that I've been crying!), tears for something that wasn't even really anything to begin with. Tears for the possibilities. I'm a sensitive soul. I feel deeply, very deeply, and these things, well, they cut me to my core. Always have and always will. It's just part of who I am. I don't think I'd want it any other way.

But, I will be okay. I will be more than okay, I'll be amazing again someday. Because I am an amazing person. Ever since I wrote this post I feel like I have to qualify my posts by saying I'm not in the tunnel. And if I was I would reach out and I know that there are people there to help. People who don't care if I'm messy, people who love me as I am and who just want to see me get better.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me, those both near and far, new friends and old. You guys are awesome, I don't know what I'd do without you. You are all very special to me and I cannot believe how incredibly lucky I am to have you all in my life. I don't tell you all that nearly enough. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. And should you ever need anything in return just ask and it's yours.

Oh, and if anyone has seen my focus and concentration could you please send them back in my direction? I'd be forever in your debt.

Lyrics for this post...there weren't going to be any when I first started writing, but as I kept typing all I could hear over and over and over in my head were these lyrics from Good Enough by Sarah McLachlan. So, here you go:

Hey your glass is empty
it's a hell of a long way home
why don't you let me take you
it's no good to go alone
I never would have opened up
but you seemed so real to me
and after all the bullshit I've heard
it's refreshing not to see
I don't have to pretend
she doesn't expect it from me

Monday, November 15, 2010

Always a bridesmaid and never.....

History does have a way of repeating itself. Whether it's because we haven't learned the lesson well enough the first (or second or third or fourth or whatever) time around or because the lesson wasn't for us this time, but was instead for the other party, I'm not sure. But it definitely does repeat itself.

One of these days I am going to get it right. One of these days it won't be a case of wrong place wrong time. One of these days it's going to be my turn. Please for the love of God let it be my turn.

Tonight, the other shoe dropped, just as I knew it would for a few weeks now. And it dropped after my poking at it so you could say I brought it on myself. And though I fooled myself into thinking that perhaps I was wrong, perhaps for once my instinct, gut and intuition were all off base I knew deep down they weren't.

I'm angry with myself for letting things go as long as they did without clarity. I know better than that, but I put on my rose colored glasses and pretended it wasn't happening.

It's not the honesty that bothers me. The honesty is a good thing and I truly mean it when I say I want people to be honest with me even if they think the truth will hurt. Being lied to or misled hurts even more. Been there, done that and won't stand for it anymore. The honesty is a definite sign of respect and thoughtfulness which I totally appreciate. What bothers me most is the fact that I know better and yet I let my heart lead the way instead of my head. I let myself get in deeper than I should have without a net even though I knew I would fall. All the signs were there, I just chose not to read them.

Some would argue that following your heart is a good thing and I agree, it can be a good thing. But only when heart and head agree. When heart and head are not in agreement then following your head is a better course of action. Trust me on this, even though it is a lesson I apparently haven't learned yet.

So, it's almost 3 am, and I'm left wondering what to say, how to respond, what's right and healthy for me, what I want and need and can handle. Wondering when it's going to be my turn and for the love of God what do I have to do to finally get it right? Wondering why I even bother any more. For real, what's the fucking point if you're only going to get hurt? Again. And those, my friends, are answers I simply don't have right now.

I feel like a cliche of myself or maybe just a cliche in general. I'm that single friend who no one can figure out why she's still single. The truth is? She can't figure it out either. Everyone, including her, knows she deserves the best and yet the best never seems to appear. Or when it does appear it's unavailable. Everyone sees what a good person she is, including her, and yet still, nothing. Or more accurately no one. It's like there's some sort of curse that she (I) hasn't (haven't) figured out how to remove yet.

I also feel like a child throwing a tantrum because the phrase "It's not fair" keeps running through my head. The rational/adult part of me answers the child with "life isn't fair, get used to it." And the child responds with "I want my mommy!" I think that about sums it up.

Deep down I know I'll be fine. I always am. I've been through enough crap (heartbreak) in my life to know that. I will always come out the other side better and stronger. I'm a fighter. Right now though, it hurts. It's an open wound and it motherfuckinghurts. And a raw, open wound coupled with being angry with yourself makes for an unpleasant mix of emotions. And lots of snotty tears. Which would be why I now sit in bed with my laptop (puffy eyes, a damp shirt sleeve, and a headache) instead of sleeping.

Maybe now though the dreams will stop. The dreams in which it was so obvious that a part of my life was out of control. I would love for the dreams to stop for a while. Even a day or two would be heaven. To be able to lose myself in a deep, dreamless sleep for hours and hours on end would be amazing.

You'll have to excuse me if I disappear for a while. I'm going to need some time to lick my wounds and get my head together. And probably wallow, because let's face it, I'm me and I will need to wallow. And over think. Because who am I kidding, I'm totally going to think this thing to death and then some. But who knows, maybe I won't disappear at all. I don't think I even know that right now. I don't know much of anything right now other than once again my gut, instinct and intuition were right. Once, just once, I would like them to be wrong about something like this. And, um, hey Universe? I asked, believed and received just like you're supposed to. Is there a money back guarantee if what you ordered in fact turns out to be unavailable?

I guess in the end it's true what "they" say, timing is everything. Too bad my time ran out before it even started. I'm not tagging this post with any labels. The folks who know what I'm talking about already know the labels it should have. I'm also not giving it any lyrics. Sometimes, I just have to speak for myself.

And in the end I'm glad I asked the questions. In the end I'm glad I stood up for me. Glad I looked out for myself. I should have done it weeks ago. But at least I did it. Which, for me, is progress. And I suppose if there can be a silver lining, that's it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Six degrees of...

Recently I've been doing a lot of reminiscing and thinking about times long since passed. It's fun to remember the good things and it's also good to remember the bad and see how far you've come since those days (I have come a long way that's for sure!).

Today at work I had the most random memory. I'm not even sure what prompted it and I can usually trace these things back to something, some sort of trigger, but not today. And this memory is in no way related to anything I've been reminiscing about or pondering recently.

Anyway, today at work I randomly remembered Tyler. Back in 2002 Ms. Ex and I decided it was time to get a dog. We each spent hours and hours and hours combing through the dogs available for adoption on Petfinder. We knew we wanted to rescue rather than buy from a petstore or breeder and we agreed that we wanted a smaller dog rather than a huge dog. I'd never had a dog before. In fact until I was in my early 20s I was scared of dogs. Getting bit in the face by a dog when you're three will do that to you I suppose.

After a ridiculous number of hours combing through all the dogs within like a billion mile radius of where we were living at the time Ms. Ex finally found one she really wanted to see. His name was Tyler and he was at a no kill shelter about two hours from home and a bit over an hour from my parents house. I forget exactly how it all went down, but somehow we arranged a visit to the shelter and a visit to my parents for the same weekend.

Ms. Ex had grown up with a Welsh Terrier and really wanted another terrier type dog and Tyler definitely fit that bill even though he was a mix (a very cute mix, I'll give you that).

When we got to the shelter we were told we'd need to drive down the road to the house of the woman who ran the place because that's where Tyler was being kept. So, we got back in the car and followed her out the driveway only to have her pull over not too far down the road. She got out and walked over into the horse pasture across the road. Confused we sort of sat there until she walked back over to our car and asked us to please help her contain the horses while she went to get some wood to fix the broken fence.

Yes, that's right we stood in a horse pasture for an hour while waiting for her to get the materials and people to help her fix the fence. Because really, that's what we were there for and that's what you ask two complete fucking strangers to do on your way to seeing a dog they want to adopt. But stand there we did, bewildered the entire time.

After that detour we drove to her house where she was keeping god knows how many dogs in the garage. She led us around the back to her fenced in yard and asked us to wait while she got Tyler. A couple minutes later the door opened and out shot this small white ball of fur who proceeded to race around the yard. I bent down to try to pet him and he promptly leapt up and bit me square on the chin. He didn't break the skin thankfully.

We visited with him for a few minutes, but I'd already made up my mind this was definitely NOT the dog for me. He was far too hyper. And besides that he BIT me. I think the woman knew we wouldn't be taking him and she asked us to come see one other dog before we left. We agreed to humor her so back in our cars we got to drive back to the shelter to see this other dog. The one she thought would be far more suited to us.

When we got there she walked us past the goats and the pot belly pigs to the outdoor runs next to the cat house (literally a brick house which was home to all the stray cats). As we walked up we saw this small, mostly black dog climbing the fencing of her run. This was Joanie. This was the dog that the woman wanted us to see. I was already convinced this visit wasn't going to go well either. The woman leashed her up and led her out of the run and we all went to sit on the front steps of the cat house. Joanie sealed her fate then by sitting next to me and leaning her entire body gently against me before licking my ear.

Joanie had been rescued from a high kill shelter in West Virginia. She wasn't scheduled to be on the transport that brought her up to New York, but the volunteer who was pulling dogs managed to squeeze her in. She only had a few hours left to live and they just couldn't leave her there.

It was weeks before we were able to finally go get Joanie and bring her home with us. I won't go into those details, but this woman did not make it easy on us. At all. I won't speak ill of the dead, but I wonder if there might have been some hoarding tendencies there.


This is one of my favorite pictures of Joanie. She so loved her monkey toy.

Joanie was my first dog and as much as I wanted a dog it was a difficult adjustment for me. When she first came to live with us she loved to chew on my arms. I didn't particularly enjoy that. She wasn't trained in any way shape or form. She was head strong and stubborn (very much like both Ms. Ex and I in that regard). But we figured it out eventually and even though she ate my Aurora Shoes I still loved her.

I'm not sure when it was or how long it might have been after we adopted Joanie that I found out who had adopted Tyler, the dog who bit my chin upon first meeting me. Normally this wouldn't make for any story what so ever. Dogs get adopted into loving families all the time. Maybe it's your neighbor or the family two streets over or your coworker. Usually it's no one special.

Tyler though, he got a special family. He was adopted by Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas and his wife Marisol. And this was the random memory I had today at work, Tyler biting me on the chin and how he then went on to live with a rock star. I spent a few minutes on Google during my lunch and discovered that Tyler went to the Rainbow Bridge last November. He'd been diagnosed with cancer in the summer and lived just as long as the doctors predicted he would.

I'm sad for the Thomas's and their loss, but I'm happy that Tyler got to have such an amazing seven years with them. Even if he did bite me on the chin. Every dog deserves to be adored by their humans.

Joanie lives with Ms. Ex now. I do miss her at times and wonder how she's doing (she has hip dysplasia and had surgeries on both knees after tearing the cruciate ligament in each of them), but my Maggie has my heart and soul (why yes I AM a crazy dog lady, how nice of you to notice). And though you might think splitting up the animals (who were our children) would have been one of the most difficult things that happened during the great breakup of 2006 through 2007 you'd be wrong. I was relieved when Ms. Ex said she wanted Joanie. I knew they were right for each other and that Maggie needed my care.

So, that's my story. And that's how I can connect myself to Rob Thomas in one move while playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I can also connect myself in one move to John Meyer and Ani DiFranco, but those are through humans, not dogs.

No song tonight. Instead, if you have a dog (or a cat or bird or iguana or whatever) go give it some love and affection. Poor Maggie and the boys are about to get accosted. I hope they know what they're in for!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Touched by....

So, that last blog post kind of threw me for a loop. It needed to be written and I'm still very glad I wrote it. But it left me unsettled and not feeling like myself for days after. When you dredge up things from your past which you've locked away and moved on from (in whatever manner and to whatever degree of success that was possible for you) it's sometimes hard to put them back in their nice locked cabinets in your brain until you've mulled them over for a while. Perhaps a long while. But, rest assured, they are locked up again. As they should be. The past is in the past and it shall stay that way.

My parents came to visit last weekend. That could be a whole other series of blog posts in and of itself, but it was good to see them. It's always good to see them. It was also tiring and I was already tired from all the over thinking I did after writing my last post so that made for a long weekend.

But, I ended the weekend by seeing Ingrid Michaelson in concert for a fifth time this year. It was the opening night of this tour so the set list was a little different than the previous four shows which was a nice change of pace. Although I did LOVE the other shows this year so I'd have been content with that set list too.

It's funny, I get this weird, inexplicable moment of sadness during a concert. Happens nearly every time I see live music, no matter the artist and no matter the venue. And it's not necessarily induced by a sad or maudlin song. It's just a wave of sadness sweeping over me for no identifiable reason. Very odd. This time it wasn't as severe as it has been at other shows which was great. But it was still there for that fleeting moment and as inexplicable as always.

Also great? Ingrid doing her a cappella cover of R.E.M.'s Nightswimming which is, by far, my favorite R.E.M. song. I have been waiting (hoping!) for her to do this in concert and was finally rewarded. It was amazing. Wait, see for yourself (the video is from her show a few days later, can't find a video from the show I was at):



Anyhow, during this song it started. Not the sad which I spoke of above, although there were tears in my eyes because I was so moved and so very happy to finally see this live. No, instead I could feel the music reaching out and wrapping itself around me, embracing me. It was like being completely enveloped in strong and loving arms. A feeling of love and protection and happiness, of everything being right in the world. I could feel the pressure of it surrounding me as I sat blissfully entranced.

It may sound crazy but it felt as though the Universe was hugging me, reassuring me I was right where I was supposed to be in my life. Wrapping it's warm arms around me and assuring me I was, indeed, on the right path. I think this is the sort of feeling that those who believe in God must feel when they say they've been touched by God. I can totally see how they'd think that even though I do not believe in God myself.

I needed that embrace from the Universe. Because sometimes (okay, maybe more than sometimes) I doubt myself. I doubt that I'm doing the right thing(s). And this not so subtle reassurance was very well timed indeed. It helped reinforce my belief that the Universe does indeed provide, we just have to continue to believe it will. And I do believe.

Words, though I adore them, can be so limiting sometimes. I cannot fully describe this feeling using only words. It's like the best hug of your life multiplied by joy and love and peace. Suffice it to say that I hope each and every one of you experiences this feeling at some point in your life. Because it is profound. Funny it should happen to me at a concert in a venue I'd never been to before instead of, oh, I don't know while sitting and contemplating life in Bar Harbor for instance. It's just another example of how amazing life can be. And how full of surprises.

And the night after the hug from the Universe? Well, that next night was awesome in it's own special way. I'm sitting here smiling just thinking about it. Nothing momentous happened that night. There were no earth shattering, mind blowing events. But it was great none the less. There was no place in the world I would rather have been than standing in Stalker's kitchen talking and watching her cook (and trying to stay out of her way).

So, thanks again for dinner Stalker, it was delicious and the company was fantastic as always. You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, both inside and out. Which is why (besides the fact that I have never in my life known what to do with my hands) I tend to keep them firmly jammed in my pockets or my arms crossed when we're together. I want to make sure you have the time and the space you need to figure your stuff out and I don't want to fuck it up no matter how smitten I might be (and yes, I am indeed quite smitten) (also? Smitten is an awesome word which totally stops looking like a real word the more times you read it) (also also? I am a bit over tired and rambly now) (but that doesn't change the sentiment, still smitten!). So, while you were there washing dishes or whatever I was leaning against the refrigerator smiling a goofy smile and restraining myself from hugging you from behind.

Also? I'm horrible at making the first move. Just sayin', you know, to get it on record (for the entire world to see. Go me!). (Huh, apparently I get honest and over share when I get tired. Good to know.) Besides, the ball is still in your court and it can stay there as long as you need. All I ask, all I ever ask really, is that you're honest and open with me and I, in return, will be the same with you.

The song for this post is hard for me to choose. I mean obviously I could go with Nightswimming. But there are a couple others which stand out as equally appropriate and I'm going with one of those instead. For quite some time leading up to my trip to Bar Harbor I was rather addicted to this song. It might have been played on repeat for my entire commute to and from work some days. And of course it was one of my selections for the Bar Harbor 2010 playlist. So, I give you, the beginning of Soldier by Ingrid Michaelson (of course).

I don't believe in anything but myself
I don't believe in anything but myself
But then you opened up a door, you opened up a door
Now I start to believe in something else

But how do I know if I'll make it through?
How do I know? Where's the proof in you?

And so it goes this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won.
And so it goes this soldier knows
The battle with the heart isn't easily won.
But it can be won, but it can be won...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It gets better

I've been thinking about this post for days now. What follows later in the post may surprise those of you who actually know me. The point of this post though is, as the title says, that it gets better. Let me repeat that, it gets better. And again, it gets better.

The recent string of suicides by gay teens due to bullying is appalling to me. Tyler Clementi (18), Billy Lucas (15), Asher Brown (13), Justin Aaberg (15) and Seth Walsh (13) didn't have to die. They'd barely even begun to live. I can't believe that our society hasn't put an end to bullying and harassment yet. How can we call ourselves civilized when we still allow this to happen??? It saddens me that these young men thought their only option was to end their lives.

After watching the videos below I knew I needed to share my story too. This is the most difficult and one of the most honest things I've ever written.





When I was a teen I was just about as far from self aware as you could get. In high school I knew I was different, but I never really knew why. Looking back now, I can remember sitting on my bed when I was 16 or 17 and thinking "I don't want to be gay, I just want to be normal." At the time though, this thought seemed completely out of the blue and just plain crazy talk and so I pushed it away and carried on with high school life. I mean, it was preposterous to think that I could be gay! No way! It was a couple more years before I started opening the closet door to myself. And slowly at that.

My freshman year in college was eye opening in so many ways. I left my barely a dot on the map hometown to go to a tiny woman's college where my freshman class was five times the size of my high school class (there were 27, yes twenty-seven, of us in my high school class). I was finally exposed to, among other things, different cultures, different socioeconomic upbringings, different philosophies, different religions, and of course different sexualities.

My coming out story is far from sensational. I am one of the lucky ones and for this I am grateful every day. My family has always been incredibly supportive of me. As have my friends. I was never bullied in school for being different or for being gay (not to say I wasn't teased because I certainly was and I don't think anyone can escape some form of teasing in school, but teasing and bullying are very different in my mind). I've never been scandalously outed. I've lived a very dull gay life, and again, I am grateful for that. I know I am one of the lucky ones.

Those of you who know me in real life know that while I am snarky and cynical I am also a pretty positive person. I can find the bright side in almost anything. I'm a firm believer in every day being a fresh start. My glass is usually more than half full. What you don't know about me is that I didn't always think it would get better (but it does get better, I promise).

I started coming out to myself when I fell madly in love with an upperclasswoman who lived next door to me in the dorm the second semester of my freshman year (we'll call her T). At first I didn't understand my fascination with her. She transfixed me. I was enthralled by her. I'd never before in my short life been so deeply under someone's spell. One night we were in her dorm room and T pushed me up against the wall and kissed me. A very deep, very meaningful kiss. And that was when the light went off for me.

It would be untrue for me to say that moment was when I completely understood myself, because I didn't and I wouldn't for many years yet. But it was a very defining moment in my life, perhaps the defining moment. A point of no return if you will.

T and I embarked on what would turn into about two years of a ridiculously complicated, codependent (on my part) and somewhat emotionally abusive (on her part) relationship. I call it a relationship, who the hell knows what she might call it. I was probably more of a nuisance to her than anything else. She was, after all, straight. And she had a boyfriend. But she still slept with me.

During these two years of my life is when I first started to think about suicide. Yes, that's right I've thought, very seriously, about suicide. I've never attempted it, but I have, most definitely, thought about it many (many) times. Because I didn't think it would get better. Because I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because I didn't feel like anyone could possibly understand me or what I was going through. Everything was so dark and heavy and my not existing anymore just seemed like the easiest way to deal with it all. You can't hurt if you don't exist right?

As I said earlier, I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful support my entire life and yet I've still contemplated ending it on various occasions. What must people who haven't had this support feel like? How do the kids (and adults for that matter) who are harassed and bullied feel? I can't even imagine. It sends chills down my spine.

In some respects I think those of us who are positive in our outlooks are more at risk for suicide (personal opinion only here, not basing this on statistics or facts, just opinion). We're the ones you'd never suspect are weighing which option for offing ourselves is best as we give you our bright smiles (which don't always reach our eyes). Should I slit my wrists or should I try to drown myself or should I jump out a window, etc., etc., etc... Smile, smile, smile as brightly as possible!

We roll these thoughts over and over in our head until they seem so abstractly concrete they confuse even us as we seek clarity in our muddy muddled thoughts. College isn't the only time I've thought about saying the hell with it all and ending it. During the 18 months it took for Ms. Ex and I to end our relationship I'll admit the thought crossed my mind a time or two. And then the thought came creeping in again when I hit the absolute rock bottom lowest point in my life six months after we were finally through. Once you let the kernel of "it would just be easier for everyone if I wasn't around anymore" into your head it's really hard to let go of it.

You keep suicide in the back of your mind as an option in case it gets worse. And you never know what might make it actually BECOME worse. It's never the big stuff which makes it worse, it's the little stuff like the grocery store being out of your favorite potato chips or not being able to rent the movie you were looking forward to or someone not saying "bless you" when you sneeze at the office. You're trapped inside that incredibly dark tunnel without a light to guide you out. The walls press in on you and though your hands might be stretched out searching for something, anything, to grab hold of, you can't find it. You're there alone in the heavy darkness spinning in circles until it just becomes too much and you crumple to a heap on the ground. There isn't anyone there standing beside you lighting a match or a lighter or holding a candle or a flashlight or the iPhone flashlight app and taking your hand to lead you out.

That's what I think about when I hear about the Tyler Clementis and the Asher Browns and the Seth Walshes. I think about that feeling of hopelessness, helplessness and despair because I've been there. I've been crumpled in a heap on the floor of that dark tunnel unable to see anyway out.

The only difference between us is that I made a deal with myself that I have to sleep on it before I do anything. And if it's not a little bit better in the morning then I can think about it again. It's always been better in the morning. Maybe it's not much better in the morning, but it's always a little better and it's been enough. And it gets better every day. The point is it does get better. It always gets better.

I'm glad I'm still here to experience my life. I have known so much joy. I've gotten to experience so many wonderful things. And I know I have a lifetime's worth of amazing things still to come. I can't wait to live them all. Life IS good no matter how corny that might sound. And for those of you who know me and might be worried, don't. I love my life and I'm in no way, shape or form even standing in that dark tunnel. And if ever I am there again at any point in my life I know now that it gets better. And I know I can reach out and find a hand in the dark to help guide me out.

The tears are rolling down my cheeks as I write this. It's cathartic and yet dredges up all these dark and tangled emotions from my past. Things I've chosen not to think about for years and years have floated to the surface and they still hurt, they still take me back to those dark places in my life, to the inside of that dark tunnel where I felt helpless, hopeless and alone. But even though it still hurts, even though I know these things will be with me forever, I also know that it gets better. And I also know that I had to go through them to become the person I am today. They made me stronger and for that I am grateful.

If you'd sat me down when I was 15 and told me what my life would be like when I was 35 I would never have believed you. No way in hell could it be possible that I'd be a 35 year old lesbian with two cats and a dog living alone in a house I own in Connecticut (of all places!!!) who sits at a desk all day at work dealing with data. None of this was on my radar at all when I was 15 (except maybe the cats, maybe). And I love every last bit of my life now. It's rich and full and all mine to live.

If you're contemplating suicide or just feel isolated and alone there are resources available to you. All it takes is being a little brave and reaching out. There are people there who want nothing more than to help you. There are people there to take your hand in that dark tunnel and walk you toward the light. The Trevor Project is a place to start.

You have too much to look forward to in life to end it. Don't you want to find out what's next? Don't you want to go to college? Or fall madly in love? Or travel around the world? Or find a cure for cancer or AIDS or some other debilitating disease? Or maybe you want to write a novel or a hit song or learn to fly a plane or how to build an ark or whatever it is that you want to do?

There are so many people waiting to meet you, waiting to see your next painting, read your next poem, listen to you sing, watch you dance or score a goal or a touchdown or simply sit down with you and laugh over coffee or tea or hot chocolate. We're there cheering you on as you strive to reach the goals you set for yourself. We are out there. And we love you for who you are. There's only one you and that is an incredibly special thing. Be the best you that you can be because nobody else can be you. Hold you head high, be proud of who you are, be strong. And know you are not alone.

It gets better, trust me I've been there. I know. It gets better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vacation in photos

I have at least three different posts I could write tonight. But it was a long day at work. And then traffic was ridiculous coming home. And I'm too tired to put in the thought and effort that the other posts deserve so what follows is my vacation in pictures.

I've been back from vacation for what feels like months now, but is really only about a week and a half. I spent a wonderful week on Mt. Desert Island in Maine with a couple friends. MDI is home to Acadia National Park and the little town of Bar Harbor. And it's one of my very favorite places. I feel at peace there; there's not much more to say about it than that.

These are only a few of the 700+ photos I took. Yes, I am that person. I totally own it.


YO HO! We started our trip by going to a lumberjack show. Timber Tina was a bit intimidating.


Playing on the rocks and looking back toward Sand Beach. I love this part of Acadia.


Time spent at Wonder Land is time well spent.


We were told of, and found, a very awesome cave. Mr. A shown for scale.


Inside the cave we saw sea anemones, crabs, snails and starfish. And I nearly slide down the rocks which would have caused me to get swept out with the tide. Or maybe just completely soaked.


This year we decided to see sunset on Cadillac Mountain instead of getting up for sunrise.


I put myself to the test this year.


I literally have nightmares about things like this.


But the view was totally worth the fear.


This is where we sat at night to watch the stars.


Until next time Bar Harbor, jazz hands!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Good things come to those who wait

I do believe the old adage is true. Good things do indeed come to those who wait. I've found that to be quite true in my own life and I've seen it happen with friends as well. What I don't believe is that waiting means sitting around for ages doing nothing.

Waiting really means doing things you want to do, things you enjoy doing and being with friends and family while knowing that the good thing you are waiting for will appear in it's own time. Waiting is making forward progress in other aspects of your life even though the one thing you're waiting for hasn't yet appeared. Waiting is living and being happy while knowing it'll all happen in it's own time.

I think the good thing I've been waiting for for so long has appeared. No, I don't think it, I know it. And I'm happy. Very happy. Which is awesome and kind of freaks me out too because I haven't felt this way in a long time. Mostly it's awesome though with just a small side of freak out.

What this happiness has taught me (or retaught me since I already knew all this, but you know, forgot it. Again.) is that my instincts are always correct. That my gut knows best. That I will know when I know. That you can't force something that isn't there and that you shouldn't force it because that which doesn't have to be forced is a thousand times more enjoyable. And is right instead of maybe just close enough to right not to be wrong.

And what I know also is that nothing has to be rushed. Back in the day when I was a young and foolish girl I had a lot to learn about life and about myself. I was constantly trying to fit square pegs into round holes because I thought, well who the hell knows exactly what I thought really. Pretty sure I didn't even know what I thought back then. But those square pegs never really fit into those round holes but I'd pretend they did anyway. All in the name of being "happy."

I'm done with that kind of forcing something to fit. I'm done trying to make things work that won't work. I'm done with wasting my time on something or someone I'm not sure about. So, if you see me often or interact with me in some other way often you can rest assured that I like you. If I didn't I would somehow disappear from your life. Why waste either of our time right?

Sometimes things just feel right. Like everything has finally clicked into place and it's cozy and comfortable and just right. That's an amazing feeling. The older I've gotten the more I believe that the line from Jerry McGuire "you complete me" is a huge crock of Hollywood bullshit which has probably scarred a generation of women. I don't need anyone to complete me, I'm complete on my own. What I do need is someone who complements me and who makes those things click into place for me. It's been feeling very right lately for me. I adore that feeling.

All this to say that I met someone I really like. We'll call her Stalker since everyone on this blog must have a nickname apparently. Hopefully Stalker won't mind her nickname since I find the stalking quite endearing really. I like a woman who does her homework and who keeps up with it. Stalker has read/reads my blog so everyone, *wave* and say hi to Stalker! Oh god, where was I? Right, Stalker makes those things click for me, a feeling I haven't had in years. Which is both incredible and terrifying at the same time. But one day at a time right? Focus on the good and not on the "holy shit!"

So, Stalker, I don't care if you're messy right now. I don't care that you have work issues to deal with or a schedule/job which forces you to stay close to home a lot. I don't care who does the driving to see whom or who buys dinner or whatever. I just want to spend time with you. And it doesn't have to be anything more than simply spending time together until you want it to be more than that or are ready for it to be more than that. If you do want it to be more than that. I shouldn't make assumptions should I? I'm not going anywhere either way. I'll follow your lead. Just know I'm content to be spending time with you whether it's only a couple hours or half a day (literally half the day, as in 12 hours, or more even) (why I felt the need to clarify that I have no idea) (just go with me on it okay?) (thanks). If you want more than that, well, I'm not going to turn you down. ;-)

Now, I'm not writing this to freak you out Stalker. I really don't think there's anything you should be freaked out by. If I'm wrong there and I have freaked you out please let me know. I'm writing this because I'm happy and I promised myself that I'd blog not only when I'm feeling morose but also, and most especially, when I'm happy. And I am. Happy that is. Apparently I'm also rambling now. Wonderful. Moving on. Still happy though!

The lyrics for this post are from a song which I love for the ridiculously happy feeling it exudes. I have a wee bit of trouble with one of the words in it though since it's also the name of my big orange cat, Sunshine. If you replace the happy image of that word with the image of my cat it TOTALLY changes the meaning of the song. Hi, tangent, so nice to see you again!

Anyway, I give you Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. And, Stalker, don't take this to mean anything other than I'm happy okay? Don't read into it. ;-)

I used to think maybe you loved me now baby I'm sure
And I just can't wait 'til the day when you knock on my door
Now every time I go for the mailbox, gotta hold myself down
'Cause I just can't wait 'til you write me you're coming around

I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
And don't it feel good!

Hey, alright now
And don't it feel good!
Hey yeah

I used to think maybe you loved me, now I know that it's true
And I don't want to spend my whole life just waiting for you
Now I don't want you back for the weekend
Not back for a day, no no no
I said baby I just want you back and I want you to stay
Oh yeah now!

I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
I'm walking on sunshine, wooah
and don't it feel good!

Hey, alright now
And don't it feel good!
Yeah, oh yeah
And don't it feel good!

Walking on sunshine
Walking on sunshine

I feel alive, I feel the love, I feel the love that's really real
I feel alive, I feel the love, I feel the love that's really real

I'm on sunshine baby oh
I'm on sunshine baby oh

I'm walking on sunshine wooah
I'm walking on sunshine wooah
I'm walking on sunshine wooah

And don't it feel good!
All right now
And don't it feel good
I'll say it again now
And don't it feel good!
And don't it feel good!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rainy Sunday

When I sat down to blog tonight I thought I was going to write a different post than the one that follows. I'll save that post for another time.

Today is a rainy Sunday. As in it's pretty much rained non-stop all day today. Which is wonderful because it hasn't rained to speak of in probably months. My lawn was very crunchy when I walked across it yesterday. Grass shouldn't crunch. I can almost hear my neighbor's garden sighing in ecstasy from all the rain.

I actually love a good rainy day. I feel like it forces me to slow down and I can actually not feel guilty for relaxing all day. Of course it being Sunday and all I had to run an errand and grocery shop, but that never takes long (as an aside, how the hell can I spend $75 on groceries and come home with hardly any food??) so I've had pretty much the entire day to just do nothing.

Back when Ms. Ex and I were together we'd spend days like this watching bad movies or bad TV or football in the fall. And days like today I miss having someone on the other side of the couch watching bad movies with me. I'm not missing Ms. Ex mind you, just missing having that someone special here with me relaxing the day away.

Someone who might decide to bake some cookies or make some brownies for us to enjoy as a mid afternoon snack. Someone who will enjoy a good cheesy chick flick with me while I knit and she, well, does whatever sort of thing she enjoys doing while watching a movie. Someone who wants to read in bed for a while after first waking up.

It's those little things that I want. And miss. I love living alone most of the time mind you. In fact I pretty much adore it. But there are times, there are days like today, when the quiet comfort of the company of someone you love and who loves you would just make the day a little better. A little more full.

And poor Maggie didn't get a walk today. In fact she asked to go out at one point and when I opened the door for her she went out onto the step, saw how hard it was raining and turned around and wanted to come right back inside. Good thing we took an extra long and tiring walk/hike yesterday or she'd be very restless today.

All in all it's good that today was a day for relaxation and doing nothing. I've got a busy week ahead of me at work and I'm anticipating being rather tired in the evenings. I'd love to be wrong about that, but I don't think I will be.

No song for this post. I just plain don't feel like figuring out something that fits. Because I'm relaxing, watching a movie and listening to it rain. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday evening if you ask me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the subject of nothing really...

I sat down to blog not knowing what I wanted to write about. I still don't really, but when in doubt make a list!

1. I cannot wait to go back to here:



Picture it at night with what seems like billions of stars twinkling in the sky and a cocktail in your hand and friends at your side. It's a slice of heaven.

2. I realize I often blog when I'm most introspective instead of when I'm just content or happy. Changing that today, not introspective at all. Happy and content and still blogging!

3. Yesterday I met a little girl named Isabella Abbie. She was probably about three years old. She totally denied knowing her mother or her little brother even though we saw the whole family walk into the park together. Her father explained that we were talking to her alter ego named Millie. Yeah. I would love to meet this girl again in a few years. And then like every five years to see how she progresses in life. I wonder how long Millie will stay around. Also? Her mom (the one who busted out little Isabella Abbie's full name to try to get her attention on more than one occasion)? Might have been mortified when Isabella Abbie announced to us that she had a poopie problem. You just never know what you're going to see in a park in Northampton, but I wouldn't change that for the world. It was an excellent and very fun way to spend an afternoon.

4. Refer to number one above. I don't want to wish the summer away at all. In fact I wish we had another month or two of it. It's already getting dark earlier than I'd like it to. But I am so ready to go on vacation. I cannot wait to hop in the car and head back up to Bar Harbor.

5. Why haven't I bothered finishing the hats I knit that are literally 9/10ths or more done and just sitting waiting for me to finish them?

6. Huh. I thought I had more to say when I started writing.

7. There are a lot things going on in my head right now but none of them need to be blogged about.

8. My friend Kim and I e-mail quite frequently. A while back when we were both a little down I suggested that at the end of every e-mail we list three things we're grateful for on that particular day. We've been really good about doing it so far. Some days it's harder to think of things than others, but you know what? When you think of those little things that you're grateful for (like a piece of chocolate or a good cup of coffee or even that the bill you got in the mail was for less than you expected) it really helps turn your perspective from negative to positive. There are sooooo many wonderful things in this world (life really is good when you boil it all down). We take a lot of the good things for granted at times. By acknowledging them it's easier to see all the good in the world. Focus on the positive and the positive finds you. I'm glad Kim and I started doing this. I hope we can keep it up. I know it's been really helpful for me.

9. Life is full of little surprises. I've been smiling a lot lately (smiling's my favorite! Gratuitous Elf reference, sorry.). And smiling just makes your whole being feel good, head to toe, mind, body and soul. Thank you for making me smile. And laugh. And for just being you. (Why hello vagueness, how nice to see you again.)

10. I have been extremely social lately. Sooooo unlike me (who is a classic introvert) and I think it's been exactly what I needed. So, a big thanks to everyone who has been social with me. You're all collectively awesome. And you matter to me. Thanks for being in my life.

11. And because I can, a gratuitous Maggie picture:



You may think this picture is all "the better to eat you with my dear" but it's really "I'm not a big fan of that thing you stick in front of your face which might or might not steal my soul so I'm going to try to make you calm down by licking my lips." At least she doesn't run and hide from the camera anymore. Only took four and a half years. I'd say that's progress.

So, I was hoping by the time I got to this point I'd have figured out the song for this post. Yeah, not so much with that. Firing up the iTunes now, putting it on shuffle and seeing what I get. I'd just like to point out that iTunes tells me it would take 49 days to listen to all my music. Interesting. Also? I have a HUGE urge to go iTunes shopping right now. Time for new music for sure. One can never own enough good music.

Right then. Lyrics. Shuffle wasn't my friend tonight. Unless you all want Suzanne Vega's Luka stuck in your head for the rest of the night. No? Then you're welcome. And since I can't come up with anything on my own, You get Get Out The Map by the Indigo Girls instead. Because shuffle made me do it. Or led me to it. Both sort of apply.


The saddest sight my eyes can see
Is that big ball of orange sinking slyly down the trees
Sitting in a broken circle while you rest upon my knee
This perfect moment will soon be leaving me

Suzanne calls from Boston the coffee's hot the corn is high
And that same sun that warms your heart will suck that good earth dry
With everything it's opposite enough to keep you crying
Or keep this old world spinning with a twinkle in its eye

Get out the map, get out the map and lay your finger anywhere down
We'll leave the figuring to those we pass on our way out of town
Don't drink the water there seems to be something ailing everyone
I'm gonna clear my head, I'm gonna drink that sun
I'm gonna love you good and strong while our love is good and young

Joni left for South Africa a few years ago
And then Beth took a job all the way over on the West Coast
And me I'm still trying to live half a life on the road
I'm heavier by the year and heavier by the load

Why do we hurtle ourselves through every inch of time and space
I must say around some corner I can sense a resting place
With every lesson learned a line upon your beautiful face
We'll amuse ourselves one day with these memories we'll trace

Get out the map, get out the map and lay your finger anywhere down
We'll leave the figuring to those we pass on our way out of town
Don't drink the water there seems to be something ailing everyone
I'm gonna clear my head, I'm gonna drink that sun
I'm gonna love you good and strong while our love is good and young

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lilith Fair

I'm going to cheat for this post and copy an e-mail I sent to someone about my experience at Lilith yesterday. It's everything I want to talk about and it's already written. Be forewarned, it's kind of long. I will at least change names to protect the innocent. ;-) Without further ado:

Hi,
I realized last night as I was driving home from the show that I have plans tonight after work so I figured I'd e-mail you my Lilith adventures rather than try to squeeze in a rushed phone call while driving. The length of this e-mail shows why I couldn't possibly text it all.

So, Francesca and I arrive a little after 4:30 (show started at 3 or 3:30 I think, but she had a family obligation and neither of us were real keen on the first couple performers). We were walking around and were already chatting about how we're probably being viewed as a couple even though we aren't a couple. There was joking about how she needs a sign that says she's straight, but, you know, open minded and also single and I needed one that says I'm gay and single. Or signs that say "we're together, but not, you know, together."

We wandered around trying to figure out who was playing on what stage and when and where exactly the second stage was set up. We'd figured that part out and headed over to catch the very last song Beth Orton was playing. As we're standing there I look over and I see someone I recognize which usually doesn't happen. She sees me at the same time and came over to chat. It was Ms. Ex's friend Jen from college who lives in upstate NY. Needless to say I was confused at why she was there and I hadn't seen her in at least three and a half years (but I kid you not when I say she looks EXACTLY the same).

After introducing her to Francesca I asked her if she was there alone and she said no and waved over the women she was with. And wouldn't you know it one of the women she was with is a woman I'd been out on two dates with last fall named Judy. Jen proceeds to introduce me to Judy and we do the smile and nod awkwardly at each other thing. I have NO idea what the names of the other two women are because all I'm thinking about now is how to get out of the awkward Judy situation and am starting to wonder if perhaps Ms. Ex is there and Jen was just being polite and didn't mention it to me knowing we broke up.

Since Beth Orton's set was now over Francesca and I were like "well, we want to walk around and look at vendors since we just got here, bye!" and we walked away. Now, on my first date with Judy I ran into Francesca while waiting for Judy to arrive. She sat down to chat with me while I waited and so was there when Judy got there. So, Judy and Francesca met then. Then, after I sent Judy the "it was fun, but I think we'd be better friends than girlfriends" e-mail after our second date (to which I got no response) Francesca and I ran into her again at a Roller Derby bout. It was awkward, very awkward. Pretty sure Judy thinks Francesca and I are dating since this is now three times I've seen her and have been with Francesca. I can only imagine what the conversation was like with Judy and Jen after Francesca and I walked away. AND I have NO idea how Jen and Judy even know each other because Judy is firmly in the CT lesbian scene and Jen is from NY even though she used to spend a lot of time down in New Haven. I'm still confused by all that.

Anyway, I am now totally on the lookout for anyone else I might know (meaning mostly Ms. Ex). We find the little stage where Nneka is doing a couple songs and we listen to her perform then walk around for a little while (and get a drink so I can shake off the awkwardness of running into Judy. Again.) as we wait for Missy Higgins to come on. At some point we walk by one of my co-workers (and who I assume is her girlfriend from what I've heard through the grapevine) but she doesn't see me in the crowd.

We watch Missy Higgins as I'm studiously avoiding running into Jen again so as not to awkwardly run into Judy. We head up to the main stage to see Ingrid Michaelson. Ingrid is amazing of course (as are Bess Rogers and Allie Moss, part of her band). I wanted her set to go on and on. I saw my co-worker and her girlfriend come in and take seats while Francesca and I are standing as close as us folks with lawn seats can get. After Ingrid was Sara Barellis who was also fantastic. After Sara we went to find a bathroom at which point I saw someone else I knew from work and stopped to chat for a minute.

When we came back from the bathroom we noticed that the venue staff who were guarding the gates so us measly lawn ticket holders couldn't get into the empty seats were gone and that people were starting to come down from the lawn and take seats. We of course did the same thing and managed to get decent seats in the front row of the center of the back section. From there we watched Cat Power who was totally wasted on the crowd. It was too bad because she was really good.

By this time I'm feeling pretty good about my chances of running into anyone else. I mean, we've been there for hours and have been walking around and I feel pretty confident if I was going to run into anyone else it would have happened already. And also I'm not horribly sunburned like I was at Lilith in 1997 and this is an amazing thing (oh the tan lines from that day!). During a break my co-worker who was seated in front of us was looking around and I got her attention and waved, but we didn't chat.

About halfway through the Indigo Girls set I get a text message. From Ms. Ex. It basically said "So I heard you're here. What's going on with Dish Network?" I told you about my two hours on hold with them on Friday right? I replied "Yes, I am here" and from there ensued the where are you sitting, do you want to see me texts. Apparently she had also run into her friend Jen who told her that I was there.

For reasons I could not understand at the time the directions to where I was sitting confused the hell out of Ms. Ex. I had my eye out for her figuring she'd make her way down since people were pretty much walking around freely regardless of what kind of ticket they had. Francesa was feeling weird about meeting my ex and was on the lookout for her even though she doesn't know what she looks like. We had the "I wonder if Jen and Judy told her we were a couple" conversation.

Meanwhile I'm still texting with Ms. Ex to explain where we were sitting. She finally "got it" and told me she was on the sidewalk. There are a ton of sidewalks so I told her I'd find her after the set. She told me she was wearing, and I do indeed quote verbatim here, a "strip shirt." As though 1) I wouldn't remember what she looks like and 2) it would help me find her because clearly I don't remember what a women I lived with for 9 years looks like and 3) really? a strip shirt?? She meant striped of course, but still.

I got up (leaving Francesca safely in her seat) and found Ms. Ex after the set. There's an awkward hug which she wants to last longer and I don't and I can smell the cheap beer oozing out of her. I should point out here that I am stone cold sober and have been allllll day even after the one drink I had eariler. The drunkness explains why she couldn't understand my directions to where we were sitting. We then proceed to "catch up" for a few minutes.

She hasn't changed a bit (other than the weight gain) and it's wonderful to have that reinforced. I never liked the way she got when she drank. Smarmy is the only word I can think of to describe it. I can tell she wants me to tell her everything about me and my life and I won't/don't. She gets a few details about my cats and dog and she tells me how my former dog is doing. We chat about my Dish Network issues and family and that's about it. I say I have to get back and she says "they" are about to leave and she doesn't want to miss her ride (god I really hope she wasn't driving after all the drinking). She tells me I look good, I say thanks and walk back to Francesca.

Luckily that ended my run ins for the night. We watched Sarah McLachlan's set in peace and really enjoyed the final encore where Sarah brings the other artists on stage to sing with her. They did a cover of "Because the Night" which was amazing and worth staying for. Traffic was a breeze so we were able to get out of there pretty quickly. And that, apparently, is what it's like to go to the Lilith Fair with me. It honestly never occured to me that I would see so many people I knew there (and I'm sure there were more that I missed).

Also, see why I couldn't text all that? Hope you had a good (and less eventful) Sunday and that your Monday is off to a good start. And thanks again for the anti-rain dance. It was a gorgeous day.

Jess

Here's a recap video of Lilith. My favorite part is the end where Sarah McLachlan needs the lyrics to sing with the Indigo Girls.

Also watch this video. Not as awesome as last night's version, but still pretty good.

I guess since this is a Lilith Fair post it's only right to post Sarah McLachlan lyrics. From I Will Remember You (or the "puppies are DYING because you aren't adopting them you bad BAD person" commercial song as it's now known):

I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories

Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On burnout

Today was my first day back to work after 11 glorious days off. Vacation is an amazing thing and I am so grateful that I have a job which provides me with a very generous amount of vacation time. I realize this is a luxury and for once I took full advantage of it by not logging in to work to check e-mails (usually I say I'm not going to but then I do anyway).

I read four or five books. Knit a couple hats. Watched the entire first season of Bones, plus finished watching Charmed (the first seasons were so much better than the last few), watched a bunch of movies, slept in, went back to bed some mornings to sleep more, did some shopping, oh and of course went to Maine for a few days. I needed all of that. Very very badly.

Today at work wasn't as bad as I was expecting. All hell did not break loose for a change which is usually what happens when I go on vacation. I only had about 380 e-mails to deal with which was fewer than I was expecting. There were no huge crises and no frantic voicemails. In fact, I didn't have a single voice mail waiting for me. I spent the morning catching up on the doings in the office while I was gone (yes, it did take most of the morning, I work with a lot of people and there's a lot going on right now). And I even managed to get my inbox down to a reasonable number of items to deal with tomorrow.

Before I get to the point of this post I should note that I like my job. At least for the most part. There are parts I don't enjoy, but really, who doesn't have at least some part of their job that they don't like? I'm not challenged by it all day every day, but I think I'm okay with that. I really like the people I work with. Again, at least for the most part. I think the work we do is valuable and that means a lot to me.

Now, my point. I decided on my drive home tonight that I'm burned out. Let me (or should I say the dictionary program on my laptop) define burn out for you:

burnout |ˈbərnˌout|
noun
1 the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion : good carbon burnout | [as adj. ] a burnout furnace.
2 physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress : high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout | you'll suffer a burnout.
• informal a dropout or drug abuser, esp. a teenage one.
3 failure of an electrical device or component through overheating : [with adj. ] an antistall mechanism prevents motor burnout.

Number 2 above fits me to a t. I honestly am not sure how much longer I can keep my head above water. No, that's not exactly right. I can always keep my head above water. It's more like I'm not sure how much longer I can go on before I snap. Before something gives. And I don't want that something to be my sanity. And it every day it feels more and more like that's what IS going to give.

I should not leave work (an hour after quitting time) on the first day after a vacation with a headache, the stress chest I had before vacation, and near tears. I should still be basking in the beauty and relaxation that is vacation. To be honest I was fighting back wracking sobs of, I don't exactly know, frustration?, stress?, dissatisfaction?, while Maggie and I were walking this evening. I mean the tears were leaking out of my eyes, my nose was all snotty and I was really really hoping not to run into any of my neighbors because I'm pretty confident that they'd be able to tell something was wrong and yeah, not sure the "oh, just a little allergy attack" response would have fooled either of us. Pretty sure that's not normal. Or good.

Maybe it's just reentry into work like after so many days off. Maybe I'm dehydrated. Maybe the stars are aligned all funny or something. I know it's not hormones. Most likely I'm simply burned out. And now that I've admitted it I need to do something about it. Take some sort of step(s) to fix it. I'm just not sure what that step(s)
is yet.

So, lyrics. Right then. Can't think of a burnout song so, we're going to go with some tried and true Rent. Because, well a) it's Rent and b) it's also fitting for my non-work life (Mark, Mark, I'm Mark!) and c) it's been stuck in my head for days now. From Goodbye Love:

Mark: Hey, for somebody who's always been let down
who's heading out of town?

Roger: For someone who longs for a community of his own,
who's with his camera, alone?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm so bad at titles

I'm also apparently bad at blogging lately. I'd like to tell you it's because I'm journaling and therefore don't need to blog, but really I've just been lazy (and totally exhausted after work) and not making the effort I should be making. So, here's me making the effort.

I'm on vacation. Vacation is amazing and I was very overdue for one. I'm really not sure where the months of May and June went. Or even the beginning of July. I think I spent pretty much all of them at work. Which is tiring, especially after a long winter and spring at work. So, yeah, I was more than ready for some time off.

I was in Maine for a few days this week. I love Maine. Let me repeat. I. LOVE. MAINE. I fantasize about moving there. In my fantasy world I just sort of pick up the life I have here in Connecticut and plop it down on a scenic coastal town. The exact location in Maine isn't all that important so long as there's easy access to a beach for me to walk on. Because this:



makes me incredibly happy. And peaceful. And centered.

My last evening in Maine we had an amazing thunderstorm. I've always loved a good storm and where we stay we had a nearly perfect view of the storm for about 180 degrees. Lightening was flashing all around us and I was as delighted by it as a toddler to whom everything is new and exciting. And yes, I did clap my hands like said toddler when a particularly brilliant bolt of lightening sizzled through the sky. If I could have been standing out in the middle of the marsh watching the storm I would have been.

My mother watched most of the storm with me. She also likes a good storm, though the really amazing flashes of lightening tended to make her move away from the sliding door through which we were watching the storm. I, on the other hand, leaned even more forward so as not to miss a single streak of lightening flashing through the sky. I might have left forehead prints on the glass. I will neither confirm nor deny this. I don't know what I find so refreshing about storms, but they totally recharge me. I find them incredibly powerful and romantic (that's a topic for a whole other post I suppose).

I can't wait to go back to Maine (though a different part) in September. I have a feeling I will definitely need another recharge by then. I'm looking very much forward to sitting next to the water at night (with or without a drink or three) and watching the stars. There may or may not be deep and meaningful conversation involved. That probably depends on how many drinks are imbibed. Regardless, I'm looking very forward to it.

The rest of this current vacation is being spent at home. Which is also great because I missed my dog terribly. And my cats too of course. But really, cats are so much more independent than dogs so I don't worry about them as much when I leave. I worry about Maggie. More than I should probably admit to, but I don't care. It was fantastic to come home to a happy dog and cats who missed me (even if that does make sleeping difficult for the first night because everyone has to be as close as possible to me in bed. And also Sunshine HAS to bathe right next to me as I start to fall asleep. Happens EVERY time I'm away from home for even one night. Trying to fall asleep to the slurping sounds of a cat bath is not easy for me who can hear a pin drop in freaking Bermuda when I'm trying to fall asleep. I always have to kick him off the bed once or twice in order to get to sleep. It's our routine. We both understand this is going to happen and we both pretend like we don't know it's going to.).

Thus far on vacation I've read three books (started a fourth today) and have done pretty much nothing. I'm really trying to stick with the relaxing and doing only little, easy projects this vacation. I want to enjoy it not and enjoy my house (see previous post about that). We'll see how the next five days go. I have a feeling I'm going to get antsy soon, but we'll see.

So, there's my update for now. Time for bed since my eyes are burning and the yawning is getting out of hand. Looking forward to yet another no alarm clock morning tomorrow. And because I'm on vacation, well, there's no song for today. Because when one is on vacation one is allowed to be lazy and I'm doing my best to embrace my inner laziness. And as I wrote about there being no song for this post Annie Lennox's Why popped up on the radio. Fitting.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Home sweet home

I realized recently that for the past six years I have either:

- been looking for a house to buy
- been in the process of buying said house
- been moving from one house to another
- been fixing up said house

And really, you can probably go back another three years to include the condo since that required re-painting, finishing the basement, new fixtures and some gardening.

So, for at least six (and perhaps nine depending how you count) years I haven't simply enjoyed where I lived. There was always something else going on whether it was going to see new potential places to live or dealing with mortgage companies and movers or going home, putting on grungy clothes and getting down to it (whatever 'it' happened to be that week, taming an over grown garden, ripping down wallpaper, painting, etc., etc., etc.).

Can I just say my god that's tiring y'all? All that work with only a little play wears a person out. Oh, and of course there was also working at my job full time while trying to advance my career thrown on top of all that.

I still have a ways to go in my current house before it's "done." But most of what's left to do are the big projects (re-doing the kitchen and the poodle bathroom, new windows, etc.). And for those big projects you typically need big money and I simply do not have it. I barely have the little money some days let alone big money.

That means I'm at the point now where I get to sit back, relax and enjoy my house. Only I don't know how to do that without feeling guilty for not DOING something. I will sit on my couch after a very long day at work and think "I should be doing something. Why am I not DOING something?!" And I'm not even Catholic. Can you imagine the guilt then? Oy!

I'm trying to let the guilt go. I'm trying to not see all the little imperfections I need to deal with. I'm trying to ignore the 3,000 miles of trim I still need to paint and the bare walls which need art hung in the guest room and the family room. I'm trying to ignore the back "flower beds" which are overrun with grass and weeds. But it's hard to do. The lack of motivation to deal with these things helps a bit, but that ebbs and flows and the guilt, the guilt is always there.

So, this long holiday weekend I'm going to do my best to enjoy my home. To enjoy it guilt free. To do the fun things (as well as some not as fun things like vacuuming, I abhor vacuuming). We'll see how it goes, but you have to start somewhere right?

I'm going to be lazy and not bother with a "house" song for this post. Go ahead and hum the national anthem to yourself. "Oh, say can you see...."