Gads

Ninth grade. I was not popular. In fact, I was the opposite of popular. I was the butt of many school jokes. Popular kids plugged their noses when I walked by. They “sprayed” themselves with their finger if I accidentally touched them. I know I didn’t stink, but that didn’t matter. Mostly I walked through the halls of junior high invisibly, and I cultivated this. I went out of my way to avoid detection. I had enough of a temper that if pushed I would strike back, quick and mean, then retreat and hide. Mostly though, I just tried to avoid being noticed. I read books constantly, pretended I was riding my horse through the halls, and tried to operate under their radar. Sometimes though, I failed utterly and completely, in spite of my best efforts.

We all had to take Sex Ed in ninth grade. Good god, what the fuck were the administrators thinking? They so underestimate teenagers. I had a crush on Mike Darby. Mike was lanky and horse-faced, with tousley brown hair, but I thought he was adorable. Mike was popular. He was on the football team. Everyone knew who he was. He did not know who I was. I would fantasize that he would say hello to me. That was how silly and naive I was. I did not even consider hand-holding or kissing. At age thirteen, such conjectures were well without my realm of possibility. No. Saying hello was about as brave as I could get.

Because of my crush, I wrote “I like MD” on my palm. Why did I do that? Did some little part of me hope he would notice and fall instantly in love with me at the sight of his initials inscribed on my hand? Was I a fool? Come to think of it, I doubt I thought much of anything. I probably sat there in my teenage, hormone-addled state, reading something from the library. I read a lot in the library. In fact, I took pride in the fact that I had read every book in the junior high library by the end of eighth grade. I also won the library’s “Ghastly Riddle Contest” at Halloween. It was a sort of treasure hunt through haunted books whereby clues were given in the form of quotes. You went to the quote and it would lead you to another clue. It required some knowledge of the books involved to locate the original quotes. A weekly clue would be handed out to help you when you were stumped. I won a nice set of horse books, which I still have, actually. I think they knew that I would win since I spent every free moment in the library.

Anyway, I digress. Back to my lusting after Mike Darby by hoping he would say hello. I had taken the liberty of professing my love via ball point pen. I sat hiding in the far row of Sex Ed class. I do not recall the name of the teacher, but I remember what he looked like. He was one of the coaches. He was tall and stocky, with blonde hair shorn closely like in the military. Unlike some teachers, he was actually pretty kind to me. The head cheerleading coach acted like I was a virus she might catch if I asked her something about the pre-algebra that she taught. But Mr. Sex Ed was pleasant enough.

There I sat in Mr. Sex Ed’s class. It was a sunny afternoon and I remember sitting and staring lazily into the sunbeams. I had done the reading. Mr. Sex Ed was dozing up front. Most of the class was chatting and passing notes back and forth. Suddenly Kelly Dee, who sat behind me, leaned forward in her chair and peered over at me.

An aside about Kelly Dee. When my parents chose to move our family to “the country” because that is where I thought I wanted to live in order to have a horse, I was in the sixth grade. The little school in our town had one grade per class and each class had about twelve students. Kelly Dee was in my class. She immediately befriended me and nearly as immediately dumped me when she discovered that I did not smoke, drink, or swear, and that I rode horses and read books. She had perfectly feathered blonde hair. I did not have perfectly feathered blonde hair. Mine curled in all the wrong places and my mom cut it for me. How humiliating.

Kelly Dee wore San Franciscos and Sticky Fingers and had several colors of Nike swish shoes. I had one pair of Sticky Fingers, no San Franciscos, and no Nike swish shoes. I wore Keds and Keds were not popular. Kelly Dee knew that one was supposed to carry a large comb in one’s back pocket. Until meeting her, I was not privy to such inside information. Essentially, Kelly Dee had all the makings of a cool person while I had zero. By the end of ninth grade when this incident took place, we were in junior high and I did not exist. Kelly Dee was a cheerleader. She still had perfectly feathered hair. Mine still curled in the wrong places. I think I may have finally acquired a pair of Nike swish shoes and a comb, but they were clearly not noticed in the library where I spent all of my time.

I was not happy to have Kelly Dee peering over my shoulder. Kelly Dee did not involve herself with me except to make my life miserable. She had completely mastered the pretend to be friendly and suck me in while simultaneously concocting some nasty evil plot approach. She would say something that seemed kind. Weaving back and forth, back and forth, hypnotizing me, I would respond to the false kindness, believing for a moment that she might actually be friendly, whereupon she would suddenly expose her true nature, losing the lovely exterior, spitting in my eyes and becoming the cobra she truly was. Once she put gum in my hair without my notice. Usually she would say something really ugly and make her friends laugh. “Do you use butter grease to style your hair?” she would sneer. Her friends would erupt in laughter. Ha ha. Real funny. You’re so clever, why don’t you hit the comedy circuit?

Back in Sex Ed, she wanted to know, “Who is MD?” Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh. Fuck.

“Nobody you know.” My heart was pounding. Why couldn’t she just go away? Why did she have to torture me? Was I really such an obvious target? Apparently so because she did not go away. “So who is it?”

“No one you know. Someone from another school.” God, please don’t let her know. Mike Darby was in that class. If he found out. Oh crap.

“What’s his name? MD. MD. Is it Mike Darby?” What the….? How in the hell had she nailed that on the first try? Maybe she saw my hand and worked it out before saying anything.

“No. No, it’s not Mike Darby. It is not. No.” I stammered, obviously flustered. I must have seemed like a giant bullseye for her pointy cobra fangs.

“It’s Mike Darby isn’t it.” It wasn’t even a question. “You like Mike Darby. Wow.” She turned and told her friend, another Kelly who must not have been so evil because I do not remember her last name. “She likes Mike Darby. Can you believe it?” Kelly could not believe it. In fact, she was so shocked that she had to share it with the girl next to her.

Then Kelly Dee did the unthinkable. She called out to Mike Darby, “Hey Mike. Lara likes you.” Oh my dear God, please kill me now. I should be punished for having written those damn initials on my hand. Actually, I was being punished for having written those damn initials on my hand. Mike Darby turned and looked over in our direction. He may have been looking at me. I don’t know. I was staring at my desk and begging the gods to reach down and suck me from my chair. Anything, anything but this.

“Is this bad news true?” he asked. All the kids who had been paying attention laughed.

My pain was complete. Not only had I been fully humiliated by darling Kelly Dee, Mike Darby saw my liking him as bad news and he wasn’t afraid to say so. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I suffered through the remainder of the class, wishing I could disappear. Having ensured she had gotten a good and deep bite right into the side of my head, Kelly Dee was no longer interested in torturing me. She moved on to discussions of cheerleading routines and hairdos. My face burned and the room swam. I pretended to read my Sex Ed book. At least I could say the bad news was no longer true. I no longer liked Mike Darby and could not wait for class to end so I could go and wash my hand.

Once the bell rang, I shuffled through my belongings to take as long as possible to leave class and ensure I did not have to rise and move with the other students. After every one of them was gone I sat for a few more seconds. Alone in the room, I took a deep breath. It seemed like it had been long enough for the lot of them to clear out of the hallway.

I must have lacked some serious capacity to foretell possibilities because it had not been long enough for Mike Darby to clear out of the hallway. He was the only one left, digging through his locker that was just across the hall from the Sex Ed classroom. Mine was down past his, requiring that I pass him, completely humiliated. Thankfully, he did not look up as I shuffled quickly by. Perhaps part of his dismay at my liking him had been for show. Certainly his reaction had been. At least he left me alone. I went to my locker, deposited my books, and took the long way around to P.E. class because the direct route would have taken me past his locker again, and there was no way I was going there.

Junior high is certainly a breeding ground for mean people. Volumes have been written on the subject. Millions have been made in movies about the outcasts being tortured. Pleasure is taken in the geek who grows up and shows up to the high school reunion in a helicopter. I think we all assume that as adults this crap goes away. Unfortunately, that’s wishful thinking. Even if you grow into a swan and develop inner strength and confidence, there are those people who never move past being mean to you.

Lucky for me we moved away from that school after ninth grade, so Kelly and her friends were only able to harass me during those three years of junior high. I heard that she got pregnant her senior year in high school. A few years after graduation, I saw her at a discount store. She was extremely heavy and was dragging around four ruffian-looking children. A friend of mine who had finished school with her said they all had different fathers (not that this is a bad thing). I remembered her bragging in eighth grade about drinking and having sex. Maybe whatever made her so damn mean was also what made her gain a lot of weight and have lots of kids by the time she was 23. She’d clearly hit her prime in junior high. She was still mean though. At the store, she came up to me and sneered, “You think you’re really hot now, don’t you, Lara?”

I remember looking at her, not knowing who she was because she looked so wretched and different. When it was obvious I hadn’t a clue about her identity, she said, “I’m Kelly, Kelly Dee,” like I was retarded or something. Funny. I realize now what she said sounded like Forrest, Forrest Gump. I said hello and turned to continue walking with my mom.

This happened decades ago, but it still follows me around. There is a man I’m interested in. In a recent conversation, after he said something about himself that impressed me to no end, I let my interest be known (at least I think I did). I then began to babble. When I get nervous, I babble, and nothing makes me more nervous than liking someone and thinking I let him know. For hours after being around him, I felt horribly humiliated and embarrassed. What the hell was I thinking? Why did I say that? Why didn’t I just shut up!?!? I berated myself. Random pieces of the conversation kept coming back to me and I wanted to go hide under a rock. I still kinda do…

Today I told my best friend Debbie about this man I like, this conversation, what I said, and how I felt. I told her how utterly and completely stupid I feel every time I think about it, wishing and hoping I had just kept it all to myself, worrying about what he must think of me. She couldn’t believe this was my reaction. I always have this reaction when I am interested in someone and let them know, I told her. She couldn’t understand it. It led me back to remembering Mike Darby and Kelly Dee in Sex Ed class in ninth grade. Oh, the pure, devilish humiliation. It must be the origin stories for the feelings I have experienced for as long as I can remember when liking someone. I know there was a brief period during my sophomoric twenties when it wasn’t like this, but I’m pretty sure that in my twenties I was much cuter than I am now and boys were usually chasing me rather than the other way around. Since I have gotten older and less nubile, I don’t have hoards of men interested in me. Not just no hoards, I have none at all, so it’s usually me lusting in secret hoping to hell I don’t give myself away. I have no fear of public speaking. I can speak in front of crowds of people. Yet let me give it away to a man I might be interested and I’m 13 again, dying inside and praying he didn’t notice.

Gads.

If Wishes Were Horses

I have heard the expression If wishes were horses. I don’t know where I heard this. I am resisting googling this before I write so my writing is not colored by whatever I find on the internets. I keep thinking that if wishes were horses, there would not be enough room on the planet to sustain all of them. And also that wishing and wishing and wishing does not make something true. Desire, desire, desire leads to wishing, wishing, wishing. If every wish were a horse this would be a very strange planet. And what about the horses themselves? Perhaps they are wishing too. What then?

For me, if wishes were horses, there would be a herd indeed.

I did do an internets search and found out that it comes from an old proverb. Horses can be interchanged with birds and fishes. This proverb is recorded in English from quite an early date. A version of the expression appeared in the published works of William Camden in the 17th century. The first known citation of the proverb in the form we now know it is in James Carmichaell’s Collection of Proverbs in Scots:

If wishes were horses, beggers wald ryde.

The date of Carmichaell’s work is unclear, but it does appear to have been published in his lifetime and he died in 1628. Whether it was Carmichaell or Camden who first recorded the proverb is currently not known.

I wonder if this means that beggars didn’t get to ride horses in those days. This should not surprise me. Owning a horse is an expensive proposition. Capitalism would have ensured that those at the bottom of the food chain did not own a horse, which requires food and shoeing and a place to live. No, beggars would not have ridden.

Okay, stream of consciousness, too early because I can’t sleep post is over. Suffice to say, for me, if wishes were horses, I wald haft love.

Feeling Love Means Feeling Everything

And with one push
it falls
Falling
Falling
F
A
L
L
I
N
G
Then broken.

Shards of glass where there used to be a heart.

Can you imagine someone feeling so happy with you that they cannot be with you because feeling happy by necessity thereby demands they feel other feelings as well? And they don’t want to feel happiness because they might feel pain? How narrow a conception of life. How much love isn’t felt in this world because of the fear of pain. This is to me, tragedy.

Doubt

Doubt is like a leak in the wall. It gets in and under and around. At first, you’re not even sure it’s there. But then you realize a dampness has spread like a cancer into all the tissues. If you’re not careful, the foundation will be shot and it will all have to be replaced. Three weeks from enthusiasm to doubt. I suppose it’s better to get to doubt sooner rather than later, before having invested much.

I have decided to give up trying to stay in bed and sleep when I awaken too early. I will sit and stare at the wall rather than lying and staring at the backs of my eyelids.

Good Adult Crush Ideas

I read an article that said adult crushes can be more difficult than adolescent crushes because you can’t give your best friend a note to hand to the guy in 4th period and my immediate thought was, “Why not?” Maybe you can’t do it in 4th period, but you could get your best friend to hand the guy a note somewhere else, like perhaps the water cooler at work if the guy you have a crush on is at work, or perhaps on the playground if the guy you have a crush on is another parent. Maybe you could pass a note via car windshield wipers. Just leave a note that says, I ❤ U. Maybe he’ll have a crush too and wonder if it was you that left it (or he could think he has a weird stalker, but just pretend that isn’t a possibility). You’ll just know it was him when you get the note back with a “2” written after the U. Plus there is no reason you couldn’t get your friend to leave the note. This might help prevent any stalker suspicion as well, especially if you have lots of good friends who could do this for you. And you could also do all those crush things you did as an adolescent like “accidentally” waiting for a drink at the water fountain. This works especially well at work with the water cooler. You just saunter over casually with your cup and get some water when he does. If he’s liking you and he’s sauntering over to the water cooler too, then you’ll both end up drinking a lot of water and this could result in a lot of bathroom trips at the same time and maybe, just maybe, you might bump each other on the way. Squeee!!! Isn’t the thought just too much?!?!?

This has real potential. I have to disagree with the author of that article. She didn’t have enough imagination about this. She probably doesn’t really have any crush as an adult. She’s probably married already and doesn’t need a crush. Her editor told her to write an article on adult crushes and she couldn’t think of anything to say except boring things like passing notes in 4th period. That editor should give me the assignment. I could come up with some really great adult crush ideas that aren’t difficult at all. I just know it.

The Crazy Train

I need to find some way of unclogging words. Words used to flow from my fingertips. No longer. I sit down to write and nothing comes out. Oh, I have ideas, but I don’t have the time to write them. I’m too over-scheduled with nothing. It’s all like yesterday, driving and driving. I drive to work, then drive to here to get a check, then drive to the bank, then drive back here, then drive to the pool, then drive here, then drive to the ice skating rink, and anytime I stop here in the middle I collapse on my bed. My poor children. They’re only going to know me horizontally.

My mom had a stroke on Sunday. Such a weird thing to have happen. Not so much I suppose, but I spent 2 days saying the words out loud to try and make them sink in. Really? She had a stroke? My mom is officially old. It sneaks up on you, this aging thing.

The stroke has brought enormous stresses because my parents are dysfunctional in the extreme, particularly my step-father. He brings criminals and misfits home to live with them because of some delusional, misguided fantasy of recreating his delusional, misguided childhood. He does not ask my mother. He is like an addict in his behavior, filling up on drama. He used to drink, but quit during my teens, trading the booze for chaos. I will get drunk on that instead, his mind seems to say.

My mother is the long-suffering wife who is not asked permission and does not insist on it. She has stayed in this misbegotten union, the first excuse being that she stayed for the sake of my brother when he was growing up, the second being that she did not want to give up their beautiful land. Neither is a valid excuse or a real one. Both are destroyed as a result of this hapless pairing. No two people are more ill-suited to one another than these two and together only bad things happen.

These two people (ages 68 and 69) are also raising my brother’s child, a 6 year old girl, taken from her drug addict, ex-con mother after she was abused violently as a toddler while my brother was in prison. My niece is better off with my parents than she would be with her mother, but that is not saying much. They are too old and neither has strong parenting skills. Even without the crazy criminal running around, I have been gunning in the background for a change for her. I think the best option at this point is for her to live with my sister. My sister may be a fundamentalist Christian who raises her children to smile even when they feel sad, but this is far preferable to the situation the child is in now.

My parents live on a farm. They have cows. A month and a half ago, a cow who was protecting her calf gored my step-father in the stomach. (Yes, cows have horns. It seems to be the first thing everyone says, that they thought only bulls had horns.) It was the most bizarre situation. The horn did not break the skin, not one bit. Yet after the goring, there was clearly damage. He was taken to the hospital where exploratory surgery revealed that the horn had split the muscles lining his gut like a scalpel. The 8 inch slice went clear through, and his intestines were poking out. Yet the skin was fully intact. The doctors had never seen anything like it. They cut the skin open, poked the intestines back in, and sewed him back up. The point of this story, here in the middle of all this other chaos? The cow has chased my father again. She is dangerous, pure and simple.

And finally, the latest ex-con, drug addict my step-father dragged home has been stealing from them and has threatened their safety. My dad has been parking his car at the end of their driveway (the fabled driveway I walked down as a child in rain or snow or sleet), sleeping in it with a gun to protect his precious stuff from the lunatic. I have to wonder whether the label has not been comprehensively applied.

Toss into this salad of insanity a stroke. I have little doubt the stroke was induced by the stress of bull goring, the out-of-control 6 year old, and the crazy criminal drug addict causing all sorts of drama and disharmony.

Tests revealed that my mother’s carotid artery was filled with plaque. For as long as I can remember, my mother has worried about her cholesterol. She is one of those people for whom eating is a chore because she is counting calories and examining labels and worrying and fretting over this cholesterol level. It always seemed to me if she would just eat actual food, stuff that grew out of the ground or walked on the earth, and then tossed in a bit of exercise, she would be fine. But it hasn’t been as simple as that for my mom. She still eats things that have an ingredients list, always tries to fit in substitutes for real food, and does not exercise at all.

Because of the plaque, Mom’s brain has not been getting enough oxygen, which explains her increasing confusion. Because of the stroke, she got surgery to remove this plaque, and will get medicine to keep it at bay. Her brain is now filled with the blood it was so desperately lacking. The doctors can’t do anything about the enormous stress, however. That change is up to her. And us, I imagine.

At the hospital the day before surgery, my sister and I staged an intervention of sorts. We brought in hospital staff to help us explain to my mother that she and our niece are are first priority and that neither can go back to the insanity that has been their life. It cannot happen.  There is too much risk, the obviousness of which cannot be overstated.

Someone asked me the other day if I date. I laughed. Right. When? When would that happen? And who? If I had time, which I don’t. If I had interest, which I don’t. And I would be almost embarrassed to have to explain my family to a normal person. I do not participate much in the drama train. I moved away a looong time ago. I get most of my information about these situations second-hand. Whenever I visit, it’s enough to keep me away for months again at a time. It frightens me. It frustrates me. I don’t want my children exposed to it. My children have such a different experience than I had that they are confused by the chaos there. I have not been able to change it; that’s their job. Growing up, I was the black sheep Cassandra who spoke out against it and was punished for it. I’ve come to terms with this, grieved it, accepted it, forgiven it, and moved on. How else could I ensure that I did not pass the insanity on to my own children? I decided long ago, long before a child should ever have to make such a decision, that my children would experience a different reality.

Yet here it is again, the crazy train. I guess I’m glad that I don’t bring my own emotional upheaval to the mix in trying to deal with it. If I were still angry, if I had not worked through all those old feelings, I don’t know how I would have reacted to all this. But it’s weird. Every time we think we’ve escaped, it seeps back into our lives. You can never completely get away.

This is why the words don’t come. My attention is directed in too many directions. I have so little time. I only managed this because I can’t sleep in the light, even if it’s light peeking around light-blocking shades, and I can’t sleep after I have risen, even if it’s at 5:34 a.m. My bladder wakes up with the sun and forces me out of bed, and I can’t go back to sleep. So today I got up, picked up the computer, and wrote this. Sleep would have been more satisfying for me, but oh well. Maybe someday life will free itself and the words will come again. I genuinely hope so.

Autumn — Chapter 15

Read Autumn — Chapter 14

In spring of 2003, I graduated from law school. I studied for and completed the bar exam. After taking the test but before getting the results, I was hired by a law firm. Whether I would keep the job was contingent upon my having passed the bar. The firm was in NE Portland, a forty minute drive from our country suburb house in the middle of nowhere.

The reality of consequences was gradually squeezing me into the accepting that some decisions can impact a life for a long time. Less than three years earlier, during my first term in law school, I discovered with a panic that perhaps I had made a grave error. Yet the cost of that error was already well over ten-thousand dollars. If I quit, I would have to repay that sum, and if I wasn’t practicing law, how would I do that? And so I soldiered on.

My dismay grew the remainder of that year. However, second year was an improvement, and I began to believe perhaps the error was not so disastrous as I first thought. By graduation and beyond, I had returned to my original assessment, that I should never have gone to law school. Only after completion I was much further in debt, and much more discomposed. While I loved the academic rigor of law school, I was not enamored of the practice of law. I began to see the entire enterprise as one magnificent, horrendously expensive mistake.

Simultaneously, I was coming to terms with personal consequences as well. I knew three months after meeting Bjorn that we were not the most suitable pair. We were simply completely different. We could spend forty-five minutes arguing a point, only to discover we were arguing the same side. I was extremely energetic, always on the move, and constantly trying new things. Bjorn took life at a slower pace. He preferred hanging out at home and watching sports on television to buzzing around to various events. When we bought the first house, even though it was brand new, I wanted to dive in and start new projects, fixing it up. Bjorn liked it fine the way it was. About our only real connection was the love we jointly shared for our daughter.

Life was forcing me to take a good, hard look at the choices I had made, often on the fly, and determine whether a course correction was in order. I was driving nearly 45 minutes in one direction to my job. I didn’t hate the job, but I didn’t love it either, and making that commute seemed not worth it. I was living in a house and neighborhood with others who did not share my values, my politics, or much of anything except real estate. And sadly, I knew I was no longer in love with the father of my child, and nor was he in love with me. House linked to career linked to relationship, a concatenation of choices was leading me down the path to misery. Change was in order.

Bjorn and I had discussed ending our relationship several times over the course of a year. Early in the pre-dawn hours of the new year, after leaving a New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house in Salem, the two of us were rehashing the menu from the evening as we drove along the winding country roads in the dark.

I was always the health nut, eliminating high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil years before it became commonplace to do so. Bjorn liked junk food and fast food, and didn’t feel bad about it or any need to eat any differently. The party food had been mostly junk food and I was lamenting the lack of healthy snacks. I was also hungry.

“If you would just eat the junk, there wouldn’t be a problem,” Bjorn informed me, driving down the blackened, curved highway under the cold, winter moon and low, shredded clouds.

“I don’t have a problem,” I retorted. “We are just different. This is what I have been saying for months now. This is just one of many reasons why I do not think we are good together or for each other.” The passenger seat where I sat was reclined back, nearly touching the car seat holding a sleeping Milla. I slumped there, trying to make myself comfortable.

Bjorn didn’t say anything for a long time, such a long time in fact that I began almost to doze off. Then out of the silence he said, “You’re right.”

And with that, we ended our relationship of five and a half years.

Even though we were no longer a couple, neither of us immediately moved out and on. We had recently decided to sell the country suburb house and move into Portland. We had been looking for a house together, and I simply switched and began looking for a house on my own. Bjorn had been working as an engineer, but wanted to move into another area of engineering entirely, an area in which he was unlikely to find employment in the Portland area. He had begun sending out resumes to companies in other cities.

I wanted an old house, preferably a bungalow. I had been looking and looking, but this was the beginning of the housing bubble and prices were starting to get really steep. It was still possible to find affordable houses, but they usually came with another sort of price in that they were further out, in a less desirable neighborhood, or needed a lot of work. If it needed work, that was fine with me. I relished the opportunity. I was less willing to live further out, and I would not even consider some of the more troublesome neighborhoods because it would be just me and Milla living there. We had the dogs, but there was only so much they could do, and I didn’t want them to get hurt either. Often a neighborhood looked fine on the outside, but Portland had been experiencing an influx of Russian and Mexican gangs. No thanks.

After only a few weeks of searching, I found my house. Built in 1920, it needed tons of cosmetic work, but was structurally quite sound. With a few changes, the house would be perfect for us. It also had a lovely, floral back yard, as well as a side yard already fenced and lined with bark chips for the dogs. The support beams under the eaves were carved with loops and bows. This house was charming and perfect, so I bought it.

I had major plans for renovating and started immediately, before we even moved in. Bjorn moved to the house as well, and the two of us demolished the kitchen. It was the only place in the house that was truly awful. The counters were covered with tiny brown tiles that had not been installed properly. There was more grout than tile and each swipe of a sponge brought up a handful of dust, dirt, and goo.

In the four and a half years I lived in that house, I made many changes:  I installed an entirely new kitchen, put in a new kitchen window with rising double panes, to replace the former single-paned window that did not open at all, a travesty in a kitchen. I replaced the floors in the kitchen with new tiles. I removed the ugly, industrial grey tile in the bathroom, covering the floor with small, square white tiles. I removed a wall in the second room that opened into a small room with no real purpose, creating one giant bedroom. In that larger room, I installed a closet and discovered space above the stairs in the wall and turned it into a cupboard, using period knobs for the doors. I built a wall along the far side of the bigger second room, then opened a door into the master bedroom, creating a walk-in closet in a room that formerly had no closet at all.

While making the place for the door, I discovered newspapers from 1925 under the wallpaper advertising “Paris Frocks for Only $25.99!” I moved the front door from the master bedroom back into the living room where it belonged. I designed and installed built-in bookshelves in the living room, matching the woodwork at the base and along the top edge with the woodwork throughout the house. I painted the entire interior of the house with many lovely colors. I replaced all the light fixtures with period fixtures, and replaced a couple of windows that were no longer functional.

I also removed the jungle that covered the front of the house and built a rock wall, then covered everything in flowers. This was quite a chore as there was a 75-foot tall camellia bush that was so close to the house, it hung over the roof. I advertised the bush for free to anyone who would come and remove it. Two men arrived with a trailer and tools and excavated it over the course of a week, before driving it away on a flatbed trailer. There were also many scrubby azaleas who found new homes via the internet. For some reason, someone had installed sheep fencing in the front yard between the camellia and the maple tree near the sidewalk. Twisted and rusting, it was covered in ivy that used the sheep fencing as a ladder to higher reaches in the trees. All of it I removed and replaced with grass and smaller shrubs and flowers. I built a rock wall along the sidewalk, dragging the stones in three carloads from a rock quarry nearby.

Every job was done with the period of the house in mind, and in the end, it was charming and engaging. It was the perfect project. I did not have the money to hire contractors for most of the work, and therefore I did it all myself. I hired an electrician to replace the wiring and update that, and my dad installed the new bathtub fixtures and the front door, but everything else was done with my own two hands. It was a lot of work, but I loved that house and loved the end result.

Four months after I bought the house, Bjorn was offered a job in Florida doing exactly the kind of engineering he wanted, designing medical implants. Within three weeks of the job offer, he packed his truck and set off, leaving me alone with our daughter and the dogs.

On the one hand, I was relieved to let go of the tension between us. On the other, life became much more difficult. First there was the house. Even though it was a project of love, it was still a lot of work, especially for a full-time, working single mother. Milla was attending kindergarten and would go to aftercare there after school. Because of the hours at aftercare, I had to cut back one hour per day at the office, leaving at 5 instead of 6. This did not change my workload, only the hours I sat in the office doing it. In spite of the fact that the workload remained unchanged, the firm cut my pay, which I could barely afford.

I was also now the only person available to ensure Autumn was given her daily insulin shots twice every day. No matter where I was in the evening, I had to plan to ensure Autumn was medicated. I chose 7:15 as the time for these shots because it was early enough in the morning that I had not yet left for work, late enough that it would not be horrible to wake up to on the weekend, and early enough in the evenings that I could still do something after.

At times, I would take her with me in the car if I had to be somewhere and could not be home to give her a shot, a cooler in tow for the insulin, which had to be refrigerated. I also had to be careful not to shake the bottle because this could cause the insulin to become unstable and unusable.

In spite of the difficulties, we managed and forged a comfortable routine. Six months after Bjorn moved away, I left the firm and started my own practice. This brought its own stresses, but it was still easier setting my own time and getting work done at odd hours. I was freed up to attend more events at Milla’s school during the day, and it gave me much more flexibility for dealing with Autumn.

Over the next year, we settled into our lives with Bjorn far away and working at my new practice. I worked on the house on weekends and some afternoons during the week.

I took both dogs out of the house nearly every day. We lived near a dog park with a wide field where the dogs could run without leashes. Even on wet days, I would go and let them romp in the muddy grass, then wipe their paws before having them ride in the back of the car to home.

Autumn couldn’t get up into the car by herself, so I would lift her and get her situated. She would ride, watching the world go by, tongue lolling, ears perked, her happy face on. She loved car rides. Molly didn’t mind the car, but she preferred curling up in the corner or on the back seat.

Autumn actually didn’t seem to notice the poking of the needle into the skin at the back of her neck anymore. Every shot was followed immediately by food and she soon figured out that my shuffling around in the refrigerator door meant food was soon to be had, so she would wait right at my heels, eyes up, perky and expectant, waiting for that shot.

Needles. The funny thing about giving a shot is that the first few times you do it, it’s terrifying to think of the pain it’s inflicting. After you’ve given fifty shots, then a hundred, then several hundred, you can do it in your sleep. I suppose it’s like that for anything new. There is just something rather odd about doing something that becomes so familiar that is actually poking into another living body.

I will never forget those little orange tipped needles. I bought them in bulk from various pharmacy stores. I got to know where the deals were. The shocking thing was the difference in price from one store to the next, for the exact same needles of the same brand. It gave me some insight into what diabetics or others with chronic medical conditions face every day. The same box of needles would be ten dollars less than the cost somewhere else. The cheapest I found were about $17 for a hundred needles (they had to be thrown away after each use), but I found places that sold them for $33 for an identical box. I had the benefit of being strong and fit, so driving to another store where I knew the needles were cheaper was a fairly simple proposition. I could see how a mostly housebound senior would have a lot of difficulty shopping around.

After administering shots to Autumn twice daily for over a year, giving the shots became mundane and completely routine. On weekend mornings, I would wake up, stumble to the kitchen, roll the bottle in my hands, pull the shot, give it to her, feed her, and head back to bed, all in about three minutes flat. I don’t think I even really woke up. All the dogs knew the wake-up time, and if for some reason there was no alarm and I failed to awaken, one of them was guaranteed to rouse me from sleep.

One morning on a Saturday, I staggered into the kitchen, pulled the shot, and the phone rang. I squinted at the caller id, wondering sluggishly who would call at 7 a.m.on a Saturday. There was no way I could read the screen. I am ridiculously farsighted and my eyes were full of sleep.

I answered the call. It was Officer So-and-So from the Milwaukie Police Department. Did I have a golden colored dog? I informed him that I did, looking blindly around the kitchen for the neck I’d planned to shove a needle into not thirty seconds previously.

The officer went on to say that a yellow dog had been seen “wandering in a daze” down the road. She looked lost and starving. He responded to the call and found my number on her collar. He offered to bring her to me.

I explained that she had diabetes and that this was why she was so thin, that I had no idea she was out, that she was an escape artist of the highest order, and that I would be most grateful if he returned her to me. And please, I begged, don’t feed her anything.

Five minutes later, Autumn walked in the door, that diabetic-glazed look in her eye. I poked the shot into her neck, barely glancing down, I had done it so many times. I talked to the officer for ten more minutes, telling him Autumn’s story and about her magical ability to get out of the yard, and thanked him profusely as he drove off. I did not mention that I had failed to replace her underground fence collar after her bath the previous evening.

I was grateful Autumn was back, but I was really glad I did not get a “Dog at Large” ticket. Those can be expensive. I knew. Autumn had given them to me before. Even though the dog yard was fenced with underground wiring, it did not guard against escapes out the front or back doors, and I lived with a 5-year-old who had a habit of running out without making sure the latch had clicked. Autumn knew this and followed Milla around, waiting for any opportunity to slip out the door.

I was also extremely grateful he had not given her any food. On one occasion when Autumn escaped, a well-meaning yet misguided neighbor fed her two huge bowls of food before she keeled over in the woman’s kitchen. Why she waited to call me until after giving my dog a meal I’ll never know. Maybe she thought I was starving her on purpose or something, as if someone who was careful enough to tag a dog would be careless enough not to feed it.

In any case, when I went to retrieve Autumn from the neighbor’s house, the lady started to scold me for letting my dog get so thin, but I cut her off and explained that she had a chronic illness and that the food she gave her could have killed her, which is why she had keeled over.

I wanted to scream, “Why would you feed someone else’s dog, you idiot?” but did not. She didn’t know, and she thought she was helping. I used my glucose monitor to check Autumn’s blood. I ran the test, gave her an insulin shot, and she was back to normal within a half an hour. After that incident I went to the pet store and bought a tag that read, “I have a disease. DO NOT FEED ME!”

The glucose meter was a godsend and really the only part of all the illness-related activities Autumn endured that she seemed really to abhor. Other than testing urine, it was the best way for me to get a reading on Autumn’s insulin levels, especially if she had broken into the trash cupboard and found something to eat, or escaped and gotten something.

We had a strict food routine in the house whereby any food-based garbage went into the compost bucket, which was kept on a high shelf with a lid. When it was full it went into the compost bin out back, away from the dog area. The rest of our waste was separated into two containers, one for trash and the other for recycling. Autumn loved to get into the trash version and lick through whatever was in there, such as butter wrappers or soiled plastic wrap. Once the new cabinets were installed in the kitchen, I put in a double-garbage-can rack, placing the recycling in the front bin, and the trash in the back. There was a childproof latch on the door. When that was closed and the trash in the back, she was not able to get into it. However, Milla had a knack for leaving the door open and the whole thing pulled out. Autumn would then remove the can from the rack and go through whatever was inside.

One time shortly after we moved in, I arrived home to discover that Autumn had gnawed through the bottom corner of one of the kitchen boxes sitting stacked and unpacked on the kitchen floor. She had discovered all the dry good baking items and ate them. Molly had joined in on that escapade. I caught her because I discovered powdered sugar on her ears and muzzle. Naughty things.

Another time both dogs managed to get onto the table and eat a pan of chocolate cake.  I had heard the warnings that chocolate supposedly killed dogs, but this simply was not the case.  I read somewhere that it was only dogs who had an allergy that had to worry about eating it, but who wants to be the person making this discovery the first time?  It makes sense to keep the chocolate away just in case your dog is the one who is allergic.

However, potential life-threatening allergies did not stop my dogs from climbing on the table and eating an entire chocolate cake.  When Dan and I lived at his parent’s, Murphee climbed onto the island in the kitchen and ate a pan of brownies.  In all cases the worst thing that happened was the dogs came away with some really nasty gas, and we no longer had any dessert.  Apparently none of them suffered from chocolate allergy.

The glucose meter was a big help for these non-diabetic dog food eating sprees. However, in order to use the meter, I had to obtain a drop of Autumn’s blood. One end of the meter had a sharp lancet with which to pierce her skin. At the other end of the meter was a test strip onto which I smeared the blood to obtain a glucose reading. Autumn hated the pricking part. There was not any part of her body where it was easy to get a blood sample, mainly because she was furry. Only her lips and the pads of her paws were bare. The lips had to hurt; she yelped whenever I tried drawing blood from them, the skin was so thin and soft. But the pads of her paws were thick and extremely difficult to pierce enough to get blood. When I was able to poke them hard enough, it usually caused way more bleeding than was necessary for the meter, and this made her cry out as well. Digging that deep into the pads was painful. For this reason I only used the test when I knew she had eaten something she should not have. In addition the test strips were really expensive, so I didn’t want to use them up quickly. Humans would use the meters daily, because they could control their levels fairly precisely with diet. Autumn could only eat her prescription diabetic dog food, so it wasn’t necessary to monitor all the time.

Autumn was always so patient with the medical interventions she had to endure, but the lancets and subsequent rubbings were the one procedure for which she refused to sit still or comply. She would pull away and yelp, making it that much more difficult to get blood. But she was a dog – as much as I told her it would all be over soon, she just couldn’t get it. Sometimes I would be frustrated because she had gotten into something and made a huge mess, and then wouldn’t sit still so I could check her blood.

“If you wouldn’t get into anything, I wouldn’t have to do this,” I would scold, obviously more for my benefit than for hers.

I would read the meter and if the levels were high, give her more insulin. On occasion, the meter simply read HI, in its blocky digital letters. This meant her glucose levels were so high, they were off the chart, and insulin was required immediately.

Within a few months after her diagnosis, I noticed tiny white flecks in Autumn’s eyes. The flecks increased as the weeks progressed. I went online and discovered that Autumn was developing diabetic cataracts, a condition that is extremely common. I read somewhere that 75% of dogs with diabetes develop cataracts, and that their presence did not necessarily imply glucose levels were not under control.

In a normal eye, the lens is round, clear, and hard. It is connected by fibers that move so the eye can focus. It is enclosed in a capsule and gets fluids from the eye. The lens does not have its own blood supply. One of the fluids the lens absorbs is glucose. If there is too much glucose, the excess is converted into the sugars sorbitol and fructose. Sorbitol and fructose pull water into the lens which makes the lens cloudy, and a cataract is formed.

Some dogs develop complete cataracts fairly quickly after their diagnosis. Autumn’s developed slowly in comparison to some of the stories I read, and her cataracts were never completely solidly white; they were slightly less opaque than that. However, a year after the diagnosis, she could not really see. She would tilt her head and look at me as if she were peeking out the side of her eye, trying to see around the cataract. A couple of times she ran into the doorframe around the back door, but she quickly adapted and learned where her world was at. I could have had the vet perform surgeries to remove the cataracts, but we discussed it and ruled it out. The cost was over $1000 per eye, and the average life span of a dog with diabetes is two years from diagnosis. Even if Autumn lived another three years, the result did not justify the expense or the upheaval of a surgery. Blind dogs adapt quite well to living without sight, and Autumn was no exception.

After Autumn had been living with diabetes for nearly two years, she was almost completely blind, but she was lively. I would take her to the dog park and throw frisbees and sticks for her. I would set her up, touching her muzzle with whatever I was throwing, then guiding her head in the direction of my toss. Autumn would head out and look until she found what I’d thrown. Her sense of smell was fully intact, and she would find anything, no matter how far I had thrown it, as long as I pointed her in the right direction. She loved the game, turning and running right back to me to throw again, in that familiar trot she had inherited from Cody. She wore out easily though, and would lie down to shred the stick after only three or four passes letting me know she had had enough.

Read Autumn — Chapter 16

The Land of the Frogs

Once upon a time there was a lovely maiden who lived….

I am not a maiden.

What?

I am not a maiden. A maiden is a virginal unmarried girl, and while I have no desire to share the more intimate features of my life with you, I can say without equivocation that although I am not married, I am most definitely not a maiden.

Oh. Okay. Well then, once upon a time, there was a lovely damsel who lived…

Again with the virgins! What is up with you? I’m not a damsel either. A damsel is the same thing as a maiden. For pity’s sake! Can’t you get it right? I’m not terribly unhappy that you are calling me lovely. That’s actually quite nice. But the maidens and the damsels and all that. It doesn’t really detract from the story to know I’ve been living my life and have met a few fellows on the way, now does it?

Oh I suppose not. May I continue with my story now?

Okay. Sure. Go ahead. Thanks.

Once upon a time, there was a lovely broad who lived…

What?!?!?!? Broad? Are you joking?

Yes, actually I am. I just wanted to see if you were listening.

I am listening! Do you think I would have stopped you twice already if I was not paying attention? What would give you such an idea? Sheesh!

I don’t know. I’ll continue. Once upon a time there was a lovely lady who lived in a land where the males were frogs. These frogs weren’t the sort you could kiss and they would turn into princes either, they were actual frogs.

Okay. You have to be kidding. Why would I want to live with a bunch of frogs if none of them could turn into princes? What is that all about? I mean, a girl has some taste, you know.

Well the moral was going to be about falling in love for all the right reasons, like integrity, honesty, personality, etcetera, regardless of what the fellow looked like.

That’s all fine and good, but what is supposed to get me in the door? If the guy is froggy, how am I supposed to be attracted to him to discover all these magnificent inner qualities? What about biology? There has to be some reason we developed beauty to ensure the procreation of the species.

This may be true. However, could you allow that if all the men looked like frogs than that is what the women would know and they would find certain of the frogs attractive?

Hmmm. That’s an interesting proposition. Why don’t you continue with your story and I’ll think on it a bit.

That would be good, thanks. Most kind of you. I would like to get past the second or third line, if that is possible.

Sarcastic?

A bit. I continue. So the lady lived in a land where the men appeared as frogs. She had met a few of them and had relationships. But none of the relationships ever seemed to work out. As a younger woman, the most common reason for the failure of her relationships was that the frogs were mostly interested in jumping in the sack. I’m not talking about sex here, but an actual game where the frogs jumped around in sacks.

Okay. That’s dumb.

You’re interrupting.

But it’s stupid. The frogs wanted to jump in the sack and this was an actual game the frogs played? Come on! At least make the thing somewhat plausible. You’ve already got all these guys looking like frogs, which requires we suspend some belief as it is. Now you want us to buy into your pathetic attempt at a pun?

Fine. So the real reason most of her relatonships failed was the frogs wanted to have sex with her because she was gorgeous. There. Does that make you feel better?

Well at least it is more realistic, at least the part about the frogs wanting to have sex.

Is it, now? At least it shows you were right about the whole maiden/damsel thing.

Of course I was. Wait. Are you making me sound like some kind of sex maniac or something because I had sex with frogs who didn’t want anything more than a piece of ass?

That wasn’t my intention.

Well it came off that way.

May I continue?

Yes, certainly.

So as I said, by NO FAULT of the lady, most of the wretched frogs she met in her twenties were only after a roll in the hay and were not interested in a serious relationship based on honesty and communication.

There’s another reason I couldn’t have been a maiden/damsel.

You’re interrupting again. But what are you talking about?

You implied in that last bit that I’m no longer in my twenties. This would mean I’m in my thirties, or yikes! even my forties, God forbid. I would not think a maiden/damsel would be in her thirties or forties.

You’re probably right. The maiden/damsel would be sixteen. There. Are you happy now? Can we please continue? Okay, good. By the time our heroine had passed her twenties, she had been in a few longer-term relationships, but as was previously implied, the frogs involved were not particularly interested in much more than getting laid and watching sports on television. Oh, she’d gone out with a frog in a band and he didn’t watch much television between their acts of wanton lust, but instead spent his time playing gigs with the band and fending off groupies.

You know about him? Yeah, he was hot. Frogs in bands are trouble, let me just tell you that. Okay. Stop rolling your eyes. Go on.

Time rolled on and as she entered her thirties, the relationship failure rate seemed to increase, but for different reasons. The frogs she was meeting had figured out that ladies wanted frogs who were interested in more than sex, so they had learned to play the game of the interested pursuer. They could have long conversations. They could discuss politics and rhetoric, and were quite able to expound on the necessities and drawbacks of the women’s movement. They knew how to give excellent massages, and were quite adept at assuring women that they were interested in something far more meaningful than simple sex could ever provide.

Man, isn’t that the truth.

Come again?

That’s the truth. I’m telling you, I run through the list of guys I’ve been with in the last few years and all of them are fairly remarkable when it comes to talking the talk. They rope you in, slowly and carefully. It’s like they can wait for the big payoff. They don’t jump in, slam, bam, thank you ma’am. They build to a crescendo, that crescendo being them getting laid if they can pull it off.

I know it’s the truth. I’m telling the story, remember?

Oh right. Sorry again.

Thank you. As I was saying, our heroine kept meeting frogs who seemed to be interested in a real relationship based on mutual trust, communication, and all that. Unfortunately, each time things became serious, the frogs would hop off into the ponds and hide under their lily pads, never to be heard from again. This always caught the lady by surprise. One day the frog would be discussing a shared future of dreams and aspirations, the next day he would be gone.

The first few times this happened, the lady was extremely distressed. What in the world is going on here? Where did he go? What happened? She would discuss the disappearances ad nausem with her friends. None of them could figure it out. It just seemed to make no sense. Why would the frogs act like they wanted a long-term relationship then disappear as soon as it seemed likely? Over time, the lady came to expect the disappearances. She was slower to show interest, waiting to see if the frog would hop away at the first sign of real intimacy. She stopped having sex with the frogs unless sex was all she wanted. She…

Oh good. I didn’t want it to sound like I was always so serious. Okay, okay! Put down your eyebrows. I’m listening.

Right. Carrying on then. Our heroine began paying attention and recognized the signs sooner. The runaway frogs were consistent in their reasons for relationships failing. Most of them were unwilling to acknowledge their own shortcomings, but could gloss this over in such a way that at first it appeared they were quite introspective and self-deprecating. They could discuss in great depth their concerns for a previous lover’s issues concerning self-esteem or family dysfunction. They were able to articulate in some detail the meaning behind an ex-girlfriend’s struggles with her weight or body image.

Unfortunately, when the same magnifying glass was turned towards them, the frogs were unable or unwilling to see or discuss their own need for growth. If our heroine observed that perhaps they might deflect any questions on their own development with humor or pointed out during a disagreement that the frog had an amazing ability to find fault with others without acknowledging any responsibility of his own, the frog ran off and jumped in a pond without so much as a backward glance.

She began to realize that the frogs also had a way of projecting their own fears onto her. If they were terrified of expressing anger, for instance, they would claim she was too angry as they peeked out from beneath their lily pads. “Why did you cuss at that driver? How dare you glare at the rude clerk? What is the matter with you, lady? You must have an anger problem!” If they were terrified of expressing affection, they would claim she was too willing to affect in public. “Why would you kiss me here?” the frog would ask. “Are you trying to make people think you want me to be a prince?” Such statements dumbfounded the lady. What in the world were these frogs thinking?

My, that is distressing.

What is distressing?

These frogs you are talking about. They are all so, I don’t know, pitiful somehow. And you haven’t mentioned all the work I’ve done on myself to become a better and stronger person. Don’t you think our readers would like to hear about that?

I’m sure they would, but I thought such things were implicit. Would it make you happier if I mentioned that after each failed attempt you would do a self-analysis to figure out what you learned and how to do things differently next time?

Yes, that would be good. And mention I spent some time with a therapist. Let them know I’m not trying to make this all the frogs’ fault. That would not be the honest thing to do.

Okay. Our heroine went to a therapist and ascertained she was not suffering from any major mental illness. There. Does that make you feel better?

Not exactly, but go on. I want to hear what happens.

Finally, after one particularly heart-wrenching breakup, our heroine decided that it was perhaps best to swear off frogs for a while. Maybe I could take up dressmaking, she thought. Or drums. That’s it. I’ll take up drums. She began banging on the drums at all hours of the day and night. This did not please her neighbors, so she took up rock collecting and underwater floral arranging instead. These were peaceful activities and kept her mind somewhat occupied. However, with time, our heroine grew increasingly bored. Her extra room was filled with rocks of all sorts and her fingers had become rather wrinkly from all the underwater floral arranging she had done.

Excuse me.

Now what? I was on a roll.

Can I ask you something? How come you keep calling me “our heroine.” How come you don’t give me a name?

Because I was trying to keep everyone from developing a preconceived notion of who you are.

I’m me. Why would anyone preconceive about that?

Well the readers don’t know you yet. To them you are just our heroine. Give them a name and they will associate you with every Cinderella or Jennifer they know.

I just thought I should have a name, that’s all.

Being nominally anonymous allows the readers to apply your lessons to all women. Wouldn’t you like that? Plus heroines have a particular aura to them, wouldn’t you agree? There is an implicit beauty in their being a heroine.

That’s a nice thought. I wouldn’t mind being beautiful.

You are beautiful dear, on the inside and the out.

You are so kind.

Thank you. May I continue?

Please do.

One night the lady and a friend went out to view art. They found a place where painters and sculpters and various artists of all sorts had gathered together and were displaying various pieces of their work. As she meandered from one piece of art to another, she noticed a particularly hunky frog following her. She pointed him out to her friend. Do you see him? she asked? Doesn’t it look like he’s following me? Her friend allowed that it did indeed appear as if he were following her. To test her hypothesis, our heroine veered off to view a particularly large, phallic sculpture. She stared at it with consternation. What in the world, she wondered, would inspire someone to carve a giant penis? Wishful thinking?

“It’s hopeful, isn’t it?” a voice next to her asked. She glanced over and noticed the hunky following frog. He had marvelous, bulgy blue eyes and hair that begged for fingers to comb through its soft tendrils. She was amazed a frog could have such fantastic hair. He also had several very attractive red spots on his shoulders.

Yes, she answered, I suppose it has a bit of hope about it. Real dreaming. Sometimes you have to wonder. She noticed that his hands were large, his fingernails trimmed and clean, his skin a warm green.

“Hopeful and silly. I wonder why this kind of thing is still given credence, like it has something unique to say. Like we haven’t all seen such ambitious desperate attempts in the past, even at some high school art show. If I make a sculpture of a giant penis, I will be daring.” He looked directly at her as he spoke, his attention completely engaged. It was hypnotizing.

Yes, pushing the boundaries.

“Unique like everyone else making giant penises.”

Exactly.

Their banter went on for some time. Our heroine discovered that her friend had met an acquaintance and the two were chatting amiably. Following frog continued to follow her, all the while making witty observations about different pieces of art. He took…

So what, is this where she meets someone and falls in love? Because it looks like that is where your heading, and since I’m not in love and haven’t fallen in love, I’m kind of confused. I mean, I know who you are talking about, but it didn’t go anywhere you know.

Are you planning to allow me to finish the story? I know what happens. You know what happens. But no one else does.

Okay, fine. If you want to go through the whole thing, go ahead. Tell them how he came over to my house. Tell them how we had a grand time goofing off but did nothing more than kiss for a while. Then tell them how he didn’t call for several days and didn’t pursue me any further. Then perhaps you can explain why he is any different than any of the others and why we should be spending this much time on him.

Well he was different from the others. When you decided to let him know you were genuinely interested, he responded, didn’t he? And when you finally starting hanging out, the two of you didn’t have any long drawn out conversations about your relationship. You didn’t discuss your future with him. You also had sex with him pretty quickly. And that sex, oooh boy! Twice, sometimes three times a day. It was truly remarkable, his capacity and stamina. Do you forget that you had some difficulty walking normally on certain occasions?

Oh, I know. I remember. Yes, that part was different. But the end result wasn’t. He didn’t fall madly in love with me. I probably could have fallen in love with him, but he wouldn’t have given me a chance to do that. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to have sex. I knew this going in. To expect any more or want any more would have been foolish. And there were his problems with self confidence, and his periodic silent treatments. I guess I just don’t understand why he’s getting more detail than the others.

Because, dear, he is interesting. He is quite funny and absolutely brilliant.

Well, artists often are. And he’s definitely an artist. He’s actually making a living at it, and you can’t say that of many artists.

And he didn’t run and hide under his lily pad. He was fun. I just thought perhaps people would like to hear about your watching movies together, laughing like fiends, going on bizarre roadtrips, and boinking like rabbits. All the other frogs were so, I don’t know, serious. They were much too boring.

I know, I know. Unfortunately, I’m still too cynical about the whole thing. He still opted to go his own way and leave me to mine. And although we didn’t have the little “talk,” I know he was terrified to death of our relationship turning into anything more serious. If you want to know the truth, frankly I’m sick of frogs.

Yes, I know. Perhaps it would be better to tell a different story, the one where you travel the world and have many adventures.

I would like that.

Okay, that is what we’ll do. For now, we’ll leave off frogs. I can see your point. They are a bit pathetic, aren’t they? We’ll focus on your traveling adventures. Maybe you can meet some other species besides frogs, some species that might actually turn into a prince.

I won’t hold my breath.

Me either.

So our heroine traveled the world and met many fascinating people and adventures and lived happily ever after. The End.

That was great.

You liked it?

I did. Thanks a bunch. You painted me in a positive light, I think.

I hope so. I aim to please. Good luck to you.

Thanks, you too.

(This is a piece of fiction.  Any resemblance to any human or frog, living or not, is perhaps likely considering the author’s brain is composed of actual experiences.  However, this is a completely fictional story.  This story is not intended to be seen as a replica of the author’s life.)

If It’s Not Okay, It’s Not the End

I have determined again what I already knew, that I am a hopeless romantic. Not romantic in the sense of rebellion against the industrial revolution and age of enlightenment, but romantic as in loving happy endings, but that isn’t exactly right either. It isn’t the happy ending I love so much as the happy possibility. Maybe romantic isn’t the best word; perhaps idealist. Yes, I’m an idealist (but I already knew that. I take those Myers Briggs personality tests and always end up the idealist (you are 1% of the population–lucky me!)). In any case, yesterday I saw Silver Linings Playbook and loved it. Just loved it. I left the theater feeling all warm and fuzzy. Then when gushing about it to a friend I realized it was similar to Crazy, Stupid Love, another film I absolutely adore, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Sliding Doors. I LOVE these movies. Love them. I can watch them over and over and over. I’m lying here thinking about them this morning because I was unable to sleep past 6:30 even if I didn’t fall asleep until nearly 1 a.m. because my daughter was wiggling because of the extremely late nap she took after a belated Thanksgiving dinner with Daddy and his family that ended with the nap beginning at 6. I thought she was down for the night, it was that late when she finally went down. I’m going to pay for this lack of sleep. Give me a few hours and I’ll be nodding off in my soup.

Alas, I digress. I’m lying here this morning in my sleepless state thinking about these movies and I realized yet again that yes, I’m a romantic/idealist. There is no getting around it. I like possibilities. These films are all like one another, and they are not typical romantic comedies. They are bittersweet. They are dark. . .then light. I leave them feeling like it’s possible the couples will last beyond the first blush of new love, that perhaps they will not be hating one another in four or five years, that perhaps because they see who their partner is and not who they want them to be, their loves might last. Yes, I’m an idealist. It will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

I do not always adore or believe romantic comedies. Some of them make me absolutely cringe. They can be so formulaic or so far from believable, I squirm. I hate the ones where the couples fight the whole time because they are completely different people and will not accept one another’s flaws, but they have incredible sexual tension and therefore end up together at the end because Hey! they can get it on. Incredible sexual tension is just that, incredible sexual tension. It is meaningless in the scheme of things. What happens when they no longer want to screw one another blind? Then they just hate each other. Boring. What was that film with Jennifer Aniston and the hot Irish guy who is a bounty hunter? Oh, right. Bounty Hunter. I didn’t buy it for a second.  They’ll be miserable in 8 months.

Worse are the movies where the man is a shit to women his whole life but this woman saves him. Suddenly he becomes mature and honest after being shitty. He discovers that she is so golden and perfect, he must give up his evil ways, and of course, she takes him back, or he gets her, or whatever. It’s a miracle! Yuck. Or one of the couple has trouble with commitment, but the other gets them and so they certainly must end up together. All is well. Commitment issues — poof! Gone! No Strings Attached or Definitely Maybe. I don’t buy it.

Yet in spite of these bad ones I don’t believe, there are some I do, some that make me want to believe in the happy possibility. Most romantic comedies I like well enough. It’s a go-to genre I can watch if I have a couple of hours to spare, but a lot of them I forget as soon as the credits roll. Yet there are a handful I truly love. I think Silver Linings Playbook might be one of them. I can tell a film is a real favorite if I enjoy watching it multiple times. I won’t know if this is a keeper until I have seen it again and still want to see it again. I’m hopeful about this possibility, that since I want to see it again now, I’ll want to see it again after seeing it again. I can add it to the list of movies I really love. I remain the hopeless idealist, wanting the happy ending.

Blue Valentine

I started watching Blue Valentine at the theater, but Isabel would not stay asleep and so I had to leave, but I wasn’t disappointed to be walking out.  The thing was depressing and I could not get into it.  I wanted to see what happened though, so a few weeks later I began watching again on video at the point I had left off, but stopped because I simply could not get into it.  Finally tonight I decided to finish it so I could get rid of the video.  I’m glad that I did.

Blue Valentine certainly captures the beginning and the end of a bad relationship.  It brings back memories.  Funny, they caught  the things in the beginning that would go wrong later.  Not all of the relationships in my life that have ended started in such a way that the ending could have been predicted, but the ones that have certainly seemed obvious in hindsight.  The performances in Blue Valentine, especially that of Michelle Williams, captured that feeling of the beginning of a relationship you know is bad for you.  You could tell that deep down she knew it wasn’t the best choice, yet she kept on anyway, living in magical thinking while simultaneously knowing she was headed for disaster.  In my case, in the relationship that most closely mirrors that in the film, I knew.  I knew and kept on anyway, compelled by some force within myself to try and make it work.  At times I felt like I was living two lives, one experiencing and one watching mute and helpless as the train headed straight for the ravine with no tracks.

The woman in Blue Valentine seemed to know too.  There were moments of pause before she smiled and responded to Mr. Disaster.  She had that same silence about her that I did in the beginning.  The scene at the dinner table near the end of the film, where she has brought him home to meet her family was a kind of personal deja vu.  The man I introduced to my family wasn’t a high school dropout whose mother had run off with another man at age ten, but the way that he spoke to them and their responses left little doubt that they were just as shocked and wondering What the hell is she doing with this guy?  What the hell, indeed.

There are some movies that are so bleak and without hope, I have no desire to watch them.  However, there are often movies that hurt to experience, and I still think they are worth my time and energy.  I am most certainly not one of those who only goes to see Pollyanna. I didn’t love Blue Valentine–I just could not get drawn in.  Yet it is a good film and I’m glad I saw it.  Even though one may know intellectually that everything experienced is also experienced by others, it does help to be reminded. For me, Blue Valentine was like that.  I’m not the first person on this planet who knew going into a bad relationship that I was making a huge mistake, but I kept on anyway.  One thing I know for sure–and I have reiterated it for myself having watched this film–I will never, ever compromise myself like that again.

Venom (fiction)

The one asked the other if she could say what drew her to him in the first place.  Her answers were heartfelt, loving.

He sneered and said he did not believe her, that she was lying.

Later the other asked again if she could say what drew her to him in the first place.  She could not.  All she could remember was the ugly sneer.  It made her want violence.  She imagined her fist connecting with flesh, skin rupturing skin, bones causing breaks in the tissue, blood angling for the surface.  She imagined saliva aimed with sharp precision.  She imagined sarcasm.  All she felt was ire.  She said that the heartfelt answers were gone, that they had been true, but were no longer.

Only bile remained.

When Conversations are Too Much Work

Have you ever had the experience where simply communicating with someone is so much work that you end up not speaking much of the time just because you don’t want to deal with the effort of it?  You find yourself silent a lot of the time or only speaking about nonsense that means not much in the scheme of things.  Then when you spend time with another person who isn’t so difficult to communicate with, it takes time to remember what it was like to have a conversation of any consequence, so you’re silent for a while.  But then once you get started you talk and talk and talk, as if you opened a dam letting the water move into the empty basin below.  Weird, these conversations that are too much effort.

Beached Whale

I’m just stuck, energetically, physically, mentally.  I think it’s pregnancy, but I’m not totally sure.  There have been so many changes in the last six months that could be attributable to this logjam.  However, I have experienced major changes before and not felt so inept and unable.  It’s weird having been a person with a quick mind and quick body turning into someone who has difficulty thinking of words and can’t just leap out of bed or a chair.  I feel like a beached whale, stuck here on shore, lying in the salt surf, seeing what was all around me, yet unable to do anything about it.

We recently took a trip back to Portland. While there, we ran around hither and thither, visiting and seeing family and friends.  In the past such a visit would have been delightful to me.  If there had been a free moment, I would have wanted to fill it.  This time, I was exhausted a third of the way into the trip.  A couple of times I just ran into a physical wall in the middle of the day.  I had to say Enough is enough! and go lie on the bed and take a nap.  Pregnancy was definitely the culprit there.

The first trimester of this pregnancy was a nightmare.  I suffered severe perinatal depression without knowing such a thing existed.  My boyfriend thought I was an alien, and wasn’t very supportive as a result.  I still looked like my normal self, but I was not the same person.  I overreacted to the smallest things.  I would sob and sob and sob for hours.  My brain completely fogged up.  I finally realized I was experiencing something physical, so I decided to do some research.  In the process I found Brooke Sheilds’s book on her experience with postpartum depression and discovered that a pregnant woman or one who has just given birth who has gone through an enormous amount of stress prior to the pregnancy is much more likely to suffer from depression.  Considering the level of stress in the years leading up to being pregnant, coupled with the stress of moving across the country, moving in with my new boyfriend, getting pregnant, moving away from Milla for the first time ever in her life, and I was a perfect candidate for peri or post natal depression.

Based on this information, I did further research and discovered that the leading expert on peri and post natal depression was based in New York, not far from where we live.  Her name is Dr. Margaret Spinelli.  She was conducting a study to determine whether counseling a pregnant woman to improve her interpersonal relationships would improve her depression and reduce the likelihood of it occurring after pregnancy.  I had a consultation with Dr. Spinelli and she admitted me into the study.  Since going, my moods have improved dramatically.  It also seemed to help just to know that I wasn’t actually going nuts but suffering from a physical response to being pregnant under stress, and to understand that the troubles in my relationship were making things worse.

I’m still waiting for my boyfriend to understand that my emotional reactions to most things are normal for a pregnant woman, and especially a woman with perinatal depression, but I feel better understanding that how I feel comes from a diagnosable source, one that will go away when my hormones settle down, and if they don’t, there is medication available to assist me.  Considering the level of improvement I’ve experienced without drugs, I am genuinely hoping to avoid that route completely.  I also make sure to keep my sugar intake to a minimum and exercise, because I definitely feel worse when I eat sugar or don’t exercise.

Even without perinatal depression, the physical demands of pregnancy aren’t much fun.  I did not like being pregnant with Milla.  This pregnancy is no exception.  When I was pregnant with Milla I would hear about women who said they never felt better that when they were pregnant.  My response to that was they must have felt pretty crappy the rest of their life!  I like having a clear brain.  I like having a lithe body.  I can’t wait to have the little baby out here so I can get off this beach and back into the ocean.

Where is the Damn Sun?

Would I feel any differently this morning if it were sunny and nice instead of rainy and crappy?  Oregon was rainy and shitty the entire time we were there until the last day.  It had been sunny until the day before we arrived.  Now it is sunny again since we have left.  It was pouring in NY the day we left and the days up until we left.  It is pouring now.  Am I going to get any summer anywhere?

It is difficult for me to discern whether the weather has an impact on my mood when the weather rarely changes from shit.  We have had a handful of sunny days since January, and I remember feeling optimistic on those days.  Hawaii was a boring place to live, but it was so sunny and nice most of the time.  I rarely felt down like I do here most of the time.  But of course, hormones could be playing a part as well, and the constant wondering what each day will bring in my relationship.  I used to bounce back pretty easily after an argument with the boyfriend, but not really anymore.  Now I just wonder when the next one will come.  I can just hear all the preachers out there who will comment and tell me just to leave him, but I would like to ask them how they would like to be single and pregnant in a city with no friends.  It is so easy to armchair quarterback, especially someone else’s relationship.  And then of course there is this weather, this abominable, interminable, shitty-ass weather.  I wish to fuck it would get sunny already.

He’s Just Not That Into You

My boyfriend does not want certain people to know we are together. I am not sure why exactly; he does not provide an explanation, instead turning the conversation around to my perceived insecurities. And perhaps he is right. Perhaps I should not care that I do not have a boyfriend so proud of my existence he wants to tell everyone. Perhaps I should not mind he rarely has photos taken with me, let alone posting them publically on his networking sites. Perhaps I should not care he does not want his grandparents to know about me because we aren’t married and because, gasp! I am older than he is. He continues to list himself as single on myspace. He says nothing on Facebook. He made sure to keep me out of his Facebook status updates while we were driving across the country together. And like I said, definitely no photos. Perhaps in keeping the fact of my existence from the public it will make it easier for him when someone better comes along, I don’t know. I am left only to speculate and try not to be insecure. There is just something in his unwiilingness that makes me wonder.

When I suggested moving in together in New York he made sure to point out living together would not mean we were engaged. The thought had not crossed my mind, but thanks, duly noted. When I ask if he would have moved in with me if we had stayed in Portland he answers, “I don’t know,” which is his way of answering when he knows I won’t like the truth. This “I don’t know” has a different quality than true “I don’t knows” do. It is the same answer I got when I asked if his ex knew about me. And he wonders why I think he moved in with me to make his move into New York an easier transition and not because he loves me and wants to be with me all the time.

You know, I have read that book He’s Just Not That Into You. Boyfriend can tell me he loves me until he is blue in the face, but actions speak louder than words, and his actions are telling me one thing: ambivalence. I guess I really don’t know what to do with that.

January 8, 2009 Driving to New York

Day three of the trip.  I have not been able to post much of anything because, as I explained in my mini-iPhone post this morning, we have not had internets in our motel rooms, in spite of promises by Expedia to the contrary.

My last long piece was written before we reached Susanville, California at about 4 in the afternoon.  Heading into Susanville tested my driving mettle.  Leaving the mountains we headed down a 6.5% downgrade curving into the town.  The final curve is 20 mph 180 degree turn at a ridiculously steep downgrade.

The road leaving California and heading into Nevada is mostly flat, long and low across the desert.  We decided we would stop for the night in Elko, Nevada, nearly across the state.

When I was twelve, my dad worked in Alaska for part of the year.  He and my mom decided to have her drive up in a truck with a camper on the back, taking my brother and step-brother.  For years after the trip my mom would tell the story of the drive on the narrow freeway, trucks passing and causing the camper and truck to rock back and forth, back and forth.  She was terrified, but my brother was little and my step-brother had only a learner’s permit–the job was hers.

I fully and completely sympathize.  I had been driving comfortably on the long, flat straight highway.  For the most part the road was smooth.  Bridges were a different story.  There were seams at the beginning and end of each bridge, some dipping a good four inches below the surface of the road.  Driving along at 60 mph, I hit a dip and the truck began to rock side to side, back and forth, the up wheels completely off the road.  Boyfriend had experienced a similar rocking on I-5 in Oregon, but not nearly to the extent of this.

Fear of that magnitude is a physical experience.  As the truck rocked side to side, I felt my body blanch, sweat pouring from every gland.  My heart raced.  I thought I was going to wet myself.  Seconds later as I managed to straighten the truck and slow significantly.  My heart was pounding.  My only thought was that I wanted to get to Milla.  Minutes later, I began to weep.  Weird, this fear response.  I continued for my portion of the drive, then Boyfriend took over.  He kept braking, terrified of a repeat.  He had experienced the same terror as I did.  When we finally arrived in Elko after midnight, all we wanted was a bath and sleep.

This morning we headed across Nevada towards Salt Lake.  Our intention was to get to Boulder in one day.  The roads were clear, the sky was bright with sun, and we were optimistic.

The desert there is quite lovely.  There are snow-capped mountains in the near distance.  Sagebrush dots the landscape contrasting beautifully with spots of snow.  Its expansiveness filled us both with awe.  Ours is such a beautiful planet.

I fell asleep two hours outside Elko.  A half an hour later, I woke and sat up sleepily.  As I stared catatonically into the distance (I have had only 4-6 hours of sleep each night in the last week.  My insomnia has returned with a vengeance.), I felt the truck jerk and bump, then it began its furious side to side weaving.  Boyfriend attempted to drive over the anti-sleep ruts on the shoulder.  This did not work and the truck veered madly toward the edge of the road, tilting and rocking.  That fear hit me again.  Boyfriend managed to straighten it out and slowed to nearly 35 mph.  He had not been going faster than 55, but the combination of a monster tractor-trailer and massive dips after a bridge created the turbulence.  I could smell the sweat on him after, fear palpable between the two of us.

A short time later we made our driver switch.  Driving into and through Salt Lake, I was a wreck.  There were tons of tractor-trailers.  They buzzed by proving just how piddly our truck and trailer were to them.  The roads were terrible.  There were repair seams everywhere crossing all lanes.  Construction projects forced cars into narrow, cement-sided passageways.  I spent the entire trip taking deep breaths, constantly wiping my sweaty palms on my jeans.  As we headed into the mountains east of the city, I was not sure I would be able to manage.  I was so afraid and I could not talk myself out of it.
I am not normally a very fearful person.  I will often push through situations when fear seems to want to take over.  But too many nights without enough sleep, a lot of pretty crappy road food, and the stress of driving the monster weaving truck had me completely out of sorts.  I felt on the verge of tears at every turn.  Finally as we headed towards a sharp 45 mph curve on a 6.5% downgrade slope, I lost it and started bawling.

Boyfriend had called my dad who has driven trucks across the country before.  My dad described the physics of what was happening to us.  He said that rather than braking or stopping acceleration, when the truck began to rock we should actually accelerate.  Once the truck straightened, we could then brake.  He said the worst thing to do was brake.  This made sense and we wondered that we hadn’t figured it out ourselves, but our automatic response was to try to slow down not speed up.

As we headed towards the severe downgrade curve, Boyfriend told me to brake.  So afraid of rocking back and forth, I had stopped wanting to brake altogether, taking the advice to avoid it to the extreme.  It’s okay to brake, we aren’t rocking, he told me calmly.  I managed to slow from 50 to 35 and we made it through the curves without incident.

We continued on through Park City, Utah.  I had managed to accelerate through a few minor rockings and discovered that it did indeed work.  Then we saw a sign indicating that Cheyenne was 427 miles from our location.  I quickly calculated in my head and realized we would not reach Boulder and Milla at a reasonable hour.  Boyfriend was on the phone with a friend and at that moment, after describing how slowly we were going to avoid tipping and rocking, said We aren’t in any hurry.

I realized he was right.  Why were we breaking our necks to get to Boulder tonight?  I wanted to spend time with Milla.  We had forgotten to change the clocks so our calculations put us in Boulder even later.  When Boyfriend got off the phone, I told him I wanted to stop somewhere right inside Wyoming, get a good meal, a solid night’s rest, and relax.  He said, I think that is the best idea we have had in a while. What a man.

Our trip from that point on was much more relaxed. I drove to Edmonton, Wyoming.  We stopped at the corporate addiction palace to get some caffeine and to log onto the internets to make motel reservations in Rock Springs, Wyoming.  When we left, Boyfriend took the wheel.  We are almost there.  I am looking forward to some time to relax an enjoy ourselves.  It is 5:45.  We’ll be there in under a half an hour.  Boyfriend has been driving like a pro.  Now that we have figured out a way around the horrible careening truck swings, and since we know we’ll have a night to relax, we’re both much happier.

January 7, 2009 Driving to New York

We just entered California on the second day of our great moving adventure.  We are both happy to be on the road and headed to our new home.  I have lived in a lot of places, moved around the country on several occasions, but this time feels surreal and exciting at the same time.  It is the first time I have decided to permanently settle somewhere besides Oregon, with no intention of returning, and the first time I have done so with another person.  We are both thrilled and a little scared.

The last few days have been exhausting.  We picked up our rental truck on Monday morning, drove to my friend Kathleen’s house to pick up my boxes that were stored there, drove to my friend Mark’s house to get the last of my boxes, then drove home to pack the truck with the piano.  Our timing was perfect; we drove up just as the piano movers did.

A word about piano movers–they are brilliant at their job.  They loaded up a baby grand and got her on the truck in under a half an hour.  I was mightily impressed.  We had a set of stairs at our Oregon house.  They led from the yard down to the street.  The piano movers backed up their truck and placed a bridge across.  They then just wheeled the piano across the bridge, backed their truck up to ours, set the bridge into our truck, and rolled the piano onto our truck.  Viola, piano loaded!

After the piano movers left, we loaded some gross furniture on the truck to take to the dump.  That was an experience.  We went to an environmental dump where they parcel everything out into different piles depending on what it is.  There was a giant wood pile, a giant couch dismantling station with piles of upholstery, foam, and wood, and a giant plastic pile.  The plastic was tossed onto a conveyor belt where it was dumped into a compactor that turned it into hideous, plastic lumps.  I am constantly refusing to buy certain items for Milla because they are landfill disasters.  I took a photo of the landfill disaster and sent it to her to see where all the ugly plastic goes when it breaks or someone doesn’t want it anymore.  Too bad we can’t put the dump next to Walmart or Target so people can see where the shit goes six months after they buy it.

After the dump at nearly 4 in the afternoon, we headed home to load up.  Boyfriend wanted to leave early Tuesday morning.  I thought he was being overly optimistic, but hey, who am I to rain on his parade?  Unfortunately, Boyfriend’s belongings were not quite packed yet.  We started packing boxes and loading the truck at the same time.  A friend came to help, but things were slow.  Another friend of Boyfriend called and offered to help.  It was dark but things were moving.  Boyfriend’s mom came and helped to pack the kitchen (thank goodness–she was a lifesaver).  Her fiance’ packed Boyfriend’s bike (thank goodness again).

One of our best helpers was Robert, an old, alcoholic singer with grey hair.  Long in the face and long in tooth, he is simply awesome.  He took charge and ordered Boyfriend and helpers diplomatically.  When rope needed cutting, he pulled out his trusty “Old Timer” pocketknife.  Such an old character, so cool, and he adores Boyfriend.  He was indispensable.

It became apparent after the mattresses went into the truck that all the stuff would not fit.  We packed the truck completely, but realized at about 10 p.m. we were going to have to get a trailer.  The rental places were closed at that hour so we amended our plan to leave until later on Tuesday.  Finally, at about midnight, we were ready to stop work and get food.  It had begun raining about 11, so we were grateful everything was in out of the weather and that we could finally eat.  After eggs at an all night Denny’s we headed home to get a tiny bit of sleep.  We had packed the bed so we curled up on an old twin mattress on the floor.

Our dog was confused by all the changes. She had spent the day wandering around watching all her stuff leave the house, her black, triangle-shaped head cocked to one side.  She lay on her bed next to us, blinking sleepily.  I can only imagine her doggy thoughts.  Probably not much more than some vague notion that life was not right, and hopeful her people wouldn’t leave.  Before dawn the next morning Boyfriend moved to his roommate’s futon because he kept falling off the twin mattress, so the dog came and curled up next to me.  It wasn’t until the alarm went off that I realized it was the dog I was snuggling and not my warm man.  She was a worthy substitute.

The next morning I immediately called the Uhaul up the street.  They had trailers we could look at.   As we drove the truck to get the trailer, it became patently obvious that the truck had not been packed evenly.  It listed precariously to the right, all the weight dragging it over.  A baby grand piano, 300 pound armoire, and thousands of records were all on one side, mattresses were on the other.  Damn it if we weren’t going to have to repack half the truck.

Boyfriend immediately jumped on the phone and called everyone he could think of who might help us.  An hour later we had three friends to help, the rain had stopped, and we began to furiously unload to beat the weather and lost time.  We managed to reload and load the trailer in only a couple of hours.  We both feel much better about the reload; the armoire and records are now on the opposite side of the truck from the piano.  We also repacked a bit more securely.  It must have worked; so far at every check, nothing has shifted and fallen.

We were finally able to leave the house at about 6 p.m. Tuesday night.  We had to stop and give a friend the key to Boyfriend’s car because he is selling it for us.  We also had to stop and buy a lock for the trailer.  It was rainy and late, and traffic was terrible because of the hour, but we were both so excited to be on our way, we didn’t care.

Boyfriend climbed a steep learning curve last night on how to drive a big truck with a trailer.  I have driven many trucks and trailers because I have hauled horses all my adult life.  I am used to the stopping distance and turning radius required.  I have learning how important it is not to overcorrect, how a little move of the steering wheel results in a big move with a heavy vehicle.  Boyfriend figured it out last night driving in the dark and rain.  Needless to say, his shoulders were a bit tense.

Today, however, is a different story.  He is driving like a pro.  At one point he went to pass a slow car in the right lane.  The truck began rocking side to side.  He held the wheel and the rocking gradually ceased.  Later, he was making strong man arms as he climbed the mountains at 45 mph.

Our iPhones have been a fantastic road trip addition.  Once we were finally on the road, we figured we would make it to Grants Pass, Oregon for the night.  I jumped on the internets and booked a room on Expedia for $40 a night.  Not bad for a twin bed, clean room, and warm bath!  Tanya the dog approved of the room, and she protected us this morning from an 80-year-old Navy veteran.  Good dog, Tanya!

Luckily for us but not so for the planet, it has been sunny and warm today.  It was too warm for hats and scarves, that’s for sure.  Anyone who thinks climate change is a myth is deluded.  We spent the last two hours driving over the Siskiyou Pass.  At 4600 feet there was barely any snow on the tops of the mountains off in the distance.  Everywhere else it looks like late August.  I can’t quite express my dismay and fear at the sight.  Things really are changing; arguing over it is a tragic waste of time.

Right now we are driving through Shasta national forest.  It is breathtakingly lovely.  Here there actually is snow on the ground, but the road is completely clear and dry and the sun is shining.  We could not ask for better conditions for driving the first week of January.  Our original plan was to head south through Albuquerque, but forecasts and friends assure us we can go through Denver without any problems.  We will decide here in few hours because we have to decide by Reno whether to continue to Elko or head south.  Right now it is looking like it will be Boulder.  We’ll get to stay with friends and see Milla besides.  Sounds good to me.

Mail Order Bride

I went from nothing to do to too much to do in the space of a day.  It’s weird how life can go like that.  I’ve been working at this costume shop for a little extra cash before I leave this island.  It’s so boring most of the time, I can hardly stand it.  Yesterday there were a lot of customers, but most of the time, it’s sitting around staring at the piles of stuff in there.  The shop is crazy stuffed with costumes and junk. Some of them are so beautiful and elegant, but others are so crappy, I can’t imagine anyone will ever touch them.  A few days ago, just to ease the boredom, I started combing wigs. The place is filled with wigs, hundreds of them. They are fun to comb.  I like the transition from crack whore tangles to silky smoothness.

Finding costumes for people can be fun, especially people who are willing to get into it and find something interesting to wear.  Some of them though, can be so yuck. Today, for instance, this toady little man came in with his wife.  She was Thai, her body childlike and tiny.  He was short, heavyset, in his early 20’s, with tatoos on his arms.  He wanted her to have a “sexy” costume for work on Halloween. I did not ask what “work” was, but gathered from things they said that it was in the sex industry.

Nothing the woman tried on satisfied the man. Most of our smallest costumes were too large for her and the children’s costumes weren’t sexy enough (um, yeah).  So she’s putting things on and taking them off and anything that looks good, he says no.  He kept talking on his mobile phone, acting self-important to be doing so.  She’s looking through things, finding stuff she likes, taking it to him, only to have him shake his head no, vetoing costumes as either too big or not “sexy” enough.  At one point, the other girl who works in the shop and I were chatting about Whole Foods Market.  We laughed because I called it Whole Paycheck.  I said, That store is so expensive.  It’s a total ripoff. Toady Man, upon hearing this, walks over by a rack of clothes and, honest to god, pulls out a wad of cash and starts counting it right there in the store!  He peeled back fifties and hundreds, counting the wad several times to ensure we saw how much money he had.  What a fucking idiot.

I giggled to the other employee and rolled my eyes. After a bit, he went outside to talk again on the phone while his wife shopped.  We finally convinced her to try on a cute and very short Egyptian, Cleopatra style dress.  It was kind of plain, with a gold cord that wraps around and around.  We accessorized her with a snake hair ornament, arm bands, strappy sandals, and a fantastic brass neck piece.  She looked pretty amazing, considering every other item she had attempted to wear made her look like a child trying to dress as a hooker.  She even seemed excited at the possibility, a happy glint in her eye apparent for the first time since she had walked in the door nearly an hour previous.

Dressed and smiling, pleased at last to have found a costume that seemed to show enough skin for her husband while looking cool at the same time, she walked out for the verdict.  We heard voices, his raised, hers contrite.  Minutes later she came back into the store and told us he did not like it. She apologized as she removed the jewelry and costume and put back on her clothes.  No problem, we told her.

After they left in their giant black Escalade, I could not stop thinking of that horrible man with his wad of money, obscene car, and mail-order Thai wife whom he sought to dress in as slutty an outfit as possible.  Everything about him made me cringe.  He was desperate to show just how important he was, how much more money he had than us pitiful costume store employees who complained about the cost of Whole Foods.  His wife seemed unhappy, trying desperately the entire time we were in the place to please him, but he would have none of it.  Yuck.  He was reprehensible.

Thinking on it later, I realized that she is likely in a quite precarious position.  Married as she is, if something happens and she is no longer married to him, she would probably have to return to her native country.  I realize I am speculating, but it is easy enough to imagine this being less than desireable for her, a means for him to control everything she does.  Marriages like this one are legalized sex slavery.  If she doesn’t want to return home, this man has control over her, it’s as simple as that. Anyway, I don’t know the whole story.  I could only take away my observations, and what I saw was pitiful. I hope this woman achieves in her life all she desires.  I hope for her sake if her story is as I imagine it, she is able to find a way to live her life in spite of her husband and find happiness.  I wish her well.

Missing is So Unkind

What possible biological basis can there have been for us to evolve a mechanism that allows us to feel like a limb has been removed when we miss another human being?  Is it truly only the mating sequence? Why couldn’t our biology be content to know another mate will someday take the place of the first?  Or is it that in ancient times if our mate died or was lost to us, we couldn’t easily find another?  Is that it? Maybe it is something else.  Whatever it is, I just don’t get it.

Perhaps it is some other mechanism that has simply gotten stuck in the missing another human category.  Maybe we’re supposed to feel serious missing when we lose an actual limb because losing an actual limb could pose a serious detriment to our ability to hunt and gather.  It would impact our ability to find a mate. Perhaps the two are juxtaposed in some manner in certain brains.

I know I am not the only one like this.  I watched this film last night called My Blueberry Nights.  One character, rather than live without the person who left him, drives himself into a tree.  This after drinking himself into oblivion every night for months.  Yep, his limb missing mechanism was severely out of whack. And the woman who left him realized after he was dead that she missed him like a missing limb as well.  So her missing limb mechanism was juxtaposed onto her missing partner as well.  Maybe I’m onto something here.

I am going to see the person who I miss in a little over a week.  Ironically, I am feeling his absence more acutely as his visit draws closer.  It is like knowing he will be here, that he is somehow within reach, makes the desire more visceral.  I have to fight myself NOT to send him text messages telling him how much I miss him and all the things I want to do with him when he gets here.  I have to force myself to be here and now, focus on my legs, focus on my arms, recognize they are actually in place and I do not require a prosthesis.  I can do this.  When I do this it is easier.  See brain?  Limbs intact.  Man will arrive shortly so stop thinking about him so much.

Then he calls and I’m listening to Woody Herman sing about being in love and clouds having silver linings and his own melancholy without his dear, the piano tinkling perfectly in the background, and I feel that old familiar pull in my belly.  Gads, missing is so unkind.

Spinning Time

My blog has turned into two things.  One is me going on and on about how pathetic I am.  The other is my ranting about the godforsaken political situation in this country.  It’s as if my sense of humor has taken a monster shit and been flushed down the loo.  It does not exist anymore, at least in writing.  I am not sure though that I ever had it.  I just had these magical moments where things came to me and I wrote them down, but they are gone now.  Or maybe it was just that I was not living in mental chaos all the time.  Lately I feel as if I live in mental chaos, in this box where I just want to know what the fuck it is that I want out of life and I go for it.  But the times I’ve known what I want and gone for it have been monumental failures, so I have really almost given up trying.  Well, I don’t know about that, but I’ve not known exactly what I want for ages, and that has been a big part of the problem.  Recently, I have figured out exactly what it is that I want, but it is one of those things that requires others on board and I have not exactly figured out how to present these desires to the other parties involved.  The result is that I mope about wanting these things, wondering if they are the right things to want, waffling whether I actually do want them, then wondering again if I do in fact want them how to present these things to other involved parties.  It’s a conundrum, I can assure you.

As it is I just spin time, organizing my room, thinking about things I want to write, sitting at the computer and staring, trying to remember what it was I sat down for, then getting up and wandering over to my bed to stare at the wall, continuing in my humorless vein.  It’s a good time.  It’s such a good time I am going to do it again right now because I am tired.  Good night.

Melancholy

Well, by accident I just discovered full screen mode for typing this blog.  Wow.  Seriously.  Here I am all somber wanting to write and try to expel some angst and I accidentally hit a button and get this.  This is cool.  It is a nice little distraction.

What is the source of my angst?  I am moving to Hawaii.  I do not want to leave the man I love.  The thing is that if I take him away from the Portland picture, I do not want to be here.  He is the only thing I want to stay for.  I do not want to leave him.  If I thought for a half a second he would want me to go with him wherever he goes, I would do it.  But I just don’t think he feels as strongly as I do.  I could be wrong.  I haven’t asked.  It’s one of those things where I don’t know if I want the answer.  I will probably say something.  But in the meantime, I’m going to Hawaii, at least for now.

Why Hawaii?  There are two places on earth I would like to live.  One is Australia.  One is Europe.  I mainly chose Australia because it is an English speaking country.  Plus it is far away from wars and whatnot.  I’m afraid of wars and whatnot when it comes to my little girl.  I want her to be safe.  Perhaps I am naive in thinking that because Australia is farther from the wars we will be safer, but this was part of my thinking.  We also seriously considered Spain, and actually, I would still consider Spain.  I speak enough Spanish I could pick it up, and Milla speaks it as well.  But it is so close to the middle east.  So for now, I chose Australia.  In the meantime, on the way to Australia, I did not want to live in Portland anymore.  I have to leave here.  For an on the way to Australia place, I chose Hawaii because I have lived there before so it is a known entity.  I also know people there.  And Milla was accepted to school and got financial aid there.  Plus it is sunny all the time and I get seasonal affective disorder in this gray and damp place.  So why not, right?

Why not.  I did not expect to fall in love and I did not expect to fall in love like this.  This feeling is indescribable.  It feels like all the silly love songs from fifty years ago were written for me.  But it also feels like all the songs written about heartbreak are for me too.  It’s such a weird place to be in.  I know I have to leave, but I cannot bear the thought of leaving him.  This will be the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  Unequivocally.  I do not know how I am going to manage.  Well, that isn’t true.  I will manage because I always do by putting one foot in front of the other.  But I wonder if I’m making a monumental mistake, going there instead of I don’t know what.  Maybe he would not be the way he has been with me if I were staying here.  He has been wonderful.  He has been exactly what I want in a relationship.  Even the hard parts.  I have learned more about relationships from him than from all the others put together.  I have learned more about myself.  And then there is the fact he is just plain brilliant and so much a match for me.  I am completely blathered.  Love.  Damn biology.  His immune system must jive with mine.  His genetic footprint must be what mine needs to propagate.  Silliness.  Plain silliness.  I alternate between love songs and melancholy.  I cry.  All the time.  I am on cloud nine.  All the time.  What a disaster.  I take the steps I need to take to make this move, but I take them reluctantly and after procrastination.  I am getting done what I need to get done.  Yet I’m going through it in a daze.  Is this how it’s supposed to be?

So I write and hope it will help me through.  I have been writing, even though the dates on the posts don’t say so.  There have been things I cannot share because they do not affect only me.  There have been things that have happened he might not want others to know about.  I don’t know if anyone he knows reads this, but I do not want to take a chance, so even though I must write about these things, I keep them private.  I hope writing will get me through.  I hope when I land on that island in the middle of the world’s biggest ocean and my heart is crushed with longing I can write and it will be okay.  It’s something anyway.

I Have a Burr in My Ass

I think anyone who reads this will wish I kept not having an internet connection for a few more days. I’m in one of those moods where I’m not mad at anything specifically, just generally irritated. I want to slap something. Too bad Boyfriend isn’t here. I would tell him some of the things I don’t usually say to avoid an argument, but which probably should be said. Of course, because I have a burr in my ass we might fight and fights with him tend to be demoralizing affairs. The air doesn’t get cleared, it gets filled–with shit, and I just couldn’t handle that right now. It’s probably a good thing he’s off playing the piano at musical theater he claims is crap and not here acting nice to me one minute and cranky the next. Did I mention I’m slightly irritable?

Annoying Number One: I can’t even spell out the whole story because it annoys the crap out of me, but Qwest needs its rectum cleaned with a giant bottle brush. I will be posting the entire story here sometime soon because the world needs to know what a filthy toilet germ Qwest Communications is. I just can’t do it now. I’d get all mad and shit and being irritable is annoying enough.

Irritating Number Two: This woman I’ll call Pita because she’s a pain in the ass stopped bugging me for a few days after she made me royally angry. She was one of the things that inspired the rage spoken of in my post from a couple of days ago. It has been so pleasant not seeing her number on my phone EIGHT THOUSAND TIMES a day. It has been so wonderful not having FORTY MINUTE voicemails left on my telephone. Well, she called today. I was on the phone with Annoying Number One. I saw her number on the phone. I hit ignore. A few minutes later, I’m shooting the breeze with the rep at Annoying Number One when I hear a message beep in. Huh? I didn’t even hear that ring. Uh, yes I did. It was Pita SEVERAL MINUTES prior. Pita is constitutionally unable to just call and either a) leave no message, or b) leave me a short message. Every message is like a call to the therapist or an instruction manual. The calls to the therapist are long, drawn-out affairs whereby I end up hitting 3 every few seconds to fast-forward through her self-analysis. Instruction manuals are her telling me what to do and how to do it. These inspire hits on button 3 as well. All of it irritates the fuck out of me. I have decided never to answer her calls again and delete all messages before I ever hear her voice. Perhaps she’ll figure out the plan soon and stop calling me.

Grumpy Number Three: Part of the I is Pore and Dum concert series, back today by popular demand, we have the Lara can’t get medsin agin cuz shes on Orgun Helth Plan an cant do nuthin but make up fake pill papers an sellum fer muny. Dang me! I was hopin I cud get sum muny for them fake pill papers but that there Walgreen place stopped me.   Nunna my kids daddies sent any muny agin.  Men.  Shit. Mebbe all jes hafta go an watch that telly agin an keep on wippin them 7 kids amine cuz they is blockin my soaps. Hell fire! Wish one a thems daddies wud come on over here and takes one of em cuz theyz makin me tired. Mebbe him an I can roll in the hay also for old time sakes.

Demoralizing Number Four: One minute Boyfriend acts like I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. He has a way of making me feel pretty special. Unfortunately, the next minute Boyfriend acts like he thinks I’m the stupidest fuck to walk the planet and he’s going to make sure I am apprised of this fact. My friends wonder whether he’s just using me for sex. I asked him once. I may as well have asked him whether he had murdered someone because he was so offended I would even ask. That’s how it is with him: you can’t ask because asking comes with the implication that by asking you imply he could do such a thing and how dare one imply he would do such a thing? I don’t know, the fact he seems not to give a shit about me half the time makes me kind of wonder. However, there seems to be no correlation between sex and his desire for me because occasionally even during sex he’ll suddenly turn from really cool to really shitty in about 30 seconds. I can’t figure it. Yesterday it seemed to come after a meal. Eating made him stop being talkative and friendly. To that point, he was the best boyfriend in the world. I actually was thinking I love him again (yes, my love waxes and wanes, like the moon. And don’t give me a lecture about real love not waxing and waning. Whatever. Maybe for you. For me, it fluctuates.) Anyway, he gradually became less talkative and more sullen towards me. He pointed out some error I had made in an observation. By the time we got to the place we were going for dessert, he barely spoke 10 words to me. I almost told him to go home and leave me alone. Demoralizing. I don’t know if he realizes all of a sudden he’d rather be picking his ass or cleaning his sock drawer than be with me, but it’s disconcerting and yes, very demoralizing. I don’t know how much more of it I can put up with. I keep asking myself if the half time wonderful is worth the half time feeling like shit. On top of it, I think he still might read me. I’m not sure. But if he does, he’ll think this is some broadcast message about him and he’ll probably punish me for it. Good times.

Pissy Number Five: Why did WordPress change the layout of this design to include the list of tags? I hate that. It’s ugly. Now I’m going to have to go through and find another design and blah blah blah so I don’t have all those words at the top. If something isn’t broken, DON’T FUCKING FIX IT people, for Christ’s fucking sake. Fuck.

Whipped Number Six: I can’t fucking sleep. I can’t fucking sleep. I can’t fucking sleep. Did I mention I can’t fucking sleep? The days I’ve been able to sleep in, I can’t. It used to be Boyfriend snuggling me at night helped me sleep. Lately that doesn’t even work. Part of it is the demoralizing issue, but the BIG thorn in my backside is STRESS.  Too much stress, too little outlets for it.  I have to be out of my old house a week from today and still haven’t sold enough crap. I don’t want to give it all to charity yet; there is still a lot of nice stuff there. On top of it, I’m required to pick up the dog poo in the dog yard and paint some spots the size of silver dollars and clean the place up after getting the things out of it and I work and I’m a bit overwhelmed. I also can’t find a home for my dog and do not want to give her back to the organization that gave her to me. Also I’m kind of frightened by all the changes I’m instigating and want but which still scare the shit out of me. And basically, I simply tired tired tired tired tired. I just need a good massage and a cuddle. I think those two things would go a LONG way to improving my outlook on life in general.

So there you have it. Don’t you wish you had stopped reading after about, oh, sentence two? I would. Perhaps being able to write again will help. Getting through major life changes would help as well. All I can say now is that my bed is beckoning and I’m going to go try and sleep.

You Know It

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. — William Congreve

I have told more than one person that I work at resolving situations before I get truly angry, because once I get there, once I get truly angry as opposed to being simply irritated, bothered, or annoyed, then I lose any semblance of giving a shit and whoever is in the way better get out of it or they will be sorry. I don’t think having such a capacity for rage is unhealthy, but I do think it’s a problem if I get that angry if I do something I will regret because I’m too mad to care. I have to be responsible about that level of anger. A friend of mine suggested expressing some of this rage in a healthy manner by going out in a field and yelling or something. But when I’m actually feeling that mad, the only healthy thing I can do is to stay very far away from anyone and try not to break anything valuable. It is probably also a good idea to stay away from the computer where I can compose an email or a blog post and send it before calming down and regretting it later. Going out in a field or the forest and screaming and yelling isn’t really getting mad, it’s acting like it. It isn’t actually feeling it, because it takes some situation to trigger feeling it. Anger isn’t just sitting in there inside me like a time bomb waiting to explode. There has to be a reason to get that angry, usually coupled with my being hungry, tired, or both. Then fucking forget it.

Why am I writing about this and thinking about it? There is a situation that occurred that when I think about it, I come close to that mad. It’s like it is just sitting there, waiting for expression. I keep hoping I can resolve it without getting pushed over that cliff into being so mad I lose all sense of reason and do or say something that makes the whole thing worse. Or at least completely irrevocable. I suppose I believe though that sometimes when I get that angry it’s because I’ve left something undone or unsaid too long, and it takes getting that angry to put it out there. In some cases this makes things worse, but sometimes it makes things better. It was like this at my old workplace. I put up and shut up and put up and shut up and finally my brain said enough and I got mad enough not to give a shit, put it all out there, and was finally able to leave, utterly and completely.

But is that what I really want in this situation? I don’t know. I don’t know. Part of why it has gone this far is that I don’t want a complete and utter break. I don’t want an irretrievable situation. Yet it seems like every attempt I make at resolution goes nowhere, then more stuff is added, and now here I am, realizing that now, yes, I’m mad. It’s been festering. I’ve been stewing on pieces of it for a while, then because there was no resolution and new stuff kept being added, here I am, fighting off a really solid anger bender. Yikes. If I don’t resolve the mad without going over the edge, I will end up over that cliff and I am psychically incapable of logical thought when that animal part of my brain takes over. Is this what is necessary to achieve resolution? Is this the only answer since the other things I have tried don’t work? I can’t believe there are no other options, but I’ve been utterly unsuccessful at utilizing them.

The same friend, who is a very good adviser I might add, told me that writing isn’t going to work. I’m not going to resolve this by sitting here at the computer. I agree. This sort of self-analyzation is not the answer. But there is something to the “poison pen.” I am capable of being very destructive with what I write if I so choose. Yet I don’t really want to. I want peaceful resolution. I want things to work out. I don’t want utter chaos, although because he’s been in this position, my adviser seems to think utter chaos is the only way out of this mess. I hope this is not true. I hope resolution can be achieved without that level of rage.

So knowing self analyzing writing isn’t going to solve anything, I sit here and self analyze write. Good job. This is a good use of my time. I would rather go to sleep. First I could not go to sleep last night and stayed up way too late, then I woke too early this morning. I wrote a few emails, read a few blogs, checked out Old American Century, then crawled back into bed. Only the thing I am mad about keeps hovering in the fringes, keeping me awake. It is clearly time for a resolution.

The electrician is here. I have had multiple problems with home inspectors. They seem continually to find things wrong that experts say are not problems at all. My first two home sales fell through because the “inspectors,” with their whole six hours of training and their passage of a 200 question test, said the foundation was faulty. An inspection by a licensed structural engineer (6 years of college, multiple continuing education courses) showed that the house was structurally sound. Unfortunately the buyers were unable to overcome the “inspectors'” opinions and both sales fell through. In this latest sale, the “inspector” seemed more savvy, but there were a couple of things he came up with that have me rolling my eyes. First of all, he said rats could come up the drain in the basement. Small problem with that theory: the drain is filled. Simply poking a screwdriver into it four inches would have revealed this to the inspector. So now I have to pay a licensed contractor to come and fill a hole four more inches with cement. I could do this. It would not be hard. But no, the sales contract won’t allow this. I have to pay someone else a hundred and something per hour to do it for me. What a fucking waste of money.

And now, the electrician is here. A little over a year ago, I hired another electrician to rewire the house and put in a new electrical panel. The work was inspected by the county and approved. Unfortunately, Mr. Inspector thought the work was “sloppy and had deficiencies.” Okay. Apparently things have changed since the other electrician had the work approved a little over a year ago. I described what needed to be done to the new electrician. He walked into the room where the “deficiencies” exist. He looked kind of confused and said What is wrong? This is perfectly legal. I don’t get it. I could cover those two junction boxes, but why do you need an electrician to do that? Why indeed. He looked at the county approval sticker and pointed out the work was done just over a year ago. He exclaimed in disbelief again that the work was improper.

I know what it is. It’s that “inspectors” are a big, fat joke. They provide buyers with an opportunity for remorse, giving them a chance to get out of a sale when they have second thoughts. They let buyers think they are doing due diligence. They keep contractors in business because any work done as a result of an “inspection” has to be done by licensed contractors. All around, it’s a big scam. It’s annoying and can be costly when they tell you something is wrong when it isn’t. It’s a travesty when they miss something truly dangerous. I’m obviously opinionated about this issue, but I have never encountered such a racket. I have no problem fixing things that really need to be repaired. I have no problem with trying to make sure a place is fit for living before its being sold, but the methods employed are pathetic. I have no doubt there are very good, experienced inspectors. I had one when I bought my house and, having nothing to compare him to, thought nothing further of the profession until now. Since I have had these experiences, I have heard story after story after story from buyers and sellers alike of the bad sort of inspectors. When I looked up the requirements to be an inspector in Oregon, I can understand why. As far as I am concerned, these “requirements” are woefully inadequate and allow anyone with a half a brain cell to hang up a shingle and call themselves an inspector. Good times.

Well, now that I got that little rant off my chest, I’m going to go eat breakfast. I’ll try not to kill anything on the way to the kitchen.

Please Advise this Would-Be Diplomat

So I think maybe I get why Congress can’t pull its head out of its ass about the Iraq war and do something different that moves us towards stabilization in the region and ultimately allows our soldiers to come home. The reason I’m able to understand this is that I’m kind of like Congress right now in this war between my chihuahua and the man I’ve been dating.  Destabilization between my chihuahua and the man has increased rapidly since our three hour car trip on Sunday when the man kept bugging the chihuahua and finally the chihuahua bit him on the thumb. He has been telling anyone who will listen about the bite, pointing out the scab that has formed, and I’m sure making it sound like it was a completely unwarranted attack on the part of the chihuahua, but it wasn’t and he knows it. In the meantime the chihuahua has become an even worse parasite on his mama, following me into the bathroom and wherever I go just in case there might be a man lurking somewhere around a corner.

Things have devolved now to the point where if the man looks at my dog, my dog makes a very angry alligator face and growls at him, then hides under the bed, then the man attempts to chase the dog out from under the bed to get him to make the face, the face is made, and it all continues. It is very bad. I am occasionally able to step in and separate them, and in that regard I’m more effective than Congress, but I am only one person you know, so it is easier for me to step between a rather large hunky man and a tiny chihuahua, but I’m not sure how to broker peace in the region. I’m really not. I work the diplomatic angle with ITMHMBBINS. Hey, can you please chill on the chihuahua? Then the man gives me the innocent face, I didn’t do anything. He’s just growling at me. Then he makes a face at the chihuahua, the chihuahua growls and makes his own face, and we’re back in battle.

I’m really at a loss. I’m fully cognizant of the fact that this situation has occurred because the man thinks it is fun to do things to the chihuahua like spin him around on slippery floors and slide him down slides. I get that. It can be kind of fun. But I know when to stop because chihuahua has had enough and the man has no clue when enough is enough and pushes chihuahua to the breaking point.

Did I mention this is not his first bite? As far as war wounds go, you wouldn’t think it, but the score now is chihuahua three, the man zero. The man was bitten on the nose one night after a particularly long and bloodless fight. Shots were fired on both sides. Both had retreated. It was dark. We were all battening down the hatches for a good night’s sleep when the man went in for one last growly face at the chihuahua. The chihuahua bit him on the nose. No blood was drawn, but in one swift nip, war was declared. Not many days later, chihuahua bit the man for real, on the hand this time. Acting first as intermediary and secondly as infirmary, I bandaged the man’s hand with a bucking horse bandaid and admonished him to leave the chihuahua alone.

He did not heed my advice. The war has escalated. The two are able to function only with me between them. Sometimes if it is dark, the chihuahua will curl next to the man, blissfully unaware he is sleeping near the enemy. The man allows this knowing it is likely I will bonk him on the head if he interferes with the chihuahua during sleep. It’s just not soldierly honorable, you know? But I’m at the end of my diplomatic abilities. I simply do not know what to do. I know there are those who would tell me to tell the man to take a hike for torturing my chihuahua. I know there are others who would tell me to put chihuahua in the basement when the man is around. But the first group does not realize how amazing the man is with other animals and the second group does not realize that separating the chihuahua from my body amounts to a surgical procedure and to lock him up when I am home would honestly amount to canine murder because he would have a stroke. So I’m really stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. If anyone has any ideas how to broker peace in the region, even some contributions for a treaty or something, I’d be really thankful. Such offerings would be most welcome. Then maybe if I’m successful I can hand off the plans to Congress to work on the Iraq war.

Physical Therapy

The Elbow, Lying on the Couch: When I was young, I fell and was broken. It was a hard fall. Out of a tree. The ligaments surrounding my cartilage were torn. I hurt for months. I was swollen. I couldn’t breathe properly.

Physical Therapist: How do you feel about that?

Elbow: It hurts, you know? I mean, I still feel the ache of that painful day.

Physical Therapist: What do you think you can do to move past this? What is done is done.

Elbow: I just don’t know. Maybe I’m going to have to work on moving past that time, stretch a little.

Physical Therapist: I can prescribe something if you like.

Elbow: I’d like to try and work through this without medication, but if the pain becomes too intense, I may have to take you up on that offer.

Physical Therapist: I’m always here.

Elbow: I know. These sessions help me to maintain my sanity.

American Idol had some kids talking about the statistics on poverty. The thing is, they’re preaching to the choir. Those of us watching this can’t do anything global about the problem and those who can aren’t going to watch this and do anything about it.

On another note, I’ve decided I’m going to start my own corporation to operate in competition with Monsanto. I’m going to hire a bunch of scientists and get them to patent dogs and cats. Then when people try to breed them, I’m going to sue their asses off. Of course this will be after I’ve harassed them and terrified them, taking photos of them out walking the puppies and cuddling the kittens. How dare these people interfere with my right to own life? I’ll also go after anyone who buys the puppies or kittens unaltered. If they think they are going to let those animals breed without my getting paid for it, they have another thing coming.

I don’t think I know how to be loved, at least in the sense of a significant other relationship kind of love. I have gone through every relationship I’ve had as an adult and concluded that the only man who ever truly loved me was my husband, and it was if that relationship was doomed before it began, at least from the point where we got married. The poor man was completely emasculated by his mother, and the day we moved into his parents’ house was the day we kissed that relationship goodbye, even though it limped on for another four years.

Anyway, I thought about this and I have no idea what it feels like. I only know what not being loved feels like. I know what my partner loving someone else feels like. I know what my partner having no clue about love for anyone feels like. But I can barely remember what it feels like for someone to love me. I wonder if a person reaches a point where she wouldn’t recognize it if it fell in her lap. I am so used to unrequited love. I am so used to beginnings that never go anywhere. I have zero clue how to go beyond that.

How do you learn if you never get the opportunity to try?  How do you keep believing you are lovable if no one ever loves you?  The last time it happened for me was fourteen years ago.  That is such a long time.  Actually sitting here and contemplating this I just can’t believe the length of it.  That is a significant chunk of time.  God, all this advice.  Don’t base your happiness on a man.  Live your own life.  Build yourself.  It’s great to do that, but how do you learn the lessons a deep relationship teaches if you never get into that place where someone else really loves you?

I wonder if most people are truly unloved.  I know there are a lot of people married out there, or in long term relationships.  Does that mean they have been loved or are loved?  How is it they get there?  I’m absolutely, utterly and completely baffled by this.

It is a quarter to midnight.  I started to go to sleep but woke up.  That is the worst time to wake up, when you’re still in the beginning stages of sleep.  I find it nearly impossible to go back to sleep in any reasonable fashion if I’m awakened within the early stages of sleep.  I’m tired, but can’t sleep.  I’m too tired really to read.  There is nothing I want to watch on television.  I hate television really.  Maybe I’ll find some Youtube or something to watch.  This sucks.  I have to get up early too.  Ah well.  I’m used to insomnia, just not at the beginning of the night.  I hope this means when I do finally fall asleep that I won’t wake up at 3, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Letter Again to Love Guru

Well, I received a letter last week from a well-meaning young fellow.  I have to say I am impressed with his fortitude in contacting me.  He is obviously an intelligent person who knows when to ask for help.  Here is his request:

HI love guru i dont know ur reputation but having studied ur letters it made me relaxed and confident enuf to share my problem with u. The problem is that due to bipolar sickness and other problems i feel that i may am lagging behind than my other fellows in mental growth at this time i am doing my masters in digital communications but believe me in social activites and day to day living i spend my most of life in room and have gained very less experiences well thats another problem. My love problem is that i dont feel to marry or engage coz i dont feel mature enuf but ma parents insisted me and after rejecting a few proposals i accpeted one. But that was due to pressure. Now its 4 months since i engaged to a girl. That girl is sincere to me as i am the only man in her life but u know i dont like her much. i dont think about her that much. i respect her she is quite descent and mature girl but i wanted a lil funky girl so that she brighten ma life. ne way now tell me wat to do she is not a type of ma beauty choice. i m very worried these days. tell me wat should i do please.  Ali

To begin, Ali, I would suggest a bit of grammar school.  This would help you immensely in your ability to communicate.  Perhaps improvements in your communications will improve your social skills.  However, because you are a man, a bit of leeway will be accorded to you.  We women know how easy it is for men to revert to their caveman ways, and grammar is not something that appeals to cavemen.  Cavemen prefer banging things with lumps of rock and grunting. This is certainly not conducive to correct articulation.  I understand this.  However, practice your grammar.  Considering your mental problems, you need all the help you can get.

Regarding your love question…Ali, shame on you!  You have a perfectly lovely woman who is willing to put up with you, keep you in your private quarters, and feed you.  What more is it that you want?  She isn’t “beautiful” enough?  If you do not think she is pretty enough, I would suggest the problem is not with her, but with your eyes.  The solution is simple.  Go and find a stick and poke your eyes with it.  Once you are blind, you will not notice what your woman looks like.  An alternative is some wood glue.  Simply rub some glue along your lids.  This will cause them to stick shut, thereby increasing the strength of your other senses.  You will notice the lovely perfume your woman wears, the sounds of the music she plays, the tastes of the food she has made for you, and the feel of the softness of her skin.  Who needs sight when these other senses are so visceral?  Your woman loves you and wishes to keep you near to her.  Simply return to your quarters and all will be forgiven.  Kiss her feet, pour perfume all over your body, and shave.  Then beg for her forgiveness.  She will be so happy to see you, she may even feed you more than once a day.

Unfortunately, if your girl drove you out to the side of the road somewhere, she is over you and nothing you can do will change her mind.  I realize you are suffering from mental delusions in the form of bipolar disorder, but you need to get yourself under control!  How?  It’s simple.  You need to have a beer and watch some football.  You said you do not think of her much as it is.  I am sure the walk alone started you on the way to forgetting about her, but your mental disorder likely interfered.  I assure you the beer and game will complete the exodus of this person from your mind.  You will wonder why you needed to write to me in the first place.

Good luck, Ali.  True love really can be yours if you follow my simple advice.

More Love Guru Love Letters

Here are some more letters to help ladies find their way to true love. Based on the sheer number of letters I’ve received, I am absolutely certain that many of you have similar questions and will find comfort in these answers I have provided.

Dear Love Guru,
My boyfriend says he doesn’t like the music I chose for him. He says I have zero taste and wouldn’t know a good song if it hit me in the head. I told him this hurts my feelings. He said so what? What should I do? Sincerely, Sally

Dear Sally,
I hate to tell you, darling, but your man is a mean clod and deserves to be put out on his head. Telling you that you have zero taste in music is not only not true, it’s just plain cruel. What does he know, anyway? He’s a man. Except in rare instances, men wouldn’t know musical taste if landed in their lap. Personally, I would take him out to the suburbs or the country and leave him there to figure his own way back to town, but if you love him like it seems you do, you are just going to have to change him. How? Well that’s simple. He’s going to have to spend some serious time in private quarters, the music is going to have to go a bit louder, the perfume is going to have to be sprayed a bit longer, and I hate to say this, but I think it is time to withhold some meals from this man. He really needs to learn that your love is what his life is all about and if he’s going to be critical of your choice in music, he should be thankful for every other wonderful aspect of your beautiful character. I would suggest starting out by feeding him only once a day in the late afternoon. He’ll be so grateful for the food, he won’t even notice the music. While he’s eating, turn the song up just a hair, while he’s still in the throes of tummy ecstacy. After about a week, go ahead and add another snack in the morning and when you do, bring the volume up on the music again right after he is through eating. Over the next several weeks, you can add in more meals, and also increase the size of the meals. Each time you do this, turn the musical volume up just a piece. He will begin to associate food with the song choice you made. If at any time he has something critical to say to you about your song choice, reduce the amount of food he receives for the next few days but do not lower the volume on your song. He’ll figure it out and you’ll be on your way to true love’s bliss in no time at all.

Dear Love Guru,
I hate to ask you this because you were probably intentional in leaving it out of your instructions, but what am I supposed to do with my fingernails? I have the hardest time keeping them tidy and I’m just afraid they detract from my entire sexy look. Do you have any advice? Thank you in advance, Nel
ly

Oh Nelly, Nelly,
What a fantastic question and you are so right that I should have addressed this earlier! What was I thinking? I just wasn’t, that’s all there is to it. I’m so sorry for leaving you out in the cold like this. Here’s the thing, dear. You are going to have to start using falsies. Men love a woman with long nails. They just do. Short nails remind them of their own unkempt manly hands and you know what happens when a man sees something that reminds him of himself…he begins to see you as a man. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? So find a nice nail salon and have them apply the tips for you. If you can’t afford a salon, go ahead and apply them yourself, but be sure you use a strong adhesive so they don’t fall off. I wouldn’t use the stuff that comes with the nail kit, but go buy some serious glue from the hardware store. You can simply use a bit of sandpaper on them to even out the lumps the glue leaves. After you apply your nail tips, be sure to paint them fire engine red. Fire engine red fires up a man’s imagination like nothing else. He’ll be so hot after seeing those nails, you might not even need his private quarters for a week! Toenails actually need attention too, but they do not need to be very long. Just be sure to have them cleaned up with a lovely pedicure. Be sure to get rid of any unsightly skin or fungus. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: SOS pads. SOS pads are amazing for scrubbing nastiness off your toes and heels. If you get a little burned, put on some lotion. Your feet will be utterly amazing. Throw on some high heeled sandals and he’ll be so gaga for your gorgeous feet, he won’t be able to sleep with loving you.

Dear Love Guru,
My mother, church, God, and the Bible taught me that sex outside of marriage is a sin. Shame on you for advocating sinful bedding like this! Shame on you also for telling women to show skin! Don’t you know that God wants our bodies covered? He does not like us to show others our private parts! Even in the sanctity of the marriage bed, he would be shocked if I allowed my Husband to see my breasts during relations. Shame, shame, shame! I may be coming up on 48 years old, but God will find me a Husband when he sees fit, on His own time. And if I never find a Husband, the Lord Jesus will be happy to comply. Signed, Ruth

Dear Ruth,
I do not know how in the world you came to the conclusion that God would not want you to use your body for sex since He gave you a hoo hoo and breasts, and I’ll bet your lovely form is way sexier than even you can imagine. Plus, there is no reason you can’t follow my other advice for getting love, even without having sex early and often, you just need to modify things a little. I think maybe Jesus is a bit busy healing babies and going to church and all that to be working on being your husband, so it would be best if you found yourself a nice human man to love. It may take a bit more time for you than it will for the average girl, but you’ve got spunk and I know you’ll find true love with a man in no time just like Jesus intended.

Well how do I do that, Love Guru? I can just hear you asking me that right now, so I’m going to tell you. First of all, nothing says that a good Christian lady can’t have her hair attractively styled. In fact I have seen more Christian ladies with the hair style I advocate than I see at the mall. And having a built in support system could be quite useful for you all. You could get together and color one another’s hair! It could be so fun. After Church you could have pie and do hair. God also doesn’t mind if you wear makeup. He made men so that they aren’t bright enough to know you are a girl without makeup, so He must have intended you to use some. Makeup parties can be fun too, kind of like those candle party things you Christian girls go to, only putting makeup on instead of lighting up a bunch of wax. And if you’re feeling especially creative, you could combine one of your candle parties with a makeup and hair removal party, and use the candle wax on your bikini line, armpits, and legs. It could be so much fun! Sitting here I’m thinking perhaps I should go into the Christian lady party planning business. I think I would be good at it.

You also mentioned some concern at having to show your skin. Again, I have to wonder why the good Lord would make skin if He meant for us to cover it all the time, but I also recognize that He did give us the ability to create some fantastic clothing choices, so I suppose He intended us to be creative in this department. It is too bad that he didn’t make men with a bit more imagination so us girls wouldn’t have to make things like nipples and labia so obvious, but it is what it is. I am here to tell you that you can still follow my steps while allowing for a man’s inability to figure out a breast is a breast and not just a lump. Basically you just have to go with ill-fitting clothing all over your whole body. Wear a very tight blouse. It can have a high neck and long sleeves. Just make sure that the silhouette of your breasts is clearly visible. Since your man will not be able to see your areola, you will need to wear your shirts tight enough he can see the shape of them through the shirt. Since it sounds like short skirts would offend your religious sensibilities, simply wear your pants tight enough to see your labia. Dressing to find a man without showing skin really is not as difficult as it seems, now is it?

As you can see, there are many of my steps to love that you can follow even if you are unwilling to have sex early and often. And don’t underestimate private quarters to assist you in developing a good Christian relationship. Suppose you meet a man you really like, but he doesn’t share your devotion? You can use your private quarters to help him along. This is especially effective if you have a very cold basement or root cellar for your man’s private quarters space. Basically, make sure your man’s private quarters are good and cold. Put him in there and leave him for several days. Every few days sit with him and read to him from your Bible. After reading to him about the comfort of the Lord, give him a little something to help him warm up just a bit. Over time, he will begin to associate the comfort of the Lord with the warmth you have provided. You also have the added bonus of his associating this comfort with your love. In no time at all, he’ll love you and the Lord more than anything in the world. Religious hymns can also make an effective musical choice in a case like yours. He’ll associate the lovely hymn with his love for the both of you. What could be better than that?

Dear Love Guru,
I bought some sexy clothes like you suggested. What should I do with my old ones? I really don’t think it would be right to donate them since another woman might end up buying them and keep herself from finding love. I simply could not live with myself knowing I contributed to another woman’s unhappiness. Thanks, Dotty

Dearest Dotty,
You are truly a generous spirit and your kindness will be rewarded with true love. What to do with those clothes? That’s easy, use them to fill in the cracks of your man’s private quarters so he stays warm. There’s nothing like the softness of a nice cotton polo shirt to snuggle up against. And if he’s being naughty, you can use them to poke in his mouth until he’s quiet. Alternatively, you can give them to my previous letter writer or any other Christian ladies who need to encourage their men to be a bit more devotional.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For the first batch of Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Love Guru Love Letters

I received many questions after posting my recipe for love. Clearly finding love can be a touchy problem, and one about which many would like to find some answers. I regret that because of the incredible number of inquiries I received, I simply cannot answer most of them personally. However I have compiled some of the more common issues here, and will post more tomorrow. Hopefully these will help those who have not quite yet navigated love’s rough waters.

Dear Love Guru,
I read your instructions on how to get a man and I’m thinking it’s gonna work. However I am confused about one thing and that’s hair. I have a perm. I have been trying to grow it out so the ends are kinda curly and the middle is straight. Do you think I should just cut it all off and start short? Thanks, Candy.

Dear Candy,
Great question. Let me just get straight to it. If No and Hell No went for a boat ride and No fell out, who would be left? Hell No. I cannot stress enough the importance of hair length when it comes to men. They simply do not understand short hair on a woman, that’s all there is to it. I’m sorry men can be so obtuse, but that’s just how it is. If a man sees you with short hair, he’s going to think you are another man, and we don’t want that, now do we? Yours is a simple solution and it’s called straightening. Go to the salon and have your hair straightened. Better yet, go to the store and buy your own kit and do it yourself. If you are a black lady, simply follow the instructions on the kit. If you are a white lady, go for a few minutes less, that way your hair won’t fall out. You’ll be on your way to love in no time! Fabulous name, by the way. With a name like Candy, you’ll have men wanting to eat right out of your hand!

Dear Love Guru,
I have a question that’s of a rather personal nature. Actually, it has to do with pubic hair. You did not mention pubic hair in your instructions, and I’m quite curious whether or not it should be trimmed. Some of my girlfriends say it should be shaved all the way off. Others say it should be left au naturel. Personally, I prefer a simple trim. What’s a girl to do? Sincerely, Harley

Dear Harley,
Another simply magnificent question! The answer to that question is easy, and you’re going to like it because you’re already there, Hon. Trim it. I know there are some men who like things completely naked down there, but there is just something wrong with that. Think about it. Little girls have no hair down there. Shaving all the hair off makes your privates look like those of a little girl. Do you really think it is a good idea for your man to be thinking of some little girl when he’s with you? I don’t think so! Not only that, unless you plan to get waxed (oh my God, ouch!), then you’re going to have to keep up working on getting that hair gone all the time. If you miss a day, can you imagine the itchiness? The thought brings tears to my eyes. And if you cut yourself…I just won’t even go there. So shave your bikini line and trim the rest. As for going au naturel, I do realize there are those hirsute ladies who are into that and we all hope they can find a man who is as well, but I say good luck, Sister. It just is not going to happen. Remember how I told you that men are not very bright when it comes to the ladies? Do you honestly think he’s going to know what is under all that hair if you leave it on there? Hair is meant to be long on the head and that is it. Go for the nice trim. And don’t forget to shave your armpits as well. You’ll be glad you did.

Dear Love Guru,
I have a real problem. I took your advice and found the man I thought was of my dreams. I wore the clothes you suggested, attractively styled my hair, wore perfect makeup, and let my panties hang out. It worked! I snagged my highschool sweetheart, John Fangboner, in just under a month. I was able to create a great private quarters for him in my basement. I built it all by myself and play Michael McDonald for him 24 hours a day. He’s there now in fact. Only here’s my problem. While I was at my job as a toenail fungus specialist at Lulu’s Nails in Brooklyn, I met the most wonderful man! He’s come in several times for Lulu’s special fungus treatment and I’m pretty sure he likes me. I mean, he does wear a wedding band, but I think it’s so women don’t hit on him all the time because he is really handsome. And his fungus isn’t that bad. I’m wondering how I should handle this situation considering John is in my basement as I write this! Please help. Confused in Love, Mary Lou Pantzaroff

My Dearest Confused,
Get up this second, go down to Walgreen’s, buy yourself some reading glasses, and put them on right now! You will be seeing clearly in about three minutes, my dear. This is quite a common problem, I’m afraid. You would not believe the sheer volume of letters I’ve gotten on just this issue. I particularly chose yours because it includes a second, more subtle issue I would also like to address. First of all, girls simply change their minds. That is all there is to it. It happens. In the same way that men are known to run around, bang things, and throw balls, us girls are known for being fickle creatures. Don’t sweat it. Here’s what you need to do. Take Johnny out for a drive and leave him on a country road. Don’t go too far from town. If you live in the city, and it sounds like you do, the suburbs will work just as well. Kiss him on his cheek, give him enough money for bus fare home, and leave. Why? Because the walk and ride back to his place will clear his head. He will be slightly confused after the warmth of his private quarters, the loving music, and your sexual prowess. Walking will remind him of sports and beer. He’ll start to focus on those things and head back to his place. By the time he arrives, he will have forgotten all about you. Normally this would be catastrophic, which is why we keep our men in their private quarters, but since you want out, this is the perfect solution.

Now you mentioned another issue I would also like to discuss, and that is the new man you are interested in. Can I just say now, Congratulations! Sounds to me like he’s as interested in you as you are in him. That ring? That’s his way of practicing his marriage to you! He’s getting ready and he does not want other girls to think he’s available. So go for it! You’ve already nabbed one man, you are obviously quite successful in the man-nabbing department. This one should not be terribly difficult to snag as well, especially since it seems he’s already interested. He wouldn’t be coming into your salon all the time if he wasn’t. And just think, he’s sharing an intimate bodily problem he’s dealing with, so he already trusts you. Girlfriend, you are so on your way to love, I’m getting all shivery and excited just thinking about it. Good luck and let me know how the wedding goes!

Everyone, this girl’s predicament is a common one. They see a man wearing a wedding band and think he’s taken. Remember that little phrase that says assuming makes an ass out of you and me? Well assuming a man is married simply because he’s wearing a wedding band is a load of horse pucky and definitely gets a lot of donkeys wandering around. Men know wedding bands keep women away, so when they decide you are the girl for them, they might just start wearing one so they can be sure to snag you! Unless your guy shows you his wedding certificate and the wife, he is likely fair game. Just be sure to wear your hair attractively styled, beautiful makeup, and ill-fitting clothes with a nice peek of your panties. He’ll be yours in no time. And don’t forget those private quarters! They are a key ingredient in the recipe of love.

For the original Love Guru post, go here.  For more Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

Love Guru

There are clear steps to getting the man of your dreams. I am here today to provide you some insight into those steps. Finding true love is not difficult. With a little perseverance, you too can achieve true love and happiness. To get started, I suggest pulling together some supplies. These supplies include a computer with internet access, duct tape, a cage, a hammer, some music and candles, clothing, makeup, scissors, and shoes. If you have a basement, this can be helpful too. It works best if the basement is in your own house, but your neighbor’s basement works well too if they are amenable.

First things first, men like women who look good and sexy. This means if you are normally the type to wear something dowdy like waist high jeans and a polo shirt tucked in, along with some sports socks and sneakers, you are going to seriously have to rethink your wardrobe choices. Unfortunately, men are not able to see past clothes that look like another guy is wearing them, so unless you would like to catch a gay man, I suggest taking this strong piece of advice: tight and ill-fitting.

What does this mean exactly? It means that you want to go with clothes a size, or perhaps two, too small. I know, I know, I’ve read those articles in womens’ mags claiming we should wear clothes that fit and if we are plus-sized girls, it’s even more important. Whatever. I’m here to tell you from a man’s perspective, that is gobbledy-gook. The thing you have to remember is that boys are not very imaginative creatures. They can’t imagine what they can’t see. Why is it, do you think, that they need a nudey magazine to do business with themselves? Huh? It’s because they cannot for the life of them figure out that a breast under a shirt is a breast. They just think it’s a lump. So you have to provide them with a reminder. It’s pretty simple really. Wear shirts that are a bit too tight, preferably low cut if you have the chest to accommodate, making certain if there are buttons that they don’t quite line up to close. This way men can see through to your bra if you have one and to your skin if you don’t.

A side note on undergarments here. If you can go without, do. Especially bras. Men like nipples, and like I said before, men can’t imagine what they can’t see. A little areola goes a long way to tittilating a man’s heart. Same goes for underwear. The best look if you must indulge in panties is to wear the thong style with the back showing out the top of your pants or skirt. Now, if you do as I say and choose pants or a skirt a size or so too small, it will be easy for the panties to show out the top.

Back to clothes. Since we just mentioned pants, let me just say that the tighter, the better. You may have heard the term camel toe. This is when pants are tight enough to show the outline of your labia. You may have heard that camel toe is unattractive. Pshaw! I’m here again to tell you that is simply not true. Men want to be able to see what is underneath! Since our puritanical laws and bad weather do not allow us to go naked all the time, it is necessary to wear pants sometimes. Help those unimaginitive men along and wear your pants tight enough that the man can see both your underwear and the outlines of your labia. You will be the better for it, I assure you.

A better bet, if you can get away with it, is a short skirt. I’m sure you have all heard that after a certain age or weight, women shouldn’t wear short skirts, but things have changed. Men have changed. Ever hear that older women are more experienced or bbw? These terms imply that no matter what your age or size, you can and should flaunt your stuff. Skirts small enough to provide the view of a bit of hiney are all that. Wear them short, show off your panties, and you’ll be on your way to love in no time, honey.

Let’s recap. Tight and ill-fitting clothes are best. No undergarments if possible, but if you must, be sure they show. Now, on to hair.

You may not know this, but men do like hair that is attractively styled. To them, hair that is natural and hanging is just, well, hair. They want a cut and they want to be able to notice a cut. At the same time, they want length. How to achieve these seemingly disparate goals? It’s simple, really. Cut your hair on top to a shorter length. Blow it dry using lots of styling aids so that it fluffs up around your face, framing the lovely you. Leave the sides and back longer. This way, men can see the length of your hair, and can also see that you took the time to style it as well. The color you choose doesn’t matter, so if there is a color other than the one you were born with that appeals to you, go for it. Color can also be a way to get a man excited. Men know that women who show their hair has been colored because of a bit of root growth are the best in bed. It’s just obvious that being adventurous with hair color is akin to being adventurous in bed. Hair stylists will try and convince you to come in and get those roots done sooner rather than later. Again, pshaw! That’s just them trying to make some money. Better yet, save money on the stylist and do your own coloring at home. You can save money further by letting those roots grow just a wee bit longer to show your man your adventurous side. Saving money and getting some lovin’, what could be better than that?

Makeup. Men like makeup. They like lots of it. Of course, it must be expertly applied, but it should be evident. Why? Kind of like wearing clothes men wear, a naked face to a man is just like, well, another man. Like I said before, if you don’t want a gay man, wear a lot of makeup to accentuate your features. Begin with a flat pallette. This means a solid foundation to cover up any, ahem, imperfections so to speak. Take the foundation and apply it all over your face, behind your ears, and down your neck. Blend it into the skin of your chest. Powder all. Then take a colored eye shadow and apply it from your eyelashes to your eyebrow. Men need to be able to SEE your eyes; colored eye shadow is the way to help them. Avoid neutrals. Men will just think you have dark circles around your eyes. Apply a thick coat of mascara. Once it dries, apply again. Oh, and don’t forget the eyeliner. Ever see Amy Winehouse’s eyes? She goes for a dramatic look and see what she has acheived! Amy is an example for us all. After making your eyes stand out, apply blusher to your cheeks. You want to look fresh and excited, kind of like you just had sex, so make those cheeks rosy. Same with the lips. Apply lipliner first, around the edges of your lips to make them appear larger, then fill in. It works best if the lipstick shade is different from the liner shade. This way men can see where your lips begin. Now your makeup pallette is complete! Squirt a bit of perfume behind your ears, on your neck, on your arms, in your armpits, on your tummy and down there, preferably a strong rose scent. Men like a woman who smells fresh and perfume shows you took the time to care.

You are now dressed for love success! Men will come crawling to your feet, begging you to take them home if you dress right, wear enough makeup, and style your hair. It’s easy, really. Men simply cannot resist a woman who takes care of herself. Choosing clothes that show your body, styling your hair so it is long and shows you styled it, wearing makeup to accentuate your features, all these things go a long way to achieving true love’s bliss.

Well, you say, after I’ve gone to these lengths, how do I keep a man once he’s interested? That one’s easy and I think you know the answer: sex. Men love sex. If you want to keep that special guy, have sex with him. The sooner the better. Seriously. It is not true that men are not interested in women who put out early. Men want to know you care about their needs too and the way to do that is to get busy between the sheets.

There are those who will tell you that it really doesn’t matter whether you have sex at your place or his, or even in the car. However, having sex at your house provides a distinct advantage to sex at his place or elsewhere. First of all, you can control the lighting concept, the music, and generally direct the entire mood. Secondly, after your man has sex he is likely to fall asleep. It is best if he falls asleep at your place so he can get used to being with you, sharing your rhythms and sleep patterns. Finally, should your man prove to be one of the more, how shall we say it, difficult types, having him at your house can make it easier to move him into his own private quarters in the basement of your house or the neighbor’s until he is more sure of your love.

A little sidenote tip here. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, some men need a bit more coaxing than others. They have fears of commitment or are afraid of the depth of emotion they feel for you. It is your job to show them that you understand and to help them come to terms with their inner selves. This can be done in a variety of ways, including drugs, alcohol, food, and television. But the best method I’ve encountered is what I call the “private quarters” method. The private quarters method basically creates a space for your man to be alone when he is not with you. It is best to place these quarters in a basement, simply because your man likes to return to his caveman roots, and the dark and depth of a basement reminds him of his basest instincts and his ancestry in caves. Worry not if you don’t have a basement. I know there are many girls who like trailers, flats, and ranch homes where a basement can be nearly impossible to come by. Sometimes girls with trailers have a root cellar. If this is the case, by all means employ it. However an extra room with the windows covered will suffice. This is one place where duct tape can come in quite handy. Simply cover the entire window surface with duct tape to keep out all light. Make sure the door locks in case the special place you make for your man’s private quarters isn’t sufficient to provide him enough privacy. Girl neighbors can share basements, but it is important not to keep two or more men together at once because this can confuse them. They may not know which of you they belong to if a bunch of girls are coming down all the time, and you don’t want your man to fall for someone else. Only use the basement of a neighbor you trust implicitly not to steal your man’s heart from you. This can be quite distressing.

It is very important to create private quarters for your man. If you aren’t the handy type, I suggest doing some web searches on using simple tools because good solid private quarters is one of the best methods to keep a man. Simply put, this is just a small place for you to put your man and lock him in for a bit. Now, now, don’t get all excited. This is not a bad thing. In fact your man will thank you for it after he’s spent some time with himself. Some need to stay longer than others, but all of them will be your slave for life if you keep them in private quarters for any length of time. It is best if you know how to weld and can build your man’s private quarters out of metal, but welding really is messy business so good solid two by fours work as well. Be sure to use enough nails and screws so the private quarters don’t fall apart. It helps if you can bolt the private quarters to the floor using a chain or some other bolting method. Make sure the space is not large enough for your man to stand because standing makes him restless. Give him just enough room to sit with his legs comfortably bent in front of him and enough room above his head so he doesn’t bonk himself while sitting there. Men can be quite clumsy so if the top of the space isn’t high enough, he will hurt his head, and this is not good. Good private quarters are an invaluable tool in the dating woman’s toolkit. Use private quarters wisely and you cannot go wrong. Later, once you are safely ensconsed in your man’s heart, you may only need to handcuff him in one place occasionally to remind him of his private quarters. But many men see their private quarters as a safe haven away from the pressures of everyday living and quite enjoy taking time there at the end of a stressful day.

The final piece to the puzzle in keeping a man is music. Wise music choices are invaluable in ensuring your man doesn’t stray. I’m here to tell you a secret method I’ve developed for keeping a man using private quarters and music. First of all, make the right decision when it comes to which song to play. None of that hard rock music stuff that gets men all flustery and thinking they need to run around and throw balls or something. Bad idea if you’re aiming for a romantic tone. Better to go for the soft rock favorites like Michael McDonald’s Yah Mo Be There. This song is just about as perfect as you can get for the secret method I’m about to show you. Another fantastic choice is When I Fall in Love by Celine Dion and Clive Davis. You will be playing one song only, so a good music choice is essential. After making your song selection, you either need to get a player that will allow the song to play on repeat indefinitely, or you need to use your computer. Since the song will be playing in the basement, root cellar, or room where your man’s private quarters are located, the computer may prove to be impractical unless you can run speakers or use a laptop. The sound has to be quite loud, so do not use the laptop itself as a sound system, but attach speakers to it. Basically, the secret method is to play the song in your man’s private quarters over and over and over as loudly as possible without disturbing the neighbors. He will then come to associate the sound with his love for you. Later, when you wish to put him in a loving mood, turn on that song, and Presto! He’ll be so hot for you, you won’t believe it. The reason this works so well is that the song operates almost like hypnotism. Your man enters such a blissful state under the power of the music, it is almost as if he’s under a love spell. It helps if you can burn some scented candles in his private space as well, lavender or rose scents work best; men simply cannot resist either of these. Again, when your man comes up for some lovin’ you can burn a candle using your special smell while playing your special song, creating a mood that simply cannot be beat. Music and candles go a long way to making your man a happy, loving creature.

Let’s have a final recap here. Ill-fitting clothes are best. Wearing none is preferable, but if you must wear undergarments, make sure they show. Wear hair that is obviously styled, yet still long, by cutting the top shorter and leaving the sides and backs long. Use hair color to spark a man’s adventurous spirit. Wear enough makeup men can see your lovely features. Have sex early and often. Create a private quarters space to keep your man until he is yours forever. Finally, use a good solid love song played loudly and constantly. Music, as well as scented candles, imprint you on your man’s brain. Mark my words, girls. True love can be yours. Toss out those thick books on relationships and save your money for clothes, makeup, and private quarters supplies. Follow these simple rules for love, and you will be on your way to bliss until death do you part.

For Love Guru Love Letters, go here.  For more Love Guru Love Letters, go here.

All the Wittle Animals and Adam

My friend wrote this.  I thought it was such a funny story, I had to post it.

Once upon a time, God got an itch to create himself some little planet.  Yeah.  And on the planet he put all the wittle animals, some shrubbery, and Adam.  Oh, and then he turned on the light.  And then he rested.  Yeah.  And Adam was lonely so he ripped out a rib and created a woman.  Yeah.  And then God made sure that Adam and Eve were stupid and wouldn’t question anything.  Yeah.  So then, there was a snake, a talking snake, that persuaded Eve to eat an apple.  Yeah.  And then, well, then everything went to hell (woman’s fault, you know).  And then, God wrote the bible and told everyone that this was the Bible and that it was the word of God and that you had to obey it all.  Yeah, even the parts where you stone your own children to death if they profess non belief.  — CW, 2008

My choosing to publish this story represents a perfect microcosm of a little problem I have been dealing with lately.  As cliche’ as it sounds, on some level my blog is my own personal therapy session.  I come here and spout and think and muse and make shit up no one cares about.  Part of the deal for me is that I have to be brutally honest.  But also, no censoring.  And lately, I have wanted to censor.  I have been worrying way too much about who might read this and their reaction.  As a result, I have not been the happiest little camper lately.  Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’ve not been sleeping well.  Not sleeping makes me turn into a rather cranky little monster, if you know what I mean.  Lack of sleep will do that to a person.

But another part of my angst has been wanting to write stuff and then not doing it because of my perceived expectation of a reaction or concern over what others will think of me.  I even went so far as to delete the post I wrote on toxic work places because I was worried someone at the old workplace would read it.  I also worried about what I wrote yesterday about wanting a boyfriend, all concerned the man I’m going on a date with might read it, realize I’m bananas, and run screaming for the hills.  I worried a parent in Milla’s class might discover what a foul-mouthed hooligan I can be.  Then there were a few days where all I wanted to write was a bunch of negativity because I was mired in a sleep-deprived, hormonally-induced, mini depressional psychosis and I didn’t want people to think I’m that much of a mental health disaster.  For over a week now I have not written much at all because of concern over someone reading what I had to say.

Then last night I was reading and taking a nice bath to relax before bed in the hope I would fall asleep when I realized what I have been doing.  I realized I was censoring myself and I had to ask, what in the world is going on here?  I am not writing for the audience, I am writing for me, regardless how stupid, opinionated, depressed, or ridiculous I may be.  I want to have an audience, that’s why I put it out there.  But I can’t write with the audience in mind.  So I had this little epiphany and resolved to go back to being my usual blabber-mouthed, opinionated, cussing sometimes self, regardless if I was having a good day and regardless what anyone else might think or say.

Then this morning I received the story my friend wrote and wanted to post it because I think it is hilarious.  I cut and pasted it and put it into my wordpress window, then when it came time to tag it and categorize it, I started to worry about offending someone or the neo-nazi religious types that might read it and send me hate mail and I got a little flutter and almost didn’t put anything in the tags and only a couple of categories to ensure no one would read it.  Then the lightbulb went on and I realized I was doing it again, censoring, worrying about the reaction, and I knew then that I had to post it and add all the tags and categories I would have if I knew no one was reading it.  I had to put it out there, regardless of the reaction.  Because ironically enough, I honestly don’t care whether someone likes it or not.   I’m just too tired right now to deal with the possible reaction.  And that is the crux of it, I suppose.  I have been feeling so lousy from lack of sleep that I do not have my usual strength and resolve to put up with someone else not liking what I have to say.  I’ve regressed back to the person in my teens and early twenties who had zero confidence in her writing or her self.  I suppose it is normal to make these regressions when I’m overly tired, but it doesn’t mean I have to stay there.

So I’ve put on the story and I put back the toxic workplace post and I’m leaving the relationship post and if there is anyone reading it who doesn’t like it, well, I guess that’s too bad.  Go read something else.  I’m not trying to change your mind.  I’m not trying to make other people hate my ex boss.  I’m not trying to troll the blogs hoping some Prince Charming will read my relationship posts and come sweep me off my feet.  I’m writing because I have to and it keeps me sane.  It is part of my spirituality.  I know that’s a useless psychobabble reason, but it’s true, and that’s all there is to it.

Death and Loving

Ah, Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day.  This is the first year I can ever remember when I haven’t either wanted a romantic Valentine’s Day or the not wanting it isn’t sour grapes.  There have been a few of those years, ones where I pretended to myself that I didn’t care but deep down it hurt that there wasn’t someone special to remember the day for me or I had someone who was careless about such things.  Right now, I am honestly happy just being who I am and love having my little girl as my Valentine.  As a result, this is a really nice Valentine’s Day, at least thus far.

Milla is so sweet.  Last night the two of us took heart cookie cutters and cut beeswax hearts for her classmates.  We then wrapped them in tissue paper and tied them off with yarn. As is often the case in these sorts of projects, I had the assembly line going.  There have been moments in the past where I go off half-cocked trying to be Martha Stewart mom and decided to make 28 Valentines from scratch.  16 Valentines in and 4 hours later I’m ready to slice my wrists with the scissors and poke the glue sticks in my eyes.  One year we hand-cut hearts from construction painting paper, then watercolored hearts on each one, then I helped Milla sign her name to each one.  It was fun for the first 8 or so, then Milla was getting mad because she was sick of signing her name and I was getting mad because there was paint on the ceiling and walls and we were both ready to kill each other so I’ve learned my lesson.  I’m not the Martha Stewart of mothers.  Now I know when it comes to large crafty projects making multiples of anything, go for the assembly line approach.  These kids won’t know the difference and ninety-percent of them will likely end up in the trash anyway.

So last night Milla and I lined up the wax and started cutting the hearts.  Then we piled them up in twos.  Then we cut the yarn for the tissue paper.  Then we cut the tissue paper into squares.  Then we wrapped them and she tied.  At one point she tried tying bows but that deteriorated after about 3 sets because it was a huge pain in the ass.  The yarn kept getting caught on her fingernails and she’d pull the whole lump out of my hand and we both got irritated so we quit that.  We managed to complete the entire project in under an hour, so that was all good.  Of course, we got to school this morning and it turns out her teacher doesn’t do a Valentine’s Day exchange, but with my luck if we’d skipped it there would have been an exchange and I would again look like the mother that couldn’t.  I’m good at that.

Valentine’s Day is kind of a weird holiday.  In some regards it seems almost like Mother’s Day; designed entirely by the greeting card industry to make people spend money.  But it has a really cool history and dark side that appeals to me.  There are all these legends about who St. Valentine may have been, but in all of them, he’s rescuing someone and doing all these good deeds and as a result, he gets killed off.  I suppose that’s the nature of Sainthood, but I find it somewhat ironic that his life is held up as the namesake for a holiday about romantic love.  Isn’t the murder of St. Valentine for all his good and loving deeds kind of a perfect analogy on some level for the way we lose ourselves in romantic love?  It’s all good if both sides are party to the celebration, but more often than not I think it all ends in despair.  And even when both sides are happy about things and ultimately stay together, the romantic part inevitably ends.  And most sane people I know are glad that it does.  It’s almost like death in some ways to be in that place where you’re so in love you can’t eat or sleep or think or do a damn thing and you might as well be dead.  It’s a good thing that part ends or we’d never get anywhere.

Another interesting consideration in the history of St. Valentine is when it’s celebrated.  Some say the mid-February date is to commemorate St. Valentine’s death.  However others argue it was an active choice on the part of the Christian church to obliterate a pagan festival called Lupercalia.  It was one of those native festivals where people prepared their homes for spring and celebrated fertility through a festival to the Roman God of Agriculture.  Well, we certainly couldn’t have people worshipping any Agriculture gods, now could we?  That would be idolatry.  So the Christians murdered off the local religion with a nice little holiday of their own.  How special!  I do find it quite fascinating that in all the history surrounding Valentine’s Day there is quite a lot of death.  And loneliness too.  As I understand it, St. Valentine spent his last days in prison before being put to death.  There he was trapped in his lonely heart and then he was killed.  Wow.

On that special note, I think I’ll sign off.  Someone I know told me he likes my blogs because I just go on my rant without making a point.  Yep.  That’s me.  Pointless.  Ha!  Well, I have a point today, and that’s to enjoy the beautiful girl I made while in the throes of romantic love that ended with a sputter.  Her father and I may have our differences, but if I could go back and choose whether or not to toss that condom across the room (Yes, mom.  That’s what happened.  It didn’t break like I told you.), I would do it again in a heartbeat because the love I have for her is better than any romantic love I’ve ever experienced.  I suppose that’s the point, though, isn’t it?  To fall in romantic love so you breed, have children, and ensure the continuation of the species.  Who cares if the species grows up, falls in love, and ends up killed over it.  As long as the breeding took place and the children were born first, it’s all good, right?  Kind of senseless and weird, but it must work or we wouldn’t have a population explosion.

Post #45

Have you ever had a brilliant thought in the car or in the middle of the night when you’re too tired to get up and do anything about it then the second you’re in a place you can write it down it’s gone?  I suppose that is what separates the successful creators from the unsuccessful ones, either the ability to remember those brilliant ideas or the wherewithall to drag your ass out of bed to write the thoughts down.  There is that little thing though, about something seeming brilliant in the edges of sleep, and it turns out to be pretty crappy in the light of day.

Apparently this brilliant piece of drivel was my post number 45.  I don’t know why I didn’t post it or name it.  I was probably distracted by living in some other moment than the one I was in, longing for Ron or Frederick or some other figment of my imagination and not paying attention to the moment I was in.  So today I’m fiddling around with my wordpress account, creating a new theme, doing something different, and I notice there is a little button above where I compose that says DRAFTS.  And after DRAFTS it said Post #45.  So I clicked on it and found this tidbit of thought.  I remember typing it, but beyond that I don’t recall much.  However considering I have wasted many days in the last several weeks not living in the present and focusing heavily on the male figments of my imagination, I can reasonably assume that one of them is the reason the post was interrupted and forgotten.  How sad it is.  How sad indeed.

When I consider the hours, days, weeks, months, years I have wasted living outside the moment I am in….ah well.  I suppose lamenting this would be futile as well.  There is no way to retrieve those moments.  I can only hope I remember to live in the present going forward.

Today is particularly difficult.  I must remember this is only about my third day of understanding, and I would not say it’s full understanding or that my brain is in a groove with it yet.  I would suggest to myself that this will take some time, but I don’t want to limit things.  At least awareness is present, so that should help.  But today I have been wanting to live my old patterns.  I have been fighting the urge to leave the messenger on in the hopes that one of the figments will communicate with me.  He has, but it has been little.  I heard something on the radio that reminded me of the figment and felt something funny in my stomach.  Reminder again, he’s a figment, he’s a figment.  Get here.  Look at the sky.  Isn’t it cool? Look at the clouds swirling in the late afternoon light.  The sun wants to peek through.  It is cold, but it is bright.  Okay, I’m here.

Post #45.  Sounds like a mile marker.  Perhaps I can find some interesting metaphor for the milepost to help me remember that the other stuff is all just figment.  It is where I have been in this qwest to live in the moment and to avoid living somewhere else.  It can help me give up the figments who are really only synapses firing in my brain.  Here I am.  Here is this bright computer screen.  Here are these keys that I type on so effortlessly.  Here is the heater on my cold feet and my bladder that feels as if it would like to be emptied.  Click on the mute button so if the figment sends you an IM you do not scramble in an attempt to respond immediately, thereby engaging the figment or hoping the figment will communicate further with you.  Relax.  Breathe.  You are here right now.  And that is all that matters.

Dharma Struggles

I have been thinking a lot lately about being present in the current moment, living right here right now, because living anywhere else gets me into trouble.  I have been struggling with this concept for some time now.  I think I originally started with the Tao Te Ching a couple of years ago, and at that time it seemed right, but I didn’t start to live it.  Then I lived the worst year of my life and the concept was placed before me in a book by Pema Chodren called When Things Fall Apart.  There were moments last year where existing hurt so badly, where if I had not had my daughter I would have chosen to die (although some of the moments would not have happened without having my daughter because they came from problems with my ex and his girlfriend so who knows how things would have been).  In any case, I did not want to be here I hurt that much.  During those moments, sometimes the only way I could get through would be to read the book about being in the moment and be in that moment reading that book.  Or I would lie in bed and hold my daughter and focus on that moment alone to get to the next.

Then Peter came along and I became obsessed with his lying and cheating and totally tossed all the living in the moment out the window.  Focusing on him took the focus off me.  But that got old and I finally chose to walk away.  Since him, I have had a series of “relationships” where in each case, the man would be there but not be there or disappear or act in any number of ways that were not present.  Finally, I have been communicating with a man for over a month via email, chat, and phone, who makes no effort to see me in person despite ample opportunity and despite many claims that he would like to meet.  And with him I just realized I was projecting this entire what could be scenario onto him and absolutely not living in the present.  He’s this, he’s that, he’s everything I think I want, yada yada, but these are all external things.  They are not him because he is not real.  He is not here.  I have never seen his face in real life!  Jesus, it’s ridiculous!

And it dawned on me, what the hell does the universe have to do to get me to understand this point?  After the last couple of years, I have lamented to anyone who would listen, if the universe just told me what to do, I would do it.  But the universe did just that:  it gave me the Tao Te Ching over two years ago.  I did not live it.  It gave me the worst emotional pain I have ever experienced and I did not live it.  It finally gave me a series of relationships whereby each subsequent man was less present than the first.  It finally took one who is really not here for me to think, “What in the world am I supposed to be learning from this?”  I was asking this question before, but I was NOT getting it.  Now I think I’ve got it and I wonder, why the hell was it so hard to fucking figure out?

So now I am here and I am trying to live in each moment.  As part of this, I am trying to accept who I am in this moment, not to judge, not to criticize, not to worry, just to be.  And it is the most peaceful I have ever felt.  I have been worrying incessantly about where my next dime is supposed to come from.  I have been terrified of owing taxes and where my next mortgage payment is coming from.  But all of those things are not hurting me right now.  In this moment, the mortgage is paid.  In this moment, no one is taking anything from me because I owe taxes or my family-law attorney.  I am going with the dharma, existing here and now.  Why waste this moment worrying about what is not happening, right now?

Yet here is where I get confused.  I need to find some way to earn money.  I do not want to wait until the moment when my house is being repossessed to realize that that moment sucks!  There has to be responsibly planning for the future without sacrificing the now.  Only I have no idea how to go about it.  Another big part of all of this process is choosing the life I lead in a manner best suited to who I am.  I chose law school to escape where I had been rather than to choose a life I wanted.  This was a terrible reason.  I hated being a lawyer.  It was the biggest mistake I have ever made.  I wanted to write so I chose law school thinking I could make money writing and because I feared that I couldn’t make money writing any other way and feared that my writing wasn’t good enough and made this major life choice without having had any idea what my life would be like.  It was all about escape and fear and concerns about what other people thought about me and making money and nothing about living my life on my terms or accepting who I was or what I could do without worrying about other people.

So now I am trying to make active choices about who I want to be, what kind of life I want to live, doing things that nourish my soul, and at the same time, I have to pay the mortgage.  One part of me says keep doing these things you need to be who you are.  Write the articles and books.  Try to teach the classes.  Do the astrological consultations.  And if you do these things, money will flow to you, because you are doing what you need to do.  But I admit it.  I’m afraid.  I’m afraid if I don’t take more active steps like even applying at Starbucks or putting this house on the market before I get behind on the mortgage, I will lose this house and end up in a worse position than I am in now.  It is all coming from fear.  I do not trust the universe to take care of me.  I suppose that is the crux of it, isn’t it?  Maybe I should pay attention and try to get whatever lesson is in this before life gets really rough, like it did with the living in the moment stuff.  But I just don’t know how.  So I am asking the universe, please, give me some guidance and I will pay attention.  I will do what I have to do to pay attention so you do not have to bonk me on the head.  I will do my best to trust and have faith that I will be cared for and that everything will be okay.  I don’t suppose I have any other choice.

Why do men marry?

What makes a man marry?  I saw this headline today on Yahoo.  I’m sure they have they trot out the same boring answers, yada yada yada.  Well, I’m here to tell them that the answer is easy.  It’s a little date-rape drug women use on men called Beer.  I was made aware of this oft-abused substance via a public service email a few days ago (Thank you, Carin, for bringing this to my attention!).  It really brought to light for me the extensive insidiousness of this substance and its entrenched toehold in American society.  People complain about the tobacco companies, but what we really should worry about is the proliferation of beer.  How many unwanted hookups have occurred because of this toxic substance?  How many, dare I say it, marriages?  It is truly frightening indeed.

I Admit It–I’m Not a Success

I have decided I’m going to become a character on the Simpsons.  I don’t know who yet, but I would rather be a Simpsons character than a human.  I could have blue hair and no one would bat an eye.  I’d only have three fingers, but that wouldn’t be so bad.  And everyone stays the same age forever.  Good times!

I remembered this morning something that was said to me by the man I liked who has now disappeared.  He said his biggest flaw is that he often changes his mind.  Maybe I should have paid bigger attention to that?  Sometimes we ignore what is most obvious.  I know I shouldn’t care, because enlightened, perfectly mentally-healthy people aren’t supposed to care, but I’m thoroughly embarrassed at the prospect of telling my counselor how this has gone.  And it’s not like I can’t say something.  I gushed last week.  Actually gushed.  Eewww.  I don’t gush often so it stood out.  I know she’s going to ask and I’m going to have to fess up and it is going to suck, pure and simple.  Humiliation, my favorite emotion.

I actually have a policy of not telling people about the men I’ve been seeing because they never turn into anything.  That became another humiliation, all the times I’d say something about someone I was seeing and then it would crash and burn and then I’d have to explain it.  The worst was last summer when I had a party.  One of the primary purposes of that party was to introduce my fab new boyfriend to all my friends.

He didn’t show up.  Yeah.  That was good.  The party sunk to new lows when another friend kissed me.  Small problem.  That friend is married.  Um, can you stop?  He did, but it was weird.  We had gone into my bathroom together to look at the bookshelf I’d built.  I’d had a couple shots of vodka.  Considering I drink maybe once or twice a year, two shots of vodka was like bathing in alcohol for me.  Come on shoot one, it will be fun!  Those party friends don’t understand how it is for us non-drinkers.  Aaaanyway, new boyfriend wasn’t at my party.  I was in the throes of shame.  Then bam, friend lays one on me.  He’d had a few too many beers himself.  We were in there, kissing, when I remembered his wife.  Um, wife?  Oh yeah.  So we stopped.  Then knock, knock, knock.  Who’s in there?  I need to go potty!  Out come two very sheepish and shamefaced humans.  Unfortunately, the only folks left at the party were those same friends who had encouraged my alcohol consumption.  You know, the types who stay late at parties, drink a lot, and enjoy such shenanagins, live for them in fact.  The ones who drink the most, start smoking when they never do in real life, leave last, and ceaselessly discuss what happened there for weeks.  They kept trying to take each of us out for lunch and get us to fess up.  Fortunately, neither of us caved.  But it was weird.  Weird. Weird. Weird.

What is this, blog confessional?  I read an interesting article yesterday.  It was about success and failure.  The author theorizes that to find true success, embrace your failures.  Fuck up royally?  Say so.  It’s liberating.  I think I’m already on that side of the fence.  I’ll just discuss my pathetic love life on a blog that has been read by persons in Pakistan.  Pakistan!  In societal terms, I think I’m quite a fuck up.  Well, maybe not.  On the surface, I think lots of my acquaintances think I’ve got it quite together actually.  What the hell do they know?  Of course, since I’ve ceased informing them when I find a new man, they don’t get to hear how the new man disappears, so that is one area where I don’t seem quite as much a fuck up, just a bit of a non-trier.  But that’s okay.  I don’t mind being a non-trier.  None of them ever try to fix me up with any of their friends though.  I don’t know if it’s that they don’t have any friends to fix me up with or if they wouldn’t want to connect me to their friends in that way….wouldn’t sic her on a friend, no way!  I don’t know.

Perhaps rather than blog confessional, I should enlighten my small readership with my ideas on politics and society.  Nah.  I’m too tired at the moment. I’m trying to go off Starbucks chais.  They cost too much.  They cost less than they could because I don’t get milk, but even if I drank just one a day per month, the total monthly charge would come to $45.  Since I often drink several a day, I can only imagine how well I’m lining Starbucks’s pockets.  I’m considering getting a job there.  Maybe they’ll be willing to hire a no longer wants to be lawyer.  Last year, no one who wasn’t in the law field would touch me with a ten foot pole because I’d been a lawyer.  I was finally able to finagle an interview at a temp service.  The man there said it was only because I was Libbie’s friend that he was interviewing me.  He said if my resume had come in on its own, he would have tossed it.  Overqualified and something must be wrong.  I said what is wrong is that I can’t find a job.  Plus it was a temp service.  What were they afraid of, that I’d quit?

So I suppose I shall stop this random nonsense and find something to do that allows me to fizzle on in anonymity.  Anonymity is good.  I like it here.

Vanishing Meter REALLY Works!

Oh my gosh!  The Vanishing Meter is so damn accurate.  I completely forgot about the thing.  Then last night, I was lying in bed contemplating my latest disappearing man, remembered my red meter, and poof!  A lightbulb lit in my head.  Remember the Vanishing Meter!  This was a case where the meter was kind of pink at first, and not all the way to the top.  But after I met the man and spent time with him, it was as red as the meter could go.  After spending time with him, I did not believe the meter would work.  But now he has disappeared. That meter is dead on, I swear.  I’m going to have to figure out a way to market this thing and make some money.  I’ll get a patent even though I didn’t invent it.  I discovered it, and that’s all that matters.  Kind of like a pharmaceutical company going into India and patenting a medicinal flower the natives have used for centuries.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t invent it if I discovered it, right?  Wow.  I’m excited.  Maybe this is my ticket to the big time.  And I won’t even have to share the money with a man because any man I would want to share with will have disappeared.  I know.  I know.  There is that cliche’ about money not buying happiness, but there is also that response that it sure makes the misery bearable.  I’ll bear it–on a yacht in the Mediterranean!  Thank you, Vanishing Meter.  At least I’ve found the silver lining.

Oh, I just thought of something even better–a marketing idea to go with the Vanishing Meter!  I could sell the Vanishing Meter™ and with it, I could sell special rags for drool AND for the disappearers to use after they crap their pants at the thought of someone having a red Vanishing Meter™!  Wow!  I’m onto something even bigger than before!  These rags, they could be like those little plastic things that close bread–a simple, little idea that made millions.  They will be of a special absorbency and cost very little.   What a concept!  I could even market on late night television…order the Vanishing Meter™ now, get two absorbency towels for $3.99!

I’m going to go plan my Mediterranean vacation now.

Musings

And the one, having failed to express anything for thinking the other not interested, causes the other to think the same and therefore to leave.

Hold your cards close.  Show your hand.  Show one card.  Show two.  There seems to be no only answer.  But how much fails to start for the lack in deciding which is the proper course of action?  How many have stumbled because all of us concern ourselves with wondering what the other is thinking rather than simply asking?  It is because even the simple asking can be a showing of our own cards, thus compromising our position. I hate the gamesmanship of it, yet it is there, and it is required when there is more than one and there is no way around it.

Vanishing Meter

I have a bastard meter in my brain. Well, it is not necessarily fair to call it a “bastard” meter. Perhaps it should be called a Pitiful Loser meter. Or a Guaranteed to Disappear meter. Whatever it is called, it is in my brain and it really works. It is this little meter that turns red based on how attracted I am to a man. The redder the meter, the more attracted I am. If it isn’t very red, I’m not very attracted. If the meter is red, it is a guarantee that the man is going to disappear or be emotionally unavailable.

Seriously. This thing works. The more attracted I am, the redder the meter, the more likely the man is to disappear. And get this. I can start out not much attracted to the man and the meter will have very little red to it. Then I can spend more time with the guy and get more attracted based on his personality. The meter gets redder. The man disappears. It’s amazing.

This is a remarkable capacity on my part. Over the last couple of years, I have become gradually aware of the Vanishing Meter. After a man would disappear or stand me up or after a relationship would end, I would do the usual self-analysis to figure out if there was something I could do differently. I ascertained that one common denominator was that the men either disappeared or were emotionally unavailable. I began also to detect this redness in my brain at the time of attraction. Over time, I put the two together and presto! There you have it! The Vanishing meter.

I started to test its accuracy. I set up an online dating profile. I went out and looked around. I sent hellos to men and rated them on how attracted I was to them. If I was very attracted, the meter would be quite red and they would not respond to my inquiry. If I was not that attracted, they would be all over me like ants on sugar. It was remarkable. I did not even have to SPEAK to them, just simply be attracted to what they look like, and they would not respond to me. In some cases, I would start communicating with the ones I was not that attracted to and grow more attracted, the meter would increase in redness, and presto again! They would disappear. Amazing. Simply amazing.

I applied the same scientific approach to men who contacted me first. If I was attracted, the meter would be bright red, the man would disappear or I would discover he was emotionally unavailable. I have become quite astute as asking the questions that pinpoint whether a man is emotionally unavailable. I would go on a date with a man I was attracted to. I would ask the questions and presto! The meter would turn red.

I should market the thing. Maybe I could make a million dollars. I mean I know it means that those of us who can use the meter will be forced to spend our lives with men to whom we are not attracted, and that we will have to work very hard at not liking them because attraction based on personality turns the meter red as well, but at least we’ll be able to ensure a man will stick around. Well, maybe we will not be able to ensure he’ll stick around, but we’ll be able to ascertain when the guy is going to leave or hide his emotions. That could be a good thing. Of course, considering this, I would rather be alone. I don’t want to have a man I’m not attracted to, either in his looks or personality, just to have a man. I suppose I’m destined to life as an old maid. Perhaps I should find some solitary profession for which I don’t need a man. Something like writing. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe I am onto something here…

The Path

Once upon a time there was a lovely little path that ran north and south along a cliff.  The cliff dropped to the edge of the ocean.  The path was covered with ashy, pea-sized pebbles.  The sky above the path connected the ocean to a grassland that grew between the path and the horizon.  The grassland swayed back and forth in the gusts and breezes that blew in off the sea, rhythmic and habitual, keeping time as it had for centuries.  The cliff’s edge scalloped in and out, rising up to one hundred feet above the waves.  The cliff walls were sheer and precarious, plunging deftly into the foam.

The space between the path and the cliff was close; too close for some.  Periodically, a rock wall appeared in this margin, moss bathing the stones in its ancient, curly tendrils.  The cliff below the places where the rock wall stood was particularly steep and rocky, cascading directly into the water below, with no sandy shoreline dividing the face and the water.

In places, hardy trees fought the wind and coarse soil to make a home for themselves along the path.  During winter, the trees were cold and skeletal.  In spring, blossoms burst forth with luster and strength, giving birth to lush foliage that lasted well into fall.

The path ran for miles.  It began randomly off the coast amongst several run-down cottages that overlooked the shoreline.  It concluded at the berth of a hill overlooking a quaint, little town.  Every year different townspeople took it upon themselves to care for the path.  Men would lug bags of gravel to fill the thin places.  Children would plant lupines and sweet peas.

Citizens of the town used the path for various purposes.  Some ran.  Others strolled.  One old woman walked down the path and back every Saturday, no matter the season, no matter the weather.  Couples sauntered hand in hand, sharing the sunset, bundling together against the breeze.

One such couple walked daily along the path, if the weather suited them.  Depending on their schedule, they would walk for a short half hour or spend the day walking to the path’s end and back.  Some days, the fellow held the woman close, her head laid gently on his shoulder, their stroll languid, contemplative.  Others, she would bounce ahead, while he followed more sedately behind.

Regular path walkers knew the couple.  The woman had walked the path since she was a small child.  She had developed a routine whereby she walked its entire length once a week on Sunday if the weather was cooperating.  The man was not much of an exerciser, but he loved to walk the path as well, and gradually adapted to her habit.  When she jogged, he would walk along behind, waiting until she returned, the two walking back together while she cooled off.  Or sometimes he would ride his bicycle, the handlebars unsteady on the gravel, as she ran beside him, her ponytail bouncing to the rhythm of her steps.

One elderly woman, Mrs.  Mettle, often followed them while they walked together, hand in hand.  She eavesdropped on their conversations, wishing her life was more like theirs.  She was not certain of their names, but she had taken to calling them Martin and Beth in her mind.  She felt the names suited them.  She knew the two were not married, but thought perhaps they were planning to do so soon.  Martin worked as a schoolteacher in town, teaching math.  Beth wrote children’s books and sold vegetables and flowers from her expansive garden.  Mrs.  Mettle also knew that Martin owned a rambling, delightful bungalow with an enormous front porch that overlooked the cliffs to the sea.  She longed to follow them into that bungalow and learn more about the life she was sure the two must lead.

Ah, if she could.  As is often the case, Mrs.  Mettle would soon discover that things were not as sanguine as the surface would have the world believe.  Although the two appeared connate, if Mrs. Mettle had spoken to one of the pair, each story would be quite different from the other’s, much more so than either of the two could contemplate.

Both of them had remained unattached for quite a long time before their inadvertent meeting in a bookstore one rainy morning.  Martin had a family who adored him, decent friends, and a good job that, although it did not pay a lot of money, allowed him enough for a comfortable living.  But he had been terribly lonely for a long time.  He had longed to share his life with another.  He dated women and had a few girlfriends, but nothing ever panned out.

Then he met Beth.  She was a wild, fearless, energetic woman who rearranged his every aspect.  Her life was so different from his; she had four dogs and three cats, her work was sporadic, and she often had a million things going at once, which overwhelmed his sure and steady single-mindedness.  But overall, she liked things mostly tidy like he did, she enjoyed art and theater, she cared about the environment, she loved to travel and relished studying other cultures, she had principles and lived her life accordingly.  And she was so beautiful.  Devastatingly so.  His heart ached each time he imagined her pristine complexion, the golden hair she wore casually pulled back from her face, her luminous eyes, whose color matched the ocean below his house.  He felt certain that he was truly in love.  Beth completely captivated him; she was perfect and everything he had ever dreamed of.

Martin knew he had never loved a woman as he loved Beth, and not long into their courtship, he realized he would ask her to marry him.  Even though they had only been going out for a few short months, he had no doubts that she was exactly what he wanted, and he began to plan how to convince her to accept a proposal so early in their relationship.

Beth was not as immediately enamored of Martin when she first met him.  She had a busy life and liked the way things were.  Although she was not in the market for a boyfriend, she welcomed the diversion.  She thought that even though his hair was thinning, he was attractive enough.  He wasn’t conventionally pretty, but she enjoyed the way his eyes crinkled at the edges like he always had a laugh waiting, and his calm and easy smile made her feel secure.  There was an allure in his manner that made her unusually active mind sedate.  He was frankly earnest, and this made her laugh.

Still, she spent their first few dates debating with herself whether she really wanted to go out with him.  He was much too interested in science fiction and sports cars to suit her tastes.  He insisted they watch all of the credits in the movies they watched, which drove her to distraction; she hadn’t the patience for it.  And even though he had worked at his job for a number of years, he complained incessantly about the place when the subject came up, but would take no steps to change things.  She wondered whether he was a pessimist in disguise.

Over time, though, these things seemed to matter little.  He was so attentive, she could not help but react positively.  He brought her bundles of flowers on a regular basis.  He took her to dinner at fine restaurants and refused to even consider allowing her to pay.  Beth had girlfriends who would have found this offensive, but Beth did not.  She actually thought it was quite sweet.  Martin wasn’t pushy or aggressive; he simply wanted to offer her a nice time.  And she liked that, rather a lot.  In time, she was certain she would grow to love this man.

Gradually, Beth stopped questioning her interest in Martin and allowed that she was utterly in love with him.  She accepted the characteristics of his that were different from her, to the point that she found them deeply endearing.  She noticed acutely his absences.  When they spent even one night apart, she found that she could not focus on anything.  When they were together, she felt complete, content.  It did not matter if they were on a date at a fancy restaurant or digging plants in the garden.  In any case, she wanted him there with her.

But Martin had begun to notice what he perceived as Beth’s flaws.  She was irritated by small things and this drove him nuts.  For instance, Beth would swear and complain during nearly every walk about the roots that poked into the path and tripped her when she was not paying close attention.  Why couldn’t she just pay closer attention?  The roots weren’t going anywhere and it ruined their walks to have her bitching about it all the time.

And she was shy.  He would take her to functions at his school and she would stand off to the side, avoiding conversations with anyone she did not know.  Why was this?  She said she felt uncomfortable talking to people with whom she was not acquainted.  But Martin knew them, so why couldn’t she just step up and start talking?  And if she would talk to them, she would become acquainted, thus eliminating the concern over not being so.  Why did she have to make such a production out of it?

Reality was sinking in:  his lover was human and this humanity scared him.  He did not want to feel the distress of heartbreak.  He did not want her to either.  But sometimes he could not stand how she was.  He was also concerned that their being together would eliminate who he had been without her, a perplexing problem for which he saw no solution.  He could not bear turning into one of those meager, simpering men who crouched at the call of their spouses, rushing off to do their “chores” with their tails between their legs.  Castrates, thought Martin.

He was terrified of arguments.  They did not have many, but each time one occurred, he was certain it represented the state of the relationship’s future.  The subjects of these arguments were most often trivial, and usually occurred when both were overly tired, not feeling well, or both.  Yet he was unable to shake the feeling that argument was their destiny.

With time, he began to ignore all of the things about Beth that had seemed so marvelous, and looked longingly into his past at the days he spent alone, wondering how those days had gotten away, forgetting how lonely he had been.  He blamed her for the time he was not spending by himself, for the choices he had made in letting things go too fast.  Oh, he blamed himself too, but he really felt that she was the problem because she was no longer what he had dreamed.  He began to wonder and worry again and again how to eliminate their courtship without the wretchedness that was guaranteed to ensue.

Of course, Martin could not tell Beth these things that bothered him.  To do so would solve nothing.  He did not want to hurt her feelings.  He hated conflict and speaking to her about such matters would bring considerable conflict.  And most of the time, he really felt he loved her.  He would take one look at her immaculate cheekbones, her delicate, slender neck, her impossibly long legs, and swoon.  Could he give this up?  Never.

One morning, Martin decided to take the day off to spend with Beth.  They went to breakfast at a lovely café.  They went back to Martin’s bungalow and made love in the late morning.  Afterwards, they walked hand in hand through town, to the bookstore, and ate lunch at the local delicatessen.  That night, they attended a play together, laughing over its silliness as they curled together in bed, nestled in one another’s arms.

Beth yawned in contentment as she snuggled deeper into Martin’s shoulder, falling drowsily into sleep.  She felt so safe with this man she adored.  Martin lay with his arms around Beth, wondering when their next struggle would develop.  He forced these thoughts from his mind.  He would not think of them.  He would not.  He held Beth close and fell determinedly to sleep.

The next morning, as Beth kissed Martin goodbye on his way to work, she asked if he would like to take a walk down the path on his lunch break.  Martin liked the idea.  He enjoyed getting away from the school during the day, and the path always worked to clear his head.  He readily agreed and Beth offered to pack a picnic lunch.

Later that morning, Beth held Martin’s arm as they strolled away from the town.  No other walkers were out.  It was early spring and winter still held sway over the temperature.  The air was cool and still, a mist hanging over the edge of the ocean, hovering lightly on the tranquil grassland.  They settled onto one of the rock walls overlooking the ocean and spread out their lunch.

Neither spoke as they finished their sandwiches and potato salad.  Beth brushed bread crumbs from Martin’s chin.  He flinched.  She patted his hand and asked if he was okay.  He smiled, but did not answer.  She turned and began to pack the cloth, utensils, and plastic cups back into the basket.  They stood and began to walk down the path.  Beth traveled slightly ahead of Martin, as was often the case where the path narrowed.  As she headed towards town, Beth stumbled over a root in the path.  She stopped and bent to rub her foot, complaining bitterly at the root’s existence, at the fact of its being exposed.

Thoughts flooded Martin’s mind, overwhelming him.  Beth was so exquisite.  In some respects, they got along marvelously.  But she was also frustratingly picky, had an obnoxiously quick temper, and he would never understand her sense of humor.  And most of all, he was losing himself.  He had no idea where his fundamental self had gone.  Who was Martin?  Who was this man who would spend his life with a woman who complained about roots?  He no longer knew.  If he broke up with her, he would break her heart.  If he stayed with her, he would smother.  He would disappear.  Martin would cease to exist.

Martin reached out.  He saw his hands, disembodied from his arms.  He saw his thumbs.  He saw each of his fingers.  He saw the two hands like the plaster hand impressions taken as a child, hanging in memorial on his mother’s kitchen wall.  Together his hands pushed Beth in the back, shoving her hard from the path into the water below.  He did not look at her.  He did not look over the edge.  He did not look down.  He kept his eyes up and walked back to town.