Monday, December 6, 2010

Saint T

Christmas time is here, we'll be drawing near
Oh, that we could always see, such spirit through the year
Oh, that we could always see, such spirit through the year...
-“Christmas Time” from the Peanuts “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (envision Snoopy skating solo on a frozen pond)

I love Christmas. I couldn’t always say that and now that I can, boy oh boy it’s so true! I have lights in my house and stockings and I’m hoping to find a lovely tree this weekend. I have learned to love Christmas after giving up the notion of the perfect Christmas. Just the lights alone make me happy. The holidays are also the time of year when you open your mailbox and everyday there is a new plea for money. The local food bank and the homeless shelter need money. The United Way needs brand new toys donated. Brand new toys, by the way, are not free. With each and every one my heart breaks as I know I will have to pick and choose who gets a donation. I don’t have enough to donate to all of them, oh but if I did . . . and my plan is that someday I will. The most inviting thing about the dream of financial comfort is how much can be done with it. Someday I will put money in every one of those return envelopes; until that day though, I have to let them all pile up and decide.

When I was a little girl I told my father that when I grew up I was going to have a store where everything would be free, that way all the poor people can come in and have all the things they need. My father gave me a quick lesson on civics and capitalism by letting me know my store would not work; it would go out of business and therefore help no one. I would be broke and those who are already broke would not have learned how to help themselves, better to have a store for profit and employ those who need a way to survive. Hmmmmmmm, I muttered while stroking my chin and adding this all up. When I was in high school and we took those tests to see what career would suit us each best. I was always supposed to be a social worker or a counselor or a special education teacher. Seems I’m hard wired to be a bleeding heart. That’s ok with me, I like it. The Black Dogs Dad has pointed out to me more than twice that I am a crier, indeed it’s true.

As you may have heard, our country is in financial shambles. Have you heard that? It’s not just a rumor. Money is not circulating because it is in short supply and everyone is scared. One of the basic rules of a sustainable society is that money must circulate. If I give my money to Safeway and they just hoard it that doesn’t do anyone any good. Safeway has to “pay it forward” so to speak. I give my money to Safeway, Safeway gives their money to the electric company, the electric company pays their taxes, taxes pay for our roads to be cleared so that when we have a snow storm we can all go out to Safeway and keep Safeway, as well as some farmers, in business. It’s a chain and every link is important. SPEND YOUR MONEY, but spend it wisely please.

Here’s the kicker though, right now there are people who are spending their money wisely and are still falling more and more behind. So tonight, as my dearest friend, my closest soul mate, my rock in so many watery times in my life, as this person I love so very much cries on the phone and says to me “We will lose our house by this spring if something doesn’t change”, my heart dropped . . . broke open . . . and bled out. My own life is instantly prioritized, nothing I am dealing with matches the pain my friend has . . . and that’s good because I am able to put anything in my life aside to sit on the phone and cry with her. My friend’s life is not frivolous. In fact she is one of the most frugal and financially savvy people I know. Yet, a pox on our country has seethed and oozed its way into my friends home and is threatening to squeeze the life out, threatening to oust the laughter of a small boy and two loyal furry companions. Her wedding reception was held in the back yard. Her baby shower was in the front room. A surprise party for my 40th birthday was held in this very house. Brunch after the baby’s christening. This house is full of Christmases, Hanukkahs, Thanksgivings, Easters, birthdays, skinned knees, burned toast, fights, and love. Yet in all of this, as we cry on the phone together, she says to me “I know that whatever happens God has a plan for me and it will be ok. I know that whatever happens will be the best thing for my family”. My friend is scared. My friend is sad. My friend does not understand why this is being visited upon her and still, my friend is unwavering in her belief of good over evil. Yes Wells Fargo, I mean you. We bailed you out and now you can’t help people? Shame on you. You know how much the CEO of Wells Fargo made last year? Well I’ll tell ya about Mr. John Stumpf. I looked him up online and here’s what Forbes had to say, in 2009 his total earnings were $21,340,547.00. Please note I said TOTAL earnings. His salary is a mere five and a half million. That’s a damn big number, lots and lots of zero’s that are worth much more than nothing. I don’t begrudge him his money. I really don’t and I’m sure he probably donates a lot of his money to charity and he may be the gosh darn nicest person ever, but right now Wells Fargo will not do anything to help my friend and many others just like her. She pays her bills on time and in full every month but their income has changed, as it has for so many just like them. They are living with the same amount of accounts payables but significantly less receivables . . . but no refinance help. No money circulating, just money staying, just hoarding. Am I biased? HELL YES I’M BIASED! JOHN STUMPF, HELP MY FRIEND YOU GODDAMNED ASSHOLE! This is what’s great about a blog. It’s mine, I can say whatever I want. And don’t worry about the severe cursing, I have asked God to damn many things and he always says "No". We have an agreement, I get to say “God damn it” and He gets to say “No, I will not. Now please try to act a little more ladylike, even if it’s only acting”.

I recently finished reading a book by Marianne Williamson entitled “A Return To Love”. It’s self help-y, it’s spiritual bordering on preachy, but it was also enlightening – which I believe is the point. I love self help books, seriously, I love ‘em, but you have to know which parts you can keep in your life and which parts to throw out with both the baby and the bath water. One of the many things I took away from this book is the whole screwed up notion of miracles. We ask our chosen deity for a miracle and we think the heavens will part, seraphim will weep, children will sing and suddenly all will be right with the world and we will graciously go on about our merry way. How many times have you ever not gotten something you wanted and then, in hindsight, said “Thank God that didn’t happen”? Losing a friend, a job, a relationship, a missed plane, a missed boat, and maybe even losing a house, can all be miracles. When you ask for a miracle YOU WILL GET IT, but it may not be quite what you were expecting. And often times they really are messy, because if you’re in a place of needing a miracle chances are pretty good you need an overhaul. Lots of things may need to get cleared up, buckle up and trust that good things are on their way, they are just sometimes preceded by bad things. It’s like exfoliating, it’s a life loofah. (I’m crackin’ myself up with that one, life loofah).

So, let’s roll on back to the spirit of the holidays. Remember that? That’s where we started this story. You’re getting all those envelopes in the mail too. I know there’s a lot going on this time of year. You have plane tickets to buy and gifts to gift and you may want some new party shoes (who doesn’t?) but listen, stop a minute and think back on all the good things that came your way this past year. Stop to enjoy all the good in your life. This story isn’t meant to convince you to give, but please do if you can. This story isn’t meant to make you feel badly about new party shoes, this story is meant to make you (and me) see just how much good there is in your life . . . and in my life. If you went on a trip, even a small one, you have a lot. If you went to see your favorite band, if you got yourself a nice new pair of $20 Smartwool socks, you’re livin’ pretty large. Today I drove my nearly eleven year old car to work as I always do, and it got me there and back safely, as it always does. I have friends that hear me out during my sad times and share my good times with me. When I walked in the door tonight my two furry, lovey kitties greeted me at the door, as they always do. I am blessed in my life, as are you. Please remember to be grateful and if you can give a little something, well then, even better.

Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say, Come Sit By Me

I'll take off my disguise, the mask you met me in 'cuz I got something for you to see.
Just gimme your skeleton, give me the skin it's in, yeah baby, this is you according to me.
I never avert my eyes, I never compromise, so never mind the poetry

Ani DiFranco

In another story I wrote a little bit about people avoiding conflict. In this story I’m going to touch on that again, but mostly this is about having uncomfortable conversations and truth telling in general . . . and it has been a hard story to write. Probably the worst piece of crap I’ve ever written but, so far, I would say the most poignant.

Movies and books and magazines give us the idea that life should always be perfect and pretty. What prepares us for the less than optimal times in life? What shows us how to have some very difficult conversations and know that just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s bad? Watching our parents? Fighting with our siblings? Belief in a higher power? Years of 50 minute hours in a therapists office? Maybe all of these things, overwhelmingly though, people tend to avoid what’s not pretty because ugly and awkward is . . . you know, ugly and awkward. In my stories I tend to get preachy but I want to assure you the only reason I even have these stories is through my own epic failures . . . EPIC failures.

Communication is always best and telling the truth is always best. Both can be hard. Telling the truth can make you feel so afraid and vulnerable, particularly when you know the person to whom you’re speaking doesn’t want to hear it. Trust me though, they want the truth more than they want a lie. A lie makes a tense situation even worse and people, when you lie, it’s obvious. You may as well have a neon sign above your head with an arrow pointing down that says “I AM LYING RIGHT NOW”. But, when you tell the truth, even when it hurts, then both parties can begin to move forward together. It’s the only fair thing to do. I recall a time a couple of years ago when a friend of mine looked me in the eye and told me one of the most outrageous lies I’ve ever heard in my life. Really, I almost laughed out loud. I was also a bit insulted that someone thought I was so stupid as to believe such a tale. Nonetheless, I let it go. My friend knows he lied, he knows that I know he lied. What can ya do? Well, you can find people that value the truth and real communication but we all say we do. Do we really? My friend is still my friend. He lied because the truth (which I already knew) would have hurt me and he knows me well enough to know that my reaction was not going to be something he felt like dealing with. It’s not necessarily ok, I was very hurt, but I do understand. It’s hard to hurt people and it’s hard to know their reaction is going to be, shall we say, a bit fiery. But here’s where we get into the topic of uncomfortable conversations. Yes, the truth would have been hard on me, but not as hard being lied to, we needed the uncomfortable conversation. We needed to get it said and then move forward in our friendship together. I should point out here that other than hiding the truth, my friend was not doing anything wrong, I just didn’t happen to like what he was doing and the pained part of me wanted to say “Hey, you can’t pull the wool over my eyes, I know what you’re doing. I KNOW! WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE FRIENDS AND YOU KEEP SECRETS FROM ME? HOW DARE YOU?!” So, you see why he might not have wanted to be totally up front with me? I’d like to think I would have been slightly more noble than that, but then being noble wouldn't really have been truthful. See how hard it is? You gotta tell the truth, ya gotta. And me, maybe I need to learn to be a little more accepting. Nonetheless, life is fraught with uncomfortable conversations and we need to have them and I will indeed be talking about being a good recipient of the truth as well as being a truth teller. Both sides people, both sides, it’s about valuing the truth by speaking it and hearing it. If you were mentally pointing a finger at someone else, now is the time to stop.

Saying what needs to be said is scary sometimes. You’re standing there muttering these words and cringing or crying with every syllable and you feel vulnerable, embarrassed, and so very afraid. What if I show my real self in this moment and the person to whom I’m speaking raises their hands in disgust and horror and walks away? What am I risking by showing my true inner self? If this person knows who I really am I’ll be shamed and shunned from the herd. So much at stake, so much to risk. Well, what if that person does recoil in horror and walk away? It will hurt, but let them go. Likely it’s not so much their judgment of you as of themselves. I dunno, I’m guessing. I’m fumbling through this entire story because it really is hard to talk about tough stuff. I’d rather talk about unicorns and pots of gold and rainbows, but who wouldn’t? That’s why I’m writing this story.

Uncomfortable conversations and situations are building blocks that create a strong foundation. I think of the few people in life that know everything about me, that have seen me at my worst, and still love me. I have developed closer bonds with these people because they know my weaknesses, my frailties, my faults, and they love me. Not in spite of, not except for, they love ALL of me. There is nothing I could tell Therese about me that would make her look away in disgust and say “That’s it, friendship off”. There are times when, as a good friend, she may say “Wow, not the wisest choice you’ve ever made but ok, let’s talk about this”. I think of all the horror stories from my youth that I unloaded on Steve Whittier and he never, ever walked away and said “Wow, you’re gross. I only liked you when you were pretty and fun. Now you’re not so pretty and you're bordering on crazy.” Several years ago my friend Michele told me that she and her man had just had a disagreement but they talked about it and everything was fine. Oh you heard me, they TALKED about it, and some uncomfortable things were said. I imagine some terse words were exchanged BUT, each voiced their opinion, each listened to what the other had to say (WHAT?!) and she said “Of course we got over it and moved on and, as always after a disagreement, our relationship is stronger now.” I was stunned into silence. Their bond grew and became stronger because they HAD A DIFFICULT CONVERSATION, THE AIR HAD BEEN CLEARED HONESTLY, AND NO ONE GOT UP AND WALKED OUT ON THE OTHER ONE. What the F? This is the nature of true intimacy. Knowing that you can fillet yourself wide open and let the other person look inside at all the not so pleasant parts of you and that those not so pretty parts will be accepted and, in fact, even loved. We hear that misery loves company, because it’s comforting to know that it’s not just you. When you’re crying like you’ve lost your puppy and snot is slinging out your nose and you’re rubbing it on the back of your arm and confessing to that time you kicked a kid in school it’s horrifying, but then, oh yes then, your partner, friend, spouse, parent, sibling shines a beacon of light on you and says “You know what? When I was a kid I stole a dollar from my mom” and suddenly you have reached true intimacy nirvana because neither of you is perfect. What’s more comforting than that? Telling the truth seems frightening because we think everyone else has done everything right all the time and we have done everything wrong all the time. Not true my friends. Take comfort, we all suck sometimes.

And now we come to the other side, the listening to the truth side. Speaking the truth is scary, hearing the truth can really hurt and I have failed, failed, failed at times on both sides. There have been times I’ve been so busy pointing out fault in others that I have not been good at listening to what others have to say. Pointing a finger outward is a thinly veiled distraction to get focus off of ourselves. “I’d never lie to you!” Well, that may be true but have I been a safe harbor for you? Have I made our relationship a place where you can feel safe saying what you need to say? I’m shamed and saddened to admit I have not. I have been quite deficient at accepting some people as they are. How can I expect anyone to care for the weakest parts of me when I only accept the best and most beautiful parts of them? And yet, I am most comforted by people who are real. I am a bundle of imperfection so I don’t really want to hang with anyone who doesn’t have some flaws as well, I can’t live up to that! I don’t want to live up to that. I want someone who knows what it’s like to be imperfect.

The hearing part of an uncomfortable conversation is mortifying. It can feel like an attack, even when the most graceful and gracious words are used. You want to jump to your own defense and say “well you did that one thing and then you did that other thing and that’s way worse”. Maybe, but now isn’t the time. Or you listen politely, wordlessly, until you get your chance to say “Hmmmm, yes, I’ll take that into consideration, thank you so much for your enlightening view point”, then roll your eyes and move on. This is a successful and cunning avoidance. It appears you’ve listened but only because you haven’t spoken. I’m talking about uncomfortable CONVERSATIONS, you know, between two people, where they discuss openly and as a team try to reach some sort of happy conclusion. Uncomfortable, by the way, is not always an attack, what if you’re saying something really nice to someone who is about to break up with you? Wow, that’s an uncomfortable conversation in the works. What if you’re saying something really beautiful to someone who is squirming to get away and just doesn’t want to hear it? Awkward. But sometimes in life we have to hear things, as difficult and ego bruising as it is. We need to let our friends know that they can show us their less than beautiful parts just as we want them to see ours. It’s hard, I know it’s hard. And we need to have good friends by being good friends and letting them feel that they can come to you, or to me, and say “This isn’t good, you may not like it, will you listen anyway?” You can get angry, it’s ok. Try to be gentle when voicing your anger and try to maybe hold off for a couple of minutes and see if maybe, just maybe, there is some validity in what is being said.

So many times in my life I have not told the truth, not told a lie mind you and that has been my defense, but avoided saying what was really on my mind because I was flat out scared. What pains me even more is that so many times in my life I have not provided a safe space for some people to tell me their truths, thus they have felt more comfortable hiding the truth from me and then, in my pious and righteous indignation, I have gotten to tell them how wrong they are. So as I said in the beginning, this was a hard story to write, I’ve revealed myself to all of you.

No one likes uncomfortable conversations, they’re nowhere near as nice as unicorns and pots of gold and rainbows but actually, they kind of are because they do bring you closer to each other. Really, I’m not even kidding. Always speak the truth, speak it kindly, and be comforting to the listener. Always listen to your friend, listen kindly, and provide a safe space for your friend to be honest.

As I said before, you can angry, it’s ok. Remember you love each other. The goal isn’t to be right, the goal is to love each other.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bruised Wine

Recently my stomach turned upside down, then my heart flipped over and fluttered as he walked in the door and I wondered “what the . . .?” and then I knew. I knew I was in trouble.

I don’t want to feel this way, but I do.

Days of trying to talk myself out of it have gone by and yet my heart still floats as I recall the smiling face that made my insides dance and sway.

I don’t want to feel this way, but I do.

Try though I might to bury it deep by ignoring it, or purge it out through tears hoping it will wash away, it remains. It remains but with the added bonus of pain . . . the sensation, the feeling is not returned.

I don’t want to feel this way, but I do.

I watch in pain as the affection is given to another, I feel sick and teary eyed for entirely different reasons. My stomach turns again, not with delight.

I most assuredly do NOT want to feel this way, but I do.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sharing Casseroles and Community

I want to fall in love with the world, I want the world to fall in love
I want to fall in love with the world, I want the world to fall in love.
John Martyn

There is a shortage of casserole giving in the world today and I don’t like it. When I was a kid (how about that for old person speak? “When I was a wee whipper snapper everything was a helluva lot better” she whistled through her dentures), anyway, when I was a kid the world was still the center of Galileo’s universe and God was just a young little thing, people lived in community and shared their stories, babysat each others’ kids, and made casseroles. I don’t really give two hoots about a casserole mind you, but what happened to the whole “love thy neighbor and when a new one moves in down the street bring them a casserole to introduce yourself and be welcoming” idea?

We don’t even seem to have “community” within our dwindling nuclear families. Families don’t share dinner together and if they do the t.v. is on. Why? Why don’t we even want to communicate with the people that we love and torture the most? If you’re not spending your evenings pestering your siblings at the dinner table then you’re missing out on a world of fun. No wonder we’re all losing our ability to communicate with each other and all our relationships are breaking down. My family has a very special ability to drive me batty but holy cow, since when does that matter? Parents rule the roost and if you’re a parent turning your nose up at me right now and saying “that’s not true”, bullshit. It IS true. YOU are the parent and YOU determine mealtime and YOU determine who is in attendance and YOU determine the nutritional value that food will or will not contain and YOU determine whether the t.v. is on or off. You are not your childrens friend, you are their parent. Easily enough said by someone who is not a parent, I know, but seriously
people . . . from parenting to dealing with people at work to maintaining friendships and dating relationships and marriages we all need to turn the damn t.v. off and communicate with each other and get comfortable talking with
people . . . face to face . . . in person . . . right there in front of you. I'm totally pontificating, I know, but I’m firm in my convictions and if you have better ideas I’m happy to hear them. Being firm in my convictions does not always equate to being right.

In the past week I believe I have counted four people who have said to me “I don’t like conflict”. I’m not sure there are a large number of people who relish conflict but it happens, and the more we avoid it the worse the situation is going to get. We’re not learning to communicate with people and we’re avoiding saying things that need to be said, especially when those things can feel a little uncomfortable, the problem festers into a huge boil and rather than lancing it we just walk away and say “Forget it, I’m scared, I’ll just go somewhere else.” What the hell good is that? You’re just going to keep facing problems and losing people. We just leave. We leave our friends, our families, our spouses, our jobs, our schools and in some extreme cases we just shoot each other. Eventually you could run out of places to run and hide and people to talk to . . . or not talk to.

Apparently that really is happening because according to a study on “Blue Zones” people in our society no longer have the same amount of what can be called close friends as we once did, and our health is suffering from it. If you don’t know, blue zones are areas of the world where people live past 100 years of age quite regularly and ya know what? They live in community with each other. You know what else? They have at least six people they call close friends. In our society today that has dwindled to one for many people, and none for some. And another thing, in blue zones they don’t send their elders out to pasture. In these cultures elders are revered, their wisdom is valued. The oldest tea bushes yield the most tea leaves. We can learn so much from our older generations and they can add so much to our lives. Why do we choose to ignore this? Do we not want to face our own mortality? Are we too busy rushing around heaven only knows where and we can’t stop and give time to those who brought us into this world in the first place? We can gain so much by slowing down and giving our time, our thoughts, and our open ears and hearts (and closed mouths) to those who have so much more life than we have. So much can be gained from this portion of our community and continuing to live in community with all ages of our family.

So, I’ve bashed television watching but now I’m going to tell you about a movie I randomly found on the t.v. – go figure. Many years ago I was lying around on the couch looking for a Sunday afternoon movie to watch and I found it. I believe it was called “Sidney”. It starred Tony Randall and for the life of me I cannot find any proof of the existence of this movie no matter where I search but I’m tellin’ ya, I saw it. Not even the mighty “Steel Magnolias” has ever made me cry like this movie that may, or not may not, be entitled “Sidney”. This was over twenty years ago, I’ve only seen it once, and the thought of it can still tear me apart. Nothing is more painful than loneliness EXCEPT, witnessing another person's loneliness. Everyday Sidney brings home his take out Chinese food after work, eats it in the carton (holy crap I’m crying just writing about it), throws it away, and that’s that. No conversations with anyone, no laughing, no smiling, no sharing his day and no uncomfortable interactions with someone he loves, just neat, clean, orderly, emptiness. Sidneys existence has no joy, no red punch stains on a white carpet, no spontaneous dancing in the kitchen while making dinner, no disagreements to be worked through, no love, no dharma until . . . the girl comes along. Somehow, I don’t remember how, a young pregnant girl comes into his life. At first he dislikes her and resents the disruption she brings, but bit by bit the color is brought back into his cheeks and his life. He begins cooking meals and he is so excited about helping the girl and he suddenly has a reason to wake every day, he has joy and love and hope and his life is full, full, full of happiness. His soul is awakened, he begins to flourish, and he is a new man until . . . the girl leaves. As I recall, the man who knocked her up and bailed on her decided to come back, and she goes with him. At the end of the movie we see Sidney as we did in the beginning, lifeless, eating his take out Chinese food alone and throwing out the cartons to end yet another gray day. We need people. WE NEED PEOPLE. We’re meant to be with each other. God had Noah put two of every living creature on the ark and He gave Eve to Adam. And speaking of the great divine . . .

We don’t worship together. You’re all cringing now aren’t you? Oh my GOD she said WORSHIP! Yes, I did. It doesn’t matter to me if you believe in God traditionally or not. I don’t care if you think God is a woman. I don’t care if you are aligned with Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto-ism, or a follower of Native American tribal customs, but believing there is something greater than us helps us all to have a greater sense of love for each other. Go to church, don’t go to church, chant, dance with wolves, join a drum circle, that does not matter in the least, it’s the faith in a higher purpose and power that can help us to feel hope in a hopeless world, to lose our narcissism and to genuinely care about the planet and it’s nutty inhabitants. Find a friend, find several of them. Share your books, your recipes, your stories. Connect with your family no matter how much they make you cringe, they love you very much. Listen to others. LISTEN. CLOSE YOUR MOUTH AND LISTEN. Create community in your life. Community eases the pain of economic crisis, heart break, and runny noses. These things will all still happen, but someone else will come over and bring you soup.

Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

People Can't Even Remember the Vice Presidents Name, First Place Is All That Matters

Why can't we overcome this wall? Well, maybe it's just because I didn't know you at all
Jeff Buckley

Emotional infidelity is the cruelest sort of infidelity. Being emotionally tied to someone who is not your someone is just flat out wrong. Really, I just can’t see any sort of caveat here. People who are involved in emotionally inappropriate relationships tend to gloss over them because it is not physical. They like to claim “we’re friends”. It crosses every possible line of intimacy except actual touching and so it is deemed “ok.” It is not ok. It hurts. People who do this know it’s not ok, that’s why they hide it. For heaven’s sake, you know it’s wrong, you’re using that weak three legged dog of an excuse “we’re just friends” and it’s gonna tumble like a . . . a three legged dog!

As with most of my stories this one comes with experience . . . on both sides. Oh yes, I admit it, I’ve done it. I’ve been emotionally tied to one person while dating another and tried to believe there was nothing wrong with it. I knew there was, but I wouldn’t even admit it to myself. I imagined the two men in my life becoming great friends and all of us bonding into one big happy friendship. I see how disrespectful, selfish, uncaring, and just plain ridiculous that is now. I was wrong and I hurt someone. I knew then it was wrong and I was hurting someone, now I know firsthand just how badly it hurts and I feel beyond awful. I treated someone who should have been first in my life, at least for a time, as a runner up. Now I have also been treated as that runner up . . . no crown, no gold medal, no top pedestal, just second best. Who cares about second? It may as well be 52nd. If it’s not first I don’t want it.

When I think back on my own days of being an emotional philanderer I remember the secrets. Not telling lies mind you, and that was how I rationalized it. I wasn’t completely up front about everywhere I went and certainly not with whom. I never told him that someone I claimed as one of my “best” friends was, in fact, an ex in my life who I could not, would not forget. When I went to movies or dinner with the ex who was now “best” friend I did not tell the man I was dating. I knew it was wrong. I just didn’t call him on those days and avoided his calls to me, therefore not having to explain myself. I didn’t commit fully to him because I didn’t want my friendships and my perceived freedoms curbed. Those very words have also been spoken to me and I know what it means. Back then I still had hope for someone who could not have been more gone, and I have, in turn, been sacrificed in someone else’s life for someone who could not be more gone.

As always time marches on, wisdom and experience replace moronic, childish, self indulgent behavior. My ex is no longer my “best” friend. Did I really have hope, or was it just fear of letting go? Did I really even want him or could I just not face moving on? I finally know the true freedom of being released from a paralyzing friendship of false hopes. I know that freedom comes from being completely dedicated to yourself in order to help you weed out those who are not. Freedom comes from being completely open, honest, and not wasting your precious time on people who are not fully open and honest with you. I am not second best, and neither are any of you. Do not allow this in your lives. The man whom I treated as second eventually left, the ex as best friend is gone, and the man who treated me as second is gone. In times past, in weaker times of my life, I would have said “Woe is me, I am completely alone”. Now I know that I am free to find the one who values me, who will give me the crown, the highest pedestal, and a sash that says “Number One”. Free of half assed and half hearted relationships, feeding on the bits that are being doled out and hoping for “more porridge please” like a half starved orphan of old.

I need to point out that emotional infidels do not always fall back on ex’s for their inappropriate and dysfunctional “friendships”. Sometimes it’s just being too close with a person who is not yours to be quite so close with. If you have a co-worker that you have lunch with just a bit too frequently, or someone in class or at the gym with whom you share a few too many furtive smiles and flirtatious laughs then you are on a slippery slope my friend. If you aren’t being entirely up front with your significant other about this person, you’re an emotional cheat. You’re sending your energy out to the wrong person. Sure they look great, you’re not really with them. You don’t see them when they’re sick with their head hanging over the toilet, you don’t see them get angry, you don’t see them lying around the house wearing sweat pants and the cleanest dirty shirt they could find lying on the floor. You only see the polished, finished, “outside of the house” product and that is NOT REAL.

What hurts about this kind of relationship is the deception. I know for me, when I discovered my former significant other had this type of friendship I was crushed to know that he would be so dishonest with me. I waited a couple of weeks before saying anything about it because I hoped he would come clean with me and I could at least pretend he wasn’t being sneaky. But he was . . . and then I didn’t know him at all. I had no idea who this person was because now, how could I trust anything? Everything could have been a lie for all I knew. In the end he treated me with less respect, dignity, and integrity than I deserved. And that, my friends, is not enough for me . . . or for you.

Shine your light so those who are made for you can find you and when they do, love them fully, you both deserve it. Do not accept less.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Grand Illusion

So if you think your life is complete confusion because your neighbors got it made, just remember that it’s a grand illusion and deep inside we’re all the same. . .

Our friend, Morrissey, claims we hate it when our friends become successful. Do we really? Hate is a strong word.

I look around, I see the lives of others, and I judge myself. Everyone else seems to have it together while I do more than just stagnate, I actually fall behind. It seems as though my friends all make more money than I do, they have better jobs, they buy houses and drive nicer cars, they are in better physical shape, they go on lots of great vacations, they do more exciting things on the weekends, and I wonder how much did you pay for your bad Moto Guzzi? These things all make me feel inadequate.

You may be thinking “Life is full of choices and you can choose to do exciting things on the weekend as well.” I can’t do all the things they do and go all the places they go and drive their cars and live in their homes because I don’t make the money they make so phhhhlllbbttttt to that. And while money is not everything, it’s fairly important when it’s time to pay the bills. Living a life of high ideals and low overhead is great, but the phone company couldn’t care less. When I start feeling this complain-y and yuck-y and whine-y I try to remember the power of positive thought. It is said in more than two places that positive thought brings positive things into your life. That’s the general idea, I’m not quoting. But really, from “The Secret” to the Bible we are told to keep our collective chins up. I believe this, but I’m wondering about the time frame, c’mon already, I’m in my fourth decade of life here, can I get a break already? And the times when I mentally falter . . . when I just can’t look inward because I’m too caught up in looking out at everyone else, ugh . . . I feel like a failure. Sometimes these momentary lapses of sunny thinking can be cleared up by yoga, a walk outside, chocolate almond milk, or a little extra Progesterone Cream, but other times there are not enough non-dairy ginger snaps in the world to keep me from sinking further into my self induced abyss of pity.

But, Morrissey, I also see my friends successes as beacons in my dark nights of failure. I take delight in their achievements because I love my friends, I have no wish to see them fail, and I don’t want them to lose all they have gained, I would just like to have a slice of the pie too. If they can do it, I can too, I just haven’t found my way yet. Will I ever? Typically I feel I have found my way to “gainful employment nirvana” about every five years, and then the love affair ends. The world isn’t the same as it was just a few decades ago. My father worked for the same company most of his adult life, as did most fathers back then. But now we are free to switch companies and careers whenever we feel the urge. It’s great and at times I have loved the freedom and flexibility of my life, at other times it is quite sobering to feel I have no path, just aimless meanderings. I change my mind a lot. I change my mind about what to wear, where to work, what to do for a living, what creative outlet I will indulge in this year, and what my favorite color may be today. I’d like to say I’m constantly reinventing myself but the truth is, I just get distracted by shiny things in the sand. Is that why I’m in this place in my life now? And is it really so bad? I’ve done a lot of different things from radio to mortgage to massage therapy. I’m a renaissance woman.

That is not true, I’m just flighty.

But the same question remains, is that so bad?
Thinking back to the days after my divorce I recall a somewhat snobbish vision of myself I have carried as being poor but happy. “I don’t need money, I am above such trite weaknesses of human nature. I only need my soul, my soulmate, and my Great Divine.” What drivel. It’s such a romantic notion though, an old clapboard house, boiling hot on a Sunday night in summer, a fly strip that needs to be retired, and me sitting on my porch swing, barefoot, plucking at my guitar and singing softly. (I can’t even play my guitar, I just keep saying I’ll learn some day.) And yet, I can’t help but say I like the whole image. The image, however, doesn’t account for the difficulty of Monday morning when I have to get back to real life. Or Friday night when the rest of the world says “Let’s go out for sushi” and I can’t afford it. There is no dignity in being broke and I don’t care how high I hold my chin with indignation at the capitalist greed of sushi eaters, I want to go with them and I want to wear something a little bit nicer than overalls and a babushka. Righteous indignation is not all it’s cracked up to be. The sushi eaters of the world will not say “Oh gosh, we are terrible people and we too will give up all our worldly goods and live off raisins, nuts, and love.” They will roll their eyeballs, say “Oh go live in an ashram” and trot off leaving me to eat my ramen noodles in peace, love, and self righteousness. Awesome.

Trouble is, I have an easier time seeing this vision, or rather believing this vision, than I do of the vision of myself as successful. I have a vision of success that includes a great house, a green Jeep, a lucrative writing career, and a screened in back porch so I can write outside when it rains and Lucy and Delilah, my faithful furry felines, can go “outside”. Why does this one seem unattainable? Silly even? More of a pipedream than something I can truly have? I’m on to something here. Apparently I lack faith in myself. Why? I’m intelligent, I can be very driven when I’m very interested, and I believe I possess at least a modicum of talent. Am I afraid? Afraid it will be fleeting and, like everything else, run through my fingers like water? Afraid to love my job, my house, my green Jeep, and my screened in porch only to enjoy brief success and then lose it all? Afraid the infamous five year “I’m bored with my job” gremlin will find me no matter where I hide? Losing something is scarier than never having it. Losing equates to failure, never having is just, I dunno, never having.

There are issues that come with success. Taxes spring to mind but I’d be happy to live with that misery. And then there’s other people always assuming you’ll pay for dinner, I do this to my brothers. Sorry guys, you make more money than me, someday I will pay for dinner. Money is such a strange beast. It is not the root of all evil, the love of money is the root of all evil. Enough money can make your life easy in at least some areas, though not all. Less than enough money can drive you to do things of which you never felt you would be capable. Too much money can also drive you to do things of which you never felt you would be capable. It’s like water . . . drown or dehydrate without just the right amount.

I have learned through my own series of financial fortunes and misfortunes that the laws of our country allow those who have the least amount to be made to suffer the most through punitive actions. If you have enough money, you get stuff free, if you do not have enough money you get a 19% interest rate. How does this make sense? Celebrities who make more money in a day than I will likely make in a decade get free goody baskets at Oscar parties that are worth thousands of dollars. THOUSANDS. And to my knowledge not one of them has ever refused this gift and said ”Uh, no thanks. I don’t know if you know or not but I’m fabulously wealthy and I don’t need free stuff. Howsabout you sell all this crap and donate the money to a homeless shelter and maybe feed some starving people, eh? Ever thought about that?” (My sincerest apologies to any celebrity who has actually turned the basket of expensive crap down, good on ya and I mean it.) Still, even wealthy people make financial mistakes. Buy one too many private islands on credit and you too could feel my no sushi on a Friday pain and the 19% interest rate.

I want to go so many places. I want to do so many things and I feel so confined by income. There are choices. There are indeed choices. I have lots of shoes . . . lots and lots of shoes. Perhaps I don’t need them all. (By the way most of them were purchased in a former phase of life with a very different set of financial circumstances. I have donated many pairs of shoes and no longer buy them with the frequency and flippancy of my former life.) I would like to have new towels. My towels are old and thin, but what a boring thing to buy . . . still, I need them. Need. I NEED new towels. Those that I own are not thread bare, they are just no longer as thirsty as they once were. Do I need new towels? I don’t buy new towels because they are boring. BORING! Red shoes are much more exciting. But I have red shoes and I know for sure I do not need them. And what of all the trips I dream of but so far have not managed to take? I do not get paid vacation. Saving for a trip means saving an entire extra paycheck to make up for what I will not get when I’m off work. And in the meantime, the student loan company wants their money back . . . bastards. I watch “Three Sheets” because it’s funny and because it takes me places I’d like to see. It’s a free vacation in my living room.

So, what is the point of this story? I’m not sure. Money isn’t bad? I wish I had the freedom that better income and a better vacation policy may afford me? I have red shoes? I enjoy sushi? I need towels? Towels are boring unless you’re hitchhiking around the galaxy? Get it? Who gets it? C’mon, it’s funny if you get it.

I see people taking trips and making purchases that are put entirely on charge cards. Sometimes I think I will just throw caution to the wind and charge things too, but I can’t. I just can’t. I have been in credit card debt more than twice and have clawed my way out of it. I don’t charge things. I also haven’t seen Ireland, Belgium, Croatia, Chile, I don’t have those black boots I’ve been eyeballing, and it’s been ages since I’ve seen the inside of a sushi bar, but I will not charge any of these things.

I want to see change in my life and luckily, I have the power to initiate that change. I want to see Belgium, I want to eat sushi, I want totally unnecessary black boots, and I want new towels. I will have them all someday because vacations and towels and boots are not evil. They are rewards for a vision imagined and put into action, a job well done. There’s no shame in success and your friends will not hate it when you become successful.

I know this because I see all my friends successes, both financial and non-financial, and I delight in every one of their achievements, as I know they will delight in mine when my far off ship comes in.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Raggle Taggle Gypsies

O what care I for my house and my lands,
What care I for treasure-O,
What care I for my newly-wedded lord,
For I'm off with the Raggle Taggle Gypsies-O.

I am starting to believe we have a deeply rooted sense of our selves very early on. Hopefully our families help us foster that sense of self. This isn’t always the case but this story is not about picking on families. Parents do what they think is best and as you get older if you find it didn’t work, well, grow up, quit blaming them and get on with your life your way.

Personal evolution involves expanding our social circles beyond family and trying on different personalities. We need to feel different feels and smell different smells and hear different hears. As the years pass we eventually reach a point when we’re comfortable with ourselves and we care less about what others say, including our well meaning families, but during the process of evolution we do care what others say and we are not always sure footed enough to stand our ground when we think “I feel like I want to run off to Rome and paint but the world says I should go to college and get married.” Here in America we do not value the eccentric so much. People who don’t follow the norm are sometimes characterized as drunk, drug addicted, shiftless, lazy, irresponsible ne’er do wells. Even those who become successful are not always welcomed in polite society. Keith Richards is great on stage, but would you invite him to Sunday dinner? If you answered “yes” this story is for, and more than likely about, you. If your answer is an unequivocal “no”, read on anyway so you can learn about the raggle taggle gypsies that may be in your life.

When I was a little girl in Midland, Texas we had an enormous console stereo in the living room. Stereos back then were pieces of furniture. My dad had lots of records and I learned to love listening to music very early. It rubbed off on all of us. I feel I have fairly eclectic taste which I attribute to a large family living in a small house. My brothers, my sister, and my dad all had their music choices and I listened to all of them. There were five kids, two parents, and any number of dogs and cats at any time in a three bedroom house. We shared bedrooms, we shared one phone number, we shared dinner time as a family with the television off, and we shared the stereo . . . sort of. I had a pink record player in the room I shared with my sister and I believe the boys had a record player in their room, but if you wanted the good sound you had to go in the living room with the monolith that played in hi fi. You could stack about 57 records on it, they’d all drop one by one, when they finished you’d turn the whole stack over. My brothers introduced me to The Kinks, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and some 60’s folk sounds at a young age and it stuck. My dad liked country music, he liked some gospel, and he liked hootenanny. I loved dancing around the living room standing on my daddy’s feet. There is a traditional folk song called “The Raggle Taggle Gypsies”. In this song a woman has a lovely house, fine clothes, and a new husband. One night the raggle taggle gypsies come singing at her door and she spontaneously, almost blithely, gives up all her finery and security to run off with the gypsies. I loved that song and I loved my vision of the woman who runs away with the gypsies, raven haired with a mischievous grin.

I remember as a very little girl being so intrigued by her fire and her love of excitement over comfort. I thought “I’ll probably do that someday. That sounds like something I’ll do when I grow up.” As an adult I told this story to the Black Dogs Dad, his response was “and that’s what you did.”

And that’s what I did.

I didn’t realize it until many years after I was divorced but it was. My ex husband is an exceptionally nice man and he deserved someone better for him than me. I’m glad to report he has found her. When I was young I had no idea who I was and I looked to him to “save” me and define me. Thank you Steve for all that you put up with then. Under the guise of being a “Mrs. So and So” I didn’t have to discover Laura Ellen as an individual. But did I already know who I was and wish I was someone else? Was I destined to bring Juliette Binoche’s “Chocolat” character to life? Do we already know who we are but not know how to be who we are?

As I mentioned earlier, often times our well meaning families veer us off the path of “whom we are meant to be” and on to the path of “whom we would like you to be in order to save us all embarrassment should you decide to become someone unsavory”. Parents are happy when their children show an appreciation, even an aptitude for the arts, but rarely is it encouraged as a path to follow except as a hobby. Parents can be so afraid of their children being hurt that they fence them in and discourage the fine art of flying high. DO NOT GO UP THERE WHERE THE AIR IS CLEAR AND YOU CAN SEE FOR MILES! STAY DOWN HERE WHERE ALL IS MYOPIC AND BEIGE AND SAFE!!! It is with the best intentions, but the fear is then passed on and thus we have a covenant controlled nation of fearful folks living in matching houses painted varying shades of pantyhose colors . . . taupe, ecru, sand. If you’re feeling like the off white sheep in your suburban neighborhood maybe you could paint your shutters olive, you crazy wing nut you.

The world needs all kinds of people and I mean no disrespect to the life choices people make. It’s great that some people have an affinity for numbers and want to make lists of numbers in rows and columns that match up and balance. If people like me were left to fulfill tasks involving numbers the current recession would be much more akin to a downward spiral of all industrial civilizations. It’s great that there are those who enjoy following the rules and coloring within the lines. You all help keep the goofy people in the world stay grounded and remind us to pay our bills, put gas in our cars, and wear pants when leaving the confines of home.

BUT, the world needs the goofy, color outside the lines, pants forgetting people too. All the freaky people make the beauty of the world. Where would modern medicine be if Leonardo DaVinci had not been curious enough to cut open cadavers? What if Copernicus just said “Sure, we’re at the center of the universe, it’s all about Earth”? What if Columbus hadn’t tried to sail to the end of the flat earth and what if all the members of The Clash had just gotten factory jobs and never recorded “London Calling”? Who wants to live in that panty hose colored world?

In the years that have gone by I have tried on lots and lots of prototypes trying to find who I am, who I am meant to be, and who I want to be. I have tried to fit in and do what the rest of the world deems comfortable and socially acceptable, I have rubberbanded in the opposite direction and tried to be much more of a rebel than I really am. We try on these ill fitting personalities because we are looking outward at others and are concerned with how they see us. I believe I am finally on to something with who I am, because I am looking inward at me, and because I am old enough to not be as concerned with what others think. I know that as far back as I can remember, I knew I was an unconventional girl. I knew I was fascinated by those that leave the finery and security of home to run off and live a freer life with the raggle taggle gypsies. I knew I liked skirts that twirl out when you spin around and big dangly earrings. I know that in the country of Laura Ellen childlike glee abounds. I know that in that childlike country I can be hurt and rather than saying “That hurts” I will often act like a petulant child and say something snotty. I have also learned from others who have visited my country that it is ok to say “That hurt me”.

Do we ever know who we are? Do we always know who we are? Is it a constant process or do we make some grand discovery of deep inner identity and then plateau into the peace of self knowledge, and if so, is the plateau the end of the journey? I like the idea of constantly changing, evolving and growing. I think it’s a must and at the same time, we must honor the core of ourselves. Our core spirit helps us to maintain some relationships, to know when to let others go, when to question people and when to question ourselves. To know who you are and what is right for you is to know your world and be able to share it lovingly, as well knowing when it is being improperly invaded and you must advise others to not tread on you.

Learn to love you and know where you can bend and where you must remain adamant and, as Shakespeare so poignantly said . . . TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Black Dogs Dad

“Oh will you never let me be? Oh will you never set me free? The ties that bound us are still around us, there´s no escape that I can see, and still those little things remain, that bring me happiness or pain . . . These foolish things remind me of you”
Jack Strachey

Friendships change, it happens . . . it’s still such a bummer though. Ending a dating relationship is painful, but not always an enormous surprise, you’re either going to spend the rest of your earthly lives together or you’re going to break up. Families are great but you don’t hand pick them, they’re foisted on you and you love them with no rhyme, reason, or explanation. Friends though . . . friends are people you choose to be with . . . on purpose, so a faded friendship carries its own special sting.

Right now you must be thinking “Laura Ellen, you seem so jovial and delightful, who wouldn’t want you as a friend?” I agree but man oh man some people really do find ways of living their lives without me. Some friendships just sort of drift off and naturally filter themselves down until you become Christmas card friends. That’s all right, people’s lives and priorities change and Christmas card friends are still friends per se. Other friendships though, come to an end abruptly and sometimes with a final kick in the backside on the way out.

Today I took my inner child, Ruby Grace, out for a walk in the rain snow mix and we tromped and splashed through every puddle we could find. On our walk we passed the snow filled court yard up the street and around the corner where Black Dog likes to play. Black Dog used to stay at my house when Black Dogs dad would go out of town. I liked loading Black Dog up in the car and driving up to the foothills to play in the “good” dog park, but if we just needed a quick walk and a little quality ball throwing and chasing time we would walk over to the courtyard. Back then the house was full with me, my inner child (Ruby Grace), my inner shrew (Lola), two cats (Lucy Lulu and Delilah Jane), and Black Dog . . . but not anymore.

My friendship with Black Dogs dad has changed. It’s best I suppose, but it has it’s painful moments. It’s weird, isn’t it . . . how sometimes it can be better for something to go away because it was so painful and yet you’re still pained by its absence? There are reasons for friendships to change, fade, and even end. You can remember all the bad things and all the times you thought “what am I doing here?!” And what were you doing there? You were probably having a good time, at least part of the time. We don’t invite people into our lives because they never, ever make us happy. I like people that aid and abet my happiness. With Black Dogs dad it was his inner child I grew to love most. When Black Dogs dad is happy his eyes twinkle and I mean it, really. I’m not using a goofy phrase, his eyes really twinkle. His inner child doesn’t surface often so when he’s let out he really shines. It’s the most beautiful part of him. Black Dogs dad’s inner child is creative, playful, introspective, meticulous, loveable, loving, mischievous, and at times flat out silly. I love Black Dogs dad’s inner child. My inner child, Ruby Grace, loves Black Dogs dad’s inner child. The adults though, Black Dogs dad and me myself and I, often got in the way of our friendship.

As I write this it dawns on me that maybe that’s how it is with most relationships gone awry. We are all taught to abandon our inner child, our creative selves that love finger painting, that see beauty and fractals where others see a mess. Somehow as adults we’ve come to believe that seeing life, and people, with childlike wonder is inappropriate and should be left behind as we age, and age us it will.
It seems backwards to me. In our adult lives we don’t seem to love as well as we could, we’re too busy being adults. As adults we need to pay bills on time, show up to work on time, learn boundaries, honor our commitments, the list goes on. These things are all true and I am not condoning childish behavior. Childish is not childlike. Our adult selves are always trying to make sure someone doesn’t get the best of us, doesn’t make a fool of us, doesn’t draw us in only to hurt us. If we don’t want someone to get the best of us then hats off to everyone, no one will ever get the best of what’s in us if we don’t show it. What if someone does hurt you? Well, it hurts, but you’ll survive and go on to try again.

I look back at the playful times with Black Dogs dad, times when his inner child surfaced. There were all the concerts we went to together and danced like maniacs from the first note to the last, the times we took Black Dog to the park, going to soccer games, and playing Guitar Hero. Black Dogs dad can do an almost perfect impersonation of me. Black Dogs dad can make up great stories with goofy characters and voices right on the spot. Black Dogs dad can make me laugh until I snort. Black Dogs dad is a gifted painter. When Black Dogs dad plays his guitar he has a very particular smile that is not seen at any other time. His inner child doesn’t just come out then, his inner child races to the surface and fills the room with unbridled happiness. All these great play dates our inner children had together; I can mentally splice them together so the movie that plays in my head seems like it was all ice cream cones and carousel rides . . . but it wasn’t.

The adult side of this story can be painful and the memories are not a misty, melancholy movie set with Bryan Ferry singing “These Foolish Things” in the background. The adult side of me reads over the last paragraph and wonders “Was it ever real? Did I see more than was really there?” The adult part of me and Lola, my inner shrew, have to sometimes remind Ruby Grace, the sweet inner child, that we all shared some extremely painful moments in this friendship with Black Dogs dad. Lola screamed in anger and Ruby Grace curled up and cried. And Ruby Grace, loving and forgiving, twinkle eyed child that she is, reminds Lola and me that we loved him.

What if our adult sides had given way to our inner children more often? What if we had both agreed to open up our skins and be careful with each other and kind to each other and let the gleeful parts of ourselves out and not worry so much about how the other one may or may not hurt us? Our adults often acted so childish and not childlike. What if we had spent more time enjoying the essence of each other, and our own selves, rather than trying to outdo each other? What if we had listened better and more often rather than just biting our tongues, waiting our turn to speak because “Hey, I’ve got something really cool to say so hurry up and finish whatever unimportant thing you’re saying, to which I am not really listening”?

I don’t know the answers to all the “what if’s” because life goes the way it’s supposed to. I really believe that so I accept that our friendship had to ebb. I wonder sometimes if our friendship will flow again. Likely it will, it’s part of our history, but will it ever be the same? Probably not, but it probably shouldn’t be. In order for any relationship to survive it has to endure change. Not everyone comes into your life to stay. Even the closest of friends, someone you thought would always be around, has to go sometimes. New friends and new relationships come into our lives and their necessity eclipses what came before. It’s not wrong, it’s the changing of the seasons. They’re all beautiful, but only in their time.

As with some of the most celebrated art work ever created, sometimes you gotta take a few steps back to recognize life is a fractal and to see the beauty of the entire finger painting.

POST SCRIPT: This story was written quite some time ago and it has seen countless revisions based on my feelings, my relationship status, Black Dogs dads relationship status, phases of the moon, what shoes I’m wearing, the price of a gallon of crude, beer, and anything else I have deemed important at any moment in time. What does not change is the importance of the Black Dog, his dad, and the affect they have had on my life. I love them both . . . even when I feel like strangling Black Dogs Dad.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Buddah, Christ, Alanis Morissette, and me

When I said I hated you, I never ever meant to be so unkind but I just can't get you off my mind

The Darling Buds

In this story I address “hate” as I know it, in my life, in the lives of people I know. I will not even attempt to tackle true hatred as in hate crimes, hate that indulges itself unspeakable ways. I in no way intend to downplay the heinous nature of true hatred. My intent is to bring up the subject of hate that regular folks like you and me sometimes feel, and feel ashamed of feeling.

Hate. Hate, hate, hate. HATE. Such a strong word. Such an ugly word. So filled with venom and pain. Such a deeply felt emotion. It doesn’t come up too often for most of us. Oh sure, it comes up in lesser degrees such as, I hate coconut. I hate hangnails. I hate hats made from roadkill. For the bigger stuff though, like hating, oh this is bad, I’m gonna say it, here goes, like hating . . . ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Yikes. Then hate becomes an emotion filled word. I’m going to write about it though because we have all felt it at some time or another and the word is in our vocabulary and the emotion is in our palette of human behavior so let’s just be with it for a while. Don’t stop here because it started ugly, read to the end.

Conventional wisdom gives us the equation: Tragedy + Time = Comedy. How true it is. Most of my stories start from a painful occurrence. I spew it out on my computer and wait for the poison of my pen to mellow into something humorous, from sour grapes to grappa to wine. With this one though, I think I will try to delve into the feeling of hate that I am currently experiencing. Yeah, I know, it’s bad, but that’s why I’m writing about it. I’m hoping it will be cathartic but moreover, I hope to remind everyone that we all feel emotions that do not make our mama’s proud. What do we do when this happens? Get H A T E tattooed on your knuckles? Well, it’s an option but I’m not sure you’ll always be happy with that decision. Over indulge in alcohol and start drunk dialing? No, no, and no. Let me say it again, no.

I recall Robin Wright Penn’s character, Jenny, in "Forest Gump", furiously throwing rocks at the house she grew up in. How relieving it looked. She had so much anger built up toward her father. So many words she likely had not said because we are taught it’s wrong. Swallow those sour words and smile your fake smile and never delve into what’s really going on and surround yourself with people ALL THE TIME so you never have to face what goes on inside your head when you’re alone. We are taught to always be happy, or at least give the illusion of happiness. When tough times come along go cry alone for a wee bit, then pull yourself up by your bootstraps, little weak one, and show the world how strong you are. That which has not killed you has made you stronger and now you are immune to such petty emotions and you will not feel like crying and rock throwing and screaming the words “I HATE YOU” because as we all know . . . it is wrong to hate.

Feeling hate, outside of coconut and hangnails and roadkill hats, is actually a jumble of so many other emotions. At least in my experience it seems to be. After all, do we really hate that which we claim to hate? If something is truly so awful don’t we generally just walk away and not give it another thought? I have no interest in wearing a Hawaiian shirt . . . ever. Do I hate the Hawaiian shirt? Nope, couldn’t care less. No regard whatsoever. Hate though, with its bitter tears and agonizing stomach cramping, is a close cousin to its equal and opposite feeling of love. Why does Forest Gump’s Jenny hate her dad? Because she loved him and he hurt her. Why does Meg Ryan’s “Sally” sputter through tears “I hate you Harry, I really hate you” to Billy Crystal’s “Harry”? Because she loves him and he hurt her. We do hurt the ones we love, because there is no power to hurt and hate without love. Are they so different? Yes. No. Do we hate the person or their actions? Does it matter? The person we love did something that hurt. Who gives a f*** about the semantics of words vs. person?

Yes, I used the f-bomb, ok?

I think of what and who inspired this story. I think of the times my eyes have been a thunderstorm of lightening flashing in anger and sad rain pouring down my cheeks. I think of the times I have crumpled into a heap wanting to scream “I HATE YOU” at the top of my lungs, but I’m afraid to wake the neighbors and have them think I’m a bad person who experiences the very negative emotion of hate. We all are though, maybe the neighbors would be relieved to know others feel yucky sometimes too. Is hate bad? Yes, if it goes on too long, if it manifests in felonious ways, if it usurps all your joy and overtakes your life. Is it bad here and there? Small doses? Few and far between? I don’t think so. You have to get it out somehow in order to keep it from overtaking your life and usurping all your joy. Go throw rocks at an old rundown shack. I’ve said it before, owning that rock throwing at a shack business is a million dollars waiting to be had. Maybe I’d call it Jenny’s Place. Five bucks let’s you throw all the rocks you want for five minutes. $100 bucks gets you in until your arm withers. Maybe the rock throwing thing could help alleviate another component of hate. Guilt.

Oh the guilt we feel when we hate the one we may or may not actually love. It gets convoluted doesn’t it? I don’t feel guilty about hating coconut, but I feel guilty when I feel badly about a person, regardless of how they’ve hurt me. I don’t want to hate. I’m not a hater. I don’t praise hating, I’m just sayin’ we all feel it sometimes, especially when you can’t hate that person through and through. To get you through the hate you may look back in your rolodex of memories on sweeter times, then you feel happy, then you think how wonderful that person is, then you feel guilty for hating and the good things make you wish they were standing in front of you right now and then you think about all the bad things again and you’re back to hating because that person has something good inside and damn it they f***ed up. F- bomb again. Hate is messy. I think it’s messy because in most of our lives it’s not real, it’s just confusing. I hate hangnails. I do. But do I really hate another living, breathing, sometimes loving, sometimes selfish, human being? Yes. No. Maybe. Sometimes. Tuesdays. Never. Always. Last week. Right now. But can it really be real?

The Buddah taught us peace and enlightenment come from within. I look deep in my soul to find my Buddah components along with my J.C. facets and I wonder what the f*** would he do? We are all made in the Divine’s image, including Buddah, which is why Buddah’s story and J.C.’s story have so many similarities. They are both in all of us and they both encourage us to find their beauty in others. It’s there. Oh it is my friends, it’s there. We are all beautiful. Sometimes we are all beautiful messes, like dreadlocks. Buddah and Christ (did you think I meant Jiminy Cricket?) are in the perfection of each moment and when we hate, are they dismayed? I don’t know. Did they ever hate? I don’t know. They were both human so it's at least plausible they felt hate.

During a yoga class a few weeks ago the instructor, Kitty (love her), encouraged us to find our own mantra for the day and throughout the class reminded us to think of our mantra. I said to my inner self “Love flourishes in my life” and for that 90 minutes love truly did flourish. I felt so loving and forgiving that I wanted to join some sort of 12 step program, if only I had some sort of addiction. Crap. But, then I step out into daylight and I feel like a schmuck for feeling loving and forgiving of deception and selfishness. You can’t treat me this way, I’m somebody damn it! Then I realize I have left my inner Buddah and J.C. in the yoga studio. I have a choice. I can revitalize them in my soul at any time, and yet sometimes I choose to indulge in the negativity for a bit. It does me no good whatsoever. Why have I made this choice? Because I am human. I am frail and like Alanis Morrissette I’m here to remind you that sometimes we’re all a damn angry mess.

We all hate sometimes. We hate because someone that is important in our lives hurt us. Maybe that person hurt us knowingly, maybe not, but we are hurt and feeling discarded. We think we hate because really, we love, and we hurt, and we’re human. It’s ok. It happens. It will go away.

In the words of J.C., this too shall pass.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Asshole Theory, Parts I and II


The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care, right?
The Offspring

I have a theory about why women date assholes, it’s creatively named “The Asshole Theory”. Maybe it works for men too, I don’t know . . . but here’s my story and I hope you like it.

When you’re dating an asshole (if you’re easily offended you should probably not be reading any of my stories but this one in particular is going to use the word asshole a lot), ok, when you’re dating an asshole you are, in fact, taking the easy way out. I know, I know, just hold your horses a minute. When you are dating an asshole, you give yourself the luxury of always being right. You get to stand tall and proud up on your dais and pontificate down to your dating partner beneath you and care not for his opinions as they are wrong . . . wrong, wrong, wrong and always will be because that person down there, your dating partner, IS AN ASSHOLE. You get to win every fight. You don’t really even fight, you just storm out of the house, the room, the car, the restaurant, wherever, or slam down the phone in righteous indignation because there is no point in actually listening to the troglodyte you are involved with. There is no need for discussion, for being quiet and listening when it is your turn to listen, or maybe even entertaining another way of seeing things. You don’t need to pay attention to what he is saying because likely he is just ranting or childishly yelling and saying hateful things anyway. And yet, some women stay. Why? Because it is easier than having to put in the time and effort that a real relationship with a good person needs.

When you date an asshole your friends will always tell you that you are right because typically, you are. Date a nice guy whose opinion you respect? You may not always be “the good one” and you will have to put some work into this relationship. Dating an asshole is tedious. Dating an asshole can be brutal on one’s ego. Dating an asshole will find you crying on the phone to your friends. And please my darlings, don’t think for one minute that you can change him, just stop. Stop it right now. We think people will change. We really do and at the very least we hope they will change but they won’t. Well, maybe someday, but only if they do it in their way, in their time and you can’t do it for them. I know you wanna help, I know you have good intentions, but how about focusing all that goodness on yourself and on someone who actually wants to receive it from you? Give all that good to someone who will stay through the less than beautiful times, someone who will do what it takes to nurture a mature, committed relationship. Dating an asshole is painful, but it still gets you out of having to face yourself and your own frailties and you don’t have to face the fear of being alone. I’m not pointing a finger, I’ve done it myself. I’m not just spouting out crap I make up off the top of my head, I live the crap I write about, it’s all for you, all in the name of research!

We all desire love and we all need love. Remember Dr. Masura Emoto’s water experiment in “The Secret”? You ignore the water, say mean things to the water and it becomes murky and dark. Pay attention to the water and say kind things to it, it becomes clear and sparkly. Everything is made of energy and that energy thrives on the positive input it receives. You can survive without it, but you will not thrive without it. Then why is it that some people have so much trouble finding love and then keeping that love?

There is such a fear and so we choose poorly, we date assholes. This is not really a cognitive choice, but so few choices are until it’s pointed out to us
. . . or maybe that’s just me. We choose poorly because, as I’ve written in another story, losing something wonderful is hard. Never having it is just never having it. You can’t miss what you haven’t experienced. We all want love and we want it to be so good that we are quite willing to mess it up if we have even the slightest notion it could fade. Note that I said could fade. Of course it could, and sometimes we ensure it fades by sabotaging our own happiness. It’s so much easier to endure a broken heart than it is to nurture true love and companionship and partnership and a relationship for a life time. With any luck a life time is a long time and rather than seeing the joy and freedom (yes, I said FREEDOM, we’ll get to that in Part II) that can come from being in a good relationship we focus on how painful it will be when, and if, it fails. We make it fail. We invite failure by not giving it our all because giving it our all is work, and so we date assholes and asshole-ettes. Giving it our all means NOT walking out when there is a disagreement, it means really listening, it means making amends, it means apologizing when you have screwed up and maybe even sometimes when you have not screwed up, it means honoring your loved ones feelings, doing things to honor them and not doing things to dishonor them. When you are given a heart it’s so important to know what a beautiful gift that is and to hold it as carefully as you can. You have been entrusted with the care and feeding of your loved ones most sacred gift. You know how to break it, you know all the crappy things to say to hurt it, but it was a gift given freely and with love and trust, so you try with all that you have to take care of it, even in the roughest of rough times.

Not too long ago I gave my heart to someone and that someone decided to return it to me, it was very painful. This time I felt I had chosen someone so utterly different from the others, someone who seemed so giving and so mature and so capable of an adult relationship. In some ways he was all those things, but only to a point. Only to the point where it was time to either be in it or get out of it. He chose to get out of it and my ego and my heart took a beating. He was tentative and afraid. Nonetheless, I am not daunted in my belief of finding love. I have seen it and I know it can happen, but not without some bumps in the road.

Epictetus said “Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes”,
which brings us to . . .


Did I say that I need you? Did I say that I want you? If I didn’t I’m a fool you see, no one knows this more than me, as I come clean.
Pearl Jam

I read the following modern day wisdom on a friends refrigerator:

"The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating--in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life."

It’s so true. The FEAR (False Experiences Appearing Real) that dresses itself up as rational hesitation. How many times have you heard or said “Let’s just take things slow”? What the hell does that even mean? Relationships travel on their own clocks, just let it be. No need to force it to be any faster or slower than it is naturally going. If you’re feeling pushed, you should say something. If you want things to progress more, you should say something, but this is part of being in a relationship. Learning to talk to each other about how you’re feeling, that’s how it works between two sane people, none of whom are assholes.

Being committed is so much more freeing and opens up so much in your life. So much that you had barricaded back in fear can come out and breathe fresh air and see the sunlight. You can rest. Even during times of trials and tribulations you can say to your partner “Let’s go to bed. This mess will still be here in the morning . . . and so will I. We can talk about then.” In a good relationship with a good partner there will be disagreements. Sometimes those disagreements will be heated and difficult. You know why they will be difficult? Because when you are dating someone you respect, someone you admire, and someone who respects and admires you, so much more is at stake. You want to listen to them and you will also be responsible for saying what you need to say with a kind, compassionate, and truthful voice. Sometimes that kindness, compassion and truth only emerges after yelling some ugly things in a very unpleasant manner, but a nice person will get through this ugliness with you as you will get through theirs with them . . . because you care about him (or her), as he (or she) does for you.

We’re all turning into head thinkers and not heart followers. We’re all so afraid to follow our hearts because we may get hurt and we may fail. Well, yeah dumbass, you may, but what kind of life will you be living if you never follow your heart and you always take the safe and painless road well traveled? Boring. Good Lord people, get out there! Tentative is useless and fearful. Let’s all get out there and love others and get our hearts scraped and bruised and compose goofy poetry and wear red shoes and eat chocolate! Life should be fun and it’s going to be painful too, but you get so much good out of the painful times as well as the fantastic times. That’s why we have them. God in his or her infinite wisdom chose to give us many, many, many colors and feelings and emotions and they are all part of the spectrum and if one of them is missing the others are not nearly as colorful and bright.

Choose wisely by knowing yourself first, loving yourself first, choosing your happiness first, and then find someone who cares about you as much as you do.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Moms Are The Coolest Invention Ever

“Please no more therapy, mother take care of me, piece me together with a needle and thread”
Shawn Colvin

There are some pretty cool things in the world. I personally am a fan of couches, cookie dough in a tube, and flip flops. Top of the heap though has to be mom. Moms are the coolest invention ever. Do you remember the first time you were sick and alone as an adult? Maybe you were living in a dorm, an apartment, backpacking around Europe, or detoxing in a holding cell, you got sick and you had to take care of yourself. Who did you wish was there? Mom, that’s who. Who’s the big winner? Mom. When you came racing through the door after school with some nightmarish piece of art composed entirely of popsicle sticks, Elmer’s Glue, and boogers, who pronounced it the most beautiful thing EVER? Who showed it to all her friends, proudly displayed it in the living room and deemed you a budding young artist? Mom, that’s who. Who’s the big winner? You, because you have a mom and no one in this life or any other will ever love you the way she does.

When I was a kid moms still stayed home pretty regularly, a working mom was the exception, not the rule. I am the youngest of five kids by several years. This means I got to spend a lot of quality time with my mom. In the morning the house would be fairly full of activity with mom making breakfast, dad heading off to work, mom making four lunches, kids headed off to different schools at different times, mom cleaning up dishes from breakfast and lunch making, and then, finally, a calm house with just mama and me. As in most American homes dad had his “chair” and mom had hers. My mom’s chair was a rocking chair, I loved sitting on her lap in that chair and snuggling with her. This can cure any illness. Moms will let you throw up on them and not even say “Ewwwww, gross”. You can come screaming into the house covered in blood, mucous, and Lord only knows what all else and she will not wince and back away. She will open her arms wide and say “Oh my baby, what has happened to my baby?!” If you are the culprit of whatever has happened to her baby you had better damn well be in another county in the next five minutes because when she is done comforting her baby, she is comin’ after you. Ever seen a mom defend her child? Holy moley. If you have hurt a female’s child she will exercise no restraint in coming after you. A dad may keep a cooler head, ask some questions to find out what happened and did mama’s baby perhaps play a hand in bringing this trouble on? Not mom, if you hurt her child she will hunt you down, kill you, and happily do the time. Remember Mercedes Ruehl in the movie "Big"? She walks into her young son’s bedroom only to find a grown Tom Hanks instead of her young son and she turns into an animal. Seriously, she is baring her teeth, grabs the first weapon she can find to wield and is determined to beat Tom Hanks to a bloody pulp. Her voice changes from cheerful songbird mama voice to deep from the bowels of hell succubus voice as she growls “Where’s my son? What have you done with my son”? He is scared, stunned to see the rage and says “Thanks Mom”. He is overwhelmed by her love for him but really has no time to think about that because she is about to kill him.

It’s not just human moms of course, moms covered in fur or scales . . . . in any species a mom is a mom. In the Planet Earth series (how great is this series I ask you? Just extraordinary) there are so many examples of a mother’s love for her young. The humpback whale as well as the polar bear both lose half their body weight and are basically starving, but those babies are gettin’ fed no matter what. Mama whale slaps her enormous fin on the water to make sure baby calf knows where she is and can stay close. Mama elephant and baby fall behind the herd because baby is thirsty and slow, but mom is staying back with her baby. There are times in this series when the cycle of life is so painful. You don’t want the wolf to starve and you don’t want him to eat the baby. I’m telling you, this series makes me cry. I cry because baby got eaten or mama is starving or papa polar bear doesn’t have enough ice to walk on because we are not doing the best job caring for Mother Earth.

So let’s talk about the mother we all share. How about mother earth? She fosters the Boreal Forest that produces most of our planet’s oxygen and yet takes up so little of our living space. She lays back at a tilt to give us seasons and allows us to feed off her like a new mother with infants. But like so many rebellious teens we sometimes forget to honor her, we treat her with less dignity than she deserves and yet, she will always welcome us back home and feed us. She will forgive us anything because she loves us. Like any mom though, if you piss her off and test the boundaries you will indeed find the boundaries. You can’t just throw a lit match in the forest and expect her not to react. She loves you and because she loves you she will not hesitate to slap you right upside the head when you deserve it.

The love of a mother spans the ages, including all your ages. When you’re young having your mom around is no problem. You don’t mind her being in the same room with you and your friends because chances are you’re about five years old and her presence means cookies. As you get older the rules change. You don’t want your friends to know you have parents. You prefer your friends think you just vaporized onto the planet, and at the ripe old age of sixteen you already live in your own apartment, drive a cool car, go to clubs, and date rock stars frequently. You’re just doing this high school gig and allowing these people who call themselves “parents” to hang around you because you found them wandering the streets aimlessly one day. As you get a bit older the tides will turn again. When you leave the comfortable confines of home to move into that dorm room, apartment, European backpack, or holding cell, you will learn that food doesn’t just magically show up in the kitchen and laundry is, in fact, NOT done by a faction of Lilliputians that come quietly into your room as you sleep. The value of mom begins to dawn on you just a bit. “Food and clean socks are good, and if I want them I need to do something about that. Hmmmmmm. These things require time and money, two very important commodities. I have time, but what about money? Money, money, money; where does money come from? Trees? No, I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere that it does not grow on trees. Mom! Ohmygawd, it’s Mom! She always has money! I’ll just call her!”

Mothers are a remarkably special breed. Mothers are magical. Mothers perform miracles because they can bake cookies AND put a band aid on your knee AND talk to you about your first heartbreak when you’re a little bit older. They will endure hours of pain to bear us, and then do it all over again to bear more of us. They will walk us to the door of our kindergarten classrooms, holding our hands, smiling, telling us how exciting school will be and waving to us as we turn around and toddle off, then they will go home to cry a river. Her baby is growing up a little bit and that’s good, that’s how it should be. Her baby is growing up a little bit and it’s heartbreaking, and that’s how it should be. Your spouse loves you, your father loves you, your children, your friends, and your siblings all love you but I can promise you, no one . . . NO ONE loves you like your mother. Really, I think even God would step aside just a wee bit in respect for the love of a Mother, after all, they are one of his greatest gifts to us.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Groceries and The Single Girl

“I’m all lost in the supermarket, I can no longer shop happily, I came in here for that special offer a guaranteed personality” The Clash

The grocery store is a rough place for single women. It may have its pitfalls for men too, but based on the refrigerator and cupboard contents I’ve seen in the single male kitchen, they have no idea what the inside of a grocery store looks like. The grocery store is a place for couples. Even if “they” as a couple are not in the grocery store together, just look in a females shopping cart and you’ll know her status in the magic kingdom of coupledom . When I am half of a couple my cart is filled with yummy items that a woman lovingly, painstakingly selects to make her man happy. I purchase not just bread, but perhaps a freshly baked brioche. No fish sticks tonight, I’m poaching a salmon in a bath of white wine with capers and fresh dill. I will consider, quite possibly for several minutes, the various merits of those cute little red skinned potatoes vs. the beauty of the sweet potato. The sweet potato is a super food, don’tcha know. Even when a couple has passed the salmon swimming in a capered, dilled wine bath phase, couple food is different from single food. Women are not notorious for their corn chip and bean dip consumption. If you see these items in her basket, nestled in with ground beef and hamburger buns, it’s probably Guitar Hero night at home. I love couple food shopping. I love calling from the grocery store (how did we ever survive without cell phones?) and asking “would you rather have orzo or risotto?” A single girl’s basket has yoghurt, diet soda, and People magazine, every four weeks add in tampons and chocolate. There is no place I can think of that discriminates the singles from the couples so openly as the grocery store. Seems to me I’ve heard the marina Safeway in San Francisco has singles night. Is that true? Someone write me and let me know. Otherwise, here is a handy guide of times to . . .


1. Late afternoon to early evening on Saturday. This is the time you will find childless couples shopping together for the beautiful meal they’re about to prepare together while nibbling on exotic cheese and sipping wine. “Honey, salmon or steak? Both? Surf and turf? Divine.” I look at my basket, see the lone can of tomato soup and vomit a little in my mouth.

2. Sunday, pretty much all damn day. Here you will find couples, some formed just a few hours prior, shopping for breakfast still wearing their Saturday night clothes. Girls, if you’re wearing an oversized men’s shirt with high heels and your mussed hair is being held up chopstick style by two writing utensils, you’re not fooling anyone. Later in the morning and on through the evening you will find couples, perhaps not as recently formed as our shirt sharing chopstick wearing couples, shopping for any number of couple-ish events. Perhaps they’re having a nice family brunch, a football-basketball-baseball-soccer-golf-Frisbee golf-curling game, or a nice movie night at home. Avoid Sundays.

3. There are some seasonally disastrous times. For instance . . . Fall, straight through to the end of Winter. Football season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and by golly let’s not forget VALENTINES DAY! From September to March, eat out. Spring is alright because it’s spring and in spring hope is eternal, there is quite possibly a song in your heart and nothing’s going to get you down. Shop away in spring. And store up then little squirrel because summer’s coming and you know what that means . . . couples come out of hibernation! It’s time to hike, camp, backpack, mountain bike, picnic, BBQ, and those couples need food . . . from the grocery store. Thaw out that frozen Lean Cuisine you bought in April, slather on your tan in a bottle, and pretend you’re in the south of France.

4. Snowstorms. Who doesn’t love being at home with their chosen mate in a blizzard? You’re both curled up inside and warm while the storm rages outside. You pad about the house in your cozy wooly socks making a big pot of homemade soup, muffins, several dozen cookies, drinking wine and deciding what movies to watch. I know how lovely it is. I’ve experienced this bliss and I miss it. For the single girl, we already know you don’t have food. You have yoghurt and magazines. Could be a couple of days before you get out and you’re gonna need to consume something. If the storm hasn’t gotten so bad that the streets are impassable then you can still drive. Yes, YOU can drive. YOU can go outside and shovel the walk to the car, YOU can unbury the car, YOU can sit alone in the freezing car waiting for the defrost to start defrosting, YOU can scrape the ice off the windows and YOU can drive through the icy streets to your local grocer to load up on single girl in a snowstorm food . . . frozen pizza, canned soup, ice cream, diet soda. Then YOU can drive back home and YOU can lug the groceries back in the house yourself. If the roads are not even driveable it gets better, YOU get to walk to the store! I love a walk in a snowstorm . . . a walk that doesn’t involve me carrying bags of food home in the end. If it is so bad out that you’re busting out the Sorels and walking then you’re more than likely crossing some rough terrain. This means your limited on what you can carry. Do you really need frozen pizza and ice cream that badly? Ok, I’ll grant you the ice cream thing, I get that. What I’m getting at is this . . .
delivery my friend. Have pizza delivered and kick in a few extra bucks for them to make a liquor store stop. Delivery person gets a nice tip, you don’t have to leave the house, everybody wins.

I do not by any means want to say that single women cannot, should not, make lovely meals for themselves; cannot, should not treat themselves to good food regardless of their status in the kingdom of coupledom. Indeed single women can and should. What I am saying is typically, we just don’t and often times when we decide we can and will and get up the moxie to go to the grocery store, list in hand, ready to make ourselves a salmon swimming in dill and capers we get to the store and . . . and . . . and I don’t know what happens. We just buy yoghurt and diet soda and call it a day.