Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Caretaker

via Magic Ketchup on Flickr
A faint whiff of Vicks VapoRub drifted across the stale room as her Mistress exhaled heavily and dispersed the scent. Even a cat could sense the thick medicinal smell. Moogie, a long-haired Calico, lay on the rocker’s seat next to the bed and lifted her head to sniff, sniff, sniff the air as felines are apt to do.

Moogie was originally called Mookie, regardless of being a female, after her favorite baseball player who’d helped the Mets beat the Red Sox in that “Buckner Play” during the ‘86 World Series. Her Mistress hated Boston. One of her favorite memories was listening to ball games on the radio back before her hearing failed. With her slurred speech following the stroke, nurses thought she called the cat “Moogie” instead of “Mookie,” and it had stuck.

Now the Mistress spent most of her days reading the paper, even though she may not remember what news she’d read minutes after setting it down on the night stand, or slowly rocking in the chair her late husband had built out of oak boughs. Moogie spent many afternoons on her lap in front of the window, resting in a supine position enveloped within an irresistible splay of sunlight. Her Mistress’s gnarled fingers still endlessly stroked the cat and immersed them both in joy. Such happiness had been hard to come by since the Master’s death several years prior and the failing health of her Mistress after that aneurism somewhat incapacitated her. Regardless, they still had each other.

The attentive companion realized a sudden absence of the sharp vapor aroma and crept from her perch on the rocking chair and onto the resting place of her Mistress. Moogie padded softly across the bird’s-nest patterned quilt, ironically named for the only other place the cat would rather be than with her beloved Mistress. The cat stepped gingerly to ascend the woman’s body and onto her regular nesting spot atop her chest. But her ears immediately perked up, as something was amiss upon her arrival there.

Moogie noticed the lack of a rhythmic tempo, the normal rise and fall usually present when she sunk into repose, and how the body of her Mistress seemed flat and absent of breath. The night nurse was in the other room and, unfortunately, had no way to know if anything was wrong. A growl emerged from Moogie’s throat at the possibility of that woman not paying attention.

Magic Ketchup on Flickr
She sprung into action and leapt into the hallway to gain the nurse’s attention. Of course, the lazy woman sat with a pile of knitting in her lap in front of a static-filled screen in the living room and her head lolling onto the back of the sofa. The white noise emitting from the television muffled any sound from the adjacent bedroom where her Mistress might lay dying.

Forming a tight figure eight around the dozing woman’s legs, Moogie intently rubbed on her calves and mewed as strongly as possible to rouse her from slumber. She ambled onto the sofa when those caresses seemed too slight to do the trick and alit on the back of the couch beside the nurse’s head. Moogie positioned herself strategically by the woman’s ear to let out a yowl loud enough to stir poor Mister, long since six-feet-under. The cat mustered all she had, for an aged being such as her, to wail at top volume.

It wasn’t actually the caterwauling that awakened the nurse but an annoying tickle from Moogie's long, white whiskers and a perpetual tinkle of the round bell hanging from her red collar that did it. The nurse bolted upright and rose to her feet, frightfully aware of her dereliction of duty. “Silly, cat,” she said. “What are you doing ... trying to steal my breath?”

As she strode toward the bedroom, the nurse called, “Missus, are you alright?” There was, of course, no answer. No stirring whatsoever came from within the confines of the room. A startlingly loud snort broke the silence just as she reached toward the Mistress to check on her odd state of still reticence, and the nurse let out a heavy sigh of relief. In her twist to find a comfortable position, the Mistress made several other snuffling sounds indicative of her persistent sleep apnea. The nurse retreated to her knitting once she’d pulled the mussed coverlet back up to her charge’s chin.

Already back up on the bed, Moogie wound her body in several circles before settling down once again at her Mistress’s side. She closed her still sharp green eyes and lost herself once again to repose amidst the familiar yet calming current of menthol breezing past her whiskers.

*This post was prompted by tinkle at Studio30Plus.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (Sept. 27)

There is an over-abundance of wonderful women in my life, and I'm so lucky to be able to make that claim. Those of us who have lots of friends are rich indeed! I'd like to recognize my friend, Joan, as I was able to recently catch up with her and realize how very much I miss seeing her on a regular basis.

Joan always has a kind word to offer. She is one of those rare people who always asks about the other person first and listens with great interest even though she very well could be bored to tears (and deservedly so). She makes a friend feel like their story is the most interesting one in the world, even though it likely isn't!

With so many egocentric people in the world and so few good things think about from the news, it's refreshing to be personally acquainted with "good folk," ones who are simply fun to be around. Joan has a comfortingly hearty laugh and playful attitude. She takes her work seriously but not too much so. It was always a joy to be around her at my previous job, and being in her company could make the worst day better.

She has always made me feel like she was happy to see me, and I hope she knows how much I miss her. I had so much fun talking with her last weekend, and it made my heart soar to watch her face light up to see me. Maybe that was just the beer talking ... lol.

Even though I haven't told her so, this woman is an indomitable force whom I admire on a personal as well as professional level. Her husband and son have a great woman in their life, of which I'm sure they are aware. She, too, is a woman of integrity, and I'm glad she's my friend.

*If you are privileged enough as I am to have women in your life who make it all the better, let them know. Tell them thanks for being your friend. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (August 8)

There's actually a reason why none of my friends were duly thanked during the month of July. I was a bit preoccupied with a little writing project called Camp NaNoWriMo, which patterns itself after National Novel Writing Month in November each year. Writers usually either love it or hate it. I'm in the latter group but was encouraged to take part by some other online writers with whom I associate online.
A few of them went pretty gung ho with their effort, too, writing 50,000 plus words during those 31 harried days. I was happy with meeting my goal of 30,000 and was able to reach it, in part, with the encouragement and support of someone I know from an online community of writers called Studio 30 Plus.
Marie is a friend of mine who really kicked ass at Camp. She not only met her lofty daily writing goal but managed to still promote the Studio through online marketing AND job hunt while enjoying her regular dreamy lifestyle. It takes place afloat in the Gulf of Mexico on either her boat or paddle board when she's not otherwise travelling the States as a race car mechanic. Not too shabby, eh?
I didn't steal her picture to use here without asking but took the liberty to nab a shot of her artwork (hope she doesn't mind). The piece puts one of many amazing talents into corporeal form, and it IS shark week after all. She is a creative force, and I can't wait to read her novel currently in the editing stage.
Although we haven't met in person, I feel I have a good essence of this woman without ever shaking her hand or giving her a hug. I don't know if Marie IS a hugger, but her spirit reaches through the computer screen and grabs you. She always encourages other writers and gives me positive feedback. Her timing is great, too, especially when it seems only she and my friend, Lanea, (who originally inspired this "thanks, my friend" meme) care to read anything I write.
Constructive criticism comes easier from like-minded people, so I appreciate communing with Marie as we pour out our minds onto paper (or screens, as the case may be). I hope to maybe watch her either derby or replace an engine one day, but for now want to say 'thanks, my friend!"

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (June 27)

This message is a little overdue, although it has been spoken in other words a long time ago.  Four years last month, as a matter of fact. Yesterday I got a reminder about needing to voice my thanks to a great person, Rhonda, who helped us when buying our house in 2009.

She posted a funny FB story yesterday that touched my generally cynical but just then "soft side."  It was about her being complimented by an older man, which she totally deserved, but who was obviously making a geriatric move.  She politely declined his offer, being the sweet person that makes her Rhonda.  Rhonda was very gracious to him, and while I wish I'd have done the same, I probably just would've bitched about always getting hit on by the oldest and/or stinkiest dude around.  That's the truth, btw.  He was always either ancient or putrid -- even in Ireland.

A friend of hers suggested -- much like I do with thanks, my friend to "tell people nice things like that" as we never know when life will end and shouldn't "miss the opportunity to brighten someone's day."  I totally get that!  There's no sense in looking back and wishing we would've told someone something when the chance is gone.  

So my thanks go to Rhonda for guiding us to a home that has made life comfortable in a sometimes foreign place and for her personal touch in doing so.  I'm glad we've stayed in touch online, because she's a genuinely delightful person and a strong, independent woman.  That looks lovely on a lady!

Life is short, and we meet relatively few great people while we're living it.  Don't wish you coulda/woulda/shoulda said something nice to someone when you think of it instead of remembering with regret later!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (June 20)

If you're very lucky, you find people in your life who bring positiveness to those around them. It doesn't matter what life throws Kim, she's like that. One of those give-me-lemons-and-I'll-make-lemonade types. She looks at the good and keeps a smile on her face.
Honesty is one of the strong traits of this beautiful woman. Kim is candid and self-effacing. She doesn't let pride get in the way. I find it very admirable that what you see is what you get with her. Her sense of self is strong enough that she fearlessly puts herself "out there." Her boys must have gleaned some of that strength from her, and she is one proud Mama!
Coming from a small town provides some perks, one of which is being able to easily stay in touch with your old friends through mutual friends. Kim and I have known each other since we were in high school and have only been able to get together a few times since then, but it's pleasure when I get to see her. We always laugh and have fun. I wish she and I were closer, but the distance makes me cherish the chances we have to talk all the better.
It only takes a moment to tell a friend how special she is to you and recognize something great about her. Take the opportunity you have to do it right now! You will be glad you did.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Getting stuck

Should I be reading, or should I be writing? The conflict is constant. Observing, and hoping to absorb talent and style by osmosis, is a worthwhile endeavor. My conscience, however, keeps telling me to get at it. Put the Kindle (or book) down, and start typing. Even if it's blogging. That pesky conscience says, "There's a story to develop. Details, more description! You need to add dimensions to those characters already existing in your head. Bring them to life." It's quite a naggy frontal cortex.

The tirade continues with, "Quit looking on Amazon. Open up Word instead!"

My inner-dialogue is relentless, and I use it to make myself feel overly guilty. My conscious mind knows there are revisions to be made to last year's -- yet unfinished -- NaNoWriMo project. Obviously, I need to complete the story. The finale stands at outline status, and that doesn't suffice if it's ever to be finished.

Self-criticism gets me, much like troll-ish reviews on Amazon , nowhere! Worry is like that. Feeling anxious about something is not helpful and only sucks away the energy needed to complete the project. Whereas my writing can always improve, my expertise at worry is unsurpassed. I'm a pro! I'm the best -- just ask me!

The key to feeling un-stuck is simply not staying stuck. Just today, I joined a conversation about whether to be enlightened or discouraged by criticism. I've often said my skin needs to thicken to criticism. An online friend once suggested to read the review only one time and take from it what can help you learn. She urged to never go back to it after that initial reading. Let it serve its purpose if it is to do you any good.

Naysayers can suck, but their words can make you stronger. Everyone has their own taste, but the goal is to write something that you know came from your best effort. And using the feedback constructively can drive a writer to do even better the next time.

Prove them wrong! Know you are going to continue to grow as a writer and a person by never letting yourself stay in a rut. Right - write - on!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (June 6)

If I were to make a list of memories, a litany of notable events of fun times shared together, with my friend Kim I'd be at it for quite a while. There'd be an empty tissue box beside me when I finished, too, from all the tears shed in laughter and reminiscence. Most all of them involved some craziness worthy of the motto Kimberley created, "Be there or be talked about."
Being there meant fun, especially the look-back-at-crack-up-about-it-later kind of fun. Not all in retrospect either, because we laughed our asses off at the time, too. First, though, I must give credit where it's due. Kim provided me many saving graces during my five years of living in Kansas City, and I don't know what I'd have done without her. She made me so many meals (not only, but very notably, special ones on St. Pat's and New Year's Day), and threw me a party for college graduation. Finishing undergrad was the main reason for moving there, but Kim's house was my home away from home while I was alone and single in the city. She even helped me shoot my first video. Whether or not I left on the lens cap is irrelevant.
Kim and her husband, Gary, opened their doors to me when I had no other family near. I can't count the number of cocktail hours she and I spent on her screened porch and patio or tabulate the neighbors bothered by our nonsensical singing and dancing. Dickie howled in unison as we celebrated life, and little Molly joined us in the later years. Thank the universe we made it home unscathed after many a night out, too, including the most memorable one when a car came through the wall at Mike's Tavern and almost shoved Kim and the table into my lap. She was unflappable, ordering another beer before we were (all) asked to leave when the dust literally settled.
I like to call those my "formative years," my coming of age, that helped me become the person I am today.  They weren't all easy, but my adventures with Kim were a highlight. She helped me assimilate to keeping myself safe in a sometimes unsafe environment where I could no longer take everyone at face value as I had up to that point in my life. Along the way, we watched out for each other and managed to stay out of real trouble. She helped me become a strong and independent woman.
Going to music festivals is one of my very favorite memories -- not just of life in KC but life in general. That's not to mention the time spent at Kim's previous apartment in Sedalia or all the insanity at Karen's lake place. If those cottage walls could talk.
I know several women named Kim, so I fondly refer to Kimberley as Wine-in-a-box Kim. We kept it classy with Franzia. All jokes aside, I treasure the good times we had and hope our lives catch up to make more memories in the future. Thinking back and looking forward -- thanks, my friend!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (May 30)

This post has been a long time coming. The enormity of a relationship in its length and scale is sometimes hard to summarize, as is the case with my friend Lori. I will have to suffice to say we've know each other too long to encapsulate it all here, but it all began at 10 years old. That seems like forever ago.
We've always had the kind of kinship where we know how to slide back into each other's acquaintance no matter how long an absence has been. Our lives are much different now, and those changes have us in own new places, but I still feel close to Lori. 

No one else probably knows as much about my family stuff, and maybe vice versa for her. Down the line we've eaten whole frozen chocolate pies together, gotten in trouble with our dads (like that was hard), been young and dumb enough to appropriate porn, learned the words to entire albums, drove every inch of Marshall in the biggest Lincoln on the planet, skirted around the whims of the most OCD person there ever was, and gotten/given a lifetime of free haircuts. The deal was that I'd take her along as my personal stylist when I became a famous producer, and I'm so sorry that will never happen now. lol

This history goes from the early years of finding ourselves to having families of our own.  Lori is a loving mom whose children (and spouse) are very lucky to have her.  It's been great being along on that ride with her, too.  Being a part of Lori's life meant I gained a surrogate family, too, whose love has been so appreciated in mine.

It's too bad the miles keep us apart now.  After all this time, though, I still feel like I can walk into Lori's kitchen anytime and open the fridge for tea without us missing a beat in the conversation.  We both know I practically wore out her washer, dryer and ears listening over such a span of time. 

I hope I've given Lori as much support as she's provided me over the years. It's been a good run, and I must say thanks, my friend!

If there is someone who deserves to hear how special they are, why not tell her today? 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (May 23)

It's been a struggle lately to maintain a sense of calm throughout the day. You know, the typical stuff ... dealing with bad drivers, ignorant callers, errant rodent invaders, an impatient spouse. The stress has seemed heavier than usual this week and not for any particular reason. So I escape to yoga class. Going to the YMCA, though, does not mean top-dollar accommodations. For example, we've been moved to a racquetball court. Nobody plays racquetball anymore anyway, right? No worries. Wrong ... tonight just next door. Nameste, not!
Long story long, I tried to envision something peaceful when in final relaxation and keep my focus.  Remaining mindfully still was so hard with a ball hitting the opposite wall and its deliverer expressing such loud displeasure at his shot. I brought to mind the mental image of a beautiful young brunette, the daughter of my friend Phoebe, sitting cross-legged and silent in her own comfortable seated position that her mom had shared online earlier in the week. This little sweetie's eyes were closed in meditation, and I understand she was reciting her own perfect ohms to help Mom get ready for a new brother or sister to arrive soon. I'm sure she'll be a wonderful big sister.
not her but similar
Sometimes the simplest things like that can bring you back to where you need to be. Her tiny cherubic face calmed me enough to ignore otherwise distracting ambient noise, and her Snow White ensemble brought a smile back to my own face. Knowing her mom's preference for Merida, I'd imagine a bow and arrow may have been close by instead of dwarfs. Phoebe all about empowering this budding feminist, and I'd like to think I'd act much the same as her if I had a daughter instead of a son.
Phoebe otherwise serves as a calming force in all the chaos of the world. You can tell it from her personality. She is a great mom and endearing wife to Mark, whom she always publicly praises. People don't do that much, so it's a welcome oddity. They're a fantastic couple, and I think they have a great little growing family.
Every week I try to recognize a friend whose uniqueness brightens the lives of her family and friends. I'm glad to have worked with Phoebe and gotten to know her better through it. She constantly cracks me up with her sharp wit, and I just wish I could still enjoy it in person instead of only online. Her one small act of sharing brought me joy this week, and I'd like to thank her for it!

If you're lucky enough to have a friend like mine, you should tell her so. We who have friends are rich indeed. Tell them about it!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (May 16)

Over a year ago inspired me to embark on an effort to actively support other females, as we can sometimes be overlooked in the compliment department. I try to do so in this blog each week. In part, feminism should be about women building each other up verbally instead of tearing each other apart like we so unfortunately see every day. So began "Thanks, my friend!"  
This week's post is a bit different than ones past, because it goes out to someone I don't know on a personal level. Only being acquainted with this young woman on a professional level won't keep me from recognizing her valiance, of which I've been privileged to witness over the last year or so. Amy is caring and compassionate, and she's shown a beautiful bravery in her husband's fight against cancer for over a year now.  
We've only spoken perhaps once, but Amy's Facebook updates on her family's struggle have spoken to my heart many times. I want to commend her for her gracious spirit in such a difficult chapter of their lives, and I want to thank her for reminding each person who reads the "status" on their page how very fortunate we are to have our health and to have each other.  
Thank you for so poignantly pointing out what life is all about ... the love we share with people who are important to us and make life worth living. I want to recognize you for showing everyone  that we should enjoy every day and run, jump, laugh, dance and smile every chance our bodies allow us to do so. May you find peace and continue to smile yourself.  
We don't know each other well, but thanks, my friend!  

We who have family and friends are SO very lucky. Tell someone how fortunate you are to have them in your life today! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (May 10)

Some people get such joy out of life that it's contagious to be around them. I mean that in the most positive way possible, because a genuinely positive attitude can be a rare find anymore. We could definitely use more of it in the world.
I miss seeing my friend, Diana, because she exudes that kind of happiness. A group of crazy women used to get together every few months for dinner, and I haven't been able to enjoy them since my son was a little baby five plus years ago. Those special times become a delicacy when they don't get to happen on a regular basis.
Friendships like that are precious. The pace of life can create a gulf in such bonds, when family and work take precedent out of necessity. Luckily, though, there are people on whom I can count to always be there. All it would take is a quick phone call to get Diana out with us, just name the time and place! She is always ready for some girl talk and fun.
I don't ever want to take my friends for granted, because I'm lucky to have them. Diana is caring, ambitious and a bundle of energy. Besides having a truly sunny personality, she's driven. Few adults choose to better themselves through higher education once their own children are grown. She went back to school and finished her degree while working full-time. Only a very purposeful person is willing to do that and still find time for everything else in a busy life. I'm so proud of her for it.
Diana loves being a mother and grandmother. Her granddaughter is likely one spoiled little gem! A gigantic smile would no doubt spread across her face if I asked her about it.  
So many great women don't receive the praise they deserve, and I'd like to pour it on Diana in case she doesn't hear it enough. She's an inspiration, and I miss her dearly. So ... here ya go, woman. Thanks, my friend!

It only takes a tiny moment of your life to tell somebody how special they are to you, so do it. Now!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (April 19)

It's hard to be positive in today's environment. Keeping pace with national news is exhausting, if not depressing, and even more so on an international level. Social media usage can then either be a fun escape outlet or perpetuate the ever-increasing intensity of things going on in the world. A slice of sunshine in the midst of it all is so refreshing.  

Some people seem to react well to chaos. Wouldn't that be nice to do? Every picture I see of a young friend of mine reflect that balance. She shows a smiling face or one with a great curling smirk, and not one of those insipid duck-lipped smiles. Either one she offers is perfect. Those facades epitomize what I think makes up Abby.  

She is a bundle of energy and a positive source of inspiration for the people around her. I met this young woman through my previous job, where she was a work-study student in our office. Abby matriculated through her program and is now working on a grad degree. What better person to work with college students? She is not that much older than them, so Abby provides a realistic role model in a setting so suitable to her skills.   

Abby was previously supervised by a co-worker and always accepted any new challenge presented to her. Trust me, it's hard to find motivated students to take on any additional tasks without complaints of how busy they already are. She worked, kept up with school, and had a social life to boot. Your atypical but favorite kind of student worker.

What is considered professionalism in the workplace is so different now than when I started working full-time back in the day (won't mention when). That's not to say that kids aren't learning how to act in a professional environment.  They are ... if they'll listen and learn. Abby is the type of person who takes her working life as seriously having a personal life. She stays relevant without being outwardly worried about being hip (even though she is) and is self-effacing, being the first to chide herself. It's a healthy, endearing sort of goofy, with the most delightful sense of humor.  

The biggest bit of praise I can extend to Abby is her grace under pressure. I once saw her shut down a Facebook heckler with such diplomacy I'm sure the jerk is still her online friend to this day. It might have been back in the DOMA period or perhaps simply an ongoing difference of opinion about political issues. Regardless, one of Abby's FB "friends" made a rude and provoking comment, and her reply not only defended people who are gay but most likely made the heckler question his/her own misplaced words. Anyone else would've started an online war of words, one which would've had an inevitable bad ending.

Not Abby. She's not that quick-triggered. She's a happy maker, not a naysayer. I admire her forethought before action, her cheerfulness and kindness to other people -- thanks, my friend!

I invite others to support the amazing the women in their lives by simply saying, "thanks." Someone deserves to hear it today.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (April 12)

I have great memories of summer church camp when I was young, even though they are few.  It was some of the best times I remember ever having.  There were four of kids at home, so I was more than happy to get away for a few days - go under the radar, fade into the background.  Camp usually came with the bonus of new friends, too, and the fun of seeing friends made the summer before.

That's how I got to know my sweet, sweet friend, Jeanice.  She was the hot one in our cabin who always had first pick at the cute boys!  :)  She is a beautiful woman who is as "down to earth" as any gorgeous woman can be.  Jeanice and I used to visit each other in high school, even though we lived in neighboring town that were kind of rivals in a juvenile sort of way.  I'm lucky to have known her all these many years.  

It's amazing how many women I know who are so nice, especially as one of the first ways I'd describe them, and she is definitely one of those people.  

She and I haven't actually seen each other in person for a few years now.  But by the grace of Facebook, as I've mentioned before, we can still stay in touch.  It's not the miles so much but life that gets in the way.  People grow up and move in different directions.  We're within driving distance, though, and I'd love to spend time with her again some day.

Jeanice has raised a great bunch of kids, and she works hard for her family.  She still has a few children at home, and I get to see them all mature through pics online.  I so wish we'd been able to have our families be closer.  

I hope Jeanice knows how much she means to me, and I want to say, "Thanks, my friend!"  It's so important to me to have positive women in my life, and you are definitely a gem!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thanks, my friend(s)! March 28

How about going for a two-fer this week? BOGO is big in advertising, and I love a buy-one-get-one deal! There's no competition here. I just don't want to feel like I've placed one person's importance any higher than that of another, and I'd have some similar things to say about both of them.

I met them together, after all, when I was welcomed into a group of wonderfully supportive and hilarious women that make up my book club. Rhonda and Shelli both make me lol every time I see them. They are both warm and generous friends who I am so glad to have been introduced to when moving here four years ago. They could've asked, "Who's this ... why should we assume she'll fit in?" Let's face it, it's a roll of the dice where we live.  But I followed Alexis in to infiltrate her group of friends whether they liked it or not!

Those women went on her word that we're like-minded people, and I'm so glad to have been included into a clowder of very cool cats whom I've grown to love so much. Shelli and Rhonda continually show their gigantic hearts in all they do, and I love laughing when I'm around them so much that my cheekbones literally hurt from the workout. These women are both so smart and help educate the vast public in their jobs every day. If only a little of their wisdom (and humming musical talent) wears off on me in their presence, too! Can't wait for our annual summer outing, ladies!

I try to say "thanks" to a friend as often as I can, mostly in appreciate of how rich my life is because of the wonderful women I've had the honor to meet in my time on the planet. In light of our connection, I took today's goodreads quote of the day for them:
Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing. E.B. White

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New beginnings

This post was prompted by the wondrous minds at Studio30Plus.

The expiration date was past due.  It was time for the four-year relationship to come to an end, but she simply couldn’t capitulate to giving it up. They’d been together for practically a lifetime -- in dog years anyway. A previously hot and heavy connection becomes habit at a point. Seeing each other had long become rote on both their parts.

So she ended it. There was no closure, mind you. One night she just said goodbye and that she’d call, then never did. He didn't either. No closure at all.

In the end, there was only more blatant rudeness to each other. It was a shame really. Four years spent together was left in empty, blank stares with each one trying to make a point of more effusively ignoring the other. The town was too small for such subtle feuds. 

Unfortunately, a division of the friends also came along with the split. She consoled herself those weren’t her real friends anyway. Couple friends stay couple friends and move along to the next girl in the succession, just like his family. Loyalties and all.

Certain rites of passage mark new beginnings, though. Getting a different haircut or style, going on a shopping spree, planning a road trip with girlfriends. “That’ll show him," and “Wait ‘till he hears about this” resounded in her mind. He’d get word of all the changes she’d made and rue the day he didn’t call her back. It would be his undoing.

The goal in all these actions was to boost an otherwise plateaued sense of self-esteem. Confidence too easily becomes dormant when in a long-term relationship gone cold. Turning into a supposed half of a whole means finding a way to become one with herself again. It’s not a time to look for another but to enjoy friends and seek their help in getting it all together again.
In reality, he didn’t give a shit. He was out living it up with his buddies in their own celebration of his new-found freedom. He hadn’t shown if he cared for quite awhile. You know, actually cared enough to show it with his actions. Sure, he might go through the motions of regular weekend dates, saying “love ya” when hanging up the phone, but not through kind or appreciative behavior. She could’ve been any other girl in the group, as far as his actions reflected. Anyone from the outside wouldn’t have realized they were together. She’d been the one to witness all the drunken card games and resultant gunplay, but she was also the one relegated to voyeur left shaking her head on the couch and watching MTV by herself.

If hearing demands like “you’re supposed to do what I want, that’s how you take care of a man,” and “it’s been long enough since your wisdom teeth removal to give me a blowjob” don’t melt a girl’s heart, who knows what words possibly could. She should've punched him.

Of course, he was stoned all the time. It was no excuse but part of the tough guy facade and his role as pack leader. He had to keep up that appearance as well as his addiction. Cool guys sat aloof with everyone wondering what was next, when his highness would speak or even fly off the handle over that final hand of Pitch. And they all took his lead, the Prince of the Potheads. As far as she'd heard, his habits became full-blown later on, and she was glad she wasn’t there to watch it happen. 

It's funny how the community seemed to look the other way, though, and wished him and his future family well. She's told he still carries on to this day.

Eventually the fishbowl disintegrated, or maybe she simply swam out. She left that glassed-in existence and expanded her horizons beyond what his so-called love and that life had to offer. Dear Abby’s quote repeated in her head, “If you’re not happy with what you have, be happy with what you have escaped.” The goal was to disprove the statistical odds for a child from an alcoholic home and not perpetuate the stereotypes. She would live the life she had imagined and make her own future.

Years later she wondered why she continued to seek male approval. Staying single was a point of pride but relationships still carried a measure of self-worth. Education, work, hobbies, adventure -- it all added up to not enough. She pushed herself to achieve, to reach those aimed-for heights, ever striving. Forever searching ... even reaching out for professional help.

Following the rules was important. Keeping the dosage monitored to ward away the deeper, more dangerous doldrums. She had the tools, knew how to stave off that stinkin’ thinkin’ that used to drive her nuts and keep her insides twisted. Anger turned inward. She heeded healthy suggestions like,“Get outside of yourself. Look at the bigger picture, the greater good. You’ll see how lucky you are when you help someone less fortunate.”  It helped but didn’t make all the jumbled thoughts go way.

Wherever you go, there you are," was another clique she couldn’t turn off from continuous playback in her mind. But a change of scenery didn’t hurt. She kept her hair highlighted and thought she looked different, younger but less vulnerable. She kept busy, never stayed stagnant. New beginnings and a new life. Seeking solace.

Closure was yet a little more elusive.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Unapologetic Women

The saying has been attributed to different people. "Well behaved women rarely make history."  I love it. Some people hate it. Regardless, it's very apropos. I read a post online today about female celebrities who lead the charge through Twitter. They are encouraging other young people to speak their mind, privately, publicly, through social media, and I hope their points are being heard and considered on a broad scale. So I want to share, at the author's suggestion, 
Who are your favorite female celebrities who make no apologies?   

In my imaginary friendship with Michelle Obama, my nickname for her is "Mo," we tell Barack we're going to do Pilates, then go to the pub.

Hey you! Chicago reviewer salty guy that thinks I fly 2much +have 2 much fun-come back in 10 to 15 yrs- Ill be on the ground more I imagine.

I wonder how many protests by young white kids get called "riots."

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Zooey Deschanel @ZooeyDeschanel

I love hearing statements from these women.  Whereas what they have to say a lot of times may not be actual "news," at least their opinions are usually informed and reasonable.  Rock on, ladies!

This post was inspired by a Huffington Post article by Blake Landau.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (March 8)

There are a few gaps in the procession of this thankfulness theme I've tried to create here. It's not a lack of amazing women in my life but more a matter of me taking time to recognize them. With it being International Women's Day, I'd like to reinvigorate my momentum here.

In doing so, I want to recognize a friend who serves as an almost daily inspiration to me, if not at least on a weekly basis. She's someone who is motivational, supportive and always has something hilarious to say ... but any more I only get to experience it all through Facebook. But I love it anyway. Let's face it, social media keeps us together.

Some people call FB a time suck, others claim to hate it or deny using it. One of my sisters totally denounces it as a terrible thing but then asks me what I hear from this person or that through Facebook. Keeping me in touch with people who I don't otherwise get to see is the number one reason for hanging tough with old Markie Z's love child.

This is a spotlight on my friend, Fran. She always makes me laugh and has the guts to signpost funny stuff that others won't. Fran is very passionate, convicted in her beliefs, and unapologetic in her ways. She's supportive to many people and groups and is willing to help out a friend if there's any way she can. I greatly admire all these qualities in her.

Fran is a lover of life and beauty, sharing little pieces of it with all her Facebook friends. I miss working with her, especially because of her no-nonsense attitude, but I get bits of her warmth through the computer. She welcomed me to the station when I hadn't been there very long and invited me to her wedding anyway. Ken got a helluva woman, and I think he knows and greatly appreciates that fact. She is awesome, and I want to say thanks, my friend!

Celebrate International Women's Day by telling a friend how much you love and appreciate her. Spare just a few minutes to let her know how important she is to the world.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thanks, my friend! (Feb. 14)

Here's the way I think the story went.  My friend Lisa went on a student exchange trip to France when she was young. She and her fellow travelers had shirts made with something French-ish on the back. We did that stuff in the '80s. I had some sweatpants with my name across the ass, but anyway...

Lisa chose to have "wee wee" on hers, for the affirmative "yes" statement -- maybe it was the only French phrase she learned. From there, though, her later-in-life-boyfriend called her PeeWee. Then he called her Herman, as in PeeWee Herman. She has since been called Herman for 20+ plus years. As you can tell, this poor woman has the soul of a saint! And she's married to him now. He would probably tell the story differently, but that could take several hours.

Having "Brother Friend" is part of the package friendship deal, but that's okay! These two are super fun to hang out with, and you never know what's going to happen at their lake house, one of my favorites places to go in the summer. Regardless of everyone's busy schedules, they welcome us with open arms. We've all had countless good times there, and the antics now include our kids. My son and their youngest daughter were once "lost" in the woods, but Lisa kept me calm until they returned -- wielding sticks to fight off "bad guys."

She's one of those great moms who never shows up empty-handed. I can't imagine her girls' school classroom parties. Their family came to welcome my son into the world with a big teddy bear, and she has since given him a ball or other gift almost every time we've seen each other. The dolphin book is especially treasured. Lisa went of town when we used to work together and brought me souvenirs for simply watering her plants. I still wear a scarf she once gave me, in all its timeless style.

Lisa does the cool handmade Christmas cards with her girls' picture on it, no jenky Santa cards, and is forever the organizer of our get togethers. It must be great to have that endless energy. She spends a lost of it on her daughters and husband, too.

I envy Lisa's sweet demeanor. Her concern can help someone open up about something they might have not otherwise. This subtly fits her kind heart and quiet composure. We try to live it up, though, as much as we can. Karen brings a box of beer and Dena offers up some Sangria, and we all raise a glass to lament the "other" Karen's absence from our group. Most of the time we just laugh until we cry in happiness. A text message always follows inquiring about everyone's safety. I cherish the time spent with these women, and thank Lisa for her friendship over the years.

Take a minute to tell a friend how she is special in your life.  How apropos for Valentine's Day to do it right now! Never take it for granted that there's another chance to tell someone you love them. It's so easy to say, "Thanks, my friend!"