Archive for March, 2011


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A New Ending

Every fantastic story ends with a bang of an ending. An unexpected twist of events that leaves you sitting in your movie seat and/or closing that back page novel cover with just nothing but a— “wow.”

Leaving the viewer or reader speechless and mulling over the whole plot, characters and story line.

The movie once over guy (with that deep dark once over movie voice) enters this scene and booms: “It was an incredible journey and the sequence of events swept you off your feet into a new millennium.”

Ok, yes, a little dramatic. But you get the point.

I am deciding right now that I want my life to be that movie. I want to be that hero that travels to and from distant lands. I want to be brow beat, starved, near dehydration, and then by a lucky twist of fate (or with that ink writer’s pen) I want to encounter my inner strength and find my inspiration.

This will be the part where I grit my teeth, I find my switch blade, lock and load my 9mm and then I kick some real evil ass. I get through all the sniper bullets, do that high speed chase, I get that briefcase full of cash while dressed in that sequined evening gown and spiked high heels saving Brad Pitt from Angelina Jolie.

Ok. You get the point.

I want the money, the airplane, the car, the yacht, the penning of that New York Times Best seller, and I want that real man.

I want it all whatever all is. I want to feel it all. Whatever those feelings may be. Today I want to live and really feel it.

I want to feel it like a raw cut or see it like a deep dark, yellow and green bruise.

This is my changing of that T.V. channel. This is my real life adventure mini series.

Friday we head out again. Amy says I am an escape artist and this is my way of not addressing my real inner evil demons. My way of shirking off my brokenheartedness, failures and inner guilt.

Amy is absolutely right.

I will swirl coke in my whiskey and I will drink to that.

It is what it is. For now this is the best I can do. So the plan is we load up Friday and we are going to the Grand Canyon. I am going to hike it again. I know I am going to see that blanket of white stars. I am going to see those colors in the cliffs. I am going to smell that Arizona pine. I will see deer the color of green and brown. I will meet people from France, those gorgeous crazy Aussie Guys, and yes those photo taking Japanese. I am going to sleep on the ground with no tent or blanket. I am going to get real nasty dirty. I am going to feel real physical pain on the hike out. I am going to see real beauty. I am going to see that Colorado river and smell that water.

The car ride there will be a heaven and a hell. Thirty or more hours of real family bonding driving that 2003, stick shift, Toyota. We will find out more about ourselves. We will take pictures. I am going to love every minute of it.

We are going out in the world to just be in it.


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Money

I had a settlement conference yesterday.  It is the dissolving of a 46-year-old marriage.  There is about a million dollars or more at stake.  On top of that there is a $10,000.00 monthly income that has to be divided.

The court is going to chop the million in two.  The court is going to chop the $10,000.00 in two.

It is really basic simple math.  The really good divorce attorney knows this.  To continue to fight over dishes, mink coats, guns, and antique model cars is really only for the divorce attorney’s pocket book. 

The devil on my shoulder is telling me I should take this opportunity to splash some more gas on this case so I can generate more firm revenue.  Most attorneys having to put three children through college would.  Most attorneys wanting a Lexus, Porshe, or BMW would. 

I drive a 2003 Toyota Corolla.  

My soul can’t do it.  I am not that kind of person.  I know they have one adult child and grandchildren.  These people should be taking exotic trips together.  They are too old not to.  They should be having sloppy, horrible, old people sex.  They should be finishing each other’s sentences.  She should be warming up his cold cup of coffee.  He should go out and buy her a nice pair of diamond earrings.  They should go on an old people’s cruise.  They should be watching t.v. together and falling asleep in matching dual lazy boy chairs.

I know the source of their breakup in less than 10 minutes of banter and talk with my client.  Out of this discussion his emotional vomit is all over me.  I had to take a hot shower when I got home.

I felt that dirty.

In this shower I  say a prayer to the divine out loud:   “Please do not let me ever love money more than I do another person.”

It is really that simple.  You cannot take that cash with you.  Do you people really not know this?  Tell your significant other you love them.  Spoil them.  Shower them with thank you notes.  Give them gifts.  Take them on trips.  Be in the world together.  Go out for expensive dinners.  Do charity work together.  Spend it.  Save some of it.  Then spend what you save.

Sitting home and hoarding cash, screaming about money when you have a million of it, and refusing to take a cruise?

I guess I shouldn’t complain.  It’s the best paying case I have on our firm docket.


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Beginnings and Ends

I spent this evening with an old flame.  It’s been years since I thought I loved him, but way back when I thought I did.  It’s been a long time since we both moved on and moved away.  But tonight we were both back home.

 

Our plan to go out for a late bite morphed into dinner with his family – his parents, whom I adore, and his sister and her daughters, whom I barely know.  As it happened, his sister wasn’t sure we’d ever met, despite the years I had spent dating her brother.  His parents were as welcoming as ever.

 

We behaved more like a couple than I can remember us ever doing before.  We were carrying on a conversation no one could hear, and it was full of secret meanings.  At the end of the dinner I asked where the trash was, and he knew that I wanted to throw away my (mostly clean) napkin, so without missing a beat he just reached behind him and let me drop it into his hand.  As he fumbled around the counter top I slid my empty water bottle to him and he tossed it into the recycling.  We quietly arranged to go for a drink, and when his mother continued chatting with me he went to the closet for my coat with nothing but a hand gesture from me.

 

Back when it was “love” we might as well have lived on different planets.  Now that we are friends and he has a live-in girlfriend, we could take up synchronized swimming.  I don’t miss him, but tonight I missed the idea of him.  As we discussed his current romance I could picture him, twelve years younger, taking me out for ice cream and doing his best to romance me.  Tonight, even though I was tuned in to the conversation, I kept seeing pictures of us and the way things used to be.  I wasn’t just seeing the past through rose-colored glasses.  I remembered the problems, too.  And the dichotomy made me think of the married man who keeps texting me.

 

As I pictured the good and the bad between my ex and I (past and present), I thought of this married man, and how he was seeing only the bad in his wife, and only the good in me.  Let’s be honest – any single lady looks great when you’re unhappily bound to ever after.  It always strikes me as unproductive to pursue an affair, because if it keeps on going you’ll just end up in the same position again; it will just be a different woman whose so-called flaws are tying you down.  I haven’t stopped him from texting me.  It’s flattering.  Even when I remember that he’s only texting because he’s SO bored with his own life that I seem like a better option.  No, I let him text, but whenever the conversation drifts into flirting I stop responding.  I don’t want him to hit on me.  I want him to inflate my ego without letting any of his drama spill onto me.  I am greedy and selfish, and I behave as though stalling will solve the problem.

 

There was a time when even flirting with a married man would have been too much.  Back when this old flame was a new flame I had rigid boundaries.  Now I don’t have boundaries, and all the lights are blurry around the edges.  I am trying to define the boundaries.  I am trying new things.  I’m just worried that in this process of trial and error I will err too far into regret.

 

Tonight, as I said goodbye to my ex, I wanted him to kiss me.  And I definitely did not want him to kiss me.  I felt the past and I was aware of his present with someone else.  I wanted to throw caution to the wind, and I wanted to pull it around me like a shield.  I don’t need the drama, but I want to feel it all.

 


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Beer Foam

You need to know that I was not always pretty and throughout my middle school experience into my early teens most people mistook me for a boy.  I can honestly say it did bother me at times but for the most part I tried not to think about it.   I can remember wondering how those girls did their hair and make up so cool and perfect.  How did one really do that hair flip thing or get their hair to curl just like that?  I would scour the teen magazine for that secret recipe.  It always seemed that the answer to that question revolved around a new lip gloss or eyelash curler. 

When you are not pretty you are basically left safe and alone. 

I gave up on my looks and learned to be content with my books, learning a second language, and playing sports.  I knew I was weird, flat chested, unfeminine and boyish.  There really was nothing I could do about it because I didn’t really know how to correct it.  I tried to learn how to become content in that skin and hoped someday I wouldn’t continue looking like a scrawny little boy. 

Between you and me I somehow knew I wouldn’t always be scrawny and ugly.  I just had to be patient.  Patient is, exactly, what I was.  I mean don’t all girls want to be desired and considered pretty?  I was tired of being that plastic plant.  I secretly wanted to be that cheerleader that turned heads and be whistled at.

Then something happened.  I got to be cool.  I am not really sure how that transpired but when I was sixteen I dropped out of school for a year and went to Spain.  Spanish men, olive oil, and the bar night life changed me.  When I came back I was beautiful, strange and exotic.  I had more dates than a person would dare to count.  I was fun, witty, smart and a real tease.  No one boy or man lasted more than three weeks.  It was a constant change and a way to keep men that I didn’t know how to control– at a distance.  I was not ready to venture all the way into that sexual pool and didn’t really know how to swim. 

I just really was having a lot of fun just splashing around.

It was sometime after that I experienced my very own sparkler.  He came in the form of a Ted.  He was drop dead gorgeous, tanned, muscled, smart, witty–amazing–when he looked at me sparks flew.  He was fireworks.  I was melted butter. 

He made me think about learning how to swim.  With him I am pretty sure I would have gone swimming.

He went to Michigan State University and this made him exciting.  I was a local girl at the community college and I hooked a ride determined to see him football season.  My girlfriends and I all loaded up into that big boat of a car sailing 45 minutes one way to that frat house party.  He said he would be there waiting for me.  My girls were going for the M.S.U. men, beer and wine coolers. They were also going for me.   We were crazy and we always had fun.  We were the cool kids and everyone wanted to ride in our car.

When we got there it was animal house.  I had never experienced anything like it.  Crazy, fun, beer everywhere, groping, kissing, booming music and a bon fire loaded with furniture and a couch were all stacked and packed in that backyard.  My girls dispersed into that crazy frat madness like shooting marbles.  I just decided to walk around and retreat back to sit on the front porch steps.  I wanted to wait for my cherry bomb.

Time slipped bye.  So did several conversations with guys coming up and telling me how sweet I looked and asking me my name.  It was fun.  I was flirty.  I had that much perfected.  In the end I made it clear I was waiting for my Ted.  Beers were offered taken passed. I drank.  I had time to pass.  It was getting dark and through that clouded beer foam came a face I recognized.  He was six foot two all chest and neck.  Hands the size of plates.  “Hey beautiful what are you doing here?”  I knew this man. He was three times the size of my witty gorgeous Ted.   I had been at his home in East Grand Rapids.  I was hired to tutor his younger brother.  They were affluent.  I knew his father drank whiskey and coke.  He stepped though and beckoned that I sit with him on the frat house couch.  So I did.  I knew him.  I told myself he was big, harmless and safe.  My girls were scattered throughout the house–we always had a plan.  Never leave alone with anyone and stay close. 

I remember telling myself that I was O.K. on that scratchy plaid couch.  I knew him.

Now over the years I remember that we talked for a long time.   It probably was too long and I was too caught up in being cute, smart and deep.  We talked about school.  We talked about his brother.  Then the conversation turned to me and he confessed he used to look forward to me coming to their house.  This is the part where I told him about Ted and how he was my 4th of July.  More beers were passed.  More beers consumed.  “Hey beautiful, I don’t think he is coming.” Before I knew it this huge mass was caressing my cheek, pulling my hair, his mouth was on mine and his body was pinning me to that hard couch.  It was all so fast and rough.  I suddenly could not find air and my hands pawed at him like a kitten.  I remember he laughed at me.  “Isn’t this funny?” I was funny. I kept saying, “no, no, no” and He said I didn’t mean what I was saying.  He was kissing me hard and deep and I could not breathe.  He was holding my head to the side while one hand pulled my shirt loose.  He liked pulling the back of my hair.  His hand held my head pulling me harder toward him.  He was under my shirt and down into my pants touching places without permission and places that I wasn’t ready to have touched by a man. He kept calling me baby and telling me how beautiful my smile was.  I  was demanding he stop.  I tried to push.  I shouted for him to stop.  I then started to beg him to stop.  I think I even used the words–“please stop.” He seemed to become more sickly determined and stronger at each stage of my repeated requests.  I started to kick and somehow I got that mass off for a second, hitting the wooded floor and trying to make a run for it.  I even believe I started to scream.  He stepped over me and grabbed at my back leg.  I think it might have been that football block and scoop.  His shoulder hit my waist flipping me up and jolting me onto his shoulder.  I didn’t wait and started to kick and pounded my fists into his lower back and into his ass.  I know I felt my heart in my head.  I was an upside down spider monkey alert and engaged.  He was determined and scaling me up those frat house stairs.  It was full panic ripping into my chest.  I was groping and grasping at anything and everything.  I was hot, angry, and very afraid.  I grabbed people. I grabbed the banister. I was kicking so hard I thought he might drop me on my head.  I remember I thought I might just fall onto the steps and break my neck.  My shirt was a mess my pants were unzipped.  A crowd surrounded us and somehow I got pulled free.  I remember my girlfriend Pam got into his face and started shouting obscene words and jabbing her finger into his face. “Hey you dick, asshole, put her down!” Free from his hold he just stood.  A pure satisfaction smirk in his eyes. He was huge and arrogant with a big cocky grin.  A group of guys surrounded him pulling him back down the stairs into that lit frat house hallway.  I lowered my gaze and he was swallowed up in that sea of men, beer cans and pounding music.

My legs buckled.  My lips were swollen and raw.  My face was scratched.  I had his saliva on my cheeks, neck, and behind my ears.  The places he touched burned of humiliation. 

It really was the first time I was angry at the world because it had showed me that it could be jagged and unsafe.

Coffee Flavored Guilt

Today I am working in a coffee shop. And I use the word “working” loosely. Today I am not scheduled to work at either of my jobs. I took care of my familial obligations over the weekend. Today I am free, and what I have chosen to do is come to this local chain coffee shop, read the news, and write for a while.

 

I call it work so I won’t feel guilty (and I did actually bring a file from the office to review, so I could decide to look at it), but the only thing I am working on is me. It is good for my soul to spend this day with a skinny hazelnut latte, headphones beaming Diana Krall, and any page in front of me that I want.

 

This is my mini-vacation. These days are so necessary. They keep me dreaming and help me find the ground again. It is odd that I feel so guilty about taking time for me, when it is the one thing that lets me keep giving during all the other times. I love my family. It’s easy for me to say yes to helping them. I work two jobs, juggle several extracurricular projects and many friends, and I try to work out every day. Time just slips away. I find myself short on sleep, feeling put upon, and totally drained. But if I just make some time to indulge myself I can reset.  I don’t have to go to a coffee shop. Some mornings my workout itself is an escape. And some days what my soul craves is a solo trip to the movies.

 

For a while my habit was to finish all of my “gottas” on Saturdays, so that on Sundays I could sleep in and wake up knowing I didn’t have to do one damn thing that I didn’t WANT to do. And once upon a time I regularly found enough hours to drive three hours to the next big city and have lunch. Neither of those fits into my life right now, but I have found so many other little things that do.

 

It is the forgiveness that has been the difficult part. Just like missed workouts and too many desserts, I feel guilty when I take time off from life to indulge myself. What I am working on, and getting better at, is recognizing that this IS life. I don’t have to get it right every time, but this isn’t even wrong. I just have to let myself be, listen to what I need, and enjoy it.


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My crappy little house

I love my crappy little house. 

I love this home as well as anyone can love any innate object.  It was a foreclosure and my parents bought it for me. 

Some people move in with their parents after a divorce or crises.  I just rent from mine.

Between you and me, the real reason we are in this house, is out of grandparental fear.  The thought that I would move their grandchildren into a trailer park (which would also house some sort of fat slobby child molester) was the motivation of this purchase.  If it weren’t for these girls I would be sleeping at a shelter or under a bridge (ok I could move into my office and just take showers at the Y) but I really know my parents bought this home for the girls.  They feel sorry for them because these neat human beings were involved in a messy nasty divorce.  My court file at the local courthouse is going on volume III.

Like all mothers my kids are the most beautiful, exciting and wonderful people ever.  They deserve this token of their grand parental affection.  I am deeply humbled and thankful to be renting from my parents.  It is not something I asked for.  It was a gift to me out of my apparent failure to maintain our previous standard of living. 

So I am so content with my hot cup of coffee, my rental agreement and my crappy little house.

This home is a four bedroom & two bath fix-it-upper.  I love the imperfections because I am set to scrub, paint, tile and floor over dirt and uneven floor boards. I am amazed at what the Lowe’s store manager (Dave) has done for me.  I am amazed at what paint, tile, varnish and what a few new wall plates, ceiling fixtures, books and family photographs will do. 

The kitchen walls are so nasty and I was tired of looking at them.  I had no more money for paint.  So on this night while eating dinner I decided we should write on our walls.  It was an, “Ok kids write quotes that inspire you.  I want real quotes, I want substance, I want the walls to speak to us.” 

That moment I decided I was going to be a mom that let us all write on our ugly kitchen walls.

It was, “Really?  We can write on our walls for real?”  It was better than wine this intoxicating moment.

So I write phrases like:  Risk is the price of opportunity; the road is always better than the inn (Cervantes), the cruelest lies are often the ones told in silence, When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless and intelligence cannot be applied (Herophilus), the elevator to sucess is broken you must take the stairs…

They write phrases like: With great power comes great responsibility (spider man); I love you to the moon and back (Sam McBratney); and E = Mc2 (Einstein), what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us (Ralph Waldo Emerson)….

We make this home our own.  In a sad sense I know my children don’t bring many friends over like they use to. When we lived in our 3,000 sq. ft. palace they would have slumber parties that ranged in the twenties.  Imagine twenty teenaged girls.  I was MJ making pancakes in the kitchen the next morning watching six boxes of tony the tiger get swallowed whole.  Now they can only bring over a friend or two.  Just not the same kind of room nor same kind of decor.  But I see that these friendships are more solid and real.  I mean they would only bring someone over that really cared for them and wouldn’t judge them on this house.  These real friends also write on our walls. 

This house set us out to painting and pulling out carpets together.  The girls kicked it in gear and not a complaint.  They all picked out their room colors.  I am determined that they get to decide what to hang on their walls.  They get to decide their flooring.  In this home freedom is lavished.  No restrictions.  Creativity, knowledge and hard work are expected.  Compliance, control, horrible harsh words, anger, hate and limited choices went out with the rolled up bad carpet.  Be kind and good.  Be who you are and if you are not sure who you are set sail and find yourself.  This is what I want to teach these human beings that are in my care.  I want them to become life long learners.  I want them to express themselves.  I want them to grow and be free.    I want them to find themselves for them.  I am afraid to mold them into what I want.  No more putting people in glass jars with only breathing holes and no more crates and cages.   No one trying to define me.  I am set out that no one is going to try to define them.

I have decided that our house of estrogen will have a front yard full of flowers.  I now have control over and I can spend money however I want.  If I want to be irresponsible with it—it’s mine— I am that free spirit.  I choose family, I choose exotic vacations and I choose flowers that attract butterflies.  I am not my credit score.  Trite, simple minded, flippant and so very female brained?  Yes, it’s me living life with a soul.  It’s about our own road on that indivdual journey.  You and I both know that we all end up in that cold dusty ground and we can’t take anything here with us. 

My Katie likes candles.  So we go to IKEA and buy tea lights in bulk.  We hang tea light lanterns from the branches of the front yard tree.  We eat dinner on a pick nick table in the front and the whole lovely tacky neighborhood can witness our family cena full of flowers, wine bottles, and tea lanterns.   

I choose to fill my room full of books.  I choose to have a messy room in which I don’t hang up my clothes and I don’t make my bed.  I drink tea and I drink wine and at times I have eaten my dinner in bed when I come home from the office at 9 p.m..  I write in my journals and light up 10 tea lights.  I am surrounded by art and photographs of my memory treasures.  I am happy and I am safe.  I don’t have to please anyone but myself and the girls.  They are so easy to please and all I need to do is love them.  They are like plants that only need fresh soil and water.

We choose to use positive and nice words in this home.  We choose banter and teasing but everyone knows the jabs are an exercise in wit and fun.  The words in this home, while at times can sharpen, usually are soft, fluffy, and safe to land on.  Honey, sweetheart, I love you’s, you make me proud– all resonate.  I constantly tell them how amazing and wonderful they are.  I am proud to protect these human beings.

In days I feel less successful due to my monetary set backs I say silent “thank yous” to that heat and hot water gods.  I wrap myself up in my down comforter and I try to calculate how much I have to save for my next home improvement project and when it is I will next see blue Lowe’s Dave.  I know tomorrow is more money and another project and with that thought I smile.

This crappy house is a gift.  I am in a better place here.  We are set on making this ours and making it even better.


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Ink Therapy

Twice now in my still-short life I have felt utterly heartbroken.  The two men I met who made the world stop moving left under less than desirable circumstances.  With each of them I cried until my soul cracked.
I was trapped in a whirlpool of self-doubt, anger, and sadness.  In my head I was being ridiculous.  The relationships were truly inchoate.  No real promises were broken.  No furniture needed to be divided.  I didn’t even have to replace my copy of The Big Lebowski (again).

But for different reasons, those two heartaches stopped me.  Letting go seemed no less daunting than telling gravity to take a hike – or worse, like a personal affront to some great cosmic plan.  If I let go too soon did it even happen?  Was it a test to see if I could hang on?

Each time, out of despair and a need to explain why my crazy was justified, I began to write my love story.  What happened was that I got bored.

It’s hard to listen to yourself whine after fifteen pages.  After five pages I was only pushing forward so that mankind could benefit from knowing about the sort of love that never really existed in the real-life version.

And it turns out the excuses just don’t hold up long when you see them in clear type.

Each time I found that I would rather do something than think about things that were already my past.  During my first epic love story, I remembered that I needed to change a headlight on my car.  Laundry was sitting there, waiting to be done.  Socks needed to be purchased.  The mundane details of everyday were more important.

I wasn’t over either of them, but life had moved on, and I was swirling along with it.


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Victoria’s Secret

I love this store.

I love their underwear.  I love their push up bras.  In addition this is the only store where I can find a bra that makes me two cup sizes bigger, I can reapply my makeup and lather on the sparkling sugared pear cream, spray glitter and perfume and come out feeling:  Sexy.

Where was this store when I was in my 20s and actually had that killer body?   Why did it take this long to get this kind of underwear to the masses?  Their marketing is genius.  It’s fun, flirty and classy. We see half naked women displayed in the mall and no one is covering up any eyes.  When you walk out of that store you want to be holding that pink and red striped bag out for the whole man world to see.

Daring the men to ponder….hmmm….wonder what is in that bag?

Ok you ogling me walking out.  I just got the bombshell bra and now I have cleavage.

I got the boob job without the job.

Ok, so my secret is out.  I am not well endowed.  But when I wear that bra I get looks I  never ever got before.

Men look at me different.   (Ok I am asking myself, “Am I actually bay watch or in my moment of insecurity are they only pondering:  A.  True  or  B. False?”)

Regardless, I determine, it is the power of the boobies.  I now know what the babe watch babes experience.  I am bullet (err) padded proof.

I tell you you can’t be in that store without wanting it all.  The whole sexy black and red package.  You get the garter, a corset, the lace underwear and really sexy slip.  They look sexy.  They feel sexy.  You just keep saying that sexy word.  Sexy, Sexy, Sexy.

This store knows how to use words like hot, flirty, naughty, lace, push up and panty.  Even colors in this store sound better than crayons: satin peach, rustic red, cobalt black, passion pink, emerald isle green.

Just so you know redheads look good in black and green.

Ok I got flaws but when I put on some lace with clips and high heels I am Hollywood.  I am not that woman in yoga pants running kids to soccer practice with snot all over my tee shirt.  I am not that tired analytical creature in the courtroom plain and grey.

I am a sexy super hero.   I am, for a moment, playboy.

When I do the hair and mix it with the deep dark deep make up, the sexy dress, boots and that lace underwear I am a Nicole Kidman or a Diane Lane.  No longer plain and simple.  I am that other woman.  I actually get stares.  I get phone numbers.  I get men pulling up to my window on the expressway giving me a thumbs up.

I really am not making this up.   You even can ask Amy.

It’s true.  It’s the power of sexy underwear.

A toxic voo doo, hex or man spell even if I am showing it off  for only the cat.