Archive for April, 2011


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Boxing

It was Amy’s idea. She suggested taking a class at the local Y. I have been on this kick and my new motto has been: You only have one life so you might as well try and experience all you can of it.

So I paid my $45.00 dues and signed up. It was going to be fun, interesting and I was going to learn something new. Plus, I have never known how to throw a punch correctly.

When I got to class it was after a full day of drafting court paperwork, court appearances and meeting with clients. I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. This is a bad habit I know. For nourishment I drink lots of coffee with sugar and milk. This is all the daily energy I had pumped into my body. I wasn’t off to a very good start. I just didn’t think it through.

I should have known the class was going to be hell the minute I saw our instructor. A beautiful blonde named Emily. She appears to have a great personality. She has a really firm handshake. She remembered all of our names by the end of the class. I thought she looked like a venus but with arms as big as my upper leg muscles. I instantly liked her and I think I am going to try and make a new friend.

In this class I believe there are about 10 to 12 people. I did not memorize everyone’s name. I was in too much pain. I should have known I was going to be in trouble the minute she gave the speech. It went something like this: Your life is a ring. Your life, your mind, your body. When you feel like giving up you need to give it an additional five (it really was a better speech than this but this is all I can remember.)

We ran stairs. We did hand weights while punching. We did planks. We did sit ups and crunches with handweights. We did the boxers stance and the jumping from toe to toe. We pretended to jump an invisible rope while jumping up and down and up and down.

We ran the stairs. Up and down and Up and down.

Did I mention that we ran the stairs?

I really thought for a few minutes I was going to puke.

Emily took pity on me. I was the worst in that room. I got a full view of me in the mirror. I see why. Working 80 hours a week, not eating so good, reading and writing all the time does not make for a very healthy body. I am also probably one of the oldest people in the room. I have absolutely zero upper body strength. I take in all my flaws because that is what I do.

Now all I can think about is making myself better. Now I am going to work hard so that I don’t have to stop to take any small breaks. I am going to start running on a regular basis again. I am going to quit putting sugar in my coffee. I am determined to get rid of some additional weight.

My arms are sore. I am going to feel this tomorrow morning I know.

But instead of turning to drugs and alcohol I am deciding to heal some of my emotional pain with physical pain. I like how it feels. I like that I am so sore. I know I am going to look and feel better in the long run.

My physical imperfections motivate me. I am not scared of the ring. I want to be able to go those three minute rounds without puking on pretty Emily’s toes.


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Risk Averse

I no longer live in Menver.  Hotlanta has always seemed too, well, hot.  And this isn’t the Windy City.  I live in a town (that calls itself a city) that is just too sensible for a clever nickname.  This is a sturdy town full of resilient people – they don’t have time for the shenanigans you find at joints like Hamburger Mary’s.  No, this is a town where you keep your head down, eat at chain restaurants, and plod forward.  You may not get far, but you’ll keep moving.

This town does not encourage risks.  You go to school, maybe go to college, and in whichever order you choose, you get married and have some kids.  You move to a burb that is slightly nicer than the one you were raised in, you worry about getting your kids into a good school, you cheer at their high school sporting events, help them plan their weddings, and then you start over with their kids.  Along the way you mix in a divorce or two.

If you take a risk – if you step off that residential sidewalk – you are going to fail, and it will be a well-deserved failure, because you were raised to keep your head down and keep plodding forward.  You were not raised to try to jump the line by taking a risk.  That’s just not what God intended.

I do not fit in this town.  I want the glitter of a city that has seen too much to deny me the opportunity to be myself. I am tired of being judged for not fitting in the box.  The box is great, but it’s the right box for you, not me.  It’s sort of like that really nice guy you try to date because there’s nothing wrong with him.  But there is something wrong with him – he’s the wrong guy for you.

I don’t understand people who don’t need an identity outside their role as a parent, but I understand that the world needs people who feel that way.  I understand people who find satisfaction in their careers, or their workouts, or their newest hobby.  I understand that I should probably move on and find a city that feels the same way.

But I am terrified of taking that risk again.  Because I will fail, and it will be a well-deserved failure, because I was raised to keep my head down and keep plodding forward.  I was not raised to try to jump the line by taking a risk.

Dating

I have been dating or going out and meeting new people for about a year now. I have met some really interesting people and have learned new things. I have made some new friends which I greatly cherish. I have gone out for some really nice dinners, concerts, movies, and I even had a great lunch and a great day walking the Grand Haven beach. This winter I went to a strip club and got my very first lap dance (I would never would have gone if it hadn’t been for E.K.). This past weekend I even got to drive a Porsche Boxter (I didn’t even stall it or grind the gears!). This same evening I was introduced to a really cool couple who shared their family, their beautiful home and (after finding out my love for reading) gave me more books.

But I am not so convinced that I am really actually enjoying myself 100% of the time.

I have fully analyzed myself. This is what I have to report:

The wave of fear crushes me near the end of every one of these evenings. I feel the weight of water in these men’s stares. They shuffle their feet. I know they are waiting for an intimate kiss. I feel dread come up like bile.

All of a sudden I feel I want the world to swallow me whole. I don’t want anyone getting inside that respectable Edward T. Hall’s two feet comfort zone. I am not fumbling for any keys. I am pushing on that car door handle and clicking it shut tight and hitting it fast and hard running for my front door.

I get looks of exasperation. I get eye rolls. I get sermons on how I need to open up, that I need to let go, that I need to let someone in. I get offers for men to take care of me (O.K. for the record I don’t want to be taken care of). I get offers for men to fix my house (O.K. thanks that is really nice but then you see first hand my most intimate setting). I get offers to do my taxes (O.K. but I think you just really want to see how much money I make and if I own any real estate). I get grilled about my work and how that is basically fucking up my whole notion that there could ever be a “normal” couple or relationship. I get asked to go on some really nice vacations. Then I ask if I can take Amy. (We all know what men suggest next).

They think they are being funny. I am deadpan serious. I want Amy to get invited too and I want my very own room.

So then these men just fade away and don’t call me back. Who can blame them? I certainly can’t.

What I have been waiting for—that raw nature of man—is standing right before me telling me that I am wonderful, beautiful, smart, and sexy………and I am running out of the water like I was stung by a man-o-war. I am jet skiing myself out onto dry beach sand. I want to feel that hot heat under my feet and between my ugly toes. I want to go home to my blue-sky, Key West bedroom filled with books, pictures, tea lanterns and my journals. I don’t want to be intruded upon, held or even touched.

I know these men might like me and all of a sudden I wish they didn’t. It would be easier if they didn’t. It would be less scary. I don’t want the pressure. I don’t want the relationship speech.

I don’t know how to make these great people understand my problem. I don’t want my kids to meet just some random man. I don’t want my parents to just meet some random man.

I get that there are no guarantees. I understand that. But my family is my booty and treasure. I don’t want to subject them to just anyone.

I don’t want to share these worlds. I don’t want the Rubik’s cube squares to get all mixed up. Blue stays with Blue. Yellow stays with Yellow. I don’t want any coloring outside of the lines.

I had given this luxury to someone I thought would be lasting, true, honorable, kind and good. He ate in our homes. He witnessed our banter, our love, and our caring.

Then he just closed that door ever so softly behind him.

So now and in time, I totally grasp with full appreciation, the desire to just have a physical relationship for the sake of just having a physical relationship. No one gets hurt. No promises are suggested or made. No one is tricking themselves that the relationship will evolve into anything more than two pigs rolling around in the mud.

(The nuns at my elementary school would cringe if they knew I wrote this or even suggested such a thing.) But Sr. Felicia, I can see clarity in this. I don’t want to be tangled up. I don’t want to be controlled. I don’t want to be guilt-ridden. I want peace in my soul. I don’t want anymore sadness. I don’t have to share my thoughts, my feelings, my coffee can soul. I can empty myself. I can slip out of a house at 2 a.m. and never be heard from again. But even E.K. got all irritated and snotty when I tried to be straight forward, forthcoming, honest, and good.

I totally grasp with full appreciation how this works for people. I totally grasp with full appreciation a fantasy man or a work of fiction I can create.

My real dates all have the same exhausting theme. These men ask me what I see in them. What could they possibly offer a woman like myself. The younger men not seeking a family call on me. I look fun, older, financially stable, and possibly would enjoy the company of a younger viable strong sexually active male. The older men ask me about the younger men. They ask why a person like me is still single. They ask me what do I want. They look at me suspiciously. They look at me like I am a raw saminolia cracked open egg. The physics professor just asked me, “Jodi what is it that you want?”

After thinking about it this is what I have to say:

I want a best friend. Those are really hard to come by. They don’t come in over night. Time builds that friendship. I want space to be me and to express myself. I don’t want to be rushed or told how I should feel or what I should do. I don’t want to be pressured. Right now I want to be up on that beach. If you want to swim around in the water with other sharks—ok—go swim. For now I am good with my 94 SPF, sunglasses, and beach towel. I am just fine sitting next to that really good looking lifeguard perched in that lifeguard station.

For now I want to sit on the beach, have fun, socialize and play some beach volleyball. If and when I get good and hot I imagine I will eventually want to get into the water.

I understand that I might miss your boat or that you might decide to swim away.


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Shiny Moments

Last week I spent an evening out with three women.  One woman I knew from elementary school but hadn’t really spoken to since high school.  Another woman I met in high school and remained silently in awe of for the four years of our distant acquaintance.  And the third woman is Jodi Pineapple, whom I can’t imagine not being friends with.

 

It was a different kind of evening for me.  We met at a hookah bar for an open mic poetry night.  Fantastic! I haven’t spent that much time listening to poetry since the last time I took a creative writing class.  I have always been in awe of the way different people connect different words to add insight to everyday events, or everyday insight to extraordinary events.  The rhythm of the words slamming together intermittently held my attention.  A few of the poets displayed what could easily be accepted as talent.  Some of the younger poets read awkwardly from tightly clasped pages.  And a couple of the contributors were so freakishly artistic, so violent with their mental images, I failed to appreciate their efforts and let my mind wander.

 

I looked at the women sitting around me on the red upholstered sofas.  We either had to perch awkwardly on the edges of them so we could speak or give up and lean away from each other and into the sloping backs of the randomly burned velvet.  We had moved back and forth a few times.  When we arrived we leaned toward each other so we could catch up on the last decade and my former classmates could meet Jodi.  We stayed that way as we harassed the man waiting on us (is he still a waiter in a hookah bar? I’m so new to this!).  We collectively pelted him with questions about the different tobacco flavors.  Finally one of the women told him to just order for us.  When it arrived we each gave it a chance, posed for some photos.  Laughed at each other and took some better photos.  It was fun.  Peaceful and energetic at the same time.  Definitely relaxed.

 

When the poetry host arrived to see whether anyone from our table wanted to read he interrupted a trial-run faux marriage proposal between my former classmates, pledging their heterosexual souls to each other.  He paused as we exploded with laughter and then continued with his patter.  One of the women had set a goal for herself of reading at an open mic night, but she came knowing that she wouldn’t meet her goal that night.  Neither Jodi nor I had any intention of reading, either.  But our fourth wasn’t dissuaded by our lack of participation.  Despite coming primarily to lend her support, she ended up being the only one brave enough to give it a shot.  She did well, too.

 

So as I looked around I thought of all of that.  I thought of the twists in life that had brought me back to this place and introduced, or re-introduced, me to these women.  I thought of how much fun the evening had been and how glad I was that I had come out.  I watched them enjoying their evening and the company.  And I thought about how peaceful I felt.  I didn’t feel peaceful because of the tobacco – I had barely tried any – and I didn’t feel peaceful because of the environment.  I felt peaceful because of these three women.

 

Those women are the kind of people you want as friends.  They are honest, sensitive, and good.  None of them would ever step on me to gain an advantage.  In all the interactions I have had with them, not one has ever left me feeling small.   I don’t mean to say that they are the mousy kind of good – all three of them have vibrant, laughing souls and are quick to fill the room with their vivacious spirits.  I felt safe with them.

 

It struck me then that I was having a shiny moment, simply because of them.


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Double Faced Coin

I think all the time. I really can’t seem to make my mind shut off. I don’t really know if others have this same problem. It’s just me inside, up here, in my head. My children tell me I over think everything. My ex lover told me I over think everything.

My ex husband basically told me I was too stupid and didn’t think at all.

I know my job requires that I analyze all day long. It’s a thinking profession and I love it. But I get caught up in this behavior. It is toxic. I think it’s innate. So I pick and pull things apart. I pick and pull myself apart. I pick and pull other people apart (hence an ex lover). It’s like taking a sharp scalpel to everything. I want to see how the organism looks on the inside. I want to see the muscle and how it connects to that bone. I want to see the veins and how that blood pumps through them. In my white lab coat I am running numerous science experiments: Why? Why? and more Whys?

It appears I am cruel and relentless in my self examination. It appears I am cruel and relentless in examining others.

My heart knows that these examinations are not a cruel ones. Others are not so convinced. Is this out of my desire to be better? Is this out of a sick desire to point out their human flaws to make myself feel and/or look better? The water is like creek water. Dark, cold and murky.

Amy tells me that sometimes there are just no answers to all my ‘whys’ or ‘how comes’. So in my quest for understanding I look to experts which lead me to more books. My books lead me to words.

During the hike of that Grand Canyon I hiked it out mostly alone. Surrounded by natural beauty, physical pain and my relentless thoughts.

In looking at the canyon walls I think humans can be just as harsh and even more horrid than the elements of nature.

On a few more switch backs on my hike out I start to think about loyalty & I think about betrayal.

These are great themes in life, in movies, in books and of course in the courtroom. What makes a person loyal? Why would someone betray someone else? How to you cultivate loyalty? When is it o.k. to betray?

I think of all the divorces I have handled over the past 10 years. I think of my broken relationships. I take out my clip board and the analyst in me concludes three outcomes to my science experiment.

#1 Loyalty to self which leads to betrayal.

#2 Betrayal out of self indulgence, caprice, vice with no regard to another’s loyalty.

#3 Staying loyal in spite of another’s betrayal or their self indulgence, caprice, vice or disregard for the other’s loyalty.

(Did I lose anyone here? Do I make sense? Or have you concluded I am just plain crazy?)

In any event, I ask you the reader, What is more important? To be loyal to yourself regardless of anything and everything? To be self focused and seek that everything and anything at the expense of another’s loyalty? (Isn’t item 1 and 2 above really the same damn thing only worded differently?) Or do you sacrifice yourself regardless of anything and everything in order to be loyal?

My ex husband screamed and ranted betrayal. I think my ex lover believes I should have self sacrificed myself and others to be loyal to him in spite of a betrayal or perceived betrayal.

In both cases I maintain I was being loyal to my soul. I know my motivation. The divine knows of my motivations. I am breaking out of a tide of clean clorinated pool water.

But then I am wondering if there are real jurors in that box. Self doubt taps me on the shoulder. He is standing there in his khaki pants, that nicely pressed white collar oxford shirt, wearing that smart panama hat. His left hand is shoved deep in his pants pocket and his right hand is flipping and catching that two headed coin.

Pick a side….any side………So what is it?

The head of Loyalty or the head of Betrayal?


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Fantasies of Men

I am well past the point where I think I need a man around.  Most of the time I can’t remember ever being the kind of person who does.  Other times, I have a vague memory that I might just be making up.

But I am still the kind of person who likes to think about a man.  I like to pick one in particular and feast on thoughts of him for weeks or months.  I don’t like to divide my fantasy time among a flotilla of interchangeable faces.

I like to think about conversations I might have with the Chosen One.  I like the way we can discuss serious topics through the lenses of our fantastic senses of humor (I’m not going to shortchange either of us – it’s my fantasy).  This man is a person I could like.

 

If I am feeling particularly reckless, I think about him with my senses.  I imagine the low timbre of his voice, or how I like the way he smells of soap and that musky manliness.

 

When I am overcome with abandonment, I think about how it feels to touch him – his hand on my arm, his stomach sliding across mine over a gloss of sweat.

 

And then the real trouble starts.  I start to think I’m the kind of person who could have a steady man around for all those senses to feed on daily.  In the real world.

 

But in the real world he wouldn’t always be so witty.  And his hand wouldn’t fit into the small of my back the way I want it to fit.  He would smell more of pepperoni pizza than soap or pine.  I can’t make him do what I want in the real world.

 

Does it matter if I’m just the kind of person who needs to have a fantasy man around?

 

If I am satisfied by a pretend man who ignites my mind in just the way I need him to, whenever I want him to, does it matter what I do in the real world?

 

In my head, when I think this way, I can hear people telling me that’s no way to live – that it isn’t healthy to live in a fantasy when the real world is waiting.

 

Happiness doesn’t seem that concrete to me anymore.  I don’t think it’s limited to what your senses can feel, when they can imagine so much more.  I am not always concerned that I am missing out.

 

For completely different reasons, my need for the fantasy both reassures and worries me.  Clearly, I like to feel connected to other human beings.  I don’t think I’ll end up living off the grid in some rickety old lean-to with no one to talk to but the squirrels.  On the other hand, my need for that connection proves, yet again, that I am not as self-reliant as I would like to be.  I have learned the hard way that connections you’re unaware of can hurt just as much as those you recognize.  I want to know what I want before I venture out again, even if I only sketch out my demands in very general terms.  More importantly, I want a better awareness of who I’m letting in, who I’m keeping out, and why I’m differentiating.

 

Maybe the world is waiting.  I need it to to wait just a little bit longer.  I’m working on me, and I’ve needed some time.  I haven’t been able to take on the pressure of trying to meet somebody, and forcing myself to look for him wasn’t going to help.  I’ve been trying to figure out what I want and what I need and what I can’t be without.  My curiosity will get the better of me soon.

 

Maybe someday I’ll be the kind of person who isn’t overwhelmed by the thought of having a man around.  I may never be the kind of person who needs one, but maybe someday I will think a man’s frequent presence is nice.  I can breathe in his scent while I watch him do some of the little things I’m so used to doing for myself.

 

Until then, I’m going to look cautiously while I let my fantasies make me happy.  Even if I am never ready for more, I won’t have wasted my time.

 


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Ready, Set… Ready, Set… Ready?

I feel myself starting to come to life again.  I enjoy things.  I go to sleep at night, and I wake up in the morning.  I don’t take sleeping pills, and I am eliminating caffeine.  I go to the gym because I want to go.  I spend time with people because it sounds fun or I miss them, not because it is what I should do.  I am looking for work again.  I can see that the job I have will never become a satisfying career, and I am making contacts so I can move on to something else.  I even have ideas about what that something else might be.  Most surprisingly, I think I am ready to date.  And I mean ready to go on real dates, not just go out with someone so I can get his pants off.

 

I can also see that I keep getting in my own way.  I don’t want coffee, but I’ll have some because it goes so well with the glazed donut I’m eating to cancel out the killer workout I just finished.  All of the fantastic friends of friends who are willing to talk to me about my career ambitions keep getting shuffled to tomorrow’s to-do list.  The friends I want to be better friends with go into the “fun things I can do after I finish everything else” pile.  And dating has become something I will do when all of my other goals are met.  The goals I haven’t defined yet.

 

It is as though I am still in a wintery hibernation mode.  My dreams are of the better things to come.  The things that I will soon let myself experience.  The goals that I will let myself set and meet.  The life that I will let myself feel.  Tomorrow.

 

A friend has interrupted my complacency and inspired me.  She has a list of things she wants to do, and she holds herself accountable by publishing the list on her blog and writing about each activity thing as she completes it.  I know other people with bucket lists, but my reaction is always that I don’t have that many things I want to accomplish.  It’s that same old mental block, telling me again that I should not bother with setting goals.

 

But I need to set goals.  If I have learned anything about myself it is that I need to feel like I am moving forward.  My friend’s stories about the things she is doing make me yearn for the same sense of orderly, visible progress.  I am going to make my own list.  I have already begun it, and I know it will not be very long, but I am going to do it.  I may not be a crying pile of mush anymore, but I still spend too much time in my head.  I need to spend more time in the world – feeling, doing, being.  It is right there, waiting for me to gather up the energy to be a part of it.

 

I am ready.  I am almost set.  And then I will go.