Life Moves On

I have friend, she landed in Paris this morning. I have another who is burying her dad today. One friend facing probably one of the worst days of her life, and the other experiencing immense happiness. The world never stops. Sunday I went to a concert, but as we drove there I thought about the friend of mine who just that morning had lost her dad. I was reminded of when my mother died. I remember thinking about how in a single moment my life was changed forever, yet for the rest of the world outside my family life was continuing on as normal. I remember thinking, “How can this be? Shouldn’t everyone know that a beautiful person had just left this earth?”, but here I was on the way to a concert, my friend’s world changed forever, mine continuing on. It’s a strange place to be. You know your life will never be the same, but the people who see you on the street have no idea of the profound loss you’ve just experienced. For the friend that is burying her dad, actually her step-dad (you know those unsung heroes that step into a family and make all the difference in the world?), I am sure she is in a similar place to where I was. I think I have posted this poem before, or at the very least mentioned it. I heard it in the movie Four Weddings and A Funeral and it stuck with me since:

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It’s been seven years since I lost my mom. When my friend sent a text to let me know her dad had passed I cried. I cried for her loss, but also for my own. Reopening a wound a little. I still wonder about the world that continues on without my mom. I still ache to her voice, to wrap my arms around her, to give her one more kiss. Monday was a little cold here. I grabbed a scarf from my drawer, it was my mother’s. It still smelled of smoke, hairspray, and of her perfume. I haven’t washed it in all the time I’ve had it, and I never will. It carries traces of her and if that is all I can have I will treasure it forever.

To my friend in Paris. I love Paris, I hope you will love it as much as I did. Treasure that you are there with someone you love, I hope you have thousands of beautiful memories.

To my friend who is burying her dad. I think I’ve told you more than once, my mom knew how much I loved her. In some small way that helps. Your dad knew you loved him. He knows you are a fine and good woman. Dark skies ahead, but time truly helps, focus on the good stuff, the love, the laughter, even the stuff that annoyed the heck out of you. It’s life, it’s moving on, it will continue to move on, it will be a little emptier, but he will live on in your heart and mind. He has left this world with the gift of your love and the love of your family, and in return has left some love of his own. Prayers are with you all today.

 

Before I end this post a word about stepfathers. My husband is one, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Like my friends dad he made sure that my daughter knew he loved her. Most stepfathers love all of their children, not just the ones that are “blood” relatives. Stepfathers usually end up in the movies as creepy guys who are up to no good, when in everyday life they are men made of something special. It isn’t easy to step into a family, and when your stepchild loves you immensely it means you have done something really right. When your stepchild refers to you as “Dad” it means you have crossed the boundary of blood lines and brought something wonderful into the life of someone else. I’m not forgetting the step-moms either. My daughter has a really terrific one named Valerie, who is one of the finest women I know, and my very dear friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better influence in Jessica’s life.

Life will move on. Stop breathe, appreciate, offer gratitude, and most of all love. I never want someone I know to leave this earth not knowing what they mean to me.

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She Speaks

After a year of blogging every single day, and then a couple of times a week, it might seem like I am running out of things to say. That isn’t true of course, although I am much less of a “talker” than most. I am comfortable in my own silence (and even more comfortable in the silence of some others…) The truth is that things haven’t changed. Our life is still on hold as we try to sell our home. At the risk of offending some very dear friends (who happen to be decent human beings and realtors), I will say that we are beginning to feel a bit like shark bait for the local realtors. We continue to have people contact us about our home, always starting out as if they have a possible buyer, ask lots of questions and then go for the kill. When I explained to a caller the other day that I had a realtor in line, a best friend in line for the sale of our home should we decide to go that route, she began to badger me on the whys and hows of why in her opinion, “That just doesn’t work.” I explained that my dear friend is away for family medical reasons. I explained that I had already made the promise to my friend that the listing would be hers. I explained about a bad realtor experience back in Chicago that made me wary. None of that mattered. She simply ignored everything I said and told me that I needed to have an “open mind” when her boss came to preview my property. I was losing my temper (which is never, ever a good thing for the person on the other end of it), I was trying to be as pleasant as possible, but I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. If this particular caller had her way I would be greeting my returning friend with, “Sorry your family member was gravely ill, by the way our friendship of nine years means nothing, and I’m giving someone else my house to list.” I actually thanked this person for her professionalism (which she wasn’t), but I find myself in a very awkward position. I want to tell these people exactly what I think of them and their “ethics”, but if I do that I risk alienating them even farther. I just don’t understand. Why is my need to sell my own house such a bad thing? We are offering compensation to the buyer’s realtor. We don’t expect these people to work for nothing, but not a single realtor in the area has brought a client to our home. One realtor went as far as telling us that we weren’t worth his time. Since when is a paycheck of nearly ten thousand dollars not worth someones time? We aren’t against someone earning a living, but we are people who had very little income for sixteen months and need to keep as much of our money as we can for ourselves. I’m angry and frustrated. I want and need to move ahead with our life, but I am also as stubborn as they come. So I will sit in my beautiful home with my heels dug in and wait for the buyer to find us without any help from anyone else, because ten thousand dollars is definitely worth my time.

Breathe….now I feel better.

Art! There hasn’t been a piece every day. There have been fairies and other things. I will share the photo from my altered art piece from my daughter’s birthday. (She may kill me for it, but if you don’t think she was one of the cutest toddlers ever…) This was the cover on one of thirty gifts I sent her. A small cigar box that contained a little tiny set of pages where I wrote out the story of her birth. One thing that the last year and a half has taught me is that “things” don’t matter. People matter, memories matter, spirituality matters. The things that mean the most are the things that cannot be held in our hands, but only in our hearts and minds. Happy Birthday Jessica.

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The Pieces Of Me

I have often mentioned here on these pages that I like to think about where people come from, the who’s and why’s of the person they have become. I find it interesting that so many influences affect the people we are, like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that never ends, always adding pieces. We continue to evolve due to experiences we have, and by the people we associate with. I’m sure there may have been a moment in many people’s lives where their mother said something along the lines of, “You are the people you are with.” There may be some truth to that. I know that when I see a quality in another person that I like I try to emulate that behavior, and of course when I find a personality trait distasteful I look at myself to make sure that I’m not unknowingly acting the same way. As usual I am off on a physiological rant of sorts, which is never my intention, but I guess part of who I am. My first magazine subscription as a child was Highlights. My favorite parts? The “Hidden Objects” puzzle, and “Goofus and Gallant.” I’m a puzzle doer, love them, I can’t purchase a jigsaw puzzle. If I dare buy a puzzle I can kiss my day, and sometimes my night (all night), and possibly some of the next day off. I have to finish them obsessively. Goofus and Gallant? I think that might just be a little part of my immense sense of right and wrong. I have very little gray area in my life. My next subscription, at about age fifteen was Physiology Today. Even at that young age I was fascinated by the human mind. Just a few of the pieces that make up me.

Then there is Monty Hall. If you are too young to remember, Monty was the host of Let’s Make A Deal. Wayne Brady hosts the show now. When I was five it was my favorite show. My mother once told me that she had a hard time getting me to go to kindergarten because I didn’t want to leave my show. I think I may have loved the mystery of it. (See? Influences. I’m also a Nancy Drew Mysteries girl) I loved the reveal of what was in the boxes and behind the curtain. My sisters and I would pretend to be Carol Merrill, Monty’s sidekick model, we had the hand gesturing down to a science. My favorite part of the show was the end. Monty would travel through the audience and ask people for odd items, and if they had the safety-pin, or Buffalo nickel, etc…they were rewarded with cash. Influences once again. Like most women I carry a purse. My purse is an ode to Monty. I have safety pins, bandages, toothpicks, rubber bands, the list is tremendous. I think somewhere in my developing mind Monty was there urging me to always be prepared. I bring this up because of a situation that occurred over the weekend. I got a text message from my son Brian, it said that he had lost his glasses and did we happen to have a spare pair? Not only to I carry a purse, I also have a bag, let’s call it my Let’s Make A Deal bag. It contains all the stuff that my purse is too small to hold. (Trust me, I have a big purse) We were out in the car when the message came to my phone. Did I have glasses? Yes, six pairs. They were in my LMAD bag. We immediately drove to the winery where he works to drop off a pair. I believe this makes me eligible for “Mother of the Year”, who else can arrive with an assortment of eye wear at a moment’s notice? A Let’s Make A Deal girl, that’s who.

I do try to let the people in my life that I am grateful to know it. There are countless people who have been in my life that have contributed to the person I am, some I have of course known, but so many more that were in my life for a fleeting moment.  Susan Dey on the Partridge Family who I really wanted to be, because she seemed so cool, and I just wasn’t.  Princess Caroline of Monaco for being a princess with brown hair and brown eyes. Mrs. Weclew (I’m sure I’ve spelled her name wrong), she was my third grade teacher. The first to recognize that I had artistic talent. She was a lovely woman who would put her arms around the very shy little girl who became me, because I would cry when I had to stand in front of the chalkboard where everyone could see me. Iris Guerrero, the new girl when I was in 7th grade and had no friends. She didn’t know I was the kid everyone made fun of. She taught me to open my mouth and speak up for myself. Johnetta Jackson. My parents moved in the middle of my 7th grade year. It was my turn to be the new girl in eighth grade. Johnetta saw me the first day, she didn’t know me, didn’t know I was a terrified and shy girl,  she put her arm around me and began to introduce me to people. Turned out to be a good year, probably the best of my entire school career. I would love to thank her for that. There is of course my wonderful husband who has made me feel loved and secure every single day, believe me it makes a difference. Believe it or not my kids as well. Jessica heads out into the world so fearless. I love her energy, her intelligence, her creativity, and her kind heart. She makes me want to try new things. My son Brian, like his dad one of the smartest people I know, which is amazing because he hated school. Funny, charming, with a big warm heart (despite his efforts to look nonchalant). Brian was my sidekick for a long time. Jessica is older, and Dan traveled a lot. There’s something about Brian that makes me want to make him proud of me. I hope he is.

I could of course go on and on. Think about it. Who in their own way, in a single moment or with a single act, be it a moment of kindness or of something unpleasant, made an impression that shaped the person you are. Do we get to say, “Thank you.” or ,”You’ve hurt me.”, do we even recognize it in that second? Maybe all we can do is to try not to spread the unpleasantness, and maybe all we can do is be grateful for the good, thank them in ours minds and hearts, and try to be the kind of person that makes a difference in the life of someone else.

A Different Dialog

I’m not going to write today about my house. Sometimes things happen that resonate in my brain, and reorders my perspective about what is important in life. I went to the pharmacy today to pick up a prescription. An ordinary errand on an ordinary day. The woman behind the counter is not Caucasian, she is Middle Eastern. I’m not sure where she hails from, I will presume, although I do not know, that it isn’t from the U.S., she has just the hint of an accent. I have a hint of an accent myself, it’s a Midwestern twang with a touch of the Brogue, depending on which words stuck with me from my very Irish upbringing. None of that matters. She is a lovely woman, pleasant and nice. She always has a smile, and through the many years that I have been patronizing the pharmacy we have developed an easy rapport with one another. Today she seemed tired, and I thought I heard a trace of illness. I asked if she were coming down with something, and then she began to cry. Her nephew was killed in a motorcycle accident only two days ago. She told me he was only twenty five, she had so much pain in her eyes that I began to cry as well. I reached for her hand and held it just for a second, and for a moment she seemed surprised, and then pulled away. I told her I was sorry, I told her there were no answers. She lives amongst elderly relatives, some are sickly, but they are alive. She is at a loss, she doesn’t understand why this young man was taken when she has people in her life ready to move on. We stood for a few moments and talked about her nephew and my mother. I told her the one thing that I believe, that he will always live on in their hearts. I told her I talk to my mom all the time in my laundry room. With that I realized there was another customer behind me, a woman.  I wished the pharmacy tech well and stepped aside, and then the other woman looked at me and said, “I talk to my mother in the garden.”

I wrote about this incident because in that singular moment I wished that the world at large could share that human connection. I talked about the pharmacy tech’s heritage not because she was different, but because we are all the same. Her pain was my pain, the hole in my heart caused by my mother’s death is the same as the hole in her heart, and of the heart of the woman behind me. I am tired of reading, and so much more exhausted seeing the effort that is put into pointing out all of our differences. Bill Maher had a show on in which he and a guest were in essence laying a blanket definition of who Muslims are are what they believe. It wasn’t pretty. Ben Affleck was on the program and was challenging their statements. I’m with Ben. I’m a Catholic. Not really a practicing Catholic, but it is the foundation of who I am, and in how I choose to live my life. There are particular programs on these days where the hosts are “Christians”. There is nothing remotely “Christ-like” in how they portray the issues of today. One of the most spectacular qualities that we as humans have is our differences. God given differences. By that I don’t mean the stuff that interferes with leading a good, and God-like existence. Things like racism, ignorance, intolerance, violence…the list goes on and on. I mean the differences in each and everyone of us that makes us unique. It’s the reason that you can’t “blanket” any religion. I have three sisters, we all live our various levels of faith in our own manner. Does that make one of us a “good” Catholic, or another a “bad” Catholic? No it doesn’t, because according to what we believe it is not for us to judge. Would I be comfortable if because of the current pedophilia problem every priest was labeled a pedophile? Or by default that I am somehow responsible for what a number of sick individuals did? No I wouldn’t. I happen to have a dear friend who is a priest. He is a good and honorable man. I’m tired of everyone sitting in judgement of everyone else. What would it take to understand that because you worship differently than me you aren’t wrong? You are different in the magnificent way that God created you. We all hurt, we all bleed, we are all devastated by the loss of loved ones. We all love our children, we all want to be happy, we all want love. Here’s the other really great thing that God did. We’re all the same too. Let’s stop looking at the differences in the wrong way. Let’s celebrate our individuality, the many traditions of worship, the many expressions of love in whatever form they may take, the many colors of our skin (even for those of us that have no color in our skin), the way that each of us are different from the person next to us. Then let’s embrace what is the same. Let us comfort those who have lost, cheer for those who succeed, wrap ourselves in the connection we all have, the human experience. Finally, let’s begin to turn a deaf ear to those who would divide us, who would abuse the name of God, of Allah, of Jesus, or whomever one prays to, by turning them into weapons of divisiveness, or of judgement. Of turning our backs on what I believe everyone’s God teaches, and that is love.

Blowing Off Steam!!!

The weekend open house is over. We heave a big sigh of disappointment. We had a grand total of two people, or one couple, so technically one viewing. They seemed to like the house, we weren’t really sure. What I found particularly interesting was a comment made by one of them about our home being “staged”. Just a few weeks ago I had another couple here in the house. Before I begin my rant, let me say that I have a couple of very dear friends who are realtors, and my dad actually had his license at one point in his life. They are lovely, honest, and hard-working people. My rant has to do with particular people rather than the profession as a whole. My tale of woe has to do with one couple, and an individual realtor who called me last week. The couple are, “the most successful realtors in Temecula”, or so they said. The woman commented that they would supply their staging team. I told her I wouldn’t need them. I mentioned to her that I had gone to interior design school in Chicago, to which she relied, “There’s a difference between interior design and staging.”, and then she turned her back on me. (BIG MISTAKE) If you have seen the video of our home on YouTube, you will see a lovely home. I know what staging is, but the difference between me and the average client is that I live and breathe design. I have a passion for it. I don’t need my house to be set up for someone to dream about living in it, it already looks that way. My favorite class in design school was called “Sourcing”. The entire class consisted of going to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and visiting showrooms. Furniture, tile, carpet, textiles, etc….I loved it, I obsessed over it. I have a subscription to nearly every decorating magazine on the market. The comment from the possible buyer of yesterday gave me mixed feelings. Yes, there are rooms in this home that have been recently staged for the purposes of selling. Those would be the kids rooms, because I no longer have “kids”, I have adults. The rest of my house is the way it looks all the time. (Of course not quite as tidy.)  Maybe it looks staged to someone who doesn’t live the way I do. I have a need to create in every part of my life, whether it be in the kitchen by baking or cooking, or working on a painting, or even in the way I arrange the pillows on my couch, and don’t get me started on how the bed needs to be made. There isn’t an undecorated inch in all 3036 square feet of this home, or in the garden either. One of the few bright spots in having to sell this home is that I get a new place to get my hands on.  Even as a renter I never left a place in the same way I found it. I put my heart and soul into all I do, including loving my family, and in creating a beautiful environment for them to live in. I don’t take offense to the lady of yesterday, she doesn’t know me or what I’m all about. What I do take offense to is the presumption of someone who walks through my door, and by the way, wants me to hire them, who treats me like I don’t know anything. She also corrected me because I repeated something twice about working from home. When all is said and done I believe I will be dropping this woman a note, something like this…

Dear Realtor (whose name I won’t use),  You came into my home because you wanted my business. If you want my business, don’t treat me like I’m less than you. Don’t treat me like I don’t have a brain in my head, and don’t EVER turn your back on me. Don’t correct me in a dismissive manner when I repeat something. You wanted my business, so if I want to say it ten times you need to listen. By the way, you and your spouse repeated yourselves several times, but my mother raised me right. I don’t embarrass people by correcting them, it’s in bad taste. You were in my home. You need to be gracious, you need to listen, and you need not to insult me. In other words you need to learn some manners.  Your interest in me was only monetary, and I spotted your phoniness two minutes after you walked through my door. I hope you will heed this advice in your future business transactions. Signed,  Not In A Million Years.

Now on to the phone call. We listed the house ourselves, and as expected have been inundated with phone calls from realtors who want us to use their services. Most have been gracious when informed that we are selling it ourselves, and that if we do indeed list with a realtor it would be our friend. Most wish us well, and offer their services if we change our minds. Nice people, respectful people, people who treat me like I have a brain and am not recently recovering from a lobotomy. The morning after we listed I received a call from a man who said he was a realtor, he then asked roughly twenty fairly personal questions about why we were selling our own home. I was honest and gave him several reasons, including that we had a bad experience with a realtor in Chicago. His reply to that was that he wasn’t going to apologize for it since he had nothing to do with it.

A. I didn’t ask for an apology.

B. If I was trying to garner business, and my potential client had a bad experience with a person who happened to share my profession, I would say, “I’m sorry that happened to you. Please don’t feel that it is representative of my entire profession.”

He then proceeded to point out the reasons he felt that my husband and I didn’t know what we were doing. He was rude, and quite frankly the ruder he was the more bitchy I got. He called my home. He wanted my business. It is therefore in my mind his “job” to make me want to work with him. This one would be signed, On A Cold Day In Hell. In the end he said that it was obvious I wasn’t ready to work with people who could help me, and my response? “It certainly wouldn’t be with you.”

Side track alert notice!!!… Makes me think about a phone call several years ago from a certain well-known on-line university. I sent for information for Dan. When I got a phone call from the school they of course assumed it was I that wanted to further my education. I said no and explained it was for my husband, but in the end he didn’t think he would have the time to do the classes due to an extensive travel schedule. The young man on the other end of the phone very abruptly said, “Well, how does your husband expect to do anything in life if he can’t make the time to get an education?” (Oh if they only knew me before they called…) “Young man, my husband is a vice-president at a multimillion dollar company, and you make phone calls for a living. Don’t make assumptions.” Then I hung up.

Think I have an issue? Yes I admittedly do. There have been plenty of times in this life when I didn’t feel so great about myself, but one thing I have always known is that I am smart, really smart. Thanks to my parents and some good genes, my sisters and I are very intelligent women, throw in the finest Catholic education available (that my parents worked their behinds off in order to pay for ), and we are forces to be reckoned with. Of course we all come with the standard fit rod of self-righteous steel in our spines, in other words, don’t piss us off.

Words from my gravestone (If I have one. I believe I will be cremated, because knowing me I’ll have claustrophobia in the afterlife.), “You can call me fat, you can call me ugly, but you can never call me stupid.”

I think that says it all.

Wanted: Friend, Must Love….

Still waiting for our appraisal, so for now all I can do is sit and wait. Sitting isn’t actually a bad thing, I’ve been working myself to the point of exhaustion, I need the break. Meanwhile I contemplate the future. As I move into a new area of California, knowing no one, I began to think about how much my life will change. I won’t know a soul. I started thinking about ways to meet people. I have no little ones to drop off at school, so that’s out. I won’t be working outside our house. I hope to be working inside our home, we would love to find an old house to fix up, and of course my plan to return to art keeps me inside. So where do I go from there? I could of course do my Nancy Drew best and investigate any and all artistic opportunities, associations, clubs, etc., but the truth is that I’m kind of a loner. I’m not a joiner, I lack a certain amount of enthusiasm required for many of life’s group activities. Let’s just say I could never be a game show contestant. It begs me to ask once again, “What now?” Maybe I need a personal ad for friendship.

Wanted: Friend, Kindred Spirit, Chum, Cohort, Compadre, and/or Sidekick

(No creeps or racists need apply)

Must enjoy antique stores, flea markets, and non-toilet paper cover kinds of art

I love art museums, and I like to really look at the work, the brush strokes, technique, and style.

Must enjoy making fun of others in a non-judgmental, only for fun kind of way (This activity primarily has to do with people who really should own a mirror, or have someone in their life who loves them enough to say, “I don’t think that is a good idea.” )

Cooking and baking are activities I enjoy, it would be nice if you did too, or at the very least be willing to take some of it home so I don’t eat it all.

The ability to laugh at yourself, as well as at me as you pick me up once I have injured myself AGAIN.

Understand that as much as I might grow to love and enjoy you and your company, I love and adore my husband and spending time with him, so I really don’t do weekend girlfriend stuff.

I Hate, yes Hate, movies where women dance around together. I have no reasoning for this other than my lack of enthusiasm, and the fact that it causes me to cringe. I have far too much dignity to dance around anywhere, and I really don’t know any women who get together and dance around. If I did I would insist that they stop.

I don’t watch Honey Boo-Boo, Real Housewives of anywhere, or reality television at all, unless it involves actual skill. Top Chef, Project Runway, Chopped, etc., much more my thing.

I love to read and share a good book.

I like independent films, can barely tolerate the sight of Tom Cruise, Bob Redford was my first love, Brad (young Bob) is a distant second, but no one compares to the guy I’m married to.

I was born and raised Catholic, but am very open to any religion, creed, or strange dancing around the fire religious ritual anyone else wants to do (unless of course it is a group of dancing women, because that is a deal breaker)

I can and often do use foul language. I try really hard not to, but I never rebelled in my teenage years so I’m doing it my fifties. (I think it has much to do with being a repressed Catholic)

I don’t particularly care for malls. I actually hate shopping for anything that isn’t beat-up, vintage, or antique. I will however, accompany a friend who wants to partake in activities that aren’t my favorite. I am definitely not an “it’s all about me”, kind of person.

I’m a giver. There are people in my life that somehow misconstrue my generosity as “showing off”. Yes, I can do a lot of things, but I am not doing them to say to everyone, “Hey, look at what I can do!” I really truly actually love to do things for other people, and quite frankly there is nothing so painful for me as being the center of attention.

I don’t consider myself an animal person, but they seem to like me. I don’t dislike dogs, but I do dislike noise, therefore I am a cat person.

 I have a rod of self-righteous steel in my spine. I have a long fuse, but beware the person who lights it, my temper is infamous amongst my loved ones. I am loving and compassionate. I have a huge heart for the less fortunate. I don’t have a single selfish bone in my body. I cry at television commercials, and have a very difficult time with man’s inhumanity to man.

      And I’m nice, really, really nice.

That’s all I can think of in the moment. Hopefully I won’t need to place any ads, hopefully I will meet another slightly klutzy, artsy, nice woman who would like to make a new friend.

Facing My Fears About The Future

Here I go again, whine, whine, whine…just kidding.  Tonight is the result of getting what I asked for. I’m alone. These days if you are in sales more than likely you do a little traveling, or a lot of traveling. Dan has been on the road for roughly twenty years. I know some people enjoy travel, and I think he did at first, but after the hundredth hotel room, hotel restaurant dinner, and all the long lonely phone calls with your significant other, it starts to get a little old. I hate when he is away. I hate going to bed without him. I actually spend most of those nights on the couch. Of course these days are better than days of old. (Boy I’m really dating myself here) When Dan started traveling the kids were pretty young and our only means of communication were beepers and pay phones. Thank God some things have changed. There were days when I didn’t leave the house because I was waiting to hear from him. Cell phones certainly make life immensely better.

On the home front things are still not done. It seems like every time I think we are ready to list I find something else that needs to be done. I know I’ve probably done ten times more than need be, but I really care about my home. As I’ve grown older and realized what’s really important in this life I’ve learned to let go of a few things (I just can’t seem to remember what they are in the moment). I’m ashamed to admit that I had more than one occasion where I was upset with Dan or the kids for bringing someone home unexpectedly. I am again my Mother’s daughter. My house must be impeccable for guests. In all fairness to me I believe what I said to them was true, and that is that Jessica and Brian’s jobs were to be good students, Dan was out working, this house was my job. I always said that if someone came here and the house wasn’t clean they wouldn’t leave and say that Brian was a slob, or Jessica was messy, or that Dan’s house was filthy, I felt it was always a reflection on me. I was sure that Brian’s fourteen year old friends were telling their mothers that his mom was a terrible housekeeper. There were of course times when my irritation was more than justifiable. Like the St. Patrick’s Day when I was on the couch in my messy living room with a respiratory infection.  Dan arrived with a limo full of beer salesmen who all needed to use my bathroom. Sick with no makeup and an untidy house and he is bringing in not one, but three or four strangers, really???? It was definitely not a lucky day for my mostly Irish husband that day. I have come to realize that things don’t have to be perfect, but I think that right now I am having a little separation anxiety. I think I have become a little obsessed with making sure the next family that lives inside these walls loves this place as much as we do. It’s time to set another deadline for myself because I fear at this point this house may turn into my next 365 day project. I also think that I might just be dragging my feet a little so I don’t have to leave. The house is clean, it is beautiful, it is time for me to let go. The truth is that I’m a little scared of the future right now. California was a hard move, leaving behind not only friends and family, but my life, the life I knew. What made it easier was having my children. I think I needed them more than they needed me. Now Jessica is in New York, and I will be doing the one thing I said I could never do, I’m moving away from one of my children. Brian will still be living and working in the Temecula area. He will be only fifty or so miles from where we hope to settle, but it will break my heart none-the-less. It’s taken eleven years, but this is my home. If I feel lonely I can call a friend to meet for coffee, or I can run to the cheese store in Old Town Temecula. I’ve befriended the owner and we have on more than one occasion sat in the back of her shop and had some cheese and a glass of wine. There are also the ladies at my favorite antique mall who are familiar with my roaming the aisles. Even things as mundane as grocery shopping where the cashiers are familiar faces. I am starting over once again, and admittedly nervous.  No lifelines this time, just me, myself, and I, trying to find new friends, and new places to go. Maybe time for a little reinvention as well. I don’t mean as in changing who I am, but more about who I was meant to be. New move, new focus on art. I guess I do have one security blanket after all.

Regaining Control

I’m usually pretty good at coming up with a title for a post. They come to me quickly, and I usually never second guess my choice. Today is a little different. I wasn’t sure whether to title this one as I did, “Regaining Control”, or my other thought which was  “Misconceptions.” What I need to get off my chest has a little to do with both. As I’ve pointed out before, this blog began as a way to force myself to work on my art. The unfortunate situation that we found ourselves in changed that. I still plan to return to my work, but there isn’t much time for creativity these days unless it is in the form of packing boxes. This blog instead has become a catharsis for my emotional well-being in a time of struggle. Pent up emotions do no one any good. I am a very “in your face” kind of person. I don’t believe in hiding the truth, I feel better when I am honest with people. That doesn’t mean that I go around insulting people by telling them something negative about themselves, some things are best left unsaid, but when I am upset with someone I don’t let it fester. When you don’t release your emotions I think little things tend to build into great big things, and then all kinds of unnecessary drama can ensue. I don’t know most of the people who read what I write, and that works for me. It just feels good to let it out, and if by chance someone else relates and it helps them in some way, that is amazing. I also don’t write looking for pity, which believe it or not I kind of think some people who I do know believe that I am. I’m a writer as well as an artist, so I am doing what a writer does, I write. I started keeping a journal at twelve, of course back then we didn’t have fancy names like “journal”, it was a diary. You know the kind where you talk about which boy is cute and how you hate your parents that day? I actually kept that diary for almost seven years. I’ve written a lot over the years. I’ve never attempted to have anything published, that lovely “you are good enough” voice that resides in my brain held me back. Short stories, poetry, and a few children’s books are all in a box. Someday I may let them out, but for now I write here. So with that rather long introduction I will begin.

I’ve had several people tell me to focus on the good in my life. Things such as, “Count your blessings.”,  “Look at all the love and kindness you’ve received.”,  “Stop focusing on the negative.” …and so on. The implication of course being that I spend my life in a complete state of “woe is me.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I guess I’ll address misconceptions first. I am grateful, I do count my blessings, I don’t always focus on the negative, and so on… This blog became a way to vent emotion. My lovely husband was struggling in his own way with his identity as the man of the house, the bread-winner, the guy who took care of everything. Did he need to be burdened with my worry wart ways? The answer is of course not. Venting here allowed me to blow off some worry as well as steam. Not that Dan didn’t always know what I was feeling, but this took the edge off. When I said that I felt my prayers weren’t being answered it didn’t mean that I suddenly stopped being Catholic. Trust me when I say I sometimes envy the faith that some people have. Mine is just a little shaky at the moment. I also believe something my sister said about God giving us free will. God does help them who help themselves, it’s just tough to get it going when no one will give you a chance, because guess what? The multitudes of people who turned Dan down for a job have free will too, the free will to not give him the job. I also in my beliefs think that God is a little busy right now with Gaza, the Ebola virus, the current crisis in Iraq, and the millions of poor starving babies in the world to be worried about whether or not I get to keep my 3000 square foot home. I wouldn’t expect that kind of attention. This is where the regaining control part comes in. I’m a self admitted control freak, and my life was way out of my control, that means I turn into a “basket-case”.  This was never about losing my big house, it was about worrying that I would have no house at all. This was about watching what the situation did to the person that I love, admire, and respect most in the world, Dan. It was about being scared. Loss of control is a big issue for me. It’s why I’m claustrophobic, I need the keys. The house will be on the market within a week. I’m exhausted, as is Dan, but (dare I say) we are also beginning to feel a little excited about the future. We went out last weekend to investigate potential places to move to, and quite frankly we fell in love. I won’t go into detail as of yet, but I am feeling hopeful, and just a little bit more in control. Now that there is a plan of sorts, it means that all is almost well in my world. We are helping ourselves and letting God take care of those who can’t and need Him way more than us.

Finally on this lovely Sunday morning a few words of wisdom from me.March 13 2010 079

 

Lost Connections

As we prepare for our move I find myself reflecting on friends lost over the years. Particularly the move here to California. Several friends promised we wouldn’t lose touch, but as time passed communication became sparse. Regular phone calls became monthly calls, emails went unanswered, even when I joined Facebook (late in the game I admit) I reached out to some who “friend ed” me back, but when I tried to move beyond that I didn’t get any response. I made a one time “Best Friend” my daughter’s godmother, sure that we would always be in each others lives. I’m not even sure where she lives now. She stopped communicating with me. I entrusted her with what I had hoped to be an important role in my daughter’s life. All I can do is wonder why. There was even a woman, a relatively new friend, who befriended me because my old neighbor, her friend, had moved away and not kept in touch with either of us as promised. We bonded over the loss of our friend and began what I thought was a terrific friendship. Not long after that I discovered that we would be moving here. We were both saddened by this road block in the way of the promise of a great relationship that lay ahead. We swore we wouldn’t be like “her” and keep in touch. I moved, we called, we exchanged letters, and then suddenly she was gone. No note, no goodbye. The same thing happened with a friend from high school. She reached out via the internet. I discovered that she was an artist, something I had never known about her, and was thrilled at the connection. We jumped into this new adult friendship head first. Lots of emails, exchanges of ideas, and even gifts. When I was back in Chicago I made a point of seeing her. It was wonderful, we had dinner and talked and talked about our families, our lives, and for me the most important thing of all, we talked about art. I have two wonderfully creative friends here, very artistic and talented, but neither does the kind of work I do. This woman does. I was excited at the prospect of bouncing ideas off of each other, and then…POOF! Gone. No answer to my emails. It left me feeling as though I’d done something wrong. Last year the wife of a former colleague of Dan’s and I met at a dreaded business dinner. I didn’t want to go, but by the end of the evening I felt like I had a wonderful new friend. She has dropped me like a hot potato. Your guess, I have no idea. There are so many more stories like those in my life. Not that I am completely innocent. I too have drifted out of a life or two. I guess I can’t take it personal. More importantly I hope that the people I’ve left behind don’t question themselves about it. I only know that some of my missing people had an impact on my life and I will never get to tell them that. As a shy little girl with not a friend in the world, friendship means a great deal to me. I’m not one of those people with a huge social circle. I’m more of a half-dozen or less kind of girl, but each and every one of my friends brings something different into my life. When someone vanishes it leaves a little hole in my heart for a bit, and of course me being neurotic me, I agonize over what I could possibly have done wrong. I know, wasted energy, but just try telling that to my heart and slightly skewed brain.

So my dear friends who may be reading this, you count. You make up parts of my life. You bring personality, laughter, shoulders to cry on, and you make me feel good about myself. Why? Because I think we are all special in our own way, I admire qualities in all of you, and the fact that you want to be my friend makes me feel special. That, and even though you know what a messy, half-crazed, glass not half empty but broken on the floor worry wart I am you seem to like me anyway.

Off to new horizons, but this time inside the state line, so no excuses my friends, lets work on this. I’m starting over, but there are some of you that I just can’t imagine my life without.

An Expression Of Gratitude

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Monday morning, Dan’s first day back to work in sixteen months. (I made him lunch, a sandwich, Frito’s and an apple. He said he felt like he was going back to school.) I should be thrilled, shouldn’t I? Not so much. Yes, I am happy that there will be a paycheck, but I miss him terribly. We, with very few exceptions, have been together twenty-four hours a day for sixteen months. I’m feeling a little lost. I have spent my life hearing about how many wives lose their mind when their husbands retire, or hear complaints when the husband is even around for more than a few days. Not me, not us, we’re attached at the hip, and very happy about it. There is no ones company that I enjoy more than Dan’s, he is my best friend, the best one I’ve ever had. I fear adjusting to our time apart won’t be easy. Whats worse is that it took him two and a half hours to get to his new office. The new office is small, hot, and he still has that awful drive coming home. I am taking a short break from frantically trying to accomplish everything possible to get us on the move…out of this house! I’m still sad about moving, but as always my overriding concern is for Dan’s happiness. I need to get us to our next home, a much closer home than this. I just wanted to take the time to thank him for everything he does for me, is to me, and how much he loves and cares for me. Sometimes in the rush of life I think we take the people we care about for granted. I try to make sure that everyone in my life knows how much they mean to me, particularly the one that means the most. So this is my public pronouncement of gratitude for nearly thirty years of the kind of love that I wish most people could have.

Tonight a really special dinner (…and maybe a foot rub), a stress reliever after what I am sure is a long day. Anything to make him happy, because that makes me happy too.