Behind The Mask: Faceless Hatred

So here I go once again, just when I thought my words about words were over and done with. Not so fast. On Sunday in the New York Times magazine there was an article about a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court. It is about the 1st Amendment, and the individual right to free speech. Seems like a clear-cut case right? It isn’t. It seems a marriage dissolved, the male half of the couple went onto social media and posted about wanting to kill his ex-wife, he actually went into some detail, and more than that he made a video. He claims that he was venting anger and frustration, that he never actually intended to follow through on any of what he wrote. Meanwhile, the ex-wife was very frightened, enough to take out an order of protection. She does not feel that he should be able to terrorize her even if it is only through words. He served some jail time, and is now suing for his right to free speech. (This is a very simplified explanation of the case.) The case that will be presented to the Supreme Court is asking this question: What is more important, the right of the individual to express what he feels? Or the rights of the person that those words focus on who lives in fear of the threat?

I don’t think there is one among us who hasn’t said something in anger that we aren’t proud of, or wish we could take back. I’m pretty sure we have all also been rather casual in tossing around the word “hate”, “I hate him.” or “I hate you.” Sometimes in jest, sometimes in reference to an actor in a movie, someone we don’t even know, but for some reason there is something about that person you find distasteful. We don’t really hate them. I think for most people if they really did hate someone they would have a difficult time saying it to the person’s face. This is my issue with what this man did, and for that matter what people in my own life have done. I mentioned the family member in my last two posts who was saying hateful things. Do I really think he hates my husband? No I don’t. Social media have become society’s mask to hide behind. How easy it is to say mean and hateful things when you don’t have to look someone in the face. It makes bullying easier, it makes racism easier, it makes sitting in judgment easier. Think about it. Isn’t that the reason that a particular organization wears white hoods covering their faces? Would you have the nerve to walk up to someone you barely know and call them a coward and a liar? I am asking all of us to remember that behind that screen lies a human heart that can forever hold the scars of what it’s mind sees and reads.

I ask because someone I know has just had such an experience on Facebook. He wrote a remark on someone’s post. He did it because the person was mistaken, it was not his place to do so, and I have told him that. It didn’t end there. Someone else that it had nothing to do with joined in. The person I know sent a  private message that man and questioned why, but told this man he was doing it via private message as to not have a public discourse on a page that belongs to someone else. What he got in return was a message calling him a coward for not posting publicly, and calling him a liar. He is neither. He has not responded, although he wants to, but I have told him to let it go. This person doesn’t know him. I can only assume through connections that he may have heard things that aren’t true, but I can’t be sure. Fueling ignorance gives people more to feed on. Do I want to say something? You bet I do (Obviously I have a lot to say about a lot of things….), but I won’t.

As I said before, I don’t want hatred or anger in my life. I am just deeply disturbed by those who hide behind the mask. Why must people resort to name calling? When my husband was dealing with his family member he asked for facts. He never got any. He got name calling. What is wrong with old-fashioned debate? What happened to, “I believe you are mistaken for these reasons…fact…fact…fact.” In return, “I see your point, but were you aware of…fact…fact…fact.” It worked that way for a long time. I am aware that even facts can be skewed to one’s own perspective, but at least no one was calling anyone else a liar.

There is a loss of decorum in our society, a loss of self-respect, class, and by that I mean to present oneself to the world in our best sense, through the way we act, dress, and speak. It is becoming increasingly easier to spread untruth, to spread vile words, to spew hatred. I’m on the fence with the Supreme Court decision. I do believe in free speech, very much so as I write what I believe here on these pages, but I also feel a duty to not use my words to hurt people. Free speech was meant to make us a better people, a greater Nation, by giving us the right to criticize that Nation.  It was never meant as a blank check to use as a means to bully teenagers into killing themselves, or to cause fear in another because of anger and frustration, it was never intended to be used to dehumanize our fellow citizen. We live in a country that guarantees us the right to speak, but we should also as citizens not just of this Country, but as citizens of the world at large, use our words carefully. I sometimes write of spirituality and love, today I share wise words from some who are far wiser than I:

Matthew 15:10-11

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Sahih Muslim

He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should either utter good words or better keep silence.

Jewish Proverb

A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.

Dalai Lama

“Silence is sometimes the best answer.”

In the end I guess I do have a few more words, and quite possibly some wise ones at that.

Jacqueline Zuckerman

If you could plant a field of seeds would you sow? Roses or weeds? Remember that words are like seeds, once sown they take root in the hearts and minds of others.

And with that, I have no more words, I only offer you something lovely to plant in your mind for today.

Sunset over Temecula on Sunday, just breathtaking.IMG_1053

Advertisements

The Theory Of Three

It seems I am obsessing once again. My last post about a family member is still bugging me. I get obsessed the way some people get fleas, it itches and itches, and never seems to go away, unless of course something new happens for me to obsess over.

My mother always said that everything comes in threes. If there was a plane crash you can bet she was waiting for two more. We are Catholic, and Irish so there is the legend of St. Patrick and the shamrocks that represent the Holy Trinity. There is the rule of thirds in photography and art. If you are a collector then you know that three makes a collection. If you are a driver’s ed student there is of course the dreaded three-point turn. I started thinking about this today as I was driving through a parking lot. What triggered my thoughts were the people crossing through the lot as I stopped to let them pass, and how this can be related to people in our every day lives.

There is the apologetic one. You know, the person who scurries as fast as possible as if apologizing for getting in your way, head down, quick steps, glancing nervously sideways to make sure you haven’t changed your mind and are going to plow them down any moment. Then there are those I consider “normal”. They appreciate that you’ve stopped, they give a quick smile and a wave, and continue on their way. Finally there are those that act superior. They step in front of your vehicle nose in air, refuse to look your way, and stroll leisurely (sometimes on an angle!) in front of your car, as if they are the most important person in the world and you are an inconvenience in their day. I began to think that maybe people come in threes as well. There are of course existing socioeconomic groupings, Rich, middle-class, and poor, but I think in general the rule of thirds can be applied to many of us. There are the life of the party people, friendly, out-going individuals, who seem to fit in everywhere, former cheer leaders, high school quarterback types, they ooze charisma, and when you stand next to the finer examples of them you feel horribly inadequate. (I say finer examples, because aside from the rule of thirds, there also exists a sliding scale, some people are on the bottom of their group, some are on the top.) Then there are what I shall refer to as the “Norms”. Regular people who try to live their best life, they are friendly, nice, will go out of their way to help in any way they can, feel more comfortable in a small group, and don’t enjoy all the attention. Applying my sliding scale once again, there are people in every group that bear traits from another. Finally, there are the people I will refer to as the “Eeyores”, you know Winnie the Pooh’s com padre. Nothing is ever good enough, everyone is out to get them, cheat them, they never get a break, think everyone else has it better, I could go on, but I’m sure you may know an Eeyore, and understand what I’m talking about.

Back to my obsessive point. Religion. It can be a wonderful mysterious loving thing. It can also be an excuse for doing the wrong things. My three people rule again. There are people like me. I have my beliefs, I live what I hope is a life that includes doing good things for others, and caring for others needs. Loving my family, my friends, trying to be a good member of humanity at large, but not feeling the need to shout what I feel and believe off the rooftops, or to force what I believe on others. I am a firm believer in “to each his own.” No one knows what is going on behind the closed doors of another house. No one knows what resides in the hidden parts of the individual hearts and minds of others. I say, “Do not judge, less thee be judged.” Returning to the family member who made the remark about Dan going to hell for not accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I have a question. (Not for him in particular but to the universe at large.) What if say you were born into a family that practices Judaism? Are you wrong for believing what you were taught and raised up in? Are your parents and ancestors liars? The answer is an unequivocal no. What if you were born in one of those South American tribes that are deep within a jungle and never heard of Jesus? Anyone? Locked out of heaven because you didn’t get the memo? My husband asked his brother at the time if a man who harmed a child, someone who did a horrible thing, but who accepted Jesus was going to heaven? He said, “Yes.” ( I say again here, for that man who is guilty of harming a child? Hate what you did, I can be angry, I can have intolerance for the act, but not my place to judge. I don’t know where you came from, I don’t know if you are mentally ill, or if you were a tortured child yourself. God will decide.) But Dan, Dan who stops to help old people in grocery store parking lots, who can’t pass a homeless person without giving them whatever he can, or buying them a sandwich, Dan who is a great and loyal husband, a very loving and giving father, he’s going to hell. That would be my number two kind of religious person. The kind that hold themselves above others because they believe. They wield their faith like a hammer ready to pound it down in judgement against others. I envy the faith that some people have. Mine tends to be a little shaky at times, but what I don’t agree with is the superiority complex that sometimes is part of the package. There are amongst that group some who spit fire about God and the bible, but then would deny aid to those in need. Senator______(fill in the blank). Finally, the worst in my book. (And that would just be in my book, my personal opinion, trying not to judge, but sometimes….) The religious zealot who uses the words of their God, whomever that God should be, to twist them in to a crusade of harming others in God’s name. I’m not judging here, I’m right, you’re wrong. We are all God’s creatures, even the ones who don’t believe exactly like you do. Not your place to decide who gets to stay and who needs to go. Stop hurting people, stop killing children, stop claiming to be acting in the name of God when you do horrendous things. No God, I mean no God at all, wants us to hurt one another. Religion and faith are about peace and love. I have mentioned these wise words before, they come from my dad (and as always must have a soccer reference. I’m paraphrasing here), “It doesn’t matter what color jersey you are wearing, as long as you play the game.” He was talking about faith and spirituality, and I’m with him. I don’t care who you believe in or how, that is up to you. I believe in a loving God, a forgiving God, a God who knows what is in your heart and in mine. What I do care about is when people hurt each other no matter what the weapon of choice, a sharp tongue can make a deeper cut sometimes than a sharp sword, remember that.

 

Obsessing Once Again

It’s me again. Have I mentioned that I obsess? Last night I wrote about making the realtor cry. When I said I didn’t feel good about it I wasn’t kidding. It isn’t who I am. I do have a horrendous temper, but it doesn’t lie close to the surface, it is deep within me. When I was a kid and my dad was getting mad he would say, “The worm is turning.” I guess in that way I am much like him, but the truth is that I don’t want the worm to turn. It doesn’t feel good to get that angry and upset. It was never my intention to have someone leave my house in tears. I would blame some of what I’m feeling on Catholic guilt (actually probably a lot of what I’m feeling), but there is also the fact that I am really one of the nicest people you could meet. I am compassionate, loving, and generous to a fault. I don’t want to be the angry person. I went to bed feeling really bad last night. I woke at 2:15 in the morning feeling troubled and stressed. Even though the woman who came here last night presented herself with intentions other than the truth, I feel bad for upsetting her. I told Dan this morning that I think I vented a little frustration at her last night. He on the other hand doesn’t feel bad at all. He told her prior to coming to our house that she shouldn’t try to ask to list our house. I had told her myself that it wouldn’t happen, I had told her several times in fact. Part of what really got to me last night was the callous way she offered us what she called an “option”. I have probably talked to upwards of a dozen realtors at this point. About half have heard me say that my friend will get the listing and then quit asking. The other half try to convince me that real estate and friendship don’t mix and make their pitch to get the listing. What made the difference last night was that she knew my friend had buried her dad earlier in the day. It was heartless, and then she tells me that only God knows what is in her heart. My friend is from Illinois, I grew up in Chicago, she at the complete opposite end of the state. She has no family here. Actually that isn’t true, she is part of my family. We have been friends for several years. I am a very protective mom, and while we are a little too close in age to say she is like one of my kids, she is like a younger sister to me. We have been through much together, and we will be through even more…together. I wish I could shake this. I have considered calling an offering an apology, but in the end what she was trying to do wasn’t very nice, and it would have hurt my friend. So I obsess.

It is later in the day and quite frankly my day hasn’t been good. I enjoyed some one on one with my dear friend Theresa this morning and into the afternoon. While we were together my mind was occupied, but later I still found myself feeling unsettled. I can’t undo last night, but I think I learned a lesson from it. I need to listen a little closer to my inner voice, the one that told me that I shouldn’t have let her come over. I always want to think the best of people. I want to believe that their intentions are what they say they are, but in the end people are people. I sometimes think even people with the best of hearts lose sight of what the right choice is when there is a dollar sign attached.

Still later yet…I am letting go of a little of my worry. I spent the evening making a gift for my dad. It isn’t for any other reason than that there are many nights that he breaks my heart. He misses my mother more than I can say. He tells me that he talks to her every night. Theresa and I worked on crafting projects this morning involving photos and fabric. Last year while I was in Chicago visiting my dad I was looking through an old box of cards. The inscriptions to my parents from each other touched me very much. I grabbed my cell phone and took photos of all of them. I printed one on fabric for this pillow, along with photos of my parents together through the years. I know he will love this. Finally an art project of sorts to post, a little something for my dad to take to bed with him at night. Working on this pillow took my mind off my obsessive worrying. There’s nothing like doing something for someone else to make me feel better.IMG_1176

I’m Just Tired

It was bound to happen, after weeks and weeks of disrespect, weeks and weeks of being treated like I don’t have a brain in my head, weeks and weeks of having realtors call and be rude to me on the phone, it had to happen. I made a realtor cry. I don’t necessarily feel good about it. In fact I’ve been feeling lousy since the woman left, but she crossed a line. I mentioned here the other day that it isn’t a good idea to make me mad. I guess she doesn’t read my blog. This realtor had called several weeks ago. She was very nice on the phone. I made it clear to her, as I do with all who call, that if I indeed decide to not sell my own house, the listing will go to my friend. This woman called again two weeks ago. She offered to host an open house for us as a “buyers” realtor. I was so suspicious of her motives that I contacted another friend who is a very successful realtor to ask her opinion. She thought it was unusual, but she said she didn’t see any reason not to. At the last-minute the realtor cancelled. A. Because she “forgot” it was her husband’s birthday. B. She “forgot” it was Halloween (even though she told me she had two young ones). We just figured she came to her senses. I didn’t expect to hear from her again. She called the other day and wanted to talk to Dan and I. Again I reiterated that my friend would be my realtor. She asked about my friend as I had mentioned she was out-of-town for a family emergency. I told her my friends dad had sadly passed. She offered her sympathies, and then made plans to come to my home tonight. When she came here this evening she asked to see my home. Every detail, every upgrade that I pointed out was dismissed. She came here with a price. She hadn’t even seen our home. As she sat with us showing us listing after listing of homes she was comparing us to, Dan asked about her motives. (The truth shall set you free.) She was here out of the “goodness of her heart”, well that and, “Just in case something happens between you and your friend. You never know what will happen.” Dan flat-out repeated again that she wasn’t getting our listing, that we love our friend, and he knew what she wanted. “No, of course not, I’m just saying you never know what will happen.” I could feel my leg begin to twitch. I was trying, I really was. I was hoping she would finish her pitch and get out. Then she gave us the price. Twenty four thousand dollars less than we are listed for. I’ve met this person before in Chicago. The realtor who had us list twenty thousand less so he could get a quick sale. I was beginning to think the same thing was happening again. I couldn’t stand another minute of it. I called her on her crap. I asked her why she would try to get our listing when we told her she couldn’t have it. I told her that if she had come as a buyers realtor, she of course wanted me to lower the price. She insisted that it wasn’t true. If she came to try to get us to list with her she was lowering the price for a quick sale. Dan stepped in and essentially told her to cut her losses. He told her in sales there is a moment when you know the deal is over. This was the moment. She didn’t quit. She was still insistent that she only wanted to help. I told her she lost me as soon as she said that sometimes things happen between friends, and maybe then we would think of her. I said, “You know my friend buried her dad today, and now you want me to say, “Oh, I’m sorry your dad passed away, but I met this nice lady…”. She claimed she didn’t know, that isn’t true. She had asked if my friend were back while we were in my garden, and I had told her he was buried today. She became indignant and said that only her mother and God know what is in her heart. Maybe I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t think so. I did tell her I understand this is her job and she is trying to make a living, but I also told her that I know my own heart, and that I wouldn’t hurt a friend. That’s not who I am. She gathered up her things, and pretty much ran out my door. I’m sorry it happened. I’m sorry she cried. I’m sorry that no one seems to believe me when I say no, or when I say I am loyal to my friend. I am tired of this. I just want to sell my house. If just one person put as much effort into finding someone to buy it as they do trying to convince me to give them the listing, they would be about ten thousand dollars richer by now. I will repeat for the tenth time. Not all realtors are bad. Not every realtor I’ve come across has been rude and disrespectful. Some have been lovely and understanding.  I don’t like losing my temper. I made a promise to myself a long time ago that life is too short to be mad. I should have just asked her to leave, it probably would have been the best thing for both of us.

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.

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.

Mixed Emotions

The realtors have come and gone. No, the house isn’t sold. We are bravely, or stupidly (depending on your opinion and occupation), selling it ourselves. Still have yet to figure out its worth, somewhere around invaluable if you ask me. I spent the day photographing every room. I’m not ready to put up pictures just yet. My critical eye found something in every shot that needs to be attended to, but it really does look beautiful. We did take the time to have it appraised. All I can say is that by the time the appraiser left I was beaming. Self confidence is not my forte. I have been worrying and fussing for months now, and I am happy to say that someone actually noticed. He still hasn’t given us a price, he said something along the lines of our house belonging in an art museum, and therefore a little difficult to comp. That’s OK with me. I have spent years creating this home, surrounding us with things we love, adding artistic touches throughout. The realtors quite frankly didn’t get it, the appraiser did. He walked through our home and oohed and aah-ed at every detail. He told me that I should decide what I wanted to keep because he is sure that most everyone that walks through the door will want it all. The final compliment came when in lieu of payment for his services he said he would take a piece of art. Talk about an ego boost. So I am happy that someone appreciates what I do, but so very sad to be leaving it. It so happens that my Dad’s house will be for sale soon as well, and it is the last place my Mom lived, so for me this loss is doubled. Not only will I leave my home, but there is a good chance that I won’t get to say goodbye to my parent’s home at all. But it is life, and so as I sat thinking about it all the other morning I wrote a few words. I have put them with a photo of Dad’s house, as I have yet to take a decent exterior shot of my own.

 

sept 14 14

 

Beginning The Goodbye

I think I might just see the end in sight. As I said the other day, I’ve been dragging my feet, or in my case, my knee. I didn’t want to move, but as often happens, life sometimes makes our choices for us, this one wasn’t mine to choose. I believe we will be for sale by Wednesday. The last few details to be finished in the coming days. The endless weeks of primping my house as if she were going to her first prom are coming to an end. Freshly painted, immaculately clean (OK, so the cat hair tumbleweeds can be an issue), and dressed to the nines. I’m like a proud mother sending my girl off to the dance, and as any mother can tell you it’s never easy, except this time it will be me leaving my nest behind. I will worry and fret that she is loved and cared for in the same way I did. There has been much life lived in this house. My daughter was married from it, my son grew up in it, both Dan and I lost a parent while living in it. We found security within its walls as our life fell apart. As long as we had our home we felt that everything would be OK.  We celebrated our love and marriage of twenty-five years in it. When we left Chicago (actually the Village of Lindenhurst), where we bought our first home, we left behind a piece of our hearts as well as a sneaky reminder of us. Dan carved our names into the bottom of a post he installed between the living room and dining room, and had the kids sign as well. It remains to be seen if we will leave something so tangible here, but we will leave the ghost of us in its walls . The laughter, the tears, the heartaches, successes, and so much love, are the essence of what a home should be, and they are here, and in our hearts and minds. I only wish for those who follow the same kind of bond, the same kind of love, the same kind of precious memories that make a house a home. I will miss this place, my beautiful garden, but most of all I will treasure the memories that were created here.

 

I have made much of how I will miss my garden. I was looking through old photos tonight and thought I would share what our vision created.  A before and after, an engagement party for Jessica and John that we held there, and finally one garden project that will travel with us. The table that Dan and I built together. We will have to build a new garden around it.

garden 268

IMG_9707

IMG_9737

dad's camera 040

dad's camera 062

 

 

When I Grow Up

When my son Brian was just short of his sixth birthday he came to me with a very earnest look on his face. “Mommy”, he said, “When I grow up should I be a taxi driver or a science test?” I told him that I wanted him to be a “science test”. He is now studying to be a sommelier. The memory of that conversation came to me in the middle of another sleepless night. I really believed for a very long time now that I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. There were of course flashes of interest, in the sixth grade it was archeology. I read everything I could get my hands on to do with ancient Rome and Greece. I knew Greek Mythology by heart. Then there was the realization that it might just involve science, somewhat doable, but in a round about way it might also involve (cue the dramatic music of dread)…math…Done! No math, no how! Then there was of course (as any good Catholic girl will tell you) the call to God. I thought for a very, very, very short time about becoming a nun. (Didn’t we all?) Trust me as a romanticizing, day dreaming, fourteen year old, the idea of becoming a “Bride of Christ” sounds wonderful and mysterious. You find yourself praying a lot and feeling very pious. I think a very short reflection on some of the bitter and angry nuns I had dealt with in my academic career brought that idea to a screeching halt. Don’t get me wrong. I have had the immense pleasure of being educated by some lovely human beings, who also happen to have been nuns, but in my young mind the bitter and angry ones far outweighed the nice ones. For a while I thought I might want to be a teacher. I think I would have been a good one, but in the summer that I was fifteen I taught art in a Chicago Park District program to children four through eight years old. I was bitten, kicked, and had my glasses broken by an obnoxious five-year old who thought that while flying high on the swing set it might be fun to hit my face with his feet. I was done yet again. The honest truth was I never really thought about an artistic career. Since I had no training I had no idea of the endless possibilities that were available to me. I did always have a flair for design. I think I may have mentioned here before that I didn’t like playing with Barbie dolls as much as I enjoyed decorating their house. In my sleeplessness last night I did a lot of thinking. I had a complete meltdown right before bed (which robbed my dear husband of some much-needed sleep, sorry Honey). I was bemoaning my fate as a lost human being wandering the earth with no focus, no plan, no home. (OK, so it wasn’t quite that dramatic) It’s just that I, like so many other women, are our families. We lost ourselves somewhere along the way of countless hours of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, laundry, homework, bedtime rituals, etc., we are made up of the pieces that address our family needs, and forget our own. I was feeling angry and frustrated last night. Last year when I started this blog and art project it was the first time in my adult life that I was solely focused on something for myself. Then fate stepped in, appearing in the form of unemployment, it laughed in my face, and it filled my mind with fear and worry and not so much with creativity. So many times over the course of the year I found myself pushing the project to the back burner because guilt wouldn’t allow me to put myself first. I wouldn’t let myself be first. Now Dan has a new job, Jessica has moved away, I am moving away from Brian, and I am also moving away from Gabby and Kingston, the motherless children I care for and have grown to love. The only thing I have been in thirty years is a wife and mother. I dabbled at my art, but I never fully committed myself to me. It all came to a head last night. As I sat here all night (quite frankly despicably full of self-pity) I remembered what Brian had said. In the last few weeks as I have been packing up our lives, I came across my diary. It’s the one I mentioned here before. Along with it were pages from other older, younger diaries. Amongst the writing on those pages were some dreams for the future. First and foremost was my goal of becoming Mrs. Robert Redford (Don’t worry. Dan is well aware of my love for “Bob”), but there was also an entry that while it has the day and month, it does not have the year. My Aunt Bernie had just given birth to my cousin Michael. In my little girl penmanship I wrote about what a beautiful baby he was, and that I wanted to be a mom when I grew up. So maybe I did know all along. I think I was pretty good at it. I’d like to think I’m still good at it, trying my best to not interfere, but to gently guide and suggest. I’m sure that many people would chalk this up to “empty nest syndrome”.  Sure, some of that might be true, but with me there has always been this feeling of unfulfilled promise. God-given talents that are sorely untapped. Dan got angry with me last night, and that isn’t something that happens often, but he was right. He said that I keep throwing up roadblocks for myself. He also said that I won’t let myself be first, and that he is my biggest supporter. All of that is true. It really is time to figure things out. I know I can’t blame anyone but myself, and I know only I can change me. Time to grow up, time for a new dream, and since Bob and I are both already married to other people, that ship has sailed. (Oh come on, Dan knows he is the love of my life.)

After my meltdown and sleepless night I sat on the couch this morning with my coffee and watched last night’s Project Runway. I love the show. I love to see the creativity and imagination at work. I also envy the amazing sewing talent. One of the lovelier nuns I have run across is Sr. Janelle. She was my sophomore year sewing teacher. Try as she might, as kind and patient as she was, I wasn’t very good. I have amazing talent in these hands as long as there isn’t an iota of math involved. Sewing can be very mathematical. On a commercial break in the show came an ad for AARP. (We are not members. It’s honestly a little upsetting when you get your first invite to join. You find yourself feeling angry and insulted that they would presume to think you are that “old”. I know there are many benefits, but my brain just doesn’t want to go there. I am after all, only 54!) The ad featured Tim Gunn, and it couldn’t have been more appropriate. He talks about reinventing yourself, rolling the dice and taking a chance. He was a teacher for twenty-nine years, and he was fifty when Project Runway came along. It was just what I needed to hear. Maybe my former fiancée (God) is trying to send me a message. Now if He could just send me some movers….

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.