Thursday, June 30, 2011


I went to the pub without my phone the other night. The minute I parked my car, I realized: I left my phone on the table.

I live five minutes away. I thought, should I go get it?

And then I thought that would be stupid. In the time it would take me to go home, run upstairs, grab the phone, and come back, parking would have become a ridiculous issue. It's fine, I told myself. I don't need to have it.

When I sat down I was antsy, more fidgety than usual. The absence of phone was bothersome, a nearly physical thing. I kept looking for it, and it wasn't there.

Finally, I stopped looking for it and starting enjoying the fact that I was no longer wired in. I could fully enjoy the company I was keeping. I didn't have to keep glancing down to see if someone wanted to talk to me, needed something, had texted me. Instead, I had  -- conversation. With actual, present people.

It was glorious.

I need my phone -- many of us do -- as a tool for my work. I need to be plugged in almost constantly. But "almost constantly" does not mean "always". I can be plugged in MOST of the time, but still have time for myself, when there will be no demanding chirps, no flashing message lights, no requests or questions or comments. Just ... me. And whoever I'm with. Uninterrupted and unencumbered by any devices intended to enhance communication but that I find more and more serve to do the exact opposite.

So if you need me on Monday nights -- or during my lunch hour, when I go to the gym? -- you're going to have to wait. Because I will be unplugged. And I will be enjoying it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot

I love pizza. I love cheap pizza, I love fancy pizza, I like frozen pizza and homemade pizza and traditional pizza and gourmet pizzas. I just love pizza.

I love it so much that when it's all hot and bubbly on my plate I never fail to pick it up and take a big, delighted bite.

Which is why I currently have a blister the size of  Pennsylvania on the roof of my mouth. Apparently my love for all pizza made me forget that MOLTEN LAVA CHEESE OMG is a health hazard.

Oh well. It will all be fine. Tastebuds eventually grow back, right?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Snip, Snip, Boom

Hair is tricky business.

(Okay, maybe not so much if you're a guy. Most of the guys I know don't care about their hair until it starts to disappear. THEN it becomes an issue.)

For me -- perhaps, for lots of women -- the relationship with my hairdresser is sort of like my relationship with a doctor (to be honest, a therapist). It doesn't happen overnight. You require chemistry, a like-mindedness, open communication. It's like dating. Only more difficult, because while trusting your heart with someone is risky business, your heart is internal. Your hair is part of how you present yourself to the world. If someone you are dating messes up, your heart might be bruised, but you can still look freaking fabulous. If your hairdresser messes up, you need a wig. Or a hat. Or some kind of creatively invented illness that prevents you from leaving the house until it grows out and you feel like you can show your head in public again.

When I lived in North Carolina I had a wonderful, fabulous hairdresser (shout out to you, Cortney!). She got me. She got my hair. I never left her chair feeling anything less than amazing and cute as all hell.

I have not yet discovered that in New Hampshire. Happy as I am to be back in New England, I wish I could have brought her with me (or that I could afford to fly to NC every 5 weeks or so and have her cut my hair. She's THAT good) but alas, she likes living in North Carolina and none of my most persuasive begging could change her mind (and trust me, I tried).

So for a while, I simply didn't get my hair cut. Until it was sort of a shaggy, hot mess. Then I sucked it up and ...

...well, I went to the mall and wandered into a salon. And got my hair cut by a perfectly nice girl who did a perfectly adequate job.

So I went back. Second haircut? Also fine.

Then I decided I wanted to have short hair.

That's sort of when everything went to hell.

When I was a teacher, I used to carefully craft directions for my students. I would have them in written form, I would deliver them verbally, and I would usually have some sort of visual representation of what my students needed to do. After the first not-quite-right haircut, I tried that with Nice Hair Lady. I brought photos. My best friend helped me to describe what I wanted. We did visuals (pulling the hair back with my hands to demonstrate). This, I thought, would go really well.

It ... didn't.

I mean, it looked okay when I left the salon, all styled and product-y and cute. It was mostly right, I thought. Good deal.

Then I went home. And I slept on it, and I looked in the mirror when I got up. And thought: Oh, no. No no no no no.

Okay, I thought. Don't panic. I'll just wash it.

Washed. Looked again. Still ... no. Just ... no.

Okay, I thought. Continue with the not panicking. Let's see how it looks when it dries.

It looked worse dry.

I don't know how to describe what was wrong with it, except to say that it looked unfinished. It was shorter than I wanted it in the front, but not short enough to be workable. It was just ...

... it was terrible. Can I say that? It was TERRIBLE.

I work from home and my hair, as such, is sort of irrelevant. And it was STILL too awful for me to live with.

So I did something I normally wouldn't do, something that made me feel like I might need to throw up and/or pass out.

(Cortney, if you're reading this? You might want to stop reading RIGHT NOW.)

I got the scissors. And began snipping.

Here's what I learned:

1) there's a reason for the cape. I had hair ALL OVER ME. Itchy, short hair spikies. Not enjoyable.

2) I am SO not a trained hair professional. In any way.

3) I needed to call Cortney and make an appointment for when I am in NC on vacation so she can fix this.

To be fair to me, it does look better. I got some compliments on it when I ventured outside. However, I also know that sometimes people tell you that something looks good when it's a dramatic, obvious change and they know that they should say something but they're not sure what to say. Often that comes out as "That's cute" when I'm pretty sure they're thinking "Oh dear GOD what was she thinking."

You know what I was thinking? I was thinking: My bathroom is full of hair. And so is this shirt. And possibly my bra. When I look in the mirror I fail to recognize the short haired person in it. So please, PLEASE, tell me it looks good. I'll give you one of my kidneys.

This morning? I noticed some pieces that I'd missed.

Snip, snip.

Will it ever end?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Happiness Sneaks In

John Barrymore once said, "Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open."

I am really happy right now.

If you had asked me a week ago, "Hey, are you happy right now?" I probably would have said no. No because of stress, no because of angst, no because of a million reasons, none of which were related to each other but all of which were weighing me down.

You may be wondering what has changed.

Nothing. And everything.

The truth is that the things that have been stressing me out are still there. The things that make me angsty are still there. The things that were weighing me down? All still there.


Stressful situations? Should not rob you of your joy in life. They should serve as a mirror, I think, which highlights the moments of your life that are not stressful. Not always easy to do (perhaps, on occasion, impossible) but necessary because you will NEVER eliminate stress from your life. It's not possible. So does that mean that you -- or I -- will never be happy because you are stressed out? Should it mean that?

I don't think it should. So I can no longer let moments of stress steal away moments of joy. That's it. I won't give any more of my happy up to undeserving details.

Angst? I'm sorry, but I no longer will apologize or worry if the way I live my life makes other people nervous or unhappy.  If you think I need to find a different job? If you think I should hear the ticking of a biological clock, if you think I'm incomplete because I don't have a husband (or the intention to find one again, ever)? Thank you for caring about me, but I'm good. I'm REALLY good. So -- I can't carry the feeling that I'm responsible for the fact that you're concerned, and I refuse to continue to try to explain why or how I'm living. I'd rather live joyfully than angst-fully.

As for the other million things -- they're there. They're always going to be there. I can dwell on all of them, all of the time (pointless. Overwhelming. Ridiculous) or I can deal with them, one on one, as they come.

Kind of a no brainer, right?

Having said that, let me say this: I didn't sit down and decide any of this with purpose or intent.  I sort of arrived at happy and then thought -- what do I have to do to keep it? Because I've been happy before. But I'd like to be happy more often. I'd like to live with and in this sense of contentment not for an hour, or a day, but every day. As many days as I can grab.

So here I am.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Fellowship of the Ring

When relationships end, there's always some kind of baggage ... I'm talking about all kinds of relationships here. The romantic kind and the platonic kind and even the familial kind. All of them. When a relationship of any kind goes south, there's always stuff left over. Some of it is emotional, the stuff you carry around with you in your head and heart. And some of it is physical -- the stuff that sits on a shelf, that you can't bring yourself to get rid of, but that you don't want to look at, either.

I find that I have an easier time unpacking my emotional baggage than I do the physical baggage. There's something about letting go of the tangible that I find very painful. However, since I don't ever want to be on "Hoarders" I will sometimes go through my house, ruthlessly shutting it down and throwing things away. Sometimes, you just have to harden your heart and do it.

And sometimes, there are things you can't just toss. Because, symbolism or no, exploded relationship or not, they are actually valuable.

As in, no one throws diamond rings in the trash.

But let's face it -- after a divorce? No one wants to wear them either.

To be honest, I did occasionally wear mine on my right hand. Because they were pretty, and because I often thought they were a reminder that I could survive anything. Eventually, though, it kind of made me feel like a loser, as though people would think I was pining for a relationship that was receding further and further into the past, which I wasn't.

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that the time had come to do something. It was a waste to have these rings and not wear them. Throwing them out, obviously, would be stupid. But keeping rings that I wasn't wearing anymore seemed equally stupid. So I held them in my hand and took a moment to look at them. Really look at them.

I remembered getting my engagement ring. How excited and happy I was. And then I let it go.

I remembered getting my wedding ring. How goofy and crazy that moment was. And then I let it go.

I looked at the ring I got on my honeymoon. How beautiful that trip was, how much fun. And then I let it go.

Things change, I thought. It's time for more change.

I gathered them up and went to a jewelry store, who took them and helped me to design something new. A ring. One that had components of all of those rings, but was new and beautiful. Shiny. Sparkly. All mine.

And like me, it is new and fresh, but also carefully constructed with pieces of the past. Because even as we unpack our baggage -- physical and emotional -- it's important to remember that it isn't and wasn't all garbage. Some things you need to let go. But some things -- the good things, the valuable things -- you can remake and keep.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's a Cat's Life

Two things I know I've already mentioned, multiple times (but here they are again, in case you're new here or if you enjoy watching as I repeat myself):

1. I work from home.

2. I have a cat.

By "work from home" of course, I mean "slave away in front of a computer, on my phone, for at least 9 hours a day, but usually it's more like 11 and sometimes I work on the weekend too and don't you wish you had my life, lalalalalala". I mean, really. I know y'all think I spend my days on the couch, watching whatever's on now that Oprah is off the air and eating bon bons, but no. No no no. I semi-competently run my little corner of the world with the wisdom and relative crankiness of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, if he was a thirty something woman who is sort of obsessed with 30 Seconds to Mars and cleaning and who rarely left the house.

(If you don't know who Gibbs is, then you need to watch some NCIS. RIGHT NOW. Because, seriously.)

Because I work from home, my addle-brained cat has become a little bit possessive. As in, she doesn't leave my side. While I work, she sleeps next to my desk. Like this:

Cute, right?

Except for the fact that all of that cute hides PURE, UNADULTERATED FELINE EVIL.

"But I don't see it," you're probably thinking. "I mean, look at the sweetly sleeping kitty! She's all fuzzy and awesome."

(That's how cats steal your soul, by the way. With the fuzzy and awesome and "awwwwww". Don't say you haven't been warned.)

Yes, she is sleeping sweetly. That's actually what she does ALL day. (Except for when she follows me to the bathroom or the kitchen, because she's a stalker.)

And at night, she is THE DEVIL. Because, you see, I have chronic insomnia, so I am frequently awake at night to be court jester to Her Majesty the Cat and amuse her with patting and brushing and playing. Fun for all, especially at 2 AM.

Lately, though, I have been able to sleep. Which is awesome. Or, which WOULD be awesome if the grey and white spawn of Satan didn't think that nighttime is playtime, and as such deems it absolutely urgent to wake me up for her entertainment by doing any and all of the following:

walking on my face
eating my hair
attacking my feet ("I don't know what those lumps under the covers are, but I must protect my human from them! AT ALL COSTS! DIE TOES DIEEEEE!")
standing on my chest
leaping in and out of the blinds so that they rattle like the bones of the dead
licking my ears (this might not sound tormenting, but the heebie-jeebies it induces? HORRIFYING)

Once I'm awake? She's all "I want to snuggle! Pat me! Play with me! Entertain me, human!"

And then -- then, when I have to drag myself to my desk at 6 am? She jumps onto the pillow and goes to sleep. Sometimes she makes wistful little noises. I'm pretty sure that she's dreaming joyfully of her nocturnal antics with her devoted human plaything.

Somebody here has it really good. Sadly, it's not me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Instant Karma

I keep seeing facebook posts about karma. Mostly, they're in the vein of "I can't wait for karma to catch up with that jerk" or "someday, karma's going to bite her in the ass, and when it does, I will LAUGH!"

These make me wonder if I understand karma properly.

I might be wrong, but if karma is about things coming back to you -- like, the good that you do in the world comes back to you -- then isn't hoping for something iffy to happen to someone sort of like hoping that something iffy will come back to you?

Look, I'm no saint. I know that when I do something that might be ... shall we say, questionable ... that it's going to come back to me. (Okay, I know that NOW. When I was younger? Not so much.) I accept that my actions have consequences. I also accept that I can't love everyone in the whole world all of the time.

But I also know that the more time I spend focusing on what other people do, the more time I waste being angry or vindictive? That doesn't help me at all. I'm not talking about meekly accepting when people are cruel or hurtful or abusive. You need to fight for what's right in your life. But I am talking about not wishing ill on people after the fight is done. If I carry hatred in my soul, it only hurts MY soul. It doesn't hurt the person who hurt me.

And that, frankly, seems like a terrible waste of time and energy.

It might also be ... bad karma.

So I'm trying something new. When any fight is over and the dust settles, I want to try to feel positively about whoever it was I was engaged with so that, rather than wanting bitter, horrible things to happen to them, I hope that they have learned from what happened, that they have found peace, that their lives move forward well. And I will worry only about how karma treats me. Because that is the only thing I can have control over.

I think that might be one way to find peace, after all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ten Questions (or, this is what you get when I can't formulate real thoughts)

1. Are people essentially good or essentially bad?

Let's start with the easy one, right? Why not?

I think people are essentially good. However, I think that sometimes, that good becomes directed or focused in ways that aren't always healthy or beneficial, and so they can do bad things from a place of pure intention. Which is why people are FRUSTRATING.
2. When lots of things go wrong at once, how do you react? What goes on in your mind?

I would like to say that I go to a place of zen, where it seems that time slows down and I can take care of things one at a time, appropriately, secure in the knowledge that everything passes.

Sometimes, that is exactly what happens.

 Other times I go into drama queen freak out mode, which is not always productive but is generally cathartic. I would prefer to be more zen and less chaos, but as a friend of mine recently pointed out, "sometimes you just have to have a hissy fit."
3. What are some of the most important lessons you've learned about pain in your life?

That it is necessary. That it is a sign that you've lived courageously. That it passes.

4. If you could sum up your philosophy of life in a few sentences, what would it be?

It's not about how you get knocked down. It's about how you get back up.

5. If you had to explain why the world is the way it is to your children, what would you say?

(Gets box of crayons) "See these? Look at all of the colours. Some are ones you REALLY like. Some are ones you don't like. Some of them go really well together. Some of them don't. But they all come in the same box. You don't get to choose. You'll have to get the ones that you like and the ones that you don't and the ones that get lost and the ones who get broken, the ones you love and the ones you don't care for -- all of them. Because that's how it is. In the box of crayons and in the world."
6. Do you believe things always turn out for the best?

Is there a point to believing otherwise? How depressing would that be?

7. What are you the most proud of about yourself and your life?

I'm here. I'm happy. I take nothing for granted. I'm proud of those. Anything else would just be vanity, I think.
8. Do you procrastinate a lot of the time, much of the time, or not much at all?

I've never been a procrastinator, because I think that when you give yourself no time in which to do something, you don't allow yourself to do it really well. (I also like the fact that, if you get something done right away, it doesn't hang over you, ruining your fun.)
9. What risks have you taken in your life? Have you avoided any?

I think life is risky by nature. Love is a risk. Dreaming is a risk. Growing and changing involve risks. But if you don't take the chance on any of them, you stagnate -- and what's the point of that? Why would you want to sit, a self satisfied, unchanging lump on a very dull log when you could be singing and dancing in the wind?

So yes, I've been known to take a risk. Or a hundred.
10. Are you usually on time or late for appointments?
I am chronically early.  I feel as though "on time" equals "late" ... I don't enjoy that in any way.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Things that Make You Go: "This is Ridiculous" or "Hmmm" (Depending on How You Feel About C&C Music Factory)

You ever have one of those days when you look at the world and think: what the heck is WRONG here?

I had a couple of those in a row. I called them "Saturday and Sunday".

And for your Monday morning reading pleasure, I will now share the moments that made me say "Hmmm."

1. Why do people complain when they get a speeding ticket and say what a jerk/ass/moron the cop was? If you're speeding, and you get caught, you get a ticket. If you don't want to get speeding tickets, then probably speeding isn't the brightest thing you can be doing with your time.  Also, the fact that your immediate reaction is that the cop is WRONG? Is probably being conveyed in your attitude and it may be why the officer is less than pleasant to you, if in fact he is. I'm just saying. If you're speeding, and you get busted, that's on YOU.  Please own it. Because I find the "it's not my fault I was going 20 over, the cop was a jerk" attitude to be annoying and unlikeable.

2. It should be easier to do the right thing. By which I mean: when someone is trying to do the right thing? Try to assist them. Don't yell at them or make it harder. Because -- well, because it seems to me that is the OPPOSITE of trying to make people want to continue to do the right thing!

3. If you have a store, and find that you are CONSTANTLY selling out of Medium, Large, and XL? And have only XS and SM left in ... oh, everything? It seems as though you might want to keep more Mediums, etc in stock. Because you'd sell them. (Good luck with those extra smalls, by the way.)

4. At some point in life, you need to realize that you are only responsible for your own life choices. You are not responsible for anyone else's. Making them feel badly because their choices are not your choices? Is kind of a scumbag thing to do.

5. McDonald's iced coffee is so delicous that it renders me suspicious. What's IN it? How does it work!? Why is it so addictive? I need answers, people!!!

Hmmmm, I say.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Suddenly, Salad!

I'm not naturally health concious.

Some people are, I think. Some people were born thinking about how delicous vegetables are and how they can't wait to taste another leafy green and how carbs are not your friends. Those are healthy, healthy people.

I, on the other hand, love starches and carbs. A LOT. I can honestly say that, until very recently, if you had told me that I had some sort of weird medical condition that meant I could only eat pasta... every day ... for the rest of my life ... well, I may have kissed you out of sheer gratitude. I LOVE it, in all of its starchy wonderous glory.

Of course, this sometimes makes me ... not so healthy, shall we say. Especially since I don't eat meat.

("You're the only vegetarian I've ever known who doesn't really like vegetables," a friend once observed.  To which I replied: "I love vegetables! On pizza. Or in pasta sauce!")


So no one was more surprised than I was when I started craving salad. Thinking about the delicious nature of hearts of romaine versus spinach in a salad. Considering the sweet crunchy goodness that is a raw carrot.

I really want a salad, I thought, dreamily. And then I thought, "What the hell is wrong with me? I don't even LIKE salads!"

Of course, to say that I don't like salad at all is a lie. But traditionally, the things I love about salads are not what makes them delectable. I like bleu cheese dressing. A LOT of it. And croutons. And tomatoes (which, yay, healthy) and (when I ate meat) bacon bits. I didn't even EAT the lettuce because I don't like lettuce.

You really want salad? I questioned myself, disbelievingly.

Yes, was the answer, Yes, I really do.

Here's the thing: If you've ever had an eating disorder, then you know that one of the hardest things to re-learn is how to listen to what your body is telling you. When you've spent several years denying it anything it might want (like, you know, food), then learning to trust it, to hear it, is a ridiculously large undertaking. It's like trying to build a cruise ship out of toothpicks. It doesn't happen overnight. There are lots of hits and misses.

So I kept checking in with myself.  Salad? Really?

And the answer kept coming back. "Yes, please."

So I went to the grocery store. And stood in front of the produce. Tons of choices. So what did I want?

This is where I confess that I am sometimes sort of ridiculous. (Or you know, frequently VERY ridiculous.)

I started loading up my cart with salad fixings -- cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms, celery, peppers -- when I thought, No.

I want GREEK salad. Like from Panera.  Not a dinner salad. GREEK salad.

I bought Greek salad fixings. I went home. I made a Greek salad.

Amazing. Amazingly tasty, yes, but also amazing that I listened to what my body was saying, and fed it appropriately. This could be the start of something beautiful.

I see many more salads in my future. Who knew?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice. And Me.

I like to try to help people. (And animals, which I have already mentioned)

Sometimes this goes REALLY well. For example, my mother and I once helped a woman who was in extreme distress after her toddler locked himself (and her infant) in their car. In the summer. In North Carolina. (It ended well, but it was a little crazy for a few minutes.)

Sometimes it goes sort of well. Like last weekend, when I was getting into my friend's car in a parking garage and a man pulled up behind us and asked me for directions. I walked over to his car, and gave him directions through his opened window. I waved good bye and then went back and got into my friend's car.


"You should NEVER approach the car of someone you don't know! What if he was a serial killer? Seriously? In a PARKING GARAGE?!"

Oops. Good point. I'd never thought about it. I probably should have. But all was well that ended well.

And sometimes, the helper impulse just ... doesn't work at all. Like when I found another stray (seriously, it's like I'm the neighborhood stray cat whisperer) and was told by animal control that when I managed to find that purebred Himalayan, to give her a call ... but the shelters are overwhelmed right now and no one can take this cat. (If he's still around in a few weeks, I'm supposed to give her a call. If he doesn't get hit by a car or attacked by a wild animal or whatever.)

So if what she said is true, and I'm assuming it is, then I would like to adopt him myself. He's a friendly little guy. But I can't have more than one cat. (Even though this little guy, who I foolishly gave a name ... I call him Denver, because of a John Denver song ... and why am I even explaining this? Anyway, Denver wants to live with me. I know because when I go outside, he purrs and follows me around and tries to get into the building. I can hear him meowing outside because he doesn't understand why I won't let him in. It's ... horrible. But I'll keep feeding him and hoping I can figure out what to do with him ... anyone want a cat?) And so I don't know what to do and I feel terrible.

Overdeveloped helper gene. I have one.  Apparently, to the detriment of my own personal safety (but I'm working on that). When it works out, it's awesome.

When it doesn't? It's kind of awful.

However, the thing that I've noticed is that when I'm in helper mode -- when I'm involved in whatever the current rescue mission is (well, except for when I'm potentially making myself the victim of a serial killer) strangers and passersby THANK me for helping. But they never stop to help. They always say, "It's good that you're willing to do that" but they don't do anything themselves.

Or they look at me like I'm crazy for getting involved.

Which, okay, maybe not everyone wants to rescue animals. (Even though they should.) But it seems problematic to me that our first instincts are not to take care of each other when we can. To offer aid. To HELP. Instead, it seems that often, our first instincts are "Do not get involved. Protect yourself."

I can't do it. So I guess that I'll just keep trying to help whenever I can, no matter what the outcome. Because I know this: I'd rather try to help and have it end poorly than make no attempt at all. I can live with a bad outcome, but I can't live with myself if I could have done something and instead, did nothing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Raise Your Glass

Here's to you.

Here's to you if you ever felt awkward or gawky.

Here's to you if you've ever felt too fat or too skinny.

Here's to you if you've felt alone. Here's to you if you have longed to be alone, just for a moment.

Here's to you if you've ever felt unloved, or unlovable. 

Here's to you if you've ever felt unpopular. If you were the last one picked for the team. If you ate lunch alone in the cafeteria.

Here's to you if you didn't fit in. If you felt like you didn't have a place. If you weren't sure where you belonged.

Here's to you if you never saw anyone in a magazine who looked like you. If you ever felt ugly. If you ever wished to be someone other than who you are.

Here's to you if you ever felt rejected.

Here's to you. Because we have ALL been there. Every single one of us. So -- here's to us. In all of our beautiful, wonderful, unique, amazing imperfection.

Here's to you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I have rewritten the first sentence to this blog about seven times. What I keep writing is: "I have a hard time letting go."

But it's more than that, really. I am a fixer, a do-er. A helper. A solver and an organizer. I like to take charge of situations and I'm usually pretty good in a crisis.

So when something gets lost, I want to call in the sniffer dogs and FIND it. And then dust it off, whatever it was, or mend it, and clean it up and make it all better.

We all know, though, that sometimes that can't happen. Some things, once lost, are irretrievable. You simply can't get them back. Some things can't be fixed. People are not puzzles to be solved, and they sometimes get a little annoyed when you try. Some fights cannot be won, despite expert generalship.

And frankly, this haunts me more than a little, because despite the fact that everything I just said is true -- I have and will encounter the unfixable, the unsolveable, the ungovernable -- it often feels like failure to me long after the moment has passed, and so I keep returning to the same place, again and again, wondering if there was something I could have, SHOULD have done, something that would have made things different.

It's only lately that I have started to recognize that the belief that I, personally, am responsible for the outcome to any situation is exceptionally arrogant. While I don't mind a smidgen of arrogance in my character (and yes, I know it's there), I do realize that I am NOT the Supreme Ruler of All Things or The Queen of the Universe. Not only is it ridiculous for me to continue to carry these burdens, it's kind of rude. It denies others their own responsibility and role.

If I hoard the blame for the failure of a relationship, or the loss of a friendship all for myself, then it doesn't allow the other party -- the lover, the friend -- any real presence in that relationship. Which, at the end of the day, shows that it was not a real love or friendship at all.

But if I can set down the basket of my guilt and grief tenderly, gently, then perhaps I can also understand that no one person is ever to blame for the failure of a relationship. The things he does, the things you do, the things she did -- they're imperfect and messy. They're what make it worth it to have friends and lovers and they're also what makes those relationships sometimes seem like ridiculously complicated roads to navigate. Sometimes you forget to look where you're going. Sometimes, he decides that he wants to take a different road. Sometimes she wants to stop and build a house and you want to keep exploring. It doesn't mean one person was wrong, or that one is vile and evil, it just means that you couldn't work together to stay in the same place. So you part ways.

And you let it go.

I'm beginning to understand. It's not about fixing or feeling guilty or blaming. It's about learning. Maybe it's about letting your thoughts go there when they want to, but instead of trying to figure out how you screwed it up, understanding that you, all by yourself, didn't screw anything up. And so, instead of feeling angry or sad, you try sending out love to someone who, after all, probably needs it. (We all could use a little extra love, couldn't we?)

It's about letting go of what doesn't serve you and holding on to what does.

Even when it's hard.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Flying Solo

Hey, you.

Yes, you.

The single girl over there,  the one who believes she will be alone forever.

You are enough.

All by yourself, you are enough.

Everything you need to be happy exists in your heart right now.

You have endless capacity for joy.

You are strong, resourceful, resilient.  You are wise. You have humour. You have empathy.

You are loved and you possess great stores of love for others.

I know you are afraid. I know you want what other people you know have. A relationship. Commitment. Someone to hold onto when the travelling gets rough.

About that I would say this: You cannot have what they have. The relationships you envy? They are singular, a particular blend of those two imperfect individuals that makes something special and yet, at the same time, something unknowable. Do not believe that any relationship is perfect or easy. None are. Do not make the mistake of believing that you know the secret heart of any relationship. You don't. Only the intertwined pair does. It is a land to which only they have a map.

I think you also believe that you need to find someone to complete you.

This is a lie.

You complete yourself.

A relationship will accent your life. It will highlight who you are, add to your life, make it better in some ways and, to be perfectly honest? Worse in others. Two lives do not become blended without compromise and bending. However, accentuation is not completion. Don't kid yourself.

If there are empty spaces? If there are holes? You need to do the digging to fill them yourself. You don't hand a man (or a woman, for that matter) a shovel and expect him to fill those holes for you. He will not appreciate it. (If the roles are reversed? You won't either.)

You are brilliant, beautiful, and bold.


You need to let go of the idea that you are not enough, just the way you are. I fear that you are letting moments -- outstanding, lovely moments -- pass by you in regret and longing. Let me tell you something: You will NEVER get them back, those minutes of your life. Do not waste them.

You are enough. Right now is enough.

All by yourself, you are enough.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Day I'm Scary, the Next Day? Something Else Again

Yesterday I ventured out of the house once again ... this time to go to the liquor store (because it turns out that making vodka sauce without vodka is a tricky business).

For the record, in an attempt not to frighten anyone, I actually thought about what I was wearing before I left. Plain grey t shirt, check. Long hippie skirt, check. Flip flops, check. Unlikely to scare any of my fellow liquor store shoppers. Off I went.

I got the vodka and then thought "You know what's delicious? Lemoncello. I need some. Right now." It took some finding, but I snagged a bottle of that too and went to pay.

The clerk stepped up to the counter and crossed his hands over his chest. He looked at me.

I have never really had the opportunity to say "He gave me the stink-eye" before but this guy? Was giving me the stink eye.

He didn't say a word.

He looked at me.

I looked back at him, with my eyebrows up in puzzlement. I think I may have cocked my head to one side, so as to view the glare more fully. (It was quite the angry glare. On a scale of 1 to 10? Probably a 9.75. He looked MAD.)

I thought, "Dammit! I'm not even WEARING the shirt today!"

"Um," I said. He just looked at me.

"Oh! I said. "Do you want my ID?" I dug it out of my purse and handed it to him. He snatched it up.

He looked at it.

He looked at me.

And then he went from Angry Liquor Store Guy to FRIENDLY Liquor Store guy and said this:

"Oh MAN! I am SORRY!"

And then came this, the best part:

"I didn't think you were old enough to buy alcohol!"

Followed by a "I'm sorry I was being such a jerk! Since colleges are getting out, we get a TON of people in here who aren't old enough to buy but think that they can scam us."


I am 35.

He didn't think I was 21.

I went from being scary lady to potentially criminally minded teenager all in the same week.

For the record? I prefer the latter.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Person Your Mother Warned You About

The problem with working from home (and there are a few of them -- I know that if you are a person who goes into an office every day, this is probably the part where you roll your eyes in annoyance and you may have muttered "Oh PLEASE" to yourself, which is fine, but let's review what you have in your workplace that I don't have in mine. A supply closet, which the magical office fairies keep well stocked. Other people with whom you can talk and make lunch plans. Possibly even on site IT support. Think about it) is that, well, you're at home. So if you are having a crazy hair day, the kind where no matter what you do, your bangs insist on looking like something hideous JK Rowling might have mentioned on an evil character in Harry Potter, or if your skin is doing something blotchy, or if you oversleep and don't have time to shower -- well, none of it matters. It's fine. Because no one will see you.

Now, having said that, I would like to say here that I do shower and actually get dressed on a daily basis. I usually also put on makeup because it helps me with the transition between "not working" and "working" -- a vital distinction when your office is in your house.

However, I should point out that dress code here is verrrrrrrrry relaxed.

Which is, of course, where the trouble starts.

You see, of late I have an affinity for things with skulls on them. I don't know why, or where it came from. I just ... kind of, a little ... like skulls.

I also like pink.

So when I found a hot pink tshirt with a black skull screen printed on it, you KNOW I bought it. Admittedly, I bought it for a halloween costume. But I love it. It's perfectly comfortable. And so, sometimes, I wear it when I'm hanging out at home. No big deal. I don't, as a rule, wear it outside of the house, with the exception of a recent concert-going adventure, for which it seemed wildly appropriate.

So in the opposite fashion of most people, I have clothes that I have deemed "work appropriate" but not "leaving the house" appropriate. Because, as I've mentioned, I work from home.

On occasion, though, I forget what I'm wearing. And then I go to run an errand.

It happens.

Yesterday afternoon, I had to go to the grocery store. I had a list, I had my purse, I was ready to go. I was walking through the parking lot when I noticed a mother and her toddler. The little guy waved at me from his perch in the shopping cart. I smiled and waved back. The mom looked at me, made a face, and moved the cart to where the kid couldn't see me.

"That's so unfriendly," I thought. 

I went into the store and felt like people were giving me a wide berth. The first couple of times it happened, I didn't think much of it, since I had grabbed what could best be described as a NASCAR cart -- it only wanted to turn left -- and so steering it down the aisles was an issue. "Maybe they're afraid they'll get hit with this godforsaken cart," I thought.

But it kept happening.

That was when the paranoia set in. Did I SMELL? Was I stinky? Was my hair doing something crazy? Was I somehow, unknowing, giving off a vibe that said "Potentially armed and unstable"? What was going on?

I hurried through the remainder of my shopping. The cashier eyed me warily until I began to make small talk. Then she thawed out.

I went to my car and caught sight of my reflection in the rear windshield. And began to laugh.

I had on a black skirt, black flipflops, and the hot pink skull shirt.  Due to a recent bout with insomnia, I had big dark circles around my eyes.

Some days, apparently, I AM the person your mother warned you about.

However, the whole "stay away from the scary lady" thing made me think. How offensive is it that we still judge each other so harshly for things so very, very superficial? Did I seem dangerous to that mom in the parking lot, when I waved back to her son?  Because ... why? A hot pink shirt with a skull on it screams "danger"? Because nothing screams "serial killer" like my five foot five inch, skirt and flip flop clad self?

While the whole thing was comical, it also makes me incredibly sad. At the same time, though, it fills me with resolve to be a better person, a less judgemental one, who is not willing to take anything or anyone at face value.

Even if they're NOT wearing fun shirts with skulls on them.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Being the Crazy Cat Lady (or CCL for short)

I only have one cat. I tried having two cats. It ... well, I can't talk about it.

But again, for the record, I only have the one.

Not that it matters. I am a crazy cat lady. I think it's official. Here's why.

This morning, I went out to get my mail when I was distracted by some sad meowing. (Indication #1 that I am a CCL: I could tell that the meowing was sad, as opposed to, erm, not sad.)

I looked about me and found a big, fluffy, filthy cat sitting in the dirt, looking at me out of clear blue eyes. "Hey, kitty," I said, "What's the matter?"

(Indication #2  -- I talk to strange cats. As though they might answer me.)


I began to kneel, mail completely forgotten. The cat began to back up. "Hey, no," I said. "I'm nice. See?" I reached out a hand very, very slowly. The cat approached cautiously, continuing to cry. "Mew, mew." But now it was also purring -- just a little. It bumped its head against my outstretched hand.

A word about this cat. It was not a run of the mill, random breed cat (which is what my cat is. I love her, but she's a mutt). It was an expensive breed. A Fire Point Himalayan.  The kind of cat they show in fancy cat food commercials. She (I decided she was a she, but I don't know why) didn't have a collar. Despite the fact that she was now wanting to be near me, she was still skittish and mewing.

"What's the matter, Puss?" I patted her head. (Indication #3 -- I half expected the cat to provide some sort of explanation. Because I am a CCL, obviously.)

I moved to stand. She hid beneath a car.

That was when I thought: This is a bad scene for a cat. She's obviously been outside for a bit -- she's approaching the level of dirty that comes right before a long haired cat begins to get dreadlocks -- and she's not able to keep herself clean, based on the level of dirty and stuff in her fur. And she's hanging out in a busy parking lot.

I was not okay with any of this.  Steps must be taken.

I went inside and called animal control to help me catch her. Kathy at animal control said she'd come.

I sat at my desk and tried to get something done in the meantime. Then I thought, "That cat looked hungry."
(Indication #4 -- deciding that you can decode the emotion behind a cat's expression). "And scared." Sniffle. "And lonely!" and now I was weeping. (Indication #5 clearly needs no further elaboration.)

I filled a dish full of catfood and went outside. She was gone.

"Kitty?" I said hopefully. She didn't appear. Then, to my horror, I saw a flash of movement at the far end of the parking lot.

She was in the dumpster.


This was bad. It was also potentially fatal. I haven't figured out the dumpster schedule, but if she is in there when they empty it? Bye bye kitty.

"Kitty!" I said, running over. "You need to come out of there!" (Indication #6 -- thinking a cat might do what you say.)

"Mew," said the cat, sadly. As if to say "My life is so sad that now I'm in a DUMPSTER." (And that would be indication #7...)

(Indication #8 is when I considered climbing INTO the dumpster to get the cat out. Fortunately, the cat food I placed on the ground did the trick.)

She ate ravenously. I talked to her while she did it, "See, that's better right? Poor old girl. Poor kitty," I crooned. I also may have cried a little bit more.

Some people came out and started their car. She startled: "MEW!" she said, and went into the woods.

They looked at me curiously. I shrugged.

"I like cats," I said, and pulled the sleeves of my cardigan down over my hands. (Indication #8. CCLs LOVE cardigans. Duh.)

Kathy came. The cat would not be caught. Kathy said she'd come back and try again. "Poor kitty," she said. "Mew!" said the cat, from the space under the shrubs where she had wedged herself. Apparently, Kathy and me (and Dwayne from Building Maintenance, and Heather from 505, who are also Crazy Cat People) were about 4 people too much for her.

So now I'm sitting here, worrying that she'll be killed in the dumpster or hit by a car. And as I write this, I look at my own cat, sound asleep on a pillow (that's there just for her),  curled into a ball, head tucked under her front paw as though she simply can't face another work afternoon and I get a bit of a lump in my throat. "You're so lucky," I say out loud, and I don't know who I mean. Maybe I mean her, because she has food and a house and toys and a human who dotes on her. And maybe I mean me, because I get to hang out with her.

Even if it does make me a Crazy Cat Lady.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I have written before that I used to think that there was some sort of "Well, NOW I'm an adult" moment. (Missed it? It's right here: ) However, I didn't know what it would BE.

But of late I have been gathering evidence, and the grand jury that lives in my noggin has reached a verdict:

People, I think ...  I think I may officially be a ... grown up.

(I KNOW! It's freaking me out too!)

Behold, my list of "signs that I am actually an adult." (You'll notice that paying bills and working are not on this list. It's because I've been doing both of those things since I was 15, so they don't really signify adulthood to me. Instead, they're just what you do. Now back to list.)

1. I looked in my fridge today and thought, "Oh, that stuff is going to go bad. Am I going to eat it? No? Then I should throw it away before it gets smelly."


This might not seem like a big deal to you. However, as OCD as I am about general lifestyle organization, the fridge tends to... well, escape my notice... until it becomes a biohazard full of stinky, slimey horror, at which point I have to deal with it in gagtastic misery.

But not TODAY, friends and neighbors. Not today. Today? I got ahead of the nastiness and made a pre-emptive strike. And you know what?

It felt GLORIOUS.  And ... righteous. And ... dare I say it? ... adult.

2. I was flipping through the radio stations and heard a song that I LOVED when I was in high school and sang along enthusiastically. Then the dj came on and said ... well, she said...

(It's almost too terrible to say it out loud)

"Thank you for joining me for CLASSIC LUNCH."

It was as though my world came to a screeching, shuddering halt. WHAT? That's not a CLASSIC! "Don't Fear the Reaper," now THAT'S a classic. Or  "Hound Dog". I am NOT ready for Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" to be considered classic rock. I'm just NOT!

Because (whispers): I'm older than that song.

So if it's a classic ... what am I? Antique?

Nope. Just a grown up.

3. I find myself saying things like "Where is that girl's MOTHER?" when I see inappropriately dressed girls in public. (FYI -- if you are a teenaged girl, and you are wearing shorts that are so short that the lining for your pockets hangs down BELOW the hem of the leg? I have asked this question about you. Now go put some damn clothes on, said the cranky old lady.)

4. I was shopping. I saw an adorable dress. I mean, we're talking "stop me in my tracks, make me say 'oooooooh, pretty!' " adorable. And in my next breath I said to my companion:

"I love that, but I think it's too young for me."

Because ... and I could weep right now ... it WAS. It would have looked amazing on someone in her early 20s. It would have made me look inappropriate and as though I'm trying too hard. MUCH too hard. So sad. But so true.

5. I have come into possession of discernment. I suddenly have a new appreciation for "when to let things go" and "when to make a bit of a scene". I don't know where I picked this up, but it's been incredibly handy of late. And it's not nearly as painful as #4 on this list, so ... yay!

I have also applied this new fantastic ability to other aspects of my life. For example, I can let go of actual, physical things that I've held onto for a pathetically long time (and look at that! I realized my own level of pathos!) Such as what, you may be asking. Such as wedding photos, I would say. I've kept them because throwing them out made me feel guilty. Until I realized I had no need to feel guilty, because -- discernment kicks in -- I didn't do anything wrong, and getting rid of them? Will be the last act in the mooooving right along process. So farewell photos.

So there you have it. I'm a grown up.

And though it's kind of weird to acknowledge it,  I feel pretty good about it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hair, Cut.

I have the kind of hair that hairdressers want to get their hands on -- at least, until they realize how, well, abundant it is. I have very thick, healthy, lovely hair. I also have about twice as much of it on my head as the average person. You may think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. Case in point: when I was in high school and thought perming my hair was a good idea (it wasn't), a perm would take from 4 to 6 hours due to the rolling. I would usually end up with about 300 curling rods on my head. Colouring my hair requires two or three trips to mix up more colour. Blow drying my hair has been known to take at least 30 minutes, often longer.

I usually keep my hair fairly long. This is because I have a really big head, the kind that doesn't look good in hats because, well, most hats don't fit properly. As such, when I have short hair, my head tends to look disproportionate to the rest of me, in a Bobblehead-y fashion. I hate bobbleheads, and have no desire to resemble them. So, long hair.


When you have super thick hair (and a lot of it to boot) you get headaches every time you put your hair in a ponytail. It takes your hair forever to air dry, and blow drying is a time drain. (And if you put your hair up while it's wet? Forget it. It will still be wet when you take it down, and will feel rather gross.) You will eat it with some regularity. It will be EVERYWHERE all of the time.

A few weeks ago I decided that I had ENOUGH. It was time, I thought, to let go of the long hair. It was time to go short, Bobblehead be damned.

I found a hair cut I liked.

I went to the hairdresser. I showed her the photo. She made affirmative noises. I got in the chair.

This was when things started to go ... shall we say, sideways.

The problem with being excessively nearsighted and also having allergies is this: I can't always wear my contacts. I went to the hairdresser with my glasses on. Of course, for her to be able to cut my hair, she needed me to take them off. At that point, I was completely at her mercy and unable to see what she was doing.

Also, she was having a VERY bad day. A hugely bad, horrible day involving her two children, issues with her ex husband, and a boyfriend who bailed on her during the issues with the kids and the ex. We talked about it while she cut my hair. Snip, snip, snip.

When she got done, she styled it. I love having people play with my hair. No problem.

Then I put my glasses back on.

And didn't really know what to say.

I went in with a photo, remember? I had this vision of a funky, edgy, short cut.

My reality did NOT match my vision. Not even a little. Instead of my fun crazy cut? I have a bob.
A very boring, longer than I want it to be bob.

At first I thought, maybe I'm not being open minded enough about this. After all, she did style it to be super poofy. Sort of like a brown football helmet. Maybe it will be more fun when it's not so -- big, I thought. Plus she was having a miserable day and I didn't have the heart to say, "Um, this? Is not what I wanted." (Should have. Didn't.)

To be fair, it isn't ... terrible. I've had worse haircuts, I suppose. I just don't, you know, love it.

Or really even like it.

However, I will say this: It was honestly worth it to me not to upset her any more on that particular day. I can live with this for three more weeks, and then I'll go back in and be VERY EXPLICIT and make sure that, when I walk out, I have the hair I wanted. She'll be happy, I'll be happy, we'll all be happy.

It's just hair.

It's just hair that I will NOT be posting on the internet. Sigh.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Losing Season

I know a lot of people who are grieving right now. For friends. For children. For parents. For lovers. I find my heart is broken for them, that I want to offer them something for their losses.

I also find that anything I have to say seems so small and insignificant in the face of overwhelming loss. I feel like I'm trying to wash a car with a cotton swab... ridiculous and inept.  My words sound hollow.

I believe -- with everything I am -- that grief is part of the well lived life. That one only grieves because one has had the courage to love. Because love -- all kinds of love -- takes courage when you realize that all of our stories will end the same way. As a result, loving someone -- loving anyone -- means that you have looked at the odds and decided that the pain of eventual loss is worth it, that it is more important to cherish the moment you have right now than it is to wall yourself off and protect your heart.

I believe that.

I also know that belief is sometimes not very comforting. In the moments when you long for the person you have lost, when you want nothing more than the chance to touch a cherished face one more time, knowing that you dared to love and were loved back is like a slap in the face. The knowledge that time is both precious and fleeting is not what you want someone to say to you.

So perhaps the right thing to say is ... nothing.

Perhaps there are no words necessary.

Just a pair of open arms, held out in yet more love.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Someone recently asked me what my blog is about. (She has never read a blog, was intrigued by the idea of blogging, and wanted to talk to me about mine.) I told her that it's filled with whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes it's very personal. Sometimes it's not.

"I process things through writing," I said. "So my blog is where I do some of my better thinking."

She looked dissatisfied with the answer, but that didn't make it any less true. Writing is where my best thinking happens, where I sort things out and make sense of them. My thoughts become clear to me when I can see them and take them back in through reading. I don't pretend to understand how that works, or why it works, or why the world in general seems so much better when filtered through the printed word, but that's how my brain functions.

I've come to rely on this space for helping me to puzzle through where I'm at and where I'm going.

Therefore, it bothers me immensely that I have some things going on that I can't write about here. Despite the fact that I do frequently (and with great joy) excercise my right to live my life on the Internet with very little privacy and few to no boundaries, I have run up against one that is a bit of a deal breaker. There are places you can't (or perhaps just should not) go on a blog (or on Facebook for that matter) because the ramifications of doing so can stretch well beyond my normal realm of "Your blog entry really pissed me off" and into the realm of "Congratulations! You just lost your Job!" or "Hi, now I'm suing you!"

Unfortunately, the thing I can't write about it sort of consuming me at the moment. As a result, you get to read a kind of shitty blog post written by someone who is frustrated and not very happy. I know there's a light at the end of every tunnel, but I feel like I've been walking for a long time in the dark, listening to my own footsteps, with no clearer view of where the exit might actually be. It's infuriating. I am angry and hurt.

But oddly, I am also hopeful. Because things pass. This moment of unhappiness? It will pass. These feelings of frustration? They will also pass.

And when they do? I will write about them.