Monday, March 19, 2018

Middle of the Night Ideas...

I had one of those dreams last night that I was aware of while it was happening and the part of my brain that is aware of my dreams was sure that this was a great story and I was really pleased to have a good bordering on great idea for a short story. Maybe I would even save it and use it for a submission piece next month. It was that good. So when I woke up I pulled out my phone and opened Notes and started typing away. And went...what? None of this makes sense. I stopped and thought about the dream again, trying to grasp what it was that had seemed so brilliant and finally gave up. It's not great. It's not good. It's not even coherent.

It happens. A lot.

There is just a classification of ideas that you get that are only brilliant in the middle of the night. Dream ideas for stories fall into that quite often. There are also things that seem great at 2 AM when you're drunk that don't really work out well the next day when you think about them again. That could have just been me, and probably a good portion of the reason why I don't drink much and I rarely stay up late. It's just better for everyone.

But then I got thinking, what are the other things that we hold on to and try to make sense of that, even if they technically aren't, are really middle of the night ideas that just need to be let go.

This past weekend I posted something on Facebook and one of my ultra conservative friends commented on it. I didn't engage because there was no point in it. We do not see the world the same way. As in alternate universe differences. His response to my post was just a confirmation of it. Such a different way of viewing the world I thought to myself, "Really? You see all of this information and THAT'S what you get from it? Well, now I know who is believing the stuff that I think, 'who is believing this stuff?' about." But the trick is that I know he is just as puzzled by what I believe. He cannot believe that I see all of the same stuff and don't come to the conclusions that he does. We both believe the other is full of middle of the night ideas that make no sense. And though logically I know he has to believe what he says, I also cannot work out the logic he uses to believe such clear nonsense. So I don't engage.

Which leads me to one of the big barriers to life right now. We are all really divided. Everything is tribal. We vilify the other side. If we don't vilify them we consider them to be idiots. I made the decision and keep making the decision to keep writing about what I think even though I know it will not change minds. I know it's all just another layer for people who think the same things as I do to wrap themselves in, but I decided to do it anyway. But I also made the decision to try my hardest not to fight with people about things that will not change.

I did it with guns after Sandy Hook. Though the kids in Florida gave me some hope so I commented about it more this time, but I still won't argue with anyone who is a Second Amendment FOR LIFE! person. I just won't do it anymore. They are going to have to come to some recognition of the well regulated part on their own. I'm tired of running in to that brick wall and having someone else's beliefs papered over what I am actually saying. I was tired of no change happening and each time I made suggestions on ways we could actually regulate the guns we have being told that confiscation wasn't going to happen. Seriously. It's exhausting to have to keep re-reading what you are writing and trying to figure out where you said what they are telling you that you said only to discover that nope, you didn't say that anywhere except in their heads.  So I stopped.

Which is really hard. Trust me. When you see someone post something stupid like, "Criminals don't follow laws." or "There is nothing that could have been done." or one of my favorites, "they would have just used a knife!" (I've been stabbed twice in my life and if I had been shot by an AR-15 or any other high-velocity gun in those two spots I would have died so yeah) There are a lot of times I want to send a PM to the person who is arguing and give them better arguments. But I don't. I close it down and walk away. There is no reaching someone who does not want to be reached. For instance you aren't going to convince me that your want of an AR-15 to play with is somehow what the Founding Fathers were talking about when they wrote The Second Amendment in the first place. (I'm not arguing, it's my blog, I'm talking)

But there are so many things right now. Pretty much everything that Trump does or does not do. Local politics. Regional politics. National politics. Things that never used to be considered political but somehow are now. We think this so we are right. You think that so you are evil. We have Stars on Ours....

It's all a bit crazy.

Middle of the night ideas.

So how do we change? Can we change? I'm trying not to fight with people as much. I'm trying not to post on public posts, even from friends, if I think the original content or the comments are too negative or have gone sideways. I'm trying to keep my level of disgust in check. But I'm not staying silent. I'm not going along to get along. I'm going to continue to post my opinions on things. I'm going to keep being a little surprised when someone that I know believes something I can CLEARLY see is nonsense. And then I will keep trying to remind myself that somehow they think the same about what I believe.

But I still don't know that anything changes. Except we keep getting more polarized. We keep finding excuses to stick with only people that agree with us. Because, let's face it, listening to someone espouse an idea that you not only disagree with but find repugnant makes it pretty much impossible to keep a good thought about them in your head. And I think we are all so tired of fighting. But instead of stopping fighting we are just spending time with people who think the way we do. Which is also a bad middle of the night idea. With no differences there is no change. And with no change we stagnate. That's not good for anyone.

So I'm not sure what to do here. I guess we will have to see if we wake up from this bad dream and realize what a bad idea it has all been.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What were you thinking?

You would think that being able to read minds would be a great skill to have. You would think that if you couldn't do it. If you could do it you would realize that it's a horrible thing to live with.

Janine had been able to read minds her entire life. Because of her gift she quickly understood that most people were truly awful. It wasn't just the big horrific things that she heard people thinking, things like murder or rape or theft, it was the myriad of small petty things. The constant judging and ranking of everyone around them. The difference between the thought in their head and the things that they said. She had only met a small handful of people whose inside and outside voices matched. Those were the really kind ones, or the really mean ones. Only people on the extreme edges ever matched.

The really mean ones she steered clear of, like most people do. The really kind ones she was attracted to the strongest. Because they were there easiest to manipulate.

Janine was also a truly awful person.

She liked to believe it was because she had spent her life hearing what the world really thought. That would make it very hard for anyone to maintain their optimism. It really was awful to constantly hear what the world really thought about everything, but especially what they really thought of you. But she suspected she would have been a truly awful person anyway and her gift just exacerbated the situation. The truth was she was good at being bad. And she really enjoyed it. She thought, well actually she knew, that most people would be the same if they had her talents.

Janine had used her gifts in a variety of ways but when it came down to it she was a con artist. She usually made her living as a psychic medium. The fact that she was a real psychic made being a fake medium very easy. People thought about what they wanted you to tell them. They held the names of the dead in their minds. They told you what answers they wanted to hear. Yes, Uncle George is happy. Yes he wants you to feel no guilt at all over cheating Cousin Susie out of her inheritance, she was a nasty piece of work anyway. No he will not tell you where the hidden cash is, he hid it for a reason after all. Death did not make Uncle George any more helpful.

She could drag a willing client along for months or even years. They got to be dependent on her. Asking her for advice on everything. Sometimes the spirits were right, sometimes they were wrong. But they always knew the exact right things to say to keep the money rolling in. Janine was highly sought after. She had quite the reputation. The Amazing Randi had even tried to debunk her. He wouldn't admit that she was the real deal but he did have to admit that he couldn't figure out how she was faking people out. She had been very impressed with the levels he went to to trip her up. He had planted false information on the web that would have come up if she was doing pre-research on her clients. The problem was that lies stood out like a bright light in a mind, with the truth hiding right behind it. All she had to do was move his curtain to the side and see his truth. After the fourth or fifth time she did it she saw the smallest kernel of belief in his head. Then he convinced himself that it was all a trick that he just hadn't figure out how to do. She had smiled at him then and said, "It's not."

After that her reputation just kept growing. She was a "proven psychic medium" now. She was no phony. Her client list kept growing. People waited a year for an appointment. She had assistants who handled her schedule. Since she had to see everyone in person and couldn't do things via the phone or the internet like some others in her line of work people sometimes waited a year for an appointment. They flew in from all over the world to see her. She was making a lot of money. A lot of money.

But she was incredibly bored. There had to be more she could do with her talents than just this. Though it was profitable it was so time consuming. And it wasn't like she could train someone else to handle the day to day operations while she just supervised. Though there had been many people who had come to her to learn her ways. Other con artists who recognized talent and wanted a piece of the pie. They always left disappointed. And pissed off. How dare she not share the wealth.

She had been thinking of new things to do when Candice walked in to her meeting room. Candice was a new client. She was there to find out if her dead husband had been cheating on her. She was pretty sure he had been. There was a lot of evidence that showed he was. Really she knew he had been. But he was dead now and she wanted to think good things about him. Well not about him so much as about herself. People didn't understand how much being cheated on changed the way you thought about yourself. She had always had a really strong sense of self worth and finding out he had been cheating on her had destroyed that. She had suddenly felt worthless. It was devastating. But maybe she was wrong. She hoped she was wrong. She was going to find out for sure.

All of that hit Janine in an almost solid wall of thought when Candice walked in to the room. The other thing that hit Janine was Candice's net worth. Her husband was a wealthy man but that was nothing compared to what Candice herself already owned. Janine's entire business empire wouldn't cover the tax bill on Candice's estate in one year. Suddenly Janine was a lot less bored. Her mind started spinning with the idea of becoming Candice's personal medium. Living like royalty. All of that money backed with all of that insecurity? It was a ripe juicy plum just waiting to be picked.

"He loved you, but he was intimidated by you."

Candice hadn't even sat down yet when Janine hit her with that. Candice's hand flew up to her throat, "What?"

"I'm sorry. That just came in to my head as you walked in, how rude of me. I'm Janine St. Clair, how may I help you?"

"No, that's what I am here for. I wanted to see if you could speak to my husband, my late husband, but of course you know that, you're a medium why would I ask you to speak to my husband if he were still alive. I'm sorry, I'm just flustered. Is he here right now? Are you already talking to him? How did you know to contact him?"

"He is here. He is with you. He can't bear to leave you while you are feeling so..."

"Insecure. It's okay, you can say it. He always said he hated how insecure I was. How needy."

"He's sorry about saying that. He didn't want you to feel badly, he wanted you to understand how you did not need to ever feel that way."

Janine spent the next hour soothing Candice's fragile ego. The whole time picking her way around her thoughts. Selecting bits of information to use for a follow up. There was a lot of good stuff about her mother in there. No wonder Candice was so needy. What a cold woman she had had for a mother. Where was her father? Oh yes, so much there as well. This was going to be easy.

And it was. Within a few months Candice had moved Janine on to her Malibu compound. The guest house Janine was living in was nicer than her own place a few miles inland. She also had an apartment in the luxury tower Candice stayed in when she traveled to New York for business. She couldn't bear being too far away from Janine for too long. Janine officially retired. She was fine being a pampered employee of Candice. A spoiled lap dog, as her butler thought of her. She had barked at him and he had gone three shades of pale.

After six months Janine started to expand her influence. Candice no longer just counted on her for soothing her ego but brought her to business meetings. She took only Janine's advice on who to work with. Who to invest in. Who to trust. Candice was completely dependent on her advice. That's when Janine started to play with her. She set up an offshore account and started to siphon money from Candice's accounts. Passwords were childsplay. She also started to accumulate blackmail material. Give Janine an ultra wealthy individual and Janine would find you their dirty secrets. Tax evasion, affairs, illegal business dealings. There was always something, and Candice was no exception. Janine collected her information.

Once she had everything she wanted from Candice she set up her killing blow. She arranged for Candice to invite the women her late husband had been sleeping with to tea. All six of them. Candice had suspected he had been sleeping with one other woman, but never this many. And never would have guessed that he would have chosen people in their social circle. But he had. Janine had found them through the year. Remembering him fondly when they would run in to Candice someplace. None of them realized that they were not to the only one as well so this was going to be fun on a lot of levels. Getting them all in one room had taken a lot of manipulating and planning. Planting ideas for fundraisers and charitable events that they all would be able to work on. Bringing all of their expertise with them. These were accomplished women. Business owners, CEOs, CFOs, leaders of boards. So much success in one room. So much to ruin.

They sat down to tea and started planning. Janine put her hand to her head and closed her eyes. Candice noticed right away, "Are you okay?"

"Yes..." Janine whispered and looked around the room at all of the faces, "Yes, I just..." Then she did her best trying to hide what she was feeling expression. "I just think I should get some fresh air. I..."

The women around the table began to get nervous. They all knew what she was, but had assumed that if Robert had been going to talk to Janine about them he would have done it much earlier. They had all heard the story of Candice and Janine's first meeting after all. They figured they were in the clear. Then the shift started to happen. The women around the table noticed that the other women around the table were just as nervous as they were.

Janine swooned again. Then she could no longer hold back her shocked expression. "I just...All of you?" She said with disgust dripping from every word. "He won't shut up. I'm sorry. He just won't shut up." She looked toward the CFO of the largest Talent Agency on the West Coast, "In your office? Really?" Then she shook her head, "You really let him do that? While your kids were home?" At this the small pretty blonde next to her covered her mouth in shock and horror.

Candice was started to figure out what was happening. The pain and horror was spreading across her face. The realization that her husband HAD been unfaithful to her after all. And not with one woman, but with all of these women. And they had all thought they were something special. They had trusted him just as much as she had. It was devastating.

Janine thought about her hidden assets and the ruin she was going to leave here for someone else to clean up. She thought about her next adventure. She had bought a beach house in the Cayman Islands to go with her stolen funds. She was thinking she might start a new religion. That seemed like fun. She really was a horrible person. As she was planning her escape Candice was making her way toward her. She grabbed her by the shoulders.

"Gary? Are you listening? I can't believe I trusted you. I never should have trusted you!" Candice cried in Janine's face, trying to reach her dead husband.

Janine shrugged her off, "You're right. You never should have."

Thursday, March 15, 2018


You all know how I love my goals, my sub goals, my mini goals and my stretch goals. I like to feel like what I am doing is reaching for something. Like I'm moving toward things, even if I don't appear to be doing much different to a lot of people. In that vein I've been doing a monthly goal this year along with my yearly goals. January was to cook dinner 3 times a week, February was to do a Spanish lesson 3 times a week, March is to cook dinner 3 times a week, do a Spanish lesson 3 times a week and publish a blog 3 times a week. Excluding the first week where I gave myself a little smaller target since we were going to be gone for half of it.

Basically March is reinforcing the January and February goals (which I met, by the way) while making sure I get some blogs published which fits with my yearly goal of posting 156 blogs total with 52 of them being fiction. I think sometimes that's necessary. The reinforcing part. I pick up and put down a lot of things so sometimes I do something then walk away from it and don't go back, even if it's something I really want to do. So March is for reinforcing.

April is going to be another monthly goal in service of a yearly goal. That whole print submission thing. I want to submit 3 pieces by the end of the year. April marks the first third of the year gone (EEK!) so April's goal is to get something, anything submitted someplace. I'm pre-sweating it, but I will get it done. I love my stars too much to not do so.

Along with those things I'm also researching cutting the cord for our cable. Not really something I'm excited to be researching but we've been talking about doing it and Brent is way too fucking busy at work to do it so I am. There is a ton of stuff to look at on one hand and on the other it's not actually easy to compare because they (cable and different streaming services) know that a lot of us will just revert to easiest as the setting instead of least expensive. My head starts to hurt after about a half hour of it all so I can see that their nefarious plans are working.

I'm also starting to make some head plans for a visit from friends at the end of the month. We have one friend who will be here almost a week and another two who will be in for the weekend. The reason they are head plans right now and not more is that it's right at hockey play off time so if the Hawks are playing at home that weekend I will be taking everyone to a playoff game or two, if not we will be doing something else. That and some of the things we had originally talked about we can't do due to the massive forest fires last summer. But I'm thinking tulip festival, Coast, Mount Hood possibly depending on weather, Saturday Market, Japanese Gardens, Zoo, drive up to Multnomah Falls for a peek from the parking lot even though the hike is know nothing much just a few options...

Also making plans for an August trip around my birthday with the boys to LA then staying there and visiting with friends who will be taking an August trip for a birthday remembrance. So excited for both halves of that trip. Love going to new places as a family, and we don't get to do the whole family thing as often anymore, and seeing someone I haven't seen in years after that as well as meeting an old friend face to face for the first time. Hugs are well overdue in that situation.

AND making plans for Fall football trips already. Looks like we are going to do three games. One of them I was on the fence about because it can be really cold already at that time of year, but I am trying not to be such a baby about the weather and let Brent enjoy it some more. Though it's beginning of November, not end, so I am still being a bit of a baby.

We are also already talking about next winter's trip. We are thinking we might hit Mexico or the Caribbean instead of Hawaii. Someplace the water is just a touch warmer that time of year. It's hard to do though, since we love Hawaii and seeing the whales, but we also really loved being there in the summer when we could walk out and snorkel at 7 AM without a chill. The older I get the more I appreciate not getting a chill first thing in the morning. (Baby)

Sometimes plans start but don't finish. I almost went to London last weekend. The game I played years ago was celebrating its 10th Anniversary and there was a big meet for players. I had dismissed the idea of going since I no longer play but as people I am friends with started talking about going I considered going just to see so many of them in one place. My friend who is visiting here at the end of the month gave me the dates and encouraged me to go. Another friend chimed in with the DOOOEEET! and Brent, of course, said do whatever you want to. I joked that if the margarita hadn't worn off I would have gone. But it's really true. Brent looked at flights during dinner and I looked at them when we got home. Points was the way to do it, but even then it was all of my points plus a good chunk of money and I would have been leaving a few hours after we got home from Hawaii and flying a LOT of hours for a couple of days and...well once I slept on it I realized it was probably something I should have planned a few months earlier when I wasn't even considering doing it but could have afforded it a little better.

It was the right decision. I would have been exhausted and there were a lot of people there. I love about 10 of them. Like about 15 more and have no idea who the other 100 are since I don't play anymore. It would have been a lot of energy to take in. I would have loved parts of it, been so excited to see a few people and look in their eyes. And I would have hated parts of it. There is a low level of drama at all of those things that is always tough for me to process. It's taken years for me to understand that about myself, but I do, and I'm good with it. So it was the right decision. (the secret to being happy about your life is to tell yourself that the decision you made that you cannot change was a good one.) Someday I hope to see a lot of those people face to face. But just in smaller groups where I can actually spend some time one on one with them and talk. Those have always been my favorite parts of the meets I've been to anyway. Going to the Empire State Building with just Kathie and Glenn gave me a chance to get to know them in a way that dinner with EVERYONE did not. Walking to get coffee in Toronto with Nadine let me learn about Stacey in a way that I never would have otherwise. Corrie and I driving through Buffalo and crossing the border together is a great story, and then picking up Free Healthcare/New Shoes was the best.

And then there have been the chances to meet people in small settings away from big meet ups altogether. Visiting Dana in Phoenix and having dinner with her in a sports bar during March Madness gave us a great funny moment that we would never have had in a big crowd. So I will say that small groups are best for me. Dinners, lunches, coffee dates, even a wedding with a gorgeous bride and an adopted brother. So as I make plans I need to make sure I keep in mind how much those small moments mean. And keep telling myself that big groups exhaust me because when I see the pictures I want to reach through the screen and squeeze everyone (probably good for them I wasn't there) but more importantly, I want to talk to them. To hear their voices, to learn something about them I didn't know before. To see in their eyes what or who is really important to them.

Plans. Make some.

Monday, March 12, 2018

It's a Matter of Trust...

"I never should have trusted you!"

"You're right! What the hell were you thinking?"

"I thought maybe you were ready to act like the grown up for a change. But apparently not."

"Why would you think that? That's a stupid thing for you to think. When have I ever shown any signs that I was ready to act like a grown up? Or that I even wanted to act like a grown up? Never. That's when. Ne.Ver."

"One of these days you will have to be responsible. I won't be here forever."

"You're right you won't, but that doesn't mean that I have to responsible. There is always someone out there who wants to be responsible."

"You think I want to always be responsible?"

"Yeah, I do. You always like being the one in charge. It's part of  who you are."

"I am the one who is in charge and responsible all of the time because you aren't! Because if I don't take charge we end up in situations like this one! I don't WANT to be responsible but you leave me no choice."

"Really? That's what you think? Because I think you like it. I think right now there is a big part of you that feels smug. That if YOU had just handled it all everything would have been fine."

"It would have!"

"See? But you don't know that. You might have forgotten something too. You just think you know it would have been perfect because that's how you see yourself. In charge. Responsible. Perfect. Taking care of big of fuck up me. I'm doing you a favor really."

"A favor?"

"Yes, a favor. You need someone to take care of so you take care of me. And I'm really not that bad so you get to act like the grown up but there isn't really that much responsibility to it."

"You're not that bad? You think that? You think you can take care of yourself just fine?"

"Yeah. I do. I mean mostly. The big stuff anyway."

"So explain this."

"This wasn't that big of a deal. Not really. That's your problem. You think everything is big stuff, when it's not really."

"You think this isn't big stuff?"

"Not in the grand scheme of things, no. You are alive right? You're breathing. You have food, you have water, you have clothes and a roof over your head, everything else is small stuff."

"That's how you view this? Small stuff?"

"Well, yeah, of course. How else would you view it?"

She looked around at the expanse of ocean around them. Remembering the moment their oar floated away and then sank because it was not tied to the kayak. No land in sight. No radio because the backpack it was in was also not secure to the kayak and sank at the same time as the oar. Hearing the echo of "Yeah, I've got this." which apparently did not mean the same thing as she thought it meant.

"Not small. Not small at all."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Drama Free...

"I never should have trusted you!" She screamed and started to storm out of the room.

"You're right. But you did, so really this is all your fault." He seemed almost bored.

She stopped and turned. That was not the answer she was expecting. She had been expecting him to follow her and plead for her forgiveness or explain how it was all a misunderstanding. Something contrite. But not this.


"What, what?"

"What do you mean this is all my fault?"

"I was agreeing with you. You said you never should have trusted me, and you were right, you shouldn't have. This is what it feels like to be right. Is this your first time?"

Her eyes got very wide. "Excuse me?"

"Is this your first time being right? You seem very unsure of how to behave right now."

She actually was unsure. There was a pattern that should have been followed. She got mad, he apologized, then did something to make it up to her, she forgave him until the next time. It was a cycle that she had played out in almost every relationship she had ever had. Her friends called her a Drama Queen but she preferred passionate. If a relationship wasn't passionate what was it? So she tended to find men who would fit her pattern. Passionate.

This time she had dated someone who hadn't really fit that mold. She had loved it about him. And her friends were so impressed with how grown up this relationship seemed compared to her others. No shouting matches in bars, no big scenes at dinner with friends. It was all very drama free. She had thought that she really liked this new relationship style. But now he was sitting there unphased, like it wasn't his fault at all. When it clearly was. He had been flirting with another woman. Well, flirting was mild, he had been pursuing another woman. And not even hiding it very well.

"You were going to cheat on me. I am not sure how that is my fault."

"Going to cheat on you? When did we become something that was cheatable?" He looked at his hands and reached out for hers, "I don't see any rings. I don't recall any promises. You pursued me when you knew I was dating other people. I am not sure how you thought that was anything that changed."

"Because we started dating! We have been going out for months! How could it not have changed? I don't see anyone else!" She was starting to find her footing again. Feeling the righteous anger build.

He shrugged his shoulders, "I don't remember ever telling you to stop seeing other people."

"You didn't have to! I shouldn't have had to! We were seeing each other multiple times a week! You were staying over here on weekends more often than you weren't! We were obviously exclusive! You cheated on me!"

"It's not obvious. You are assuming that because it's easier to stay in one bed than move in the middle of the night it meant something more than I like getting an extra hour of sleep. And you're closer to downtown than I am. It's just easier to stay here than trek out to my place. I like you, don't get me wrong, but we never made any promises to each other. You putting something else on me that I didn't ask for is your own issue."

"You need to get out."

He slowly got up and started to gather his things, "Okay."

"Okay? That's all you have to say is okay?"

"I am really beginning to believe you have no idea what you want. You told me to get out, so I am getting out. What do you want me to do? Refuse to leave?"

"Well, at least act like you want to stay."

"Why would I want to stay? You are mad and yelling and carrying on. This isn't a great place to be right now."

"Do you not care about us at all?"

"Sure I care. I've been having a good time with you."

"GOOD TIME? That's all this has been?" She was fuming again.

"Yes, a good time. Shouldn't that be the goal? To have a good time? What in the world are you looking for? A bad time? A miserable time?"

"I want to be more than a good time."

"What else is there?"

This stopped her. Her last relationship had ended because they weren't having fun anymore. Neither one of them were having a good time. It was all too much drama all of the time. And the one before that ended the same way. And the one before that. They stopped being a good time. And now she was mad because he only thought of her as a good time and that wasn't enough either. What did she want?


She sat down on the edge of the couch. "I don't know. But something. There has to be something more."

"God, I hope not."

She looked at him like she had never seen him before. And she was realizing that she hadn't. Not really. She had done to him what she had done to every relationship before him. Just slotted him in the empty space and made him what she wanted him to be. She needed a mature, drama free, grown up to have a stable relationship with just to prove that she could do it, so she made him that. But really she had brought home a selfish, inconsiderate jerk, just like always, but just showing it in a different way. Not that she bothered to look. "Hunh."

"Hunh?" He was clearly puzzled for the first time all morning, "What do you mean, hunh?"

"I just figured out that it really wasn't you. It was me. I never knew you at all. You're kind of an asshole."

He laughed at this, "Am I?"

"Yeah, you really are. You knew that I would assume we were dating exclusively, don't act like you wouldn't. But you never bothered to say anything. You liked being able to stay here, and have sex with me, and go to the clubs that I can get in to that you couldn't. You're an asshole. Don't get me wrong, you're really an attractive asshole and you're adequate in bed, but you aren't all that special."


"Yeah, adequate. It's enough for a good time. Not great. Wait! That's it."

"What's it?"

"You asked what else there was, that's what else there is. Great. Not good, great. I'm looking for great."

"Okay...." He started to sit back down.

"Oh no, you still need to get out. You will never be great. So you should go find someone who is satisfied with good enough."

He laughed and shook his head, "Alright. You're crazy, you know that right?"

She smiled back at him, "Actually I think for the first time in a long time I'm not."

She followed him to the door and locked it behind him. She went to her desk and started to make a list:

Drama Free-but not an asshole

That was a good start on her way to great.

Friday, March 9, 2018


Okay, we're back.

Hawaii was wonderful. I think that's standard right? Hawaii is just wonderful. Even last year when it rained almost the whole time it was still wonderful. This year it was a little windy but it's still wonderful.

I didn't do my old normal pack it full vacation. We went for a little longer, we did a lot less, we just relaxed. We're trying to find the balance between just enough and too much. I think this time it was probably a little too little, but part of that was weather related. We discovered that we prefer the summer water for sure. Now to decide if we trade water warm and calm enough to snorkel off the beach whenever we want to for whales. No whales in the summer.

I love whales.

BUT...I also love being able to snorkel without a chill.

So we are balancing.

Speaking of balancing...

We tried Stand Up Paddleboarding this time. I changed it to Sit Down Paddleboarding after the third time I fell. I wish the guide had taken pictures of the falls, they had to have been spectacular to see considering how they felt. I'd go up...then BOOM right back down. Once I ended up sitting on the board, the other two times I hit the board then bounced into the water. I'm not graceful, but I really thought I might be able to do it. Nope. We will probably give it another try at some point. Even sitting on the board it was a nice way to spend the morning.

Our guide was a nice kid. Originally from California. Moved to Utah in middle school. Went from being one of only two blond kids in his school (his brother was the other one) to being one of a "everyone looks like me." Culture shock for him. He graduated high school early, then went to college for a couple of years and dropped out. It was a religious college in Utah...He decided he didn't want to be that religion, it wasn't a good fit for him. He stressed about telling his parents and then found out that they didn't hold the belief anymore either. They were just letting him come to his own decisions about it. Which I thought was remarkable. We talked about it a bit. I think he was amazed that we knew what the college was as soon as he started talking about it, and that we understood things like his family not being able to go in to the church to see a family wedding. There is a big family reunion this year with the other side of their family and it will be the first time they will be together with that group since his core left the church. He's a little nervous about it. I know more too. Like his trip through New Zealand and Tasmania and his roommates and what he is going to be doing for work this summer. People tell me things. I'm a pretty good listener.

People just want to be listened to. That's a good thing to remember in life. Nobody gets listened to enough. If you can make some space to listen to people you will learn all sorts of things and they will feel pretty good about their time with you. Be a good listener.

We went kayaking again. We were hoping to kayak with whales but there weren't any around when we set off. We waited for a little bit then went snorkeling instead. We really like snorkeling and snorkeling off the kayaks is great. You can get out to places that aren't super crowded. We were a little bummed to find out another group found some whales, but only a little considering how far out they kayaked to them and how far south they got blown coming back. The tour was supposed to be over around 10 and it was closer to 11 by the time they got back. Considering how gassed we were at 10, with a snorkel break from paddling, I cannot imagine how tough that would have been. But if we go back and try again we will go a little earlier in the season. The whales are coming in earlier and leaving earlier lately. Probably something to do with that non-existent climate change.

We did see whales on a whale watching tour. We saw competition groups. Which we had never seen before. Basically one female and a group of males showing off for her. Head lunges, tail slaps, breaching, jostling with each other in the water, it was pretty spectacular. Gorgeous sunny day as well. Which led to a pretty solid sunburn for both of us. I normally don't get sunburned because I wear sunscreen when I even think about a sunny day, but we used a different brand and it was not good. We are in the process of switching over to a zinc only sunscreen, reef safe, you see. And the hotel gave us a bottle of their zinc lotion. Since it was too big to take back we thought we would use it up there. I should have stuck with the the stuff I brought. Oh well, live and learn! Even with a little extra pink on my face and ears...well purple on the ears but because of that I bought a new hat, and it's a really cool hat so it all worked out okay.

We went on a snorkel tour to the northern beaches. But it was too windy to snorkel up north so we went down south, to a spot that ended up being too windy to snorkel in so we came back up mid-island to another spot. Snorkeled there for awhile. We actually snorkeled with sharks for the first time, well the first time we were aware of them anyway. Too bad we weren't made aware until after we were out of the water. The photographer got some great shots of them, but I wish they would have called us over to see them. I would have loved that. We were supposed to go to another location for more snorkeling but the wind was too much so we went sailing instead. All things being equal I would rather snorkel.

BUT good news on the boat front, no seasick issues. I took dramamine AND wore my sea bands, but I'm still counting it as a win. I seem to be okay on REALLY large ships and catamarans. I'm really relieved by this because taking a boat out to snorkel or to whale watch is my favorite part of these trips.

We went snorkeling off of a couple of beaches, it was a little cold and the surf was a little rough, but it was good snorkeling once we were out in the areas. Saw some new for us fish. That's always fun. No, I don't know what they were. The shiny ones, and the purple ones, and the one with that thing on his face...that's the way I describe them to Brent later. "Did you see that one that did that thing like this?" That's what he usually gets on the beach. We also saw a few turtles, or excuse me, honu again. We've seen enough of them now that we are kind of nonchalant about it. Which is amazing. Oh yeah, we snorkeled with turtles today, no big deal...

We ate well. Really well. Oof! We had some fun drinks. We got yelled at by a crazy man on the beach about stealing his cabana. Then we got apologized to by a contrite man who strongly resembled the crazy man when he realized his mistake. We spent a lot of time relaxing and reading by the beach or on our lanai or in the rocking chairs next to the lagoon.

And then it was over.

Super fast.

Even though we were there for a week it seemed like we had just arrived and it was time to go.

It was wonderful.

But Hawaii always is.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Believe What You Will...

Quite a few years ago I read an article on belief and one of the things that stuck with me was the notion that to believe in a thing, you have to believe in all of the parts of that thing. It resonated with me because it reflected how I left the church. I stopped believing in one thing about it, then another fell, then I looked at all of the tenants of the faith and they didn't hold up to scrutiny anymore. Once I knew one thing was wrong, I was no longer able to hold on to my faith.

To believe in a thing, you have to believe in all of the parts of that thing.

When you realize that people are born gay or straight then you question why there would be a god who would make people a certain way and then tell them that if they ever act on it, they are going to hell. Are you a perfect being who never makes mistakes so there is nothing wrong with being gay, or are you an asshole deity who sets some of your creations up for lives of misery or certain sin? Which is it? Because it can't be both.

And it all fell apart from there. I questioned the patriarchal parts next. Started reading about how the bible was actually put together. Started reading texts from other religions. Started questioning everything I knew. To believe in a thing, you have to believe in all of the parts of that thing. It was all a house of cards just waiting to come down.

Now I know that there are people out there now who have decided to pick and choose a little bit more. To reconsider certain parts of the text and come to different conclusions, and if that works for them then I'm happy for them. But for me it just didn't.

I've been thinking about this decision a lot lately. I have a friend who recently left the Evangelical fold and is finding his way in a different mindset. He's dealing with it differently than I did. But I think in a few decades he will look back and see a lot of similarities to my story. He stopped believing in one part of the faith (or the faithful) and the rest started to fall apart. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, moments.

But the thing that you don't really get when you first stop believing something like that, is that it doesn't just affect your belief. If you were raised in a church, all of your family has one religion, you've been going to church and Sunday school and youth group and choir practice and bible study and you can see that the majority of your social circle is in that belief system. And when you decide you aren't it makes things a little tense.

I've been dealing with it for years. Some of the people I grew up with (most are still in the church at least "on paper") are surprised to hear I don't believe anymore. They can't wrap their brains around it. They stopped going to church most Sundays, they drink, have had a divorce or two, a little extra marital sex here and there, but they are still good Christians and cannot believe I would abandon god like that. It always makes me shake my head a little bit.

See, the stance on homosexuality was the piece that led me to leaving for good but the very first thing I questioned was what I was just talking about. I knew some real jerks in the church. And I'm not talking about skipping church or divorcing, I mean some very bad people. BUT they were baptized and could ask for forgiveness at any and all times and it would be granted so they were getting in to heaven. I also knew some really outstanding people who did great things for others, who were kind, generous, salt of the earth but weren't baptized so that meant they were going to hell. This never made sense to me. Especially when you added it up with people who our missionaries were supposed to be finding and reaching with the gospel to save them from eternal damnation. We were back to the whole, why would an omnipotent, all knowing, all loving god put people in parts of the world where they could go their whole lives and never hear the Word and then just send them on in to hell. Who would do that? It was the first unsteady card in my house of cards.

But I left. The rest of my circle did not. My family still has the same faith. The people I grew up with still do as well. I am the sinner. The fallen one. The black sheep. And I'm usually fine with it. I left over 30 years ago. I've spent more time on the outside than on the inside. It doesn't usually bother me. Not when they tell me I'm going to hell (it's hard to be upset about going someplace you don't believe exists), not when they tell me they are praying for me (I have no problem with you doing something that comforts you even if I don't think it's doing anything else, that's a fine thing for it to do), not when they tell me that their heart just breaks because I don't believe what they do (though this one makes me a little sad, your heart breaks because of who I am. Let that sit with you for a moment and understand what you just said to me).

I talked about my lack of faith when Dad died. How that set me apart from my family a bit. They all believe that they will see him again. What a great comfort. What a great feeling of peace that can bring. It's not loss, it's temporary separation. I don't have that. What I believe is what I have left of my father is all that there will be for me. I'm not going to be reunited with him on some celestial plane. The voice in my head that I have of his is all that I will ever hear from him again. The part of me that he influenced. That's what I have left. It's enough for me. It's what I believe. But it is very different than thinking he's someplace with our siblings just waiting for the rest of the family to show up.

But like I said, I'm usually fine with it. Usually. But at times it makes me frustrated. The moral superiority that is felt. As if I am fundamentally broken because I don't believe in your god. Because I spell god with a lowercase g. Being good without god is a really easy thing to do. I'm not kind to people because I think I will get a reward for it later. I didn't teach my son to be a good person so he could get in to heaven. I don't donate to charities that need help because I think it will help me on my path to those streets of gold. I live my life the way I live it because it's the right thing to do. I don't think you doing similar things for the heavenly reward puts you on a higher moral standing than I am.

The TV show The Good Place touched on the concept of moral desert in their season finale this year. The concept of deserving rewards because you did the right thing instead of doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. Eleanor didn't want to be good for goodness sake, she wanted that gold star. And you don't always get a reward. There is a reason there is an expression "no good deed goes unpunished" because sometimes you get screwed by doing the right thing. But you do it anyway. That's what being a good person is.

Now, if you are being a good person because you think when you die you will be rewarded for that behavior, fine, you live your life reaching for that goal. But don't tell me I'm a horrible person for living my life as a good person without the thought of a reward. Because that's a shitty thing to do.

And that's when it bugs me.

Not enough to stop being who I am. Because I believe in me. All of the parts. The good ones and the bad ones. And because I believe in all of the parts of me, I continue to believe in me.

"As soon as you trust yourself, then you will know how to live." generally attributed to Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Continually lived by Denise Mastenbrook