Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Solid Ground...

She had gotten very clever at finding ways to anchor herself. A foot wrapped around a chair or table leg. A backpack with a few heavy books in it. Boots with heavy soles. She had a whole host of tricks at her disposal. She had learned quickly what worked and what didn't.

She remembered the first time it had happened. She woke up from a dream where she was in the Macy's Christmas Parade, not in a band or on a float but as one of the giant balloons. The people holding the ropes that kept her from flying away were tugging them unevenly so she would flip to the side then POP! back up as they realized they were pulling too hard. Weird dream. Then her husband rolled over in his sleep tugging the sheet covering both of them with him. And she tilted. It was right then that she realized she wasn't actually lying on the bed but about three inches above it. As she became aware of the floating she drifted slowly back down. She sat straight up in the bed, her heart racing. What the hell was that? Then she started to calm down and realized that it was just part of the dream. She had done that weird thing where you think you wake up but you don't and are still just dreaming. She laughed at her foolishness and went back to sleep.

Then it happened again.

She was brushing her teeth thinking about what she needed to get done at work that day. Her husband looked at her and asked why she was standing on her tip toes. She looked down and realized that she wasn't really standing on them so much as they were dangling free just above the ground. She drifted back down and stood flat footed again. "Just stretching."

She wasn't sure why she didn't tell him the truth right then and there. Probably because she still hadn't accepted it. How do you tell someone that you've started to float? And besides, she probably had just been standing on her tiptoes. Really that had to be the truth right? She just was tired that morning and her eyes (and toes) had played a trick on her. It was nothing to be worried about.

Until the day it happened in the car. She had been stopped in traffic listening to the radio and letting her mind wander while she waited for traffic to clear. Then her car started to roll forward. She had let up on the brake. Her foot had just drifted off of the pedal. She got it stopped before she hit the car in front of her but that was enough to convinced herself it was time to call a doctor. Luckily there was an opening that afternoon and she hadn't had to say anything other than, "I'm feeling just a bit off lately" to the receptionist to get booked.

The first news was her weight was lower. Much lower. She didn't have the heart to tell the nurse that it wasn't that she had lost weight but that she wasn't putting all of it on the scale. She was doing all she could to keep most of her foot on the ground, but her heels were already floating again. The next bit of news was that her doctor was pretty sure she was crazy. It didn't start out that way. But she knew the more she tried to explain what was going on the less her doctor was able to understand. And the worst part was she was fully grounded at that point. She tried to show her what was happening, but nothing. She tried to explain the floating and got, "So you have been feeling light headed?" no, not light headed, light bodied. She told her about the car incident and finally a light went on, "Muscle weakness? Feelings of light headedness? Hmmm..." Sure, close enough...

An MRI was scheduled.

"Please stay still and relaxed."

But as soon as she would relax she would begin to float.

"Please try to remain still."

Finally she suggested they strap her down for the tests.

The scans came back normal. Her doctor recommended a great psychiatrist that she knew.

The floating got worse.

That's when she started using tricks to anchor herself down. The books. The table legs. Not going outside on a really windy day. She never slept without a heavy blanket on her now. Which was going to work this winter but what would happen when summer came? She researched bed ties on the internet. Which led to an awkward conversation with her husband.

"Did you want to try something...umm...different in bed?"


"Well I saw that you had been searching for, you know, restraints, and things, so I was wondering why. I know that everyone was talking about that 50 Shades book thing awhile ago. I just didn't think you were in to that?"

"No! Oh god no!"

"Okay, then..."

She changed the subject.

She still couldn't figure out how to tell him what was happening. How do you even start that conversation? What if he thought she was crazy as well? What if she was crazy?

Finally one evening at dinner he said, "Something's wrong. I can't put my finger on it, but I feel like you are drifting away from me."

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Home Improvement...

Standing in the middle of the room I saw myself coming towards me. I had on a tool belt and was holding the leash of a big slobbering dog that growled when I got too close. As I passed I saw the lighter in my back pocket.

"Just where do you think you are going?"

"Where do I think I'm going? I'll tell you where I'm going. See that door there? I'm going out it. And once I do I am going to set fire to the bridge you just walked across. Then I'm coming back through the door and I am locking it. Then I'm going to feed the key to Rufus here. Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy? Then I'm going to board that door up. After that, do you see the drywall and paint right there? Well I'm going to use that to cover that bitch up. I swear when I'm done with it when you look back, and you know that you will, you won't even be able to tell there was ever a door there."

"Don't you think that's a little extreme?"

"You tell me."

So I looked at where I was standing. I could see the path back to the door. Worn and aged. It had been walked so many times there was a groove in the floor. And I looked at the door. Not even closed. Just shut down a little. The crack of light glowing around the edges. Already looking tempting to me. Already calling me back for one more look at the other side. Then I looked ahead. Out of the room I was standing in. There wasn't a door. There wasn't even a wall. It was just an open field. No paths at all. Just...open.

I turned and looked again. I gave myself a small sad smile and a nod.

"That's what I thought. Just start walking, I'll catch up when I'm done."

Friday, September 26, 2014

Hovercrafts and bar people...

I had a dream last night that I went back to school. I wasn't in class in the dream. I was late for class and trying to decide if I should go ahead and go on in or just skip it. And as I was debating if I should skip it I was trying to decide when the last time I had actually gone to that class was and if that meant I was too far behind and should just look at dropping the class and picking it up next semester. When, I swear, I would go more often.

Basically a replay of my high school life, but without the option of dropping classes and picking them up later.

Though I did have a cool hover craft go cart thing that worked on land and in the water that I was racing back to the house in. And apparently I live at the resort in Hawaii we visited last February.

Oh and the public bathrooms have TVs and you watch the TV to see when your stall is open. Which is why I was late. I needed to pee and the channel wouldn't change.

Yeah. I don't know either...

Last night I also got a great couple of lines for a short story. And maybe that was the whole point? It was as I was racing back to the house, I drove (hovered?) past two girls talking on a porch. They weren't really in the dream, just background people. But as I flew by them on my hover craft I heard a snatch of conversation and it stuck with me. I've written that down in my notebook and will puzzle on those lines a little more. But I think my bar people were talking to me in my dreams. Probably because I've been busy lately and not listening to them while I am awake. Bar people are so pushy!

Sometimes I have a dream and it's completely obvious what problem my subconscious is chewing on. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes I get great short story ideas. Sometimes I get a completely random blog.

Either way it works out towards that number goal right? :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The F word...

"I like my women to look like women."

"Oh? And how many women do you own?"


"Your women. I'm assuming that means you own them right? If they are yours?"

"That's not what I mean. I mean women around me."

"Oh, okay, so they are women you can potentially own?"

"No. Just women."

"So any woman you see should look a certain way so that they are women to you?"

"You're just being difficult. I am just saying I like a woman who isn't afraid to be a woman."

Yes. I'm being difficult.

Last Friday night Brent and I walked to dinner and then to the hockey game. I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans, nothing special, nothing fancy, a hockey t-shirt, a pair of jeans. As we passed by two men we heard, "Mmmmhmmm." Brent gave me a little half smile, He knew there was a potential rant coming his way. Instead I said, "Well that was unusual."

Not that I got a comment when I walked past. That is normal. I have big boobs and a big butt, for some reason this makes people think that they are free to make noises, say things, or even gesture in my direction when I am walking by them. The odd thing about it was that Brent was with me. Generally if he is with me the guy on the corner (generic the guy, not the same guy) is quiet. Or on a few memorable occasions he compliments Brent on my attractiveness. Like Brent had something to do with it. The only people other than me you can compliment on my looks are my parents. It was their blending of DNA that did it after all. "Good job on the bodily fluid mixing there! She got a good blend of your DNA and it's pleasing to my sight!" But really unless you are a friend of mine you should probably keep your opinion about what I look like to yourself.

Then this past weekend Brent and I were talking about college aged kids and sexist comments that boys tend to make without really thinking it through. He asked what girls think about it in general. And I said that mostly they aren't all that bothered. They don't think it has anything to do with them. I said it's not until you are older and you look back that you realize that there is something majorly wrong with a society that thinks selling girls sweat pants with Juicy written across the ass is okay. That there could very well be a correlation between unequal pay for the same job and the attitude that girls are precious little beings who need protected by big strong men. And that there might very well be an issue when you are taught from a very young age that the important thing is to present yourself as a pleasing feminine vision instead of as a capable person. I said there are always a few who were ahead of the curve, who were already self identified feminists but not many. There were more who shunned the word, than embraced it.

And I have to admit until recently I even did. Feminism has gotten such a bad wrap. But see, words mean things, and the definition of feminism is "the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men." That's it. Political, social and economic equality to men. Not some sort of fucked up scary woman going to lock you away for being a man bullshit that is propagated by certain loud talk show hosts. Just equality. That's it. Simple right? If you aren't a feminist then what are you? Do you not think women should be treated equally?

Don't get off on the women and men aren't the same tangent. Because that's not what we are talking about here. Women and men are different. When you are looking at broad stroke items. For instance our garage door broke yesterday. With the spring broken I couldn't lift the door, couldn't even get it to budge. And I work my arms and back out at the gym. I'm vain about those muscles. But Brent? He lifted it without issue. He's got more innate upper body strength than I do without even trying. That's just a testosterone/estrogen difference. BUT...if he and I were doing the same job with the same experience and the same education level he shouldn't get paid more because he can lift a garage door and I can't. See?

I wouldn't get paid more because I can grow a human being right? And trust me that's hard shit. Though oddly enough that's one of the reasons people will mention for gender pay inequality. Women have babies. Which might work out if the pay inequality only happened later. Say, if a woman chose to take a few years off to have kids then came back. A woman and a man the same age wouldn't make the same because the experience levels wouldn't be the same. However, you see it straight out of the gate. At college graduation. At first jobs. When there should be no difference. Why is that? And why do we have to keep asking this question?

Income equality. It's really not that tough of a concept.

Political equality. How about that one? Oh boy are we in for it if Hillary Clinton does run in 2016. We will get as much gender bias hatred as we can hold. We saw it when she ran before. Remember the discussion about her pantsuits? How about when she was First Lady and wore the headband, god forbid, a headband! And then when Sarah Palin hit the scene. I had a lot of reasons not to like her. Political reasons. Valid reasons. And you know what people told me about why I didn't like her? Because she's pretty and I was jealous. Ummm...what? I didn't like John McCain either (heartbreaking for me as I really did used to like him and was excited when he first announced he would run again) and nobody said it was because of his looks. Nobody. I could validly dislike the male half of the ticket because of his politics but not the female half? And her looks were a reason to like her? I heard that a lot as well. "I'd do her" was a great political comment. Oh! Well thank god that's not a prerequisite for VP! (no offense, Mr. Biden, I'm sure there are plenty of others out there that would "do you" if given the chance)

And just political representation in general. How many women are in Congress right now? How many more will be elected? Are we close on that front? (Just so you don't have to look it up there are 20 in the Senate and 79 in the House) And should it matter? Does it matter? When you are looking at candidates does gender matter? I would say yes, it matters up until it doesn't any more. Confused? It matters right now because women are under represented. It matters because we are half of the population and less than 20% of Congress. I'm not going to vote for a candidate just because they are a woman, that's not equality, but I am going to pay attention to why that number isn't shifting. And I'm going to pay attention to what is being said about women who run for office. Just a hint, doable isn't a job requirement.

So then on to social equality. This one is the one where people get tripped I think. It's the one where you get the aforementioned screaming talk show hosts who are worried that somehow their manhood is threatened if they have to treat women with the same social respect that they treat a man. And this one is so much easier. Really it is. How I dress is my business. How I talk is my business. If I choose to smile or not smile in public is my business. I am in control of my own body. Keep your opinions to yourself when dealing with strangers.

I dress up. I wear makeup. My personalized ringtone on my husband's phone is Brick House. I know I look good. I know I fit all of the traditional overt feminine mores. I have a big butt (and I cannot lie), I tend to rock a lot of cleavage. But guess what? That's my choice. Has nothing to do with you. Nothing. You don't think your buddy wore his best suit so you could tell him how nicely he fills out that crease do you? Then why do you think I wore this dress for you to tell me how my ass looks as I walk away? If I am part of your social circle and we are going out and I am wearing something nice or have done something to my hair, or just happen to have a pleasing countenance on my face by all means say something. But if I am a stranger to you walking past you on a street corner do not tell me to smile because I would be prettier that way, do not make "yummy" noises at me as I walk past and by all means do not ever tell me exactly what you would do to me in bed. EVER.

If you wouldn't say it to your daughter/sister/mother why would you say it to a stranger? If you would be pissed as fuck if someone said it to your wife/girlfriend/daughter/mother why would you say it to a stranger? If you understood for a second that your "compliment" made the person you were supposedly complimenting uncomfortable or flat out scared would you still do it? Do you understand that the hooting and the hollering is just another form of intimidation? A way of keeping a woman in her place? You know, as doable.

So yes. I am a feminist. I believe that women and men should be treated as equals. Not the same. Not interchangeable. But equals. Socially. Politically. Economically. And if you aren't...

What is wrong with you?

Thursday, September 18, 2014


So last month I took a long weekend break from posting on Facebook. I still commented on other people's posts. I still read everything that hit my feed. But I stopped posting. It was a quick impromptu experiment. And the results were interesting and unexpected.

What started it was my passion for a plethora of postings. Basically I talk a lot. So I post a lot. And at times people feel the need to tell me to knock it off. Which amazes me. Normally my response is, unfollow, unfriend, fuck off, all viable choices. But after getting more than my normal amount over a few weeks I was in a bit of a mood. Then a friend of mine posted that someone she knew had sent her a PM letting her know that instead of posting the things she normally does, stories about her kids, her practice, her day to day life, she should really be posting about IMPORTANT issues. Umm..what? I'm sorry but her kids, her practice and her day to day life are the IMPORTANT issues. And who the fuck are you exactly?

So those things together flipped a switch in my head and I stopped posting. Didn't say anything about it. Just stopped. And waited to see what would happen. I wanted to see if the people that bitch about my profligate posting problem would send me a PM saying, "Hey, good job" or "Glad you took what I said to heart and STFU already!"

But nope.

Weekend came and went and then I got a "Hey, are you okay?" message. Quickly followed by another, "Is everything all right?" post. And I realized that there were people out there who only hear from me through my superfluous status summaries. And they were worried. So I fessed up to what I had done and why. And thought, here now, those people who think I post too much will understand that they didn't even notice when I was gone. So obviously I am not taking up too much of their brain space after all.

But what happened instead were a lot of people apologizing for not noticing. Which wasn't what I intended at all. I don't expect people to notice everything I do and say. I really don't. I know that with Facebook algorithms even the people that we do want to see everything they do it sometimes slips through the cracks. And I also know that I read a lot more than I comment on. So even if it looks like I haven't "seen" someone I have. So I wasn't looking for people to tell me why they hadn't noticed and that they would from here on out. I really wasn't. I just wanted to make the point that people feel the need to tell you when you are doing something they find annoying but then never notice when it's not happening anymore. And it can't have been all that annoying if you didn't even notice when it was gone right?

But my experiment didn't work that way. I ended up worrying people who love me and like seeing my absolute abundance of assertions. People who hadn't noticed I was missing felt guilty. There were people who wanted to let me know how much they enjoy my posts, that I make them laugh or think or both. And then I had a few people who made me laugh. My son, for instance, said he had noticed I wasn't posting and as I was at hockey camp all weekend he figured there should be posts. When he tried calling Sunday morning and I didn't answer (hockey camp) he went to a relative's page and looked for comments from me, knowing if I was around I would have posted there. When he saw that I had he just sat back and waited for the story. Another friend of mine figured out right away it was some sort of experiment. She knows me well enough to know that I am constantly trying out something and if I stopped posting with no word, though she could see Brent still was and that I was with him places he was checking in, then I was fine and just sciencing...(It's totally a word. I wrote it didn't I?)

But the biggest thing I learned was to go back to my stance of unfollow, unfriend, fuck off. It's my page. I am going to post a lot. I talk a lot. I have things to share. Some of it you might care about. Some of it you might not. Just like a conversation in real life. And just like in real life if you are having a conversation you don't want to have you can walk away...

If I am excessive and exuberant in my exhortations you have been warned. I don't see it changing. Well, that might not be true...hockey season starts tomorrow...

Hawks Hockey Highlights Happening Hourly...


Monday, September 15, 2014

Three point four....

"You might want to hold off on bars. I am going to cut our carbs as soon as we get through what we have in the pantry right now."

Wary voice..."Why?"

"Because I am sick of my weight and want to move the dial. That usually works."

Still wary voice..."Okay..."

You think you are tired of hearing about weight issues? Imagine poor Brent.

Yes, this was a conversation in the grocery story yesterday. Yes he has every reason to be wary. I love carbs. My favorite things are carbs. Tortillas, pastas, breads, crackers, desserts. When we have gone super low carb in the past we lost weight sure, but I also got really really cranky and swore SWORE I wouldn't do it again because it wasn't worth it. 

But that was before...this is now.

Before the 3.4 pounds.

About six weeks ago we had a little spate of wet weather. I threw on a pair of jeans instead of the skirts I wear all summer. Okay I didn't throw them on. I wiggled in to them. Oh holy crap what happened here? So then I got on the scale...Oh. Well that happened. I was 3.4 pounds over my top end weight. Which doesn't seem like much but I try never to hit the top end of the range. That's why it's a range. Stick in the middle. So I thought "Well, I need to lose about 5 pounds, no big deal." I stepped up the level of my workouts at the gym by a couple of ticks. Weighed in again a week later and... 3.4 pounds.  What the heck?

So then I changed up what I was eating through the day.

Scale. 3.4 pounds.

Okay, let Brent know that I was going to cut back on desserts. So uptick in workouts, a little shift of day food, no desserts boom! Step on the scale...3.4 pounds.

Fine. I will go back to tracking everything because obviously I am doing something and not realizing it. Re-install good old MyFitnessPal and start the tracking again.

Step on the scale 3.4 pounds.

And I step on the scale three times a week. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 3.4 pounds.

M-F I workout, I eat right, I track. So my Friday weight should be awesome right? 3.4 pounds.

On the weekend I do what I want. Eat what I want and sit around watching a lot of sports and reading books. So Monday should be scary right? I mean last night for dinner I had two pieces of fried chicken, chips with guacamole and a big bowl of berries with whipped cream on them. Today? 3.4 pounds. 

Wednesday is halfway through. So any damage from the weekend spree should be starting to lift. 3.4 pounds.

It would be funny if it weren't so frustrating. It would become a huge experiment EAT ALL THE THINGS!  EAT NONE OF THE THINGS! if it weren't so frustrating. It wouldn't be a big deal at all except it is. 

As I was talking to Brent about it this morning he said, "I would say that your weight is just as stubborn as you are." 

Yes, it appears so.

So now I am looking at going low carb again. Even though it makes me cranky to diet. Even though low carb especially makes me cranky. I just want the needle to move. Five pounds. It's not so much to ask right? But I can't even get past the 3.4 so apparently it is...what the heck? Why do I keep doing this stupid dance. Weight goes up. First comes the denial. The false acceptance. Then comes the realization that something needs done. Then the frustration that it doesn't go anywhere. Rinse and repeat. For decades...

This morning I was washing walls before I start painting tomorrow. I keep a clean house. I really do. But you would never guess it from the grime I got off of the walls. Ick. How does that happen? As I cleaned the walls and the baseboards and door jambs I realized that repainting the walls is going to mean I need to paint the door jambs and baseboards as well. Little chips and bits that have been banged out moving furniture around. Slap some paint on it and it will look all fresh and new. Even though the bangs and dings will still be there. Under the paint. Just looking better. Until they chip off again and you can see the issues are all still there. 

Not sure why that really stuck with me today....

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Support system failure...

If anyone ever asked, and sometimes they did, she could tell them the exact moment she knew she wanted a divorce. Truthfully it had been building for years but there was a tipping point moment for sure. The point where the words formed in her head and she knew there was no turning back.

Sitting at a table in a ballroom surrounded by people there to honor the best of the best. Awards being given. Speeches made. Accolades lauded. And as she sat in her gorgeous dress, smiling her best public smile, listening to her husband on the stage saying, "...and I could have never done this without you. Because of you I could fly higher than an eagle. You are the wind beneath my wings..." she knew. It was over. She was done.

And when she told people this they looked at her completely horrified. How could this be the moment? When he was talking  about how grateful he was for you? Really? That was the moment? It didn't make sense.

And she would just smile, not her public smile, but the smaller one that meant she was really smiling, yes that was the moment. 

The only person who got it was her best friend. She had called Janelle that evening to tell her about the speech and about her decision.

"He did not quote Wind Beneath My Wings!"

"He did. He really did. And he gave me the beatific smile. With the head tilt and the faintest possibility of a tear in his eye."

"Well, you know how he is."

"I do. And he's never going to change. So I've decided. I'm leaving him. He's downstairs right now finding a place for his latest award. When he comes upstairs I am going to tell him. I just can't do it anymore."

"Do you need me to come over? Do you want to come over here?"

"No, it will be fine. He won't believe me. It will take awhile to convince him that I really am going. I will let him keep the house. After all everything in here is something he picked out. I think a small studio downtown would suit me just fine. Oh! That is something you can do. Will you send me the name of your Realtor? I don't have one."

After she had gotten her I'm so sorry and good luck wishes from Janelle she waited for him to come upstairs. She picked up a book from the side table to read and knocked the magazine resting under it off the table. It fell open to the article that had been read at least 20 times. She looked at the picture, her public smile beaming at him while he looked out at their ocean view..."they say behind every successful man is a good woman. Craig Lawrence goes farther than that and says, 'She is my hero. She's everything I wish I could be. I get all of the glory, but she has all of the strength...' I know that journalistic integrity should make me impartial, but I'm not ashamed to say I swooned just a touch." 

She swooned just a touch but never realized he was quoting song lyrics. When Janelle read the article she had called and sang to her. She had laughed. What was she going to do? The supportive wife was her part. Her perfectly placed piece in his puzzle. But she had told Craig that she thought it was a horribly condescending song. Hated it in fact. The whole message, "I know I am awesome, but I could never have gotten here without you behind me. Being slightly less awesome. But you are awesome in your own way because you made me awesome." It wasn't a song about a strong partnership, it was a song about a star and a support system. Horrible.

And yet there he stood on stage tonight doing it again. Because it had caused the reporter to swoon. Because wives and girlfriends all over the audience sighed and smiled and maybe looked a little disgustedly at their own partners for not being oh so romantic. The show, it was always all about the show. And how grateful she should be to have him as her own. But he wasn't hers. He never had been.

When they had met he had said he liked that she was so independent. So strong. And then he had set out to take away every bit of independence and strength that she had. All in the guise of giving her everything. Addition by subtraction. First her job, then her little house, then most of her friends. All so she could be available for him. And she did it all willingly. At least at first. Until she met Annabella and Jules. They were married to men just as successful as Craig. In fact they were his "friendly" competition out there in the world. They had all gone to dinner and she had watched them with their husbands. Annabella smiling with the big grin that didn't quite reach her eyes. Jules not giving an inch to her husband. If he said something ridiculous she called him on it. Good naturedly but still, she called him on it. 

And there was no difference in their lives. All three were unemployed. Running households. Jules called herself a one woman support system. Running schedules, keeping the house going, plans made. The same as her and Annabella. But her smile reached her eyes. Her husband didn't quote condescending song lyrics at her. Every time she had a wild idea about something fun to do he smiled his patient smile and said, "whatever you want, let's try it."  When Jules heard she had walked away from her legal practice to support Craig in his dreams she was full of questions, "Do you miss it? That's a lot of school and time to just walk away. I've never figured out what I want to be but law always seemed so interesting! You have to tell me all about it." 

And while she asked question after question and Annabella sat quietly over to the side with her mouth only smile plastered on her face the realization started to pour over her...

She wasn't a Jules. She was an Annabella. A prop in Craig's life. Not a partner. She might as well have been another trophy he could pull off of a shelf to show to company.

That's when the restlessness started. 

And so that night, while he stood and looked out at her and quoted that damn song, that was the moment. That was when she knew. 

And so she left. She had used enough wind on someone else's wings. 

Janelle got it.
Jules got it.
Annabella just smiled her mouth only smile and very quietly said, "Fly."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Difficult conversations...

"Why won't you go out with me? Because I'm black?"

"No, it's because you hit [your last girlfriend] and I don't date guys who hit girls,"

"Bullshit, it's because you don't date black guys."

That is a conversation from high school. I took out the name of the girl he had dated before because even after all this time I feel like it's not my place to name her. But that conversation sort of sums up a few issues I want to ramble about today.

The boy was a really good looking guy I had been friends with for a few years. He was also not a really good guy. He was a small time criminal on his way to big time. But his crime was selling pot so at the time it really didn't seem like a huge deal. Yes, I realize that seems odd to say coming from a respected grown up type person (shush, I AM!) but I was friends with a few people who sold a little dope in high school. He did a little more than that, he found other people to sell dope so sort of middle management pot dealer.

But good looking. Funny. Charming as all get out. We had flirted for ages. And as it became more apparent that he was going to ask me out soon a mutual friend of ours told me why he and his last girlfriend had broken up. He broke her jaw. So...that pretty well took care of any attraction. I didn't date guys who hit. But he couldn't wrap his brain around that part, so obviously it was because he was black.

This was 30 years ago. And things really haven't shifted all that much. People knew he had hit his girlfriend (the broken jaw was the last hit not the first one) and yet no charges were ever pressed. It was a private matter between them. Right? That's that way it was viewed. And we all shake our heads and say, "Well I would never..."

You don't know what you would never until you are faced with it. What if I hadn't been told what had happened and we had started dating? It would have been awhile before he ever laid a hand on me, that's the way it works. The first part is all good. And the first time he did would I have walked away or would I have said, "well, you were pushing it" because I wasn't a super lovely nice sweetheart when I was a teenager. I could very well have said or done or even struck first if pushed. But he was much bigger than I was. Much stronger. So any reaction from him would have been much more devastating to me.

And I did know that I wouldn't necessarily say anything. Remember I never told anyone when I was abused as a young child. I just knew that nobody would do anything about it so why say anything. And I also had a sister in an abusive relationship. And I knew she stayed. I didn't understand why she stayed, but I knew she did. And again...we didn't call the cops, we didn't force her to leave, the only thing I ever did was threaten him when he hit her in front of me. Domestic abuse isn't as simple as people want to make it out to be. You generally love your abuser as much as you fear them. It's not easy.

So as people are commenting more and more about the Ray Rice video and how could she stay and it must be for the money. I have to shake my head. I know poor people stay as much as rich ones. I know the physical abuse comes in stages. I don't know what the rest of their relationship is like so I can't say why she stayed. But she did. And she might leave later or she might never leave. He might hit her again or he might not. I don't know any of that. But I do know that he hit her, we all saw it. I do know that for some reason it wasn't enough to see him drag her unconscious body out of the elevator for people to understand that he knocked her out, they actually had to see the hit. I know that the best tweet I saw about the NFL reaction to it was that he wasn't suspended indefinitely because the NFL saw the video it was because WE did. Because once you see violence like that from someone bigger and stronger to someone weaker and the effect? Well you want to react. And we all want the abused to leave the abuser (Rihanna, Jaynay Rice, the nice quiet lady at the grocery store wearing long sleeves when it's pushing 90 and looking nervously at her husband as the line takes a little too long to move), and we don't understand why they don't. I get it. But it's rarely as simple as we think to leave.

The second part I want to touch on was his reaction that I wouldn't date him because he was black. Which was a crazy thing for him to say. I had dated the rainbow and he knew that. My best friend was black. And he knew that. I had been flirting with him for ages and was obviously attracted to him. And he knew that. But he could shut me down by saying it was because I didn't date black guys, because we had no real way to talk about race issues without shutting people down.

And we still don't. What we have instead is people wanting to make sure you understand that they aren't racist so racism obviously doesn't exist. Or that they have never been affected by racism so it's not a problem. Or that racial attitudes aren't still prevalent. Or that the scars of past racism don't still affect our world. Which is all crazy.

But since we are constantly limiting ourselves in how we can or will talk about it it's awfully hard to move forward.

The owner of the Atlanta Hawks released an email he wrote two years ago and is now selling his team. Because the email was racist. Because the NBA has set a precedent now because of Sterling. But the two incidents are so far removed. (Not going to get in to the whole what you say in your home being released to the public side, that's a different argument) Sterling had shown his attitudes over and over. He was a slum lord who called Hispanic people vermin. He had said and done things in the past that showed his attitudes. The Hawks owner? Well he wrote an email highlighting what he thought were marketing issues. A lot boiled down to because they had such a large African American fan base whites felt that it wasn't a safe place for them to come. Is that a racist statement? Absolutely. But is it his racism or a true statement of race relations in the states?

And that is the bigger question for me. And the one we need to address.

But how do you even begin to talk about it, to talk about how black people and white people might possibly hold unflattering views of each other strictly based on skin color when you can't talk about it without worry you will be branded racists? And not just blacks and whites but all races? How do you address a problem when no one feels like they can talk about the problem?

Last year when the 49ers and the Seahawks played Richard Sherman did the trash talk heard round the world after the game. And then did a masterful job of branding anyone who thought it was classless a racist. Now he didn't have to work too hard because plenty of people posted extremely racist things about it. Which is also the problem. I thought he was a jerk. I posted something about keeping it classy at the time. And then whenever I would talk about it with someone they would jump on me that he couldn't be a thug because he went to Stanford. Two things, going to Stanford means you had classes not that you have class. And two I didn't say he was a thug. I said he showed a lack of class. The last NFL player I had called a thug was Clay Matthews. But because there were racists out there saying horrid things you (I) couldn't say that you thought it was a bad move without being branded racist.

You won't date me because you don't date black guys.

Look at any posting about Obama. You get the people who say "Can't say anything bad about him or I will be branded a racist" not understanding that two posts above them someone called him a monkey. AND if you bring up Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson when you are discussing things that don't involve them you do come across as a racist. Also, if you say you have a problem with his policies you aren't a racist but if you say he's a little uppity in how he talks to congress...well...So yeah..it's frustrating. I get it. The people who are shit for brains close avenues down for actual discussion.

Which is a problem.

Because we do have problems. Serious ones. Generational ones. Entrenched ones. And we need to find some way of talking about them. Because if we can't even talk about them, we can never fix them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


She couldn't believe it. A copy of  Terms and Conditions; it was the only book by Stanley Parken she hadn't read. It was almost impossible to find, even the hold lines at the library were always hundreds of people long. And yet here it was. Of course, only one copy, but that's all she needed. Today was really going her way for sure!

It was supposed to be raining this morning but so far it was just cloudy and cool. She had forgotten her umbrella at work yesterday so was hopeful that the rain would hold off until she got back to the office. The elevator in her building that almost always took forever came as soon as she pushed the button. She had stopped to chat with the doorman and he let her know that he would keep an eye out for a package she was expecting so not to worry about that at all. Checking her watch she saw she had plenty of time to stop in for coffee before the bus was due.

After placing her order, and deciding to splurge today on a fancy coffee drink, the barista had let her know she got the last of the caramel syrup for her latte. And as she was picking up her drink she had noticed the time. "Is that clock right?" Yes, she had been told, it was an atomic clock, it was always right, and wasn't it cool? Seeing the time she realized that her watch had been running fast and she had ten minutes to kill. Not a lot of time but enough to pop in to that little book store she had been meaning to check out.

And now here she was holding a book she had wanted for years. It was definitely going to be a good day! She chatted with the clerk for a bit while he rung up her book then went out to wait for the bus. Hitting the door just as a man coming in was opening it. Perfect timing! She smiled her thanks and went to the stop...

Checking the shelves, and then checking them again. "Excuse me?" he said getting the clerk's attention, "I checked online and you had a copy of Terms and Conditions. Can you tell me what shelf that is on?" And then the news. What a weird coincidence that book had just been sold. Like literally just sold. The clerk was amazed and amused. He was not so much. He knew he should have called and put it on hold as soon as he saw it online. But he thought surely he could just drop in on the way to work, it was one day, nobody was going to buy it in one day. Nobody even read it anymore. Hell, the library only kept one old battered copy.

He should have known. The day had not started well. The elevator took forever, usually he was really lucky and it would stop right when he pushed the button but sometimes it would take forever, like today. He really wanted to talk to the doorman about it but he was busy signing for a delivery so that would have to wait. He stopped in to grab a drink before hitting the bookstore and the coffee shop was out of flavoring for his coffee. How does that even happen? It's not like it's a surprise that people like flavored coffee right? The barista just shrugged his shoulders and gave him a coupon for his next cup. Which he forgot on the counter.

"Wait? Is that clock right?" The clerk looked behind him and then at his phone, it matched so yeah, he would think so. Running out of the store only to see his bus pulling away he realized this was so not his day.

And then it started to rain....

Monday, September 8, 2014


Say what you mean
But don't say everything

Be mysterious
But let them know how you feel

Show you are vulnerable
But make sure you protect your heart

Stay strong
But make sure to show your softer side

Have fun
But don't play the fool

Be kind
But don't be naive

Open your heart
But protect your feelings

But verify

Follow every rule
But know when to break them

It's all very simple
But it's the hardest thing you'll ever do

Friday, September 5, 2014

Genre busting...

"Are you sure you don't want to break away from your usual? The last three you've checked out have been traditional romance. Maybe a little adventure or even mystery this time?" Lauren gestured at a different shelf than her friend Amber was currently browsing.

"Why would I do that? And why would I take your advice you never even get one."

"It's all too predictable, I don't want predictable."

"You could do a Choose Your Own Adventure, look, there is an entire section of those."

"But that's not really true is it? I mean, the choices are laid out. Pick this then that happens. Pick that then this happens. It's all decided right?"

"I guess, if you look at it like that. But all of these are already decided. That's the nice part. You can pick what you want and just dive in."

"And that's why I don't do it. Just because today I think I want," Lauren picked a random title from the shelf and read, " Romance blooms with flowers, picnics, sunsets walks on the beach, maybe tomorrow I'll wake up and want," and with that she choose a different title, "A deep connection is forged with philosophy lectures, art museum visits and French movies. Okay, well, never mind, I will never want that, but you get my point."

"How about those?" Amber pointed to the Romance with a Twist shelf.

"You can't announce that there will be a twist. If you do that then the whole time people are looking for the twist! That's not really a twist at all then! If you know it's coming then it's expected. Life doesn't announce twists!"

Amber sighed, "You think it's all too contrived. I get it. But you know you are the last remaining hold out right? Nobody does it your way anymore. Look around. Do you see the lines at the check out counter?"

Lauren did see the lines. And it made her a little sad. Nobody wanted to risk the real world anymore when they could just check out their next relationship. What had started simply enough years ago with online dating and matching profiles had morphed in to this, this, safe, prepackaged world. Choose your relationship. Plug it in and let it run. Everyone was running life programs now. Nobody actually dated. Or at least very few people did. Pick a title, live the life, get bored, pick a new one! No harm, no foul. And no real connections. It was all so sterile. So safe.

Sure you could choose one that seemed a little riskier. There were even whole genres devoted to Deep Love followed by Tragic Heartbreak. Who the hell would want that? But the section was filled with people perusing the offerings.

She wanted to yell at them, "Hey! You know that guy standing next to you looking at the same boxes you are? How about you ask him out since you have so much in common!" But she knew from talking to Amber and their other friends that there was no way they would do that. Everyone wanted the safety of a planned romance now.

Everyone but her.

She needed to find a Luddite dating society.

"Found one. Are you ready?" Amber was holding a box with a cover almost identical to the last title she checked out. Gorgeous beach, tan surfer dude just walking out of the waves. "Fun in the Sun"

"How long is this one?"

"Just a summer fling. I will be back with a tan before you even have time to miss me."

"You're a redhead, you don't tan. Not even RomanceCorp could program that."

Amber just laughed, "Fair enough. Come on. Let me get this in the system so the next tan surfer looking for a stunning redhead finds me."

"You could just..."

"I'm not moving to California! I've told you. This is just for fun. Eventually I'll check out a nice Settle Down Fairy Tale ending and it will all be perfect."

And with that Lauren waited while Amber was checked back in to the system. She wasn't wrong, she was a gorgeous redhead so it wouldn't be much of a wait until some tan surfer boy somewhere saw her face on the cover of his latest "Fun in the Sun" and they were matched for a summer fling. All planned out. Safe. Boring.

As they left the store one of the clerks was approached by a customer, "The brunette that just left? What was she checking out?"

"Oh she's not in the system. Only her friend. But I can direct you to our section of Dark and Mysterious, you might find what you are looking for there?"

"Hmmm... Okay, sure. But do you have something a little less predictable than I got last time?"

Thursday, September 4, 2014


"I know it's been awhile..."

"Do you really, honestly think flowers a few times a year are enough?"

"but I didn't forget..."

"You didn't forget. Well that deserves a medal doesn't it?"

"I know roses are your favorite. Or they were."

"Just because you can only be bothered to get them for me twice a year doesn't mean they aren't still my favorite."

"I got them at the little corner store, you know the one by the coffee shop?"

"Ha! Do you honestly think bringing up the coffee shop is going to make this okay?"

"Remember how we used to sit there and watch the sunset? We would make plans for our future..."

"And do you remember that you used to bring me flowers almost every week? Not just my birthday and anniversary?"

"I know things haven't turned out exactly like we planned..."

"Is that how you would describe this?"

"I know we had big dreams. Bigger dreams. But..."

"But...go on, tell me the truth now."

"But sometimes things just don't work out the way we think they will."

"Oh my god! Seriously? They don't work out the way we think they will? That's what you have for me? That and drug store flowers? Really?"

"And I guess, well I guess I just want to say I'm sorry for my part."

"Your part. Like there were two parts."

"I just felt like you should know that."

"I see. So you bring me drug store flowers on my, forgive me, our anniversary to tell me you are sorry for your part. And now what? You want forgiveness?"

"I guess I'm just looking for a little peace."

"Well I'm not giving it. You decided to move on. You decided. Not me. Not us. You. And now you bring me flowers and ask for peace."

"I think it's time to let the past be past."

"Oh my god, you want to get married again don't you?"

"I have found someone. Funny thing is, I think you would really like her."

"I have my doubts."

"I actually thought about bringing her with me..."

"Are you serious?"

"But I thought that might not be appropriate."

"Good thought."

"Even after everything we've been through, I still think about what you want. You see that right?"

"Nice try. You are looking for forgiveness. I'm not giving it."

"I just want to close this chapter now. I think it's time."

"Again with what you want. Unbelievable. On today of all days."

"So I guess this is goodbye."

"Stop it! You killed me when you decided to move on! You can't just come here now and lay those flowers down and think we are done! I'm not done!"

"I'll always love you. I always have. I just can't keep one foot in the past anymore. It's time to move forward..."

"NO! I won't have it! You did this! You can't just walk away now. You can't! Not today, you can't do it today. You already did this to me once, don't do it again.."

"Rest in peace. It's time..."