Tuesday, September 17, 2013


I've decided I don't like the title fiancé. Whenever I say it I feel like I'm name dropping, like I'm asserting I'm better than you, like I'm brand loyal...to my relationship. It feels like when that douche bag (and by that douche bag i mean all of us at one time or another.) who goes on about his BMW (this is not insinuating BMW is anything less than a fine piece of engineering.) or she to her Gucci bag or Tiffany bracelet. Whatever. It's your car. It's your bag. Its a bracelet. "Oh, have you met my...FIANCÉ?"
Whenever I go to say the word I tone it the same way Dan Savage says husband. Drop the u an octave and draw it out: "huuusband". Only I drop the "a" an octave.
I don't need to brand the guy I decided to grow old and die with. He's Dave. He's my Dave and in fact I can't think of a better title for him, "my Dave". He's mine. He's called Dave. Omit the flower expressions.
"Oh. Have you met my Dave?"

- Posted using BlogPress from my device for distraction and ironic social detachment.

Friday, March 2, 2012

This Always Happens To Me

I stood in a brief line at a suburban Starbucks outside of Philadelphia. The line comprised of middle class, upper middle class, and the occasional student. As I neared the front of the line I could see the barista – a young lumberjack who’d obviously been jumped in a forest mid axe swing and forced into the quintessential pine green Starbucks polo. He clearly yearned for the great out doors and looked forward to his next hearty meal of mutton. He spoke softly and kindly to each customer and there was no exception as the woman directly in front of me approached the counter.

“One nonfat, venti, caramel frappuccino with whip.”

Lumberjack cringed a little as delicately delivered the news, “I’m so sorry ma’am. We’re out of the frappucino.”

This patron of obvious opulence handed him a deep sigh. I mean, if sighs can come from the bowels then this one came straight from the depths. She paused the length of time it takes you to read this sentence. Meanwhile, shifting her weight. This was clearly a burden to bear and she’d need to hunker down to endure.

An overly composed reply came out all at once, as if she was shooing her troubles all away, “ This always happens to me.”

Lumberjack shifted his eyes, “I’m so sorry ma’am. Is there anything else I can make for you?” Leaving unsaid, from this enormous list behind me of 5,000 drinks.

“This. Always. Happens. To me.” It came out over enunciated this time.

What followed was a series of incomplete sentences artistically displaying her level of devistation at the situation at hand.

“No, no, no, don’t bother…I just can’t believe…I…forget it.” And then a final, “This always happens to me.” muttered in a quick pace out the door.

I approached the Lumberjack looked more lost than anything (which I thought was fitting given his appearance). My affect display was on mute. My face was straight. We exchanged shifty eyes, but my face said nothing more. This was difficult for me. I have a habit of giving away my every thought.

In my most serious tone I queried, “Do you always do this?”

He had the biggest Oh shit look. His eyes bulged to indicate, This cannot be happening again.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

“Do you always do this?” I repeated in my best, quiet, you know exactly what the hell I’m talking about tone. Before he had the chance to respond, “Do you always just go around ruining the days of middle age, middle class women? I mean, This always happens to her! I mean, genocide in Rwanda, massive poverty around the world, catastrophic natural disasters, but, you know, this always happens to her.”

By this point he’d dropped the tremulous look and donned an enormous smile of relief followed by laughter.

“I’ll take a tall, pike with a dollop of soy. Thanks. And, nice beard.”

I never saw him again, but I bet he found his way back to the forest.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When Death Stops By For Tea

It feels like I’ve seen a lot of people of people die. Up front I extend my apologies to those who have actually seen death in multitude: victims of war, disease or any other number of ways this world can wage its fury on humanity. I just mean that in my social group, among my peers, it seems I have encountered death at a rate higher than others, but I have no conclusive evidence that supports this. In fact, it is just a feeling and perhaps others in my shoes would feel the same way.

There have been no truly astounding deaths. I mean it happens to the best of us. Astounding deaths are truly rare – I guess I’m implying freak accidents or large-scale catastrophes. I have seen grandparents go. Which is sad, but to be expected. Even when one is strongly emotionally linked with a grandparent or they pass earlier or more suddenly, there is still some assertion that they’ve lived a full enough life to have children, seen them grow and have their own children. My father did die at a younger age – in his mid fifties. (The above picture is a self-portrait the day he died.) His cancer was discovered in the late stages, solidifying the knowledge that he was definitely going to die and soon. He was given a timeline and he worked rigorously in that structure. He prepared a whole world for my mother; one in which he knew he would not exist. He led the purchase of a house with easy landscape to maintain. He bought her a new car. He bequeathed this and that and the other while mourning and grappling too. In some respects it was sudden in others we had just enough time to come to terms. It was also phenomenally physically painful for him to continue living. In this respect, everyone (including himself) wanted him to pass on. It was like some Deity approached us with a sign off sheet on the extermination of this life and over the months we, in great turmoil, said, “Alright. Alright. Where’s the fucking x?”

More recently Death came by again, uninvited. When is it ever invited in a good life? It’s like a visit from a dreadful relative that never calls before coming over, tells you things you really do need to hear, but you never want to admit, because he or she is merciless in the delivery of the message. “Life is short. You’re not getting younger. Why aren’t you living that dream or even pursuing it? Are you lazy? Nothing lasts forever. See? I just took this one with me. It might be you tomorrow… or today.” You’re too pissed off about the not calling and the tone of it all to even want to listen at first. It’s like, “There goes crazy uncle Death again. Up to his usual shenanigans.”

He came by again. I politely poured him a cup of tea and silently waited for him to administer his horse tranquilizer sized pills of wisdom. This Death was in many ways the antithesis of the last Death. Here was a friend I’d worked along side and known for years, but was not inseparably close to. She was young, early thirties, with two kids – ages three and one. Suddenly she fell from the second story of her apartment, breaking her shoulder, cracking her skull and five ribs and damaging vertebrae. Yet, this didn’t claim her. She was stable, alert and talking with friends and family. She had surgery and again was stable, alert and talking with others. She went to sleep and died in the night. The suddenness of all this was astonishing. This time there was no time to process or cope. This time I was left shaking fists (absurdly, as if God answers TO me) saying, “I didn’t sign off on this! You didn’t give me any paper with the fucking x. What’s this?” Regardless of my befuddlement I am still one of those annoying people that believe things do happen for a reason (but not one of those annoying people that feels the need to tell others who are immersed in the tragedy of the inexplicable death of a loved one, “You know, everything happens for a reason.”) and hence felt that coping was surmountable.

Surmountable is the optimum word here because this leads me to the realization that I most recently had. I am really bad at quantify death. I am terrible at knowing what to do with it. It’s like I’m the first person ever to discover plutonium. I don’t know what it is or what to do with it. “This looks like something.” I say. Part of the dilemma is discovering ones own way of grieving and embracing it. Still everyone grieves differently with every new encounter with Death. Grieving for aunt Edna that you rarely saw is not grieving for your brother Jim that you shared your deepest secrets with. I think my therapist (You can tell. I’ve been in a lot of therapy.) expressed one of the best points I’ve heard concerning dealing with Death in any form. You don’t get a pass on grieving, whether it’s physical death, the death of a relationship or a dream. No one gets to skip grief and if you try, it will come back for you with a vengeance. So, I’ve found it’s best to cultivate a self-awareness that recognizes when I need to grieve and how. Often it hasn’t been pretty or contained in some neat format that’s convenient for me. The mid day break down of sobs in the work place bathroom is never, initially, a proud moment, but it’s an important one. I’ve had my times, too when I punished myself for a need to mourn and paid dearly, falling apart in ways that not only cost me, but cost the ones I love.

In some ways I really think the ancient Hebrews were on to something. I wish it were socially acceptable in our culture to mourn as they did; complete with the heaping of ashes onto ones head and the tearing of garments. I believe there was some rolling in burlap sacs, but I might be remembering my Biblical studies incorrectly. They even hired mourners. Can you imagine outsourcing mourning? For a nation that outsources everything else, you’d think we’d be onto that, but I think we’d miss the mark and hit laziness where it would be comprehensiveness that we would need to aim for.

Short of adapting ancient cultures’ styles of mourning, I am developing my own. Sadly (or not so sadly depending on your view of life and death), it’s paramount that I continue this growth, as death will stop for no one, but waits for everyone.

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, 5
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, 10
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
- John Donne (via bartleby.com)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Greatest Moment As An American

I grew up being taught not to put too much stock in government because the institutions of this world come and go.  The belief system I was raised in and around attested that nations rise and fall.  Leaders come and go, but the world beyond this world is where we put our stock and measure.  "Lay up treasures in Heaven", not on Earth.  That is, do good deeds and lead a life extraordinary and noble.  Don't strive for contentment in a perfect home, car, job, government, bank account, etc.  Strive for an existence that lasts beyond your body itself through a life lived in service to God and fellow man.  

I still hold these beliefs.  Governments, nations, leaders come and go.  Putting stock in things that pass away will only lead to a life half lived and in great disappointment.  Therefore, I have never been too much of a nationalist.  I have respected beyond measure the sacrifices that others have made to make U.S. what it is today.  I have been enthralled with history, but I do realize that just like every other nation it will fall at some point.  It will not always be so great and mighty.  There are other nations that have remarkable histories and liberating policies.  America is not so untouchable or infallible.  

With some people I grew up with this mentality of "This place is not my home." went a step further.  They would not vote or involve themselves in any politics because Heaven was their ultimate goal.  It mattered so much to display belief that they did not regard this existence as their primary existence, that they relinquished any involvement with government whatsoever.  I could not follow this because I knew that while there may be important things to come I also knew that we were given this existence for a reason and we have the power to change the world around us.  Making this existence a better one for everyone around us is part of "laying up treasures in Heaven".  This can sometimes be done through governments and policies.  They hold the purse strings and puppet strings.  Sometimes it takes playing the game to win.  Sometimes it takes waging against the game to make a difference.  Either way, it's all political.  It cannot be avoided.

Having said this I can safely say my greatest moment as an American was last night, as I watched the man I believe will be the next great leader make his acceptance speech.  I appreciated the historical importance of the moment.  To see in my young life how far our country had finally come to elect a black man was remarkable.  To see the sea of people that came out of the woodwork to stand in line and say, "I believe in this guy." and who came out afterwards to celebrate his victory.  It was all one big confirming, "Yes.". Yes, he can be a great leader.  Yes, we need this.  Yes, we need to move on.  

I watched with the reserved understanding that he will come and go.  He will make mistakes.  I cannot not put too much stock in one human being or one nation.  Yet, every now and again there is an Abraham Lincoln, a Franklin Roosevelt, a Martin Luther King.  I can't help but think that he can be great, that he is great.  Every now and again a nation comes together for once to collectively stand behind someone or something good and right.  I can't help, but think, this is that time.  This time and it's leader will come and go, but right now I'm appreciating my greatest moment as an American.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Not Shit Ourselves

It began in Kindergarden or perhaps it was first grade. I don't remember. I was on the bus to school and I remember this horrible sensation. The churning of organs and shifting of air, fluids and solids in places that would normally flow like a peaceful stream made me hurry from the bus. I ran to the door. I jiggled the handle. I jiggled the handle the way a blonde, buck-some, teen-age girl would shake a door knob in a horror film. Just as true as it was for her, it was also for me. The door would not budge. I attended a small private school in the country. People were in no hurry to open doors for confused students with diarrhea. I was confused because I did not know that I had diarrhea. I had to go - now! I kept trying to manipulate the door open. It wasn't happening. I knocked, but this door opened to the cafeteria and not anywhere where anyone would be. I yelled, but again, it was just as in vain as the blonde, horror movie chick inevitably running up the stairs.

I stopped. I cried. I did it. I pooped my pants. There was no stopping it. It happened. No one must know... and my day had not yet begun. I was convinced that there was no telling anyone. I had to live out that day as if nothing happened. I would be in worse condition if my parents found out I couldn't even control my bowels. What good was a kid that stop herself from shitting? I had already showed them I had issues with my bladder. If the bowels came into the conversation, then all bets were off.

School began. I walked to my room and pretended nothing was wrong. I read. I wrote. In my small class when anyone (and everyone) passed by and said, "Peeyew! What is that smell?", dramatically pinching their noses and waving their hands back and forth in front of their faces, I pinched my nose, waved my hand and said, "I know! Whew! That smells terrible! I don't know what that is. It isn't me."

I don't remember if anyone found me out or exactly how that story ends. Perhaps it was all too much and blocked some of it out. I do know that this was the beginning of my traumatizing issue of shitting myself. It has been repeated after long nights of drinking, subsequently reeking havoc on whoever is reluctantly deemed my caretaker for the night. I has been revisited during horrifying bouts of illness most people call "The Flu", but I call "Contagious Demon Possession". It can only be exercised through one orifice or another.

One night when I had the flu, my husband and I were relaxing on our big L-shaped couch. He on one side and me on the other. I had been couch ridden with my Contagious Demon Possession that day. I lay naked, excepted swaddled in a favorite blanket. I had gas. I farted; or so I thought. I crapped all over myself and that blanket. I was utterly disgusted with myself. I silently gathered my blanket and self and walked past him to the bathroom where I began to clean the blanket and myself. He knew nothing. A few minutes passed and he said, "Does it smell like shit in here?" From the bathroom I said, "Yes." Silence passed for a few moments. I continued my endeavors. He said, "What the hell is that? It really smells like shit." I heaved a sigh, turned to him and replied, "I shit myself.". Pause. "I was laying in the blanket. I had to fart, but I accidentally shit myself.".

Perhaps good will come of this. Maybe when I'm old and inevitably loose all control of my bowels it won't be as embarrassing. Maybe I'll declare, "Oh this is nothing. You should have seen me when I was 25."