Monday, April 30, 2007

It's just so big

Rick has pondered publicly about purpose and choices. Whitenoise has openly mused about life paths. Mary and I have discussed many, many times the ideas of growth and change and how the obligations we willingly (if not somewhat ignorantly) took on early in life have a limiting influence in the present.

The way my family and I live our lives changed dramatically on a Tuesday morning. December 6, 2005. Eleven thirty. Mister and I were driving a small pick-up truck and were rear-ended in a parking lot. Mister felt pressure in his lower back. Very large L4/5 disk herniation. Excruciating pain--and Mister has a superhuman threshold for pain.

The usual treatments ensued. Rest. Drugs. Cortisone injections. And finally surgery. Surgery worked. But rebuilding the strength he lost has been a far lengthier process than either of us ever expected. And he's not back to his normal workload. And likely never will be. My crab fisherman turned tugboat engineer husband can no longer live on the water. He cannot haul the heavy cables and crawl around in the tight areas of a marine engine room. It's over. His body has said so.

It's not like we didn't realize that this strong, healthy man wasn't going to be eternally strong and healthy. But what we didn't make any contingency plans for is that it would change in a heartbeat.

When the accident happened, Mister was only 43. Before that Tuesday morning, it had not occurred to us to start seriously thinking about the next phase for us when his body could no longer handle the work he is accustomed to. We are thinking now.

I have made a decision. It's my turn at bat. Easier said than done! I've been out of the workforce for 15 years, and prior to that I was only marginally there. And--here's the biggie--I am not qualified for anything! Well, nothing I am interested in. I don't have a four year degree. I have a silly two year 'degree' from a community college. My field of interest was geology. Combing the classifieds lately hasn't turned up too many openings for part time housewife/geologists. With good pay. And benefits.

Would I have more options now if I had transferred to a university? It's a moot point. I had two little children by the time I finished my stint at the local community college. I wasn't going to go on. Nor was I really interested. By then I figured that instead of more school, I could learn about anything I was interested in from books--and much more cheaply.

But . . . I wasn't peering closely enough into the crystal ball when I made that decision. I didn't realize that choosing not to continue with school would seriously hedge my alternatives when I turned 40 and still had a 12 year old to finish raising and my 45 year old husband needed to take time to let his body heal and then retrain because he had lost everything he had ever known. Somehow I didn't see that coming . . .

Choices. Life paths. Obligations.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Odds and Ends

Cheek, you continue to broaden my musical horizons! Who knew that would be your influence on my life back on that day when Stuart first 'introduced' us? Sadly, iTunes has no Noonday Blue offerings yet. A CD purchase might be in my future : ) But oh man am I enjoying taking my daily walks and doing housework to "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well." Something about that song resonates with me!

Whitenoise, look to the right, scroll down to 'shopping list', second from the bottom . . . Look! It's spelled correctly now! I have no idea what was up with my fingers the first time I typed it--and I only accidentally caught the misspelling the other day while adding someone else--but you didn't even complain. I think you've earned a lollipop for that : )

Mary--are you aware that our youngest children have been in your basement feeling each other's legs? The story goes that they were comparing sugar buzz leg shaking after chocolate pie and brownies with ice cream. I know there will come a point when we should reconsider the amount of time they spend alone playing in the woods, but for now I choose to believe it's all innocent kid stuff. Or education. Whatever : )

Rick--you are being held accountable! You posted this article some time back. It promises chiseled abs in just 6 weeks (okay, I'm paraphrasing a little.) My birthday is a little more than 6 weeks away. And I want to wear that dress. That dress. The one that's amazing. The one that makes me feel 30, not 40.

If I follow your prescribed program (and yes, technically speaking, you prescribed it to me by way of posting it on your blog--be careful what you post!) and I'm not wearing that lovely dress in 6 weeks, there will be hell to pay! Of course, there will be no proof, because I will never post a picture of me in or not in that dress. Well, unless I look as hot as I did back in high school (shut up, Stuart!) And I will never post a picture of me from high school because apparently I looked rather like David Cassidy . . . Maybe we shouldn't go there . . .

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Because Mother's Day is just around the corner . . .

My cell rang. I didn't recognize the number but answered it anyway. It was Beautiful calling from a friend's phone.

What she meant to say to me was, "Hi, Mom. My cell is dead."

What came out of her mouth was, "Hi. My mom is dead. Wow. Now there's a Freudian slip for you . . . "

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Sicilian School of Massage

So. I've been looking into massage therapy schools. There are three in my area. I want to be able to go to their websites, read about their programs, figure out the cost of tuition and go from there. That, of course, is way too simple and straightforward to be an option.

I can't just read about their programs. First I have to fill out a little questionnaire, including my e-mail and zip code, so they can match their offerings with my interests and send me a brochure (which is little more than pretty pictures and a mysterious lack of hard facts) from the branch that is geographically closest to me. Never mind that maybe I am interested in more than one path and I'd like to compare and choose. Never mind that where I live, the number of miles their schools are from my house is irrelevant because I have the option of bridge or ferry and it all amounts to the same number of hours commuting. For crying out loud, just let me ask the questions I want to ask and make my own determination as to which program and which of their branches is best for me!

As to clicking on a simple link that would tell me the cost of tuition? Pfffft. I am so naive to have thought it could be so uncomplicated. It's like an RPG. I have to play the game for a long time, collect special powers, work my way up level by level, find the secret codes . . . and then . . . by some magic . . . I might be let in on the first hidden clue in my search for the ultimate goal: The Bottom Line.

It's a line of work I want to pursue. What's a girl to do? I played along with their fun little system, filled out the questionnaire (including my e-mail and zip code) and waited to hear back from them. Hear back from them, I did! A barrage of useless 'brochures', an assault of phone calls that would put the most rabid creditors to shame, and the e-mails. Oh, the e-mails.

The first one, which took less than 24 hours to announce itself to my inbox, was pleasant enough. The subject line read, "Thank you letter." Okay. That's nice. Pretty much what I expected. I read on:

"XYZ College
Closest Campus

Dear Kristin,The Admissions Department at XYZ College has received your information request and has assigned it priority status. An Admissions Representative will call you shortly to answer your questions.

We want to make sure you find a career-focused program that fits your goals, your lifestyle, and your schedule. Tell us what you want from your education, and together we will create a plan that's right for you. To get your questions about class schedules and financial aid answered now, please call us at (123) 456-7890.

Sheena Houston
Director of Admissions"

I was busy. It was tax time. I didn't call right away. Plus, I thought calling them was an option I could exercise if I was interested. I was wrong. The next letter hit my inbox with a little more brute force. Subject line "You have what it takes to succeed." Whatever. They know less than zero about me, but okay. The body was less positive:

"XYZ College
Closest Campus Whether Or Not It Offers What You Want

Congratulations Kristin, you've committed to improving your life and recognized that career-training is the first step in doing so. We understand how hard it can be to get started, but we can help.

Take the next step and together, we'll map out a plan for you and make sure nothing stands in your way.

Give me a call at (123) 456-7890.

You deserve more.

Sheena Houston
By Way of Bloody Coup, Dictator of Admissions"

I'm a little offended by this one. Congratulations, I've committed to improving my life? WTF? There was nothing on their insipid little questionnaire that asked anything about how crappy my life is and whether I believe it needs "improvement."

"We understand how hard it can be to get started . . . " Yeah, that's not condescending or anything. Do they imagine I'm lying about on the couch, wearing a bathrobe, reading romance novels and just wishing I had the wherewithal to pick up the telephone and do a little research? I do NOT read romance novels!

"Give me a call. You deserve more." More than what? These people don't know jack about me.

" . . . we'll map out a plan for you and make sure nothing stands in your way." Ummm, what exactly does that mean?!

Okay, calm down. That's just their pitch. They are well accustomed to aiming their sharply honed instruments of persuasion at housewives. Just because they are well versed in what they do doesn't mean I have to buy what they're selling.

Or does it?

The next letter arrived quickly on the heels of the offensive one. The tone of this one was a little more, ummm, shall we say . . . forceful? Subject line: "Today's the day." Leaves little room for question. I gingerly clicked to open the newest missive:

"XYZ College
You Know Where We Are.
We Know Where You Are.
Get Your Ass In Here Or Guido Will Come For You.

Today's the day I
......continue to go to a meaningless job I hate
....worry about paying my bills
....wish for a better life something to improve my situation.

Dear Kristin,Which of those options sounds most appealing? Is today the day that you make a commitment to improving your life? That's exactly what beginning an education is; it's making a promise to yourself and your family; it's saying, "I deserve more than this."

Prove it. Take the next step in your education. Call (123) 456-7890 now to learn if XYZ College is right for you. We'll talk about how furthering your education can improve your life. I think you'll like what you hear and realize that while pursuing an education may be difficult, we make it easier than you might think.

Call (123) 456-7890 to make sure we have your correct information.

Dominatrix of Admissions"

Is it just me or are they making me an offer I can't refuse?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Because I cannot begin to say it as well . . .

Cheek and Mary have found the words to say what I could not begin to articulate. I hope these passages speak to you in the same way they have spoken to me.

A non rant for a change . . .

Hmmmm. Looking over some of my previous posts, it would appear that I spend the lion's share of my time complaining. And whining. And moaning and groaning. And bitching. And judging other folks' lack of facility with the English language (as if that is the only true mark of a man?) I come off looking a bit like an "unsatisfied, dough-faced" American (to quote my favorite line from Kipling's Captains Courageous.)

But that's not all there is to me. I do stop to smell the roses. And the lilacs when they're in bloom in the old neighborhood in which I am lucky enough to live. I do appreciate the little things in life that spell out the beauty and humor that surround us. And I do revel in those sublime little moments that just make a person stop and say "ahhhhh."

So here it is:

The Me Likey List

  • New iTunes! Either of my choosing or Beautiful's--she keeps me on my toes : )

  • Long walks in our neighborhood and along the waterfront with the mountain view. Yep--I am blessed to live in a place of unending beauty.

  • Strong Bad e-mails, along with xkcd and Perry Bible Fellowship* comics. No explanation needed. [*Note: Decidedly unbiblical--I can't explain the name . . . ]

  • Stretching after a really good work out--that feeling of calm and peace after accomplishing something good.

  • Chocolate (duh--this category was a gimme, right?) Chocolate milk, chocolate covered strawberries, thin slices of fresh ginger in dark chocolate fondue (thanks Tracy!), Baskin-Robbins Chocolate Mousse Royale, chocolate milkshakes, semi-sweet chocolate chips directly from the bag, chocolate chip cookie dough (who has time to wait for baking!), chocolate covered raisins, and way too many other chocolate things to name.

  • Non chocolate related because Mary talked me into trying just a tiny piece: Really good, fresh, imported Italian marzipan. Oh yeah, baby!

  • Having my toes kissed. I know--TMI : )

  • Wednesday homeschool co-op group, where the moms eat amazing food, and talk about books and films and relationships and news and occasionally politics & religion, and share thoughts about our families, and encourage each other . . . oh yes, and teach our children. And eat amazing food . . .

  • When Mister has occasion to really, really laugh. I love seeing him unabashedly happy.

  • Lilacs, sweet peas, honeysuckles, poppies and peonies. And the small grove of dogwoods that are right now blooming at my favorite roadside cemetery.

  • Late night IM's with either Beautiful or Young Guy. The time of night when I really need to laugh and share the insomnia and they're both so funny!

  • Driving a stick shift. What is it about driving a stick that makes people feel like they have some control over one small thing in the world? Don't know, but I love it!

  • Calvin Klein's Eternity perfume. Except I just ran out of it--which seems like an oxymoron . . .

  • Camping at Ross Lake--a man made lake behind a dam. We drive from Washington, into Canada, down a 40 mile long, rutted, rough dirt road back into the US to camp at the northern tip of this lake. The barren and challenging dirt road keeps this campsite from being overly popular. But the blue lake nestled in the mountains (some forested, some sheer rock faces) is a quiet--nearly sacred--haven for us in the summertime. And because of the surrounding colors and the quality of light, it's impossible to take a bad photo there!

  • Road trips with Beautiful. sigh

  • 3400 word minimum blog posts . . . ; )

  • I am an apple and cheese ho! Don't care which apples so long as they're crisp and have enough sweet/tart to sing with the cheese. Current cheese favorites: That imported French brie (isle of somethingorother) whose name I can never remember--so mild and delicate I'll even eat the rind. Boursin--gotta love that garlic! But my hands-down favorite is Rosemary Manchego. Ahhhh, Rosemary Manchego with apples . . . a combination that is every superlative I can think of . . . a combination that's better than sex! Well . . . maybe not better than . . . but oh! think how they would be combined . . . I must go "talk" to Mister . . .

  • Fall. Everything about fall. The colors, harvest, the aromas, the first wind storm, the clean air, the energy in the air!

"The sumac is a gypsy queen,
Who flaunts in crimson dressed,
And wild along the roadside runs,
Red blossoms in her breast."

Just another small glimpse into what makes me uniquely me : )

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Confessions From Under the Influence

Okay, well this isn't the happy, non-whiny post I had been working on. I am still feeling betrayed by that one and I'm not quite ready for apologies and compromises and making nice . . .

But--I am in love! And who better to share the news of heart pounding, cheeks flushing, day dreaming crush material than blogworld? Am I right?

Yesterday I had a little oral surgery thing and I am so enamored of Dr. W! He's terribly hunky--one of those men in his mid to late 40's who, although completely silvery-gray haired, just looks better and better as he ages. But that's not why I have deep feelings for him. And he has the kind of bedside manner all patients dream of--he's funny and considerate and gentle and takes very seriously any fears (*ahem* phobias) his patients harbor. But neither is that the cause for my ardor. The real reason I would willingly submit myself further to his care (and let's face it--we're talking about mouth issues and we all know how I feel about mouth issues) is because this phenomenal man administers an IV that you can't even feel!

Ahhhh, Dr. W, thanks to the post op meds you so lovingly prescribed, I am going back to a hazy, drug induced slumber and will dream only of your gentle touch . . .

Murphy's Law

I was trying to post something happy and non-whiny for a change but I couldn't get the freaking spacing to work right and the photo wouldn't cooperate either and I tried and tried and I got frustrated and pissed off so there will be no happy non-whiny post!

Well . . . maybe later today when I recover my humor and it's not 5 in the morning and I've had a little sleep : )

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Grass Is Always Red Greener . . .

I'm not even going to touch the horrific news. Rick said it well . . .

Instead, I have a characteristic slice of Little Guy's life to report on. [Note: Henceforth I shall be referring to Little Guy as 'Youngest'. I think 'Little Guy' might become insulting as he nudges ever closer to becoming a teenager.]

So. A slice of Youngest's life.

Today, after school lessons were done, Youngest informed me that he was going out to Dad's shop to build a skateboard. Not exactly sure what prompted that fancy seeing as he already has a decent skateboard, but who am I to kill the dream?

Using scraps of wood plus trucks and wheels from a garage sale find (again--why buy a skateboard at a garage sale when he already has one? There are some things a mother learns not to ask) Youngest fashioned a clunky, if not quite clever, facsimile of an old school board.

And then he came to the best part:

"And guess what, Mom? It's going to be powered by a leaf blower!"

He becomes more and more like his hero every day.

I'll try to post a picture. Assuming my camera can capture the speed and precision of such a machine. Duct tape and all . . .

ADDENDUM: Unwieldy would be an accurate way of describing this masterpiece : ) Also in our back yard: Youngest has a tightrope (with guide wire for safety and balance) and is busily fabricating one superbicycle from the corpses of several defunct old bikes. Carry on, Youngest!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Could I BE a Better Mother?

My friends and I have an ongoing conversation (and I do mean ongoing--every week, every day, every hour . . . ) about our grown children. We tread along the same ancient ruts as all mothers reaching back to Eve. And with the same results. Yet, lack of success (our own or any other mother's in the history of motherhood) doesn't impinge upon our dogged fervor.

We, like all mothers past, present and future, have boundless faith in our knowledge, our experience and our wisdom as compared to that of our children's. After all, we've been around the block a couple times. We have seen more. We have survived more. We know more. Duh! If only our kids would take our collective word for it they could avoid like 100% of the mistakes and pain they fall into every day. It's like a refrain from any religion you could name: we could save them if they would only listen!

Here is just one fine example of a typical conversation (complete with internal dialogue) between me and my more-self sufficient-than-I-give-her-credit-for daughter, Beautiful. This could happen any day of any week. There may be slight variations, but the symphony remains the same:

Me: I don't think you should wear that outfit to work. It sends the wrong message. It makes you look angry and defensive.

Me thinking to myself: Shut up! She has just been through the wringer--give her a little space! Enter into this with a gentle hand and with time and restraint and love and respect!

Beautiful: Mom, my outfit is cute. Trust me. I know what to wear and how to wear it.

Me: (Having completely ignored what she just said to me . . . ) And the lip ring detracts from your natural beauty. It used to be that people would see you and think "Wow, that girl is beautiful" or "she must be an artist of some sort." Now they look at you and either think "What happened to Beautiful, she doesn't even look like the same person" or guys think "she looks like an easy target."

Me: What happened to shutting up?

Beautiful: I think I'll ignore her. Maybe she'll shut up. Oh no, she's drawing breath as though she's going to say more. I should have known . . .

Me: Your eye make-up steals away from your lovely eyes. People used to notice your gorgeous eyes, now all they see is overly colorful make-up. Your eye liner is way too thick and heavy and that eye shadow looks like a parrot. It looks de' classe. And beneath you.

Me: In the name of all that is holy and decent--shut up!!!! How much more damage can you do???

Beautiful: Once again, Mom, it's okay for me to wear non-neutral eye make-up because I'm 19--not 39!

Me, Plowing forward as only a truly insane mother would do: Okay, I wasn't saying this the right way before. What I meant about the lip ring is that guys are going to think you're the kind of girl with such low self esteem that you're an easy mark.

Beautiful: Yeah, I thought about that. That actually was one reason I hesitated a long time before getting it done.

Me: Hell yeah! That's right Mama, stick with the subtle manipulation route--you're so good at this!

Me: Can you at least find something a little more pretty or delicate? That way you'll look artistically bohemian.

Me: Go for the jugular Mama--play the artist card!

Beautiful: I'll have to find a pretty one first.

Me: When? Today?

Beautiful: The more you push, the less I'm going to want to do it.

Me: I know.

Me: I know.

The following morning:

Beautiful: How do I look today?

Me: Very pretty, but your eye liner is still too heavy and dark and takes away from your lovely eyes.

Beautiful: Still? I tried to lighten it up a little because you complained about it.

Me: In the name of all that is holy and decent--shut up and give the girl a compliment! It's finally starting to work so encourage her already!

Me: I can see it's lighter than it was before. You look all springy and beautiful!

Me: Oy vie.

Okay, so this is a little exaggerated. A little. It's hard work being a mom. Being perfect and right all the time sure takes its toll!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Archaeological Evidence Of My Illustrious Life

It's not that I never clear off my desk, it's that there's a little cubby with a pile of papers and things that ends up being the catch-all for everyone's junk. This week I have been absolutely swamped with serious projects that needed to get done. So it seemed like a good time to get distracted by this ever growing mass o'crap.

Here is a small sample of Weird Things Found On Mom's Desk:

  • 1/2 of a card deck chewed by dog (Why only half? Why save what's leftover of doggie destruction? It's all a mystery . . . )

  • unopened package of dental floss

  • Lego treasure chest--complete with treasure!

  • fingernail clippers--ewwwwww (I gag at anything fingernail related the same as I do with anything mouth related.)

  • big ass-pile o' CD's--none of which belong to me!

  • broken blade of a toy tomahawk--because where else would one file broken toy tomahawk blades?

  • dangly earrings--not mine

  • really cute ankle bracelet--also not mine

  • ferry schedule--that expired in September

  • plastic sheriff badge from county fair--last august

  • Beautiful's costume design sketches--from last may

  • Handful Of Luvin CD borrowed from a friend--last march

  • tax documents--from 2005

  • high school senior portrait--from 1985 . . . long story . . .

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Veneration of Beautiful

My girl, Beautiful, has persevered through a year of difficulty. Difficulty is an understatement. But I don't want to speak for her so I'll leave it at that.

A couple weeks ago, and only after agonizing contemplation, she made a decision that changed everything she thought her life was going to be about. It was the most awful--and the bravest--choice she has ever had to make. And this is a girl who has already in her short life had to make some pretty weighty resolutions.

Since that time two weeks ago, she has been dealing with the fallout from the struggle. And she has handled the entire situation with grace, poise and humility and a willingness to learn and forgive that most women twice her age and experience could not likely muster. I don't refer to her as 'Beautiful' for her physical attributes only.

Here's to you, Beautiful: You are regal in your deportment; I admire you for all that you are and all that you are not; you are an excellent example to the young girls in your classes; and you inspire me every single day.

Courtesy of Cheek:

"I have loved . . . too much if such a thing is possible. I opened myself and gave myself freely and without question, and perhaps where I fell was in expecting that my love would be returned, and for a while it was, but it is the memory of that love which sustains me and now allows me to let it go, forever.

Spring for me is a time of cleansing. The death and quiet still of winter passes us by, and we rejoice in the celebration of life; and we remember those which we have loved, as we kiss them goodbye and turn away towards tomorrow."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Only 6?

The 6 Weird Things About Me meme.

If I asked my family, they'd pile on a hell of lot more than 6!

1. Waffles. I have waffle issues. I do not like homemade waffles--no matter who makes them, sorry Clarice : ) I do not like Belgian waffles. I like frozen waffles from the grocery store--but ONLY Eggo waffles. Reason? Non Eggo waffles have plateaus. Eggo waffles have peaks which get all crunchy in the toaster. There you go. All the reason I need.

2. I am not yet a grown-up. I have never learned to like coffee or tea. I can't enjoy Seattle's pastime and I can't have a comforting cuppa with my children or friends. It will be a surprise to nobody that the only hot drink I like is hot chocolate : ) Well, except for Clarice's mulled wine mixed with spiced cider--it's like drinking a nice, warm hug!

3. Burnt out light bulbs and their resultant darkness depress me. But I have a serious aversion to changing burnt out light bulbs. A poorly lit house due to burnt out light bulbs depresses me. But I have a serious aversion to changing burnt out light bulbs . . .

4. I have an irrationally low thresh hold for being around people. I like to cook for guests, but I don't want to eat with them. I enjoy the house being full of my kids and their friends with their game playing/movie watching, etc., but I'd rather take a solitary walk than be stuck for too long near them. I am terrified of awkward pauses in conversation--so if I've never met you, I would be reluctant to get together for that reason. I prefer the quiet of my own space and interfacing via computer to being face-to-face with people. Any people. Often times even my closest friends.

Yes. I am seeing a therapist. Sort of. But I don't like being in a room with her. And talking to her. Awkward pauses and all . . .

5. I set an alarm but I refuse to get out of bed just because it's ringing. I don't like being told what to do. It has to be my idea. I hit the snooze and wait a few minutes, then I enjoy the last word in the argument by getting up of my own accord and turning the alarm off before it can boss me around more.

6. I don't like mouths and teeth. I can't stomach the sound or sight of someone else brushing their teeth or using mouthwash. I am nauseated by other people flossing. I have to change the channel if I see a TV commercial featuring actors performing any kind of oral hygiene. I cannot tolerate people eating cold cereal in my presence, what with all the crunching and slurping going on--ick!!!!!!!!!!!

My daughter has learned that to win any sort of goofball argument she and I might be having, all she has to do is pantomime flossing her teeth--that's all it takes to make me close my eyes, cover my ears and cry out "Uncle!"

I mentioned that I am seeing a therapist, right?

Oh--and Mary, consider yourself tagged : )

Friday, April 6, 2007

A New Mantra . . . Let's See If I Can Follow It For More Than 5 Seconds

I have been complaining long and loud about all the stress, all the changes, all the uncertainty, regret and guilt of the past year. The complaining has run its course. It's time to start letting go and move on.

So, I'm sitting on my couch, indulging in sinfully rich truffles, considering what direction I should go, where my focus should lie, how my energy could best be used--and one thought keeps leaping into my consciousness: What would Stuart do?

I can see you out there, politely raising your hand to ask, "Excuse me? Who's Stuart?" Good question, Grasshopper.

Stuart is my old friend from high school. We lost contact with each other between August of 1984 and December of 2006. In that time, my funny, confident, uber intelligent friend became, well . . . he became exactly what he already was, only with a life of experience added to that estimable mix.

During the 22 1/2 year hiatus in our communication, Stuart went off to college, went to work, started a successful business, and then another, took up motorcycle racing and, couple years ago, won the Championship Cup Series Southeast Region Overall Amateur Championship (now there's a mouthful!), was flown by BMW to Germany to test their new sport bike (!), took a motorcycle trip around the country (and blogged it to share with his friends and family), and just because he felt the pull to add music back into his life he took up the drums and now plays in a band. And this is just the stuff that I know about after catching up with him for a handful of weeks.

All that plus he has amassed a retinue of equally interesting friends. Including a Riding Instructor for the California Superbike School; a mother/daughter team of librarians; a cook formerly in the employment of Francis Ford Coppola; a software writing Reiki healing master; a gym owner/body builder--former Mister Teen Tallahassee; a plastic surgeon/competitive motorcycle rider; a blogging, non-closeted grammarian, blues singer with a respectable day job; yes--and a mischievous talking cat. Impressive considering those are just the few I know anything about.

Work that he loves, exhilarating hobbies, fascinating friends, and few regrets. Stuart lives the balanced and diverse life that most people outwardly aspire to and inwardly envy.

Which brings me back to my new mantra. With all the unexpected (and mostly unwelcome) changes happening in my life, I ask myself, "What would Stuart do?"

Going only on the tip-of-the-iceberg familiarity I have with his life, I think I would be correct in guessing that Stuart would judiciously keep from his varied experiences that which was good, learn from that which was bad, let go of the rest and move on. He would probably waste little time sitting on the couch eating truffles. He would 'pull himself up by the bootstraps', tend to business and launch into some refreshing new hobby that would stretch him intellectually, physically and emotionally. Oh yes, and he would drink beer. Lots of it : ) But he wouldn't pathetically drink alone while wallowing in self pity. He would go out with friends, toss a few (or many) back and plow forward.

I don't know what direction I'll head in now, but I do know that, using Stuart's example as inspiration, I will leave the truffles and the couch behind and plow onward. Just like Stuart would do.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Dreaming In Colorful

I'll just say this up front: I'm thinking out loud; not fishing . . .

In my conscious hours I am capable enough of writing a humorous little essay. But in my dreams . . .

I'm not talking about my daydreams, I mean my actual nighttime asleep dreams. In my dreams I can, and do, write anything and everything.

In sleep, I am the author of poetry so full of pathos it would make you question the very life you live. And songs meaningful and true such as they could be sung by the likes of Bono or any one of the angst-ridden young indies.

In dreams, I weave full length novels. My characters are real and the stories are complicated and alive.

And then I wake up and can't remember any of it. I ache to conjure even a single line of my rich slumber verse. But it all drifts back to the depths and I rise up through the layers to surface into waking life.

And I'm left with the capacity to pen the ButtFest trilogy or a chocolate orgasm. But in my dreams . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It's An Underful Life

So I finally broke down today and bought new underwear. I won't go into the intimate details of that purchase, suffice to say, Mister is happy. And nonsuspicious : )

I was in the lingerie section of a department store considering my options. There was a married couple shopping for unmentionables and I thought, "Oh, how sweet. They're shopping for the fun stuff together."

And then it became less sweet.

The woman (who was very large--and that's important for the visual here) lifted her shirt above her waist, and leaned over. Dutifully, her husband pushed the blouse up far enough in back so he could check the size of the bra that was currently strapped to her person. Yep. Right there. Right there in the middle of the bra department. A fitting room was but steps away, but, for this woman, the better choice was to halfway undress her large, white, lumpy frame right there so her husband could offer his support.

Now at this point in my narrative is it necessary for me to clarify that the "department store" I was in happened to be WalMart? Yeah. Didn't think I needed to mention that.

My kingdom for a digital camera . . .

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I Am A Seriously Cheap Date

I usually have the chance to sit down and write after everyone else goes to bed. I get something to drink and get comfy at my desk and the magic commences (she proclaimed conceitedly : )

So tonight, before coming to write a hilarious account of a non-infectious skin disorder, I went to the fridge for a bottle of water. We're out. And it's late so our little mom 'n pop market is closed.

Our tap water dons a murky ocher veil thanks to the iron. I don't like drinking yellow water. I'll pass.

We're also out of milk. And every other beverage known to the western world. Except beer. I don't like beer. Yellow water and beer. No thanks.

Oh--but on the bottom shelf of the fridge door there is what's left of a jug of cran-apple juice! I don't remember buying it so it must have been there for awhile. No obvious signs of mold or other growths. Promising! No telltale scent of spore colonies. This could work! The sniff test also returns a negative result for indications of fermentation. Great! I'm game, I'll try a sip. Taste test confirms that ancient, mostly empty jug of juice is potable. Must be the cranberries. Don't they have some enchanted antibacterial properties? That makes me feel safe enough to pour a nice big glass. Mmmm mmmm!

So--on with my story.

I wanted to tell you about going to see the dermatologist. I have allergy issues. Lots of them. I went to see my drmeatlologis to discuss finding a slolution for my dry skim. She was kind of a bummerer.

Ummmm, it occurs to me as I rwite this that thanks to my chcronic hay fever I have very little sense of shmell. Or taste. I wunner if it's pozible this juice really is fermented?

Anyway, back to my shtory. I went to see a doctor. She was a real bitch. Umm, I mean she was unpleasan.

Wait. I'm shtill thirsdy. Need more jhuice.

Tha's bedder. What were we talking about? I thing it was someing bout my unnerwear? No, wait, that was'n . . .

*burp* Oh--pardon me!

Whad were you tryin to say to meeee?

I needa refill.

Where's the waider in this plashe?

Who does a gilr have to . . . . . . . . .


Monday, April 2, 2007

Community Prayer

Friday was a wash for me. I spent the entire day going between phone calls and e-mail messages with Hurt Child. I did manage to sneak in a quick shower. At lunch time.

[Please--don't jump to inquiring about foster parent services just yet. My Feral Child was in the capable hands of Bagheera and Baloo.]

I was sitting at my desk, e-discussing the nuances of, "What are my boundaries and how much is too much trying to help Hurt Child heal?" with my dear friend Mary, when out my back door, across the access road, what did my little eye spy? My final e-sentence to ever patient Mary was, "Oh crap. I see Jehovah's Witnesses walking around the neighborhood and I'm still in my bathrobe!" It was 1:45. Don't ask.

I admire Jehovah's Witnesses. They put themselves out there every single day for a cause that means more to them than self. And they cheerfully do it knowing that people are going to turn them away. Some less politely than others. Admiration notwithstanding, I didn't have the heart that day for a religious chat. I was in the mind to seek the counsel I was comfortable with, not have strangers seek me at my doorstep.

Plan of action: Quickly become presentable and hop in the car to do a superfluous errand all in an effort not to have to face Strange Imparters of Wisdom.

It almost worked.

It would have worked.

But I'm an idiot.

Grabbing coat and keys . . . okay, that's not true. That would have been the smart thing to have been doing. I wasn't grabbing coat and keys. I detoured to my desk to check my e-mail one last time--just really quickly--before merging back into the Race Against The Zealots.

The Zealots overtook me. Walking past my dining room window to knock on my front door, the Jehovah's Witnesses spied me in my office-which-is-really-an-alcove-situated-between-dining-room-and-kitchen.

Damn! I had almost foiled their opposite-of-evil scheme! I was dressed and coiffed (well . . . whatever . . . ) and just getting ready to sneak away! They saw me. I didn't have a choice. I had to answer the door.

So--I'm wearing a greater-than-my-average cleavage bearing blouse, thinking "Gee, I should grab a sweater and cover up" followed by, "meh--if they're going to go around accosting people unexpectedly, they're gonna have to deal with some cleavage from time to time."

I answered the door to find that they weren't Jehovah's Witnesses. They were Mormons. Freshly scrubbed, barely old enough to shave, 18 year old boy Mormons. And there I stood, in all my cleavagey glory . . .

I told them I was in a rush to take care of some important things (which wasn't entirely untrue--I was going to the market 300 yards from my door for a soda . . . ) Bless his heart, one of the youngsters in his crisp black (polyester) suit asked if there was anything he could help with.

As I drove out, I saw them walking down the road on the pretense of trying to save the rest of my neighbors. I'm sure what they were really doing was gathering the townspeople to get on their knees and pray for booby woman with the wild curly hair who was obviously off on a Friday afternoon for an early start to a weekend binge of boozing, partying and otherwise floozying about.

And that is how my entire day on Friday went . . .