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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Really Was A Lost Soul

What if I told you I was a warrior, wielding a sword in each hand, cutting through demons in The Hinterlands, searching for a lost but sacred altar? And what if I died battling the last two demons that stood between me and that altar? Would you say, "Oh, what a shame," cross yourself and walk away? Or would you keep reading to find out whether this sword wielding warrior went to Heaven or to Hell? And what if I said that neither of those two places were an option?

What would your response be if I told you that I found my soul standing before an Angel, in a distant cemetery, who told me that my work wasn't done, that I had to stay here and finish what I started? Understanding my bewilderment, surely you wouldn't be surprised when I said I took a few steps back to gain perspective, only to find my soul falling from the edge of The Overlook Cliffs down to the shore of The Forbidding Sea. Surely you would feel my pain as I looked up at the cliffs, far far away from the Angel, and well aware (obviously) that dead souls can't fly (nor can they pass through mountains or trees or anything that is solid...the movies lie to you...regularly...). And perhaps you would feel a bit sorry when I told you this poor soul was forced to wander the shoreline of The Forbidding Sea until I reached an open path, through the coastal mountain range, leading me to an unfamiliar valley known as The Eastern Plaguelands (the beginning of a seriously negative element in my unwanted spiritual journey...I truly was a lost soul).

And I'm sure you would keep reading as I told you that I wandered through the Western portion of the Plaguelands (a very ugly place, by the way, and I was happy to not be alive right there, quite honestly, because I'm pretty sure whatever is alive right there would've killed me anyway). I also passed through some strange ruins that led me to a place called Sorrow Hill (which I thought was appropriate)and past The Writhing Haunt (also appropriate), and I was constantly burdened with the reality that I was getting farther and farther away from the body I so needed to find. And just as I was about to give up, I wandered into a familiar area, with a familiar graveyard, where I was greeted by another Angel who took pity on my weary soul and offered to raise me from the dead (an offer, at that point, I couldn't refuse).

It is questionable, however, if you would understand the frustration I felt when, once fully returned to my body, shaking off a little resurrection sickness, I realized that the Angel in the Southshore graveyard returned me to the same damn cliffs my soul had fallen from many many moments ago! And regardless of my location on the map, I still couldn't figure out how to get back to those stupid demons by that stupid sacred altar that had killed me in the first place! And at this point I am fully aware that some of you are sitting there saying, "What the hell is she talking about? Is this some kind of weird dream she had? Some crazy story from Past Life Regression Therapy? What?" But others are reading this and laughing. There are others that know exactly what I'm talking about, that recognize the locations my lost soul wandered through as part of another reality, another world, a world in which all is fair in love and WarCraft. They are smiling to themselves right now and saying something like, "She fell off The Overlook Cliffs and wandered all the way to Southshore because she couldn't find her body in The Hinterlands? Pfft... I wonder what level she is. ...stupid noob..."

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Heart Sickness

So I haven't written in a while -- almost a month. And considering that I had been on a writing roll, I hate to see that the silence started to set in again. But, you see, the holidays are upon us, and ever since Thanksgiving I have found myself suffering from something I've named The Heart Sickness. It's that feeling that lingers, even though rationally and logically you may see no reason for it, you feel this constant heavy sorrow despite your smiling "game face."

My little girl will be leaving me today to spend Christmas with her father, just as she spent Thanksgiving with him too. And one would think that I would be used to it by now. I've been doing this for so many years, I should be numb to it, right? I should take this time to eat and drink and be merry with my friends, and I should do it in style...without the "game face." I should be ready for the break, I should be ready for an overdose of spiked egg nog, but I never am.

I was tucking her in last night and as I was giving her a hug she said, "I'm going to miss you, Mom, but I don't want you to be lonely without me. You always say you won't be, but I know that you are." So I smiled at her and I kissed her on the cheek and I said, "You're going to have a good Christmas, you're going to have fun, and I promise you that I won't be lonely." And with that I turned out the light and walked away with my Super Woman cape trailing behind me. But in the silence of my own room the Super Woman cape turns into nothing more than a worthless sheet, and I realize that my daughter knows me every bit as well as I know her.

The truth is, I will be lonely without her. I will miss hearing her little voice sing Christmas songs as she bounces around the house. I will miss her while driving in the dark since she's the one who so eagerly points out the houses with lights on them. I will miss her begging me to make cookies for Santa, even though I'm pretty sure she no longer believes. I will miss dressing her up on Christmas Eve and watching her restlessly shift in her seat at church because the best part is yet to come. As I go through my yearly Santa Clause ritual, and quietly place her gifts under the tree when I'm certain she's fast asleep, I will miss her because she'll be fast asleep in California...far away from me. And when the sun comes up on Christmas morning, I will miss her because she wasn't here to jump on my bed and force me out of it with her smile.

And so now you understand the heart sickness. Out of all the times, as a single parent, I may feel tired and need a break...Christmas isn't one of them. The childhood years are passing quickly. The hormone ridden adolescent years are waiting for me right around the corner, and when those years come Christmas will be little more for her than status quo -- she will graciously partake in the Christmas Eve festivities, she will politely endure the company of surrounding adults, and she will sleep late on Christmas morning because, special day or not, it's basically the same every year. And so, eight years later, I still feel the familiar sting of divorce; not because I love the man, not because I still hurt from the misery that was our marriage, but because we made this beautiful child together and we split her, 50/50, like we did everything else. The difference is, when it comes to her, something deep down still feels like "family should be together."

I apologize for being such a downer on this 19th day of December. But if I hadn't said it, the silence would have continued. And I'm working hard to write both in and out of the blog and the silence, for a writer, is deadly. So take from this whatever you will. I promise to be a bit more entertaining in the days to come. And for all the single parents out there, wearing their Superhero capes, enjoy the festivities, game face or not. Have a glass of egg nog for yourself and one for me, and I will do the same for you. I have a feeling that you all know exactly what I'm talking about because you have all thought it at one point or another. I just happened to say it out loud.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering...

One of my readers sent me an email asking why I chose the title Mixed Number and asked me what my mixed number, in mathematical terms, actually was. He was the first to ask me this, and there is a solid reason behind my choice. So in case the rest of you were wondering, I thought I would share my answer.

The name actually came about while I was taking an advanced math class that my job required of me. I hate math, I’m not too good at it, so I had to do some back up study to successfully reach the point of mathematical understanding my job required. While doing this, I had to cover a basic chapter on mixed numbers.

Now, my brother is the one that always bothers me to write (blogs especially, for some reason). Before this particular blog, I'd tried my hand at a couple others (Pandora's Payday Loan was one and All Addictions Allowed was another). Neither of the previous blogs got very far. They had a consistent theme running through them, which turned out to be somewhat of a frustration because it limited my ability to write freely (I was forced to focus on one topic), and given the irregularity of my writing (or my desire to do so) it was sometimes difficult to get excited about that one topic. But running across the words Mixed Number, the mathematical term being a whole number with a fraction attached to it (like 7 3/4), made me think of music.

Music can have (particularly in classical music) three different movements in one song: the first movement being something soft and slow, the second being more playful and upbeat, and the third being something exciting or even somewhat zealous or angry sounding (like the three movements of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, for example). It also made me think of talent shows and the various acts that would come up on stage: some music, some drama, and some comedy -- all equally entertaining to the audience. So why not do this for a blog? This is why I'll have some poetry thrown into the mix of some social, political or religious commentary, reflective personal thoughts, as well as perhaps a few comical rants that are meant to do nothing but entertain myself and hopefully my reader. My blog then is, like the talent show or the sonata, a show with various acts or a single piece with many movements: a mixed number.

As far as an actual mathematical number, I never really thought about it. I suppose I would like 7 and 3/4. Why? Because I associate 7 with God, completion, perfection, and the three fourths I would associate with myself -- almost whole but 1/4 seems to still be missing; we'll just call this room for human error. ;-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Single Thirty-Something Menace

The other day I was having lunch with a good friend. Because of my heavy Baptist background and his heavy Mormon background, we often find ourselves discussing some of what we consider the quirks of the religious system. This time the topic was the Mormon notion a single individual over the age of twenty-five is a menace to society. Of course, we were poking fun at one another, neither believing the other to be a “menace,” but afterward I couldn’t help but ponder the idea.
A menace... The word has such a strong connotation. A terrorist is a menace. A serial killer, a rapist, those are menaces, but a single thirty-something grad student? …a med student? An individual so focused on bettering themselves they haven’t taken the time to marry is a menace?

Knowing what little I do about the faith, I suspect the concept stems from notions of family and populating the earth with new life, new souls. If I’m correct, the concern makes sense considering the biological clock is always ticking and from twenty-five on it becomes increasingly difficult to rear and raise children. Therefore, it is a threat to the well being of society if you can’t contribute more good individuals to the growing population. All of that aside, my musing of the topic went another direction.

If we turn our attention to the reliable Mr. Webster and his third reference to the word “menace” we’ll find it simply defined as “a person who is a nuisance.” As a single thirty-something with mostly married friends, I’d have to agree that my marital status can be a nuisance – the whole third wheel issue. And I have a feeling that some of the other single thirty-somethings I know, in the prime of our physical lives, might agree that we are, at times, a menace to ourselves because of something called “the lonely goggles,” skewing our otherwise good judgment resulting in poor dating decisions.

One good example of such a nuisance is a new fellow in the office, a recent law school graduate, who is most definitely a menace to my work environment. He is “on the make,” even proclaimed himself “a chaser of tail,” who has repeatedly harassed me, along with some of the other female menaces, with his egotistical sexually charged self. If this thirty-something man were married with a family to occupy his time and money, I may not have to endure his torment. Similarly, if I had a husband, whose photograph I would willingly sport upon my desk, I may be less of a target for this idiot and the tripe that spews forth from his mouth.

Another example would be a friend of mine who, at thirty-something, constantly laments over her dating dilemmas, her desire for a mate, her longing for children, and her dread of that ever ticking biological clock. Her recent quest for love has exposed her to the horrors of online dating, of which her most recent endeavor was a weekend rendezvous with a man of bad hygiene and bad manners. The situation, to her, is one worthy of tears because “the good ones” are all married and “the left-overs” well… cold meatloaf is the metaphor that comes to mind.

Personally, I’ve paid my fair share of dues: pretty faces with empty heads, scolding the married men for their improper propositions, and my own set of lonely laments. I was once engaged, a few years after my divorce, but I panicked and called off the wedding. My father used that opportunity to suggest that God may have bestowed me with the gift of celibacy. I laughed as he placed the Bible in front of me, referring to a scripture that, paraphrased, means some are born into celibacy, some (like myself, he suggested) are forced into it, and some (like the ever so chaste and honorable Catholic Priests) choose that path for “the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 19: 11-12).

I still laugh at this because I know that I don’t have “the gift of celibacy.” …please… I also know that my dad suffers from something I call “No Man Is Good Enough For My Daughter Syndrome,” so it would please him to no end if I were to live the remainder of my life as a nun (a protestant nun-like woman, that is). But if I think about what he said too long, I’m reminded that his hero, the Apostle Paul, stated that if a person lack self-control it is better for them to marry than to burn (I Cor. 7: 2-9). So… there we have it again, in my own religious background, a menace to myself… the longer I remain single the more susceptible I am to the temptation of the ever so pleasurable but sinful flesh… the slippery slope into the fires of Hell… Guess I better hurry up and make a rash decision to marry, lest I fornicate myself into the eternal abyss… which brings me to my next point.

Single thirty-somethings, like myself, have a tendency to obsessively dive into their work – a welcome distraction from all that is lacking in the love department. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in an over developed sense of perfectionism or an uptight approach to insignificant details. Because of this, there always seems to be that observant married individual who somehow finds it necessary to approach and say something stupid like, “Damn… you really need to get laid.” This is a comment that I have grown to hate. Not only does this pour salt into an open wound, but coming from a person whose biggest sexual challenge is to go home and entice their partner into the realm of intimacy, they have no realistic grasp of what their suggestion entails.

Their advice implies that it would somehow benefit me to seductively dress myself and wander into some random bar with intent to score myself an easy lay for the night. They seem to think that a night in bed with a strange man would do me some good, relieve some tension, and cause me to wake the next morning with a miraculously well balanced and stress free approach to life. These married individuals have lost touch with reality and equate single life with the romanticized ideals they watched on their most recently viewed Netflix. The reality of their suggestion is that I walk into a room of meatheads who recognize nothing but the physical attributes of my body (if that) and my willingness to be a temporary replacement for the Five-Fingered Lady. These meatheads know nothing about what makes me tick, nor do they care. They don’t care to know my name, where I come from, where I’m going, nothing. I would also venture to say that they could care less about my physical satisfaction in the bedroom arena because life to a meathead is little more than one big porno where women are nothing but objects to conquer and dominate with their manhood that I’m so privileged to receive. And I suppose I don’t need to address the issue of disease; after all, we live in a world where we advertise prescriptions for Herpes on television as though it were as common as a migraine and a bottle of Excedrin (and if I write anymore like this I might convince myself about the thirty-something menace to society). So, excuse me. I may not have the gift of celibacy, but I do have enough common sense and self-respect to say, “Married people, this may be your version of sage advice, but I think I’ll pass…”

But…I must digress. Do I really believe that being a single thirty-something makes me or my comrades a menace to society? No. But do I think the concept was worth a few moments of provocative thought? Obviously… However, the best advice I think I’ve received from anyone, during this thirty-something phase of my life, came from a sixty-something man who said:

The problem with people is that they’re constantly convinced something is wrong with their lives if they don’t have a mate. Because of this, they either find themselves in a bad marriage they blindly walked into or they constantly jump from one person to the next. All they really need to do is stop, relax, stay the course, develop the self, let nature have her way, and one day they’ll open their eyes and see the perfect person standing right next to them.

Bingo! Someone give that man a cigar! That makes all the perfect non-religiously charged sense in the world.

~ Pandora: The Notorious Scribe/Menace to Society

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Like Water

…and for some reason I have the words like water running through my head. I have to wonder why. What does this mean? [like water] It cleanses…, it purifies…, and yet I feel unclean and I am far from pure.

Like water, over and over inside my head. … on the brain, perhaps?

I feel heavy.

Water can be heavy.
If contained in a five gallon jug, it's nearly impossible to lift and place on a refrigerated dispenser without first spilling a gallon on the floor.

That's how I feel--like I need to spill a gallon on the floor.

I go for water and a measly four ounces dribble into my glass. My eyes stare at the five gallon jug on the floor and my mind says, "that's too much work." I drink my four ounces and I head for my shower.

Like water-- that's too much work, now flows through my head.
What the hell … ?

I step into my shower hoping the sense of cleanliness will cure me, but it doesn't. It's too much work to enjoy the pleasure of soft warm water running over my aching self. I force myself into the stream and I hurry about my business.
In complete silence, I shut the water off... and dry.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Challenge

You are standing on The Pinnacle,
in your mind.
You are facing The Setting Sun
and The Wind blows behind you.
How many hours have you been standing here?
How much time has been wasted wondering?
...about that leap of faith...
...that thrust toward greatness...
...that fear of failure...

The Specter says, "Don't quit your day job."
The Poet says, "I know why the caged bird sings."
Day jobs are sufficient for paying bills and clipping wings.

How beautiful it is to stand here, isn't it?
The Pinnacle in your mind...
What a view...
Such color... Such freedom... Such life...
That an endless amount of Sky...

So why don't you, Dreamer?
Take that step, that leap of faith.
Nothing lasts forever,
and you're running out of time.

Time is, after all, of the essence.
Time is everything and nothing,
all at once,
when suddenly your number is up.
And everyone's number is up,
in Time.

So, Dreamer, why don't you?
Why don't you do it...now?

Now is The Time,
with The Sun in your face
and The Wind at your back.

Now is The Time.
Live what you see,
stand on The Pinnacle,
and be That Person in your mind.

I dare you...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Considering the fact that America is about to instill BIG GOVERNMENT, just thought I'd let some other great writers do the talking. Hmmm... The winds of "Change" don't always blow like zephyrs... do they.

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed,
if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.'
Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress....
But then I repeat myself.
-Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a
man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
-Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support
of Paul.
-.George Bernard Shaw

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what
to have for dinner.
-James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich
countries to rich people in poor countries. -Douglas Casey, Classmate of
Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to
teenage boys.
-P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live
at the expense of everybody else.
-Frederic Bastiat, Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:
If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops
moving, subsidize it.
-Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
-Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs
when it's free!
-P.J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as
possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
-Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics
won't take an interest in you!
-Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in
-Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it.

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at
one end and no responsibility at the other.
-Ronald Reagan

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the
taxidermist leaves the skin.
-Mark Twain

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class...save Congress.
-Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
-Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to
take everything you have.
-Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The One That Got Away

Have you ever had that moment where you catch yourself off guard? You pride yourself in knowing exactly that -- yourself. But you're sitting there at work, of all places, and something unexpected happens, causing your stomach to turn followed by a wave of emotion that you didn't realize was there.

Let's just say, for example, that since your divorce there had been one relationship that stuck out in your mind as somewhat ideal, a model relationship of sorts. It was a relationship with an individual whose strength, confidence, and independence equaled your own -- intellectually a match, emotionally a match, and in terms of mutual respect everything seemed to be a match. But something went wrong somewhere along the way; some sort of disagreement, or what appeared to be an irreconcilable difference, reared its ugly head. And for the first time in two years a series of insults and cut downs spewed forth from both your mouths until ultimately a mutual agreement to part ways, along with a promise to remain friends, was set into motion.

And let's just say that for the two years that followed you did remain friends, as promised (and wasn't it like the two of you to follow through with your promises). Sure, you mostly emailed, talked on the phone once a month, and got together for dinner and drinks once every two to three months, but it was always good, always free, always conversation and good times. And of course you weren't shocked the day a third party was introduced -- the new special someone that was inevitable and you knew it. And you can honestly say that you were happy because you've been content as friends and this person deserves someone special. But on this day that you sit in your office, you receive that somehow expected yet unexpected phone call that fills you in on the exciting news and how your honored presence is requested at the upcoming wedding.

After doing your best to smile, because they can hear the smile through the phone, you offer your congratulations and make yet another promise...which is to be there. But hanging up is when your stomach turns and you start to wonder why you feel this way when you knew this person wasn't truly meant for you...right?

So you sit and recall all the things that were good and do your best to recall the irreconcilable difference and you suddenly hear the words that escaped your lips just moments before the shouting had started: it was something along the lines of, "I'm sorry times are hard for you right now, but I have my own things to take care of and I can't be burdened with yours."

Funny... It seemed so wise at the time. But now you sit, knowing, that despite your own strong independent facade, you've had many nights since then where you wished you had someone to share burdens with.

No matter... You shake it off, and, like a hero suffering a moment of hubris, you will clothe yourself with your graceful demeanor and take your place as an honored guest with pride. And you will listen to their vows and you will wish them well, reminding yourself that this is life, this is experience, your mistake is someone else's gain, so roll with it...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Because He Says I Should Write...

He says,
as the sound of my voice
as the sound of my voice
--the sound of my voice--
as the lull of the road
beneath my wheels--
stirring hypnosis
as the sound of motion
compels me to grander highways--
as portals to dreams
with distance between them.

He says,
as the sound of my voice
as the sound of my voice
--the sound of my voice--
as the rushing of water
through channels and ducts--
constant streamlines
heard from a distance--
inspiring to some
vexatious to others
persistently pressing the present.

He says,
as the sound of my voice
as the sound of my voice
--the sound of my voice--
as the peripheral clouds
of an approaching hurricane--
slowly swirling potential disaster--
obnoxiously clanging that
the neighbor forgot to bring in.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

After Thought...

My daughter has a knack for catching me off guard and stumping me with questions. And I'm not talking about birds and bee type questions; those I attack with a weapon holstered at my hip because I figure if she doesn't hear it from me she'll hear it from someone I'd wish she hadn't. No, I'm talking about questions that spawn from somewhere deep inside her, born from her own observation, quiet thought, and her own serious need to know. Where I get stumped is whether or not, at her age, it is something she needs to know.

She hasn't been feeling well lately. So the other day I left work early to take her to the doctor. As we were walking into the office she looked up at me and asked, "Is it hard to raise a child by yourself?"

Moments like these seem to induce a weird sense of slow motion, because you're doing something like walking into a doctor's office and your child just asked a serious question, which you know she expects an honest answer to, but do you really want to look at the little girl you're raising by yourself and say, "Yes...yes it is hard to do this on my own," knowing that she's going to internalize that answer and possibly worry herself over it when she doesn't need to? So you settle for something vague like, "It has its moments, good and bad, but I believe parenting is difficult even for people who are married."

Now I was pretty proud of that answer, considering the time constraint I was under. But as we were standing in the elevator she asked, "Well, do you have mostly good moments or mostly bad moments?" Wishing I had settled it with my first answer, I have to admit this one wasn't as hard. I was able to smile at her and say, "Considering the kind of daughter you are, I have mostly good moments and I'm not sure other single parents are as lucky as I am. I certainly didn't plan to do this alone, but since I have to I'm thankful God gave me a daughter like you." With that, she returned my smile and with pure satisfied joy in her eyes, she took my hand and the conversation was over...at least for her.

For the past couple of days I've been replaying that scenario in my mind wondering why she asked that question. Was it because she knew I left work early that day to come help her? What was going on in her little mind the moments before she asked that question? And is it really hard for me to do this by myself? I've been doing it for so long, I've never really taken the time to think about it. But I think my initial answer was correct -- it has its moments.

When I first got divorced, I had to move back in with my parents because I had nothing and that was hard. Being a 26 year old woman, married and divorced with a child, and living with two parents who seemed to pick up where they left off when you were 16...that was hard. Setting my tumultuous emotions to the side so I could focus, finish my BA with a 4.0 and enter into grad school, attempting to build a future for myself and my daughter...that was hard. Moving into my first apartment alone with a two year old on one arm and five to ten grocery bags on the other...that was hard. Sitting in the back row of a Baptist Church that constantly preached about the importance of family values and the evils of divorce, well... I just straight walked away from that one. Accepting the fact that I don't have the privilege of saying "wait til your father gets home," that I must find balance between the nurturing hand and the heavy hand...that was hard (particularly between ages 2-4 and I suspect it will be again between 12-20). Disciplining my child and then lying in bed at night wondering if I did the right thing and having no companion to hear my thoughts...that's hard. Comfortably functioning on one income...that's hard. And dealing with an ex-husband who seems to have a lifetime pass for the Social Short Buss... that's hard. But I guess I never really stop to think of these things because...I wouldn't have it any other way.

My choice to get divorced certainly came with its consequences, its sacrifices, but staying married to my little girl's father? That choice would've come with an entirely different set of consequences and sacrifices that are much worse than what I listed above. There is no one here to mistreat us. There is no one here to make us feel less than the beautifully flawed creations that we are. We are at peace here. We are free to make mistakes, free to talk about them, and free to learn from them. We are free to dream and free to succeed. We are free to exist in the realm we've created where love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, it does not boast, it's slow to anger, believes all things, hopes all things, and never fails. From where I'm sitting, this is the basis of family values, not the institute of marriage. And if I don't receive that in my marriage, well... then... my daughter and I, my family , are better off without it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Myself, As Voiced Through Walt Whitman...

Autumn Leaves
I see my body as it lies,
And what I see you surely have not,
For respective ideals are but autumn leaves.

I lie on my bed,
I ponder myself and the life around me.
My skin responds to the chill of conditioned air,
stings me, prompts me to warm,
Warm me to comfort, warm me to soften,
soften me to impuissance.
I, nearly thirty-four years old, have seen life,
More real than dreamed.

Manifested constructions and systems,
Rejected traditions, yet maintained belief in disbelief.
I loath and love, I contend with bitterness and I dance with grace,
Treacherous the course with uncertain outcome.

Sanctums and Steeples erect in the backdrop, with swags of
purple, red, and white,
My soul knows the power within, and lies prostrate before it,
Rhetorical diction would confine me, but my mind is free.

Thermals of wisdom elevate my mind, I soar and glide
between the columns,
They are lift and thrust, the origin of my ascension,
I will know them by region, esteem and admire them by
theoretical scrutiny,
I am grounded without them.

The mantra of my mind,
Written, spoken, shared discourse, care-less, contrived,
My spirit redeemed, my body sliding on a slope, the sensuous
pleasure of descension,
Clots of blue blood, wounds on my flesh, painful palpitations,
rushing essence,
The wrenching of clothes and the sound of my voice weeping
in the dark of night,
Echoes of laughter, chants, supplication, clasping hands,
The striving of a woman against her man as the child
screams behind them,
The healing calm, a tranquil walk with freedom,
The hope for life, the promise of death, the quest
to love and be loved.

Can I channel you Walt Whitman?
Can I sing my song with your voice?
Can I write my self as you would see it?

Listen to me Walt Whitman, stroll about these
autumn leaves.
Listen to my voice, inhale the perfume of my breast,
know it and like it.
Many days and nights have I stopped with you, perhaps
you will spare one for me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Survival Of The Fittest

You can blame the cat for this one. Granted, me sitting here and writing anything is long over due.

I recently moved into what I've been calling my little hovel and the adjustment is apparently driving my cat insane. As a person who struggles with bouts of insomnia, having a cat that freaks out with crazy running spats between 1:30 and 2:30 in the morning isn't helpful. I can't say that I blame her though, given the circumstance.

We moved here from a three bedroom, two bathroom, house with an elaborate floor to ceiling library with marble floors (the selling point for me), a large kitchen in which to cook and entertain people (which I did plenty of, mind you), and a beautiful back yard complete with hot tub, flowing fountain, and a large zen garden (which my cat and her local outdoor cronies viewed to be the litter box of the gods). But now we live in a two bedroom,two bathroom apartment that I do believe is the same size as the one bedroom one bathroom apartment I lived in as newly wed to my ex-husband. Why, you ask? Because times are hard, you all know it, and I'm broke...flat broke.

Whatever financially prosperous point of view I had two years ago has now been leveled into the realm of practicality -- what I need versus what I want. My short time as a successful mortgage broker plummeted with the industry. Three months of unemployment, along with three months of being told I was over-educated and too under-experienced to be employed, depleted whatever savings I had and was the first event contributing to my current situation. Once finally landing a somewhat decent paying job, the rest of the economy adjusted to make sure I felt no real financial comfort in what may have otherwise appeared to be an improvement. It wasn't long before the familiar paycheck to paycheck scenario started; throw in a couple speeding ticket fines and medical bills and suddenly the overdraft protection from the fledgling savings account became nil as well. Ultimately I found myself, once again, in bail out mode: selling practically everything I own to downsize and move in here.

Humbling as it may be, the surrounding circumstances indicate that at least I'm not alone this time (misery loves company, after all).

I have had to sit and bite my tongue as I listen to the woman in the cube next to me talk about removing 100k from the stock market in an attempt to save it. I listened to another cry and sob about the 40K she just lost. Though I can't really relate to them, to me this simply means that none of us are walking around unscathed by this mess. (Everyone's misery is simply relative to their own situation, always has been, always will be)

The funniest part about all of this to me is that it seems to be happening right after the popular rise of something called The Secret. Perhaps you may have read the book, watched the movie, or learned about it while watching Oprah. Basically, it is a somewhat metaphysical approach to the power of positive thinking: imagine it, visualize it, meditate on it, and you will attain it. This Secret rambles on about something called the laws of attraction, meaining what you focus on is what you draw to yourself. So my question is, has the entire country focused and visualized itself into this pit? Maybe we should ask Oprah, maybe she has the answer. Maybe she's been visualizing Obama as the one to fix it. Or maybe we can blame George Bush once again, though some could argue he's not smart enough to visualize such an elaborate mess. Or maybe I'm just being overly sarcastic now and need to stop.

I don't mean to frown upon the power of positive thinking, nor do I mean to belittle the nice dreams we all have about focusing on a particular goal and attaining it. Lord knows I have many goals, and I strive to attain them, and I know that the only way to get there is by staying positive. This brings me to my point.

I have only been alive for thirty-four years, but many of those years have been a struggle (as I'm sure many of you could say the same). I can't sit here and cry about losing 40K in the stock market, because I haven't had the opportunity to even stick my big toe in that water. But I can tell you how to survive on a shoe-string budget. I can tell you how to look at your negative checking account and smile with confidence and say, "It won't be this way forever." And I can tell you that no amount of visualizing will bring the dream to life if you don't do the footwork and physcially sweat for it. And no amount of visualizing or positive thinking will stop the earth from quaking or the rapids from flowing. But it is true your thoughts, positive or negative, will determine how you handle the quaking of the earth or the flowing of the rapids -- that, and only that, will determine your survival. (For some, this is called faith.)

So...I live in a little hovel. I still don't have living room furniture and my bed is still on the floor. My cat trips out at random hours of the night because she misses the freedom of the back yard and the litter box of the gods. And my bank account is still looking like it has a disease. But my daughter, she smiles at me and says, "At least we have a pool to swim in now." My daughter rides along in the car with me, listening to the Rolling Stones, and says to me, "This is our song, because we don't always get what we want...we get what we need." And this, my friends, is positive thinking with the power to make me smile. This is how we survive.

At least you had 100k to save or 40k to lose, and you know that stock markets always come back...always. At least I had a hovel to move into, and the money I save here will heal my diseased bank account. And if my grandmother can survive The Great Depression and still die with tons of money to disperse to her heirs, then surely we can make it through this -- with or without Obama, Oprah, and The Secret..

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Do You See The Oppression Inherent In The System?

A few weeks back I got notice from the MVD that I had 9 points on my driving record and that I needed to attend Traffic Survival School within the next sixty days, lest my license get suspended. Oh yeah… My speeding habits have finally caught up with me.

Considering my past experiences with Defensive Driving classes, I'd have to say this one was far from boring. The woman teaching the class was pretty entertaining, very witty, and since it was Traffic Survival School it was made for people with messed up situations so... it was a different class of people from the usual defensive driving attendees.

Most of the people in there were red light runners. The instructor made us go through and say our names and why we were there. It went something like this:

red light, red light, red light, DUI, red light, red light, red light, DUI, red light, red light, red light. Gets to Pandora:

"Um... I'm here because of a series of speeding tickets."
"A series? You must be my speed racer. Which one is the worst?"
"Well, I was doing about 90."
"90? In a what?"
"In a 65."
"Girl POWER!!"

Then it continued: red light, red light, speeding:
"Speeding? How fast?"
"In a what?"
"Bah... that's just keeping up with the flow of traffic. Pandora's got you beat."

Then it continued: red light, red light, red light, DUI, reckless driving, red light, red light, red light, speeding:
"How fast?"
"In a what?"
"Nope, she's still got you beat."

Then it continued: red light, red light, red light, speeding:
"Don't worry about it. She's got me beat."

Then it continued: red light, red light, red light, red light.
She looks at me, "Well, no one's got you beat. GIRL POWER!!!"

Though I hated being there, it was pretty funny. I did learn though, that if I get another traffic violation any time within the next twelve months my license will automatically be suspended for six months -- so I have to be good. I also learned that it will take two years for all the points on my record to be considered inactive -- so I still have to be good. I also learned that after two years, though the points will no longer be "active," they will be archived and available for the police to see for the next ten years so... Let's just say that Girl Power is starting to feel the power of Government Oppression. They've forced me into submission, whether I like it or not. While I'm locked on cruise control in the slow lane, my soul silently weeps every time some jacked up hoopty passes me in the cruising lane. The Apocalypse is now upon me my friends, and, the way I feel, I might as well trade in my fancy red rocket for a Geo Metro and just call it a day...

It is soooOOOOooo painful, you have no idea… I know people that drive much much faster than I do, or ever would, but apparently I'm the one that must obey. (Maybe it's because they caught wind of my notary oaths…)

I've been speeding since day one. And even when the instructor asked why people speed, and everyone else was giving the stupid, good, brown nosing student answers, I responded, "Because it's fun! That's why people speed."

Seriously… What kind of question is that? "Why do people speed?" Please…

Sure, people speed because they're late, etc., but I speed (particularly on an open stretch of highway) because it's as close to "flying" as I'll ever get. It feels great! It feels FREE!! And my car rides like the wheels don't touch the road!!! Why do I speed?!! Are you serious?!!!

Not to mention I'm a good driver. You didn't hear me say, "I ran a red light and almost killed someone." You didn't hear me say, "Reckless driving because I didn't turn on my signal and the guy in front of me almost killed himself trying to avoid me." You didn't hear me say, "DUI." You didn't hear me say, "Hit and run because I fell asleep at the wheel and when I came to I realized what I had done and so I got out of my car and ran, but the cops followed the trail of blood that was dripping from my forehead and they found me and I had to go to prison for it."

No, you heard me say, speeding, period, end of story.

Yeah, so I was doing 90 (actually 95 until I made a feeble attempt to slow down when I saw the cop), but it was an OPEN STRETCH OF HIGHWAY with NO ONE ON IT (except the stupid cop behind the bushes in the median…).

So I was doing 85 on the 101 freeway and the stupid photo radars caught me, it was still 1:00 a.m. and there was nearly NO ONE ON IT! I was harming no one. I wasn't even harming myself!

My car is low to the ground, good center of gravity, turns like a well oiled ferris wheel, and I'm always aware of my surroundings. Now I've been punished.

Now I've been stripped of my freedom to speed and breath freely on the highway.

Now I've been forced to stomach my anger and swallow my pride when the jack ass behind me rides my bumper because I'm driving the speed limit.

Now I've been forced to move over with the slow traffic.

Now I've been forced to sit beside the people on the highway who say to themselves, "She has a car like that and she's driving like this?" And I know for a fact people say that. Want to know how I know? Because I saw a guy in a bad ass BMW driving 65 in the fast lane and I passed him thinking, "He has a car like that and he's driving like this? If I had that car I'd be all about it!" Well, now I know… the poor guy is probably just like me. He's oppressed by the system, forced into submissive obedience, and forced to drive his car at speeds that were made for the Geo Metro. We are under Automobile Arrest...

I could just puke...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

God Cries...

A dear friend of mine has been trying to save a meth addict. He's a beautiful man, on the inside and out, so she says.

She says she took him in, despite her better judgment, because he saved her life. She was very ill with no way to the hospital and he was the only one that stepped up to the plate and took her there. He did this at a time when he was rebuilding his life. He was trying to get sober, living in a halfway house with "ex" criminals and other "recovering" addicts. He had a new job that he'd only been with for a little less than a month. He had taken her to the emergency room in the middle of the night, but the hospital stay was too long for him to get to work on time and he was fired the next day. That same day some drama hit the halfway house because of the meth users within and he left with no where to go but another users house. It was pure happenstance that she even met this man, but he helped her to the point of his own demise so her logic was, "You save my life, I save yours." She invited him to stay at her place, where he could comfortably get sober and get on his feet.

Three months later she sits in my living room crying because he went out on a bender and didn't come home. I'm the only friend, she says, that understands why she took him in. I'm the only friend, she says, that understands why "found" people go looking for the "lost." She tells me about all the good qualities she sees within the man, the honorable character traits that lie there like dormant seeds that need nothing more than a little bit of water and some fertile soil. The problem is, those seeds lie in the midst of addictive thorns that seem to choke every seedling beginning to sprout.

I don't know what to say to my friend. Her soul is beautiful, shining like a beacon through thick fog. And she's right, I do understand why the found go looking for the lost, why the Shepherd leaves the 99 to find the 1. But I also know that my heart hurts when my friend cries, that I feel anger toward the man that causes her pain. And just as I feel that she looks up at me, tears in her eyes, and says, "This must be how God feels, when He gives us everything and we give Him nothing in return."

I pause and watch her wipe some tears away as she continues, "I've given this man a place to live, food to eat, clothes on his back, and I did it all because Jesus says, 'if your brother has no shirt, give him the one off your back.' I've given more than my shirt. I've lost friends because I cut them off, thinking they wouldn't understand, I've lost money because I've cared for someone I couldn't afford to, and I've lost sleep when he's disappeared. And now I'm crying because my only goal was to help the man stay clean and he fell off the wagon. I have no idea where he is, I have no idea if he'll be back, and I have no idea if he'll survive. I expected nothing from him, except to pull his life together and move forward. So, this must be how God feels when we don't do the right thing. I don't think He sits up there angry with us all the time, I think He cries. He cries because He gives us everything we need to succeed in life and we piss on it anyway. He gives us everything because He created us and He loves us and we piss on it anyway, and God cries..."

With that she started weeping, and so did I, because I believe she was right. I believe that's the truth. Despite every Baptist Bible Thumper I've ever known to preach fire and brimstone and Hell and every other judgmental condemnation they can from the pulpit, I believe my little no name friend, my non-theological friend has it right. God cries when we fuck up...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

...The Notorious Scribe

To be successful at what we will call "my day job," it is necessary to become a Notary Public. So yes, I recently signed and notarized my paperwork to become a registered Notary Public. Until now, I really knew nothing about the notary other than they watched someone sign something and then signed it themselves and stamped it with their seal: just like that, NOTARIZED

Well, I actually decided to read what I was signing, mostly because one form was referred to as Bonds (yes ladies and gentleman, a paper that by signing I am now somehow bound in a somewhat obscure manner to the government. I mean, really, is this some kind of irony? I am now bound to that of which I hate...?).

I, Pandora, do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and defend them against all enemies whatsoever, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of Notary Public in and for Maricopa County, Arizona, according to the best of my ability, so help me God.

My first response was, "In a strange way, I somehow feel important..." On the same token, there was some sort of ludicrous hilarity in that. I've taken a very strong oath to basically carry a stamp around, press it to a piece of paper and say, "What we have all just signed is now legal and we are bound to it." So, knowing some of my closest friends would understand my point of view and find it humorous, I sent that quote off in an email saying, "I feel so important. I've been sworn to defend something against all enemies whatsoever!" Some of their replies were equally as humorous:

One fellow wrote: Start taking care of the illegals.
Another wrote: Well, I hope you hold that stamp in a quickdraw holster.
My favorite, however, was the following:

That's great! Notice the difference between that and this:

I, Pandora's Favorite Brother, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United State, and will, to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of The United States.

So now, will you please give me a precise update of the War on Terror? Oh, and be sure to notarize your report. -- Thank you.

I laughed at this one over and over in my mind, because there really is a distinct difference between the power packed behind my oath and what conveniently seems to be lacking in the oath to become President. Eventually this thought lead me to question the history of the notary and what would incite a need for such a powerful oath. After a bit of slack research, I came up with this:

Notaries Public (also called "notaries," "notarial officers," or "public notaries") hold an office which can trace its origins back to ancient Rome, when they were called scribae, tabellius or notarius. Their work would later be transcribed correctly in its entirety by a calligraphus. They are easily the oldest continuing branch of the legal profession worldwide.

If you read on you will find a "long and distinguished" history linked to the Office of Notary Public. As a literature major, I was pleased to follow the evolution of the notaries through The Dark Ages, The Renaissance, a reference in relation to The Archbishop of Canterbury and The Master of Faculties. (Aesthetically speaking, such things please me.)

All of this considered, I read my oath a few more times and broke it down into the following:
Yes, I've been sworn to the Federal and State governments that I am prepared to defend every legal document I sign--believing in faith it is true and honest and I will fight to defend said belief until proven otherwise. But in addition, there is something other: I must brush up on my understanding of the Constitution (mostly because I now regret sleeping through Poli Sci). If I am to defend it against all enemies whatsoever (which, in my opinion, is often the government itself), then I better know what I'm talking about -- particularly with intent to act upon Free Speech. And, this is a big deal; I'm sworn to do this "to the best of my ability," and they have no idea how much ability they just signed on. To top it off, they called upon the power of The Great One, who only ever wants the best of my ability -- where I too often fall short. And now I have taken an oath to not fall short, so...help me... God.

So my friends, let us prepare ourselves for what is to come (particularly if God helps me). Perhaps I will carry my stamp in a quickdraw holster -- the revolution begins! I am, after all, one of a million Notarius Scribae who just happens to believe GOVERNMENT should mean POWER TO THE PEOPLE. And though I may not be able to notarize every blog I post, let's just say you can call me... Pandora, The Notorious Scribe.


Okay, so it didn't really happen yesterday. That's what I get for making some sort of feeble promise. Or maybe I'm just teasing to see if I really have any readers left. ;-)

I'll be back... sometime, dare I say, today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I am still alive...

...and I will be writing today at some point. I will be back, to those of you who've been wondering.

FEAR NOT!!! Well... maybe you should, depending on what I have to say after this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


If this hand were able,
surely it would paint my mind --
a sky shrouded with shades of gold, pink, and purple,
trailing the sunken sun.
The pinnacles attend a waltz with twilight,
while shadowed cascades of enchanted trees await
celestial Epiphany.

High above the earthly scene stands a man,
statuesque, cloaked in black, with eyes of light
piercing the shrouded sky.
Poised --
should the earth quake beneath him,
his posture would remain.

Enfolded, cradled in his arm, a woman -—
slender, in flowing gown of mystic white, with silken tresses
dancing in the ethereal breeze.
Her eyes, light averted from the world,
fall upon a child, a nymph,
bound by nothing but dreams,
dancing merrily,
with flowers in hands and hair,
beside an outstretched
and entreating palm.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Words to a Tweaker on Mother's Day

I live in The Valley of the Spun. For those of you who may have never heard this, Phoenix, The Valley of the Sun , is the Meth capital of the world. The statistic is that one in every four meth addicts gets clean. The rest of them use the drug until they're in prison or dead.

Since I have lived here, I have had the privilege of knowing four meth addicts. I call it a privilege because of what they've allowed me to see: the will of the soul, driving a human to live ; the haze of the soul, dragging a human way past the gutter, into the sewer, where no one ever dreams to go.

I have seen two of these four get clean (for two years now) and I shared in the joy of their success. One is now enrolled in college and the other is working toward a black belt in the Martial Arts. I have seen my cousin complete six months of rehab and return to the real world to find his way. Seeing three out of four meth addicts walk the road to recovery is already beating the statistic... But... recently I have seen, through the eyes of a mother, what it's like to watch a meth addict bottom out.

I have recently become close friends with a mother whose son has been living a life of addiction for fifteen years. There have been moments of hope, moments in time where he worked to recover his life, but there are far more moments of discouragement and despair. As of right now, her son has been gone for six nights, most likely within the den of tweakers. I have walked along side her, as best as I could, during this phase. I have listened to her anger, I have listened to her fear, I have listened to her hopes, and I have held her while she cried. As a mother myself, my heart breaks for her.

She was on my mind throughout most of the day. As I gave gifts to my mother and received gifts from my daughter, I began to wonder how I would feel if my little daughter grew up and ultimately chose drugs over a relationship with me. As I drove home from my visit with my mother, I pondered this further.

I thought about my daughter and what she means to me. I considered my role as protector and teacher and my responsibility to equip her with the skills necessary to survive. If she were to fall into the death trap of meth addiction, I would constantly question where I went wrong.

I thought about my daughter's mind, her intellect. I thought about how much I enjoy watching her grow and develop into an amazing being. I thought about all of the potential joy and success she will have in her life. And then I imagined a pipe in her hand. Then I imagined her dropping out of school. Then I imagined her trodding a careless path, with this guy or that guy, this small crime or that bigger crime, because her mind is completely possessed by a drug. I imagined her pretty little face scabbed over with sores she created herself through nervous twitching, I imagined her gray and gaunt, I imagined her dirty hair and dirty clothes... I went as far as watching her hit the pipe just one too many times, over dose and die in the company of people who will spend more time hiding their shit from the cops then trying to save her life. And as I considered this, my heart sank into my stomach and tears welled behind my eyes.

This can't possibly happen to this beautiful little soul sitting next to me. And if this were to happen, how could I possibly feel it was not somehow my fault? Did I miss something? Did I not teach her self respect? Did I not teach her to value her mind and her life? Why won't she come home? Why doesn't she know I want what's best for her? Why do those that love her mean nothing to her? Why do I mean nothing to her? Why does she mean nothing to herself?

These same questions, I imagine, are questions my friend is constantly rolling over in her mind regarding her lost son. I am watching this woman prepare herself for her son to either land in prison or die, all because he's lost himself to a drug. If there is a demon lurking in the real world, I call it Meth. Complete possession by a drug of any kind is demonic control -- end of story. And this poor woman loses sleep every night because she never knows whether he's coming home or turning up dead somewhere. How far down is bottom? If you're walking around with nothing but the clothes on your back, no money, and no real place to live, is that not bottom already?

My heart breaks for her. Today was Mother's Day and she received no word from her son ...yet again. She talked to me tonight and cried -- the first Mother's Day he has ever forgotten her.

I don't know how to console her. This is a window of life that I've never looked through before. I don't know how to tell her "it will be all right," when there is really nothing indicating that it will be. I don't know how to assure her he'll be ready to change his life, when, again, there's no clear indication he'll want to. I've quit telling her he'll be home soon, because, so far, he never is. My only prayer for her at this point is this:

Please give your mother a belated Mother's Day gift: help the others beat the statistic and be four out of four to get clean. Find a reason to live, go home, get sober, and begin to live.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dessert Is Not My Life

I'm sure everyone has a story or two about vegetables at the dinner table. Every person on the planet has fallen victim to the eat your vegetables lecture: both as children and parents. And I believe most of us would fall into the childhood category of non-vegetable eaters. And I know all non-vegetable eaters have stories about how they excused themselves to the toilet with a mouthful of peas, slipped it to the dog, spit them out in the napkin and run to the trash, or hide them under some random piece of meat on your plate and hope your mom doesn't notice. And at this moment I'm confident the majority of us have some "no vegetables no dessert" rule: we went through it and now we put our kids through it. It's "the sins of the father passed down unto the third and fourth generations..." Seriously... is there no end to the madness?

Though I never told her, I watched my daughter pull every vegetable dodging trick in the book. Though it was somewhat irritating to see some form of covert disobedience, I also found myself quietly laughing as I remembered doing all of those same things at her age. Keeping that in the back of my mind, we sat down to dinner one night and I said, "You're going to eat your vegetables tonight, for real... no emergency runs to the bathroom, no spitting them in your napkin... yes, I know you've been doing that because I did all of the same things. So, tonight you're eating your vegetables or no dessert."

Her eyes grew big with shocked amazement, and she nodded her head in agreement. She ate everything else on her plate, but for twenty long minutes she just sat there, telling me stories, and stirring the broccoli around on her plate. By this time it was cold and tough so I prompted her to eat them and get it over with. She reluctantly stabbed one with her fork, put it to her lips, looked at me and said, "I guess I don't want dessert."
"What did you say?"
"I don't want dessert. You said no vegetables no dessert and well, I guess I just don't care about dessert. Is that okay?" She put the broccoli down and silently waited for my response.

Long ago my mother said something very wise to me: you have to choose your battles... That was one of those odd adolescent occasions with my mother where all she had to do was say it once and I never forgot. And there I was, pinned by my daughter, faced with choosing a battle. Sure, I could have forced the issue, broken her spirit, and made her tearfully gnaw on some nasty broccoli "because I said so," but I didn't.

How could I not admire, at that moment, my daughter's sense of reasoning? She knows enough about the strength of my will to see that sitting endlessly at the table was futile. But even though I felt I had made a non-negotiable offer (an offer she couldn't refuse), she basically sat there long enough to find a loop-hole in the system -- an opportunity to negotiate, an opportunity to maybe bend her will a little but, none-the-less, an opportunity to exert it. I had to respect that, so we left the table and she went to bed with no dessert.

Some time after that, she came home from a visit with her dad. We were sitting in the living room when she said, "Dad doesn't get it sometimes." I asked what she meant and she said, "He kept trying to make me eat my vegetables. He told me no dessert and I said that was fine with me, but he still made me sit there after that, he still tried to force me to eat them." I asked her if she ate them and she said, "No, I just sat there. I was the last one at the table because everyone ate their vegetables and dessert and I was just sitting there. He finally let me leave the table after a long time. And then, after all of that, he slipped me a cookie when no one else was looking anyway." Surprisingly to me, she looked exasperated by this...definitely not impressed...the cookie meant nothing.

I stayed silent until she asked me why I let her leave the table and her dad didn't. My response to her was, "Well, I said no vegetables no dessert, you said no dessert, and, given the fact that you'd probably spit them out in the toilet anyway, I saw no real problem with that option. Every parent is different, but for me, if I have to argue with you over something, I'd rather save that energy for something more important than vegetables and dessert." She smiled a little and shook her head, "See, you get it. Dessert is NOT my life."

I laughed to myself as she said that, because it was true. Never underestimate the mind of an eight-year-old, apparently some of them value their sense of freedom and self-respect more than the sweetness of sitting up straight for a treat. And for those of you who are appalled that I allow my daughter to choose whether or not to eat the vegetables, know this: more often than not she eats her vegetables because she really wants dessert...

Monday, April 21, 2008


I am vintage. They come to me in twos and threes. They don’t drain me. Neither do they turn me… they need me. They drink, here and there, sustaining themselves, leaving just enough for me to survive. I replenish… they come again, because I am vintage. I am, according to some, an old soul, reincarnated over and over again, due to some damn thing still left to learn.

That woman over there says I am ascending. That woman, in white, over there, says I am moving and leaving this plane. But I beg to differ…

I am vintage, and they come in twos and threes. I am decadent and aged with elms and birch and knotted oaks. I am full of body and flavor and they come to me…they sap the strength from me…They come, seductively clothed in garments that speak of sorrow and loss, seeking a light to guide them--a mere source, a fountain from which they drink from time to time, but not to heal, just enough to sustain their own sorry existence with style.

This is what it means to be vintage… an aired wine, with no tinge or twang, all that any conniving connoisseur would want. I make them look good to themselves and I deceive myself into thinking that I help. But all I am is some thick liquid, confined in some green glass bottle, letting all negativity rise to the ethers, while all that is fine and good is consumed by something other.

She says that I am ascending…
I am still very much on the ground…and this is …most likely…because I… still don’t get it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Have I Ever Told You About My Five?

One night, about a year and a half ago, my best friend from college came to visit. She's one of those friends that despite the time and distance between us we seem to remain as close as we were at the age of eighteen -- two young and naive college freshmen.

Now, at that particular time in my life, she showed up a month or so after I had dumped yet another potential mate. We were sitting in the living room, savoring some wine, catching up on the happenings of our lives when she finally asked about my love-life or, more appropriately, the lack there-of. She listened to me as I went through the story of the latest love gone sour and she listened even further as I reminisced about the pros and cons of each of the four men I had dated since my divorce. Finally she said, "Have you ever considered coming up with a specific criteria of what you're looking for in a man? If you haven't, I think you should, and if you haven't, I think we should come up with one right now." So we did, and here it is:

1. He has to be educated. Why? Because I'm educated.
Two of those four men had nothing beyond a high school diploma. I had reasoned it away believing that they had enough raw intelligence to get by. Unfortunately, the great void between my intellect and theirs became too much to bear. If we are what we eat, I had eventually become convinced that one of those two men ate rocks. He truly was a rockhead, an extremely good-looking rockhead, but a rockhead. When it reaches the point that my man throws a temper tantrum because he's jealous of the time I spend with books, well... we have a problem Houston -- a local rock eating dunderhead is trying to drag my vessel into the mud when I've been commissioned to explore the mysteries of the intellectual universe. That's simply unacceptable.

2. He must be spiritually grounded. Why? Because I am.
Being the daughter of a Baptist Minister, I cannot tell you how many times I've heard my father lecture me about the importance of being equally yoked. I never put much stock in it before, mostly because I was married to a Baptist hypocrite and it was absolute Hell. But since then I have dated a non-practicing Catholic, two agnostics, and a dunderhead who went from Mormonism (what he was raised), to Atheism (rebellion from Mormonism), to Buddhism (where he was when I met him, though I would argue his Buddhist practices were little more than lip service), to Christianity (where he was after dating me for a while, also lip service), and back to Mormonism (where he returned after I dumped him... I try hard not to feel responsible for that one).

Without giving myself any type of Protestant title, I will say that I am a believer in the God of the Bible, I am a follower of Christ. Basically what this means to any of you that might be cringing, I adhere to the following: love and care for the people around you as you would care for yourself, be faithful to your mate, always speak the truth, take care of the Earth because it's the only one God gave you, judge not lest you be judged, develop your talents and use them to the utmost of your ability because they're gifts, and finally do not destroy your mind and body with unhealthy addictions because your body is the temple of God. This, of course, is a very succinct outline of my personal convictions, but ... it is what it is.

3. Black Belt Mentality.
This is one I picked up from my own experience as a martial artist. All forms of martial arts are based on the idea of Yin and Yang, push and pull, or as William Blake would put it, "Without contraries there is no progression."

What does this mean? In practical terms, we all set goals and strive to achieve them but life has a way of throwing curve balls and monkey wrenches. The true Black Belt is a master of self-control and adaptability, he can dodge and deflect, bob and weave his way in and out of any difficult situation with the strength of all that is martial and the beauty of all that is art. In other words, your opponent isn't always a human and your practice is rarely confined to the dojo. You must approach your life with a keen sense of awareness, accept your failures and shortcomings as lessons to be learned, and accept your triumphs with humble honor. Your life isn't perfect all of the time and growth wouldn't happen if your personal trials didn't force you to do so.

4. Financial Stability.
I'm not talking wealth here because I'm not a material girl. What I'm talking about is the ability to manage money properly: successfully living within your means no matter how large or small. Unfortunately for me, I have yet to date a man with "money" so I have no idea what that's like, but I do have plenty of experience dating men that are always in the hole.

I hate being in the financial pit. As a single mother I've had to learn to recognize the difference between what I want and what I need. I've had to break things down into a necessary money pile and a money to burn pile (and at this point the money to burn pile is still a pipe dream). I have a tight budget, every penny has its place, and that includes a small amount for my daughter and I to go out to dinner and a movie once in a while. But when I find myself going on a date with a man who either wants to go dutch or can't pay at all... let's just say I can feel my blood beginning to boil as I write this.

Don't ask me out on a date if you can't pay for it. Furthermore, don't try to have a long-term relationship with me if you can't even pay your rent. I have my own financial difficulties and a daughter to feed and clothe, so spare me your sob stories and don't mooch off the single mom. As my wise father once said to me, "I've counseled a lot of people in marital crisis, and once poverty jumps in love jumps out." This isn't materialism, this is financial prudence. I don't need designer clothes, or the latest mauve-colored tract home, or an oversized gas guzzling SUV. I just need someone who knows how to manage what funds he has and doesn't succumb to the capitalist temptation of keeping up with the proverbial Jones's.

5. This one I'm stating loosely: No young children.
It seems hypocritical, I know, because I have an eight-year-old. And I am not saying that if a man meeting standards 1 through 4 appeared with his own eight-year-old I would blow him off. No, I'm just exercising a bit of caution here as I know blended families can be hell. My ex-husband married a woman with two kids from a prior marriage and... well... lets just say that his life right now is a testament as to why standard number five needs to be considered. I'm not overly keen on hearing, "Oh yeah! Well you're not my mom!" Nor am I excited about sibling rivalry and disciplining a child that isn't mine.

I guess for once I can say I've been spoiled. It's been just my daughter and I since she was fifteen months old. We lead a very quiet and peaceful life over here: no yelling, no fighting over the front seat, no headlocks or twisted arms, no crazy ex-wives calling my house because her children live with me... Things are nice and calm here and I really like it that way. However, if I'm the same woman that expects Black Belt Mentality from my man, then it is only fair to expect it from myself. I am willing to say that a man that meets 1-4 is worthy of the curve ball disclaimer should he show up with a five or ten year old behind him. I will say that it would be a long period of observation, making sure the dynamics between all of us were going well, before any serious life-time decisions would be made.

So... there it is, "my five." I bring it up because, until now, only myself, the friend I mentioned, and two others really knew about this. I guess I'm thinking if it's on my blog it's now as permanent as the stone tablets bearing the ten commandments.

The truth is, these standards have been in place for over a year and I have to say it has been a liberating experience for me. Because I have this criteria, I've been able to recognize the dim-wits and such as soon as they walk my direction. They don't know it, of course, but I can easily endure their flirtatious fawnings and politely turn them down when asked out because I know they aren't what I'm looking for. And for those of you sitting there thinking, "What if he doesn't exist?" I say bah... He exists.

What I'm asking for isn't over the top, and I'm not asking for anything that I don't adhere to myself and I exist, don't I? But if it so happens that one of life's monkey wrenches is that I never get to meet this man, so be it. I've been alone for quite some time now and I'm pretty happy. Sure, it would be nice to have a man here to open that stubborn jar of pickles once in a while, it would be nice to have a man here to help me when my daughter is sick and I have to miss work again, and it would be nice to have a companion to talk with regularly and laugh with regularly, but even so... I'm still content and I can't ask for too much more.

If he doesn't exist, oh well. I refuse to settle for anything less.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lonesome Traveler

I am the lonesome traveler
walking streets of chaos.
I hear the talkers talking,
voices on the wind
cold and passing.
I sometimes stand beside them,
and eat their ripened fruit.
They are blind to what they seek.
And so, I keep on walking.

I am the lonesome traveler
walking the crowded streets,
balking the vain chatter
of this group and that group
that stand beneath the Sun.
I hear the decorous rhetoric,
chiming through with clarity,
the song of harmonious division.
And so, I keep on walking.

I am the lonesome traveler
walking through the flat lands,
speaking my sound mind
and knowing no one will listen.
Not unlike the others,
I walk beneath the Sun
amidst the wheat and tares.
I am waiting for the setting.
And so… I keep on walking.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lackadaisical Disorder

I was staring into the refrigerator when I noticed the same pot of pasta that has been in there for a week. Of course I had the thought, "I better get that out of there before something starts growing in it," which was followed by, "maybe there's already something growing in it," which was followed by, "oh...I'll take care of it later."

I then came in here to sit at the computer when I noticed the same pile of half folded laundry that has been sitting since Wednesday (somehow it's more convenient to frantically search for clothes in a pile of laundry than to find them neatly folded in a drawer). I looked at it for a moment (in fact, I keep looking at it right now... I can see it in my peripheral vision...ngh...) and told myself I'd deal with it later because I wanted to enjoy my coffee.

It was after that I started thinking about all of the OCD people I've met in my life and recalled how perfectly clean and tidy their homes were(I figure we all know that acronym by now, but just in case: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). For a moment I wished that I could borrow the disorder for a day, just one day, so I could feel a true sense of accomplishment and pleasure when I swiftly sweep through my home and exorcise the dusty demons of dull dirty duties -- my sacred sanctum called home would be cleansed. But alas... I'm not that way, nor would I really want to borrow the disorder fearing I couldn't give it back. I have successfully convinced myself that I am a more productive human being in the aspects of my life where it counts (say, the job that pays me to work hard Monday through Friday) if I treat the rest of my life in a sort of lackadaisical manner.

The problem with this is the minor amount of guilt that creeps in. You know, the guilt that says, "It would take less than five minutes to clean that pot in the fridge," or, "You know you could have that laundry folded and put away in thirty minutes," and then you remember that sloth is one of the seven deadly sins and your deeply rooted Baptist blood starts pulsing through your veins and suddenly you feel the need to act or cry out for help when... "Hey, I wonder if there's such a thing as Lackadaisical Disorder?" If I were suffering from something like OLD (Obsessive Lackadaisical Disorder) I wouldn't have to feel this guilt because I would be unable to control my behavior.

By definition, the lackadaisical human approaches things without interest, vigor, or determination. There's a reference in the dictionary calling the word an alteration of lack-a-day: a 1695 terminology. Just think of how many days of good clean use that pot in my fridge has lacked because of my disorder. And no wonder the laundry is still sitting there, it holds absolutely no interest to me...none. I would much rather sit here and write on a blog about, well, basically nothing at this point because I am determined to make some kind of ridiculous point. Even that, by definition, would fall under OLD: another dictionary reference to lackadaisical is to be idle or indolent especially in a dreamy way, followed up with this example, "she was annoyingly lackadaisical and impractical." How much more proof do I need to support my case?

Of course, there is a draw back. No matter how tempting it is to be relieved of responsibility for my lazy approach to household chores, successfully labeling myself with OLD might mean some psychological zealot would refer me to an institution for help. That institution would do their best to pick my brain and find just the right pill to prescribe in an attempt to help me take the laundry seriously. I would then struggle to defend myself against the label I so longed for ten minutes ago and I would point out my high grade point average I carried all the way through grad school. They would then label me with something like OAD (Over Achiever Disorder) and prescribe another pill. Again, I would come to my own defense and point to my imagination and creativity and my ability to write but to no avail: they would label me with HD (Histrionic Disorder) and prescribe yet another pill. They would also subject me to group therapy that would in turn create COD (Codependency Disorder) and well... I would become nothing but a system drone and somehow contribute to the betterment of society.

All that being considered, I take back everything I said above. As soon as I leave my computer I will go clean the pot in the fridge and fold my laundry. I will choose to change my patterns of procrastination and take responsibility for my actions. I prefer to stay "normal" than ever be given an "out" because I'm OLD.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Someone asked me...

...what I thought "The American Dream" meant today. Here is my response:

I believe when “The American Dream” originated, it was born of a people who were exhausted with governmental oppression. They were in search of a place where they too could be landowners, they too could be wealthy, and where they were free to worship their God without domination of the papal or aristocratic influence – a place where the playing field was wide open and level. They were in search of a space where they could define and express their individuality, and America, “The New World,” provided that space. While I believe these elements, these desires, still lie at the core of every human being, I feel that the American government has evolved in such a way that this dream ever slowly fades from view.

With each new socially constructed governmental program, we are basically being told that we can't think properly for ourselves and that we're not capable of making rational decisions. We are being told, ever so subtly, that the government knows how to invest our money, that the government knows what’s best for our children, and perhaps we should lie down, close our eyes, say nothing, do nothing, and let government dream for us. But if we open our eyes for a moment or two, we may find that government created ideas, intended to "help" us, have ultimately hindered us -- a catch 22. We may want to be free from government assistance and chase our dreams of higher education, individual expression and ownership, but if we remove what the government should have never put in place, large numbers of us will suffer.

Our children suffer because the government has stuck its hand into our education system so far that it has somehow become acceptable for high school graduates to have a sixth grade reading level. I suppose this is what happens when we allow the government to tell us that we are not capable of “decency,” we are not capable of teaching our children morals and ethics – after all, they do come to school with drugs, guns, and bombs. This is why the government sticks its hands into our schools and decides it is more important to provide birth control for our sixth grade daughters at the nurse's office than it is to actually teach them to think. This is why the government deems political correctness in the classroom more important than intellectual excellence. Instead of truly teaching and treating each student with honor, we cart “the potentials” away to "gifted class" and pat each little “failure” on the head, label them with a disorder, hand them a vial of pills, and because well… they just can’t help it.

In the mean time, the financial divide between us grows wider and our perceived opportunities seemingly start to fade. Our lacking education system continues to breed sets of intellectually deprived individuals, lying dormant in their ignorance and complacency, refusing to vote because they don’t understand the process or why it even matters. Therefore, lets all “turn on the tube” and watch the chaos unravel as these political “heroes” are “victimized” by their own hubris before our very eyes.

We live in a time where people base their political decision on "what the government will do for me" instead of saying, “help us keep the peace but please allow us to make this life work.” The people seem to forget that WE ARE the government, or at least we were supposed to be.

We live in a country where Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of equality -- no racism and no segregation. Yet despite all of his efforts and accomplishments, something called political correctness, set into motion to “prod” us into "respectable" behavior, has somehow created an intellectual and emotional segregation between races that now requires perhaps another great leader, with his or her own dream, to properly correct it. The next step is to say, “Yes, we are different, but we bleed the same, we love and die the same, and we all desire a space to live and dream the best. I can learn from you and you can learn from me, so let’s do this together.” But which of us will be the first to say it, and how many of us will agree?

Because of this I say “The American Dream” has become “How can I successfully weave my way through this muck and mire, over which it seems I have no control, and still place myself into a position in which I can pursue Life, Liberty, and Happiness?” When will we teach our children that heroes don’t come with record labels and air brushed photographs? How can we show them that knowledge is power and the dumber we get the weaker we are? And how do we convince those in power that teaching the people to think while they enjoy life is more valuable to the nation than an illiterate multimillion dollar football star? When will it occur to us that something as simple as teaching people to read and question the power of rhetoric might in turn prevent something as “minor” as mortgage fraud?

But then again, if you take the time to think about it, I’m currently writing nothing but rhetoric as well. So… I ask you, is it making you think? Am I some kind of crazy dissenter of the social order? Or am I making some valid points? What does “The American Dream” mean to you and where does it fit right now?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wake With Me And Dream...

I am as I am…
A dreamer…
Not the first, but possibly the last.
In My palms, numerous dreams
rising like mist and dust,
carried by Zephyrs and Blustering Breezes,
seeds to be planted,
falling amidst Thorns and Stones,
choked and stifled and growing in cracks,
never reaching fruition.

I am as I am…
A dreamer…
Roaming the endless halls and corridors
with Light so blinding
My eyes fall to the ground,
bearing My understanding,
never faltering, never fading,
seldom stumbling…I am…dreaming ...

One dream after another,
rising from My palms,
the projection of My energy,
like shining crystal spheres,
the treasures of My being and Yours
are plucked from the sky,
cast before Swine and swallowed
like slop.

Sleepers Awake!
The time for dreaming has come!
I cannot be the last,
nor was I the first,
and I cannot do this alone.

I am as I am and You must be as You are…

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


We’re carried in the womb of our mother for nine months. Within those nine months our bodies have been fed and given everything we need to experience the world to come. And while we're still enclosed in this warm cozy place, there's a sudden burst and the amniotic fluid we've been floating in runs out. The surrounding walls begin to contract -- over and over and over -- until we're painfully squeezed out, head first, through some kind of canal (that's smaller than we are), only to be blinded by something called light, to be poked and prodded by men and women in blue scrubs with masks over their faces, and to be introduced to something called "shivering" because damn it's sure cold out here!

But there is beauty in all the physical pain; once we're placed in the caring arms of our mother and soothed by the familiar sound of her voice, the most recent nightmare disappears and we're ready to start our new journey.

From this day forward, Earth takes the place of our mother's womb; everything we need to grow and survive physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually is provided for us here. Just keep in mind, there will always be growing pains:

Every broken heart we've had, every heart we've broken we learned from. Every time we laughed, every time we made someone laugh we learned some more. Every choice we made: ...spend it or save it? ...tell the truth or lie? ...should I eat this? ...should I have another drink? ...should I forgive and forget? ...should I choose love over hate? ...good over evil?

And what about all those dreams? The dreams we made come true, the dreams that didn't quite make it, and the dreams we're still striving for... And what about the dreams we have for those around us? The ones we pray they're bold enough to dream for themselves.

Until one day, sooner for some and later for others, all of our choices and accomplishments, all of the struggles and challenges we’d overcome are laid before us. And whether we’re lying peacefully on our bed, in a hospital with tubes down our throats, or unconsciously bleeding in the street, this is the time for the movement of our soul -- that eternal and mysterious thing that continued to grow and evolve through life as our bodies slowly died.

And as our bodies begin to contract, pushing us out with these final labor pains, may it be that we feel no regret as we prepare to leave these things behind. But should regret make itself known, let it be seen as the last lesson, our final assignment...to let go...

For good or for bad, Earth will reclaim all that we were and hopefully, as we leave this dark place we've grown so accustomed to, we will find ourselves blissfully blinded by a new light and find comfort in the sound of a new but still familiar voice saying, "Well done. Enter into your rest."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Day of St. Valentine

It's that time of year again, so last night I made my annual last minute run to pick up Valentines for my daughter's class party. Valentine's Day, in general, is a nuisance to me. For one, I've been divorced for eight years and always seem to find myself single on this day. Secondly, even when I haven't been single it wasn't that great (there's a reason I'm divorced...). Third, somewhere along the way I jumped on the whole "this is nothing but commercialized crap day" train. And fourth, the annual last minute run for Valentines somehow has the same feel as that irritating but necessary chore. Fortunately, as I came home with my daughter, my mood shifted as I watched her dive into the box of Super Hero Valentine Cards.

I was standing in the kitchen getting dinner ready when she walked in holding a card with The Invisible Woman on the front -- of course, looking strong, powerful, and beautiful. She then explained to me that her friend Mary doesn't like overly girly things. For this reason she planned to give Mary one of the super hero cards and asked for my advice. I looked over the card and looked at my daughter saying, "Absolutely, I would do the same thing." She smiled with confidence and sauntered back into the living room.

A few moments later she came back with The Incredible Hulk in her hand. She said to me, "You see this card? This one's going to Jason."
"It is, hm? Why?"
"Well, the way I see it, the hulk runs around crazy all the time, and that's Jason, he runs around crazy all the time. So, no offense to Jason, but he's the hulk."
She turned and walked away, and I couldn't help but laugh.

A bit more time passed and I poked my head into the living room to see her. She stopped writing and picked up another Invisible Woman card. She said, "See this one? This one is going to Evan."
I studied her a bit and asked, "Why?"
"It's no big deal," she said, "He has a crush on someone already. I just want to torture him a little." She nonchalantly turned her head and resumed writing on the card.
Again, I laughed to myself, not quite knowing how to interpret that one.

When I returned to dinner in the kitchen, I found myself overwhelmed with a sense of giddy joy. What I noticed about my daughter was how carefully she selected each card, carefully considering each of their personalities, and viewed these selections as accurate representations of her friends. Mary gets to see herself in the form of a super woman -- bearing the qualities of strength and power and beauty. Jason, though characteristically a vigilante for good, perhaps has a tendency to lose control. And Evan, well... he may be catching a glimpse of what he's apparently missing.

I didn't see all of the cards or everything she saw within her classmates, but I did see a sense of meaning to an otherwise commercial holiday. This was a moment where the concept of Love, in its purest form, was presented as an energy extended to all -- not just a significant other. It is a time when all of your friends receive something special from you, no matter how small. And because these thoughts crossed my mind, I wanted all of my friends and family to know that I love them and find great value in their company. ... and Happy Valentine's Day too.