About Me

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Know Thyself

Hope has forever been a tomboy.  To her, boys have been little more than kids to tackle on the playground in a random game of football, little more than fun friends to kill zombies and aliens with on XBOX, and little more than just one more friend to make jokes with in the school lunch room.  However, somewhere over the summer, something shifted and for the first time she is seeing at least one boy in a completely different light.

(let us all take a moment to shed a silent tear and pour some out from the bottle in remembrance of the glorious days before puberty)

I attended a bridal shower last June and Hope went to hang out with the groom and his nephews because, well, bridal showers are boring.  The story, as I was later told, is that Hope sat down and kicked the socks off the boys in a game of Halo III (for those that may not be familiar with the game, it's a first person shooter game that is way too complicated for someone like me, but the people that play it know exactly how much skill that game requires, and in the world of gamers, for a girl to come in and own the place in a game like that well... I believe that makes her somewhat legend).  Apparently, after she left their presence one of the young boys looked up at his uncle and said, "I think I just met the perfect girl."

I have since become very good friends with this family and we have spent much time with them, and in this time Hope and this young fellow have developed quite a crush on each other.  And as much as the future of "young love" terrifies me, I know it's inevitable and I have to admit that, if Hope is going to have a crush on anyone at the age of 12, I am very pleased with her first choice.  The kid is very intelligent, polite, well behaved, respectful, and just a good fun loving young man.  The funny part for me is Hope: watching this girl of fire have stupid giddy girl moments is completely new and definitely uncharted territory for both myself and her.

The other night we were sitting in the living room and out of the blue she asked, "Mom, do I need to be more feminine?"

I'm certain if I'd had a sip of some kind of beverage in my mouth at the time I would've choked on it from shock.  I immediately turned around and said, "Where's this coming from?"  She gave me a blank stare for a minute and I followed up with, "I'm serious.  Why are you asking me this?  What does feminine mean to you?"

She proceeded to explain to me that the last time we went to visit her little friend, who is often surrounded by his brother and a couple other boys, that she wondered if she was too hard on them.  They had played tag and she knocked them down a few times, and if they started talking trash she talked trash right back, and she just wondered if maybe she should stop doing that.

I'm pretty sure if someone had a camera on my face at the time you would've thought  I'd been transported into space where aliens had removed my frontal lobe just moments before I heard her say this -- NEVER in the past 12 years of watching this girl grow up did I ever imagine she would come ask me something like that, nor was I sure how to respond... at least for the first few seconds.

I finally replied with something like, "You're treading on dangerous ground here, kiddo.  The biggest mistake  young girls make at this time in their lives is stop being who they are in an attempt to be who they think some boy would like them to be.  Life is too short to try to mold yourself into what you THINK someone else might want you to be.  Hell... I'm speaking from experience here.  I had a man complain that I read too much.  Did I stop reading because HE thought I read too much?  Um, don't think so.  See ya later, idiot!  I'm out, and taking my books with me!  And I had another man complain because I wasn't 'out doorsy' enough for him.  Really?!  Oh, I'm sorry...  Let me go buy some camping gear and head out to the hills and get dirty and smelly and everything I hate just so YOU can pretend I'm the woman of your dreams!  Pardon me, but I'll take my glass of wine in front of a fire place in a bad ass hotel room any day over a damn camping trip in the hills with no shower and no toilet and no lock on my door!  Don't think so... SEE YA!  And I know more than one man has complained about how opinionated I am but again... you don't like it, you can shove it.  And maybe that's partly why I'm still alone, maybe that's the same reason I may be alone for the rest of my life, but hell... I'll take my books and send myself on my own luxurious vacations that include beds and toilets and showers before I ever stop being me just to have some idiot man around who doesn't really like me anyway.  You need to know yourself and love yourself and know that the person you're with knows you and loves you for who you are.  What do you think you're going to do?  Suddenly transform yourself into this quiet shy little wall flower that doesn't speak her mind?  That's not you! You want to be more feminine?  Wear something other than a t-shirt once in a while, but even then... promise me you'll still hold your own in the trash talk arena and you'll still knock them out on the playing field.  It's like I said to you a long time ago, just because you're in a dress doesn't mean you can't wield a sword.  Got it?"

She smiled and laughed at me and said, "Got it.  ...I love you, Mom."

God help me... I hate puberty...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Game Face

Athletics is just one of the many interests of my daughter.  I wouldn't say it consumes her, I wouldn't say she has these fantastic dreams of professional sports or anything along those lines, but I would say that she views anything athletic as a space in which she is free to be completely on fire and never apologize for any fury she may express on the field, or court, or track.  It is, as her mother, one of my favorite things to watch.

I bring all of this up because, as a parent that has spent the past several years sitting with parents whose children also play sports, I have struggled with the fact that I just want to watch my girl play while the parents around me seem to always think their child isn't playing well enough, isn't played enough, or has a terrible coach who just doesn't recognize "the amazing talent" that is their child and ... ugh ... Parents just get on my nerves.

I hated the club team parents on Hope's last soccer team -- they definitely made Pandora's Top Ten List of Bad Juju Entities.  While they were all complaining about spending $2,000 to have their lame ass kid play for a coach that was too dumb to recognize "the best player" on the team, I found myself complaining that I had spent $2,000 to listen to these idiots whine instead of watch my daughter learn from someone who knew what they were doing while simultaneously releasing whatever fire it is she holds that I love to watch burn.

This past weekend, however, while Hope played in a basketball tournament, I had one of the best parent moments of my life -- not because Hope outshined anyone, not because she made the greatest shot of the game, but because the people that sat beside me and behind me were some of the best family spectators I have ever had the pleasure of being around.

Admittedly, they are friends of mine (excellent friends to me and to Hope), and they did come to support Hope, but aside from the one I will call Sidekick, I had never sat with the entire group of them before and man... was it an education and inspirational experience.  They all supported and cheered Hope, but they clearly went into game mode and they supported and cheered the entire team.

They come from a strong family background of athletes, their father was an athlete and coach of athletes for years, and in my opinion they should be coaching a team of young athletes as well: every twist, every turn, every good play, every bad play, it didn't matter... these people broke it down in terms of the game and in terms of the capability and potential of each athlete on the team.

I don't have the knowledge or the skill to do them justice right now (i.e. I am unable to break things down in shop talk the way they did), but when one of the girls would make a play that the average idiot parent would've considered an opportunity to spew something negative, these people would respond with something like, "Well, I can see what she was trying to do, and it was an excellent idea, her execution was wrong because of ... but that is teachable, an easy thing to correct..."  And when one parent might complain because their child wasn't being used as the main shooter because "that's their strength," these individuals would respond with, "Oh yeah!  She's the best choice for defense because of... and look how awesome she is at it! Good call 4!  Good defense!"  And when the one player who had the ball didn't take a shot because she knew she was blocked and she passed it to who she thought was open but it still didn't pan out as planned, while the rest of the parents groaned and complained about why their daughter didn't take the shot because the coach is teaching her nothing, these individuals responded with, "That was a good call on her part.  She did what she was supposed to do -- look for someone who was open, it just was difficult to find someone truly open."

This may all seem so simple and so common sense, because to me... it is.  I love these people, I love how they see the game, I love how they see the young girls playing -- it's all about learning, it's all about development.  This isn't professional ball, this is a group of 12 and 13 year old girls who are barely getting started.  Why is that so hard for parents to see?!  Why is it somehow the coach's fault that the girls are green and the epitome of novice?  Why is it somehow unheard of that a young girl who is learning might make an error in judgment?  And why is it that the same girl who is probably sad her team lost the game is about to climb into the car with her parent and listen to a world of negativity about her performance and her coach's performance when what she really needs to hear is, "You played strong and you played hard and I'm proud of you.  Did you have fun?"

Hope played a great game.  They lost, but I was proud as hell, and I was proud of all the girls.  They've had a rough season because they are all green, but this weekend they busted out with a strong will to win and a true show of growth and they closed the point gap to a difference of 5 when it used to be 20.  This is huge.  As a parent watching the child grow and improve in many facets of life, as a parent who has also been a teacher, I give props to the coaches who've also had a rough season teaching a group of greenies.  And, at least for me, I'd like to applaud the group of friends that came and supported the girls with the most positive juju they've probably had in the stands the entire season.  Positive energy is like water -- pour it on the young seedlings and they grow, and you, my friends, brought a good rain of positive water for these girls this weekend.  If only the majority would pick up on the idea and run with it the way you do.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Bucket List

So, ever since that movie The Bucket List came out, I've been receiving these stupid "get to know you" emails where there's some lame version of a "bucket list" and I need to check off the things I've completed.  This is supposed to be fun, of course, particularly when you sit in a stupid cubicle all day and you need a distraction from the mundane bull shit that is your life, but on this particular day I ran across the most depressing "bucket list" ever.  According to this "bucket list," my life is obviously  boring and I apparently aimed so low with my dreams and aspirations I should've been dead yesterday.

Here's the stupid list I received:
1. Shot A Gun -- um... if bee bee guns count, I did that when I was five, but I have since shot a 44 magnum.

2. Gone On A Blind Date -- unfortunately for me, I've been on more than one.

3. Skipped School -- ...really?  I can't really "live" until I skipped school?  Thank God I did that once. Feel sorry for the people that were too good to ever do that and now they're 60 and don't have the chance to go back in time and do it.  They will NEVER die fulfilled now!  Stupid good students of Earth...

4. Watched Someone Die -- um... no.  I suspect I may find myself next to a parent or something while they lay in a hospital bed at some point but... I would actually prefer NOT to have this experience and I certainly don't think watching someone die is on my list of dreams to come true or experiences I wish to have before I pass onto the nether world myself.  Who came up with that one?

5. Visited Africa -- Well, if you want my opinion, the day I visit Africa is probably the same day I die.  With my luck, I'll go to Africa the day the Ebola Virus runs rampant and I'm going to find myself quarantined in some crazy ass village that I'd wish I'd never come to and I'm going to sit on a rock and watch the blood pour out of my nose and think to myself, "Well... At least I got to Africa before I died."  HELL NO!  I am NEVER going to Africa!  That place is jacked up!  I have no desire to go there!  This may sound terrible but... I'm happy just to send some money there to help them get on their feet and get water and supplies.  I have no desire to visit.  No thanks.  Bot flies anyone?

6. Visited Hawaii -- done.  It was pretty.  Over priced.  Could probably care less if I ever go there again.

7. Visited Cuba -- Again... who wrote this?!  Cuba?!  Most people are hopping rafts and risking a fight with sharks to get out of that place.  Why would I go there?!  Who are you?!  What the hell are you thinking?!

8. Visited Europe -- Okay, I haven't been anywhere in Europe and I do hope to go before I die, not to France though.  Even if I could speak the language enough to get by, I've recovered from my romance with those idiots.  Spain?  Sure.  Italy? You bet.  Germany?  Okay.  France can kiss my ass.

9.  Visited South America -- ... No thanks.  Drug cartels and giant bugs aren't my thing.

10.  Visited Las Vegas -- Done, a few times.  Now what?

11. Visited Mexico -- Done, a few times.  Granted, it was Tijuana and Ensenada and Rocky Point, nothing like Acapulco or anything, but ... I've been there.

12. Visited Florida -- Done.  Lived there for a while.

13.  Seen the Grand Canyon -- Done, a few times.  (at this point, this is getting way too easy)

14. Flown In  A Plane -- ...?  Really?!  I don't know who wrote this, but ... haven't flown in a plane???  WHO WROTE THIS ONE?!

15.  Served On  A Jury -- oh my god... WHO WROTE THIS?!?!  I'm pretty sure all of us would LOVE to spend our ENTIRE LIVES without having to serve on a jury!!!  WHO ARE YOU?!?!  Where are you at right now?!  Under a rock?!?!?!

16. Been Lost -- ...  been lost... ...sigh... really?  I got lost at 3 years old in a store called GEMCO that probably only a handful of people would even recall was a store at some point in the 1970s but this idiot, whoever wrote this, seems to think that you haven't TRULY LIVED if you've never been lost. I have, of course, been LOST many times since then in the past 34 years of my life, both literally and metaphorically, and I can say that each time I've been LOST it didn't make me feel any more or less fulfilled in my life.  You truly are an idiot.  You have never been lost?!  Are you 50 years old and still living at home with your mother?!  What the hell is going on in your brain?!

17. Traveled To The Opposite Side Of The Country -- Well, Florida was the opposite side of the country for me at the time so... thanks for killing two birds with one stone.

18.  Visited Washington D.C. -- YES!  I haven't done that yet and it is DEFINITELY something I would put on my bucket list.  Awesome!  Good for you!  Out of 18, so far you've scored 2 points in accurately finding something I hope to do before I die!

19.  Cried Yourself To Sleep -- ...sigh... If you haven't done this, you're a vegetable.  Not to mention, everyone usually experiences this in infancy anyway, but if what you're shooting for here is that you want to experience being so depressed or sad over something that you want to cry yourself to sleep at least once before you die... well... go complete jury duty first and then cry yourself to sleep over the fact that you put that on your stupid bucket list.

20. Played Cops And Robbers -- okay... I'd really like to see Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play cops and robbers.  Did they do that in The Bucket List?  Did they play cops and robbers?  I admit, I've never seen the movie, but... that would be hilarious to watch Old Man Jack play Cops And Robbers with Morgan Freeman.  Again, HELLO?!  You didn't do that when you were in kindergarten?  Did you even go to kindergarten?!?!  Are you in kindergarten right now?!?!

21.  Played Cowboys And Indians -- (see above)

22. Recently Colored With Crayons -- ... you must be in Kindergarten, or at least enrolling soon

23. Sang Karaoke -- done.  It was fun, I still do it on occasion, but I don't think it's exciting enough to put on the list of things I want to do before I die.  "What do you want to do before you die?"  "I hope that one day I will get off my ass on a Friday night and head to the local dive bar and sing Karaoke with a bunch of drunk people!"  Awesome!  Good for you!  Way to shoot for the moon!

24. Paid For A Meal With Coins Only -- YES!  I'm so excited that I've been able to pay for a meal with coins only at least ONCE in my life!  WOO HOO!  I'm SO ALIVE!!!!  ...idiot...

25. Made Prank Phone Calls -- Well, considering this person thinks paying for a meal with coins is an achievement, considering they may not be old enough to get to the bar to sing Karaoke, and considering that making a prank phone call is on the list here, it may be safe to assume that the writer of this list made it past kindergarten, but they may be 12.

26. Laughed Until Some Beverage Came Out Of Your Nose -- ...definitely 12, but I will say this: I've laughed until some beverage came out of my nose at least two or three times in my life thus far, and there is something extra funny about that moment when it happens.  I'll keep that one on my list.

27.  Caught A Snowflake On Your Tongue -- Done that, but if you're a native of Phoenix, AZ, it's quite possible you haven't so... head out to Colorado one winter break.  But... go skiing or snowboarding or something, don't just rent a hotel for a week so you can catch a damn snowflake on your tongue.

28. Had Children -- I have one.  She's beautiful.  And I am happy to have lived life with a child like her in it so... I'll keep this one.

29.  Had  A Pet -- Pet's are good.  I'll keep this one too.

30.  Skinny Dipping -- done that one, got in trouble for it, but I did it.  And... I guess I'll keep that one too cuz... it makes me smile in the most mischievous kind of way.

Oh yeah... this was a lot of fun.  As if my life doesn't already annoy me, aside from visiting Africa, South America, Cuba, and watching someone die, all my dreams have come true!

Thanks random chain email idiot.  You made my day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Little Brown Houses & Green Dots

(It's Wednesday morning.  Pandora and Hope are making that last minute scramble to get everything together before leaving the house for school and work.  Hope is placing the books in her back pack when she suddenly stops and places her head in her hands.)

Pandora: What's wrong with you?

Hope: Oh... I just have a bad feeling that this is going to be a bad day.

Pandora: Why?

Hope: I don't know.  Just feels that way.

Pandora: You finished all your homework, didn't you?

Hope: Yes.

Pandora: Then, what's the problem?

Hope: (looking like she might throw up now) I don't know.

Pandora: You do too know.  There's something you're not telling me, so what is it?

Hope: (starts to cry) I forgot to color the map for our Geography project!

Pandora: What?  What map?  What Geography project?

Hope: (crying) We have a presentation today about the Middle Ages!  We had to show the Manor we were living on and the surrounding area and I was in charge of the map and I forgot to color it!  Simon has been texting me all morning about it!  He's so mad at me right now!

Pandora:  It's a group project and you forgot about it?!  How did you forget that?!

Hope: (crying) I don't know how I forgot!  I left the stupid drawing in the car!

Pandora: Well, Honey Girl!  Why didn't you tell me about it?  I would've gone out to the car and pulled it out for you!

Hope: (crying)  I don't know!  I just forgot, Mom!

Pandora: ...sigh... This whole forgetful thing you're going through is driving me up the wall!  You never used to forget anything.  I never had to hound you about anything.  Any more, if I don't remind you that your eyes are already in your head, you're going to walk around like a blind person because you forgot they were already in your head!  What are you going to do about this?  You have to get over this!  I can't follow you around all the time and make sure you remember to get your work done!  When you go to college, I'm not going to be around to say, "Do your homework before you watch TV," or, "Don't forget your science book!"  You're going to have to do this yourself!  You might want to start putting it into practice now, kiddo!

Hope: (still crying) I know, Mom...  but right now I have to worry about ruining this project for everyone and letting everyone down and listening to stupid Simon say mean things to me all day...

Pandora: (watches Hope for a minute, grabs her keys, and goes to the door)  Pull yourself together, we have to go.

Hope: (wipes her tears and grabs her back pack)  What am I going to do, Mom?

Pandora: Well, let's think about this.  When is Geography?

Hope: After Economics.

Pandora: When is Economics?

Hope: After Science

Pandora: When is Science?

Hope: After Math

Pandora: Good grief!  I'm not asking what they're after, I'm asking when!  Time of day!  Like... is it the first class of the morning or do you have a break in there somewhere before Geography?

Hope: There's a break before Geography.

Pandora: Okay then!  So... can't you color the thing at your break?

Hope: Maybe...

Pandora: Maybe?! No, there is no maybe.  You're going to get those stupid color pencils and you're going to sit your butt down and you're going to get that map finished, and you're going to walk into that presentation with that thing done and you're going to look at that punk Simon and say, "What!"

Hope: (climbs into the passenger seat of the car and pulls up the rolled up drawing from the side of the seat and opens it up.  It's a beautiful map that she drew herself and the entire map is colored except for a section of tiny houses and a section of what looks like trees)

Pandora: um... this is the map?

Hope: Yep

Pandora: ...this is what you're freaking out about?!

Hope: Yep

Pandora: Honey Girl!  What is wrong with you?  The map looks awesome!  The only thing you have left are those stupid little houses and ... what are those small circles there?

Hope: Those are the trees.

Pandora:  Seriously?  All this drama over some stupid little brown houses and green dots?!  You got yourself and me all worked up over something that isn't even going to take you five minutes to finish?

Hope: (starts crying again) well... Simon said...

Pandora: I don't care what Simon said.  That kid is a punk.  I've been listening to stories about that kid all year, and now he's got you so worked up you're feeling defeated over some stupid little brown houses and greed dots.  Seriously...  (Pandora starts the car and they head to the school and Hope continues to cry)  Precious... you have got to stop crying now, this is ridiculous!  You made it sound like the entire map was waiting for you and... little brown houses and green dots!  That's ALL it is!  You can do that in your sleep!  You're a bad ass student, you know this!  Some stupid green dots and domineering words from a punk kid have you falling to pieces right now.  I can't have this!  You can't be freaking out like this over something this small.

Hope: (trying to wipe the tears that just won't stop coming) I just can't stop crying right now, and he's going to be mean to me, Mom, I just know it.

Pandora: (reaches out and takes Hope by the hand) Listen to me, you can cry here in the car with me because I'm your mom.  And you can cry in your room because that's your space.  But you DO NOT let this punk have the pleasure of watching you cry.  That boy DOES NOT get to see you cry because he's an arrogant little piggy that has the nerve to put you down and make you feel like a failure when you can dance intellectual circles around that idiot and he knows it.  And Hope... little brown houses and green dots... there's a hell of a lot worse things to be crying over in this life besides some stupid little brown houses and green dots.

Hope: (chuckles through the slowly drying tears)  You are right, it really isn't that much to get done.

Pandora: (pulls into the school parking lot, stops, turns to Hope) Wipe the rest of those tears from your eyes, go in there like the bad ass that you are, ignore that punk because he's probably going to give you more jabs between now and then, and at the first chance you get you color the rest of that thing.  And when Geography class comes, you hand that thing over to Simon and you give him the eye when you do it, the punk.  You understand me?

Hope: (smiles) Yes, Mom.  Do I look like I've been crying?

Pandora: Nope.  And between here and the class room I want you to think of nothing except that you're a bad ass and all you have there are some stupid little brown houses and green dots.  I want you to chant that in your head all the way to class -- little brown houses and green dots.

Hope: I love you, Mom.

Pandora: I love you too. (just as Hope starts to shut the car door) LITTLE BROWN HOUSES AND GREEN DOTS!  THAT'S ALL THIS IS!

(Hope shuts the car door and Pandora watches her walk down the hall to her class.  Later that morning, Pandora receives a text message from Hope:  "Just some stupid little brown houses and green dots... that's all it was, Mom."  That sentence alone was enough to make the entire day a triumph.)

Somebody I Used To Know -- Gotye

... and then sometimes you spend two hours writing some overly emotional response to something more personal than you really want the rest of the world to see, and just as you realize that maybe you shouldn't have written it you also realize it's 11:57p.m. and you need to go to bed and you have no time to write something new to entertain the people so... you do this instead:

Enjoy... It has something to do with what I just deleted, but... don't read into it too much, because you could be wrong.  just... enjoy it... it's perfect in its own right.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Go Ahead, Piss On Me

So, things have been on my nerves for days.  That's probably obvious.

It's that whole ebb and flow thing: it's good for a while and everyone's laughing and then suddenly we're all wishing I had a zanex or a valium or something because... well... I wish I had a zanex or something, but I have this thing about pills so... welcome to my world.

Anyway, I took my dog for a walk yesterday.  It was a beautiful day, 70 something, the beauty of living in Phoenix.  And we stopped and there was a fellow with this giant boxer who was not on a leash.  The dogs started to bark at each other, and I stopped in my track because I didn't know how this was going to go down.  The owner of the boxer said, "It's okay.  He's friendly."

His dog proceeded to come over into our personal space, and he sniffed Charity and the two did that little dog dance that they all seem to do when they want to play, but suddenly they both stood still and just stared at each other.

I truly wish I were some sort of dog whisperer so I could explain or understand the rest of this, but I'm not and I can't.

The two dogs were sniffing each other, and the other owner was in the midst of telling me how cute my dog is when suddenly the boxer decided to lift his leg and take a piss all over my right leg.  It was awesome.  I've never had that experience before, but, if it were to happen, I couldn't think of a better time in my life for that moment to take place: go ahead, Pooch, piss on my life, everyone else is.  It's all good.

The owner was absolutely horrified.  "Oh my god!  Butch!  NO!  BAD BOY!  I'm sorry, Mam... I'm so sorry..."

All I could do was laugh.  ...the hell was I supposed to do?  Be upset that his dog pissed on me because he took a whiff and said, "this woman hates her life right now, let's piss on it for her and help her make a point."  Um... can't really be depressed about that one.  It is what it is.  Go ahead, random doggy, piss on me.  I'll wash it off when I get home.  Story of my life -- wash it off when I get home.

 (stupid dog... probably dated him in a past life...)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Charity -- The Pup

waiting for treats
I read somewhere once that people who keep pets live longer, healthier, and happier lives.  I'm no scientist, I have completed no studies of my own, but I can say that I am a believer.

A while back I mentioned how much joy Hope and I received simply from baby-sitting a friend's dog, and that alone was enough for us to decide we needed a little doggy of our own.  In October we adopted Charity from AZ Small Dog Rescue.  I had been interested in finding a little Yorkshire terrier, but this little pup's picture stuck in my mind and even though I ran across some Yorkies, I kept going back to her.  There was just something about her face that made me think she wanted to come home with us.

I drove to the shelter on my way home from work, just minutes before they were ready to close, and I asked to see Charity.  They brought her out and she pretty much jumped into my arms and kissed my face all over.  I sat and played with her for bit and I completely fell in love with her.  I told the lady that I would be back the following morning with my daughter, and as long as Charity responded well to Hope, I would be bringing her home with us.  The lady's response was, "I'm pretty sure Charity just found a home."  And sure enough, when I brought Hope with me the following morning, all three of us were sold -- Charity found a home.

Charity is a Fox Terrier Dachshund mix. She's 10 pounds now, but when we found her she was just shy of 7 pounds, skinny as hell and scared of everyone and everything except for us.  We had bought her a world of toys (that she had no clue what to do with) and treats that... well... let's just say to her it seemed that treats were more like the rocks and twigs from outside.  She didn't trust the little yummy liver bites that the trainer at Pet's Mart swore by.  Hope was a little concerned by this and asked me what I thought.  I responded with something like, "Well, they found her wandering the streets of Phoenix and I'm sure she's seen a Hell all her own.  It's going to take some time for her to feel safe."  Hope held Charity close in her arms and said, "Well, little pup, you're going to fit right in here with us.  We've had our fair share of trouble too."  I said nothing -- no point in denying the truth.

Owl Friend
For weeks the toys and treats just laid on the floor, as she did little more than stay as close to our side as she could.  But after a month or so, she was brave enough to eat the treats and realize they were way better than the pigeon poop on the patio.  And one day I came home from work to find her running through the house with a toy in her mouth and playing fetch with Hope.  I can't even explain the joy that came over me while watching that little pup run through the place like wild fire with the biggest smile on her face.  All I knew at that moment was joy had found a place in our doggy's heart, and she was more than happy to share it with us.

Several months have passed now, and Charity has chosen her favorite toy -- Owl Friend.  Hope teases me because of my lack of creativity with toy names.  Charity has Monkey Friend, Dragon Friend, Hamster Friend, Zebra Friend, and Owl Friend.  She's played with all of them, but for some reason, Owl Friend is her favorite and I absolutely LOVE her love for Owl Friend.  She carries that stupid little toy everywhere.  She has somehow molded the squeaker inside to fit her teeth and she walks around squeaking the thing throughout the house.    The other night I even woke up with Owl Friend beside my head because Charity brought it to bed with her.  It's her woobie -- my silly little puppy has a woobie, just like some of the toddlers I've known in my lifetime.  And obviously, as jaded as I can be, as many cynical and sarcastic jokes I can make about life, this one little ten pound puppy has the ability to make me go on and on over something as stupid as a little purple owl with a squeaky toy at its core.

Yes, I am completely a believer in the fact that this one little creature has the ability to cancel out all the damage the stress and sorrow I tend to carry with me can do on my life.  I believe every time I take this doggy for a walk, I smile way more with her than I would ever do on a walk alone.  I believe, every time she gets the crazy runs through my house with that stupid toy in her mouth, each smile she brings to my face cures just a bit more of the bitterness I harbor.  And yes, on the nights I've come home alone over the past holidays when Hope was out of town, all it took was this silly little pup crawling up on my lap while I cried to make the pain less significant than it would have been had I come home to complete emptiness.

Depression is a killer.  Charity, The Pup... she may just be part of the cure.

Bronze Chip

It's 180 days today.  6 months.  And I really don't know what to say about it now.  I know I haven't reached the point where I can stop tracking my progress, because I'm very aware of the fact I'm working hard to keep myself from sinking -- not even working to stay afloat, just... keep myself from sinking.  There is a difference.

I don't cry very often anymore.  I do have moments though where something goes wrong somewhere and it may not even have anything to do with him, but it lights this fuse of sadness, that leads to underlying rage and bitterness, and the next thing I know I'm burning like some sort of chemical fire that no one has the proper extinguisher for and so... I have to just let it ride until it burns itself out.

I have my moments where I start to feel like myself again, but on the whole, things are heavy and depressing.  My daughter has, at least in the past couple of days, lectured me about finding a good distraction.  The blog is a good distraction, but it only goes so far.  And I have started another writing project, but ... as she put it the other day, "I can see that it's difficult to focus on your writing when something heavy is blocking your imagination, Mom."

I have done my best to remove things that remind me... And then there's always that one idiot who, even six months later, says something stupid like, "Aren't you a newly wed?"  I've gotten really good at just keeping it simple -- "No.  No I'm not," shrug my shoulders and walk away.  The part they don't see is how terrible it feels inside because I know there is a world of thoughts in their own head as to what happened here and... yeah... guess we're all better off not truly knowing what the fuck went wrong.

And then I have moments like right now where, right after I wrote that paragraph, I bitterly shout, "The Fucktard!"

That's pretty much it.

My name is Pandora.  I have successfully completed 6 months of rejection recovery.  Anyone got a bronze chip to give me?

Bronze is pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cupid, My Enemy

Hank the Bad Cupid

Hank the Bad Cupid by extrafeet inc, Atlanta, GA

Cupid is no friend of mine.  I don't know what I ever did to the guy, but he's apparently had it out for me for quite some time.  Doesn't matter if he toys with me through random stalkers that spot me in the checkout line at Walgreens, or if he dupes me into thinking that I found true love, only to stand beside me at the dumpster shouting: PSYCHE!!!  Fooled you!  Bah ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

Seriously...  This thought has been on my mind all day.  Being Valentine's Day, and everyone around me is getting roses (including my daughter), can you blame me?  I mean, sometimes we all have to take a minute to reevaluate things and say, "Where did I go wrong?  What did I ever do to you, Senior Cupid?  I mean... the biggest idiots of Earth can find their perfect match and yet... I keep getting screwed, and not in the hot, sweaty, and pleasurable kind of way.  What's up with that?!"

And speaking of the whole "PSYCHE" thing, I did find myself remembering some myth about Cupid and Psyche. It was some sort of tale about Love (who is Cupid) and Soul (who is Psyche) and how the two come together to form a perfect and eternal union and bla bla bla.

I couldn't remember how the entire tale went, but I did know there was some sort of strife between them, so I went digging through one of my books until I found it and remembered...

It was Venus!  Cupid's mother!  Oh yea... that bitch was jealous of Psyche because she was the most beautiful mortal woman on Earth and all the men adored her and neglected to pay homage to that stupid goddess of Love.

Really... out of all the goddesses, Venus/Aphrodite is the most annoying because she's supposed to be the Love Goddess and all she does is get jealous and curse people all the time.   Don't believe me?  Ask Medusa! (Oh wait... That was Athena that cursed her...  Well, you get my point.)

So Venus get's jealous of Psyche and sends Cupid down to shoot her with one of his arrows and make her fall in love with one of the biggest idiots of Earth (this must be how all idiots of Earth find their match in the first place).  The problem is, Cupid sees how beautiful Psyche is and decides to keep her for himself.

I won't waste your time going on about that stupid story there, but I did start thinking that maybe Venus has sent Cupid down to give me grief because she thinks I'm the reason men don't go to her temple and burn incense anymore.  And that stupid puke with the golden fucking arrows keeps jacking me up with his lame excuse for a romantic escapade because his whacked out mother told him to.  And because he's been going around taking orders from his mom for countless centuries, he's gotten a little bored with the whole thing so he has to spice it up with some stalkers and homeless guys, on the corner of College Avenue and University Drive, that see no harm in copping a feel as I wait for the crosswalk light to turn green.  And really???  This is getting old.

Can someone just do me a favor and explain to Venus, or Aphrodite, or whatever the hell her name is, that the only reason men aren't burning incense in her temple anymore is because no one gives a shit?!  And would someone explain to her that, unless they were sent by her stupid son Cupid to stalk me, there are no men coming to burn incense on my front patio either (and if they do, I'll be calling the cops because that's just weird)?!  And would someone please explain, to that high and mighty bitch, that it isn't my fault that her statues resemble a decapitated dismembered delicacy of Hannibal Lecter?!

And please... please... tell her to call off her son Cupid because, well, look at the guy... he just ain't what he used to be...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Set Back

The hardest part sometimes is the silence
when once there was so much noise:
amplified treble and bass
snares and voices
Ids and Egos
mirrors and phases
The sounds that amount to nothing.

The hardest work sometimes is the revision
of what was previously written:
the final deemed rough
shifting the bad to good
cohesive and coherent
thesis and conclusion
With only the most complex of sentences.

The hardest task sometimes is breaking through
the blatantly obvious:
static melancholy
pulp of bitterness
bad lighting and
stunted imagination
The lack of solace in your solitude.

The hardest part sometimes is believing
YOU... are inspired.

Whitney Houston... Please Rest In Peace

I generally could care less about the famous people in the United States.  Most of them are just fame seeking idiots with no direction, and suddenly they get famous and walk around talking about saving the environment and adopting African children because their public representative tells them to.  But this one... this one brought me to tears.

I was somewhere between the age of 9 and 12 when I first heard Whitney sing on the radio and I distinctly remember stopping in my tracks and listening and wishing I could sing like her.  And I remember searching for her name and she was the first record I ever bought with my own money.  I remember playing "I Want To Dance With Somebody" over and over again in my room and singing along with it and wishing that I had the ability to put those beautiful extensions in my hair.  She was something else, something I'd never seen.  In a rock and roll world that was dominated by men and Cindy Lauper types, this lady was truly something that my classically trained young self could appreciate and relate to: she knew how to sing.

And in the years of her "start" on the scene, she had hit after hit and she sang about loving yourself and sang about being beautiful and strong.  I sang all of her songs there in my room to my imaginary audience and I believed every word she sang.  Her music inspired a young girl like me, her music set her apart from the Madonnas who were putting headlights on their tits and teaching girls like me to sell their body to make their way.  Whitney was a true woman, something to aspire to, and when time passed and she married that idiot Bobby Brown and rumors of drug use started to hit the scene, it was a moment for the girls like me to truly hurt for her, to truly believe she had lost her way, and we had nothing to say except for she fell victim to something else -- influences and powers that were beyond her.  She had started out so strong, but so innocent, and... years later, as a woman who has seen her own World Of Shit, all I can say is... I understand.  I hate it, I hated it then and I hate it now, but I understand.

I was driving home tonight from visiting my parents.  I was listening to the radio and suddenly Whitney's "One Moment In Time" came on, a song that they rarely play on the radio these days, but it is by far my favorite Whitney tune.  I was driving down the road, singing along with her at the top of my lungs, and just as the end of the song came and I finished it off with a slight tear in my eye, the DJ came on and said, "That was Whitney Houston, she died today at the age of 48."  The first thought that crossed my mind was drug overdose and my heart just sank because, even as the report at this moment is that cause of death is unknown, that's such a stupidly common end to all of the famous people in this world and... a death that I was surely hoping someone like Whitney would be able to overcome and avoid.

I don't know what else to say about it.  I know in the days and weeks to come, her death and the more dark moments of her life will be all over the news and... I'm sad about that.  I'm not sure famous people ever really know the lives they're touching or how they're touching them or why.  I'm not even sure why people like us take the time to attach a certain amount of love and adoration to them, but we do.  And for me, she was one of the select few that I would give a certain amount of adoration to.  Because I have done that, because I know her dirt is going to be all over the media soon, I will say two things: I will always remember the inspiration she was to me at a very young age, and... we all have our faults, we all have our struggles, we all have our addictions, and we all reap what we sow in the end.  Let those without bull shit in their lives cast the first stone.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Drive

Ever just get in your car and drive to nowhere?

Ever just reach some kind of breaking point where you need to get away but you can't and so you just...drive?

You know, the kind of drive where you can think for just a while...

The kind of drive where you can find that open stretch of highway with next to no one on it and you just... go.

It's that moment you find that song with no words, that song you won't sing to, but the song that sings to you.

And you play that song in the background, and you roll down the windows and let the wind pass through you until you suddenly feel free.

And at some point your thoughts just roll through you like the highway before you, just passing under the wheels of your mind, and you like it that way.

Thoughts... just passing...

No stoplights, no intersection, just... motion...

And at some point you notice that no one seems to be on this road with you, and you like it that way...

No one is slowing you down, no one is blocking your path, and no one is there to ride your ass.

Lights are the only thing you're passing. ...just passing lights...

And you keep hitting the repeat button on the stereo, because that one song completely suits your mood and you don't want to lose it just yet.

And you could turn off the highway and go home, but you're not ready to go there yet.

All you want is just a little more time to remember what it feels like to have wings, just a little more time to lock this moment away in your mind and call on it again like some sort of hidden super power and know that...

There really is no breaking point, there are only things that wear you down, but there is no breaking...  not for you...

And then you roll up the windows, and you turn down the music, and you sit at the red light and wait for your turn and you head home, to reality, with a sense of calm and understanding that no one else knows.

Just you and the Highway.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunshine Blues

Pandora is sitting in her cubicle, feeling the weight of the world, or... at least what she feels to be the world at the time because depression is hard and heavy.

Sunshine: Aw yeah... Pandora in the house!

Pandora: (turns around from the computer screen) Hey there.

Sunshine: What it do?!

Pandora: it does...

Sunshine: It does?  What the hell is that shit?

Pandora: (shrugs) it is what it is... How are you?

Sunshine: Better than you, I guess.  What the hell is wrong with you?  Haven't seen you in forever and all I get is "it is what it is..."  I hate it when you say that, by the way.  I hate that stupid saying.

Pandora: Well... it's the truth.  Nothing I can do about it right now.

Sunshine: Girl... you driving me crazy with that shit.  You still unhappy?

Pandora: ...I wouldn't say unhappy, just... you know how it gets... things are heavy sometimes.

Sunshine: Oh... you got that physical sensation going on.

Pandora: Yes, exactly.  The weight that can't really be described.

Sunshine: I hate that shit!  And aint no telling when that shit is going away.  One day you wake up and it's gone, but no telling when that day is.

Pandora: bingo

Sunshine: I know what you need, you need to hear some jokes.  Laughing is good when you in that space.  You ready for a joke?

Pandora: I could use a laugh.

Sunshine: Okay.  Here it is: There's this girl, she's really thin, probably like 120 pounds, and then there's her friend who's probably like 300 pounds.  And the skinny girl... well... I don't know if that's skinny, but the girl who's like 120 pounds says they need to go to the pool and she's going to put on her bikini.  And the girl who's 300 pounds says, "Okay.  I'm going to go put on my betweenie!"

Pandora: ...

Sunshine: BAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!  Idn't that just funny?!

Pandora: ...

Sunshine: ...you don't think that's funny?

Pandora: Well, I didn't really know that was the end of the joke.  I thought there was something else coming after "betweenie."

Sunshine: Damn... My delivery must be bad cuz I think that shit's hilarious.  I ain't no skinny chic, so... I get the betweenie thing.  Ain't no bikini for girl's like me, that shit falls in the cracks so.. that's funny as hell to me.

Pandora: Sorry, guess my head just isn't in the game.

Sunshine: Nah... My delivery is bad.  I'm sure there's more to that joke, but I always forget the inbetween things, I only remember punch lines.  I just know someone told me that joke and I laughed, but I can't remember exactly how the joke goes.  Has to be my delivery, cuz I know you, you woulda laughed if I'd told it right.

Pandora: Yeah... This is what I heard: there's a skinny girl and there's a fat girl and the skinny girl puts on a bikini and the fat girl puts on a betweenie and then you started laughing.

Sunshine: BAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Cuz it's frickin' hilarious!  Oh my god... Pandora... I can't believe you aint laughin at that shit right there.

Pandora: ...

Sunshine: Okay, how about this one: Why was Robin Hood's best friend Little John?

Pandora: I don't know.  Why?

Sunshine: Because everyone needs a porto potty in the forest!  BAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Pandora: ...

Sunshine: Don't you get it?  a little JOHN in the forest?!

Pandora: I get it.

Sunshine:... but you don't think it's funny...

Pandora: I love you, though.

Sunshine: Damn it, Pandora!  You all funkified and shit!

Pandora: true, but even if I weren't funkified, I'm not sure I'd be laughing at those jokes.

Sunshine: It's my delivery, isn't it.

Pandora: probably... and... might be content too, but... that one's still up in the air.  We'll have to try this again in a few weeks.

Sunshine: a'right.  I'm outta here, Lady.  Just wanted to stop by and say 'sup.

Pandora: 'sup

Sunshine gives Pandora a hug and it's back to work, or... at least back to staring at the computer screen.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

When Galaxies Collide

The other night I was out with some friends and one of them looked at me and said, "So... how are you feeling about men these days?  Thinking you're ready to start something new yet or... are you done?"  I thought about it for a minute, as if to ask myself that question, and I finally responded with, "I think I'm done."

And I am done.  I mean... how much more ridiculous can my love life get?  Between men that stalk me because I smiled in passing and men that swear undying love for me and put a $5,000 diamond on my finger only to leave me at the altar (or dumpster, I should say), I think I better just count my losses, admit defeat, and fill my house with cats or something.

I give up.  I have better things to do with my time than worry about meeting the right man, particularly when I'm pretty sure he doesn't exist in this galaxy.  Somewhere in a galaxy far far away, there's a man that's sitting at his computer writing something similar to what I'm saying right now because he just can't find me.  He's over there miserable in Andromeda, and I'm stuck here in the stupid Milky Way.  And how terrible is that?

I will say this though, I do feel kinda sorry for the next man that dares to be my suitor because he's going to have his work cut out for him.  I think I've reached this point in my mind where it's easier for me to create an ideal man that no one will ever live up to (which isn't hard to do when every one else is proving to be little more than used car salesmen anyway).

I'm not kidding.  I was lying on the couch the other night watching some show on the National Geographic Channel about the various elements of the Milky Way and how it all functions together to create and sustain life, and I found myself listening to this one gentleman in a double breasted suit talk about dark matter and how it holds the universe together and I thought, "Damn... He's hot.  He's got to be one of the hottest men I've ever seen.  I need someone like that.  Someone who can turn me on with his intellect and be hot enough for me to melt all the way to the bedroom.  Yes... tell me more about this dark matter... How about we go make some galaxies collide...hmmm?"

Ridiculous, I know, but true.  Men like that don't travel in my circles.  If I hadn't left graduate school before completing a PhD, maybe I'd have a chance of finding someone like that, but... I'm down here with the working class people.  The only dark matter we're talking about around here is the fact that we all have to get up and go to work tomorrow.  And yes, I get hit on by this one or that one, and I have friends that always think they have the perfect person for me, but... I'm seriously not interested.  I have completely lost interest even in the pursuit of the possibility of "the one," nor do I give a shit about My Five anymore.  The last man I almost married met My Five, (or at least I thought he did until he proved at the very last minute not to have "black belt mentality," but... that's a moot point now), and it still went straight to the garbage so... nope.  Don't care.  Now it goes like this:

"You want to date me?  Have you ever been on the Science Channel, History Channel, Discovery Channel, or National Geographic Channel because of your expertise in Quantum Physics, Astronomy, Archeology, or Biology?  No?  Well then, I'm sorry.  You don't meet the criteria."

So, see?  That's a fool proof plan right there.  Unless the man can find a way to make galaxies collide, like Gandalf said, "You shall not pass!"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Night Watch

A new couple moved in downstairs from us this past weekend.  It was a silent move in.  I didn't even notice they had come until I pulled into the garage and found a car parked on the other side.  I met the man the following morning when I was out with the dog.  He seemed nice enough, introduced himself like a gentleman, and I walked away from that thinking, "Well, at least it looks like they're going to be good solid neighbors."  But around 2 in the morning I woke up to the sound of things being thrown, doors being slammed, a hysterical woman's voice screaming, and an ominously domineering man's voice yelling to keep her in her place.

I just laid there, in my bed, listening, with the phone in my hand because this was an all too familiar sound and I swore the minute I heard the woman get hit was the same minute I was calling the police.  I listened to two hours of painful verbal abuse.  It went in waves: 20 minutes of screaming, 10 - 20 minutes of silence, followed by more screaming and banging and things being thrown.  And it went like that until about 4 in the morning.  By the time 5 rolled around, I put my phone down and tried to relax.  I eventually returned to sleep only to wake up with the sun at 8 and realize I had slept through my alarm and I was going to be late for work and my daughter was going to be late for school.

When I went to wake up Hope she asked what happened, and when I explained it to her she said, "So you were on night watch last night.  You haven't had to do that in a while, have you?"  I laughed a bit when she said that, but I did realize, at that point, that not only does she know her mother very well but she is well aware how many times I've paid attention to the darkness that has happened around us in the various apartments that we've lived in. (living in an apartment is like living in a glass house -- people see and hear everything, so it might behoove you to keep your mess to yourself)

The woman apparently left that day, she hasn't been home since that night anyway, and things have been quiet, but I've been haunted by that moment.

I have a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when it comes to domestic violence.  And I suspect the woman will be back this weekend sometime, as I have since made small talk with the man and he told me his wife and daughter will be coming with the rest of the furniture this weekend, but... I'm dreading it a bit.  I am willing to say, maybe they just had a horribly bad night, but experience tells me what I heard was far more than just a bad night and indicative of more bad nights to come.  And please... can someone explain to me why it is so hard to just love your spouse and treat that person with respect, even in the midst of an argument?  Is it really that hard?

Why get married if you're just going to create Hell between you?  Life is hard enough as it is, so why choose to make it worse for yourselves?  When you get married, you are supposed to be tying the knot with the one who is going to build you up, not destroy you, and you are to build that person up in return.  So... how is it that you end up spending your time destroying your partner?  And... how is it that the one who is destroyed keeps returning for more?  Because of the "for worse" part?  Really???  In my mind, when you take the vow to stay in even through the "for worse" part, the agreement is that "for worse" can be worked out, that "for worse" will eventually have a resolution and return to "for better," but that takes work and cooperation from both people involved -- that takes a mutual agreement to recognize that this part of your lives is shit, and you're going to work TOGETHER to turn it into something beautiful.  

If Life were my husband, I'd have to say that in my 37 years of being alive, Life and I have experienced a multitude of "for worse" moments, some of them I brought upon myself and some of them Life sorta threw at me, but to divorce Life means suicide and..well... I've made a commitment to Life to see this through until Death comes to claim me naturally.  So when "for worse" hits Life and I, we look at each other and say, "But there are so many good things here to experience together, there are so many beautiful reasons to keep going, and we do have a ton of good memories, even in the midst of dark times."  And so... Life and I work together to get through the shit and find ourselves riding out the "for worse" and happily embracing the "for better."  The problem with this example is, Life isn't a human being, it isn't my partner, I've made a commitment to myself alone to go through life, for better or for worse, and love myself all the way through to the end.  But... it would be so much better to experience life with a true friend and partner, don't you think?

The point I'm trying to make is simple: if two partners were to stop and face Life together, instead of Face Off with each other, something different and beautiful would happen.  They would learn to realize that once they walk out that door to face the day, they have stress at work, and they have stress on the road, and they have stress in their bank account, and they have stress with their health, and they have stress raising the children, but... when they come home, they should come home knowing that their partner had similar stresses and what they need to do is come together and create a sanctuary between them, they need to be each other's guardian, each other's defender, each other's lover and each other's friend because ... who else in this world is willing to do that for them?  And isn't that the idea behind the rings on their fingers in the first place?  But no... they choose to come home and bring Hell with them because they just can't get enough of it outside that door.

And yes, I will keep the night watch.  I've done it for myself, I've done it for my daughter, I've done it for the neighbor who was too oblivious to notice her toddler was wandering out into the street at 3 in the morning because she was too wrapped up in battle, I've done it for friends who need little more than a strong positive presence like mine to make the negative one finally disappear calling me bitch every step of the way toward the door, and I will do it for whomever needs it to be done.  But damn it, people... how hard is it... just... to LOVE...?