About Me

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

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..