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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Joker's Gone Wild

I'm trying to get in the spirit,
to get in the mood,
the mindset,
the tap in or tap out,
something like that.

I'm trying to clear my head,
trying to think,
but all these mismatched moments,
like layers of red and black playing cards,
keep me shifting this one here  and that one there,
and just when I think I've got it hacked,
that damn ace gets in the way.

...Aces in the way...
... story of my life...
Just when I think I have it,
that Ace in the hole,
up my sleeve,
under the table,
that beautiful pair of pocket rockets,
someone comes and trumps my shit
with the Queen of Spades.

... the hell is that?
... trumped my Straight?
... trumped my Full House?
... trumped my Royal Flush?

Guess this Joker's gone wild
and I sat at the wrong table,
and brought the wrong deck,
and played the wrong hand
in an entirely wrong game.

Mismatched moments...
one business -- one personal
one sequence -- one group
one deck -- one suit
one red -- one black
one heart -- one club
one for the beating
... the other for the blood.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Attitude Of Gratitude

"Attitude Of Gratitude" is a phrase one of my wacky new agie friends and her husband loved to say all the time.    Something good would come their way or they'd make some kind of purchase they'd been working toward for quite some time and they'd turn around and say something like, "It's all about the attitude of gratitude, man.  When you're grateful for what you have, The Universe gives you more because The Universe KNOWS you're going to be grateful for that too!"

Now, I never really questioned their thought process in front of them (mostly because I was always happy to see them being grateful for what "The Universe" had given them), but it seemed to me that there was a flaw in their logic.  I'm pretty sure the starving people in Africa are grateful when they finally get to eat something, and I'm also sure they're uncertain when they may have their next meal so I'm not sure the thought process of being grateful for what you have been given automatically means you'll be given more.  But I do believe there is power in what my friends called the Attitude Of Gratitude, but I believe it is a more personal and internal power -- one that heals and brings joy to the life of the grateful person, not necessarily through material or physical things, but through one's self-awareness or one's spiritual existence, if you will.

I remember another friend of mine going through a particularly dark period in her life.  Every where she turned something was going terribly terribly wrong, and it wasn't long before depression and bitterness took over her entire being.  Every word that came out of her mouth was dark and hateful, every tear that she shed was the tear of the self-absorbed victim as opposed to true expression of grief, and no matter what I said, no matter how I tried to turn her eyes toward something more positive, some form of hope, she shot me down with more hateful words.  Finally I asked her to at least do one thing, to lay down in her bed that night and say thank you for something.  I told her if she can think of one thing to be thankful for then she needs to say thank you out loud for that one thing and then think of another.  And I told her to start small.  I told her to start with the basics, like being thankful for her bed and being thankful for her clothes.  And I promised her, that once she started the list, eventually it would branch out to things she realizes she has and has never truly been thankful for.  And I also promised, if she did this, she would probably feel the first sense of joy she'd had in months.

She went home and she did it.  She continued to do it daily for weeks and eventually those things that made her so bitter and so angry and so depressed, even though they were still there, even though they hadn't vanished, had very little power over her life and her own personal sense of well being.  And to this day, she's one of the strongest people I know and has mastered the art of finding something to be grateful for even in the midst of what appears to be Hell.  There may not be more "things" around the corner, but there is healing and there is joy in expressing the Attitude Of Gratitude.

We all have dark times.  I've had many, I'm going through one right now, and I suspect I'll have many more between now and the hour of my death.  But even in the darkest of times, much like my friend there, I have to take a moment and start with the basics and say:

Thank you for this bed I'm laying on.  Thank you for this apartment.  Thank you for the clothes I have.  Thank you for the food in my kitchen.  Thank you for the job I have that pays me enough to ensure I have these things.  Thank you for the car that gets me there.  Thank you for my daughter and how wonderful she is and how much she loves me.  Thank you for the love I experience in my relationship with her.  Thank you for the chance and the joy of being her mother.  Thank you for my parents.  Thank you for the love they gave and continue to give to me and the hard hours they spent working their whole lives to make sure my brother and I had everything we needed to become successful in our own adult lives.  Thank you for my brother.  Thank you for giving me a sibling that understands me like no other and has spent countless hours making me laugh through the years when I would otherwise sit down and cry.  Thank you for giving me a confidante in him that I have had nowhere else.  Thank you for his wife, thank you for giving him a wife that loves him and cares for him in the most beautiful way.  Thank you for their beautiful son that brings them so much joy.  Thank you for my closest friends.  Thank you for giving me friends that would come to pull me from the fires of Hell if they had to.  Thank you for allowing me to experience truly good people in a world that seems so dark sometimes.  Thank you for giving me hope, that everything works together for good, that everything will be okay.  Thank you for giving me strength to move when I really feel like I can't keep going. Thank you for giving me a sense of wisdom when everything seems to make no sense at all.  Thank you for giving me a sense of peace when everything around me is storming.  Thank you for giving me everything I need, physically and spiritually to survive this world, and thank you for giving me a sense of accomplishment through each and every life experience I encounter.  Thank You.

Friday, November 18, 2011

90 Day Chip

It's been 90 days.

Yes, I'm counting.

Some people don't get that, but I had no recourse, no way to navigate through the fog called grief.  And somewhere in the clouded visions of my mind I remembered someone calling Love an addiction and so, in the midst of my misery, I decided that if Love was an addiction then I needed to count my days through withdrawal and keep track of my recovery and well, here we are:

I don't know what to say, really.  If you know me, if you were lucky enough to truly know "us,"  if you know what I went through here, you would know that I don't truly have the first clue what to think or say about of any of this (regardless of the jaded jokes I may make about it at this point in a further and more developed attempt to survive).

On day one, after no sleep, I got up out of the pointless bed and poured myself a cup of coffee and called my family and told them that I wasn't getting married.  I then pulled myself together long enough to go find a place to live because my lease was up and I had nowhere to go.  I came home and wrote my own phone number and address on a piece of paper in front of me so that I could remember what I needed to tell the moving company when I scheduled them to go pick up my things from his house, and I then I called my friends to tell them I wasn't getting married and I needed a group of people to help me move what was left in my hovel over to my new apartment and after I got all of that done... I lost it.

On day two I pretty much stared at the wall even though I was supposed to pack up the rest of my apartment.  At some point my "matron of honor" showed up and packed up the rest of my place.

On day three I pulled myself together enough to get to work and told myself that even I sat there like a zombie, at least I was there.

On day four my daughter fell apart and the rest of the week was a wash.

On day six, when I was supposed to get married, my friends came and moved things out of my apartment and the movers came and brought my things over from his place.

On day seven, the day after what was supposed to be my wedding, my family, some of which had flown out from out of state, came to my new apartment to bring me wedding gifts that they now called house warming gifts, and toured through my new apartment trying to be as positive as they could be and all I could do was look at my brother and say, "I know what they're trying to do, but I can't help it... I'm not supposed to be here right now."  And all he could do was nod at me in silent recognition of the emotional hell I was in because he's my brother and knows me better than anyone and he's the best person I know and pretty much the only person I really wanted to see that day.

On day eight I couldn't get to work.  I woke up and promptly fell to pieces and called my secretary and told her I just couldn't get there and then I went back to bed.  Around 11:00 a.m. she messaged me and said, "At least get up and unpack your boxes."  She was right.  I got up and unpacked my office because that's my sacred space and I at least needed to make that place happen.

Between day 8 and day 29 I got up and functioned.  I got up and went to work and explained repeatedly that I didn't have a honeymoon because I had been dumped by the dumpster.  And I was thankful for all of the meetings that usually stress me out and frustrate the hell out of me because at least they forced me outside of my own head, but somewhere between the office and home I would sink back into hell and there was no stopping it.

By day 30 someone asked me how I was doing and I said, "I went to bed crying and I woke up crying.  I feel like someone sapped my A Game and I have no clue how to get it back, and in the mean time the B team is running with the ball but they keep dropping it and they're fouling all over the place."

By day 32 I received a phone call from my daughter's teacher saying she wasn't doing well and I checked her grades and I fell to pieces because I knew it was my fault, because I knew her performance was directly related to my own and well... we were failing.  So I sucked it up and I pulled myself together and I pulled her together and we spent three nights making up work and sleeping very little but we still came out on top because that's how we roll.  Shit gets ugly sometimes but if you don't keep moving with life it's going to move on without you and well... that's just unacceptable so... shame on me for letting it get down that far but I'll be damned if I let that happen again.

And somewhere between day 32 and day 60 I was haunted by crazy nightmares where my subconscious either replayed the event over and over again or I was following him around picking up pieces of things he dropped behind him and begging him not to do this.

Somewhere around day 61 my nightmares shifted to him begging me to come back to him and me saying no.

Somewhere around day 65 a friend of mine went out of town and we baby-sat her dog and that was the best weekend we'd had in 65 days.  That doggy was the brightest piece of joy we'd had in quite some time and so by day 67 we decided to adopt our own doggy, Charity, because we needed a sweet little happy thing bouncing around our new home to remind us that life isn't all that bad.

Somewhere around day 72 a gentleman from a group of friends I know creatively took me off guard and asked me out on a date and I said yes even though I didn't really want to.

On day 73 I convinced myself that I should at least go on the date and let the man take me to dinner and help me remember that I'm pretty and intelligent and worth being around because my confidence was completely shot.

On day 75 I found myself telling this man that had started texting me and calling me as though he were already my boyfriend that I was far from ready and I remembered why I hated dating and I fell back into some pit where I hated my man for leaving me in this stupid space.

And somewhere between day 75 and now I looked at my daughter and said, "I think I need to resurrect Pandora."  And she said, "Yes, you do.  She's a strong woman, Pandora, and right now I think we need her."

And somewhere between 75 and 80 something I brought Pandora back and it felt like the best moment I've had in a long  long time because I remembered a bit more of who I was before all this shit went down.  And somewhere in my head I remembered someone saying, "You don't need him, you just want him.  You never needed him, you lived a long time without him, you'll be fine.  Just get over the hurt and remember who you are."

And in day 87 someone said to me, "What do you need to do to get your A Game back?"  And I said, "The first step is writing."  And here I am, best player on the A Team making her appearance.

And on day 90 I want to take a moment to say the following:

I loved that man, not in the shallow way that most people toss that word around, but in the way in which I truly believed I was going to look into his eyes until I was too blind to see.  I was going to be with him until my singing voice made people wish I'd realize how old I was and sit down.  I was going to be with him until my body was too crippled to move.  I was going to be with him until I breathed my last breath.  He was not bad to me, he has some strange hang up that ripped the carpet right out from under all three of us because I apparently was too love struck to see it coming but... please don't tell me I'm better off.  I may be, but I have yet to have that moment of breathing a sigh of relief because I dodged some kind of bullet.  Most of the time I sit here and say to myself, "If he's that fucked in the head, then yes... I can see that this may be best, but the past three years with the man tell me otherwise and this just doesn't make sense."  I had beautiful years with this person, I didn't see this coming and I do hope for his own sake he fixes his stupid ass crazy shit (if for no other reason than the fact that he's going to live one hell of a lonely ass hermit life if he doesn't).  And I do want to give a certain amount of props to the unique people who have said the following:

"I know you're hurting.  I want you to remember this: you did not pick a bad man, Pandora.  He was all the things you believed he was.  He is just a man with a blemish.  I'm sorry."

"We have no doubt that he loved you, but you were obviously a trigger for something he needs to come to terms with."

"We know you, we watched you, we all believed this was perfect..."

"We're going to be okay, Mom.  We're going to be okay without him.  He's not going to be okay without us, but we're going to be okay without him.  I promise."

"It's just a speed bump, Pandora.  ...just a speed bump in the road."

My name is Pandora.  I've successfully completed 90 days of rejection recovery.

Now give me my damn chip!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Detail Is In Your Toes

So... I win an Oscar today for playing it off.  Playing what off?  Well, I pretty much sliced off the top meaty portion of my second toe and I still stood there and smiled like Miss Congeniality and walked out with the poise of a super model with a book on her head when I completely felt like screaming the infamous F-word multiple times. 

"Oh my gosh!" You say (except you don't say "gosh")  "What happened?" You say.

Well, I had just been in a meeting for the past hour and a half where I had, once again, been the bearer of somewhat (or at least potential) bad news, and when I got up to leave the conference room I was talking to someone over my shoulder as I pulled the heavy conference room door across my right foot which, as I said above, pretty much sliced through the top meaty portion of the second toe on my right foot. 

It hurt like absolute hell. I'm not lying.  If it had happened at my house, I have no doubt that I would've fallen to my knees and screamed sinful obscenities in front of my beautiful daughter and would've owed her much apologies later (which pretty much mean nothing to her these days because I'm certain, by the age of 12, she's grown to expect nothing less from me).  But instead, I felt the searing pain and simply continued to smile at all the gentlemen in the room as though it hadn't happened and say my goodbyes.  I proceeded to walk out the door and greet the gentlemen on the other side of the door, who knew me, as though everything was just peachy.  I walked down the stairs as though nothing was wrong when all I really wanted to do was fall over and make a painful and overly dramatic scene.  I calmly and elegantly walked out to the parking lot and casually conversed with the engineer I came with as the blood began to pool so badly beneath my foot inside my high healed sandal I could feel it splashing out onto the asphalt with every step.  And I didn't say a thing about it until I got into the car and I sweetly asked the engineer that I came with if he happened to have a tissue because I hurt my toe and I thought it may be bleeding.  At that point he stopped and looked at the horror that was my toe and said, "Holy shit!  We got some blood born pathogens going on here!"  (and we need to take a moment to recognize that's a pretty colorful response, for an engineer. We must applaud him for that.)

Anyway, he dropped me off at my office and I promptly walked (or limped by that point because my entire foot was throbbing by then) to the nurse's office (and yes, my company has a nurse's office the same way your child's school has a nurse's office and well... I have to say it's one of the coolest things ever).  They soaked my foot in some sort of something and they bandaged me all up and then they wrote a short report and sent it to my boss (which is hilarious and at some point I will have to write about "safety minutes" and such, but now is not the time).  And no, in case you're wondering, this is not an OSHA recordable event (thankfully).

After I walked back to my desk and sat there long enough to respond to my boss who had just received the report, my mind started wandering about toes and things (because that's what my mind does, it wanders about stupid things like this).  At some point I remembered what a wacky new agey friend of mine would've said at a moment like this.  She would've said, "Hmmmm... What detail are you not paying attention to?" 

Now, for you or I, we would most likely respond with, "Well, obviously I wasn't paying attention to the fact that my right foot was dangerously close to the stupid door I apparently pulled open with the strength of an ox."  But that wouldn't suffice for her.  She would be applying some kind of crazy symbol to it because to her, there was no such thing as an accident, everything in the body was a symbol for something else in your external life, and if you did something like stub your toe (let alone slice off the meaty top portion of the damn thing) you must be walking around oblivious to some other detail in your life. 

Like I said, everything to her was a symbol.  The back is the "support system" of your life.  So, if you have chronic back problems, to her this means your "support system," like your friends or your family, is failing you somewhere.  Your knees were your ability to be "flexible in life," so if you had knee problems there was obviously something somewhere in your emotional life that you were refusing to "bend" for.  She called this "body feng shui," and if you didn't "heal" what was happening on the outside of your body you would never "heal" what was wrong with the body. 

I never really took her too seriously because... well, logic and reason and science pretty much overrule any of that mish mash there.  However, at least from a writer's perspecitve, her view on life and the symbolism of everything proved valuable for creative purposes.   ... for pracitical everyday living?  Not so much.  She would spend an entire afternoon trying to figure out the meaning behind her papercut and then, after hours of stressing over what spiritual shift must've taken place because of the papercut were wasted, she would call me up hoping I might have an answer and be sorely disappointed when I would say, "You got a papercut.  It happens." 

I really don't talk with this person anymore, but every once in a while she, or something she said in the past, crops up into my head.  This whole slice my toe moment was one of those.   So... I had this moment, where I was remembering her and recalling how she would've responded to something like this, and I sat there thinking, "Okay... what detail are you not paying attention to?  Did you miss anything in the information you provided?  Nope.  Did you miss anything in your delivery of the message?  Nope.  Did you not smile in the right place?  Nope.  Did you miss some sort of political nuiance?  Nope.  Did you not notice the man off to the side looking at you a certain way that was not business oriented?  Nope. Did you not notice that you've been ignoring the dishes lately?  Nope.  Did you not notice that you've been stressing out over things that you would usually take with a grain of salt? Nope.  So.... what did you not notice?  Um... I think I didn't notice where my foot was when I opened the door and that was a pretty significant detail so... that must've been it." 

I think that thought process lasted less than the time it took me to write that paragraph, but I still laughed that my mind took the time to consider her perspective.  I mean, I guess I could say something like I must've scraped the meat off my toe because I really needed to take more time on the couch tonight instead of doing the dishes in the sink but... I still don't think that's it.  The details may be in the toes, but I think it's more like it's because they're easily forgotten.  I mean... they're just toes, after all, and I'm one woman in a room full of male engineers who most likely hated what I had to say so... hell... who wouldn't inadvertently slice off the meatiest portion of their toe when trying to escape a room like that?!

(...and suddenly I can hear her saying, "why are you still afraid of the engineers?")

 ...unspoken details....

...stupid toes....

Monday, November 14, 2011

So... much like everything else that has changed since I wrote last May, this stupid blog decided to "upgrade" the way they do things.  I'm currently sitting here staring at this, even while I'm typing, and thinking... really?  This is an improvement?  Because it really looks like a waste of space on my computer screen.  No joke.  What I'm looking at right now is a small white rectangle with an arrow at the bottom of it, in the middle of a huge gray rectangle, with some stuff that looks similar to microsoft word at the top (probably put there to comfort my writing soul) and some some "post settings" at the right margin that I will most likely never use.


I'm really super tired of change right now.  As much as Obama may have used that word to win his way into office, right now it's my enemy (much like the rest of the country... but then again, we could probably make more of a case for stagnation there with the rest of the country, but change is definitely the enemy of my life here personally).

I've lived in this stupid apartment for almost three months now, since my "dumped by the dumpster" incident, and well... I'm not in the hovel anymore, but I am in the same complex (even if we call it an upgrade) and it's irritating me right now (not that there aren't many things that wouldn't irritate me right now anyway).  I moved myself into a three bedroom (which is nice, because I actually have an office now instead of a "living room" that I've turned into an office, which also means I actually have a living room now instead of a "master bedroom" that I turned into a living room), and this three bedroom came with complete upgrades: all new flooring, and renovated bathrooms and a renovated kitchen and laundry room.  It really is nice to look at.  The one thing that's really getting on my nerves is that the upgrade somehow means I've gone green.

Now... I'm very much aware that I'm treading on thin ice here.  I've been intending for some time to rant about how "going green" has basically become some sort of government endorsed religion, but ... obviously I haven't done that yet.  And unfortunately for me, I may have waited too long because that religion has now forced itself upon me (and isn't it just like the government to preach tolerance until it has a religion of its own to force upon the people).  You see, all of my appliances here in this new apartment have "gone green."  And I'll be honest, I don't care about the gone green microwave or the gone green dishwasher or the gone green washing machine and dryer.  But what's really getting to me is the stupid gone green toilets.  REALLY?!  Why did they have to mess with my toilets?!  I am willing, oh great government, to do the "if it's yellow let it mellow" thing, but to force it upon me in the way you have done is just ... I won't even say unfair.  Let's just say it's disgusting.

You see, I have these toilets in here now that have two buttons.  One has one drop of water on it and the other has two drops of water on it.  I had no clue, the first time I used the things what those stupid buttons meant.  So, I apologize for my crudeness here, but I took a doo doo in one of the toilets and I had no clue what I was supposed to do.  I pushed a button, to be more specific I pushed the button with one drop of water on it, and next to nothing happened except I'm almost certain I plugged the damn thing for life.  Later that day I made a comment to my daughter about and, unfortunately for me she's growing up in the "gone green" generation and so she says to me in her overly educated way, "Um... Mom... one drop of water is for number one and two drops of water is for number two.  I can't believe you didn't know that.  Gosh..."

So... In all of our highly intellectual gone green save the Earth mentality, when it comes to toilets gone green we still need to speak to one another as toddlers:  When you go number 1 you push number 1, when you go number 2 you push number 2.

Dammit... aside from the fact that I've clogged my toilet for life because I pushed number one when I went number two, does this piss anyone else off besides me?!?!?!

stupid gone green....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcome Back, Pandora

So... I retired Pandora in May but, like an athlete that just can't give up the game, it's time for a resurrection, it's time for Pandora to get back in the game.

You see, I (or Pandora, if you will) fell in love not too long ago. I had this moment in time where some of the rougher edges were rounded out, where some of the jaded self was giving way to something softer and lighter, something that seemed a bit more sound, something that seemed a bit more like hope personified. So I retired her thinking that her time to shine had come and gone. Pandora was born from some of life's darkest moments and her wit and her strength became a way to put life into perspective, to put a sarcastic and humorous slant on some of life's more irksome and frustrating moments, to put sorrow in its artistic place, to put grace in some sort of waltz with words, and make life that much more of a journey, a test of strength and a trial of growth in print. Given the fact that everything seemed to be changing, evolving into something new, some sort of uncharted territory, I had this thought that I would create a new persona to embody the change to come. I was getting married. Pandora wasn't one to get married, or at least that was my thought at the time. Ironically enough, I didn't get married. I had created a new persona, set up a new blog that I think I posted two pathetic pieces to that I wouldn't even consider worth reading, I decided the only way to move forward was to bring Pandora back.

So... why? Why bring Pandora back? Well, because only Pandora would fall in love with an idiot that could dump her via text message on his way to the dumpster six days before the wedding. Only Pandora could stand there staring at her phone saying something like, "Is this a fucking joke?! Did you seriously just dump my ass via text message on the way to the fucking dumpster while I'm standing up here waiting for you to come back for a night swim?!" Only Pandora would have the balls to call up the jack ass and say, "Fuck you, you chicken shit! I'm driving out to your house and you're going to say this to my fucking face, you ass hole!" Only Pandora would have the courage to drive out to his house, walk into the darkness and turn on all the lights to find him hiding under some blankets on the couch and say, "Fuck you, you're not sleeping! I was only ten minutes behind you! Get your chicken shit ass up and tell me to my face that you can't do this!" And when the coward punk with some serious issues sits up and says, "Pandora... I can't do this," only Pandora would have enough fire to throw her ring at him and say, "Fuck you! Go get your fucking check book and write me a check for $2000 because I spent all my money on stupid wedding bull shit and now my lease is up and I have to find a place to live! You go get your damn check book and you write me that check right now!" And only Pandora would drive home after raving and ranting and trying very hard not to rip his face off thinking about the symbolism of being dumped with the garbage at the dumpster. And only Pandora would have the strength to make some kind of humorous joke out of this whole mess. And only Pandora would sit on her patio and remember a stupid line from a stupid Alanis Morissette song about Irony that said, "it's when you meet the man of your dreams and then you meet his beautiful wife." And only Pandora would say, "Um... no, Alanis honey, you've got it all wrong. Irony is when you meet the man of your dreams and then you meet his three cupboards full of disgusting Tupperware that looks like it might grow legs and walk away, and his boxes of pots and pans from World War II that he got as cast off gifts from his grandmother, and his six drawers of socks, and his closet full of clothes that he's been hording from the last 17 years of his life only to get dumped at the dumpster via text message because you dared view them as junk and throw them away."

Isn't it ironic... You meet the man of your dreams and then you meet his Glad Lock containers...

Only Pandora... Queen of Stalkers and Freakishly Strange Experiences that should only happen in B Rated Romance Films.

Only Pandora...

And so, I can take the silence no more. Writing makes me happy, writing keeps me sane and makes me whole, and ever since this happened it's been difficult to find my voice so...

Welcome back, Pandora. I've missed you.