Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Runaway Bride Story.....

Where to begin…………….
You know how there are things in your life – events, choices, and the like – that, as you get older, you reflect on? It’s about to be a new year, I am more than half a century old, and thinking on the things I would have done differently…..and the things I wouldn’t have changed for the world. One of the latter is having called off my wedding, although I definitely would have changed the timing of it…….
I thought, at first, about describing the man, the way we met, all the circumstances, but then I thought better of it. I decided it really isn’t relevant to the outcome, the main point of this story. Relationships go wrong all the time and the details are only truly interesting if it’s your relationship. Suffice it to say that he was funny, bright, and interesting. My family thought him odd and different so not an altogether surprising choice for me to have made. They availed themselves of the alternative medical knowledge he possessed. He was studying yet another alternative health therapy when I met him. He was constantly building his body of knowledge, constantly reading. As it turned out, that was to be a huge part of the problem – too much emphasis on the books without taking the individual uniqueness of the actual person into consideration. In what, looking back, was the middle of our relationship, I could already see him doing that to me, applying all his knowledge in his assessment of any health issue I might have been having, determining whether or not I had done the exercises or followed the diet he prescribed based solely on a quick visual scan and what he had read in a book. My telling him I had done what he had suggested carried no weight at all. I was always told the same thing – “ The body doesn’t lie.” I’m sure my subconscious was coming to the realization that this was how he would treat me forever, treat any children we might have. The book would reign over the person. As I said, it was an understanding that was growing in my subconscious. Consciously, I was trying to be worthy of his love, figuring that anything I didn’t like about the relationship had to be my fault somehow. That perspective, and its concomitant willingness to turn myself into a human pretzel in order to make things work, was to follow me for many, many years. I’m over it now, though.
Anyway, the conscious realization came at an unfortunate time, as realizations are prone to do – the dawn of the day of the wedding. We had decided to hold the ceremony on a piece of property we had purchased in northern California with a few other friends. It was wooded with a hilltop view and springs bubbling with fresh water from nearby mountain snow melt. Beautiful, idyllic, quiet. No phone. He and a few of our friends had decided to stay out there the night before. The guest list included our friends, fellow students from the institute he was attending, and, of course, his family. Mom, dad, sisters, elderly grandma, all staying in a nearby hotel. The kind of person that I am makes me agonize over what the right thing to do is but, once I’ve had the moment of clarity that shows me what that is, no obstacle or degree of difficulty will keep me from doing it. So I went to face the music. Such a gentle term, when you think about it. Face the music. Like that’s an unpleasant thing. I’ll have to look up the origin of that expression. It was anything but pleasant. Face the firing squad was more what it felt like, made a little less scary by the fact that they were only armed with words. Paper bullets of the brain…..
Friends drove me to the property that morning. First, of course, I told him my realization. He was upset but asked me if I would be willing to go through with it for the sake of appearances and have it annulled later. I said no, I couldn’t be a hypocrite and say important words that I didn’t mean, make a promise I had no intention of keeping. Certainly not for appearances. He accepted that, not that I gave him much choice. I was very young and idealistic. Still am. Idealistic, that is. I can’t say that I can accurately remember what his emotional reaction was. I barely remember how I felt. The impact of realizing what I knew I had to do and the horrible timing of it had made me physically sick. I had developed a fever during the night. He told me I had broken his heart. I guess that says it all.
Then I went to tell his family. His father was sad and compassionate, his mother furious and highly vocal. That was the karma I was expecting, the karma I knew I deserved for leaving her son at the altar. I kept thinking that nothing is free and this was the price I had to pay……so I paid it. After that, I made the rounds, telling the guests that had gathered into small groups. I heard the “b” word a lot. Not bitch….brave. I certainly didn’t feel brave. I had hurt someone I loved and I did it in front of nearly everyone close to him. The only comfort I could take was in knowing I had been true to myself, that I had not betrayed my soul. That may sound selfish but I feel like being true to ourselves is the best any of us can do. No matter what.
The sun set on that day like it did on every other day. I went home. He went back to LA.
But wait, there’s more……
Back in LA, he was working with my sister on some health issues that she had. One day, about a year later, she called me to tell me she liked him. I told her I did too, in spite of everything. She said, no, I didn’t understand. She LIKED him liked him! I was thrilled! Suddenly it all seemed to make sense! They were perfect for each other! I felt like I understood that he came into my life, ill-suited for me, so that I could bring him into her life! They have been married for over 30 years now. And because we are who we are, there has never, ever been a moment of jealousy, or behavior that was inappropriate in any way. It was destiny. For that, and many other reasons, I am thankful for that moment of clarity and have never looked back.
Just goes to show you that you never know about life. Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Spoke too soon.....

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been sick but was feeling better and would be back at it shortly. Jumped the gun on that, I’m afraid. I’m not going to bore you with details but my hormones got together with a vicious cold that had a fever in its back pocket and then hooked up with a migraine. The result was an evil trinity that took me to hell and left me there for a really long time……….. As with so many unpleasant experiences, I learned a lot. For instance, it’s hard to have a deep thought when you can’t take a deep breath.

During those hazy days when the television was all that could distract me from the pain in my head that made a coma look appealing, I heard many people’s opinions about the Occupy movement. Having grown up in the 60s, I have a genuine respect for a legitimate protest. Whether I agree or disagree with the purpose is irrelevant. It’s the democratic process at work, people using their First Amendment rights, speaking out against those whom they believe are adversely affecting We The People’s lives, those who are wielding power without conscience, those who are behaving badly without consequences.

That being said, it seems that the original sincere sentiment has become a Hatefest, a venue for anyone who’s angry at anyone else to spew their venom. I am disturbed to hear some of the same bigotries voiced that I had, naively apparently, thought were the products of a bygone era of ignorance. I have been on the business end of that type of ignorance. My parents were of European descent, my mother Hungarian and my father Austrian. He always made a point of being clear that he was Austrian, not German. It took me a while to understand why. In point of fact, it took me until I was seven years old. My mother spoke three languages, my father spoke seven. My first language was German. It was what was spoken in my house because it was the one my parents shared. I finished learning English at school. When my sister and I would see each other on the playground at school, we frequently spoke German. One day, a boy from my class overheard us and asked me what language that was, so I told him. The very next day, he came up to me to say that he had told his parents that I spoke German and they told him that my family and I were Nazis. I didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what that word meant. I had to go home and ask my mother. If you’ve read my blog before, you already know that my mother’s father was Jewish and spent time in a concentration camp, and that my mother saw the horrors of WWII up close and personal. Try to imagine the thought processes of that boy’s parents, saying something like that to their seven year old son for him to repeat to his seven year old schoolmate. Then try imagining my mother attempting to explain it to me.

I realize that I’m singling this issue out but it felt personal to me. It made me terribly sad to hear someone say that the Jews were the problem and should be thrown out of our country. Are we still holding an entire race or culture or religion culpable for the actions of the bad apples that every barrel must invariably have? I immediately thought of that little boy with the tragically stupid parents who told him that all Germans were Nazis. Even if it was just the one woman at one rally to whom an irresponsible media gave air time, I know she’s not alone. She can’t be. The odds are against it. I guess I just thought we had closed that chapter……………or maybe I was just hoping………….

Monday, October 24, 2011

Miss me?

Did you notice that I’ve been gone for a while? Well, I have. Recently, I thought I was having cardiac issues – tightness in my chest (not in a good way), difficulty breathing, and foggy thinking. It has been hard to sit down and put together a coherent sentence, a complete thought, so I would sit at my computer and my mind would wander…….dreaming of Babylon.
But, to my relief, it was just hormonal and I am on the road to recovery……..and more blogging.
I think the next story I will share with whoever is reading this is about being a runaway bride……. : ) Stay tuned……

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Cat

I’ve inherited a cat. Not in the usual sense of the word “inherited”. Nobody died. In fact, quite the opposite – someone was born. The cat is my daughter, Eden’s. She and her dad rescued him from the pound. Her decision-making process was rather interesting. She looked around till she found a kitten racing around its cage in circles, bouncing off the walls, an obvious lunatic, and said “I want that one.” She named him Mister. Oh, how she loved him and he her! I actually witnessed him hopping up on the bed while she was waking up, taking her face between his paws and licking her cheek. I had to mention that because my experience with Mister was somewhat different. The first time I met him was at Eden’s place. He was so adorable – beautiful face, big eyes, long white and gray fur. I picked him up to cuddle him and he looked up at me, raised his head to within an inch of my face and hissed. Okay. Not a warm fuzzy moment but I figured he’d get to know me and it would be cool. I was wrong. His reaction to me was pretty much the same every time I saw him. I rationalized it by telling myself that he didn’t see me often enough. The mind is a wonderful tool. Alton, Eden’s dad, and I would look at each other when Eden wasn’t looking and mouth the word “psycho”. You couldn’t say that to her – she was too smitten with the kitten. There were framed photos of Mister around the house, a special basket for his toys. Watching her dote on him, I knew she’d make a great mother one day. However, their relationship proved to be totally exclusive, at least from Mister’s point of view. He didn’t like anyone but her. Actually, that’s not accurate. He hated everyone but her. He was hostile, aggressive, vicious, and violent to everyone but her. No joke. She had a hard time finding anyone to come and feed him when she went out of town. Her friends were actually afraid of him, knowing that if they turned their backs on him, he would come up behind them and bloody their legs.
As I mentioned earlier, it was someone being born that caused Mister to end up with me. When Eden became pregnant, she knew he had to go. It had been a full-time job containing Mister to keep him from hurting her husband, David, who was also allergic. But a baby? A baby’s cry would be Mister’s call to dinner. So she asked me to take him. She was so ecstatic about the pregnancy that I believe that’s why she didn’t hear me when I told her I would take him, but only temporarily until she could find him a good home. Even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I knew such a place didn’t exist. Not outside of the little circle that was Eden…..and me. Maybe that’s why it didn’t sink in – she knew it too. But I was done having pets. Done with the responsibility, done with the mess, done with the daily chores. I had had pets all my life, mostly cats, a few dogs. I just don’t have that need for companionship. I like my own company and have no need to have something with a heartbeat waiting for me when I come home. I just don’t. I don’t think that makes me a bad person. The way I see it, it allows there to be enough cats for the old lady who’s going to end up with a hundred of them in her old age.
But I didn’t have much choice if I didn’t want Mister to eat my newest grandchild. So I took him.
Now, I have a man in my life. A wonderful man. A patient man. A man who loves animals, especially cats and horses. And the feeling is mutual. God love him, he didn’t see Mister as a psycho. He saw him as misunderstood and he would wait for Mister to come around. It was touching, really. Stupid, but touching. Mister began to maul Brian every time he saw him. Hissed, scratched, bit, drew lots of blood. Brian never let it bother him, never let Mister think he was being a bad kitty. Brian was the cat whisperer. Mister would come after me from time to time, even though I was officially the only old friend he had. I never hesitated to let him know he was being a bad kitty. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hurt him or anything……but allowing him to experience the occasional short flight was within my comfort zone. After all, they land on their feet…… and it worked. He grraaddduuuuaaallllyy became the little love bug that I had seen him be with Eden. Now he lays with me, kneads on me, buries his little face in my hand to snuggle, curls up next to me to sleep. That being said, he also claws all the furniture, throws up exclusively on carpeted or upholstered surfaces, knocks plants and pictures off of shelves, and, despite being brushed twice a day, leaves hair on everything. And he could live another 10-15 years! A decade and a half! I have fantasized about making some sort of alternative arrangement for him, never exactly sure what that might be yet daring to dream. But I know there is no hope of finding him another home. Even a caretaker for a few days is next to impossible. Remember how I said he hates everyone? That is still true. Brian has a son, Stuart. Early twenties, 6’3” or so and an extraordinarily kind person. Loves animals too. He has taken care of Mister on occasion. Upon my return, there are the signs of Stuart’s presence: defense tools like a broom at the front door and a spray water bottle on the hall table, a stuffed animal at the end of the hall, thrown as a diversion so Stuart can get to the kitchen to feed him, and the inevitable trail of blood drops leading to the bathroom where the bandages are. I know that Stuart has to run out the door because Mister chases him, going so far as to hurl himself against the window in the front door to try and get him. These are the unvarnished, unembellished, ungilded facts.
I have had….well, let’s just say uncharitable thoughts toward Mister. And it’s not like Eden can take him back. Her son would have to be old enough to defend himself and he’s only three. As though age were a guarantee! So I suppose I have to accept the fact that I’m stuck with him. It's taken me three and a half years to do that. But there have to be measures taken, compromises made, if we are to live together. I’m thinking declawing and sedatives. Less lethal and much calmer. Maybe shaving too. I would love not to have to put lint brushes on my grocery list. And be able to wear black in the house. I see a trip to the vet and some web research in my immediate future!
I’m sure some of you “pet parents” reading this are mortified but I’m just being honest. My plan beats death.
And let me add that I don’t like the term “pet parent”. One thing I know for sure is that I am not this cat’s mother. Mrs. Satan is.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Little About Me...and Men

I am very difficult to live with. This, if you were to ask anyone with whom I have shared living space, is significantly understated. My daughter was living for the day she could go off to college, or to work, or to jail, anywhere but home. I am aware. I am a Virgo and I believe the symbol for that astrological sign should not be a fair maiden holding a sheaf of wheat signifying the virgin (?) but rather a tightly wound spinster with a magnifying glass symbolizing the nitpicker. I’m particular with a capital P……and A…….aw hell, just capitalize the whole word. What the years have taught me is to let go. Not to be unaware – there are not enough drugs and alcohol in the world to make me that blind – but rather to keep my thoughts and possibly tempting comments to myself. I try to remember that I’m the one who wants things a certain way and it is not incumbent on the rest of humanity to see it my way. After all, who cares if you leave a food wrapper on the kitchen counter even though the trash receptacle is literally at your feet? Or whether or not you run water in the dish you just put in the sink so that whatever was in it washes off easily instead of becoming chisel-worthy? Well,….. that would be me……longing to understand why…….silently…..most of the time as opposed to none of the time, as in my earlier years. It’s not the end of the world, right? It used to bother me a lot, like having to listen to Mariachi music for an afternoon. Now it’s been dialed down to the level of having sand in my bathing suit bottom for an hour or so. It’s an ongoing process, to recognize the small stuff in an attempt not to sweat it. However, the big things are not negotiable. To me, truth is beauty and beauty is truth. That simple.

For the men in my life, this is absolute and requires broad spectrum application. Don’t lie to me. Don’t lie to me. One more time for the cheap seats, DON’T LIE TO ME! I have experienced the various temperaments, multiple personalities, levels of possession by dark forces, quality of untruths and infidelities, etc, of the men in my life. A couple, who shall remain nameless because I fear litigation, were truly world class liars. Or perhaps I just see them that way because I consider myself to be intelligent, possessing genius level IQ, and it’s hard to imagine that love could make me so monumentally stupid. But it did. Actually, there was always a part of me that knew I was being lied to, that knew I was being emotionally abused. Whenever that little voice inside me would conflict with the story I was being told, kind of a “You gonna believe me or your lying eyes?” type of thing, I would shift into crazy gear, focusing on the minutiae of my life, on the things I could correctly identify, quantify, control. Like an anorexic. I would do anything but let go of the unhealthy relationship, the cruel bastard. And when, almost inevitably, the truth came to light, the apologies would come rolling out like government workers at City Hall during an anthrax scare.

I had a pattern in my youth, one of trying to forgive – I knew that forgetting was NEVER going to be possible without a sharp blow to the head, in which case it was all moot – and let my heart stay open. As a result, my relationships/marriages lasted waaaaay longer than they should have. Yes, I’m a serial monogamist…….or a slow learner, depending on your point of view. All I can say is that intelligence is no guarantee of good judgment. Love can be blind, deaf, mute, and, on occasion, heavily medicated. I mean, how many things can Prozac make out to sound like a good idea at the time? Really!

But I’ve changed. Warm and fuzzy feelings like sympathy for human frailty, compassion for how sorry they are, forgiveness, tenderness……SO not my policy anymore! I actually used to try and hurry up and heal, put a smile on my face, so that they wouldn’t feel bad about having hurt me!! On a scale of 1 – 10, that kind of dumb easily rated a 1,007. I no longer pretend that it wasn’t that bad. I no longer pretend that time will heal all wounds. I no longer pretend that they love me, deep down. I no longer pretend that I am going to give them a chance to do it again. The first lie has been the last in nearly every case for quite a while now. At this point in my life, if a man lies to me and I have any desire to continue with the relationship, there will be lines to toe, atonement to be sought, occasions to be risen to, rigid rules of behavior to be followed, all of which will be on my terms with no promises, and it will all take as long as it takes. Until I’m comfortable. Until I’m satisfied. Until I trust again. No more compromising. No more latitude. In fact, very little reasonability either. It is literally my way or the highway. Mature, merciless, menopausal. ‘Nuff said? On the other hand, I don’t care whether the seat is up or down……….

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Disgusting and Annoying

Some things just need to be said. And I’m going to say a few of them.
First of all, I mourn the loss of manners and common decency. Along with the average person’s ability to punctuate. I mean, the incorrect use of the apostrophe is out of control! Doesn’t basic elementary school English still teach that the apostrophe is meant to designate the possessive, not the plural? To make it plural, you just add an “s”. That’s all. For example, cinnamon rolls are just that – cinnamon rolls. I have, however, seen several professionally printed menus that read cinnamon roll’s. Does something belong to the cinnamon roll? Or are they just trying to say that they have more than one? I see this EVERYWHERE!! But I digress…………
First of all, I just got back from traveling and people need to be aware that stopping in the doorway of a crowded airport or a shop to look at your phone or whatever is annoying! My daughter may tell you that I have, on occasion, been guilty of that. Don’t listen to her. She laughs when I fall down or hurt myself. Need I say more? And, besides, those who can recognize their faults and put them to mending are truly blessed.
Next item. I was walking up to a retail store and saw a man come halfway out the door, spit on the sidewalk, and go back in. It was all I could do not to run in, try and find him, and make him go outside with a tissue and wipe that up! Who does that? The store had a restroom. Use it. COMMON DECENCY!
And people need to be let in on a little secret about the cars they drive. No matter how tinted your windows are, you are not in a cone of invisibility!! When you are stopped at a light and picking your nose, PEOPLE CAN SEE YOU! I do not need to see that! Nobody needs to see that! Use a tissue! Please!
I don’t know about you but I have had enough of young people who don’t even say “Excuse me” when they bump into you at the grocery store. They look at you as if you’re not from their planet. I have actually stopped them and explained that this is the point where they say “Excuse me” and I say “That’s okay”. Is that wrong?
Manners and common decency grease the wheels of social interaction. They make the world a better place. They put the “civil” in “civilization”.
I wish everyone would just act as if their mother was watching……………..

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I've been away.

Did anyone notice?
My part of the world is experiencing a heat wave and last week, the A/C at my house broke. I cannot begin to tell you the catastrophic nature of that event! I suffer from M&M - menopause and migraines. Heat makes both conditions SO MUCH WORSE! I went to stay at my daughter's house while repair people came. It took three days. I went back for a few things once, at 7 am, figuring it had to be cooler at that hour, but I was wrong. It was almost 90! Twice, I had to sit down and put my head between my knees to keep from passing out and left with a massive headache. And I was only there for an hour - 59 minutes longer than I should have been.
In my desire to flee, I forgot my computer and was not about to go back for it. I'm not big on suffering....not for my art, my writing, anything. Joy is good : )
Tomorrow is my birthday and I am in California, minutes from the beach, watching the marine layer subdue the sun, and I feel fabulous! Of course, the best part is that I am here with my best friend/other half, Victoria. We have been friends for about 30 years and hanging out with her, well, it just doesn't get any better than this! I will write more abut her another time but I will tell you that she is an AMAZING artist. Go to her website, and see for yourself.
So, I'm not sure what the next few days will bring, whether I will post anything else or just spend every minute enjoying the cool....but I will be back at some point.
Happy birthday to me!