Friday, December 31, 2010

What's Your View?

Brought to you by open doors.

I remember many New Year's Eve celebrations at my Mom and Pops.  My parents would head out for some party at some place with some group of couples and we would tuck in for the night at my grandparents.  I know there were warm tortillas filled with butter.  There was certainly neapolitan ice cream with the choice of vanilla, strawberry or chocolate since my grandmother wanted to make sure everyone was always pleased.  I'm sure there was a soft spot on a cool couch in a decked out basement of a huge home. 

The last night of the year wasn't about big memories or big moments or big realizations.  It was a small, silly, little celebration with some shouting and then some yawning and some rushing to bed at five after the hour.

But now, I'm grown up.  And the day is The Day.  And the night is The Night.  And the end of the year is The End of The Year.  And it's as simple as it is complicated.  I've learned things.  I've matured.  I've blown it some.  And then I've had some really big successes. 

I thought of listing a bunch of things I learned but you could browse through my blog any darn day and see a year's worth.  Today, what sums up This Today is that my view is the tree not the bus.

You see the bus ride.  I see the tree when the bus door opens.
You see a flat tire.  I see the stranger that stops to help.
You see me without a car.  I see living without debt and within my means and great adventures and bus rides and rental cars and new car smell and learning how to find the windshield wipers and Snarky Brother laughing at me when I don't know how to open yet another gas tank.
You see McDonalds.  I see a conversation with Ruth who desperately needs someone to listen to her stories.  Oh, and their Diet Coke is SO good. 
You see epilepsy.  I see firecrackers.  Uh, literally. And chance, and living like there's no tomorrow because there might not be.
You see my fabulous hair.  Well, it's just fabulous. 
You see no electricity.  I see a symphony of quiet.
You see a broken heart.  I see love peeking around the corner daring me to come out to play.

Sure, there are also parties and shopping and dates and kisses and lots of exciting things but my concern is, my thought is...are you seeing the bus or the trees in your life?  Are you taking the time to notice The Pretty?

Dear friend.  2011 is sitting right in your pretty little hands.  What's your view?

Much love to you at 9something on the last day of 2010. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stories from Skid Row: The Christmas Story

Brought to you by Stories from Skid Row and a precious, little animated girl.
Can I be honest? Uh, when have I ever not been.

God tends to lay thoughts on my heart first thing upon waking each morning. Today was no exception. I heard and felt, "GIVE." It wasn't audible, no but it was heavy and clear and I knew more than I knew anything else today that giving was something I needed to do.

Being the me that I am, I didn't pick up my mail again and had to run to the post office to go get a stack THIS BIG. Thankfully, the lady at the post office handed it to me without judgement for my continued neglect of all things organization. I ran through letter after letter and ad after ad and catalogue after catalogue and came across a huge bill that I was not expecting.  THIS HUGE.

Kick in the gut. Especially during the holidays. Especially when you're in the middle of spending money on book marketing things of the book marketing sort.

I sat at the post office and wept. And not only wept but said to God, "I'm just about done. I've had it. I'm done."  How do you give when you have no money to give? 

And then, I saw this video. There's this sweet little girl with her long hair that makes me cry just thinking about how much she reminds me of me when I was her age. No, I didn't have the long locks til later in life but we share the same animation for all things Jesus and nativity sets. Wait til you see her throw gold and spray perfume. Your heart will melt.

She may not have a bill to pay. Her needs are much greater. She needs shelter and food and warm blankets and the love of people that say, "You matter!" Suddenly, this bill seems terribly insignificant.

Many, many of you have been hit hard with these financial times. And you're paying things and altering your life to live within your means instead of outside your means and I am walking right along side you. I know sometimes it is not easy. Today though. Simply today, remember it's much, much easier than this sweet little girl has it.

And yet in the midst she rejoices in a nativity scene and a promise.

Much love to you as we continue to learn from the very young and very wise,

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I Wanted to Say.

Brought to you by $3.17 a gallon which I cannot believe seems like a good deal to me.

I was on my way back to take my rental, oh by the way I was on my way to take the rental back to Enterprise when I realized I needed to fill up the tank so I didn't pay $1,732.99 per gallon to fill it up. 

I'm learning in my old age.  You men are impressed, aren't you?  Continuing... 

So, I go to fill up the car, get out, put my debit card in and do the whole waiting at the gas tank thing that we all do when I noticed the "Push To Speak With Attendant" button.  I stared at it.  I wanted to press it.  Badly.  No, I mean not in the way where you want to ask a question for assistance but in a sort of "Hi, how are you today?  I don't really need help but thought I'd say hi way."  You know.  Like that way. 

I kept looking at the button and then looking inside to see who might answer my request and then wondering if they would call the Crazy Police on me for pressing it for a non gas emergency reason.  Though not certain if one can be ticketed for pressing the help button I didn't want to take a chance.  I'm trying to be responsible and all those sort of pre middle age things. 

Still, what I wanted to do was press it and say hi.

And even this evening.  The grandma that hurt herself last week at the corner market stopped by my office and wanted to thank me for sitting with her until the paramedics came.  She has limited english and I have limited faarsi and what she wanted to say she couldn't.  And what I wanted to say I couldn't.  What I wanted to say was, "I'm glad you're alive and I don't want you out walking around without help and I'm nervous something is going to happen to you and by the way WHERE IS YOUR SWEATER?" 

And my little, taller than me Snarky Brother.  I stopped by his work today and have missed him and felt this really huge need to rush up and hug him even though our family is not much of the hugging sort.  I saw him and he looked Snarky as ever and not in the hugging mood and what I wanted to say was, "I had another seizure last night and I'm so tired of them but just in case one of these is The Big One I want to hug you so that there will be a hug on the record and just deal with it."  I didn't.  I smiled and chatted about nonsense and walked away.

I should have pressed the button at the gas station and talked to the attendant.  Who knows if they were in utter turmoil at that very moment and I could have offered a gas station word of encouragement. 

I should have told the grandma to sit down and found her a blanket and loved on her a bit instead of nodding my head and smiling and having pleasantries that don't amount to much of anything.

And I should have hugged my brother and then called The Elder and told him how very much I love him.  Just because and just in case and just cause that's what you should do rather than not doing it.

What I wanted to say to you all is that I'm indebted to you for reading my words and for loving on me and caring and finding joy and some understanding from the details of my life.

Much love to you as you find the things you want to say and then say them,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lessons in Love and Epilepsy

Brought to you by last night's insane seizure and today's fabulous nap.

I was just thinking how it's been SO long since my last seizure and even the last one was SO minor I could barely feel it and aren't I becoming the epilepsy poster child? 

Not so much.

Last night was an ass kicking of sorts.

And no one is to blame except for me.  Give me the epilepsy ticket if they are in the Giving Tickets Out sort of mood.  I have been going to sleep at 4am working way too late on my book.  I missed taking my medicine one night which is one night too many when you have seizures.  I had (a beer).  Shh.  Don't tell my dad.  Yes, I think many people with epilepsy drink on occasion but, for me, since I'm not much the drinker it doesn't set well with my brain.  Oh, and there was that half glass of champagne the night before.  And I think I had red wine somewhere on Sunday.

Don't tell my dad ANY of that.  Yes, I know I'm 38.

So, it was the perfect storm and I should have seen it coming when that dog staring out the back of that wagon Volvo at McDonald's locked eyes with me and wouldn't move away.  Dogs know about seizures the way people don't.  He knew even though I thought he was a she but then looked down and saw things hanging that were clearly of the he type.  The dog knew.  It crossed my mind that I knew.  I went about my day and stayed up late again and didn't even think last night could have been MY last night.

It was a big one.  My brain shuddered.  I kept my breathing even.  Did all the things I know to do but then my damn face turned into the pillow Flo-Jo style.  Remember her?  Long nails, Olympic athlete.  Well, without the nails or the running or the cool outfit I was her for a moment and I didn't want my face in a pillow with no ability to move.  I wanted a clear passage to breathe through this seizure until it ended. 

It felt like it would never end.

It did.  I lived.  I quickly fell back asleep out of an exhaustion most cannot imagine.  When I awoke in the morning I did the first post seizure thing I always do - checked to see if I knew what year it is and went through the past presidents.  Clinton's in office, right? Check.  Knew 'em.  Brain still semi-intact.

And then I wept. 

I wept for being alive.  Wept for having my face smothered in a pillow.  Clearly you should know that makes me not a fan of The CSI's.  Wept for almost not living.  Wept for people that don't.  Wept for those that have seizures in the middle of crowds.  Wept for being alone through it and being grateful no one had to go through that scare with me.  And wept that God gave me another day, even if just one more, to be a better me than I was yesterday.

My friend Red sent me a message and wants me to stop using pillows.  My brother said the same.  I've thought about it but I've made a decision.  I'm not going to live a life without pillows.  It's sort of like love, you know?  Yes, a pillow could smother me that one time...that one night but the rest of the time it's so damn comfy and brings great pleasure to my life.  I don't want to live in fear with my head flat on the ground.

And love.  Sure, it could smother me sometimes, too.  That one time and that one night and the one man that breaks the heart might not be worth the pain but I don't want to spend my life without love in fear. I'll still search it out and be open to it and say yes to it.

I decided some time ago to say yes and not to say no to things.  I decided to take adventures and have a YES life.  Is there a chance it could end up bad?  Yup.  I'll take the chance anyway.

Pillow.  Love.  Any of it. 

Much love and gratitude for one more day to love and learn and change and grow and be something better,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October Lessons

Brought to you by candy, of the sweet sort.

It's been an interesting fall, hasn't it?  Today was warm and yesterday, while setting up for our event, I was shielding my face from the sun in the hopes of adding not one more brown spot to this pre middle age face.  I'm not sure how successful I was.  I might start wearing a bag over it so if you see me and I don't wave, well, now you know why.

An interesting fall it has been and even a better October full of bits of learnings and lessons and things I didn't know and now I do.  And I don't mean know in a BIG way but in that small tucked into your brain way that hopefully gets to the juicy parts and does the right amount of damage.  You know?  Makes change, bit by bit. 

I learned...

1. If a woman comes up to you, in a witch costume, beer in hand and starts yelling at you take it with a grain of witch-beer-infused salt.  She's probably a little intoxicated and even though all of her meanness comes out in her heightened beer state and that witch costume might just be Business Casual and not for Halloween, chances are she didn't mean to curse you, your future children or children's children.

2. Saying sorries a decade later is good.  Saying them in a year is better.  Saying them in a month is really good.  The same week or day? Rather brilliant.  Imagine if you apologized immediately after making an ass out of yourself, you know, the very next moment?  That would be downright emotionally mature.  Plus it feels good to say sorry when you tell your bartender to, "Get this effin bar together.  Now!"  Yes, that was me.  Ugh.

3. Take responsibility.  If you screw up, don't lay blame elsewhere.  Own it.  Not more than your part and not less than your part, just your part.  Be the exact opposite of every politician you know and forget about putting spin on your story.  Simply, say, "I blew it but I'm going to try not to blow it again."  How quickly we could move on if we'd take some ownership instead of mastering spin.

4. Share.  Try your absolute hardest to think of someone before yourself.  I saw grown adults maul a candy bar and little kids stand there with empty trick or treat bags.  That's not right, folks.  If you look around you, see - you there looking to the right and to the left - there are other people besides you.  Notice them and include them and think of them when you are filling your bag to the brim.  I think our bags are filled to the brim in many ways and can be shared with someone else.  Who needs your share?

5. Talk to strangers.  I don't mean in that sordid pedophile way.  I mean talk to a stranger that is ten feet away from you and you've nodded at or waved to or thought of saying more than a hi or bye with for months.  Those strangers.  Have conversations that last longer than a sound bite.  Ask someone about their day or their life or their greatest love.  Imagine what you'd find out if you took the time to meet someone new.

6. Hot chocolate helps.  It helps everything.  Well, when it's 83 degrees out it's a little strange but on most October days if you'll trust me and order it and add whip cream even though that will be so anti-wellness of you, it will help everything.  You'll feel better and younger and you'll remember you from back when you

7. Like your likes.  My niece Kristina just got her license which technically means she could drive when we go to LACMA but I'm not much of the "driving with a brand new driver on the freeway" sort of girl.  I think if you get the blessing of having children then you get the blessing of their freeway firsts, too.  So, Darling Girl wants to Museum Hop with me which makes me ultra happy and as we chatted I realized her tastes in art are very different than mine.  I like that.  I don't need her to like my likes.  Are you liking your likes?  I hope so.

I ended today at a wake celebrating the life of a dear family friend.  Ninety-six years of life lived by a woman that chose to be full of grace and full of civility and showed love and kindness each time I encountered her.

That's my goal.  I want that in my life.  Bits of learning and changes and growth and being less like today and more like I want to be tomorrow. Oh, that's the plan anyway. Sometimes I blow it and sometimes my days are a smashing success. Today, well, today was a good one.

Much love to you as we peak our heads around the corner at November,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lessons in Best and Worst

Brought to you by my favorite cream sort of peasant top that I love so much I bought two.

I asked you. I did. I asked you two things.
1. What was the best part of your weekend?
2. What was the worst part of your weekend?

And normally I gear the question to the ladies cause you men tend to hold back your words but you answered too and I love that.Wanna know mine?

The Best
Sitting around a dining room table BS’ing with my brother and sister-in-law. Riding in the car with Baby Brother. Darling Nieces Sweet Sixteen. Setting out platters. Decorating for things other than work. Hearing the high pitched scream only someone in their teens can master. Hot chocolate. The slight mist of rain that almost isn’t rain but puts a glow on traffic lights. Losing weight and not knowing it cause the scale hasn’t been working but you have. The whooshing of wet wheels on wet roads. Getting closer to the finish line of my first race. Street lamps. Front porches. Remembering being Evil Knievel Brave as a child and thinking that might come back. Detailed dreams without endings. Three books, dog-eared. Inspiring a love of museums in you. Air conditioning and windows open…cause I pay the bill.

The Worst
A remembering cry of grief that came from my toes and out of the top of my head. The second row of the theater. An empty tank of gas. Not having a band aid big enough for your wound.

And then it hits me. The Worst are still good even when they are bad.

My cry of grief was healing and brief and beautiful and muffled and I got through it quick because I knew where to go. And the second row of the theater isn’t wretched. I mean it’s not like I didn’t have somewhere to live. It was more an arching of the neck sort of in the middle of entertainment complaint. How bad can that really be? And an empty tank of gas? That means there’s a car to be filled and that’s pretty cool because I can fill it and take a couple adventures! And not having a band aid big enough for your wound - your loss, your hurt, your anger, your frustration, your unknown. I do have one, I do. The only place I know to go is to God. Maybe you have somewhere else and, hey, make it happen if it works for you. But I’ve tried Mint Chip Ice Cream.  It melts.

You all shared some of your best and worst this week with me. I love when you share. It’s sort of like pre-school but for us Pre Middle Agers. Kinda cool, you know?

The Best
Homecoming. Cuddling with Sailor Boy. Discussing Rapture and sex in same bible study. Taking son and daughter to a college expo. Son and friend built me a fence. Sex, diamonds, whisky, loved ones. Dancing at House of Blues while my hub and kids were home sleeping! Did my 10th race.

The Worst
Laryngitis. Sailor Boy puking on fave pair of heels. Sudden migraine on lazy Saturday. Weekend ending. The rain and…it’s cold! A misunderstanding. Not getting enough sleep (baby didn’t care mommy stayed out late!) Suffering from injuries.

Much love to you this quiet night with one car whooshing past every now and then and the occasional rain drop,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lessons in Secrets

Brought to you by things my mother told me never to do and the fall, 'cause I like it.

My mother always said we could never
1. Get a tattoo.  I didn't and then she died so I never can.
2. Take out gum at church and certainly never in public unless "you have enough to share with everyone".  Everyone is a lot of damn people.
3. Whisper.  She hated whispering and to this day I do, too.  Whispering oozes of things you want to say to one person and not to many persons.  Whispering is about things that are private.  I'm much more the public sort. 

And to be honest, this past month has been a brainful.  So, until I could gather the thoughts in my pretty, dirty blonde, roots showing head I felt it best to stay on the silent side of things. 

The secret is though....the whisper in your ear though....the thing you know though is that there are things that sit heavy on my heart and for today, I'll share the ones that comes easily to mind:

I'm embarrassed for complaining about not having a car for two weeks, getting a rental today and then seeing a homeless man riding a bicyle with his belongings.  I'm tearing up now thinking about how ungrateful I sounded this past 14 days.  I have a beautiful, safe home and heat and water and sometimes electricity when I remember to pay the bill.  And there is food to eat and people to check on me.  And seeing a man near 80 years old quietly riding his dilapitated bicycle loaded with the contents of his life made me shudder.  I'm sad tonight about that.  It's not okay and being unsettled about it is good.

At my very core, I'm brilliantly scatterbrained.  I could start a million companies and, more than likely, at least ten more tonight with a good cup of hot chocolate in hand.  It wouldn't do you or me or anyone else any good.  I don't like that about me.  I want to do one thing well and then maybe add a second thing. 

I'm sort of selfish.  Yah.  I've been tired of late.  I've wanted Me Time and not You Time and finally understand when people have asked the same of me.  Occassionally you just need to put the "Closed For Business" sign up and mine is going up more often than it used to.  For sanity, for business, for the sake of growing a personal life that sometimes bleeds into a very public life, I need to once in awhile put up the sign.  I hope you'll love me in spite of that.  I hope you'll trust I'll come back more energized when I open for business each time next. 

I get frustrated.  I was sitting at Happy Nails getting a pedicure today and a grown daughter and her mom were sitting side by side completely ignoring each other on their mobiles.  On the rare occassion they would say something to each other but it was limited.  Then they would go back to their phones.  I wanted to scream, "Tell each other you love each other!  Say you're mad.  Say you're happy.  Say something!"  I wonder sometimes if it's better if I simply pick up a magazine and disengage but I'm not sure how to once I've put my life in Drive.

Those are some of my secrets.  The only time my mom said it was okay to whisper was in libraries or, I guess, at funerals.  Definitely, most definitely it wasn't okay to whisper to tell a secret.  "What you have to say to her, you can say to everyone."

So...Everyone...I'm a human being but you already knew that.  And I love that you love me in spite of that.

A couple more lessons for the road, shall we? 
1. Imagine closing every door gently.  Say goodbye to The Slam.
2. Celebrate things like National Peanut Butter Cup Day. 
3. Bake rather than buy.  Your perfect is prettier than their perfection.
4. Read your pissy emails three times before you send them and delete them before you send them.  So, umm, don't send them.
5. Let people cut in front of you to build your patience.
6. Don't pick Pre Middle Age fights.  You're too Pre Middle Age old.
7. Sure, McNuggets are made out of chicken bone and chicken eyelid paste (allegedly) but try to find a better Diet Coke.
8. Men - learn to hold doors for women even if no one taught you to growing up.
9. Women - learn to let men hold doors for you even if no one taught you to growing up.
10. Be nicer.  Not meaner. 

Much love in the loudest non whisper I can muster on this sweet fall night,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lessons in Yoga

Brought to you by fake nails. Ten of them.

Reasons to take The Damn Yoga. In no particular order.

Increased energy.
Roman sat down next to me yesterday and when I complained about being so tired thinking I might be pregnant which is impossible since it requires sex he asked, “Maybe it’s that hot flash thing?”

I walked up to someone’s desk this week and said, “You didn’t help me pick music so Saturday, you can ZIP IT.” That’s not in most teambuilding books.

Step Relations.
My Stepmother. Even looking at her made me ill this past Sunday. She doesn’t like me and I’m doing my best to love her. I think Yoga would make me adore her. All those endorphins and “I Think My Stepmom Is The Bomb” type feelings will come rushing in when she looks me up and down. I just know it.

Traffic Safety.
I’m certain the practice will center me more and my frequency of hitting cement poles will lesson. And, rather than brake checking close drivers like my niece advises, I will continue to get out of my car and tell drivers to CHILL. Still hoping they are not packin and thus yoga attenders as well.

General Overall Peace, Love and Coleness.
I need this. The sound of someone getting their fake nails filed (who still does that?) makes me want to run into oncoming traffic. That’s when you know you need The Damn Yoga. And when you call it The Damn Yoga instead of Yoga, that’s when you really need The Damn Yoga. I can feel the deep breaths already.

Where’s my mat? I lose it every six months or so. Think it’s under the kitchen sink. Still wish I could spray paint it brown.

Human, full of flaws and moments I wish I was better and not worse,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lessons from Toys 'R' Us

Brought to you by Play-Doh and the smell of it squishing between your adult fingers.

I was on the hunt for the perfect, huge doll house to hold down 1000 balloons Friday night for an event Saturday which is the way I do things.  I wait until the night before or the moment before and try to make perfection happen. 

Toys 'R' Us was all out of perfect, huge doll houses.  They had lots of small, lovely, dainty ones and pretty, delicate, tiny ones that would break if you looked at them wrong.  Those type don't hold down 1000 balloons.  They cry in the corner at the thought of 1000 balloons.

Still, I learned a couple things during my Toys 'R' Us visit.

1.  Middle aged men should probably not roam the store smelling of beer and hovering in the Barbie aisle.  Can you say creepy and cops are on the way?
2. If you are single and childless or have long since entered a toy store of this sort, follow a parent-type in.  They know the entrances from the exits and will help you from looking like a jacka**.
3. Toy stores are not really intimidating.  Simply think of them like giant Targets but with sirens and eternal supplies of batteries.
4. Everybody needs a pink Barbie microphone.  (I'll be right back.)
5. If you see a stuffed hippo sitting all by himself, yes him, it is your duty to save.  Try not to talk to Jack, yes Jack, in a loud voice for fear of someone taking you out in a straight jacket.
6. Play-Doh helps.  It helps in nearly any situation.  I gave some to a co-worker today that was having a tough go of things.  If you squish it between your hands and smell the Play-Dohness of it all, you'll begin to feel much better, much sooner than if you don't.  Promise.
7.  The woman in front of you in line that is melting down because she doesn't have her Toys 'R' Us Rewards card needs: to get a grip and wear denim shorts that cover her fifty year old a**.  (Wait a second while I light your cigarette.  Ugh.)
8. Don't get mad at the check out guy for asking Would you like batteries with your purchase? even if you don't need batteries for your stuffed hippo or your Play-Doh.  He's doing his job and following the sign and if he doesn't ask he's going to get written up so go along with it and thank him for asking.  Just play along, won't you?
9. Look.  Look at the six foot tall man made out of Legos and stop to stare at the new backpacks coming in just in time for Back to School and think about your excitment when you would pick out your backpack and how important that was and then, for a moment, spend some time bouncing a big, red, rubber ball, well, just because it's in that bin.  You don't have to pretend to be a child but you can still play.  No one said you can't.

Much play to you,

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lessons in Messy, Beachy Love

Brought to you by 1962 and 1963 for that matter. 

This shot was taken 48 years ago this summer.  It's my mom and my dad and one year before their wedding day, today.  Thinking back on their love.  Messy, beachy love.  Love that sometimes slammed doors and didn't talk in the morning but by midday couldn't stay away from each other sort of love.  Love that said I choose you even though sometimes I cannot stand you.  Love that went to the beach hating the sand because you were happiest there.  Love that lived at your bedside when you were ill.  Really ill. Like going home ill.  That sort of love. 

Missing my mother today but not nearly as much as my father is. 

Wishing you a love like that and then some,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lessons in Details and Gratitude

Brought to you by a McDonald's large, not medium, Diet Coke.

It's Friday and the end of a very, ultra busy event week.  I have sore everything and things are throbbing that shouldn't throb.  On top of that, on a morning where I should bask in the glory of my amazingness, which is what I do the mornings after events, I had a press conference to stage.

*cursing under my breath and out of my bed which I did not want to get out of*

It's post press conference.  I park underground, come inside my apartment, kick off my heels and instantly feel grateful.  I mean grateful in the hugest way someone can feel grateful.  Grateful like empire state building or egyptian pyramid big grateful.  That grateful.  But it's for the little things.  The detail things.

Here's a couple I thought I'd share.

Feet free from four inch heels.  Large diet cokes when you normally get medium diet cokes - especially hot days with air conditionless cars.  Service managers that say, "I know others don't see but I see you - you have your eye on everything, Cole.  I see."  Sunglasses that shade harsh sun and brief frustrations.  Showing grace when I only want to show 'strangle'.  Home air conditioning set low and then lower again.  Mixing up all The Godfather movies to make my own synopsis.  Assistants that finish my sentences and understand my different head nods.  Men that remember.  Summers.  Being called a sexy, smart damsel in distress.  Working until my team stops working. Necklaces that turn into bracelets that turn into sometime belts. Tears that last three minutes instead of three days.  Sweaters.  Messy beachy hair.  Almost biting my nail but then not because things really are okay.  Little boys with summer tans that scrunch their noses when they answer you.  Girls that proclaim their favorite color is pink until their favorite color is green.  Oh, and nicknames.  I love a good nickname.

I like details.  I love the little things.  I'm enjoying this summer, this Can't Decide If I'm Going To Be Hot Or Cold Summer.  It's fickle.  I understand it.  It's sort of like a woman that way.  I get that.

Much love to you as you pay attention to the little details of your very big every days,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lessons in Wills

Brought to you by the year 2003.    I wondered a bit on Twitter yesterday if Will would phone me from the airport as he headed out to Cairo.  You see, he always does that and normally the calls are full of him out of breath as he races for the check-in or sits down in his seat.  He generally runs late, Will does but he always, always phones me to say he's on the plane and to say goodbye and we have our chat about us.  That's just what we do, Will and I.

Things are changing though.  This trip to Cairo Will is getting married and not to me.  And you may wonder how my soul is resting with that.  I'll have to let you know Monday.  He's sending me the feed so I can watch him take his vows live.  A little twisted watching the former, first love of my life get married to someone else?  No, not at all.  When you love someone from the gut and know they aren't for you and that they are for someone else, you even want to be there for the big moments even if the big moments aren't for you

So my phone rings and it's Will and it's the last call he's going to make to me as "us".  You know...I'm not going to be first or even second probably not third on his phone anymore.  I'm sure I haven't been for sometime.  Still, he makes the call and it goes something like this:

Cole:  Are you on the plane?
Will: Seat 29. (Will is a nano engineer and likes to get to the point)
Cole: Really? You called.  You did.
Will:  Seat 29.  I told you.
Cole: What if I told you I loved you.  Would you change your mind?
Will:  Come on.  First of all, you're not in love with me.  Second, you're still a lion and the only benefit to marrying you is having white babies.  Maybe I should marry you.  (Will is Egyptian and desperately wants white babies)
Cole: What time is the ceremony?
Will: I'll send you the link.  You can watch it live.  I'll even wave goodbye to you.  (brutal, he is)
Cole: I love you. I love you.  I love you.  You gave me the best of everything.
Will:  Stop it.  I'm not dying.  Not til I marry this one anyway.  Then you two can fight over who speaks at my funeral.  No, Habibti, you gave me the best, first six years in America I could imagine.  I love you.  I'm going to bring The Wife (that's what we call her) to California and she's going to like you.  I'm going to make her like you.

I walked back inside my office and Miss Chloe, my assistant asked if I was okay.  With tears in my eyes, the only thought I can muster is I feel sentimental.  Not sad, not depressed, not regretful...full of memories and adoration for a man that helped raise me into a full pre middle age woman. 

I do less stomping of my feet because of you, Habibi.  I am calmer because of you.  I've been to places I never would have seen and met people I never would have met.  And learned a language that some see as so harsh but I hear such beauty in.  You opened my heart to another world and gave me a million memories that I'll paper someday. 

For now my heart is grateful, so grateful, for an airplane call.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Lessons in Crowds

Brought to you by sparklers and the joy of writing your name with one.

Sunday night and I had two fairly enticing options: go to Pacific Symphony's Firework event at Verizon Wireless Ampitheater or grab a bottle of wine, some very bbq-ish food, sit on the hood of my car and watch fireworks old school.

I did a little of both.  I'm sorta like that.

I like days that don't have much in the way of structure to them.  Come when you want and go when you want and have dinner when you want and eat macaroni and cheese with bacon when you want.  Those sort of days.  Today was one of them.  I finished with a perfectly greasy meal and, it being still light out, figured heading over to the ampitheater might be worth while.

It was. 

So, there was this perfectly lovely event and as it ended there were sudden mad dashes for the exit.  Rather than join the crowd, I sat back and...watched.

There are interesting things to see when you watch the crowd.

The Hand Gesturer.
He's standing in the midst of the crowd and melting down.  Though I do think he's talking to himself as a coping mechanism and I can completely appreciate that.  It's the hand gestures that make me wonder if he's going to pull a machete anytime soon and take out half of Orange County.  Keep thinking of happy, soft places, sir. You're almost out of the crowd.

Look at Me Guy.
He speaks loud enough for half of the crowd to hear him, "I'm SO glad we got the good seats and not the ones 30 rows back.  Aren't YOU?"  He sees me roll my eyes at him and quiets down a bit.  I'm not fond of The Loud having been one in my past life.

The Comedian.
Okay, my favorite.  Mid to late fifties, walking down the stairs and getting in the crowds, always looking for the laugh sort of guy.  He says, "I lost my wife, but that's okay.  If you find her you can have her."  His wife is right behind him rolling HER eyes. 

Sequined Hat Woman.
She's around 84 and is wearing a sequined top hat that has been sat on at least 37 times.  If you saw the way she wore it though you'd smile like I did.  She walks by me and I mention my admiration.  Her response, "It's old but I'm never going to stop wearing it."  When you're 84, the style rules no longer apply to you. 

(Please, please shoot me in the back of the head if I turn into a sequined top hat wearing old woman.  Please.)

No, this wasn't the same crowd as the Sting concert and there weren't waitresses coming by for my drink order and the line for the disabled shuttle was longer than the VIP drink line.  Still, I think the stories this crowd could tell would be richer any day.  At the end of the event, the conductor of the symphony honored the members of the armed forces by playing each of the marches.  As they played you saw young and old stand and reach across aisles to salute and nod at each other.  Nods full of layers.  Nods full of life.  Nods full of sacrifice and struggle and decisions. 

You get to wear a freakin' sequined top hat when you've sacrificed for your country.  And you get to talk to yourself in crowded lines that make you nervous when you've given years in service for our freedom.  And you get to make silly cracks at your wife's expense when you have to leave your country and work overseas.  And you get to talk overly loud.....well, don't get to do that, sir.  You're still too loud. 

A big, sequined, sparkler written thank you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lessons in Names

Brought to you by The Cheesecake Factory.

Her name is Arden.  Did you know that?  And did you know she has a really cool job and the dress she wore yesterday was this beautiful fitted black thing, the kind you wear when you want to act like you don't want people to look at you but you really want them to look at you.

I didn't know any of that.

Her name is Arden.  And for all intents and purposes, she hated me.  Every encounter we had at one of my events was negative.  I was always asking her to leave the jacuzzi since we still had to tear down an event or take her alcohol outside because our caterer does not permit outside alcohol.  She used to just roll her eyes and walk away and then, one day, recently she stared at me with what could only be described as hatred.  I looked at her and said, "You really don't like me, do you?"  It's a rare thing for a person not to like me. 

Annoyed?  Sure.  Exhausted?  Of course.  Needing a break or vacation from All Things Cole?  Definitely. But not like?  That stings in ways that get to the heart.  I'm someone people like.  I'm a person to know.  Not in a fancy papparazi block my eyes from the cameras way but in a knowing way.

My birthday came around and the whole Cole's 38 Mitzvah Project thing started and Arden stayed on my mind.  Truthfully, I couldn't get her off my mind during this whole project.  I'm not okay with people being at odds with me, especially when my hearts intent, it's song is to love on people.  I kept trying to think of a way to talk to her but didn't know how or what to do. 

It happened.  As naturally as if it was ordained.  I was sitting in my office and looking at a gift card my family gave me and Arden walked by which she never does.  I asked her to come into my office.  The first thing I did was:

1. Ask her name.  How many people do we interact with and don't even take the time to know them by name?
2. Apologized for not knowing her name and for not getting to know her. She only knew me as the "rules" woman and not the woman.
3. Told her a little about me.  Engagement goes two ways.  If you want someone to let you in, you've got to let them in, too.
4. Ask forgiveness.  For being all about work and not about people.  For not doing this sooner. 
5. Gave.  I gave her the gift card and asked her to please have lunch on me. 

This sweet girl who had so much anger towards me...melted.  Literally melted.  Her shoulders dropped.  Her countenance shifted.  Her voice went from aggressive to soft and sweet.  She realized I was human and she realized I knew she was one, too.

There are a million reasons why our first reaction is anger or hurt or aggression and it takes time to sort through that, sure.  But when, if, you have the chance to push through to the side of love, I challenge you to do it.  You might get eye rolls or the silent treatment.  Or you might find an Arden with a soft, soft heart waiting for someone to find it.

Much love to you this early Summer day,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cole's 38 Mitzvah Project: Turned 40!

Brought to you and your brilliant levels of generosity.

The Project continues through the weekend.  Here's the link if you want to read more and participate Cole's 38 Mitzvah Project

Here's what you had to say:
  1. Took an extra day for a coworker that had to leave early.
  2. Paid for a slurpee the kid behind me in line was going to buy.
  3. I paid for the guy behind me at the drive thru at McDonald's the other day.  (don't judge it's my once a week brekky treat)  Brekky being Aussie...we went international, baby!
  4. Donated a car.
  5. Head of security for a company that is generally mean decided to be nice for one day.  Only one.
  6. I forgave a friend who said really hurtful things to me when intoxicated one night.
  7. I'm making a meal for my friend who just had a baby.
  8. I'm bringing soup and movies to my friend who is bedridden after surgery.
  9. I'm making several meals-to-freeze for a friend who is having a baby tomorrow, as well as going over there to do chores next weekend.
  10. I'm helping out a teacher friend who is switching classrooms - so much stuff to move in a short amount of time.
  11. I bought groceries for a family in need.
  12. Making dinner for my sisters family tonight.
  13. Helped a lost little boy.
  14. Bought a special set of cookie cutters that a family really wanted but couldn't afford and shipped to them.
  15. Purchased a significant item for someone to start their business.
  16. Let Cole go without a ticket since it was her birthday: Newport Beach Police Department.  (My new favorite police department...this week anyway)
  17. I decided some money I had set aside was better spent on someone else's need.  So I decided to help that person.
  18. I did something for someone unto you (and Jesus) today..and think the dude was blown away.  Thanks for the idea!
  19. I gifted in honor of you today.
  20. Handing out lottery tickets randomly today. Happy birthday weekend to @PreMiddleAge for suggesting random acts of kindness. :)
  21. Let someone cut in line after waiting 30 minutes which meant I would wait another 30 minutes.
  22. Bought breakfast for someone and didn't wait for a thank you.
  23. My mitzvah in your honor - I donated $5 in your name to I skipped a latte for you and donated that money to help underprivileged children in a 3rd world country.
  24. Happy Birthday!!! I did cover a coffee for an older gent behind me today at Bucks.  May your evening be wonder-filled and janky-free.
  25. Happy Birthday Cousin! Bought the men at the hockey game water in your honor. They're grown ups now so they don't have their mommies reminding them to bring their water bottles. Hope you have had a great day!
  26. We brought cookies to a friend who is home on maternity bedrest.
  27. I gave money anonymously to a guy who lost his home in a flood here in Texas last week.
  28. I bought my sister a refrigerator.
  29. I give Gatorade to homeless people.
  30. I gave money to a kid going overseas as a missionary.
  31. I donated to a charity bike ride by driving my truck doing SAG support for a bike ride instead of participating in order to give back to the cycling community that I have enjoyed.
  32. I volunteered at a Women's triathlon (which I admittedly considered a form of speed-dating). (27-32 all being the same gent.  sexy, huh?)
  33. Tonight at (a) restaurant I paid for everyone's dinner in honor of your 38 Mitzvahs.
  34. A tired mom at target forgot to pay for the wipes in the bottom of her cart.  I added them to my order.  She hugged me saying, "No one is kind!"  That is both the sweetest and saddest thing to hear someone say.
  35. Bought lunch for three women that, for various reasons, couldn't be with their dads on Father's Day.
  36. Bought a Sprinkles cupcake for a lady in line who was about to meltdown from the wait.  She proceeded to tell me how she helps "The Mexicans", not realizing "A Mexican" bought her an effin cupcake.
  37. Someone liked my necklace and I told them to stop by my house and pick up the other one I bought.  Someone else liked it, too, so we went to the store and bought another one. 
  38. Gave a grip of drinks to a family sitting at the beach that didn't have any. 
  39. Gave a gift card to a woman that couldn't stand me.
  40. I forgave my ex-husband for being himself. This was a real milestone that I have been working on for years. your note reminded me that forgiveness is Not a Feeling, it is a Choice. Thanks Cole.
Beautiful ways you have shown love to people. 

Much love from a very warmed birthday almost forty year old but not quite forty year old heart,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

38 Mitzvahs: Cole's Birthday Project

Brought to you by the numbers: 1, 16, 37 15/16 and almost forty!

It’s that time. That time when I turn another year closer to middle age but remain pre middle age. There are more wrinkles. More lessons. More bruises. Certainly more age spots. And for those of you that attempt to call them freckles, they aren’t. They are the same ones my Mamma had. Admit it.

I love it all because it means I’ve another year under my belt in being humbled and humiliated and humored. Another year of lessons and love and life. Another year of learning and listening. Another year of setting down stones instead of throwing them.

Growing up sucks sometimes but if it means when I’m 83 I’ll finally be nice and graceful and kind and perhaps a bit wise, well, then, what the hell…I’m in.

Rather than getting presents, I’m requesting and challenging you to perform ONE MITZVAH, one act of kindness, by June 16 in honor of my birthday. My goal is for 38 acts of kindness to be performed. Really, I’m hoping for many more but I like themes. (I’m an event planner.)

Some things people did last year for our project:
Bought a homeless woman breakfast. Put an extra special snack in their kids lunch. Babysat for a couple so they could go out. Gave money to a charity. Bought coffee at Starbucks for strangers. Paid an elderly couples dinner tab anonymously. Forgave. Asked forgiveness.

Join me? Forward this link to your friends? Giving everyday is beautiful but if you’d give for my birthday that would really bless me and bless someone else and probably bless you, too.  Share and we’ll post what happens from Twitter, My Blog and Facebook.

Much love from an almost forty year old
(37 15/16 sounds so much better),

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lessons in Towing and Orgasms

Brought to you by Abdul who also had his car (Range Rover his father bought him) towed.

First of all, never tweet @SvenJohnston and let him know you hope to have more car stories for him soon.  I consider this partially his fault.

Well, and then The Boy gets blame for some of it, too.  I parked the Prius and came inside to change for the evening.  Was planning to go shopping and maybe see a movie or something.  I went into the bedroom and The Boy was on my mind.  I did it.  You know.  It.  Twice.  And really well.  I mean not as well as, well, know, but, good enough to make me lay down for a moment exhausted and not realize that my freaking Prius was outside being towed....


There is something so completely wrong about that.  And so right. Tonight's orgasm cost me $265.00.  Well $265.00 if I can pick it up by 11:59pm. 

Some lessons learned.

1. Yelling in the space where towed car once was will not make it suddenly appear.  Neither will scowling.
2. Today's  event finds in Abbot Kinney make up for tonight.   Think on the good things.  Sometimes there's only a few.  Sometimes only one.  Sometimes only a half.    
3. If you are a person that tends to have car traumas then create an emergency kit.  Include in it: Diet Coke, BBQ Chips, mandm's and one person that will come get your ass in under 10 minutes.
4. Towing of cars is not really a disaster.  Disasters are disasters
5. Be kind to the guy who has your car on lockdown.  He gets treated really poorly all the time.  Try to bring out the soft spots in his heart.  Or, just make sure your car gets back to the 'free' side of the gate before you threaten him bodily harm.  I, for one, was very sweet even when he had to pry the debit card from my death grip.
6. For God's sake, keep your phone charged.  There are pictures to take of these moments.
7. When the opportunity arises, practice your Arabic.  I mean, don't ignore people.  The UAE Boys were waiting there in pain with me.  And I don't know if their tow was a result of orgasms or not but in either case, just get to know people.  I used the little Arabic I have and they used their sweet English and we made the most of our waiting.
8. Whatever you do, don't park your car in the Tow and Mo lot. They will even tow you there. Right over the damn fence. Brutal. 
9. Count the stars.  I walked outside to wait my turn for my car.  All of a sudden I heard crickets.  Beautiful almost summer crickets.  And looking up there was a star but not just one, twenty and probably many more if I kept looking and counting.  So many things to see if you get outside your headI decided not to focus on what I was losing (money, time, an evening out) but what the night let me gain and it was beautiful.  Really beautiful.
10. Oh, and I guess park underground just in case you're feeling randy. But how do you know til you know. (Geez.)

A very starry, almost summer, cricket-filled love,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lessons in Road Trips

Brought to you by the 101, Sheryl Crow, Natalie Merchant and, well, yes....cupcakes.  (one)

I had an urgent need to rent a car and head north this weekend. Something in my brain and in my heart is feeling full of uncertainty in nearly every area of my life and the only thing that made sense was to drive.

I learned a couple things along the way. Well, you knew that, didn’t you? *smile*

1. The guy behind the counter has big dreams.
My car is janky, that has been made clear by now and the need for me to rent something less-janky was apparent. I went to Enterprise and ended up with a sweet ride at a sweet deal. More importantly, Enterprise Guy Behind The Counter Reading Kurt Vonnegut surprised me. Not only was he kind, major Enterprise Shocker but he spilled his guts, “This isn’t what I want to be doing.”

How many can echo that statement?

He’s a writer and he doesn’t know what to do and it sounds like no one believes in him. Well, I do. And I did. And I gave him some very good tips wrapped in a very good cheer and went on my way. He walked back behind the counter in his black suit with an extra creative skip in his step.

2. Stop for blueberries.
When you see a sign that says, “Blueberries Ahead ¾ of a mile” you stop. You do. And stop for other such things. Make hard rights instead of staying on the path and on your itinerary. If blueberries present themselves, well, then blueberries shall be.

3. Ask your expert advisor.
I have finally learned to rely on my expert advisors especially when it comes to bakeries. They know things, those bakery girls. Ask them what people order the most and get that. Don’t get the other thing. And definitely don’t get the thing you ALWAYS order. That’s the last thing you want to do on a road trip. Blah.

Oh, and buy sweet orange marmalade with pretty pink labels because it would be a crime not to. (I love pink bakery boxes with tape on the side and the ones tied with string make me want to swoon.)

4. A mess is okay.
Yesterday I played Natalie Merchant most of the day while driving and although I adore her if I heard, “If no one ever marries me” one more time I was going to drive my car into The Pacific and keep my seatbelt on. I switched things up to Sheryl Crow today and she had a nice, really multicultural mix going on and that set well with my soul. And one song, whether you agree with the message or not, had a great line, “God bless this mess.”

God bless this mess. That’s me. That’s my life right about now. It’s a little messy. I’m a bit out of sorts. That’s what all the driving is about and needing to move and think and sing and write and put things into compartments when they are floating around loosely in my head. I don’t like things floating around loosely in my head. It hurts.

I pulled over on the side of the road and messaged a new sweet friend who made the comment, “It’s okay” after discussing some of her very not okay things. Sometimes it’s not okay and sometimes it’s a mess and that is okay and a mess is okay and trying to make it not a mess makes it even messier.

For now, I’m going to rest in the mess of it all.

5. Find pockets of prettiness.
They are out there and they are so close to you and you don’t even know it. Mere miles away and I finally made it to Abbot Kinney in downtown Venice. I always thought Venice was full of naked jugglers on the beach and so I wasn’t in much of a rush to visit. There’s more to it. Yup. Pockets of prettiness are all over the place if you take the time to search them out and get outside of your routine.

I finally found somewhere to park and was immersed in gorgeous shops, great food trucks just parked along the street and the kindest shop owners that didn’t treat me like I was an Orange County Jackass. I like that.

Oh, if you go, make sure you wear some shade of blah. Much easier to fit in if fitting in is what you want to do. (It’s my new favorite place. Shh.)

A couple more things for the road.

1. That girl you saw in the Oliver Peoples in a gray tshirt and striped sweater rolling down her window and talking, well, yelling, to the ocean? That wasn’t me.

2. Found a shop that treats you well and is kind to you when you walk in the door? Frequent it. I found one that had all these imports from Paris and every corner turned there were more pieces and parts and pretty things to see and touch and explore and sometimes I forget that there is that much pretty out there. There is.

3. The woman behind the ticket counter at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art asked if I needed a student admission. I think everyone should go there all the time. Forever.

4. There are a lot of crazies in Santa Barbara. I fit right in.

5. There are a couple more crazies in Venice but less so, I’d say it’s more about The Pot. Everyone’s rather, ehem, happy and relaxed and really take their time crossing the street.

6. If you drive to Solvang and remember it looks just like it did 15 years ago, make a u-turn.

7. Dosas (Indian crepes) are good. So are cupcakes off trucks. So are baked goods on State St. Before I came home, I bought a new scale. No, really I did.

I have to turn the rental car back in today.  I have to turn the weekend back in today also.  It's back to normal playlists and office meetings and corporate attire with "no embellishments" and certainly "no colored jewelry" and things of that sort.

I'll wait for another weekend and perhaps go on another adventure and head in another direction and even if the arrow points in one direction I might go another.  It all depends where the blueberries are planted.

Much love this Messy Monday,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just Give.

Brought to you by crinkled sandwich bags.

No big lessons today.  And don't think I think I always know what I'm talking about.  I'm learning like everyone else just in a more wrinkled state than you. 

I drove back from an event meeting today and there was this sweet looking guy right around my baby brother's age sitting on the side of the freeway with his dog.  It was practically a country music video.

Stay with me.

And he had his sign and whether you agree with giving or not to someone with a sign is not something I care to discuss.  I'm talking about me and what my heart is called to do.   And my damn heart cannot go past someone with a sign or a need and not try or attempt to meet it.  I fail miserably at times.  I'm not the best meeter of needs but I want to be a better one.  So, guy with his sign is sitting there and has no judgement in his eyes and nothing about him is pleading for money.  Nope, he's just holding the sign.  And I look around my car and have not a dollar on me. 

Makes me sick. 

And then I look for a new water bottle or something to give him and there's nothing.

Even sicker-er-ish.

Ah.  There's that bag of change in the center console from when I was flat out broke and was living off change.  You know?  Some of you have been there when you're down to the baggie and a quarter is like a $50.00 bill.  Those times.  Well, I had the bag, rolled down my window and shamefully said, "I'm so sorry this is all I have."  He smiled as if I had just handed him keys to a mansion. 

I don't give so I can tell you.  I give because my heart is not okay unless I do. 

Later today someone commented on my earrings.  As I took them off to give them away, I realized I am at my best when I am giving and not taking.

Sometimes it's coins in worn baggies.  Sometimes it's earrings.  Sometimes they are very big things and sometimes they are very small things.  All I know is I am too old not to listen to my heart.

Give what you have.  And then give some more,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Twang Invasion

Brought to you by The South.

If you walk by my apartment anytime in the next four to five days, expect to hear yelling and arguments and probably some screaming and the way you'll know you are at the right place?  The Twang.

See, it takes over all of us at some point during the weekend.  Some of us are from the south and some of us have daddies from the south.  Not "daddies".  Daddies.  Dirty Bird, You.

Just prepping for this trip, I can feel the twang starting to form in my throat.  So, yes, expect y'alls and things of that sort.

And so you don't feel left out, I'll let you know who'll be in town.

Miss Larkin.  The ringleader.  Itinerary driven.  Claims to be breezy but...well, isn't.  Always has to fly here because none of us are sure where Arkansas is.

Ally "Red".  Lives in Canada.  Is the only woman we know that will rock a bikini on a public street without covering her ass.  Has two adorable boys.  One she kisses sweet and one she kisses very bad.

Miss Aimee. Our newest hot momma. This was Aimee last time we were all together.  Baby Gavin is now viewing Orange County from the outside with his gorgeous momma and dad.  Aimee is the calm to our storm.

Stacia Rae.  Stacia has over 1,000 pictures to choose from but I think this defines her.  Sassy but sweet at the same time.  She should have a tip jar in front of her everywhere she goes.  Terribly entertaining.

D "Sissy".  Our outings tend to be costly to Davina.  Running out of gas and getting towed and all things Car Trauma.  We are crossing all available parts for good car results this time. 

Miss Blue.  Guest appearances by Chris this weekend as time permits.  (See five children.  Further comments needed?  I think not.)

And me.  You have enough pictures of me.  Don't think I won't take a million more this weekend, y'all.

Much love,
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