Sunday, June 12, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spider

I wrote this about this almost two months ago but it still holds true. I need this to be out there so that I can remember why I am making the changes that I am in my life.

This is a song about resilience and so it's fitting that it be a part of your life soundtrack.

You were born to people who probably should have never been parents. To give them credit, they did the best that they could. Problem is that they were too self-absorbed to really be anyone's parents. They faked their way through the best that they could.

You were going to discuss them both but then you realized that they are each flawed in their own special ways. They deserve -- and would probably demand -- separate discussion. Well, at least one of them would.

Your mother wasn't like other mothers. She had no desire to bake cupcakes for your class. And after she divorced your father, she had no desire to cook dinner unless company was coming over. Hard thing to face at age eight. And with no siblings with whom you could commiserate. Your friends understood the dynamic of your household but others said nothing for nearly twenty years.

Your mother was a child dictator. She would announce edicts at her whimsy and then ask your advice as to whether she should make some purchase. It was usually about purchases because she swabbed her internal wounds with Liz Claiborne, Ellen Tracy, Noritake and other such purchases from Macy's. One minute she would chide you for not having your homework done when she got home from work; the next she would enthrall you with her purchases of the day. Sometimes you asked why she needed it. {There's that word again -- why.} And you would tell her to return the purchase the next day. She always complied.

But she did have rules. And there was no crossing her rules. You could never ask her, "Why?" Instead you held your tongue.

Occasionally she asked you, "Why?" though. At first you used to answer. Only to be subjugated to yelling and fist waving and threats of, "I brought you into this world; I can take you out." And so you learned to not answer. But that wasn't enough. You then learned to show absolutely no emotion while silently fuming. You who wears your heart on your sleeve most of the time learned how to hide it away. Your mantra then was, "They can only truly hurt you if they know they can." And so you learned to guard your heart. Not that people couldn't reach there; you would just never let them know that they had.

History had taught you that if she knew the slightest secret, she would use it to her advantage. Just another thing to throw into your face about how you had failed. While others around you thought that you had succeeded. She begs to be a part of your life now. And she is -- in limited amounts. There's only so much that one can take of someone who constantly thinks the world is out to dupe her. But this is not why you guard yourself -- this idea of duping. Instead it's the idea that someone will catalog your life and then pull out salient details when it suits them best. Because you have no brain, no will of your own.

Over the years you realize that this has colored your perspective on relationships -- including dating. There was a time that if someone was nice to you, you found yourself wondering what they wanted. Now you simply find yourself thinking that you are not willing to give into the will of another just for the sake of it. (Employment may be the exception but even there, there are limits.) Why must you constantly stroke this other person's ego especially when they take every opportunity that they can to destroy yours? Many years you questioned yourself on this. "Am I just being too sensitive?" But then you heard from your friends about their observations of your interactions. And you were happy to learn that this indeed was not "normal."

It took you several years to break through the bricks you had erected around your heart. While this woman contributed quite a bit to the process, she did not act alone. There were other actors. The thing is that you still allow her to be a part of your life and as such, she continues to try to do damage.

But you are the spider. You cannot be drowned.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Something new

For a few days I have been toying with an idea. Today I made it real. Not ready to give up on this blog completely but I thought that I would try something new. And if it works out, you won't just be reading my stuff there but others as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

She got a lot of pretty pretty boys that she calls friends

It all started with tonight's season finale of "Gossip Girl." Yes, I watch it. And? The episode was filled with the requisite drama and some actually insightful relationship advice. Oh, and this song.

And if you know me, then you know that music makes me all like Benjy in The Sound and the Fury. The neurons start firing and I'm all over the place in terms of memories. One song leads to a memory that leads to yet another song and yet another memory.

Through it all was one question -- who do I want to be in this chapter of my life? I know that I can no longer go out five nights a week like when I was 30. (And before you have a hissy fit and all, let me just tell you that my rule on a "school night," was that I had to be on my way home by midnight at the latest. For the most part.) What I love about that person was that she could find fun in the smallest of things; she knew that sometimes the best happens when you least expect it. Life is not built upon plans. Well maybe for some it is but sometimes letting go is what one needs. It's all about flying without a net.

My mother and I were talking about my aunt recently. She was one of the biggest, coldest bitches around. I still remember crying years ago when I found out that she was talking major shit about me around town. I didn't speak to her for a year. And then she got sick. And I forgave her everything and was her friend again. Going on three years and I still miss the hell out of her. Because for all her shit talking, the lady certainly knew how to have fun and to be the life of the party. That's what I want -- minus the cruel bitchiness.

As much as I love some of my friends, I feel like they are the wet towel on me. My Santa Cruz friend recently posted on Facebook about feeling pressured for years to not truly express herself and to give into the will of her peers. I like to think that by peers, she didn't mean me. I had a weird life in high school. I hung with the "outcasts" yet I was involved in student government. Back in those days I had a conversation with friends about not fitting in. They told me that I could be accepted if I wanted to. Probably. In some ways back then I was deeply wrapped up in making everyone happy so that I could get their approval at some level. But what I love most about my angst-filled teenage self was that once she got that approval, she was able to walk away. She firmly believed in unconditional love.

But I guess this is all the heart of the partygirl me -- having fun and caring yet not caring what people think. I think over the last couple of years there has been plenty of the second and not enough of the first. It's giving one's self to not be perfect at all times. Because really perfection is quite boring. And boring is something I never want to be. What's the quote? "Well behaved women never made history."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The bad, the good and the tasty

Last weekend I held what I had hoped to be the first Derby de Mayo -- a blend of Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day. And of course I had meant to take photos of the food -- a blend of Mexican and Southern natch -- to post here but I got caught up in conversations. And then at the end of the evening I was kind of emotionally sideswiped. My last two guests in attendance, Emerald and Marin, decided to hold an intervention of sorts. "We think you've been drinking too much lately." Um, did you miss the partygirl memo? Sheesh. "And we think you should go to therapy." Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Really. Add up all my time over the years and I've done at least four to five years of therapy. As my last therapist told me about three years ago, I already have all the tools; I just have to give myself permission to use them. And sometimes sitting in the despair just feels kind of good while you're trying to figure things out. I awoke on Sunday emotionally drained. As such I slept most of the day -- literally. By Monday I was recharged and kind of pissed off. Pissed off is a good thing for me; it's where I find the energy to make change.

So now is about more change -- positive change. I joke about my nomadic soul. It comes from packing it in as a means of change. Now I'm working on how to stay in one place yet still effect change. It kind of helps that on Monday I received an unexpected cash infusion. After doing the responsible thing of paying some bills, I decided that I had some money for me. I have missed being a member of the Film Society but frankly it's rather pricy. So now I'm going to take some of this unexpected membership to join a museum in the East Bay that has lots of events. I figure that this will give me opportunities to meet new people. And I'll get reciprocal benefits at museums in San Francisco. A good thing since I still need to go see the expanded Balenciaga exhibit. I also found local ballet and jazz dance classes for adults at a reasonable price. I'm holding off on those until after I finish my month of boot camp in June. And today I upheld a previous commitment with Emerald to judge the science fair at her son's school. I was paired with a young woman who is new to the area. As it turns out, she is working for my father's previous employer. (And Bucko Ken's as well.) As we were leaving the fair, I asked if she would like to exchange phone numbers as she's new to the area and all. See? I'm good with this change thing.

The other good thing is that I finally had my piano tuned today. Thank you, Groupon. It's been years since I've made any kind of serious attempt at playing since I couldn't stand the sound of the thing. While the tuner said the piano was indeed severely out of tune (a half step), he was able to return it to a playable state. Love him. When I've called other tuners over the years, they have told me that it's an inexpensive model and I'd be better off buying a new one than trying to tune it. But this tuner got it. Upon seeing the piano, he asked, "It has sentimental value, doesn't it?" He also marveled that while it had lacked tuning for years, it had been well cared for. After he left, I sat down to attempt to play. My hands in the past had been rather stiff so I decided to go with what my hands knew best -- Beethoven's Fur Elise. I can still play nearly half of it from memory. It wasn't great but it wasn't completely horrid either. Now I need to locate my Chopin and Bach books. Maybe by the end of this year I can once more take stabs at Rachmaninoff. In the past playing the piano was one of my ways to relieve stress when I was feeling overwhelmed.

But I know. All this time you've been wondering about the photo. After the tuner left and before I attempted to play, I popped out to check on my mom's house. On my return, I stopped at The Brick Pig's House. The husband came out to take my order. The wife upon hearing my voice, came out from the kitchen and exclaimed, "You came back." I reminded her that I had told her on my last trip there that I had said I would return if all was as good as she promised. As I decided how much to order, I was asked how many I was feeding this time. "Still just me." The husband pointed to a photo on the wall of a young woman who had eaten an entire slab of ribs minus one in a single meal. "Why yes, there was a time in which I could have eaten an entire slab on my own." Now it sits like a challenge in the back of my mind.

I decided this time I needed a mix of the ribs as well as their brisket. Oh.My.God. My next trip there I may very well ask kind folks to adopt me. I have never in my life had brisket like that. It really did melt in the mouth as the folks on Yelp claimed. And to switch things up, I went with the blackberry cobbler instead of the peach. Reminded me of summers on my grandparents' farm.

Bottom line? In probably the best headspace in quite some time. Or at least I like to think so. Well once I finish dealing with payment for water damage to my place from upstairs unit.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Same as it ever was

Some days you wake up and think to yourself, "How did I end up here?" Now for most folks it would be the days of your partygirl time that would make them think this. But for you it's the days of "normalcy." Not that you're looking for drama, just something more.

Today you realized that beyond Facebook and your inconsistent blogging, the only means of positive human contact upon which you can count are the delivery people -- the postal carrier, UPS, FedEx, GSO -- you see each day at work.

Once upon a time family members were sick and/or dying. You checked out on everything else for the most part. And then the day came that you were ready to re-enter the world at large only to discover your "life" was gone. This is the argument you have given to family members regarding your dad. "I simply can't go back there because it will be all about him and I will lose myself along the way all over again." But it's too late; you're already lost.

So now you try to figure out how to get out of the hole you've dug for yourself. If you were still renting, the answer would be simple. Pack up and move. Start again. But it's not so easy now. Then again, hasn't this always been your answer? Pack up and move on instead of sticking around and figuring out a way to make it all work?

And please don't suggest going to church. So not the scene around here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pound Cake

So I'm about to tell a story that some of y'all may have heard before. Some stories are worth retelling though.

About ten years or so ago I was going through the "Why am I still single?" thing. Being single in itself doesn't really suck. It's just that your formerly single friends seem to drop off the planet. And then they have kids. Suddenly they are doing stuff -- with people who also have kids. But you don't so you're so out of the loop. But then when you meet up with these friends on those rare occasions, they somehow think that your life is so great. And I suppose it is if you think that entertaining the thought of adopting every stray animal that crosses your path so that you can have consistent companionship is better. Hell. You want to go to shelters and adopt every cute stray. Well not maybe cute. Pitbulls can be cute. Think of Petey on The Little Rascals. Cute as hell if you ask me.

Enough rambling. I was at some function or another at my dad's and his sister-in-law and I had snuck out to have a smoke. (Another revelation. Part of the reason why I can't quit smoking is because it's one of my defenses against others.) So started the pound cake story.

She told me how her dad told her about how fabulous her mom's pound cake was -- so much so that they would swipe a taste while it was in the pantry. And then her dad reminded her how sometimes her mom would put a lemon glaze on the cake. The glaze just enhanced the flavor of the already really good cake. Her dad then told her that she was the cake and that any man in her life was the glaze. The cake (you) is perfectly good on its own; the glaze (that other person) just adds something that makes the cake seem better. The key point though was that even if there is no glaze, the cake is perfectly good on its own.

That's what I remind myself of in the middle of the onslaught of everything else in life. Because being never married and childless in one's 40s? Can you say pariah? Freak of nature? OK. Maybe not but that's how it sometimes feels when people ask. Or when I'm hanging out with old friends and they say,"I always thought that you would be married with kids before me." But nowadays I really like other people's kids. One's that can be returned.

And then I remind myself that I'm like the pound cake -- I'm perfectly fine on my own. Some days it's harder to remember this than others.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm sorry that I'm not white

I had originally planned on posting something completely different but then Monday night happened.

One of the joys of being footloose and fancy free is that when I see a post online that Dave Chappelle is appearing at a club in San Francisco on Monday night, I can head on over to the Live Nation site to secure my ticket. Now I could have been sensible and bought one for the early show but why do that? Every now and then you have to remind yourself that you can still hang. That's why I went for the late show. Yes, it started at 10:30. And yes, I knew from prior experience that a Dave Chappelle show can last three hours. But I'm all badass partygirl like that.

I came home from work on Monday, ate dinner and then caught a disco nap. Then it was time to get ready for the show. People asked, "You're driving into North Beach? Parking sucks." Yeah, it can but I know the area near Cobb's all to well since my former home away from home is on the same block. As I circled the block for a second time, I got a parking space within a half block of the club. I'm really tight with the Parking Goddess of SF.

The vibe in line was cool. It continued in the club -- for a bit. These folks seated on the floor (I was in the balcony.) kept yelling out all kinds of stuff. Next thing you know, their table was surrounded by security and they were asked to leave. The woman in the couple was really resistant. Took two security guys to get her out of the place. And the last words we heard from her as she passed in front of the stage were, "I'm sorry that I'm not white." Yeah, she went there. After she left, Chappelle asked the audience, "Do you think she'll be back? She was kind of cute."

It felt good to laugh. It also felt good to stick to my plan of no caffeine or alcohol. Had no problem getting up for work today and was completely functional. Makes me feel like going out more, being more badass. Of course last night I was also limping. Took myself to the doctor today. Seems as if I have an inflamed Achilles tendon. That means taking it easy for a bit. But just a bit. Because once you've had a taste of what life used to be, it's hard to go back.