Monday, November 30, 2009
Respect (ri-spekt) noun: esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.
Apparently mine was called into question. I find it humorous this dual syllable word can cause such an impact. Thrust upon me like a slap in the face, like a stab in the heart. Then again, I think it bears more impact dependent upon who's mouth the utterance is thrown.
There are many reasons people are shown respect, and certainly more often people are shown lack thereof. Drug addicts, prostitutes, criminals. Easy to see the lack of regard these dregs of society harbor. But the laymen? Most everyone should be treated with at least a semblance of decency and respect until proven otherwise.
We all know I am no saint. I never promised to be. I have made bad choices, stupid decisions and there isn't a single person I know who doesn't forever see me paying the consequences of my own actions. But what makes one person different from another, what makes people worthy of respect is that ability to do two things.
First is the ever clichéd act of admitting you did anything wrong in the first place. Humility is its own rite of passage and no one else should ever be allowed to make you feel bad about your own choices, especially if you feel that way as you stand alone.
Second is not repeating that same mistake twice and learning from your prior bad choices. Not diving back down those bad paths because they may have been easier. Foraging alone ahead, even if it’s hard.
What right does anyone else have to make you feel bad about your life? Who gave anyone else that judgmental ability to look at you and decide what is worthy of respect, what isn't?
I have dug myself out of the ashes. Sure I am still covered in soot and sure my vision is still blurred from the dust of it all settling, but I am no longer buried by it all. I did that and I alone take credit for it. THAT in and of itself is worthy of respecting.
I am raising my child alone. I have no financial support from another parent, I have no second income from a spouse. Hell I don't even get money from the government with the exception of a ration of bread. I do it alone. It is hard and I complain sure, but I still do it. That is worthy of respect.
I am a rape survivor. I silently punished myself for years. I took blame for what happened to me, then I blamed everything with a penis as if it weren't just the fault of a few bad men. I wrote an article published in a major newspaper and spoke to women about it when I was in college. Even if I only helped one or two people, I helped someone. THAT is worthy of respect.
I have championed for charities in other people’s names. I have given selflessly and when I have nothing myself to give. Dropped everything to care for those I loved. I never asked for anything in return, and I never would. THAT is worthy of respect.
SO I ask those skeptics and critics, those harsh on lookers in their pious glass houses, who are you? What about you makes you better than I am? Makes you able to cast your judgments on me, hurt me with your words and spread words to others you don't respect me?
Because I think you honestly need a new dictionary.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
People are hypocrites.
This whole hub-bub about Adam Lambert and his gyrating AMA antics have made me irritated over the annoying abundance of double standards that exist in our society.
Who cares really? Madonna and Britney made out for crying out loud and that clip has been hailed and raved about for years. So what if the guy-liner wearing Idol runner-up had a chick on a leash performing faux-felatio? When was the last time you didn't get those same idea's when some tween pop-tart straddled a back up dancer and started to dry hump his leg like a puppy in heat?
This of course came on the heels of an interesting weekend that likely caused a rift in my best friends forming of a relationship because I have a vagina. Again, that pesky double standard rearing it's oh-so-ugly head.
Had I been some beer-gutted frat minded guy who wanted to crack cans on my head, I would have been the picture perfect BFF, but because I sit to pee, I pose a threat. Really ladies? In case you haven't met me I am estrogenly challenged mentally and am basically a frat boy with boobs.
There is also that clichéd stigma that goes with sex. A guy can be king of the world the more conquests he racks up. He doesn't become the butt of the joke, or become subjected to scrutiny. He doesn't get made to feel horrible for a night of drinking and poor judgment. He gets a high five and an atta boy and moves on to the next pair with a pulse.
A chick on the other hand is labeled. She's used, she's tainted. A whore, a slut, etcetera. A name she gets to spend the rest of her life trying to dig herself out from under. A reputation that will haunt her. Her name accompanied by snickers and jeers. Self esteem shattered by the same men who lay in wait to take her home.
All because these ridiculous double standards exist. SO what if people do what some don't like. It's their choices and who are you to judge them. Who are you to make anyone else feel like less of a person because you are uncomfortable? I don't like it when you wear clothes you shouldn't in public, or leave the toilet seat up. I don't like PDA or people who carry on full conversation on cell phones in public without any regard to the people around them. I don't like fat people at the beach in Speedos, but you know what, that's their choice and who the hell am I to judge.
Sleep with who you want and be who you are. You only get one life to live, and you only get one chance. DO it up.
I'm going out like Frankie, for doing it MY way.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Why is it that when things start to balance out, feel normal and calm, seemingly routine, that you get instantly thrust into emotionally stressful situations that make you over think and project and fester and analyze and contemplate and overall doubt your momentary sanity?
The most minimalist of things really, but monumental to everyone. That one thing that drives us and divides us all the same. That leads us to do what we do every day, to make us get up in the morning. That's right. Money, or moreover, lack thereof.
It's amazing what a piece of fiber and paper can do to a person. How it can cause both happiness and pain. Both stress when you have none and pompousness when you have abundance. How it creates rifts in families or in societal niches.
And you think you're ok. You get along, living paycheck to paycheck. Working just enough to get by. And usually it’s enough. Sort of. You make too much to get help, and too little to survive. It's a shame how these systems work really. But who am I to tell them what to do, I mean I'm just a single mom with no child support, what do I know of struggles?
The impending holidays always make me worry more. I want for my son to have the best memories possible. I want him to think back on his childhood fondly and not know that there was ever trouble in his life. Isn't that the job of a parent? Creating illusions for their children?
I remembering being a kid and coming downstairs at Christmas to have wall to wall presents, and as many of those holier than thou people will tell me that it's not about the gifts it’s about family and yadda yadda yadda, it wasn't the exact gifts I remember. I remember sitting giddy at the top of the stairs waiting to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought with my brother, so excited in fact that I would usually throw up from the sheer anticipation and anxiety of it all.
I remember waking up my parents and having my father go downstairs to "make sure" Santa came. Of course as I grew older I realized he was making sure nothing was forgotten and that the video camera was properly placed to document the merriment, but it was still a great feeling to watch him tread those stairs that morning.
I remember getting the OK from him as he bellowed from the stairs, and somehow my brother and I making it down in one piece as we fought tooth and nail to get to the bottom of the stairs first. Overcome with excitement and wonder as we would enter the living room, wide eyed at the site of a living room transformed into a magically room full of gifts, wrapping paper and bows as far as the eye could see. My sister gingerly following us in her teenage angsty way, trying to mute her excitement, but failing.
I never knew my parents struggled. Back then they didn't, and things were ok, but as I got older and my dad's health declined, as the economy got worse and inflation started to make things harder to come by, I never knew. It wasn't that I was oblivious really. I knew in other ways we had scaled back on things, but holidays, holidays were the one time where as a kid you should never know struggle. You should never know hardship or sadness.
You should wake up, surrounded by toys, by games and my love. By family and feast. A table ornately set and decorated. Full of people arguing and laughing. Making memories.
And yet, I fear my child is losing out on what I had. Partly because I can't afford to give it to him and partly because my family has lost the spirit to want to participate in any of it. Lost on traditions. We have our traditions, we have our ways. And sure over the years they have changed and molded, but I want the heart of them the same. The feeling of them. That giddy anticipation from parent and child, I want to make new memories for my son.
I fear that funding make cause a fundamental problem in holiday cheer.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Underneath the rubble
Of the life I know so well
There is a hole
Within my soul
With so much left to tell
A silent voice that longs to speak
To shout my fears from rafters
Please hear me now
Please show me how
To hide my tears with laughter
That cynical and callous soul
Disappointed yet again
Will come a day
Be shown the way
By lover or by friend
And so it goes contentment
Forever on my mind
Too much to ask
A daunting task
Seems ever hard to find
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Whatever marketing pseudo genius that decided to start springing Christmas on us on Halloween should be shackled and pummeled by rotten pumpkins at dawn.
I love Christmas, don't get me wrong, but in a timely fashion. I don't need to be reminded far too early that I am struggling to catch up with bills and I have to start NOW, RIGHT NOW, shopping to get the deal of the century in order to make my child love me forever and ever and save the day by getting the ungettable get of the Holiday season.
I cherish the way things were once upon a time, when you would eat yourself into a candy coma after Halloween for a week. Where you would start to prepare yourself for Thanksgiving a few weeks later. Gently start to dream of that one day of over-eating (ok who are we kidding, one day...) and tryptophan side effects.
Traditions are being whittled away by mass marketing and sale papers, and having been in retail hell for 15 years I get it. The holiday's are no longer being ruled by the family dynamic, they are ruled by the dollar sign and you are all falling for it. All succumbed to the trickery of the Big Boxes and Retail Giants. Their subtle nuances who's snappy or annoying jingles may plague you as you sleep, and lure your children into frenzies over what they subliminally tell them is the coolest toy on the planet.
It also makes me miss my father more. Sure he picked fights with someone (mostly me) every holiday, but we were together. We were one of those families who sat together for dinner every night. Didn't matter if it started at 8pm, we all sat down together. Holidays were no exception. Everyone huddled around the table, arguing over who got the breast and who got the skin (because though clearly unhealthy, it’s oh-so-good). We may have put the fun in dysfunctional, but holidays were our thing.
They used to be lavish. Cousins, aunts and uncles. Kids running amuck. Using my grandmother's china and waiting for my mom to gingerly take that massive turkey out of the oven, my dad ready to carve it with the grace of a professional butcher. And slowly, things changed. Cousins grew up and got married, their in-laws families became their new traditions and our table thinned out.
And then we lost the house. And then my father died. My sister heads to her boyfriend's family home out of state. And now it’s us. Just my mom, my brother, myself and my son. Four lonely souls lost in memories of what used to be tradition. No longer do we have that table full of witty family banter. No longer so we have those arguments I long for. Ok, well my brother and I still rival any sibling arguments going back in time, but other than that it’s a solemn occasion.
The oven has been replaced by a turkey fryer. My grandma's china with every day plates and Tupperware. But I want it back.
I want to tell retail to go to hell and take back tradition. I want to take that fried turkey (ok it IS delicious) and bring my family to my house. I want to set a fancy table. I want egg-nog and cider. I want to Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on TV, and football and Miracle on 34th Street. I want stories for Dylan to tell when he gets older. I want memories to be made for my son. I don't just want another blip on the calendar. A kickoff to shopping or a countdown to Christmas.
That's right folks, I'm taking back Turkey. Who's coming with me?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Ok, what he really had was a lack of ability to let himself buy a new car. Moreover a functional car. One that wasn't seemingly held together with duct tape and solder and that didn't cause him to continuously curse and get louder and louder in that way that only a stoutly little Italian man could.
They weren't really old like those precious antiques people collected. They were cast offs. The unwanted really. More like those cars that were invented and then when the makers realized they were crap and they were on the brink of death, close to driving their last fuel-guzzled road, my father somehow found them.
In dark alley's in random places. In people's side yards, unwanted and lonely, he found them. Like the Pied Piper of the Vehicularly Deceased, he found them. The old and the rusted. The dented and odd colored. He would use them, abuse them and then I would inherit them.
It was a strange thing really. The evil vortex in my driveway that killed these cars. It was likely a mercy killing in a way. Those poor unfortunately souls, put out of their misery by simply coming into contact with me.
Which of course became instantly my fault. Naturally.
It wasn't the fact that these beauties were left abandoned far before my father found them. Or that they likely required hundreds if not thousands of dollars in work before that, no of course that couldn't be it. It couldn't be that my father usually cavorted around in them as work vehicles, traipsing from jobsite to jobsite, parking in the unpaved and nail-covered places a contractor generally frequented.
It couldn't have been the sawdust covered pieces of wood and tools, or the extra few 100 pounds or so they wrought. No.
It was naturally all my fault. I had the Golden Touch you see. But alas, it wasn't me, it was that Evil Vortex.
And yet, of all the 13 cars (yes I am on Lucky 13 folks) I have gone through, the one I did not inherit was his last. That convertible van. That Volkswagen machine that wasn't just a car, oh no. THIS, this was also a camper. Dirty and scarred. It came fully equipped with curtains and pull out bed. With stove and mini-fridge. A pop-up top for comfort. A contractors dream.
And for the past week, this car, this multi-faceted driving machine has haunted me. As I commuted to work I have seen not one of these Bad Larry's no, but 3. This boxy mind-boggler etched with Westfalia has been following me. This gold machine, a time machine straight out of 1985 has been bringing me memories of my father for the past week.
Memories of him attempting to put Dylan's infant car seat in the back bench, what seemed like miles from the driver's seat in the back to take him places. Images in my head of my child flying through mid-air in the back of a camper, and cajoling my father for ever buying such an impractical car.
So now, as I sit every morning in my bumper to bumper commuter traffic, as I stop and go with oncoming cars merging from on-ramps and painstakingly make my way to work in the morning, I now find myself on the lookout. I look for that one vehicle that rises up a little higher than the others, that looks a little boxier than those newer and sleeker streamlined hybrid cars. I look for that memory on wheels, and maybe, just maybe I hope to catch a glimpse of short little Italian man with glasses and a mustache, with a stain on his belly from his morning coffee (milk,no sugar) dripping down between his fashionable combination of T-shirt, belt and suspenders.
So thank you aimless strangers, thank you for giving me my dad, if only for a moment, and if only in memory, in traffic on my morning commute. You may have bad taste in cars, but you've given me something I've needed for a long, long time. A piece of my dad, and of course;
The Golden Westfalia.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Has anyone seen my Mojo?
I seem to clearly have lost it somewhere and in a failed attempt to remember what it was once like when I had it, I decided that going out on a "school" night was a good idea.
Harmless in theory really, a 30-something consenting adult without child for the evening. Working the next day sure, but a couple of hours to celebrate my heydays would surely not be punishable. Two or so cocktails do not equal hangover, I should be good.
Transport yourself in time to the Beachcomber, a South Shore staple bar for the past 50 years. Dark and wood-planked inside and notably themed by the musician’s of Yore and the Irish drunkards who have kept it afloat the past 1/2 century. This seedy place, of linoleum and bad lighting, filled with the smells of smilled beverages and pizza has been my Cheers for close to a decade.
It’s truly a place where everyone knows your name, and your refill is ready for you before you take the last sip of your previous drink. Where local bands get their starts and former greats have once graced the stage. I mean Jay Leno even did his stand up act here back in the day. (He is a hometown boy afterall.) Where bar fights, marriages and divorces have all started. Ahh, it's home.
So alas, as goes by this golden anniversary for a beachfront landmark, so is marked another anniversary. Good friends remembering 18 years of karaoke debauchery hosted by our very own dear friend. Usually such an event would bring out the masses, old and young alike to revel in this charismatic man who has been perverting the stage for close to 20 years.
And comes the 9 o'clock hour, the start of it all, guns ready to go off in ample celebratory nature, and.....crickets. Silence. The few, the far between, and I. Yes folks, a dead start to the night. I had convinced myself I was going to stay an hour. Show my adoration for my beloved comrade and bid him adieu. I mean, as a responsible working adult and mother I had to get home and in bed and ready for the new day tomorrow right??
Yeah not so much.
As the drinks flowed freely, (although after a while for me I did convert to water, since obviously common sense in age has reminded me that drinking and driving is definitely not a wise option) I started to remember how I rocked this place. How I seemingly owned this bar when I walked in. At least in my egotistical mind at the time I did.
I mean sure I still know mostly everyone, but that cool confidence I once had is gone. That crazy girl who would get up and dance, even if no one else was because I liked the song...or simply wanted to be an ass...is gone. A distant memory. No more mid-drif bearing tops and skin tight jeans. The cleavage however, will be ever-present until the day gravity decides to hate me and protests. (It is a diversionary technique in keeping all eyes away from the "Mama" region I commonly refer to as the Fanny Pack)
No more making the guys drool over me and having to figure out who the lucky guy would be that would get to try to take me home. Most of them not winning, but hey they got an A for effort. Not even a "Hey can I buy you a drink..." from a creepy bar guy anymore. I've clearly lost my touch.
I mean nothing. I sang my songs, I rocked it out sure. I saw friends I hadn't seen in ages and it was great, but then, I stood idly on the sides of the stage. Reminiscing of the old days. Talking about jobs, and kids. Talking about politics and Veteran's Day. I lost my MoJo.
I watched a group of youngun's, probably barely 21. Not a care in the world. They cared not what people thought of them. Not what they looked like, or how well they sang. They got up and danced whenever they felt like it. To the beats of their own drummers. And sure, some people scoffed, and yet I envied them. I was them once, carefree and confident. I had me some MoJo. I had me a lot.
And thus, though my antics were not crazy, and my alcohol consumption was limited, as I walked in my door at almost 2am, woke at 6:30 cursing my alarm as though it were out to get me and in a zombie state readied for work and battled traffic, I feel as though I were hit by a train and I haven’t slept in a month. Yes my friends, that MoJo, it’s gone.
If you've seen it, I'd like it back please.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Your breath becomes quickened suddenly, your heartbeats faster almost instantly creating a flutter in your stomach that is a combination of elation and almost a naive nervousness. You breath deeper, you see clearer, your eyes brighter. You smile with out even knowing why you're smiling, your lips curling to the pull of a force greater than anything you have ever known. You stand taller. Dazed and lost by the wonder of it all, yet never before more keen. Brought to this by even a glimpse of a picture, a faint resemblance of a passerby, a song whose lyrics touch a certain poignancy of how these emotions could ever be penned or vocalized, even the memory of an occurrence at a particular place, or time. Its that feeling.
You long for it. You wake up and need to be surrounded by it. Emblazoned by its warmth and its vigor. To be touched by the mere thought of being touched. The hairs on the back of your neck stand at end remembering the last time your skin brushed ever so gently against theirs. Even casually. It sets every sense in a tailspin.
Another with the same cologne could cause an uproar in your mind, causing you to gently close your eyes and imagine yourself whisked away to another place where time and appropriateness may allude you. Where nothing but the thought of their lips on your lips, their hands in your hands play over and over in your mind like you are reliving a favorite part of an old familiar movie.
A song, a sound, a movie that played when you first met, talked, saw each other brings you back to that innocence. That awkwardness, so real yet so knowing. Like a secret waiting to be told. Waiting for the right moment, as if in the beginning you weren't ready for it yet. Aging in a sense. Together in an uncertain certainty.
Firsts together, not necessarily firsts in life, feel like new things all together. Like everything before them had been a complete let down. Like a complete sham to the real thing. All things before them not irrelevant, but unimportant to where you both are now, together, and moreover where you are going. Together.
Idealistic and dreamlike. Wanted and sought after. It's not impossible. I know it's out there, and in short brief moments, I have felt pieces. Close, nearing what it could have been. Then afraid, slowly or not slowly backed away. Some of it was me, some of it was them. Fault was shared. Blame and shame blanketed throughout the past. It makes you know what not to look for, what paths no longer to take, and what feelings are wrong.
I'm still waiting.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Ever discover something, could be the most random of things really, could be anything from hearing an old song or seeing a place you once went, or hearing a name called out, smelling a certain cologne perhaps from a passerby that rang familiar and realize you may not be as over something as you had been telling yourself, and telling everyone else you know, you had been?
And now that you are aware of it again, its festering. You try to quash it. To put it out like the last smoldering ashes of a once blazing fire, all that is left seem to be charred embers, smoking and seemingly lifeless, but one quick swift change in wind direction and what little wood is left can catch fire yet again. It may only burn briefly, but it will be hot, and smoke-filled enough to cloud your thoughts, your judgments.
Your thirst for knowledge of things consumes you. You rerun past conversations, past arguments, or even the lack thereof. Where did it all go wrong, how did it get here, classic questions, cliches. You question your own sense of self, of sanity over and over again, like you have a dozen times as if it only happened days ago. Like a wound that had semi healed had been re-opened, half hardened by scar yet soft and privy to the infections of the outside elements from this now ripped open seam.
Your own self worth is called into question. You, your own judge and jury. You feel perfectly imperfect. Flawlessly flawed. The things about you that you once adored you loathe. What strength do you even have left really? Its all too much. You fear the pain again. This feeling from another. Months later, years later. This heavy heart from these memories. These moments of weakness.
All from a word. A scent. A name. A piece of possibly misled information. It sets you reeling. Spinning inside your head scenario after scenario. Could be truth, could be fiction. You don't even want to speak it to anyone for repercussions of your sanity. Its likely nothing, yet to you at this moment, this very moment it is monumental. Its all you think about.
You wait to find out the truth. Is it nothing? Am I paranoid? Delusional? Why do I care anyway? How can something bother me so when I have no idea what it is, and when I am supposedly over this situation? Maybe I am. Maybe its not the person. Maybe its me. My luck. My lot in life.
My inane ability to send people into their fates. Maybe that's why. Maybe I need to meet my own counterpart. Someone with my own luck to either cancel it out, or send me into my fate when all is said and done. Let me finally be over it all. Let me no longer be consumed by what has been, what I cannot change.
Let me go on. Go forward, and no longer be Chuck.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Have you ever felt like you were standing at the edge of your life and not actually living it? Like you are a bystander in a rush, watching in a reflection as the world goes on around you. Your own life goes on around you, and yet you feel stunted. Stopped, breathless. Unable to move forward, yet unable to go back. In limbo.
I am suddenly there and I have no idea how I got here. As if some mystical turning point occurred and a switch was flicked inside me and I ceased to be able to function as anything but a shell of myself in my own life. I look the same. I act the same. But I feel different.
I don't know if the sudden blunt change in season that Daylight Savings has brought has made this realization more clear, or if it has been there all along and I am just suddenly aware. Was this a gradual occurrence? Like a dimmer switch in a restaurant when they try to change the mood. Who's to say.
I don't necessarily hate my life right now, but I certainly don't love it. I'm indifferent to it all. I could take it or leave it as it were. I love my job, but the sudden change in office has everyone on edge and walking on eggshells on a daily basis as we break into our new routines, our new environments. So drastically different from before.
My friends are all busy with their own lives. They don't not care, their lives are just hectic with kids and work and spouses or boyfriends. Impending divorces or pregnancies. In-laws and upcoming holidays. I clearly have none of these troubles, so how could I relate?
And naturally the holidays looming makes me long for several things. Partnership being one of the obvious. But I always miss my father most this time of year. Sure he found ways to conjure up some form of argument whenever a holiday approached, but that was his way. I would take the World War 3 of arguments with him just to hear him bellow again, just to have him here to watch Dylan open gifts at Christmas and finally be old enough to be able to appreciate it.
Then of course you remember the Ghosts of Holidays pasts. The good, the bad. The memories of ex's flooding my mind, recent and not recent. The horrid and regretted and then the few, the very few who were looked upon fondly in hindsight. Making me wonder now how I am 30 and alone awaiting yet another holiday season.
But what do I know anyway, I'm on the outside...I'm looking in.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I have come to the conclusion that I despise Daylight Savings time.
Not only do I have to re-do every clock, watch and car stereo I come into contact with (and thus the added annoyance of remember HOW to do each one), but it is now dark when I am driving home from work.
Makes me feel the impending doom of the looming winter season. The stresses of planning for family holidays like who's house will garner the turkey for Thanksgiving and starting to plan who you can actually afford to buy Christmas gifts for, after your child of course.
Every ad mentions Christmas and as soon as Halloween comes to its fateful end, it seems the retail industry jumps at the chance to tout red and green as far as the eyes can see. And then the added ridiculousness that is "Happy Holiday's" and no longer "Merry Christmas", because god forbid we offend anyone who wasn't born here.
Your body decides on its own, and most definitely without your permission, that it needs to "bulk" up for the impending cold weather it seems to have mystically figured out is coming and suddenly the carefreeness of slim and fitted clothing begins to elude you.
And of course we can't forget that every other ad on TV will be from some jewelry store or another, showing picture perfect couples and the fantastic gifts of love and adoration they try to shove down your throat every 15 minutes. Awesome for the self-esteem of the ever-single gal.
Its all I can do to not mail-order myself a Snuggie and hunker down for the winter in a pseudo-hibernating scenario full of sappy chick flicks and lonesome bottles of white wine. Allowing myself to live vicariously through happy ending after happy ending, and coming out more cynical than ever.
And all of this starts flooding my mind as soon as I have to turn that wretched clock back an hour.
Screw you Daylight Savings, keep your freaking hour and give me back my sanity.