Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thoughts on Men – Part 2

Since I had lots of time to think about men and my issues surrounding them over the past eight years, I developed a theory. (No eye-rolling, please!) There are basically four types of men. Being a lover of architecture I classified them into building types.

First, there are hotels, some offering more amenities than others but all with revolving doors. The women check in and the women check out. Some stay a night, some a week, some longer, and some check in more than once – but they all eventually check out. Sometimes more than one room is occupied at a time. Hotels are generally smooth, seemingly happy people when you first meet them. They can be very attentive and a lot of fun – for brief periods. With hotels you have sex. No attachments, very little if any emotion – especially on their part. It’s just a physical act.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a hotel as long as you understand and acknowledge from the beginning that the door never stops revolving and you WILL be checking out. The problems begin when women refuse to deal with reality and think they can change a hotel that isn’t ready to cancel the rest of his reservations. If you don’t accept the fact that you aren’t the first one to check in and you won’t be the last, you’re just setting yourself up to be hurt.

Second, there are apartment buildings. They’re like hotels except they’re usually ambivalent in the beginning about whether they want to be in a real relationship. Again, at first they are seemingly happy people and they give the impression they’re interested in getting to know you better than a hotel would. But eventually the rent is due, the lease is up, and they move on.
Again, it’s really just sex. Good, bad or indifferent – it’s just a physical act. Because apartment buildings have some doubts about what they want, they can fool you into thinking you could have a committed relationship with them. You have to be really careful here because by the time you realize you’ve got an apartment building on your hands you could already be in over your head.

The third types are houses. They offer shelter, sex and all the basic comforts often including love and companionship. If they’re really nice houses, they may offer a more upscale lifestyle too. With houses you also have sex but there’s usually some emotional attachment involved. They tend to be longer term, caring relationships based on friendship. Many marriages occur in this category and many of these relationships last a long time. This is probably the most prevalent type.

Finally there are homes. They provide everything a house does, plus deep committed love and a best friend with whom you can share your life. With homes you make love. There’s an emotional and spiritual attachment that accompanies the physical act. Homes are the ones who walk down the street after years of marriage still holding hands and smiling at each other.

So, how do you know which type they are? I learned it really, really, really, really, really helps to talk to them – often several times in great depth – BEFORE you go to bed with them. If you get to know them and are around them enough, they will eventually reveal themselves. Other than that I haven’t found any magic formula for smoking them out. Men can be very sneaky – especially the hotels and apartment buildings.

I was usually attracted to the hotels. There was an apartment building or two but, with my abandonment issues, the closeness was always frightening. Whenever I encountered a potential house or home I ran like a rabbit for the nearest hole. This was probably because I was always a hotel or apartment building myself.

The truth is I’ve never been in love – not really “in” love. I loved people but never wholeheartedly. I certainly never cared enough to sacrifice my freedom for any of them. When I was still really naïve, I even talked about marriage a few times but was never able to make the leap. I always found a way to screw things up before it reached the point of having to make a real commitment. I became proficient at making men think it was their idea because part of the way I dealt with my issues was by not making anyone else feel bad - even if they were. I always assumed the blame. Sometimes it required being a total bitch to drive them away, but if that’s what it took, so be it.

Over time sex became strictly a physical release because I could never really connect on any other level with anyone. I had sex with more than a few men in my life, but I can honestly say that I have never made love. The lengths of my relationships were often based on how good the sex was. I stayed with one supercilious, self absorbed jerk for almost a year but he was great in bed. I kept thinking if the sex was good enough eventually everything else would fall into place. Even though I told myself and everyone else I really cared about him, in truth everything was dependent on the sex.

To be continued!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Thoughts on Men – Part 1

In an effort to distract myself from my blue mood of late, I've decided to delight you with one of my favorite chapters from my now defunct memoir. It's too long for one post, so we'll just string you along for a few days. Here goes!

One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, “Tact is for people who are not witty enough to be sarcastic.”

After all this time and a tremendous amount of experimentation, I willingly admit I know almost nothing about men. They are a total mystery to me. I’ve read books, magazines and newspaper articles about them. I watched countless television shows dedicated to the subject of men and their quirks. I observed and discussed their strange rituals ad infinitum, talked endlessly with them and about them, and with all this research I’m still basically clueless. And, frankly, unless we can keep it to a just friends or working relationship they scare the hell out of me. I don’t do well in long-term intimate relationships. Okay, I don’t do particularly well in the short-term ones either.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer I was a chameleon. I molded myself to fit what I perceived as the needs and wants of my latest male companion. The other day I re-watched the movie “Runaway Bride”. Julia Robert’s character, Maggie, was unaware of the fact that she didn’t know how she really liked her eggs. She always ordered them based on whatever her current boyfriend ordered. (It’s a wonderful movie. Watch it and you’ll understand what I mean.)

I was a lot like that. I tried to be whatever I thought they wanted me to be – to like my eggs the way they did so they would think we were compatible and wouldn’t dump me. The problem was, by the time I finished molding myself to what I thought they wanted – which was usually wrong anyway - I no longer had any idea of who I was or what I really wanted. If I was attracted to them I was automatically afraid I was going to lose them. So even if they liked me for who I was, I had to change myself because I didn’t think just being me was good enough. I was a convoluted mess.

And God help me if one of them actually did like me – the real me. I would immediately decide there was something wrong with them because I thought I was unlikable. I would start shutting down emotionally and be overcome with feelings of panic and claustrophobia. Why would I want a man who would want someone like me? I ran.

Because I couldn’t deal with normal, healthy relationships, I always seemed to attract two types of men. The first type was the problem child. The problems weren’t always visible on the surface but the minute I walked on the scene they could sense my problem solving abilities and, like a tornado on a quiet summer day, they would burst into my world. They could be miles away and I drew them to me like bugs to a zapper.

Being good at solving other people’s problems is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when someone truly needs and wants help and appreciates your assistance. Then it’s a mutually beneficial association. It’s a curse when all they really want to do is find someone to help them wallow in their problems, revisit them over and over and over and over and over again, and suck the life out of you in the process.

That’s why I opted not to become a psychologist. I sensed early on that most people really LIKE their problems. They’re comfortable with them and have developed a lifestyle to accommodate them. If they actually solved their problems they would lose a huge part of their identity and security. Who would they be? How would they act? Rational?

So naturally men with problems were drawn to me like addicts to needles. They needed their fix but didn’t truly want to be cured. In my relentless quest to fill the void in my life, I thought if I could just fix one of them I would find everlasting love and happiness. This wasn’t a formula for a solid, long lasting relationship.

The second type was the controller. Now I wasn’t a supermodel cover girl type, but I wasn’t a dog either. In my prime, when I was a career woman with a great job, I turned a few heads. Unfortunately many of those heads were attached to arrogant, egotistical assholes who wanted to dictate my every move and thought. They saw me as a challenge and they were bound and determined to conquer me.

These men were usually smooth and quite accommodating in the beginning. They wined and dined me and sucked me in with flattery and presents. But as soon as I let down my guard they swooped in like buzzards waiting for the kill and started picking me apart. Of course it was all done in the guise of what was best for me and would make me better. Yeah, like breast implants were going to really benefit ME!

Finally it reached a point where I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. I was going through the endless cycle of abandonment and rejection so often I totally lost my perspective on the reality of my situation. So to stop the cycle of poor choices and bad relationships I gave up men for a while.

It’s been over eight years now - eight happy, peaceful years of self reflection and introspection. It’s been a time to regain my self esteem, my idealism, and my inner calm.

You may be wondering how someone who was once so addicted to sex could walk away from it cold turkey. It was actually pretty easy. By the time I decided to take a break from sex, I was so hardened to intimate relationships emotionally that I was in danger of having it creep into the other relationships in my life. I realized that I needed to do something drastic to stop the cycle.
It’s necessary to understand that my obsession with sex was just another symptom of my abandonment and intimacy issues. It was just a physical act and I used it to attract men who seemed otherwise unobtainable. I thought it was the only way to get someone to love me because I felt I was basically unlovable. I used sex as a means to an end. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it physically. It was just never satisfying in any other way.

In the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s, sex without emotional attachment was the norm for a lot of people. It was just a physical act and that was usually enough. But somewhere along the line, I realized that many of my acquaintances and friends had something more. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt like something was missing in my life. I kept trying – pretending to understand the dynamics of the relationships I saw between others. But I didn’t get it. Love was like a foreign language to me – incomprehensible.

Also, when I finally decided I needed to give it up I was just starting through menopause and my libido dropped like a lead balloon for the first few years. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. There’s nothing like a major hot flash to take your mind off sex and in those first few years I was flashing like dry lightning over the desert. Since I had cancer in my past, I refused to take hormones and my doctor agreed it wouldn’t be a good choice. I tried various natural estrogen substitutes but nothing really worked and it took a few years for those flashes to subside.

I didn’t intend to be celibate for this long. I’ve been really busy and time just got away from me. Occasionally I thought I might be ready to try again. However, since I haven’t done anything more than think about it, I probably still have a few issues to resolve. And those things I said about lack of trust – that really applies to my relationships with men.

To be continued!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


In her book “On Death and Dying” Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced the concept of the 5 stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Being aware of these stages has helped me cycle through some difficult times because my rational and logical mind pinpoints where I am in the process and scoots me along the path to acceptance and moving forward.
I’m not one to wallow in my grief and rarely take long to move through the stages because I’ve always been alone and never could afford to stop my life to grieve. I have to keep going. Breaking down has never been an option for me. I’ve also learned to separate my life into public and private personas so even when I am unhappy others rarely know it. A friend once described me as the definition of poker faced.

Anyway, the 5 stages of grief are worthy of occasional review because they apply not only to dying, but to any situation involving loss – the loss of a friend, job, person, pet, relationship, prized possession, contest, etc. Here are the basics of each stage.

1. Denial and Isolation: The first reaction is to deny the reality of the situation. It’s a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions and is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.

2. Anger: As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at what we have lost or are losing. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us angrier.

3. Bargaining: The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. If only we had sought medical attention sooner. If we got a second opinion from another doctor. If we had been more careful or hadn’t opened our mouths, etc. Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.

4. Depression: Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate. We worry about the cost of treatment and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have neglected others. This phase may be eased by a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to say farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.

5. Acceptance: Some people never reach this stage. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. They resist the inevitable and deny the opportunity to make peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.

You can be in several stages at once and can move back and forth through them. The only danger is becoming stuck. In the end, if you don’t accept and move on you will never heal inside.

As mentioned above, I’m rational and logical and have moved to acceptance for now. I’m preparing for the inevitable fully aware that I may cycle through the stages again before and when Rosie dies. Somehow, knowing these stages are normal makes it easier to cope.

How do you handle loss?

Monday, September 24, 2007

“Bad Girl” by Maya Reynolds – a review

Being bad can be so good. All it takes is the right man. By day, Sandy Davis is a dedicated social worker. By night, she's found an unlikely pastime: spying on her neighbors' erotic encounters. She tells herself that it's harmless, until one night she finds herself on the receiving end of such a fantasy-and an anonymous phone call from a peeping stranger who calls himself Justice, and whispers, "You've been a bad girl." The arousing predicament turns into a sensual dance between the adventurous pair. But when a third player enters their sexy game, the fun turns to something darker and more dangerous.

This is the description from the publisher. What they don’t tell you is that you should read this in a tub full of ice cubes and be prepared to add more ice frequently because this book is hot. This is true erotica – a genre I don’t typically read. The sex is frequent and no details are neglected. I never considered myself uninformed or naïve until I read this. There’s a whole world of sex toys out there I knew nothing about, but I know now!

If this was just a book about sex, I would probably lose interest after a while. But “Bad Girl” has a wonderful tinge of thriller mixed in when Sandy becomes an unwilling target of one of the people upon whom she was spying. It’s also a true romance as Sandy and her hero realize their relationship is about more than sex. The story is involving and interesting and it was hard to put the book down.

I thoroughly enjoyed “Bad Girl” and highly recommend it.

I rate it 5 cold showers.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A dilemma of timing

When is the right time?

When is the right time to send Rosie to doggie heaven?

Is it at the very last moment when she’s in obvious pain and can no longer stand and walk or do anything for herself anymore?

Is it in a month or two when she’s starting to show signs of obvious weakness because the cancer is overtaking her system?

Is it now while she’s still mostly in control of herself and seemingly at peace?

When is the right time?

This is a huge dilemma for me. I got Rosie when she was 8 weeks old. She turned 14 almost a month ago. She’s been a significant part of my life for a long time. I love her dearly and don’t want her to suffer.

I’m going to lose her within 3 to 6 months naturally. If I wait until the very end, she will suffer, so that’s not an option. She will NOT suffer.

If I wait until she starts showing signs that the cancer is overtaking her, she won’t suffer – but I will. Everyday I will love her, tend to her and watch her knowing that might be the last good day we have. It will always be there festering in the back of my mind. She might make it through my birthday in October, or through Thanksgiving, or through Christmas, or even into the new year. How can I celebrate these things knowing she’s dying?

So when is the right time – for her and for me?

I don’t want to prolong her suffering. I don’t want to prolong my suffering either.

Is that selfish of me?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bad News

The biopsy on Rosie's polyps came back today. She has bladder cancer. The vet thinks she has 3 to 6 months to live. We're starting her on a special medicine to keep it in check and keep her comfortable as long as possible. He said we could do chemo with the medicine and maybe give her as much as 10 months, but I said no to that. My baby is dying.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Responsibility and Power

I always try to keep in mind that the majority of people in this world have everything in common. We have two arms, two legs, two eyes, one nose, ten fingers, ten toes on two feet and we all poop and pee. We have basic needs – food, water, shelter and air. If you put all of us in one spot naked with no make-up or any other accessories, aside from differences in body mass, varying shades of flesh color, and the size of different body parts we would all be pretty much alike. If no one had any money, prestige, fame or any other symbol of wealth and power, we would all be equal.

That’s how we all start out and that’s how we all end up. What we do in between defines us as individuals. What keeps the playing field from being level is not what we are but what happens once we arrive in this world – it’s who we are. Children born in abject poverty have different experiences from those born to wealth. Children born in countries where there is war and upheaval have different experiences from those born in politically and economically stable countries. Children born into loving, happy and nurturing families have different experiences from those born into angry, unhappy and neglectful families. Children born into love have different experiences than those born into fear.

As children we’re at the mercy of our environment. We don’t know better yet. We haven’t developed the skills and instincts to move us beyond our circumstances. We rely on adults to set an example for us and show us the way. We trust them to teach us how to successfully navigate the road of life. Our choices later in life can be permanently affected by the actions of those into whose charge we have been placed.

While we’re children and still trying to develop our skills and instincts, we have every right to blame those on whom we’re relying for help if they don’t provide it. We have every right to call them to task for not fulfilling their responsibilities or for not finding someone else who could discharge those responsibilities and help us fulfill our potential.

When we become adults and start taking responsibility for ourselves, live on our own, make our own money, and create our own reality and families, the time for blame and finger pointing has ended. Once we enter the world on our own or with our mates we have choices. We can choose to be perpetual victims – to wallow in our shame, sorrow and issues, live in turmoil, repeat the past and create crappy lives for ourselves and those around us. We can act as if someone is pointing a gun towards our head and forcing us to be miserable. We can be willing participants in our own despair. But we don’t have to.

If the news media covered anything related to positive and enlightening stories, every day you could read about those who have decided not to be victims of their circumstances. You could hear and read about people rising above their situations and creating their own success. You would learn of the courage and fortitude of some amazing people who overcame what seemed to be insurmountable odds. These are people who made their own happiness and refused to allow their past or their circumstances to prevent them from achieving their goals.

The point is, once we’re adults we’re no longer victims of our circumstances and environment. We’re victims of our own thoughts and actions – or lack of actions. We’re as good or as bad as we think we are. We’re as happy or as miserable as we believe. We’re a success or a failure depending on our own perception of what success is.

I’ve read countless books and articles on abandonment issues, intimacy issues, emotional abuse, addiction and whatever else you want to blame your life on. To some extent, they all fit the way I lived my life. I can see myself in every scenario. I was a victim of my circumstances because I chose to be. Choosing to be a victim was extremely painful. When the pain became unbearable I took the steps necessary to find another way - to choose again.

Re-reading my post titled “I’m Fine” made me realize I had slipped back into victim mode. Yes, there are things happening in my life that don’t seem right or fair. But I have a choice in how I contend with those things. If I believe I’m a victim, I’m right. Then, not only am I a victim, but I’ve given my power away to people who don’t deserve it.

So now it’s time to take back my power and stop being a victim. It’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself and move forward. I don’t want to change jobs. I want to change the circumstances in my present job. I don’t want to allow my health to prevent me from doing what I want. I want Rosie to be healthy and happy again. I want to be responsible for my own happiness.

Who has your power? Are you responsible?

Monday, September 17, 2007

One advantage of blogging with writers

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Everett Public Library to hear Pat Wood read from and speak about her book “Lottery”. Afterwards we went to dinner with another blogger and some of Pat’s longtime friends. As we were discussing writing and blogging, I mentioned that one of the things I enjoy most about blogging with writers is being introduced to genres I might otherwise not have noticed.

When Pat asked me what my favorite genre is, it was an easy reply – cozy mysteries. Not the thriller type or anything erotic or gory. If Agatha Christie was still alive and writing, I would be in heaven. I love puzzles and grew up devouring Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden then graduated to Agatha and the rest as I grew older. I did read other things, but mysteries were always my favorite.

But being around writers has forced me out of my comfort zone and into other genres. I’ve grown to like and respect my fellow bloggers and want to support them and their work. I’ve purchased new releases, won books in contests and received galley copies of other manuscripts that are erotic, romance, fantasy, thriller, sci-fi, etc.

Now, the gory and sadistic ones I just can’t read. I haven’t gone to a slasher movie since Psycho and still have see through shower curtains in my house.

Opening myself to new genres and adventures in reading helps broaden me as a person. It’s like going to new places or to familiar places but seeing them from a new perspective. It’s enriching to my soul and to my writing. Like reading other blogs, it’s a true leaning experience and one for which I am most grateful to my fellow writers.

It hasn’t made me change my preference for Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, but it certainly has pulled me into another realm of possibility.

Have you strayed from your usual genres lately?

Friday, September 14, 2007

In Recovery!

Thanks for all the positive energy everyone!

Whew! Thank Dog! Mom's going to go take a nap now!

Surgery's over

She came through very well. They pulled out 18 stones 3/8 " - 1/2" in size and about 50 tiny little ones. They have sent the polyps for biopsy. They didn't have to extract her teeth - just did a thorough cleaning. She did well. Mom's still a mess!

Mid-surgery update

So the vet's assistant called while Rosie is still under anesthesia. She's doing well so far, has lots more bladder stones than showed up on the x-ray, polyps on her bladder and a couple of back teeth that appear to be abscessed. Do I want to have the polyps analyzed by the lab to make sure they aren't cancerous and do I want to have the teeth removed to make eating easier for her. Yes to both!

KaChing! KaChing! That's my wallet you hear groaning!

Surgery Day!

Rosie went in to have her bladder stones removed today. She seemed fine when I dropped her off. I'm a mess!

Think good thoughts!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I’m fine.

An acquaintance asks us how we are and the automatic answer is, “I’m fine.” It’s the polite and socially acceptable response. I’m fine, you’re fine, we’re all just fine! People don’t even really hear it because that’s what they expect. Sometimes it’s true, but often the truth is much more complicated than the innocent reply.

Saying anything other than, “I’m fine,” can throw people totally off balance. How do they reply? Are they supposed to ask more questions? Does this mean you want to tell them your problems? Some people will react this way. They’re interested or concerned and want to know.

Others will either pretend not to hear you, or just say I’m sorry and look frantically for the nearest exit. It may not be a very supportive response, but life is difficult enough for some people without taking on other’s problems.

So, when you’re not fine how do you communicate that? You blog about it!

I’m not fine! Stop reading here if you don’t care why.

First, I’m having some health problems. It’s nothing serious – just some back pain, a pinched nerve and headaches – mostly due to the weather and my aging body. It’s high pollen season around here and sometimes I think I’m Superwoman and forget basic body mechanics. I got a steroid shot in my spine the other day and that helped somewhat. It’s tedious that all the health things happen at once.

Second, my girl Rosie hasn’t been feeling well, so we went to the doggie doctor and discovered she has bladder stones. It cost $275 to discover this and will cost another $1,000+ for the surgery to correct it. Since she’s 14 and has other health problems, this has been a very difficult decision. I love her dearly and don’t want to lose her. The doctors assure me that after the surgery she will be much better, so she will have the surgery. But I really didn’t need this financial hit right now.

Third, I have a great job and work for 2 wonderful guys. Most people would fight to be in this position. But I’m not happy. We sold 1/3 of our portfolio last spring and let 1/3 of our corporate staff go. The problem is, we kept all the higher salaried people (because we wanted to keep all the talent to continue our future expansion) and we released all the people who did all the tasks the people with higher salaries don’t want to do anymore. In other words, we now have too many chiefs and no Indians.

Every Thursday I relieve the receptionist for her breaks and lunch. I worked my ass off for years in low paying jobs and studying for my master’s degrees. I answered all the phones I ever want to answer. I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t think it’s beneath me – I just don’t want to do it. Plus, the woman in charge of the front desk doesn’t like me. She’s been here 6 months longer than me and has never liked me or treated me with anything other than disdain. Since this is the way she treats most people in the office, I’ve just let it roll off me. But now for 1 ½ hours per week I have to work for her. I HATE this!

To top it all off, last month I was given one of the monthly service awards. Normally when they announce the awards they give a glowing report of why you’ve been nominated and received it. All they did was say my name. I thought it was odd, but was pleased to be recognized. Then the e-mail went out to the entire company about the awards.

For perspective, I’m the assistant to the president and the chairman of the board. I arrange, prepare materials for and take minutes for all board meetings. I’m in charge of our annual convention including finding the location, negotiating with the hotel, arranging the travel and all the banquets and preparing all the presentations. I handle all the big special projects including office moves. I am privy to all the confidential matters in the company. I have a varied and somewhat important job.

The e-mail said I had been recognized, but the only specific thing mentioned was for keeping the break room clean.

I was so pissed, I sent an e-mail back to the VP of HR and the president and told them that after 7 ½ years of service, being recognized for keeping the break room clean was both humiliating and discouraging. I tore up the certificate.

They both sent back responses assuring me there were many other reasons for the recognition and that perhaps the e-mail had been poorly worded, but the damage was done. That night I updated my resume.

I know I can stay here until I retire in 6 or 7 years. They’ll keep me on and continue giving me raises and bonuses. It’s an easy job because I have a routine and know all the shortcuts. I’m good at what I do. Until about 3 months ago, I was content to stay here until I retired. Now I’m unhappy and unsure.

But when people ask me how I am, I smile and say, “I’m fine.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 11th

I live in a wonderful, friendly, stable, middle-class neighborhood. All the houses were built at the same time – 1958. It’s one of those cookie-cutter, post-war subdivisions built to ease the housing crunch created by the parents of the baby boomers.

People who move here have a tendency to stay for a long time. For instance, I’ve been here 12 ½ years, across the street 18 years, next door 12 years, other side 5 years, across to the left 6 years, original owners behind me and original owners across to the right.

We get to know each other but we don’t intrude in each other’s lives. We watch out for each other when any of us are gone on vacation or when we see strangers in the neighborhood. We share gardening tips, talk about things going on in our lives and sometimes discuss the world situation. Sometimes we gossip about each other and we have gone through good times and bad together. Some of us have keys to other’s houses.

New York and Washington D.C. are far, far away from our comfortable little environment. We read about them, watch them on the news and occasionally visit, but they don’t have much impact on our everyday lives.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, my alarm rang at 6 a.m. Pacific time – which was really 5:45 a.m. because I set it 15 minutes ahead. A song was playing and I was in a fog and headed for the shower. About 10 minutes later, stepping out of the shower I noticed there was no more music and the normally light-hearted DJ’s were very somber. It was obvious something serious had happened, so I turned on the TV and saw the smoke and flames coming from the north tower of the WTC. No one was sure what happened, but the term “tragic accident” was used when -WHAM - at 6:03 a.m. Pacific time I and millions of others witnessed a plane fly into the south tower.

I’m not often stunned, but I actually had to sit down because of the shock. I watched for a few minutes then rushed to dry my hair and get ready for work trying not to miss any of the coverage. Now the talk began to change from tragic accident, but there were no real theories yet on what had happened. The scenes from New York looked surreal.

Then shortly after 6:37 a.m. the news that the Pentagon had been hit was broadcast. Hijacking and terrorists were words being used with increasing frequency. While we sat waiting for pictures from the Pentagon, at 6:59 a.m. the north tower collapsed. The scene on TV was utter chaos and it was apparent that even the newscasters were in shock.

Pictures came in from the Pentagon with the smoke and flames, then the replay of the north tower collapse, then the news that Flight 92 had crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside at 7:06 a.m. and just 22 minutes later at 7:28 a.m. the south tower also collapsed in a huge cloud of dust.

I watched for another 10 minutes then had to leave for work. I was already running late, but didn’t care. I listened to the radio all the way in and noticed the solemn looks on the faces of the other drivers. People at work were shaken and we all had the streaming news on the internet on our desk computers. It was impossible to talk or think about anything else. We had jobs to do, but our hearts were not there. We all ate lunch in the conference room with the TV and as soon as work was over, went home to turn on our TV’s.

I pulled into my garage then went over to my mailbox to grab the mail. I was in a hurry to get inside and watch the news, but my next door neighbor yelled at me. I didn’t want to talk and was a little irritated, but she insisted and what she said stopped me in my tracks.

My neighbors – original owners across and to the right – a couple in their late 70’s at the time – their son might have been in the Pentagon.

No one was sure yet. There hadn’t been any confirmation, but his wife confirmed that he had gone into work that morning. He was only 30 days away from retiring from a long career in the Army and wasn’t even supposed to be in his office that day, but apparently he was trying to finish up some paperwork. He was a dedicated officer. He was a great and only son, had 3 wonderful children and a good marriage. I met him a few times and he was a very nice person

His office was directly in the path of Flight 77.

According to the reports, Flight 77 hit the first floor of the Pentagon’s west wall. The impact and the resulting explosion heavily damage the building’s three outer rings. The path of destruction cut through Army accounting offices on the outer E Ring, the Navy Command Center on the D Ring, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s comptroller’s office on the C Ring. Flight 77 struck the only side of the Pentagon that had recently been renovated—it was within days of being totally [renovated]. It was the only area of the Pentagon with a sprinkler system, and it had been reconstructed with a web of steel columns and bars to withstand bomb blasts. The area struck by the plane also had blast-resistant windows—two inches thick and 2,500 pounds each—that stayed intact during the crash and fire. While perhaps, 4,500 people normally would have been working in the hardest-hit areas, because of the renovation work only about 800 were there.

We spent that evening and most of the next day waiting to find out if he was in the Pentagon when Flight 77 hit.

He was there.

They never found him. There was nothing left to find.

It was a sad time for all of us and even though we were on the other side of the country, it made the whole tragedy very personal and real for us.

I took a pie because that’s how I was raised. When something tragic happened to someone, you took food. Olga told me later she was glad to have it because they had so much company. The flowers arrived, and arrived, and arrived and arrived. The official Army vehicles came and went several times. Friends and relatives paid their respects and gradually things got back to normal.

On the first anniversary of the tragedy, I took some flowers and a card to let them know I was thinking of them. They showed me a wonderful portrait someone had painted of him after his death. They were so proud of him. We all were.

September 11th is always a sad day in this neighborhood.

Friday, September 7, 2007


“A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization”

I had an epiphany today. It truly was a sudden intuitive realization that I’ve been using the term “F*ck you!” totally wrong.

Now I’m not big on swearing. For me the occasional damn, shit or hell is about as far as I’ll go in public. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with swearing, it’s just that – as a friend so succinctly pointed out – using swear words seems a bit lazy when there are so many other wonderful words one can use to express their feelings and emotions. That doesn’t stop me from using them, but it does make me pause a bit.

Until now, “f*ck you” has always meant something derogatory and mean – a term you use when you’re really pissed off and want something awful to happen to the person to whom it’s directed. But when you read romance or erotic novels – or just the tabloids – you hear (meaning read) people saying things like, “I want to f*ck you,” or “f8ck me baby” or, well you get the picture, right? Now they’re not using the term in a derogatory manner. They’re using it to mean “let’s have sex” or “let’s copulate” or, well you get the picture, right?

Now to me, sex is a very pleasurable activity. So when you say “f*ck you” to someone, aren’t you telling them to go do something that’s going to make them feel good? Hmmmmm! If I really want to insult someone I don’t want to make them happy in the process.

I’ll never be able to say “f*ck you” to someone again when I’m upset. I have to come up with a new term. I’m thinking “piss on you” (icky and totally gross) might be a better phrase. Do you have a better one?

And, the next time someone says, “F*ck you!” to me, I’m going to smile and say, “Thanks!”

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It’s just a tablecloth!

I know it looks like it’s just a tablecloth and for all intents and purposes it is. You pull it out of your linen closet or wherever you keep it, put it on the table to either protect it or make it look nice, load it up with dishes, silverware, food and beverages, then either throw it away if it’s disposable or throw it into the washing machine. And the cycle repeats itself. It’s just a tablecloth. Or is it?

Some tablecloths evoke strong memories. Maybe it’s the traditional one saved for holiday meals. When you pull it out or see it on the table it reminds you of all the holiday meals – happy or not – it held for your family and friends. Maybe it’s a silly paper one with balloons and cakes on it like you buy for your kids birthdays every year – disposable because it’s for kids after all! Maybe it’s the vinyl one you put on the picnic table, or the lace one from your grandmother, or the orange one from Halloween. There are lots of reasons to use tablecloths and there are millions of memories surrounding them.

For instance; a few years ago a friend and I were driving to a town about an hour south of us to attend one of our cult meetings. (No it’s not really a cult. I just like to tease you!) I was privileged to be co-chairman of a group within the cult and we were having a meeting to honor one of our group members. We had an “outfit” that identified us as part of the group – a pink top and skirt.

About 2/3 of the way to the meeting – in terrible rush hour traffic and with snow beginning to fall – this horrible feeling washed over me and I asked my friend to look in the back seat and tell me my skirt was there. She leaned over and looked through everything there and said she didn’t see it. I explained to her that her answer was not acceptable, but she still couldn’t find the skirt.

I was coming straight from work and had pants on. We don’t usually wear pants in our cult meetings (very old-fashioned and I would love to change it, but that’s not so easy). However, I didn’t panic. I figured I could borrow a skirt from someone who lived nearby when we arrived at our meeting place. We had plenty of time.

Unfortunately, no one had an extra skirt that night and by this time it was snowing so hard no one wanted to go home and get me one. Everyone agreed that, considering the circumstances, it would be perfectly acceptable for me to wear my pants with my beautiful beaded pink top. So I went to downstairs to change into this unlikely outfit. As I walked through the dining hall on my way to the restroom, I noticed all the tables were very nicely set with white paper table cloths. Hmmmmmmmmm!

I asked one of the people setting up the tables if they had an extra table cloth and some safety pins and she told me to just take one off of one of the tables and she gathered about 6 safety pins of various sizes for me. Off I ran to the changing room.

Now the table cloth was designed for a 6 foot banquet table, so it required some finagling on my part. It wrapped around me about 2 ½ times and it was about a foot too long so I had to fold it over at the waist. I carefully pinned myself into my skirt and quickly discovered I needed to allow extra room at the bottom so I could actually move my legs versus waddling like a duck. After a few adjustments, I put on my pink top, looked at myself in the mirror, laughed, sighed and shook my head, and then I headed upstairs. I was quite pleased. After all, it had a plastic backing so I would be well protected from spills during refreshments later.

By this time everyone knew I was skirtless, but they weren’t prepared for my solution and I was greeted by gales of laughter and many nods of approval by those who knew me. Those who didn’t know me just looked at me as if I was demented. The evening went off without further problems and we had a lovely time. It was the subject of many conversations from then on.

Several months later, it was my turn to be honored. When my group of pink ladies got up to be escorted and introduced, they all whipped out tablecloths and wrapped them around their skirts. There were 160 people there and they all erupted in laughter and applause. That was in May of 2001 and I still get teased about forgetting my skirt and wearing a tablecloth.

Sometimes it’s not JUST a tablecloth!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

How does this make you feel?

Here's another quiz for you. How does this make you feel? Not think, feel!I'll tell you tomorrrow.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Bad Girl - Tomorrow!

Okay, there are those who would argue that I'm a bad girl all the time, but THIS post is about Bad Girl the book by Maya Reynolds that is being released tomorrow - September 4th. Here's the quick synopsis of the book:

Being bad can be so good. All it takes is the right man. By day, Sandy Davis is a dedicated social worker. By night, she's found an unlikely pastime: spying on her neighbors' erotic encounters. She tells herself that it's harmless, until one night she finds herself on the receiving end of such a fantasy-and an anonymous phone call from a peeping stranger who calls himself Justice, and whispers, "You've been a bad girl." The arousing predicament turns into a sensual dance between the adventurous pair. But when a third player enters their sexy game, the fun turns to something darker and more dangerous.

It sounds like a very fun book and I can't wait to get mine. Let's all go out and support our fellow writer!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Much better now!

My mood is much better now. The funk and fog are going away and I’m once again centered right here in my own little piece of paradise. Several things happened all at once to send me on my downward spiral. What they were is not important. How I reacted is.

In the past when I was thrown off balance by those massive waves from the ocean of life I would struggle to maintain my self control and refuse to give in and admit sometimes life just sucks. But the truth is, SOMETIMES LIFE JUST SUCKS! Every single day of our lives cannot be perfect – unless you’re delusional or on really good drugs. The more I struggled against the waves, the more they would drag me under.

I finally realized that by letting go and not fighting to maintain that image of “okayness”, the process of coming back to the top was shortened dramatically. If I allow myself to just feel the sadness, unhappiness, anger, frustration or whatever the emotion du jour is, I recover much quicker.

So I spent the last few days being morose and feeling sorry for myself and today I feel better. I’m not so overwhelmed. I didn’t struggle. I experienced life. Life isn’t perfect and there are still some things I’m not happy about, but I’m moving on. I can handle whatever emerges.

The best thing about this episode is how aware I was of my emotions and how often I realized this awareness can be applied to my writing. So not only do I feel better, but I learned something in the process that can improve me.

Sometimes life doesn’t suck!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sometimes life just sucks!

I'm in a funk right now. I know it's temporary and will pass soon, but I've found it's better to just ride it out and gain some experience and perspective than to fight it and pretend everything's great.

So if you have any good jokes, now would be a really good time to share them.