Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Water off a Duck's Back

Two days before Christmas. I read a quote today that seems to sum it up for me: "To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year." (E.B. White) There is a certain pressure to be happy and joyous, and yet it isn't always easy to conjure up those emotions.

No one needs to remind me of all that I have to be grateful for, as I am very aware. I have a good, safe, comfortable home, a steady job that I enjoy and that pays me well enough, I have a terrific almost-15-year-old daughter that continually reminds me of how much she loves me and thinks I'm 'the best', and I have wonderful friendships, old and new. And yet I'm troubled by the fact that a few of those friendships have fallen by the wayside, and largely due to misunderstandings and/or a difference in how to approach the situations life presents us. One's judgments and opinions are only as good as the life experience and perception that they bring to the table at any given moment, and yet relationships are ruined based on that narrow point of view. Despite attempts on my part to bridge the gap, there are a couple of friends who prefer to remain on the fringe.

Of course, this brings me back to the key component of The Four Agreements -- Don't take things personally. It's time to let it go, release whatever ick I'm feeling, and shake it off. No, I'm not a duck, so it won't be as simple as water off the back. But for my own sake, I need to know that I have done what I could and, as long as I can be honest with myself about my intention and attempts, forgive myself and move on.

So, come on Christmas. I embrace the ideas of peace and fellowship of the season, and remain optimistic for the good that will come in the new year. Blessings to all.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Moving through the Melancholy

It's a time of reflection, least for me. When Rebecca was in the first grade (so, eight years ago), she was home sick and missed a trip to Graves' Mountain. We decided to make that up for her and check it out, and so went for a weekend. That trip began an annual tradition, although we moved it up to Thanksgiving so that we could enjoy the abundance of the buffet spread (if you get there in time for lunch and spend the night, you get to enjoy it twice!)...truly some of the best fried oysters I've ever had, country ham, homemade biscuits and apple butter, and so much more.

Anyhow, it was during one of these trips for Thanksgiving I experienced my third miscarriage. It started early in the week, but since we'd made our plans we decided to go ahead. By now I knew all the signs, so it was just a matter of letting nature take its course. But it was a tough weekend, immersed in pain and sadness during a time that should be about gratitude and appreciation for the good things in our lives. And yet, I was able to spend the majority of my time that weekend (thanks to Karl spending time with Rebecca so I could have some solitude) sitting quietly and just absorbing the energy of those around me. It ended up being the best possible thing for me, to be around people but not necessarily have to interact with them.

Nonetheless, every year at this time I find myself feeling a bit melancholy. It usually takes me a while to figure out what's 'wrong', and then it comes back to me. This third miscarriage was my last attempt at trying to have more children, and so I imagine that the finality of that has stuck with me through the years. While I realize that, given what happened over the ensuing years with the end of my marriage, I suppose things do happen for a reason, it is still a difficult time of year. This feeling is compounded by reflection on my life as it is today, having been divorced for six years, middle-aged, and a single mom. Generally I don't dwell on the prospect of aging alone, but at this time of year it all seems to settle around me and it can weigh on me pretty heavily.

So, Rebecca and I are headed to the mountains. We will spend four days and three nights at The Mountain, a Unitarian Universalist retreat center near Highlands, NC. We will be around people but will be free to interact or enjoy solitude as we need to. I hope to get some good hikes in and just enjoy the area and the peace of the surrounding scenery. It will be good for my soul and my psyche, and I am grateful for the opportunity to take this time.

Meanwhile, I realize how much I have to be grateful for, with a loving family, good friends, all the necessities of life as well as a few luxuries, and the good sense to take care of me. It's been a big year for me emotionally, and I am happy to say that I see the year ending in a positive and joyful way, with the knowledge that I have exactly what I need in life already.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Accepting the Gift

A very dear, sweet soul was lost to us yesterday. Nancy Gilmore lost her battle with cancer of the esophagus, leaving grieving friends and family. Nancy truly was one of the kindest and gentlest people I've known, full of love and had the sweetest voice. She will be sadly missed.

As I contemplate turning 50, I am struck be the timing of life and death events. When someone dies so young and had so much left to give, it is cause for reflection and assessment. I remember when my daughter was due to be born, and my cousin of only 24 lost his battle with cancer. Rebecca was born a few days later. Death and life. I remember when my mother's father died, and the day after I went to school and felt bewildered over the beauty of the fall day in spite of the loss.

And yet I also understand, those who go before us would want us to live fully and to surround ourselves with those we love and who love us. So it is with this thought in mind that I look forward to celebrating my 50th birthday with so many people that I love. I will hold Nancy and her family close in my thoughts and in my heart. And I will celebrate living, because every day truly is a gift, and I accept it with an open and loving heart.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Never Again...?

Rock and Roll Half Marathon Virginia Beach, check. Yup, did it, and did it pretty well, for having hardly trained at all. What a tremendous experience! One of 20,000 who registered to run or walk 13.1 miles from the convention center, over rudee inlet, down General Booth Blvd., through Camp Pendleton, and finishing up on the boardwalk, all the while with residents, cheerleaders, and bands to motivate us, and hundreds of volunteers ready with water, Cytomax, and encouragement pushing us on.

My sense of dread on Saturday just kept building, realizing I hadn't trained near as much as I'd hoped. But the goal had all along been nothing more than to finish and finish uninjured. I would run as much as I could, but listen to my body.

We had eleven folks staying at the house that our friend Chris so generously rented. We all got checked in and enjoyed some of the expo shopping, got a little beach time in, and then enjoyed a spaghetti dinner complete with two delicious salads and yummy bread. A nice walk on the beach under a full moon completed the night. We could hear the music until about 11, and then all got quiet. And I couldn't sleep. All told I may have gotten 2 1/2 hours. I was up at 5:30 and ready to go by 6. We all walked over to the start of the race, and then waited for over 30 minutes as each group of runners started.

Each group (or corral) is staged based on their estimated finish time. Many folks move into different corrals once they get there, based on how they feel and how they've prepared. I was placed in corral 18, but moved myself back to 22. I was not feeling as optimistic as I had been in April.

Finally our corral was off. My friend Amy stuck with me during the entire race, and I am so grateful. She let me set the pace, walked when I walked, ran when I ran, and doesn't like to talk while running...just the perfect race support buddy! The first six miles we mostly ran, with some walking interspersed for recovery and stretching. Even the Rudee Inlet bridge wasn't near as troublesome as I thought it would be. Miles 7 and 8 we mostly walked. This was on Camp Pendleton and was mostly in the sun. The distance between mile markers started to feel longer and longer, so by the time we reached mile 10 I was really losing my enthusiasm. We had allowed ourselves to think we might finish in three hours (and Amy could have) but the last four miles killed that for me. I've heard it said and now believe it to be true, each of those last miles seems longer than the last! Finally, with about 3/4 of a mile to go, Amy sprinted to the finish. I began jogging again, feet burning and lower back aching, and the strains of Tom Petty's "Mary Jane" reaching me from the finish line. I really was going to finish this, I realized!

Crossing the finish line was a bit anticlimactic, but it was enough to get that bottle of water and a medal around my neck...I had done it! I found Amy again, she congratulated me, and we walked to the family area to meet some of the rest of our housemates. We listened to the music for a while (one of the better bands that I heard, Vinyl Headlights) and then headed back toward the beach house. Along the way a church group had set up for free foot wash/massages, so we stopped for that. What a welcome treat that was. Finally, we arrived back at the house to the cheers of the remainder of the group. We sat and received more foot massages from our race support team member (she didn't run, but she cheered and had snacks and rubbed our feet!) and talked about our experiences from the day. All in all, an unforgettable triumph for me. I am so glad I did it. And even though I kept saying yesterday, "Never again!", I find myself now thinking, "What if I actually trained? I could do the Marine Corps Historic Half, couldn't I?" Somebody, slap me!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

20 years ago

20 years ago, I was reconsidering the course of my life. I wasn't happy with my salary, I wasn't happy with my love life, and I was feeling the need for some change.

I had moved back to Norfolk from Houston, a little over a year after my father died and we settled his 'estate' (paid off the bills, sold the house, sold the boat, split up the stuff...) I was working in a law office, and while I made good friends there, I never cared for the stuffy environment as compared to the "we're all in this together" style of working that I had experienced in Houston. I was working a lot of overtime. I had a cute little duplex near the Chesapeake Bay and a dog and a cat.

One of the things I considered at this time was moving to DC and working with some attorneys that I had known in Houston. They took me to lunch, and I scouted possible areas to live based on an estimated salary for a legal secretary in DC. While I was intrigued at the possibility of working with these guys (we all got along great), the DC life didn't appeal. I'd just left a big city and while it was fun for a while, I was over it.

So, I declined that opportunity. Then I briefly considered the military, as a way of getting an education. I distinctly remember talking to my mother about this, along with her tips on changing my diet to lower my cholesterol (my father had died in '86, massive heart attack.)

But a few days later I was asked by a co-worker if I would be willing to go on a blind date. Her husband had three buddies who wanted dates for the Hawkeye Ball. The Hawkeye is the E2C, the "eyes" of the aircraft carrier, first planes out, last retrieved. The guys were getting home from a six month cruise the day of the ball. And that's how I met my future husband. And why I didn't join the military. (Really, I considered that...?!)

This comes up because Rebecca recently asked how I'd met her dad. And it had dawned on me earlier this summer, that was 20 years ago. It is incredible to me that so much time has passed. And Rebecca has asked me, "Are you sorry you married Daddy?" Well of course not. We shared some real adventures together, and have a beautiful and loving daughter who is well on her way to becoming a pretty amazing young adult.

It all leads us to where we are now. No regrets. But wow, 20 years ago...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer of Love

This will probably read more like a rambling than a coherent blog post.

Just a coincidence that this year marks the 40th anniverary of the quintessential lovefest, Woodstock. Didn't make sense to struggle with something so insignificant as the title of this blog post, so there it is.

Feeling very alive lately. Nerves right at the top of my skin. Awareness heightened to a ridiculous level: words mean more, music affects me more profoundly, and tears come more easily. My heart feels very open right now. And on top of all of this, I feel calm. Peaceful. Nothing significant has happened. I noticed a difference earlier in the summer, like I'd turned some kind of emotional corner. Hard to explain, but the feeling has held in any case. And yes, this does sound a lot like the "twitterpated" feeling discussed in the spring. I suppose in a way that's what this is, but more twitterpated with life, living, and love (not the sappy stuff, the real stuff, the enduring love of real connections...)

I do know this: I have connected and reconnected with so many extraordinary people and friends over the summer.

SUUSI, of course, is always an experience in connections. No need to go into that again, but it definitely grounded me and gave me a renewed sense of self.

The reunion in Norfolk was almost magical. Friends and acquaintances I hadn't seen in over 30 years, all together for a weekend at a beach house. We exchanged stories, memories, joys and sorrows. We came together from all the different places we'd been scattered, both geographically and in our life's journeys; we have different political views, different religious backgrounds, and yet we enjoyed food, drink, music and dancing, and came away with a renewed sense of where we come from and a deeper connection to each other. Now there is talk of making this an annual event. I hope so.

And at home, in our little town, it seems that some fences are being mended, and misunderstandings forgiven. There have been many occasions for deep connections and strengthening of friendships. Even the most cynical among us has felt the love. I can't attribute it to anything specific. But I do know that it makes me happy. I have friends in my life who 'get' me, and that is priceless. They recognize things in me that I forget, and they remind me. They gently encourage me to be kinder to myself, to love myself. And I am so very grateful.

And I know, the one constant in our lives is change. Impermanance. Nothing lasts forever. I'm about to turn 50. Not sure what the future holds. All the more reason, then, to embrace the now. My heart is open, my mind is open, and nothing really matters but right now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Summer Vacation

The dog days of summer have arrived. This area has been blessed with great weather this summer, so we were bound to pay eventually. Fortunately, the weather stayed amazingly nice through our vacation at SUUSI (Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute) at Radford. It was downright chilly at night, my three hikes were all very comfortable, and when it did rain it was brief and welcome.

This was our second year at SUUSI. It was our first staying in separate dorms, and I have to say, I am very proud of Rebecca. Even though she had a 1 a.m. curfew and most of her friends stayed out/up as late as they possibly could (some stayed in the common room all night long), she had the good sense to get to bed by midnight most nights. Good to know she has her own mind and doesn't feel the need to follow the crowd. I hope that remains to be a part of her character. She had a great time, cultivated some old and new friendships, and was completely thrilled with participating in Teens Way Off Broadway. She even took a Making Truffles workshop (they were yummy!) My dorm experience was great: my room mate and I got along famously, our suitemates were nice and very considerate...I barely noticed we were sharing a bathroom with them. We stayed in a quiet hall, so sleeping was never a problem. And most nights we could sleep with the windows open, thanks to the cool temperatures.

I enjoyed my time immensely. I was in a very mellow, calm mood, which made for a very positive experience. I worked in the nursery for part of the time, and really enjoyed holding the babies and generally helping out with lots of other amazing volunteers. What a well-run operation (SUUSI in general, and the youth program in particular.) I also participated in the Fun Run (run by friend Bill Brooks) and finished, approx. a 13 min. mile. Good enough, but I wouldn't call it fun...

The three hikes I participated in were all enjoyable and unique in their own way. The first was to the Falls of Dismal. Beautiful area, but a very short hike to the falls, so several of us went on to hike on a path above the falls and saw some beautiful scenery and had some nice conversations.

The next hike originated at Mountain Lake, the site where much of Dirty Dancing was filmed. There was a fog on this morning, which made the temps very nice. We hiked a fairly steep path (had to rest several times) up to Bald Knob, which I believe is one of the highest points in this part of Virginia.
Unfortunately, our view was obstructed by the fog, but still an exhilarating accomplishment. We went on from there and hiked to Bear Cliffs. This was a gorgeous area, and I was fortunate to be walking with a woman well-versed in botany, which helped in identifying many of the plants along the way.Bear Cliffs is a fairly treacherous area, with deep chasms and large crags of rock. Most of the rock is very slippery, and two in our party took a fall. Not an area to be treated lightly.

Amazingly, one of our party had just turned 80 in February. While his going was slow, he accomplished the hike and we were all supportive and encouraging. Good for him!! The highlight of the nature portion of my SUUSI experience was the Travertine Falls Silent Hike. The hike was conceived by one of the Nature staff, Dave Shellman. He had experienced a hike last year during which one participant talked non-stop. He thought it might be nice to lead a hike that was based on silence, immersing the participants in their surroundings. Well, it was a huge hit. Everyone who signed up did so specifically because it was billed as 'silent.' We determined the parameters (no talking zone, time to meet back, etc.) and were on our way.

Oh, the things you can see when you have the freedom to be silent, stop, sit, go back, and contemplate. Truly a wonderful experience, and the bonding seemed even more deep without the talking. Thanks, Dave.
The rest of my time at SUUSI remained fairly open. Outside of set dining times (which were very accommodating) I had no real agenda. I attended a few theme talks and worship services, always a great experience and very grounding, I attended several of the concerts (great talent there), and did a little shopping at the SUUSI store and Artisan's Bazaar. In the afternoons we would gather in the quad for community time, sharing our thoughts on the day, the services, the weather, and just generally enjoying each other. Our circle invariably grew, as folks stopped by to say hello, and we all made new friends this way. We would often gather back in this area after dinner, and on a couple of occasions talked and laughed (oh how we laughed!) into the night.

And several nights I would end up at Serendipity, for cocktails and dancing. One night as I walked home, I came upon a labyrinth that had been set up by a participant, lined with white lights. I dropped my shoes and walked the labyrinth, enjoyed the coolness and moisture of the grass, and welcoming the tranquility of 1 a.m., after the thumping of the music and dancing. Lovely way to end the night.

When it was time to come home, Rebecca and I were both ready. We loved the week and we look forward to next year. But home is a good place to be. I've always felt that vacation is good for that...helping me to appreciate home. There's no place like home. See you next year, SUUSI...thanks for the wonderful week and unforgettable moments.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Life Is Good

Life in general is pretty darn good. Things at work are a little busier, which helps me feel more productive and valuable. Social life has been very busy, always picks up in the summer. Lots of fun with friends, and lots of good music. Romantic life remains static, but that has a tendency to work out best when I don't pay it a lot of attention. Rebecca is enjoying her summer, a good combination so far of busy times interspersed with down time. She's a great help around the house and a joy to live with! Meanwhile, ...

...we're heading out for our second annual trip to Radford to attend SUUSI: Southeastern Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute -- church camp. But not just any church camp. For seven days, UUs from all over the country (and some from outside the country...) gather together to share joys, sorrows, fun, worship, discussions, music, dancing, art, and community. For those seven days, we will be the only folks on the Radford campus besides the summer staff.

Last year, I took a yoga class and did one hike. I attended a couple of worship services (done by some of the who's who of UU) and did a whole lot of late night tipping and dancing. Rebecca and I roomed together in the family dorm, and we both made new friends and had a great time.

This year, I plan to do a fun run and three hikes, and am working in the nursery part-time. Rebecca will be staying in the teen dorm with a friend she made last year, and I will be staying in the adult dorm :) We are both looking forward to the freedom and fun.

SUUSI has been the answer to what has been a difficult decision for us each year: what to do for vacation that engages both of us and allows us each to have fun with folks in our peer groups. It is perfect. Life is good.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Charlie Bean

And speaking of friendship, just heard from my old friend Chuck yesterday. Chuck and I go back to high school, Norview High School in Norfolk, VA. He dated one of my best friends. He was one of my best friends, too. We knew he had a temper, since one night after he and Denise fought he put a hole in the bedroom door where she was staying at my dad's house. Dad was none too happy about it. Chuck was one of those whose mouth and temper got the better of him when he was drinking.

Chuck also lived in Houston for part of the time I was there. We lived in the same apartment complex. I remember one night, after having a few (okay, several) drinks at the bar next door (I believe it was called Amore...), we started walking home in the rain. We ran into someone I knew, and we started chatting. Apparently Chuck stepped into some mud, but whatever the case, the whole time I was chatting with the neighbor, I could hear Chuck floundering around in the bushes, and I'm chatting as though nothing in the world is wrong. The neighbor moved on, and Chuck and I laughed our asses off all the way back to our apartments.

Anyhow, about 11 years ago Chuck got himself into trouble. This wasn't his first brush with the law, but it's the one that put him into jail for 20 years. Apparently his temper and drinking set him off once again, and he drew a knife on some guy at a party. Bad enough, but when the cops came, Chuck brandished the knife at one of them. You just don't do that. So, Chuck has been bouncing around between various Virginia correctional facilities, depending on how well he behaves. He's currently not too far away (near Farmville) and I may try to go and see him.

Meanwhile, Chuck's daughter has grown to be a young lady of 15. She hardly knows her dad, he hardly knows her; in fact, he hasn't seen her in a year. Chuck wrote that his mom is coming to visit, and will be bringing his daughter with her. I am so glad he gets to see them both.

Do I feel sorry for Chuck? Yes, I kind of do. He never got the help he needed, and he wasn't enlightened enough to know how to get it. He'll never get that help in the system. He will supposedly get out in nine more years. Wow. I can't imagine losing 20 years of my life, not seeing my daughter grow up, realizing my mother is old and has serious health problems, not seeing my siblings, or my friends. I know he 'brought this on himself', but I also know his problems were fixable, and I think it's a shame he will have served 20 years, when there are so many out on the street now who have done so much worse than Chuck did.

So, I heard from "my favorite convict" (as Chuck likes to call himself) yesterday, and I owe him a letter, possibly a visit. He's still my friend, Bean as I used to call him (short for Charlie Bean, not sure why...) See you soon, Chuck.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fickled Fate of Friendship

It's about friendship. You see, I'm a sensitive girl. I know, I don't come off that way, that's a defense mechanism, and you know it. But some friendships really matter to me. So when a friend goes away or disappears, I tend to feel a tad blue and worry what happened. I know, don't take it personally. But what if it *does* have something to do with me? I think I'd like to know. I think I'd want to make amends and/or talk it out. When we're not given that explanation, then the ends are left hanging, dangling out there. That's unpleasant. I'm a believer in open, honest communication. I don't like games, or mixed messages, or unanswered questions. It makes me feel confused and frustrated, and sad. Ugh.

But on another note, also to do with friendship, I have some amazing friends. Spent an excellent weekend with lots of them, old and new. Come Monday I was exhausted, but it was a lot of fun right up through midnight Sunday. And my daughter had a fun weekend with a friend and her family at Westmoreland, so Sunday night when we finally got together again, she was all chatty about her weekend, and we talked and talked, just like friends. Obviously I love my daughter; but I also really, really like her. She is turning into a pretty awesome human being, and I am so very blessed to have her in my life.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Organizational Therapy

I'm a neat person by nature. I've always been a 'picker upper' -- I don't like clutter, it makes me feel muddled and out of control. So, I pick up and put away...a lot. When people come to my home, they usually make some comment about how clean my house is, and I always correct them. Because my house isn't clean; I hate to clean. But I'm usually putting things in their place, which gives the appearance of clean. And I'm okay with that.

One of the things I thought I might do as a side business involves helping people get rid of the clutter in their lives. I would call it Organizational Therapy, because it can be therapeutic to get rid of clutter. However, I realized that helping someone get rid of clutter can be a delicate matter. You have to be very aware that their clutter has meaning to them, and getting rid of it can be a slow and sometimes painful process. So, I shelved (pardon the pun) that idea for a business, because I need a better awareness into people's psyche than I actually have.

So, I stick to my own clutter. And I realized, when I started blogging, that writing is my mental clutter clearing: putting the jumbled thoughts on paper is my way of clearing out the clutter. Kind of like making a list when you have so many things to do you feel like your head is going to explode. Putting it all down on paper helps ease that feeling that your brain is bulging at the seams. At least it does for me.

And this morning my head is a jumble. Some of the words tumbling around today: friendships, relationships, competition, jealousy, caring, laughter, solitude, sharing, withdrawing, understanding, misunderstanding, wanting, fearing, asking, telling, listening, hearing, healing, growing, aging, breathing, thinking, overthinking.

Whew, that feels better.

Monday, June 22, 2009


What a whirlwind weekend! I attended Operafest at UMW on Friday night; that was a real treat: a good exposure to opera with some incredible talent, not the least of which was my co-worker AJ, who belted out some major high Cs. Truly a pleasure to have experienced this. Saturday held a trip to Frederick, MD, chronicled below, and Sunday evening I attended the wedding of two very dear friends.

I spent a leisurely morning on Saturday with Rebecca, topped off mid-day by an impulsive trip to get pedicures...nice! All morning, though, I was trying to get a companion for my trip to Frederick, MD, to hear Bob Sima at Frederick Cellars. A folk musician with insightful, soulful, and upbeat lyrics and a beautifully smooth voice, I had first heard Bob at a Songwriters' Showcase at Pickers. Several house concerts later, I'm a huge fan and plan to have Bob with a full band at my 50th celebration. All attempts at finding a travel companion failed, and I must admit my heart wasn't really in the trip when I set out. It didn't help that traffic 2/3 of the way was virtually stopped. I finally checked into my room at about 5:30, which gave me very little time to take the nap I had so been hoping for. Deciding that I needed to get my bearings in town, I checked in with Rebecca and then headed into town.

Coming into Frederick from the direction I did was kind of like coming into Fredericksburg from R0ute 2/Mayfair area. You see the signs for Historic Frederick and Frederick Fairgrounds. Pretty uneventful. It soon became apparent to me, however, that this was a special little town. Now, anyone who knows me knows I don't like favorites/bests/superlatives in general. I know we have a great little town, but I know there are thousands just as special all over the country. Frederick is one of these. Like Fredericksburg/Savannah/Carytown all rolled into one, Frederick is a wonderful blend of diverse shopping, restaurants, and people, with a unique history and an obvious sense of pride in the town. But more than anything, it was a feast for the eyes.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I located Frederick Cellars, where I planned to hear Bob Sima play. Since I was early, I wandered about town, cursing myself for not bringing my camera: it was apparent to me that there were so many things to take pictures of, and I determined to come back in the morning to do just that.

Anyhow, back at the Cellars, I ordered a glass of wine and sat at the wine bar. Almost immediately, Bob pulled up. He brought his equipment in, and we chatted for a bit. Folks began coming in, and of course Bob knew many of them from previous engagements. Since I was alone, he introduced me to several folks, and they promptly had me join them. Helen, Ralph, Janis, and Don were very open and friendly; we were soon joined by Nancy and Mike. The music ensued, and it was fun and beautiful. Bob is very engaging and interacts well with his audience. He played from 7:30 to 10, and all too soon it was over. Bob mixed with everyone for a few minutes, and we all said our goodbyes, since Frederick Cellars closed at 10. I met four other long-time fans of Bob's, and they were making plans for a late dinner. Bob invited me along, so the six of us set out for Brewers' Alley.
Housed in what was the old city hall building, this three story all brick establishment was obviously a popular night spot. Fortunately, we were able to get a table on the patio, and were quickly ordering pizza (white and hawaiin) and beers. The evening was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the company was great. We wandered back to our cars, and the entire time I was making mental notes hoping to remember where we were so I could come back and take pictures. We all said our goodbyes, and I went back to the hotel and crashed. I determined I would skip the continental breakfast and sleep in. I did just that, and woke up smiling and hungry, ready to explore.

It was a nice morning, not sunny but also not hot, with a good breeze blowing. Although I was very hungry, I found myself wandering and taking pictures...I'd know the right place when I found it. Scene after scene jumped out in front of me, and I had to delete pictures several times in order to get other shots. At least four different times I would find myself, quite by accident, exactly where I wanted to be for the next shot.

This wandering landed me in front of Pretzel and Pizza Creations, where I ended up having the best (yes, I said best!) breakfast sandwich I have ever experienced.

It was perfect. The entire morning was perfect. Serendipitous, I dare say. I realized that I was supposed to come to Frederick alone. It just wouldn't have been the same had I been accompanied. It truly was one of the best outings I have had in a long time, and Frederick now holds special memories for me, as well as the promise of future trips and visits to shops and restaurants yet unexplored. I highly recommend Frederick for a weekend outing, I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And so it goes...

Looking forward to what has become an annual (third) trek to Topsail Island with four fun ladies. Rebecca will be on her science trip to Florida, rooming with three other girls, and they are non-stop should be a blast for her, but I know she'll be exhausted after! One of the other parents kindly offered to take her to Dulles along with his child, thank goodness because they need to be up there before six a.m.!! So while she's having her fun, I get to have my fun...sun, seafood, cocktails, reading, and sleep, with some lively banter mixed in, can't wait!

So, my girl is moving on to high school next year -- wow. It really does fly by, this time stuff. But I'm loving every minute of it. I have friends who are mourning the loss of the innocence, etc. as their children grow up, but I don't look at it that way. It's been a fun ride, and she is exactly where she is supposed to be, good for her (and good for me!)

My brother has a court date on 6/18 to see if they will uphold the restraining order against him. It's ridiculous: my brother is not and never was a violent person, never got in fights, abhors violence, took him years to allow himself to even hunt (only justified it by using as much of the kill as possible...) He has not been able to go home, see his cat, get clothes. It's a terrible mess, and so unnecessary. Wish he wasn't so far away, it isn't easy for his family to feel so helpless and not be able to support him. And meanwhile the almost ex-wife has gotten more and more bitter and angry, lashing out by trying to take even more from him, rather than realizing the marriage is over and he is being very supportive by continuing to cover her huge medical expenses, a house free and clear, and tens of thousands on top of that so that she can focus on her health.


Life on a personal level is fine, still a little confusing at times on the social front but I'm learning (and I mean this at all levels of socializing...) I will never understand the motivation of some folks, but so it goes.

Summer is in full swing, concerts, picnics, outings near and far, and it should be a lot of fun. I am looking forward to our excursion to Radford and hikes in the surrounding area, most especially. A week with folks from all over the country (and other countries) gathered together to laugh, discuss, relax, have fun, and make memories -- it's a beautiful thing!

Here's to moving forward, ever forward, with no regrets and with optimism for what lies ahead. Happy summer adventures to all!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Weary and befuddled...

Lots of stuff going through my mind lately.

I have a couple of friends who are in different stages of loving and losing. We had a conversation the other night about who had it better, they who have recently experienced a deep connection and are now faced with the loss of it, or me who, in spite of a few minor forays, have yet to experience that depth of friendship and passion that I long to have with a partner.

And then there is the whole dating thing. Geez. I KNEW there was a reason I didn't want to meet someone I liked: it opens up a whole package of emotions that I've managed to keep tightly wrapped and hidden. I am forced to consider who I am, what I want, what I'm willing to give, what I'm willing to accept. I feel like I'm back in high school, with all those insecure thoughts that swirl about. You try not to overthink things, you try to go with the flow, but the questions surface.

It's so much easier to be alone, not worry about the interactions, the should/shouldn't, too much/too little of it all. But then, is it better to be alone? It's kind of lonely. . .

I suppose what's bothering me the most is that I'm almost 50, I've been separated/divorced for six years now, and there isn't much on the horizon for me on a personal level. I'll be working for the next 17 years, during which time my daughter will finish high school and move on to college. Deep down, I'm aware that I have not given up on the idea of finding a partner to share those years with, but at times I feel it will be ever elusive. And I try so hard not to go to that place that asks "Is it me? What is wrong with me?"

Yeah, weary and befuddled. This too shall pass.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's Not to Like?

So, a friend and I went to see Little Feat last night. I had never seen them live, so was looking forward to it, knowing of course it would never be the same as seeing them while Lowell George was alive. We weren't certain about the weather, but after a storm pushed through and it cooled off some, we were optimistic. After a little tour of Silver City (aka Celebrate Virginia) we found the Celebrate Virginia Live section of town. Parking was a mini adventure, with several folks spinning their wheels in beautiful red mud. The parking attendants got a little smarter, and had us park where there was more grass, and Bill backed the car in.

We ran into friends on the way in, and after catching up briefly, were on our way to will call. A friend was kind enough to give me two free tix, so we picked these up and were on our way. We picked our way through some mud, saw more friends, and made our way through the crowd to stake our claim. At this point it became very apparent that we were in for a little mini Woodstock: mud, hippies (albeit the 21st century variety), and some very drunk (or something) music lovers. Even if the music sucked, this was going to be fun!

Found a decent spot, set up our chairs, and then stood in line for beer tickets and then beer. As we sat back down, the folks immediately in front of us were getting a bit raucous, and one guy threw beer all over the girl next to him. One person in their group was pissed, but the girls behind them were even more so, and promptly moved. This gave us the equivalent to a bulkhead seat, with no one directly in front of us, which meant more people used this area as a walkway, and gave us even more to look at.

Which brings me to the crowd. Wow, a feast for the eyes. Young hippie type girls doing hoola hoop (and very well, and not just around their waists), old hippies wandering around with that vague expression in their eyes, obviously reliving their youth and glad to be there, grandparents with small children -- it was the full gambit. I saw women my age, missing several teeth and fully made up (seriously, quite the contrast) strutting (or was it staggering?) about and thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Bill and I watched, sipped, and chatted. The music started, and I have to say I was underwhelmed. It vaguely sounded like Little Feat, but lacked the crispness and clarity that were such trademarks of their sound. It ended up being more like a beer party with music accompaniment than a concert, but it was still a fun time. After about six songs and on-again, off-again rain, we decided to head to the car. About halfway there, the rain came down harder and we were very glad we'd made the decision to head out. Bill eased the car out of the spot with no problem, and we were on our way.

It was a good time, and I'm glad we went. As a friend said to me today: music, mud, beer, and rednecks -- what's not to like?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Five Days of Family

Rebecca and I went down to Florida last Thursday. We surprised my mom for her 70th birthday, and the surprise went off without a hitch. Rebecca and I hid in the restroom of the restaurant where mom and my step-dad were to meet my sister and her family. When they got in and got settled, we came out of the bathroom singing Happy Birthday, and the rest of the family joined in. Mom had her back to us, and turned around smiling (she thought it was the wait staff singing...), and then her eyes grew wide as she realized who we were. Big hugs all around, and then we had a great dinner and laughed and talked. Rebecca actually did a little video of the surprise part, but I was having trouble loading it so will try to do that again later. It's kind of funny, but I think mostly mom will appreciate it.

Timing worked out so that we were able to attend my nephew's graduation from high school the next day. It was a long afternoon, but worth it to see his face when he saw us all up there together supporting him. Then out for another great dinner.

During this time Rebecca and I stayed at my sister's home in Deland, FL. She and her husband are going through some tough times financially, but are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. They'll come out just fine, I'm confident. They have one more child to graduate, next year, and then will be empty-nesters. Wow.

On Saturday, my sister and her husband had more company come, in the form of his brother along with his wife and their daughter and new son-in-law. Along with a niece who had arrived the same day we did, this made for a nice little family get-together/get to know each other gathering. Lots of food, drink, and laughter ensued. Then Rebecca and I went back to mom's to spend the night. We enjoyed breakfast out with them, and then I spent an hour or so by the pool before getting ready for the trip home.

All in all, it was a great weekend of family and fun. The only real damper was when I spoke with my brother on Saturday afternoon. I was able to get more information regarding the distressing situation between he and my sister-in-law. While it is too personal to go into here, I will say that he is truly suffering and hurting right now. His wife has isolated herself from her own family and will not discuss anything with them. In spite of my brother giving her, free and clear, a house, $20,000, and full medical coverage for her mounting health problems, she is determined to get more, and to insist on pushing him into lifestyle changes he has made clear he wants no part of. Hence, the arguing that led to her filing for a restraining order against him. He has never harmed his wife, never lifted a hand to her. But she is desperate, and is resorting to desperate measures. Despite her recent actions, he is still willing to give her more money and make sure her medical care is taken care of, but she seems bent on pushing for a divorce and getting even more out of him. It is a bad situation, and not likely to get better any time soon. My heart breaks for my brother, and for my sister-in-law, and we all feel helpless as they struggle through this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This one will not be easy. I'll say in advance, I'm posting this here because it needs to be put down. Feel free to comment, I welcome insight, but probably won't want to talk about it.

Back story: my brother lives in Reno, NV. He is 53. He ended up out west back in the late 70s. That in itself has a long story, and here's the quick version. Dropped out of high school, had a couple of jobs, got in trouble, lost one of his best friends to a tragic accident during a camping trip, took off on a bus (never forget that day) to New Mexico, where he worked and lived for a while (and oh how I wish I'd saved the letters he wrote...), eventually came back and apprenticed as an electrician. After retiring from the Navy, my father had started a company that would be doing work overseas (in Iran, just before the hostage crisis), and my brother signed up. This was amazing, as up until this time their relationship had been very, very rocky. This working together proved to be a very good healing time for them, and my brother matured. Unfortunately, during this time my parents' marriage dissolved, and my father came home to try to salvage things. My brother witnessed the anguish my father experienced, and thus began a rift between he and my mother. This was especially upsetting, since they had up until then been very, very close. Not long after dad and my brother returned from Iran, my brother decided to load up his truck (a 56 Chevy pick-up he had named Rosebud, shift on the column) and drive west. His girlfriend invited herself along (she was escaping something else entirely) and he agreed. They lived in Gillette, WY for about nine years, and ultimately moved to Reno for better jobs.

At some point in this relationship, brother and g.f. married. It was an uneasy relationship in many ways. She became a Jehovah's Witness, and my brother is pretty much agnostic. He likes to drink, and she viewed the drinking as a problem (and one she was trying to fix by witnessing to him often.) At one point they separated, and she called me and told me more things about my brother than I cared to know (including how rough he was during sex.) Then they reconciled and made a second go of things. Unfortunately, the problems ran deep and they ultimately separated again. During this time, the wife was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (her mother had ultimately died from complications of this disease and it's treatment) and she needed medical care, but was not insured. So, they came to an agreement which involved not finalizing the divorce so that she could stay covered under my brother's health insurance. Then things became so bad (complications from mediation) that my brother agreed that she live in the house with him again, so that he could help take care of her.

Well, yesterday my mom called. I could tell by her voice it was something upsetting. It seems my brother was served with a restraining order yesterday at work. Mom was able to get out of him that they had an argument over the weekend (the same as always, her confronting him about drinking and trying to witness to him, and him getting angry and telling her to leave it alone), but we don't know the extent of what happened. So, now he is not allowed to go home; to the home that he had opened up to her so he could help during her medical complications. He had a friend staying there who recently separated from his wife, and now he can't go back either.

The rest of the family is out here not knowing what to think; we don't know the extent of their argument, we don't know if she has reason to be concerned for her safety, or if this is another manipulation on her part (and there have been many) to control his behavior. It is hard being this far removed, both physically and through the passage of time. Obviously we want to reach out to him, but there is always the possibility that his reactions to her attempts to 'help' him were indeed angry, maybe violent. Difficult to consider.

Time will certainly tell.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cue Euphoria

You've got to read this guy:

Excerpt: "So I did it. I started running again. And let me just warn you that your body doesn’t really care about how you used to run. I ran 17 miles last week and it was like climbing Everest. But, somehow, in spite of the pain and the panting, I found that part of me that used to love it. There’s a place, and you usually have to go longer than a half hour to get it, where your body kinda says “Fuck it. He’s not gonna stop and everything’s starting to hurt. Cue euphoria!” and there’s this whole layer of yourself that drops away. That bitchy veneer of you that moans and whines and complains just gives up and the python in your head suddenly dies of unknown causes and turns into butterflies or some other poetry shit."

That one line, you know, the one that starts with, "Fuck it..."? That's the mantra that needs to keep going through my head. This guy needs to be my running coach, seriously.

I hadn't run in a couple of weeks (you know, the rain, cuz I'm a wimp and it is so easy to talk myself out of doing something I really don't want to do...), but I decided to try yesterday, but it hurt. My ankles and my shins hurt. So I walked some more, thinking I needed more of a warm-up than I already had; then I tried to run again...but it hurt. I did this about three more times, and then said, "Fuck it..." but the sentence ends differently than the one above. Because I ended up walking for an hour, and gave up on the running. And the whole time I'm thinking, "Well, walking the half marathon would still be an accomplishment, right?" This whole conversation in my head, fueled by the ever-present guilt that comes from god-knows-where that seems to plague me no matter WHAT I do...but I digress.

So then I come in this morning and I read Black Hockey Jesus's post, and it's a sign. I have to do this. I have to keep running. I have to push myself, push my body, and achieve this goal. Ugh.

Anyone want to run w/me tonight? It'll be fun, I swear. "Cue euphoria!"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just need to put it down, not angry, but...

...I'm a little frustrated. Previous conversations regarding stereotypes and judgment have left me wondering what the heck is going on. Why is it that the things that make folks feel a part of a group and 'unique' to that group are the very things that put them on the defensive and even cause hurt feelings? Why is it that folks don't like to be pigeon-holed or qualified, and yet possess certain traits/phrases/habit they feel are exclusively 'theirs' (I believe one friend's friend termed it self-segregation.) I've been put in my place with little comments with regard to all of this, and I'm mildly annoyed. What happened to the melting pot that is America? Why insist on letting me know that I've somehow judged you (which I have not), and at the same time let me know that I can't understand because it's a (fill-in-the-blank) thing. Whatever. Maybe I can understand. Maybe I don't speak your language, but I am not immune to your exclusive remarks that attempt to keep me out of your loop. What do you know about me? What do you know about where I come from, how I grew up, what I've experienced, what makes me who I am today? Before getting your hackles up, please do us all the favor of checking your own pre-judgments and self-segregation. You'd be surprised how much we all have in common, and the differences we have are what make us who we a good way. Why can't we all just get along...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Judgment Day

This is an email I wrote recently to a friend during an ongoing conversation about judgment and classism, spurred on most recently by a blog post at (hey, spell check doesn't recognize 'should'...or maybe I spelled it wrong!):

We are talking about the same thing and on the same side, believe it or not. I was raised not to judge people based on the very things you're talking about, and my father was the anti-bigot, made sure we didn't pass judgment. So I was almost afraid to say I didn't like someone (for some real reason, like they were leering at me lustily with dishonorable intention) for fear it would be misinterpreted as racism, or whatever.

As I said, I was raised blue collar by a beer drinking, whiskey swilling, smoking, womanizing father (I can't say anything about my mom, she's got her issues, but nothing that applies to this conversation) who was funny, fun, and loved by almost everyone he met. He raised me to be confident and proud of myself, no matter what I did with my life.

I was the first grandchild on my father's side of the family to graduate high school, and didn't take college courses until I was about 30. I married a man who, ten years into the marriage, told me he knew from the very beginning that his parents wouldn't like me, because in their eyes I
wasn't good enough for him. His parents never asked me anything about me or my family, didn't care to know.

And yet, because I was married to a Naval officer, I was often pointedly (I mean in my face, in a checkout line) sneered at because of it (as if I thought somehow I was better because of who I married...I never gave a shit that he was an officer, didn't even know they were different than enlisted until I met him, and my dad was Navy for 20 years!) I felt defensive, and wanted to wear a sign that said, "You don't know me or where I come from, so don't judge me!" One night at a ball (full dress, long gowns) I was drinking a beer (out of a bottle) and I overheard another wife whisper, "Someone should get her a glass." As if!

Contrast this with the folks back home in Norfolk (looked down upon in general by many in Virginia, and I defend it like it were my own child), who at one point implied that I thought I was too good for them, simply because I left home and went out into the world and saw and did things. When I came back years later, they realized I was basically the same person, but still.

I have struggled all my life not to care about the fact that I didn't have a college eduation, or that my degree, when I did get one, is 'only' an AA in Japanese Studies and nothing more lofty. It encroaches into my dating life, when I find myself figuring I'm not good enough for someone because they are more educated or hold a 'better' job.

...we're all just human and we make judgments (like it or not) based on our life experiences. I've got folks who live near me right now who are considered redneck or even white trash, and my daughter is friends with one of the kids there. I have no issue with these folks in general, but when the one guy w/the souped up car starts squealing up and down Naomi Drive (and not just once, but for 30 minutes at a time) to the point where I can't sit on my patio and hear the person directly across from me when we're talking, well, I get a little pissed off...more at the lack of
consideration for other folks than anything. I try to base my judgment on how folks treat me and how they treat others.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This is Your Brain on Hormones

Tuesday I got a call from the dentist's office confirming Rebecca's appointment. Yes, I said, we'll be there. Now, I already had this appointment on my calendar (because I am organized and way ahead of the game.) But just to be sure, I open my Groupwise calendar to Wednesday, but it's not there (stay w/me.) So, I enter the appointment for 3, and tell Rebecca when she calls me that I'll be picking her up right after she gets of the bus the next day to get to the appointment on time. Then, being ever efficient, I email my co-workers and tell them I'll be leaving early on Thursday (seriously, stay w/me) to take Rebecca to her appointment.

So, yesterday, at about 2:30, I remember I'm leaving at 3. I leave here and arrive home just after Rebecca. I am proud of myself for the good timing. We even stop to give the lab across the street treats and check the mail.

On the way to N. Stafford going north on Route 1, I see a school bus stopped on the opposite side. I slow down, trying to remember if I am supposed to stop on a four lane highway when headed in the opposite direction. A few blasts on the bus's horn tell me, yes, I am supposed to stop, but at this point I'm abreast of the bus and drive on, muffler tucked between my tires. Then we encounter dark clouds and the subsequent large drops of rain. Wipers are now going full on fast.

We arrive at the dentist and I am able to secure 'princess parking.' We dash to the door...but it's locked. What?! Wait, maybe they moved, I mean, the last time we were here they had experienced major flooding from burst pipes. But why didn't Mary mention this when she called me on Tuesday...? I have my phone out, it's ringing, we're still standing in the rain. Mary's voice thanks me for calling Dr. Rai's office, and tells me their office hours. Closed on Wednesdays. I look at Rebecca: Crap, the appointment is tomorrow.

Okay, regroup (I'm good at this part): traffic was looking bad going south, so I suggest we head to Kohl's, do a little shopping (she for unmentionables, me for a new purse...another entire adventure in and of itself.)

Fast forward. We've just spent $80 or so on Rebecca, and nothing on me (me and purses, it's ridiculous) and are walking out the door. Can't find my keys. This is nothing new. I look again, no keys. I'm certain I've left them in the dressing room (no, I don't try on my purses, at least not in the dressing room, but I did try on a couple of...oh, never mind, it's irrelevant and was a disaster.) Anyhow, no keys there either. A bit of panic at this point; Rebecca asks if she can check my purse, and I let her because this has worked in the past. No luck. So now, we're retracing our steps through rows of panties, bras, camisoles, purses, and belts. Looking high and low, and wishing ever so much Rebecca was a toddler again so that she could have that optimal vantage point. Nothing. No keys. I tell everyone I see in the aisles that we're looking for keys. They all respond with the same knowing nod and sympathetic gaze.

We go out to the car...maybe in our haste to dash through the rain...but no; the car is unlocked, and I'm able to retrieve my cell phone, but no keys. So now we're going back in to look again amongst the lace and leather. We overhear a conversation at one of the checkout counters...someone has lost some keys. Ridiculous, I think. A couple is standing there looking befuddled -- they have been looking for over an hour for a set of keys. What are the odds? We wish each other luck, and go our separate ways in our searches.

After no luck again, we go back to customer service. No keys have been turned in; I give a description of my nondescript keys and my cell number. We head back to the car to look again for what I know is not there. Halfway to the car, I hear a woman calling, "I found your keys! You must have been using the cart I have, they were in the bottom!" She was oh so proud, and had abandoned her cart at the checkout counter to run after us. "Oh, thank you so much, but those aren't our keys...but I think I know whose they are." Crestfallen, she hands me the keys. I thank her again, saying the couple will be so relieved and I will turn them in. She walks back in with us, and I thank her yet again. I feel so bad that I've disappointed her.

As we arrive at customer service, I see the couple and hold up the keys. Oh, they are so happy! They thank me and thank me. I've done nothing, really. Then she tells me in a lilting Carribean accent, "I pray for you to find your keys too!" We smile and say goodbye, united by our recent loss and her more recent reunion.

Finally, I cave and call my friend, my hero, Lois. She has a key to the house. No problem, I'll just come pick you up, I'm on Route 3 now. Well, I say, I'm in N. Stafford. Oh... So, Lois heads to my house, I walk her through the possible places where the spare keys might be, and soon she shows up, my spare keys in hand, and saves our day.

This is my brain on hormones. Today, at 3 p.m., I will leave work and go pick up Rebecca after she gets off the bus, and we will head to her dentist appointment. Pray for me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to 'Normal'

Been a busy couple of weeks. First we had a friend and her two cats staying with us while her kitchen was being renovated. Then my mom came into town, so the friend went to stay with another friend, but the cats hung out at my house (mom liked that...) Mom and I had a great visit, I was able to take off of work and we took a few days to drive a part of the Crooked Road and visit Floyd, VA for music, food, and scenery. Had a few more days off here in town, mostly relaxed, had a fun mother/daughter night at Bistro Bethem, and mom got to meet and see a lot of my friends and get a taste of my life in the 'burg (which she knows I love.) During this time Rebecca was away with her dad, which went well and she had a good time, visiting museums, Longwood Gardens in PA, and attending The Lion King in NYC.

Took mom to the airport in Richmond yesterday...she got home safely, after an annoying delay in Atlanta (this is no surprise to anyone who has traveled through Atlanta!) Had a nice drive back on Route 2, listening to Prairie Home Companion and some great music by Tom I'll be checking out his new CD.

So now, everything is settling in back to our normal routine. I am so glad to have Rebecca home; I am so glad mom and I had a good visit (she's great, I am very lucky); and I am so glad Rebecca and her dad had a good vacation together. Life is good right now. Have allowed myself to spend some quality time getting to know new friends and, in spite of the insecurities and self-doubt that crop up, am enjoying myself. Key to this is taking things easy and allowing the friendships to evolve naturally. No pressure, no hurry. Just glad I'm finally at this stage where I can let people in a little closer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Writing When I'm Not Unhappy

A friend told me recently I need to blog more. Trouble is, my writing is not very interesting when I'm free of troubled thoughts. At least, I don't think it's very interesting. I am not troubled right now, although I am a little jangled of late. Spring is here, and there's twitterpating all around me. Reason enough to write, I suppose. For those who don't know, twitterpated is (one of many definitions from the urban dictionary, but it originated from Bambi):

"An enjoyable disorder characterized by feelings of excitement, anticipation, high hopes, recent memories of interludes, giddiness, and physical over-stimulation which occur simultaneously when experiencing a new love. These feelings take over without warning, usually at odd times (such as at a check-out line), with or without the partner present, and make it difficult to concentrate on anything but romance. They interfere with work and safe driving, but should be experienced at least once in every person's lifetime."

Indeed, at least once in every person's lifetime. I think the definition should include something about this feeling being at once exhilarating and unnerving and just a little scary.

So, give me your stories about your twitterpating experiences. Could make for some fun writing and entertaining reading. You can remain anonymous, it's okay!

Me? Well, it's too soon to say for me. But obviously this is on my mind for a reason. Cautious and superstitious right now. But my twitterpating experiences in the past (and the very few recent ones) tell me it's a feeling I like, and at the same time causes me to ponder what is left when the twitterpating subsides. That is the real stuff, of course, but the twitterpating stage is awfully fun, so I'm inclined to give in to it again, if given the chance.

There. My April blog post. I look forward to hearing feedback on this tittilating topic (or should that be twitterpating topic?!)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snow Days

So, I know that there are folks in Florida who might love to see a good snow like we've just experienced here in Central Virginia (well, at least my sister would...) but I have to say, I'm over it. I haven't been able to get out and really exercise, and this happens to be spring break week at UMW, which means the fitness center is on limited hours (e.g., they close at 6, and I can't make that work). After the initial beautiful-ness of it all, I'd like it to go away. Now we're dealing with half melted piles of dirty, grimy snow and the accompanying sand and salt laden roads and parking lots, and tracking all that into my car and home. Ugh! I like a good old Virginia snow, where we get a decent amount that allows for a few hours of snow play, and within 24 hours it's sunny and 50 and the snow is gone!

I did get out and enjoy the snow, went for two walks, one by the river, and took some nice photos. It was beautiful.

Add the yucky conditions outside to the sinus infection inside my head, and this means little to no running training for me. Time to hit the non-homeopathic solution and get some antibiotics for this, as the constant aching, congestion, and lethargy are really getting to me.

Come on spring, I am so ready for you!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Money and Running

Two topics of prevalence in my life lately. Running, because I am trying. I have worked myself up to three walk/runs per week, and cross training in between (anything from Wii Fit to the gym at UMW.) It's going well. And by 'well' I mean I have not collapsed, fallen, or injured myself. And I am trying to push myself a little further each time. I have been helped along the way by patient friends who are willing to go out with me, pushing me a little further, and supporting me when I just can't (or won't...) I have a weight loss goal and I have a goal to hopefully one day be able to go out and run three miles as a part of my maintenance program. Beyond this, I am not putting any pressure on myself. So, it's going well. (Did I mention I am very sore?)

Money: they say it isn't the answer to everything, and I know that's true, but a little more can always help. So, I took steps to refinance my mortgage and got a really great deal with 'my' mortgage company. I am very happy. This allows me to pay down some debt (and I don't have a lot of debt; I usually pay everything off monthly, which is great but also the reason I'm often cash poor at the end of the month.) Anyhow, I can pay down on my car payment and a loan from my mother, plus get some much needed things done at my townhouse. This makes me happy. So no, money isn't the answer to everything, but it sure does help at times.

Things are going reasonably well with DD. She too seems to sense that things are getting better, she's gotten into a better rhythm at school and is looking forward to high school. We still need to deal with keeping her occupied this summer, but I'm confident we'll figure that out.

I feel like the sun is coming out, I'm getting my head above water, the fog is lifting. Or maybe it's just the fact that spring is coming. Yeah, that could be it, but whatever the reason, things are looking up.

May it be so.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mask of Motherhood

I never wanted to BE a parent. Seriously. I know that sounds awful, especially for those who want/wanted children and have not been able to. And I understand that heartache, too. When the decision was made, it took two years to conceive Rebecca; when we later decided to expand on that joy, I suffered three miscarriages over four years. That heartache is awful. But the truth of the matter is, I did not want to have children. My ex and I had heartfelt conversations about it; I felt there was too much to overcome, he felt it was our duty as responsible and reasonably intelligent adults to procreate.

I remember being in my late 20s, maybe early 30s, asking my mom, "So how do you know what to do as a parent, does it just come to you?" Bless her heart, she didn't burst out laughing at my naivete'. In fact, she looked at me with a kind of blankness and said, "No, you just do the best you can with what you know." (To her credit, this was much better advice than 'the talk': "Don't do anything stupid!")

Well, I am doing the best with what I know. And I'm realizing I don't know much. And it's so interesting when you confide your concerns to others, and they give you this knowing, over-simplified advice based on THEIR experience, and you think, "Damn, am I the only one that feels like her head is full of oatmeal when it comes to this crap?!"

So, my DD and I are treading ever closer to that place where we are moving apart. She feels like all I do is nag and criticize (not true, but there IS a lot to nag about...) and I feel like she has filled her ears with cotton and is starting to do the nod and "yes mommy" without really comprehending my appeals to her better nature.

And she is a great kid, and I am a lucky mom: she tells me she loves me and/or that I am the best mom ever several times a day, and I do believe she means it. And she makes eye contact with adults, and speaks to them respectfully, and shows an interest in things most teens could really give a flip about. And her teachers have very good things to say about her. And she handles her father's inadequacies with more maturity than he displays.

And yet, as I'm sitting in the living room, watching her walk through to the kitchen, I found myself thinking, "What the hell am I doing, being a parent? What ever made me think I was 'prepared' for this, or that I could bring a child to adulthood successfully? Who the F*#! is this woman-child that I'm struggling to 'help' on her journey? I still don't know who I am!!"

And in case you're wondering, I took no license with that previous paragraph, I really did think that, and it hit me upside my head kind of like one of those noise sticks they have at ball didn't hurt, but it sure did get my attention.

Doing the best that I can, and feeling inadequate almost every step of the way. I doubt I'm alone in these feelings. But I think many of us wear the 'mask of motherhood' -- I refer to a collection of essays written by many mothers, with their unmasked, honest feelings and thoughts about being a mother, by that title. I need to read that again, if for no other reason than to feel a connectedness to my sisters who took off the mask long enough to confront their doubts and fears and share them with us. Check it out some time. And do the best that you can with what you know!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some days are diamonds...

...some days are stones. Not sure where today falls, but it ain't no diamond. Just got a call from DD (dear daughter) that she failed her math exam and has three Cs on her report card. I don't usually get upset about Cs, especially the way Stafford County assigns letter grades, but when I know she's not doing her part, I get a tad upset. But she's upset, so first I need to deal with that; then we get to have the conversation, "Well, what do you need to do?" Ugh.

Work is slow, which always makes me feel inadequate. I'm dredging up things to do, but I'd much rather be busy with purpose. This too shall pass, especially when the position I was hired to support is filled. Remind me of this blog later when I complain about being too busy...

Haven't been exercising much, mostly due to a cold last week, and the cold outside (wind, snow, rain) but am getting back on track this week. So back to the gym tonight.

Just one of those days, nothing big; I know my daughter is a bright girl, I know how lucky I am to have a good job with good benefits close to home, and a good trip to the gym should perk my spirits up, right? Right!

(Thanks to John Denver for the opening line...)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Absence = Better!

Haven't written here in a while, but that turns out to be a good thing. My holiday funk cleared, the prescription I'm taking has 'normalized' my overall mood and irritability, and I have just been busy with life.

Have done a couple of training 'runs' -- which means I've met with the training group twice; the longest I've run thus far without stopping is 1/2 a mile. And that is awesome! I love this challenge I've set for myself, and am optimistic that whatever level of fitness I achieve between now and Labor Day is fine with me. My mini goal, however, is to run a mile without a walking break by the end of February. I plan to blog my progress here, interspersed with the occasional observation of life post.

Facebook has been hopping with all kinds of 'new' friend sightings, and that has really been fun. Caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in 28 years, we spent an evening of wine, gnoshing and catching up -- great fun.

Now I'm just hoping for some snow tonight, and a snow day perhaps?!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Year of Turning 50

And so it begins. The offical year I will turn 50 years old. And I've made a goal: I have registered to participate in the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, VA on Labor Day weekend. Yes me, non-runner that I am. And I blame it on Wii Fit. My little jogs w/Wii Fit of late, combined with my need for a challenge and desire to lose weight and get more healthy this year, prompted me to take the plunge. Thanks to Lee and the rest of the team that will be training and participating together, I made the commitment yesterday and signed up. I know that I will receive a lot of encouragement and support from this group, and what fun it will be to do this with them! Rebecca is on board, hopefully will train a little with me and will definitely be there to cheer me on. On your mark, get set...egads!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Other Side

In so many ways. Coming to the end of a two week break from work, and back to the reality of some more uncertainty there. Coming out of some rather gloomy days for me emotionally, and feeling more like myself every day. Coming into the new year with a sense of calm and purpose, having taken some steps toward taking care of me without taking anything away from Rebecca. I see more yoga and meditation in my future, and this makes me very happy. I have also made preliminary plans for next Christmas (yes, already) so that I can be with family and it will be an enjoyable event for me and for Rebecca. Karl will have to figure something out. Whatever he does, it will not become my problem. And for the next three days my goal is to get back into a normal schedule, after staying up too late and sleeping in. This Monday will be hellish unless I can re-adjust my sleep cycle! Overall, it was a good holiday break, with a good balance of alone time, time with Rebecca, and time with friends. 2009 is the year I turn 50 -- a true milestone and one I am looking forward to as I focus more on my emotional and physical health. Onward!