Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday: Forgiveness

For years I’ve wondered what forgiveness really is. The people in my experience who require the most forgiving seem to think of it as something they are owed, like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card that they automatically collect along with $200 every time they pass Go.

I’m ashamed at how many years it took me to realize that forgiveness is not something that’s handed over automatically, but something that’s earned. And it doesn’t mean giving a chance to repeat the transgression, but giving a chance to demonstrate that it won’t be.

In the end, though, forgiveness simply means moving to a place where the hurtful thing truly no longer hurts and will no longer hurt again, wherever that may be. So forgiveness is something we really only owe ourselves.

Hey—here’s a bonus question. Which Monopoly piece are you and why? I’m usually the shoe, I think because life, to me, is a journey. And I like that little handle. Also because we seem to be missing the car, my former favorite. Did you notice?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Senior Sex(less) and the City: Episode #7

“Twinkly” is a silly, sweet, wonderful man with eyes that light up a room and a soul that lights up the people in the room. He is a big person on the inside, spiritual without being remotely preachy, smart but fun. He gets along with everyone and seems to have an interest in everything. He is respectful of women, chivalrous, and kind. Whenever there’s an awkward situation, Twinkly comes to the rescue. Or if a party is lagging, Twinkly livens it up. When I was stuck next to a braggart, Twinkly came up and whispered, “I haven’t heard you say a word in ages. Is it because you can’t?” And then, eyes twinkling, he asked for my help elsewhere. Twinkly shines. If I were more ready for a relationship, I would want to be more than the friends that we are. But I’m not, and alas, Twinkly deserves someone who is. Still…I’m lucky to call Twinkly my friend.

Next week: Episode #8: Martian Man

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Running in Circles

Donna over at Donna’s Book Pub (DBP) gave me the Circle of Friends award last Friday. My week as been so crazy, though, I’m afraid it’s taken me a while to post about it. Her blog is a font of resources for writers and a welcome place to gather. Thank you, Donna!!! The other exciting part of this award is that I get to spread the fun around to five blogger friends of my own. Here are the directions, pasted directly from Donna’s blog:

Pass the link to five other bloggers.
Post a link from their blog to mine.
Notify them that they have received the award.
So, here are my five selections for The Circle of Friend Award:

1. Linda. Of special interest to my dog-loving friends—check out Linda’s blog Write from the Heart! She has a story in the book My Dog is My Hero coming out Sept. 18!!! Congratulations, Linda!
2. A Woman with a Past is a woman who can write. Visit there when you have time to read.
3. Jessica at Just Gonna Be Me! is a lovely young woman with a lovely old soul.
4. Jules of Trying to Get Over the Rainbow is like a pot of warm gold.
5. Pat over at Critter Alley posts animal pictures that are worth a thousand words and captions that are far better than a thousand words.

My final job is to notify them that they have received the award and ask them to pass it along. Enjoy!

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind. ~Toni Morrison

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday: Put Downs

Carving the people around you into canyons doesn’t make you into a mountain by comparison. It just makes you dirty and low.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Senior Sex(less) and the City: Episode #6

Sort of Married Guy
The divorce is almost final, he said. You know how it is, he said. Just waiting on the final signatures, he said. Almost divorced is like sort of pregnant. You are or you aren’t. No signatures? Come back when you get them. On second thought, don’t. Sort of Married Guy might as well wear a sign that says he A.)Wants to commit adultery, but B.)He doesn’t want to go after a sort-of married woman because he doesn’t want any husbands beating him up. Besides, even after those signatures, if he doesn’t take time to reflect and regroup, healthy relationships are not his priority. End of story. Except it’s not the end of this story! A few months later, I ran into Sort of Married Guy again. He asked me out again. “Get those papers signed yet?” I asked, just out of curiosity. Almost, he said. You know how it is, he said. Just have to get a couple of signatures, he said….

Next week: Episode #7, Twinkly

Thursday, August 19, 2010


It’s sad for all of us when my son leaves for college. The dog, however, mourns a little bit. And I think my son mourns the dog a little bit, too. Buddy, a lab mix, turned 14 in April. His age hangs in the air these days like a gathering storm.

My son has been packing, but he stops. “I think I’ll take Buddy for a walk,” he says.

We are empaths, the boy and I; we often sense what others are feeling. It isn’t ESP, but there are times when we are so sensitive to each other that the emotions volley silently between us, mirror on mirror. So when the rawness of what he is feeling settles on me and stops me in my tracks, we both look away out of politeness.

“Yes,” I say, to the floor. “He'll like that.”

They only go to the end of the block and back, but the dog—in spite of going blind and deaf—adores their time together. He knows that his boy will care for him always.

So do I.

The language of friendship is not words, but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday-Children

I didn’t realize how much growing up I had to do until I had children. I was an adult until they were born. Life has so many weird little ironies like that, and child-rearing has to have the most. I had a ton of things I wanted to teach my children, but over and over, they’ve taught me how much I had to learn from them. Then there was all I wanted to give them. Strange that they’ve given me so much more in return.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Caught by the Principal

In honor of school starting again, here is the true story of something that happened to me last year.

I’d dealt with an incident involving several high school kids. Although everything had worked out as well as it possibly could have, it’s always a good idea to document, so I started a rough draft of my documentation on a piece of scratch paper I had with me.

Earlier that day, I had been helping out in a history class where the teacher had been showing a PowerPoint presentation on Vietnam. Not having anything to do at the moment, I doodled.

I am a doodler. So I started doodling the picture of this Vietnamese dude. I know I should know the name, but I don’t. I’m sorry—I’m not a history buff. And I certainly mean no disrespect to anyone’s leaders. But the thing is, I was working on the guy’s beard when the teacher switched slides…so my doodling hand had to improvise. And I just don’t feel terribly responsible for what that doodling hand does.

The beard became a long braid.  Then I added a polka-dotted bow. Then earrings and a nose ring. I surrounded him with helicopters (á la M*A*S*H), palm trees, and for no explicable reason, volcanoes.

So these were the notes I used to draft my documentation. Except…just as I was finishing up the rough draft, the principal showed up at the door and asked to see me in the hall. He was happy with the way I had handled the situation, but he needed the names of the children who were involved. I started to check my notes and told him I had been drafting a statement.

“May I see it?” he asked. Um. Well. I sort of hid the paper behind myself, guiltily.

“I need to recopy it,” I explained. “But first I could just check the names….”

He told me that was okay—he could just read my draft. He held out his hand. I stood there like an idiot. “I’ve drawn all over the page,” I blurted out. “It’s a…habit. It was Vietnam, and I….It might be hard to read. Why don’t you let me recopy my notes quickly?”

He wasn’t buying it. He needed to see it, please. Now.

So I shuffled my feet and looked at the floor. Here I was, a forty-something-year-old-teacher, summoned by the principal, admonished to hand over a paper with silly drawings on it. I handed it over.

I watched his eyes dart around the page, and the corners of his mouth quivered ever so slightly. Still, I have to hand it to him, he held his face as still as possible and read my notes without giggling. Then when he was done, he sort of winked and said, “I’ll let you get back to Vietnam.”

In all fairness, it could have been much, much worse. I’m partial to silly hairdos, and I’d given the guy a sort of modified “Betty Boop” earlier but had erased it off because it just wasn’t the look I was going for.

I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam ~Popeye the Sailor Man

Friday, August 13, 2010

Senior Sex(less) and the City: Episode #5

Mr. Pushy
Mr. Pushy doesn’t ask you to dance. He says, “Come on, let’s dance.” He’s a grabber. He tries to take what he wants because no one will give it to him…and he just can’t figure out why. He asks you out only minutes after he’s met you. An understandable strategy in his case. I think deep down he knows that if you get to know him, you’ll run away. Push off, Mr. Pushy! The delicate dance of courtship is not a sale that needs closing. And if it were…I’m not buying. I hate pushy salespeople, too.

Next week: Episode #6, Sort of Married Guy

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday-Relationships

I’ve learned that the opposite of wrong isn’t necessarily right when it comes to relationships. I know a woman whose first husband was so wrong for her that she later married his opposite—who turned out to be just another kind of wrong. I know a couple of other people who reasoned that if you create a spoiled child by handing him everything, you must therefore create an unspoiled child by surrounding him with spoiled people and handing him nothing at all, ever. But the opposite of spoiled isn’t unspoiled. It’s usually another disorder, like codependence. I’ve learned that healthy is generally somewhere in the middle where give meets take.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Senior Sex(less) and the City: Episode #4

The Flaky Fake
I can’t quite figure out if he got a bad batch of Botox on top of it all. Can Botox go bad, by the way? I mean, really, can botulism go any badder? Regardless, Flaky Fake creeps me out. Some people think he’s good looking in a George Hamilton sort of way, but, wait…maybe it’s just Flaky, who is his own greatest admirer even though he looks a wee bit stuffed. Already roasted to the color of Italian leather when he got the Super Deluxe Rain-X version of a spray on tan on top of it all, he is now antiqued to the hue of turkey jerky. If I want yellowish and preserved, I’ll get a jar of pickles. Dills. And they will undoubtedly be sweeter. I’ve learned the hard way that, whether the person is a man or a female friend, overwhelmingly concerned with outside appearances = ugly on the inside. Narcissists suck. And I mean that literally. They will feed on every one of your reserves in the attempt to fill their bottomlessly empty souls.

Next week: Episode #5, Mr. Pushy

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It Contains a Root Word for Death for a Reason

Warning: the following is true, right down to the names. It’s also very long because I actually took notes while I was on hold. I had to call my mortgage company because I had a question. It was a small question, really, but I needed to know the answer and couldn’t get it any other way.

After being passed through several voice mail options, I was routed back to the beginning. So I experimented with pressing different buttons until I got Hassad. Hassad’s entire job seemed to be to tell me that he would have to transfer me. So sorry! Please hold.

Unfortunately, the holding was more like being death-gripped, or being seized, maybe—by music that was recorded specifically to be a deterrent. A phone deterrent. I understand that handling phone calls is expensive and time consuming for companies, but sometimes you really must speak to a person.

This is not elevator music I’m talking about. I don’t mean “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” set to violin. It is aggressive, blood-pressure-pumping stuff that sounds like a really bad magic trick is about to be performed, one in which a lady might just get sawed in half, but what the heck, the audience really doesn’t care because her screams might drown out that music. Or maybe if Halloween were the kind of holiday that involved parades, this is what the band would play while floats of evil super heroes crash into buildings and mangle the mobs of onlookers. It involves random trumpets and organs and very windy wind instruments and lots and lots of cymbals. Doomp-doompa-doomp! Doompa-doompa-doompa-doomp! went the music, and then CLASH!! with the cymbals. Then a plaintive, somewhat nasally female recording came on and told me that if I would just go on their WEBSITE, I could get my answers much FASTER! Problem was, what I needed didn’t come from a website. I had to have a live human.

I would not let them win, so I pushed my phone headset away from my ears and waited. Except the sound was so obnoxious that it vibrated straight through my skull. Doomp-doompa-doomp!! REALLY, if I would just go on the WEBSITE!! …CLASH!!!

I played several games of computer Solitaire until I won. Finally I got Amy. Amy explained that the company has been sold (over a year ago) and still doesn’t have its information transferred over. Amy had no information whatsoever! So sorry! She’d put me through to someone who could answer my question, though! Hold please!

Doomp-doompa-doomp! Doompa-doompa-doompa-doomp!! …CLASH!!! The WEBSITE!…. Doompa-doompa-doomp!!!

I played—and won—a couple of games of Free Cell. By this point it was clear that the music was scientifically designed to give people headaches after prolonged exposure. Next was Manuel. Manuel sounded like he was struggling with depression. So sorry that he would have to transfer me again. Very very sorry. Was there anything else he could help me with?

I actually wondered if Manuel was forced to listen to that music. Maybe that was what was depressing him so. I figured he might be sympathetic and asked him if I could just be on hold without it. Pleeeease. I was not above begging at this point. Manuel sounded like he was almost in tears and explained that the next wait would be much shorter. So sorry.

Doomp-doompa-doomp! Doompa-doompa-doompa-doomp!!!! CLASH CLASH!!! My head throbbed. WEBSITE! More Doompa-doomp. Spider Solitaire. Won that one. Doompa-doomp some more.

After the longest wait yet, Kyle got on. Kyle couldn’t answer my question. Sorry!—I had been transferred in error! I needed to go back to the previous department, back to Manuel. Hold please!

Doomp-doompa-doomp! Doompa-doompa-doompa-doomp!!!... The WEBSITE!…. CLASH!!! CLASH!!! The pain in my head kept time with the beat.

Yet this time I did not get Manuel. I got Fay. Fay had a very distinct, high-pitched voice. Fay listened to my question and was certain I needed another department. She would transfer me.


Someone picked up a little quicker this time. It was…Fay again. Same Fay. Same accent…Philippines, maybe? Same high-pitched voice. Could she help me? Struggling between maniacal laughter and tears, I told her she had just transferred me and it must not have gone through. Fay had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. She did not remember me from 15 seconds earlier, but what was my problem? So I explained it all over again. That’s when she said it.

“Yes,” New-Old Fay said. “I believe I can answer that.”

Huh? And…HUH???

Amazingly, Fay-the-Second answered my question. It took less than a minute.

I am now convinced it’s a game, like a video game. I am writing this as living proof that it can, in fact, be beaten. If we hang on long enough and are determined enough, and if we press the right buttons and get through the various levels and battle repeated assaults from the evil music, ultimately Fay will link us to Twilight Zone Fay, Repeat-Fay, Warmed-Over Fay, Fay’s Clone Fay, the Ultimate Fay of Bizarro World, Keeper-of-the-Mortgage-Answers-Fay. The Wizard of Fay.

I imagine that somewhere at this mortgage company there is a tiny office in the Philippines where Fay sits behind a curtain, transferring people to herself, while people all over the world—Hassad and Amy and Kyle among them (but not Manuel because he’s just depressed by the whole thing)—snicker and giggle at the unsuspecting customers who attempt to make it to the Ultimate Level of Faydom without their heads exploding.

Well I made it. I did. I’d ask for a t-shirt to commemorate the occasion, but Fay would have to transfer me to sales.

If I have to pull up my big girl panties and deal with it one more time the elastic is going to break and I really will have to show my ass! ~Sign seen in Catalog Favorites

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Totally Random Tuesday-Child Rearing

In child rearing, the toughest part hasn’t been all of the things I have to do for my children, but all of the things I have to restrain myself from doing for their sakes. In many situations, my mantra has become let them handle it. Sometimes I have to mentally pinch myself to remember that the wisest words I can offer them when they ask my opinion are, “I don’t know—what do you think?”