Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Open Letter to my Former Friends


Several months ago, something happened. 


It was a weird cross between a reality check and a sucker punch to the gut. With no warning or preamble, three of my good friends decided to wash their hands of me.  One of them I would have called my closest friend - she and I were like sisters, or so I believed, and I would have bet all the cash in the bank that she was the last person, aside from my own sainted mother, who would ever turn her back on me.


In one fell swoop, though, not only was she gone, but she took with her a couple of friends who, while not as close to me then, had been friends of mine even longer than she. One since high school.


I got a bit of foreshadowing at a party a week or so beforehand.  The high school friend was chilly when I spoke to her there, chilly when she left, and it was noticed by a few.


But as for the others...and especially my closest friend...I was rendered nearly speechless with shock.


When I probed mutual friends for some clarity about the situation, I was given some information. The straw that annihilated the camel, apparently, was a Facebook post about a giraffe picture, in which I condescendingly ruined the joke for everyone playing along, calling them all out as "idiots."  OK. I can see that it was a harsh statement. Was it typical of a post from me? It really wasn't.  Did any one of these friends send me a message asking if I was ok, or why I was particularly bitchy and snide? No.


An unrelated post a few days later garnered a comment from someone I barely know, a woman who was a friend of one of my soon-to-be vanishing friends.  The statement, in a nutshell, was that I shouldn't express my opinion because it wasn't in line with her Christian beliefs. On my own Facebook page. I responded with something snarky about people like her making me tired (which I still maintain as the utter truth. Self-righteous people who preach to me - unsolicited - EXHAUST ME.)  When I responded that she was welcome to unfriend me, she did, and these other three friends of mine - INCLUDING MY CLOSEST FRIEND - immediately followed suit. Defriended me. And blocked me.


 And they have not spoken to me since.  


This friend, with whom I have celebrated multiple birthdays, both ours and those of our children. Whose shoulders I have cried on, and whom I comforted in various life-changing events. Whose family I loved like my own. Who my children called Aunt. Who I had spoken to multiple times daily. For years. About EVERYTHING.


When I probed our mutual friends further, I received statements like, "She says that you think you're better than everyone and that you make everyone feel like shit."


"She says now that you have a boyfriend you never make time for her."


And the best one, "She is absolutely done with you and she wants you to stop contacting her. The fact that you keep trying to talk to her is really pissing her off."


Well.  I chewed on that.  I cursed, I cried, I lamented. I tried and tried to understand.  I put the question to those closest to me and begged them to be brutally honest in their assessment of me, of my "Facebook persona"  and worried that I was a seriously, fundamentally flawed, selfish individual without the capacity to be a true friend.  I wondered what I should have done differently, which times I should have bitten my tongue, and offered apologies to them all. Apologies which were systematically ignored.


It's been six months.  I have given up hope that cooler heads will prevail, and that I will get a tentative text or call or email to attempt to reconcile. Sometimes I will allow myself to think on it and I get very sad. Sometimes a song or a picture will remind me of her and I will burst into tears. Even now. It's so much worse than a romantic breakup. Mostly because I was blindsided, I guess, and because there's still a part of me, this nagging voice, saying that I need to keep digging to find out what's wrong, what's happened, just why.....  because the friend I believed I had in her wouldn't have done this unless something was very wrong. But from what I can see she is fine, and carrying on happily and not missing me at all.


And you know what? That's ok.


I don't want to bad mouth anyone. I am not trying to gain sympathy or play the victim. I am who I am, and although I am ever-evolving, as we all are, the fundamental me who was before is still here. I am sarcastic, and I can absolutely be condescending.  I am unapologetically defensive to the point of offense when I feel that my right to choose how to believe is being called into question. But I am also fiercely loyal, even now, brutally honest, abundantly flawed and distractingly self-aware.  To my friends I try hard to be a cheerleader and a champion and without judgement. I am open to loving guidance and even constructive criticism.  If more friends decide that I detract value from their lives more than I add it, then so be it. The most lasting effect of this is that I am more careful these days in choosing to whom my loyalty really belongs.


And if at the root of this is what I believe it to be - jealousy over my romantic relationship - I am ecstatic to report that he and I are even better now than we were then, and life in general is nothing but sunshine and roses.  If there was ever a choice to be made in order to salvage the friendships that involved sacrificing him, I would have chosen him, every day, all day long, and not once looked back with regret.  I regret nothing. It was a shitty lesson to learn but one that I will take with me always.


So thank you, former friends, for helping me to gain wisdom and discernment. My remaining friends and new friends thank you too, for making room in my life for them.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanksgiving - My way

Most years, each day, I update my Facebook status every day during the month of November to give thanks.  I generally name all of the usual things that everyone else does. I'm thankful for healthy, happy kids. I'm thankful for my job, and my parents, and the roof over my head. In no way do I want to devalue those things with this post.

This month, though, this year, I am thankful for a whole host of new things that deserve an entire post. Hell, in my opinion, they deserve a parade and a twitter account. But this will have to suffice.

First of all - I am thankful to me.

I am thankful that I never settled. I am thankful for my instincts - the ones I trusted even when my mom or my friends said, "But he's so great for you! Give him a chance! Stop being so picky!" I knew that if I just waited long enough and stood my ground that something magical would happen. I just KNEW.

I am thankful for every single time I was belittled, or criticized, because it made me appreciate it so very much when I finally met someone who builds me up and never lets me get away with kicking my own ass.

I am thankful for every night I spent alone, reflecting on my past and considering how to shape my future.    Analyzing my actions and knowing how to do it better next time. 

I am thankful for every sappy love song and romantic movie that made me cry. They reminded me that I am not, in fact, dead inside, and that on some level - even after all of the breakups and crying and lamenting and studying - that I still believed enough in true love to keep putting myself out there.

I'm thankful for the handful - and I do mean, it is a SELECT FEW - of men in my life who have shown me that it is possible for a man to remain faithful. My grandad. My uncle Skitch. My cousin Jason. My friend Jeff.  My own son, Brendan.   I will never complain about being an attractive person - not to toot my own horn, because you guys know I'm not that girl. But being attractive - and especially being attractive and single - will open doors for you that are truly best left closed. I never realized how few people - men AND women -   apparently struggle with fidelity.  It is appalling to me, the number of propositions I have received from married, or otherwise coupled-up, men. APPALLING. Some think that because we are friends that I will take it as a compliment, I guess. Maybe they think that I will be so flattered by the attention that I will overlook the fact that they are offering me absolutely nothing in exchange for something.  In any case, I am thankful for those few who have upheld that oh-so-high standard of fidelity because without them, I would never trust ANYONE. I don't trust many. But at least I know that I can trust some.  One.  And at the end of the day, he's the only one that matters anyway.

I am thankful for the firsts that I still have left.  In the past, marriage was always about convenience, and logical deductions, and expectations. Six years later, I have learned some things. I don't know if I'll get married again or not. I like to think so. But I do know that if and when I do, that it will be for the right reasons, in the right way, at the right time. It won't be because I need a breadwinner. It won't be because the stick was blue. It damn sure won't be because it's either that or break up.

If there's anything I've learned about love it's that it has nothing to do with me. True love isn't about what I'm getting. It's about how much I want to give.  It's not about finding someone who can fulfill me or meet my needs. It's about finding someone whose smile makes the world make sense, and knowing that I will do anything and everything to keep that smile in place. Happily. Selflessly.  I wasn't sure that sort of thing existed. Truthfully, I just wasn't convinced that it would ever exist for me - that I'd been too hurt and was way too jaded. But still I hoped anyway.

Mostly I am thankful that I never gave up hope, when my situational cynicism tried to trump my natural optimism.

I am thankful that loving someone does come naturally to me after all, when it's given so freely to me in return.

It's much too soon to reveal more than that. I could write pages about this. About all the new feelings, and firsts and lasts.  I'm pretty sure I could write a novella just about his music.  And maybe I will write about it all one day.

Right now I am too busy living it. And being so very thankful.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Turning 40

When I thought about what my life might look like at forty, I imagined many things. A loving and dedicated partner. A daughter headed off to college. A fat bank account. A framed degree on my wall. A surgically enhanced, improved figure.
I have none of those things.

Instead though, what this last decade, and especially the past two years, have brought are unexpected blessings.

True, abiding friendships.

A job I really enjoy.

An opportunity to sing to my heart’s content – and to have people applaud.

A spirituality not tied to or influenced by any church or it’s dogma.

Parents who are still alive and actively involved in my life…in my kids lives.

Not a perfect body, but a healthier one. A more fit one.

And certainly, the most beautiful grandchild who has ever been born. To anyone. In the history of time.
No, I still have not fallen in love with a man, but I have fallen in love with one very sweet four-week-old. It is as breathtaking as “new mom love” was, and completely different. Obviously her being here now wasn’t part of the plan I’d envisioned for my daughter but…somehow it’s just right. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it. OK, untrue. If I could change one thing, I’d make spoiling her rotten my full-time job. I’m tempted to even change this entire blog to the “Faith Abygail Adoration Page” because I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s about to become just that.

Anyhow, my 40th birthday was celebrated with sushi and wine with good friends – those true friends I mentioned earlier – and a few transient ones who taught me lessons. I still wasn’t sure which kind of wine to order, but I have learned to just go with what I like. People are less judgmental about that sort of thing than I’d realized. There was also a crème brulee at Lulav that made me purr. As far as the day itself, it was made special by special people, and I wouldn’t change a thing about that day either.

What I really haven’t done up until now is to ponder…to think about what I’ve learned in 40 years. I’m still much the same person I was at 20, and at 30. There have been additions and subtractions in the personnel but I still have the same ideals I’ve always had. Injustice is just as sickening to me as it was then, more so now because I’ve been subjected to it personally. Forever the underdog’s champion, I take up any cause when there is the need for someone to step up. Civil rights, bullying, inequality, you name it. I have always believed that not only should you live and let live, you should make damn sure that your kids are doing the same. You don’t have to share the ideals of your neighbor but neither should you shit on their steps. I’ve learned that no amount of squawking is going to change closed minds. No amount of screaming will make me heard by the people who need most to hear me. Somehow it hasn’t quieted me. It’s just made me back up the words with actions. Some known to others, some only known by me. But I sleep just fine at night knowing that everything I fight for and believe in feels good and just and right to me.

As far as love…honestly, I don’t know that I’ve learned much. Sometimes I think I have high standards, and that’s what keeps me from settling. Other times I worry that I use that invisible checklist of qualities I seek as a barrier. It’s much harder to hurt me from behind a steel wall.  I’ve learned that I’m really ok just being alone, but that it’s nice when someone other than the kids cares if I make it home at night.

 Mostly what I’ve learned is that life is short. Too short to be anything other than happy, and way too short to spend a moment letting the opinions, lifestyle choices, and bad decisions of others change how I feel about myself. I still think I’m kind of awesome. And even better than that is not caring who agrees with me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have over 100 photographs to edit and share with the world. They are of the most exquisite beauty I’ve ever seen.
She calls me G.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Resolutions kept, and not.

Well, I have failed with at least one New Year's resolution but have stuck with a couple of others.


My resolution to blog every day…obviously…has not been made good. I blamed it on technical difficulties at first (when my laptop cord shorted out) but the bigger reason turned out to be the fact that I didn’t (and don’t) want to share my every personal detail. I have friends who do this and I wish I were that brave. I used to be.

In any case, a number of transitions since my last entry.

One resolution I have kept is the diet/exercise regimen. While I have not dropped the weight I’d hoped to (damn scale), I have dropped a couple of sizes, but what’s even cooler than that is that I’m ….harder. Tougher. Stronger. And that stuff they say about exercise being a natural mood enhancer is not bunk. It’s still slow going, but I am definitely sticking with it and feeling pretty damned proud of myself for that. I schlep to the gym in the rain, in the cold, and when it’s beautiful outside I make an hour wance sesh my daily workout. How much do you love me for saying "wance sesh?"

I’m also lifting about twice as much weight as I started out with. In short, I feel like a badass.




After much consideration and deliberation, I have decided that my daughter’s daughter will call me, simply, “G” – although I toyed with some other non-traditional names (LaLa, GiGi, G-Dawg)(The latter being what Brendan will call me until I draw my last breath, so taken was he with that name.) My daughter is planning to name her Faith Abygail, in keeping with our initials (Fawn Amber, Farren Abriana).


I for one cannot wait to meet her.


The boys are accepting, if not excited. Jillian is positively giddy at the thought of being an aunt – and to a girl! It’s as if the heavens have opened up and smiled directly upon her.



G-Dawg OUT!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Perception and Reality

I've been writing this post in my head for a few weeks.

I kept thinking, as I turned it around and around, that I would have some giant breakthrough and that touted "A-Ha!" moment that I've heard about.

I have actually had several of those, and I never stop being surprised at the constantly changing life I live.

Originally I was going to talk about the way that, when you step back from a situation - really step back - that you are then able to see things for what they actually are, instead of the colored versions that your heart and logic and experience and passions present up close. The way that something that you've believed to be true in the deepest, darkest part of your heart is something very different once it's stripped down and naked.

Maybe someone you loved isn't at all the person you believed them to be. Maybe someone you thought you were over has crept their way back into your thoughts. Maybe something you did that made sense at the time seems ridiculous in retrospect. Or someone you count as a friend, or a leader, is someone from whom you can learn a wholly different, and unwelcome, set of skills.

What I am finding, though, is that we have a way of manifesting a truth for ourselves that makes it so much easier to justify our actions and decisions. And the more reality rears its ugly head, the more adept we become and changing not only our perceptions, but absolute and total faith in something that suits our needs until our life is nothing but a carefully orchestrated facade. How many people know the real me? How many people really know you?

All of the above things have happened to me in recent weeks. People I thought I knew well, I do not know at all. It is alarming, the contrast between my perception and their reality.

Something I did that seemed perfectly logical - now - is an embarassment. (And no, I am not talking about my tattoo. I still love it.)





Sometimes skewed perceptions are necessary. They help us cope. They help us forgive ourselves, and others. But they are no longer harmless when they negatively affect how we treat the people around us. We forget those who really love us because we are fixated on the one we can't have...simply because we cannot have them. We fail to see our blessings because we focus on desires that aren't met. On some level, we even realize this. We then feel self-pity, self-loathing, and that translates into self-destruction that in the end hurts the very people we don't see.

I wanted to have a conclusion to this that would change people. Make them stop and think about their actions, their beliefs, their silly made-up realities. I don't think I've gotten there yet. What I do have is an understanding that I have been just as guilty as the people I have shaken my head at in frustration.

The only thing left to do, then, is to try to see things as they actually are, no matter how heinous the effect, in the hope that I will not miss the things that I've been missing in my delusional little life.

It is unfortunate that it's taken me 39 years to get to this point. And I'm not even sure I'm where I need to be. But for now at least, I can see the ugly truth.

And what surrounds it is beautiful. It's real, and it's mine. It's me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Budding Sommelier

I have another resolution to add to the list.

I want to learn more about wine.

I rarely drank before the age of 28. My first husband claimed to be a recovering alcoholic (and also someone with moral values) so we just didn't drink. At all. Ever.

Once the marriage ended, I did the expected thing and became a club-goer. My girlfriends at the time were beer drinkers but I hadn't yet developed a taste for the stuff, so I started to experiment with drinking wine.

The only kinds I liked were sweet. White Zinfandel was my go-to. I also felt sophisticated when ordering it, and rather adored the image I believed I projected whilst carrying a wine glass around the club. I probably even adopted a little Thurston Howell accent. That would be vintage Fawn.

I have never been one to drink at home. I don't usually keep alcohol in the house at all. To wit - I bought a 12-pack of Bud Light for my football draft in August and finally used the last can in a French Dip crock pot roast about two weeks ago. So yeah, not much of a drinker. I have trained myself to enjoy beer occasionally, mostly because it's everywhere and, let's face it, guys dig a chick who will drink a cold one and watch a ball game. Also? Cheaper. WINNING!

Occasionally though, usually in a fancier setting, I will want to have a glass of wine, and I am clueless about what to order. In the liquor store, I am overwhelmed by the selection. I recently purchased a bottle for a friend's birthday and ended up having the cashier select it for me. Luckily, it was a hit, but I can't take any credit.

I'd like to remedy that. I'd like to order with confidence.



"Yes, I'll have the 1983 Blooo dee blah"

"A fine selection, madam."

On my own, I have branched out to other safe options - Pinot Grigio, Moscato, occasionally a Pinot Noir. I'm not sure what the best way is to learn...but I'm certainly willing to investigate. I'm even willing to bet I could find a friend or two willing to learn with me and, if I'm lucky, a knowledgeable friend who will point me in the right direction.

So tell me...what's your poison?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This ain't Patrick Swayze...

OR IS IT??




I think I have a ghost, you guys.

Or maybe ghosts, plural.

Some history...

My mom has always been a bit of a...free thinker when it comes to the paranormal. When we were growing up, we would sometimes play "the psychic game." She would take 6 cards and on each one she would draw a symbol: a star, a circle, three wavy lines...you get the idea.
Then she would look at one card and try to project to us what she'd seen. We took turns saying out loud what had popped into our heads. OR sometimes, to mix it up, the person looking at the card would ONLY PROJECT TO THE PERSON NEXT TO THEM...and they'd project to the next person...and so on.

I wish I were kidding. I am not.

Mom believes in reincarnation...and in ghosts. Stop by her house any given Saturday night and I'll bet you dollars to donuts that she's watching Celebrity Ghost Stories...or A Haunting in Connecticut...or something in that vein.

So naturally, I tend to pooh all of that as baloney, the way most girls do when it comes to stuff their mom believes.

That said, I've had some...strange occurences throughout my life.

When I was around 2 and a half, as God above is my witness, I saw a cardboard cutout ape coming down the hall growling at me. I know how old I was because my sister Heather was in the crib next to me. I buried my face into my pillow and screamed until my mother came to get me. "It was just a nightmare," she said.

THIS WAS NO DREAM. 37ish years later, I can still describe exactly how it looked and sounded. I know what I saw.

When Farren was a baby, her father worked nights and came home very early in the morning. Usually she would sleep with me, and when he came in he would put her in her crib and then crash. One morning, just as the sun was coming up, I heard whispering...it sounded like dozens of voices, and they were all saying, "Go check on Farren..." over and over again. I went to her crib and she was sound asleep, but her dad had forgotten to put the rail up. If she'd woken up, I have no doubt she would have fallen out. She was just starting to pull up onto things.

Creepy, no?

When I was last married, I was about to doze off and I was facing the wall next to the window. I saw a black shadowy...thing...slither down the wall and behind my dresser. I woke up husband up and made him turn on the lights to investigate, so sure was I that I'd seen something but of course, nothing was there.

I should probably dig into what that one might be, but...you know what? I don't think I want to know.

So yeah. Last night I was in bed. It was around midnight. My door was cracked. I heard the kids in the hallway outside my door. I heard them whispering and I heard a giggle. I heard footsteps moving towards the kitchen. I called out asking who was up. I got up and went to the kitchen and...nothing. I went to the kids room and they were sound asleep.

I went back to bed and laid there about half an hour and it happened again. I went more quickly to the kids room to see if they were playing a trick on me and...

...they weren't. They were in the same position.

You guys. It was not my kids. So who was it?

It is 11:30 p.m. and I am about to try to get some sleep. If I should be found dead or possessed or something by morning (Our Father, who art in heaven...) then this will serve as the Blair Witch of Blogs.

Feel free to share your ghost stories.



It's not like I'm going to be sleeping tonight anyway.