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...


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.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Family Tradition

So recently, my new sister-in-law Sarah got the photos back from her wedding. Immediately, she sent me the following compilation:

What we have here is a comparison/contrast of photos taken with disposable cameras set out at the reception. Top left is me - looking stunning, as usual - then to the right, my brother Josh and his wife Kim. On the bottom is our sister, Angel.

I do not remember when or how this phenomenon started, but it isn't a new trend.

Won't you please enjoy my cleavage?

My best friend used to say I looked like a catfish.

I know there are more pictures like this out there, but try as I might, I cannot find them. Maybe I will create a new album on Facebook dedicated only to this.

One thing is certain. We come by it naturally.

Thanks, Mom.