Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I want to be Jenny Lawson when I grow up...


This is possibly my favorite thing on the "inter webs" right now.

I am applying to Hedgebrook, and I am putting it off so much I think that maybe I don't want to do it.
Or maybe I do and I am so used to being disappointed that I am letting it slip.

Yesterday I met my half Sister.

My whole life I have had what I call my "moving dreams". Since we moved so much growing up, I would dream I was somewhere and I had to be on a plane, since that is something very final and you can't turn around and get something you have left behind. I would dream that I had not packed and that we had to leave in a few minutes and that I would have forgotten to pack. And usually worse I would have had all my favorite things with me and I would have forgotten to get enough boxes, or bags or suitcases. So here I am with my precious children's books collection and the brown shelf they all fit on so nicely and I would be late for the plane and I had to decide what I was taking and what I would have to leave behind. It was always a very scary, upsetting, stressful situation. I know that whatever I left behind I would never see again. I knew that whatever was dropped would be lost forever. And the horror of leaving something behind, something that I night need someday and would not either be able to find, or that would not have the money to replace was terrifying to me. What if I got to the new place and needed the Ironing board, or the left handed set of golf clubs, or the bicycle?
What if? I never trusted my past, so why should I trust that the future would be ok?

This weekend I met my Half Sister Katie. I found out about her last year, after the death of my Aunt Camille. She was part of the final settlement of my Aunt's Estate. My cousin, little Camille called me one evening and told me about her. I had not spoken to Camille since I was 10 (43 years). When she told me that my father had been married once before and that I had a half sister named Katie Smith was overwhelming. I have since started calling it the "wow" conversation. All I could say after she told me was "Wow". It was pretty shocking.

As I have thought about it I think once dad mentioned that he had another daughter while he was driving me to school in Manitou. I remember us going around the blind curve that he always took too fast in his cop car, as he told me that I had a half sister and that she might be showing up because she was graduating soon. I think I would have been 12 or 13? I also realize as I write this that I often did not believe things dad told me because his wild life stories were the only thing I believed of him. His childhood growing up in the west and riding horses and being friends with indians. He broke his promise on so many other things, coming to  see my school christmas choir concerts, or being home for dinner, or being home at all, that I could believe his wild cowboys stories, but not his stories that were grounded in any kind of reality. I remember once arguing with him and then calling him a liar when he told me that there were busses of people that went to the Denver Bronco games. We lived in Colorado Springs, an hour from Denver, but I told him I didn't believe the story he made up of busses full of Broncos fans leaving on Sunday mornings for the games. He just calmly let me call him a liar. I believe the exact wording I used was "bull shit". That moment when he conceded so easily I was sure was a turning point. He finally knew he couldn't pull the wool over my eyes. What I know now is that he just decided to quit fighting me.

My sister Katie is a few years older than my sister Pat. She said that her mother was divorced from our dad by the time she was 9 months old. I assume dad got her pregnant and then did the right thing. Which is so often so far from the right thing it isn't even funny.

Now, after meeting Katie, I realize I have a million questions. I also know that I will be able to ask her these questions. And I will believe her, as I never believed my father. I think I may have asked him a question or two but he would not answer me. Was he on a call, and had to get me close to school, so he could just drop me then get to work. Which he did a lot. I don't think I even knew her name.

I think also when dad died I asked Pat if we should call her, but she said, no. That she was a bitch and that she wouldn't talk to dad when he asked to talk to her. Then I remember that I found a page in mom's address box written in dad's hand writing. I kept it. It had Kathleen Smith written on it. On the back of the card is a note, she will or won't call as she wants.

As I try to untangle what I knew and what I didn't, as I grasp at memories and wonder at conversations that were real or imagined, I find that I am feeling lost and found at the same time.

Last night I had my "moving dream". This time I had three bags. They were all packed and ready to go. I had to rummage through mom's hutch, as I always do in my dreams, as I looked for my tarot cards and my psychic books. I put them under my arm and was ready to leave. (I also looked for that box of pot that I have somewhere, that I want to get rid of. but cannot remember where it is.) So yeah, a little stress. But the three bags were ready.

Dave, Pat, Katie?

Friday, February 20, 2015

The day before I turn 53.

I have been in a whirlwind this year and all I can say is that I just held on and rode the ride. This time last year I took a life altering chance and went to Savannah to meet Dave, the Scottish bloke I met on geek2geek.com. We met on September 9, 2013. Speaking to each other on-line, then via Skype, I decided to push us into meeting earlier than his planned November of 2014. During the months of calls that froze and dropped I finally figured out what everyone was talking about when they talked of  falling in love and wanting to get married. I get it now. Took me 52 years, but I get it now.

This time last year we were on the Savannah trip. An amazing time that is straight out of a romance novel. Yesterday a year ago he came down the escalator in his red converse and his nerd t-shirt and leather jacket. I was crazy about him the moment I smelled him as he gathered me into his arms. Arms that for years he thought were too long, but were perfect to wrap around my very generous body.

Today, a year ago, he and I were on a tour of Savannah. Testing out how to hold hands and eat around each other without being embarrassed.

For my birthday, a year ago tomorrow, he got up at 5am and shaved. Then gave me some of the most beautiful jewelry and cards I have ever gotten. We went to the beach and were drenched in a monsoon of rain and laughter. At that moment Dave realized that I would not be the woman who would see this as a fail, but as a wonderful quirky win, and I watched him physically relax. That night we spent at a beautiful restaurant where I had a delightful dinner, and then one of the worst hot flashes I have ever had. He just sat with me and held my hand and stayed with me through it. Another win in my eyes.

The next day was a pottering about kind of day, Walmart, which he went nuts over, Barnes and Nobel where we both went to the same section. Then that evening we had a sad little dinner and walked back to the hotel. That night we talked about what would have to happen for us to move forward. I was very matter of fact, and he was very helpful.  Then I told him I needed at least an hour or two of sleep because I had to drive us back to Atlanta for the flights out.

As we lay there he kicked and fussed and all I could think was that I had blown it. That he was trying to find a way to get out of it with me, to end this in a way we that neither of us would loose face and that we could drive back to Atlanta and at least be "friends" for the ride back.

Again at 5 am he woke me (because we had to leave in an hour) This time he made me get up out of bed. Standing in my bare feet and not really awake, he kneeled down to tie my shoe laces. Which made no sense to me. Then he held both my hands and looked up at me and said, "will you marry me?"

The rest is a bit of a blur. All I know for sure is that I said yes, we both cried, and then he gave me a the shirt he was wearing so that I could have a reminder, since he did not have a ring for me.

All I also know for sure is that for once in my life I stepped off the safe place I have ensconced myself for 22 years and I jumped into his monkey arms. All I also know for sure is that We are approaching our 6 month wedding anniversary, and although I have had some challenges adjusting to having a person in my life who I would do anything for, I have never been in a better place in my entire life.

30 years ago I saw a vedic astrologer who tilted his head at me in a very endearing way and said, "If you can actually survive to your 50's then you will have paid all your karmic debt and you will be able to live the rest of your life in joy."


Saturday, March 8, 2014

What if...

I played this game a lot as a child. What if I was a witch and could wiggle my nose like Samantha Stevens on Bewitched and change things in my life? What if I was the oldest in the family and my sister had to listen to me? What if I was so smart that I never had to be bored in a school classroom ever again? What if I was so rich that I could always have the food I want whenever I wanted it? What if I was naturally a thin, pretty girl that was attractive to boys?

I wanted to be anywhere but where I was most of my life. But over the last few years I have been able to make most of my childhood dreams a reality. My sister and I have finally gotten a relationship where she listens to me. We are equals. And she genuinely likes me. Which I feel and am amazed by how lovely this feels.

I work in a job that is interesting and where I get to do what I liked doing the most in school, talking to friends, watching and listening to movies and music, not having a teacher in the room to make me feel uncomfortable. It really is the best job. Most of the time I laugh and talk to friends, and I still get alone time. So really it is perfect.

And I am rich. I have a comfortable home. I always have enough money for food and heat. I get to swim whenever I want to. I feel secure to the point that I have enough, which is something I never felt as a child. I was always either cold or craving or yearning or watching others and feeling sad. I have always been on the outside of security. Close, enough to sense what it would feel like, but never having it tangibly. I have touched it, but never held it or been held by it. And now I have held it. And I really love the feel of it.

And the final one, the one that I assumed I would never feel. The one that was put into my head as a kid and that I could never out run. My mom told me once, and she denied this to her dying day, but I remember, "You will never be pretty, so at least try to be graceful". I am sure it was one of those things that she blurted out after yet another black eye, or bruised body part. An off hand thing directed at getting me not to be such a Tomboy Dare Devil. A frustration at one more pair of pants torn, or shoes destroyed or broken *insert thing*.  I was a handful for her, because I did not sit in my room listening to music and reading books or doing homework. I was out in the world at a hundred percent volume and speed. I think she liked watching me do it. I know she lived vicariously off me. But I also frustrated her. and that careless phrase burned into my body and soul and brain. And it changed me.

I have never been thin naturally. I have been thin by hard damn work and deprivation. And even when I have been thin, I have never been thin like the people around me. I have never been that pretty girl that walks into a room and men notice. I am the fat sidekick, the chubby one, the funny one, the other one. So I developed personality. And that is great. As compared to the other "pretty women" I have known I would not change my personality for their thin thighs. I know that now anyway. There were years that I was passed over for parts in shows, boys eyes, and all the other perks, like clothing choices and the ability to wear skirts without chub rub. There were the years when I knew that package I was in was the only thing keeping me from the men that I was attracted to. That the men that were attracted to me were not anyone I would want to be with, Groucho was right on that account. And that the people that loved me always had a hint of sadness in their eyes, because they knew that I would never find the love that they all took for granted.

What would my life have been like as a thin girl? What if I could buy clothes anywhere and got choices and not just, "well, this looks least bad and sorta fits, if I take it home and adjust it.". What would it be like to be able to buy a pair of tights in any color other than black? What if I had every store in the mall to chose from? What if when I entered a room or walked down the street I wasn't invisible? What if I had someone touch the parts of my body I am ashamed of, or told me that my legs were beautiful? What if someone looked at me and saw the beauty that I have always hoped was there somewhere, beneath my fat suit? What would that be like?

Would I survive? Would I know to let it in? Would I thrive?

I had 5 days of that one time in my life, and I know that they have changed me forever. It has opened a well of trust and faith and love in me that I never knew existed. I have seen that I can be treasured and loved and that my love can open up and pour out without fear of it being rejected ("I'm flattered, but…") or misused ("I love you, but I want to be in relationships with men.") or wasted ("I have decided that the priesthood is the path I want to be on, and dating you has helped me be certain of that path.") or thrown back in my face ("You are like a sister or a favorite aunt. You are like family. Not someone I would want to date.").

I have looked into the eyes of a man who wants me. And all I can think is that if I were a pretty, thin woman, I never would have found him. I would have been in a place with someone else. Someone who never would have seen me down to the heart and soul. Someone who would love his sports team and his car as much as he loved me. Someone who would not have been patient and careful with me. Someone who would not have touched my mind and my body with care and excitement.

I am for the first time in my life grateful for the way I am. Because if I were different, Dave would never have found me.

"I believe there is a love for everyone. Even if you need a pick axe, night goggles and a compass to find it."

Thank you Dave.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Exhaustion has set in….But in a good way.

This has been a hell of a week. This time last Sunday, the love of my life, asked me to marry him.  Committing body and soul to him was the easiest thing I have ever done.

Now I am feeling the effects of the roller coaster ride that is this giant engagement. The worst part, the part that breaks my heart is that Dave is not here to see how excited everyone is about it. I wish he was here for the jumping up and down and squeals and questions. I think he would be overwhelmed by how much everyone is excited and happy and thrilled. I think he would be touched and honored by the fact that my friends just want me to be happy and that they see he makes me happy. But mostly, I wish he were here so we could hold each other and look in each others eyes and not have to come up with words about how I feel and how this is like I have blossomed after a very long winter. I feel like the cherry tree outside. Pink bud on my branches. Hope flowing in every part of me, from root to leaf. And all it took was Dave to start this. He really is like the sun to me.

I get it now.
Thank God, I have had a chance to finally get what everyone has been talking about.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


I think in all the haze of this whirlwind of romance I may have said something like, "Maybe we should keep this to ourselves until we have more answers." Oh, I can sound practical, but apparently, the practice of practical is impractical.

I have in my hand an empty bag. Where the cat, dog, hippo, velociraptor were supposed to be. I have let them all out. Note to everyone: I suck at secrets. I assume you all know that by now.

Before I told my friends, while I was still in the blur of travel, I told the woman next to me that he was my fiancé.

Let me explain.

From the moment when he got down on his knees to propose, to this very minute right now, I am in a blur of disbelief, relief and calm. Calm, is not what I expected.

But, when we got to the Atlanta Airport we only had a short time before Dave got on the plane. We found a  place to sit and wait and hold each other, a row of seats. There I decided on how this departure was going to go. I told him that I needed it to be that way so that I could survive. That we would get up and hug and kiss and then he would walk away. That had to be how it was because I would not be able to make it otherwise. He only looked back 3 times. God, bless him for that.

I sat back down when he was gone and burst into tears. I was in public, so I was tying to hold it together, which just made it worse. Then I felt a small had on my arm and a voice said, "Are you ok, honey?"

I slobbered out a, "no". Then she said, "go after him". If my legs had not been turned to pudding I would have run after him. If I had had my passport I would have never looked back. But I know in my heart that he will be back, and I also know that if I ran after him he never would have gotten on that plane. And we need to get our shit together so we can be together for the rest of our lives.

I croaked out, "I don't have my passport." She just said, "oh." She held my hand until I could breathe again. Then I looked at her. This tiny black woman with fairy like hands and an angel face. She was so beautiful. She had such a sad look in her eyes. I asked her, "Are you alright?" And she said, "no."

She had lived with a man for 9 years 20 years ago. He had been the love of her life. But they had separated and lost each other. A few months ago he tracked her down. They had been talking and she had come to the airport today to fly to New York to meet him. As she entered the airport he had called her, and he had told her not to come, that he had changed his mind.

This tiny resilient woman said to me, "I love him, but he does not deserve me, I will not cry for a man who does not know how special I am and who would throw me away." I asked if she had family or friends coming to get her. She told me the woman behind the ticket counter was her friend was was off in a few minutes. She told me it was never too late for love, she was 59 after all. Then she asked my name and I asked hers.

For the second time in the same day I held both hands of a person I had only just met. I looked into her strong, fire blazing Valkurian eyes, and I shared a moment that will be forever with me.

"Look at us," she said,"on either side of love."

Yeah, look at us. God bless Phyllis and her strong heart and kind hands.

And thank you Universe for finally allowing me to be on the winning side of love.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What a difference a year can make.

In 2013 on my 51st birthday, I took a picture of myself. It was the first thing in the morning and I photographed myself in my bathroom mirror about 2 minutes after I had gotten up. I look like I had been dragged behind a particularly large bus. For about 3 miles. In the desert. On the moon.

I had been bleaching my hair and waffling between shoulder length and the short short hair I really wanted. The bleaching was the transition into having the white in my hair be ok, and not just, why does my hair look like the broom over there in the corner?

This photo was also telling, because I have what I call the "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke" smirk on. This smirk began a few months earlier when I looked around my life and realized I was over 50 and that I was looking as at good as it was going to get for me. Under the smirk was the belief that I was going to always be single. And under that, and not very far, was the question of whether or not I was interested in dealing with this alone and loveless and solitary life for another 20 or 30 years. It was this long hard stretch of highway that I was not looking forward to.

My life was good, don't get me wrong. I had a job I liked, I had a home I could pay for and live relatively comfortably in, I had a good relationship with my remaining family member. But there was a weight to my life that was overpowering. I was in physical pain, and in mental "who gives a shit." The physical pain was from the fall 3 years earlier, and from being fat, and from working in a job that I never get to sit down to do. It was from me not bothering to take care of myself, because I just had given up hope.

My boss Mike Kelley saved my life.

He offered to pay for me to go to Seattle Athletic Club because they had a swimming pool, and that would be a way for me to feel better. I could exercise in water, safely and get stronger.  So in July (?) I began going. The first day just getting my old ratty swimsuit on was a challenge. Then going up and down the ladder was more of a workout than I expected. I was stiff and sore the next day. But I also felt  a bit better.

I continued to swim for a month or two. One day, a particularly beautiful fall day, I was floating in the water day dreaming. I could look out the high windows and see the end of summer green of the leaves on the trees waving in the blue sky. I was at peace, suspended in water and relaxed. Content for the first time in years. No pain, no thoughts, just peace and grace.

And then in my head I heard, "get back on-line".

I knew that I should try one more time to do the "dating thing". One last time. I let go of the belief that it had never worked before, so why would it work now. I just thought, I am in this place of total surrender and not thinking life is all that worth living, so what the fuck. The next day I took a selfie after work and put my profile on two websites, Plenty of Fish (where Marilyn had met Blaine) and Geek 2 Geek. I am a Pisces so I almost always have two things going at once. It helps me feel balanced.

I had no faith that this would work. I have been trying this for years and I either get super scary ass guys responding or none at all. I mean not even the scary ass guys will respond to me.

On Plenty of Fish I had a guy named Mark Casanova respond to me. After I made the first move. He seemed nice and was not horrible to look at. And he was tall and lived within the 25 mile range I was firmly set on. I have learned that unavailable can mean all sorts of things, gay, emotionally and physically distant, married. Mark Casanova was none of  these things.

We talked on-line and then set a time to meet. We planned on meeting at the Barnes and Noble in Northgate. Coffee date. Sunday afternoon at 3. Easy peasy.

I went and waited 30 minutes. Granted he was texting to tell me he was running late. But still. When he finally arrived he looked like a very nice man, like someone my father would have been friends with through the police department. He changed the coffee date plans and suggested a walk through the mall. Then he took me into a camera store to look at cameras because he wanted to replace his, which felt like an errand to be done at another time. He offered to take me to dinner, and I said sure. We went to Azteca in the mall. There he regaled me on his amazing ability to make money, his love of gambling (where I could stand beside him in Vegas as he played the tables) and his skill with making money. Then as I had a mouth full of food, he said, "I want to just lean over and kiss you right now." Which is something I have not had anyone say to me in 20 years. It was shocking and I also felt irritated and flattered. I said, " I am eating a burrito right now." Cause that is what you say in that moment.

After dinner and lots of conversation on his side of how he was new in town and, where should he buy a house that would be convenient to me, and did I mention I have skills with money?, he walked me to my car. Then he said, "I am going to kiss you." And he did. And I felt nothing other than a desire to wipe my mouth.

And then I thought of Dave.

It took me a week to muster up the nerve to let him know that I was not going to be dating him. He was texting me how we could go on a day trip the next weekend. And I kept waffling. Then on Sunday a week from the first date, I called my friend Grace, who I felt he might be a good match for, and asked her if she would think it weird if I gave him her number. The fact is that he was very nice and very smart, and he was raring to go, which I realized I was not. She was open to it. Because that is the great thing about Grace, she is raring to go and try anything.

Then I called Mark. I let him tell me that I was apparently not ready to date yet, which was mostly right, and that I was making myself clear by not responding to him, again, spot on. Then I told him that it was weird, but that I thought he and my friend Grace might hit it off, then he could still be in our circle. Which as I write this makes me aware of what a ridiculous thing that was, and I am surprised he didn't put a hit out on me. But I know how disappointment feels, and I just couldn't bare that I was doing it to him. He was first and foremost a nice man, who made the mistake of thinking I was a nice woman.

He deserved someone to love, who loved him back.

He deserved a Dave.

I deserve a Dave. I deserve my Dave. I am stunned that I have my Dave. And though I tell myself I am worthy of his love,  I am amazed that I have it.

So almost 1 year to the day of the morning of my 51st birthday, I am engaged to my Dave. In one year my world has turned upside down and I want those 20 to 30 years now. I want them desperately, because I can share them with my Dave.

What a difference a year can make.