Thursday, December 14, 2006

Plan C

Over the years, I have met person after person who has had not only a plan for his or her life but also a Plan B. But sometimes I think that acknowledging a backup plan is giving up on the original. Knowing that there is “something to fall back on” can cause you to put minimal effort into your dream.

At the beginning of my college career, I was a music major. My plan was to someday be on Broadway. But my dad encouraged me to think realistically and have a back up plan, just in case that music career didn’t work out. Well, the music career didn’t work out. In fact, I majored in music for less than a month of my college career because the thought that I wouldn’t make it terrified me. Preparing for the worst convinced me that I wasn’t good enough and I decided to pursue a different career. Just thinking about how easily I let my dream die makes me sick to my stomach.

Please don’t think I blame my dad. Because, I don’t. I am a product of MY choices. And I can appreciate the sound voice of reason that my dad provided in a difficult and awkward time of life. He was looking out for me but it was still up to me to decide which way I would go.

As the “good enough” attitude trickled into every crack and crevice of my life, I found myself taking “good enough” care of myself and dating guys who were “good enough.” Then, one day, I thought “OH MY GOD, what if I don’t find the man of my dreams in the midst of the ‘good enoughs?’ I better have a back up plan!” At 28, I met my back up plan.

He was a friend of a guy I was dating and I didn’t realize at first that he would my Plan B. I mean, I was dating his friend! But when that “good enough” relationship eventually fizzled out after a year of painful tribulation, we became friends. Good friends. He was far from reliable but he was pretty damn hot. Heads turned when he walked in a room. Everyone knew him. And I loved that. And eventually, I loved him.

For six years, we maintained a Plan B relationship. There was not a lot of effort on either of our parts. It was never a full time gig. In fact, it was a relationship of convenience. Whenever it worked for both of us, it worked. There were no family functions to attend, no stressing out over Christmas gifts, no answering to one another about “where you were last night.” It was nearly ideal. The long talks, the dinners, the making out, the stretches of seeing each other or talking on the phone 8 days in a row sustained us. Until my 34th birthday… (Every guy reading this saw that coming.)

One day, I sat down next to him and I told him that more than anything in life I really want to get married and have babies. He chuckled. And I told him that I could honestly do without the big wedding and even the ring but that I could not live without the babies. I really want kids. And then he said… he had done the marriage thing and he wasn’t good at it and he would never do it again. He said he never wanted to see the hurt on my face if he disappointed me the way he had his ex-wife.

That was the last day we sat down to talk. Fourteen months later, as I walked through the concourse at the ballpark, I saw him. From afar, I could see him looking me in the eye. He didn’t smile. In fact, he didn’t even really acknowledge me, except for the secret, silent glance. And then… he walked past me with his new wife in tow.

Suddenly I felt my broken heart. I cried. I wailed. I wept. For an entire day… My heart still aches.

So it’s on to Plan C. The Nothing Less than I Desire and Nothing Less than I Deserve Plan. No more “good enough.” Just good.

It’s Not Going Anywhere

If I haven’t written about this before, I have been remiss. And if I have? Well, it’s worth writing about again.

The distinction between the male and female anatomy is obvious to most people by the time they are two or three years old. My four-year-old nephew is very aware of breasts, for example. I believe his fourth or fifth word was “boobs” and he said it all the time once he realized that it drew a big laugh from everyone around him. Just the other day, as my mom hand-washed her bras and hung them over the laundry room sink to dry, my nephew watched patiently. Then he said, “Meemo, whose bras are those?” My mom replied, “They’re mine.” And my nephew stated simply, “I like the way you hang them up like that.” He’s very aware of breasts and the holsters that carry them. He’s a man in the making.

Women are as aware of their breasts as men are. We know they are there. They have grown up with us. And we know that, barring surgery, they aren’t going away. So, we don’t often feel the need to hold onto them.

Many men, on the other hand, have a preoccupation with their distinctive anatomical protrusions, which causes them to hold onto them constantly. On a daily basis, I come across a man holding his crotch. What reasons could one have to hold his crotch? Perhaps he is rushing to the bathroom because he has to pee really badly… Or maybe he just got kicked where it counts… Or could it be that he is afraid that on the day he doesn’t hold it, it will just disappear into thin air or it will drop off while he’s walking? Or maybe he will wake up and forget where he put it!

Whatever the reason, men can rest assured that it’s NOT going anywhere. I have polled many men who have had their private parts for MANY years and have never lost or misplaced them. Now, allowing those parts to make decisions on your behalf happens everyday. But that’s a topic for another time.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Call it Like I See It

Some say that it's all in the approach... Some say it's tone or timing... I just tell it like it is.

Quick-wit and humor are often coupled with the uncontrollable habit of blurting out exactly what one is thinking. There are some who feel badly about it. But for most people "blessed" with this "curse," that is quite simply, WHO THEY ARE. I am one of them.

If I do say so myself, there are moments in which I am stupendously and almost unbelievably funny. But my humor comes from my life experiences and my ability to spin some of my most troubling times into a bearable and laughable story. I can laugh at myself. And, quite frankly, I have no problem laughing at others.

When I am not laughing at myself or those around me, I tend to quietly and not-so-quietly comment on the goings-on around me. The happenings could involve someone's cooking or child-rearing. Perhaps my comments surround someone else's inability to think of anyone but themself. But... I comment. And many people do not find it funny at all. It's not always meant to be funny though. It's a comment.

You might say, as many before you have said, that it is not my duty or responsibility or even my RIGHT to comment on whatever I feel like commenting on. But to be honest with you, if I don't say it in the moment, I am going to say it later. And I feel that it is far nobler to say what you have to say in front of your topic of conversation rather than talk about someone behind his or her back.

But you might hurt that person's feelings. Anyone who knows me, knows also that most of what I do in life, I do in love. Rarely do I act out of hatred or spite. No matter the motive, however, I feel it is better that others hear what I think FIRST HAND so as not to cause confusion going through third party channels. I call it like I see it , in front of you.

It is not that I am ignoring feelings or that I am COMPLETELY tactless. I am not. I am sensitive to timing and present company and the questionable appropriateness of certain topics. But I don't hold back with my family and friends because that is who I am.

Talking behind someone's back is dangerous. It plants seeds of doubt surrounding one's character. It can stir up confusion. And often it turns into a great big game of telephone leaving the truth of the matter in its distant past.

So I prefer to tell it like it is, to call it like I see it. That's just who I am.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Liar, Liar

At this stage in life, I have come to expect at least a little bit of deception in a relationship. And, quite frankly, I'm okay with it, as long as it is the "lying by omission" brand of deception.
There are just some things I don't need to know. Like the number of women you have slept with… I know many of you are screeching, "WHAT?!" right now. The number of people a person has slept with BEFORE you is irrelevant. By definition "before" means "prior to" or "in the past." It's in the past. You can't change it or alter it or make it go away. It happened but it is irrelevant to the present moment. And as long as that number doesn't continue to grow once you have committed yourself to me, it does not matter what your number is.

There are other things I don't need to know and I will gladly let you know along the way what those things are. But there are a few basic things that it's just NOT OKAY to lie about.

1. YOUR NAME. A critical first step in getting to know someone is learning his name. So lying about it off the bat is not helping me and it is certainly not helping you. Especially when you forget to answer to your substitute name or inadvertently send an email with your real name on it… Instantly busted. Instantly a big ol' liar.

2. YOUR WIFE. Um yeah, if you're married, just be honest about it. Please don't do that "We Haven't Been Happy For Years" song and dance either. Married is married, whether it is happily, unhappily, grudgingly, or any other word that ends in 'ly." Spare the details.

3. WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. If you are honest with yourself and honest with others about what you REALLY want, you get what you want a lot faster. If you like a skinny blonde with a nice rack who's good with cars, then just say it. Don't pretend that's not what you really want. Don't waste my time oohing and ahhing and skirting the truth. GO get the blonde chick with the tiny waist and big boobs. And, if you like a lady with a little meat on her bones who's good in a car, that works too. JUST BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT. Stop wasting time. You might as well have what you want. Hell, I might as well have what I want. We ALL might as well have what we want. What a wonderful world it would be.

That old cliche "honesty is the best policy" is true. For the most part... I guess a good rule of thumb is this: if someone asks you a question, they are asking it because they WANT to know the truth. So don't answer questions UNTIL THEY ARE ASKED and once the question is out there, be honest.

Remember the Good

Most people are not remembered for the good that they do. The average, everyday Joe who walks through life without fame or notoriety or any glory of any kind is usually known for the mistakes he's made. Those are the things friends bring up when reminiscing about him or the stories that family tells or the source of all the whispering at the holidays.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. Some of them have been pretty big. And I have made plenty of unwise choices that, if given the opportunity, I would jump at the chance to change. And while I say that I try to live with no regrets and that I usually pay no mind to what others think of me. The thought that I will go down in history as merely a list of mistakes and bad choices causes me great angst.

The woman I am today is a product of all that bad but also of all the good.

Fueling anger and hatred is often easier than breeding love and that is why we as a people have a tendency to recall bad over good. Think about how effortlessly you can stir a group of people who are unhappy with a common situation. Getting them fired up over their given cause is a piece of cake. But when it's time to rally folks together for good, it takes some old fashioned hard work.

I don't want to be remembered as the girl in college who almost died from alcohol poisoning at the Jimmy Buffet concert or as the one who joined a local church for four years at the expense of nearly every relationship or the one who fell for the ugliest and craziest guy on the baseball team. I don't want to be remembered as the one who mishandled her friendship with Kathy Donaway in high school or the mean one who made the girl at work cry or the idiot whose car almost got stolen because she was too lazy to put on "THE CLUB." I learned a lot from those mistakes. I grew up because of them and in spite of them. And I would like to think that out of that came...

The one who would give you the shirt off her back... The one who would pick you up in the middle of the night when you get a flat tire on the side of the highway... The one who would hug you when you need it... The one who would spend hours to cook you a meal that will last thirty minutes...

If I am going to be a list, I want to be the good list, the A list, the BEST OF list, the TOP TEN reasons that SHE WAS A GOOD PERSON list.

Be Good at It

Whatever you choose to do in life, I believe that you should strive to do it well. And I believe that we, the people, have the right to expect others to be good at whatever it is that they are doing.

When you go to the doctor, you expect that your physician will know how to heal your every ailment. When you take your car to the shop, your expectation is that when the vehicle is returned to your possession, it will not only get you where you need to go but it will live up to its greatest potential. Dry cleaners should be proficient in dry cleaning, restaurant servers should serve and plumbers should plumb… or fix the pipes, if you will.

And so I submit that the expectation we hold to those in positions of authority, in careers that are seemingly important and in roles that make our daily lives either better or more bearable should be held to everyone. I submit that we should expect people to be good at WHATEVER it is that they choose to do.

Over the last few months, neighborhood thieves attempted to steal my Jeep twice. Both times, they were unsuccessful. Whatever they learned from the first attempt did them no good. They were unable to apply those learnings in order to successfully make off with my car the second time. Their incompetence overwhelmed and infuriated me. I mean really… OPPORTUNITY KNOCKED TWICE for these idiots which almost NEVER happens for the people with good intentions, and they missed it both times. If you are going to be a car thief, be a good car thief. Don't be half-assed about it. Know your target and take it. Stop leaving it in front of my house with $1700 worth of damage.

Now I am not advocating stealing cars as a career choice. I'm just saying… Whatever you choose to do in life, be good at it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Man's Dream Come True

Last week, I became every man’s dream come true. As if the myriad of qualities I have to offer weren’t enough, I ventured into territory that solidified my stance as a dream girl. For three days, I was under doctor’s orders to BE QUIET. No talking. Not even a whisper. What a dream come true, huh?

Keeping my mouth shut for an hour is a challenge but three days in silence seemed to be "Mission Impossible." My cell phone lives in my pocket and while at work I prefer to communicate via email, I CANNOT resist the office chatter. I am the girl who strikes up a conversation with strangers waiting in line at the grocery checkout. And when I am not talking, I am singing. You know that old saying "use it or lose it?" Well, if my voice box was union, it would be getting paid time and a half all the time. It is used… and probably a little abused.
I think you get the idea. But I have to make one more point… it’s not that I can’t be quiet. I just prefer not to be quiet. I am a woman of opinions that I like to share.

My pen and notebook became my best friends. I went to get gas and I had to pass a note to the guy at the register. "$15 on 18, please… And a powerball ticket." He looked at me like I was nuts but I bet after I left, he thought about how nice it would be if his woman could only pass notes.

Think about it. The nagging would only come as fast as she could write. And it probably wouldn’t seem like nagging without the sound effects. She wouldn’t be able to say no. She could nod but again… nodding no isn’t as powerful as saying it. His opinion would be the right one for maybe the first time in their relationship. He could talk baseball for hours on end without and interruption or change in the subject.

So for three whole days, I was every man’s dream come true.

I am happy to report the voice is back and I am talking. With less frequency and at lower decibels but… I am talking. And, if I say so myself, I think I am still pretty damn close to a dream come true.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Guy Friend

The good guy friend is hard to come by. When I was in college, I had plenty of good guy friends. There were a few that completely embodied the good guy friend, however. They were protective like a brother, fun to hang out with like a buddy, helpful like your dad and never crossed the friendship line.

About a year ago, I went to dinner with one of the best guy friends I have ever had. After years of having not seen each other, we reminisced for hours. And he told me that he was glad to have had me in his life. And I told him the same. And then he said, "You know, I'm glad you didn't end up with (fill in name of guy I was crazy about in college). He wasn't good enough for you. And he still isn't." A good guy friend sees your worth, never takes you for granted and treats you with respect.

The good guy friend is the guy who will help you move furniture up over thirty steps to your apartment. Not because he feels obligated. Not because he's afraid saying "no" will hurt your feelings. But because he can.

He goes to hockey games and buys the beer and heckles all the mullet-havin' fans sitting around you. And he rolls his eyes when you base your favorite baseball player on how good he looks in the white pants... Then he schools you on the value of a good lefty in the bullpen.

The good guy friend talks to you about the girl he likes and values your opinion about her. He also tells you how he feels about the guys that you are interested in. But he only tells you when you ask. (Nagging you about your man insanity is the responsibility of your female friends.) And when you do ask, the good guy friend is brutally honest.

The good guy friend sits on the front porch, guarding your front door, when your crazy neighbor stalker guy freaks you out. And in a time of crisis, or when you are having a bad week, he calls to check on you. A visit might mean hugging and consoling. Not that he's not into all that but that's what your girlfriends are for... His purpose for communication at that point is to try to fix it, not to wallow about in it.

The good guy friend is a guy you'd invite to a family barbecue or fix up with your best girl friend. (You should never fix someone up with a guy you wouldn't date yourself anyway!)

Since college, the good guy friends have been harder to come by. The show up in life mostly in the form of co-workers or teammates or friends' husbands. And it seems none of them are the complete good guy friend package anymore. The good guy friend is a rare commodity.

Fire Factor

Fire is fascinating. Entangled reds and oranges and yellows flicker brightly, inviting you to touch it. The heat of the flame intensifies as you get closer to it. A crumpled piece of paper disintegrates in seconds with soft crackles and pops. It’s fascinating.

But, if you touch it, you’ll get burned.

And you know that you shouldn’t touch it but the temptation comes over you almost every time you get close to the fire. As a child, resisting the temptation is almost impossible. As an adult, avoiding the fire is common sense.

I have been playing with fire for a few years now and I didn’t even realize it until a friend pointed out my charred fingertips and my scorched ego. This fire is as fascinating as the real thing. Entangled humor and intelligence and good looks invite me. The heat of the flame creates an intense connection.

But every time I touch it I get burned.

And every time, I’m fascinated. I think it will be different. Maybe I can get really close… close enough to feel the heat but not get burned.

Fire is no respecter of persons. It gives no consideration to its surroundings. Fire heats and lights and cooks… It does some wonderful things. But if you touch it, you’ll get burned.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Find the Funny & Accept Yourself!

Earlier this week a colleague commented that I am funny because I can laugh at myself without seeming… sad.

Laughing at yourself in a healthy manner is a sign of true acceptance. It is also representative of your ability to pull your life into perspective, to know what’s important, what’s not and what can provide a little FUNNY now and then.

In my life, there’s not much that is off limits. Bad hair days, bad choices in men, the very bad (& seemingly SLOW) sagging of my backside… It’s all fair game. And the funny comes in the reality of each situation. The humidity of St. Louis causes my hair to frizz out on any given day and while the actual hair may be laughable, it’s the agony of trying to tame that frizz down to a level acceptable for public viewing that provides the funny. My incompatibility with nearly every man living in the St. Louis metro area would be sad, if not for the funny that can be found in the reason why we’re not compatible. (And that reason is actually a laundry list that includes “I was graduating from high school when he was cutting his molars,” “The span of his ass is equal to the width of my left thigh,” and many other favorites.) As for the saggy butt… the visual alone should be enough to give you a chuckle.

Laughter truly is the best medicine for a healthy heart, for plucking yourself from the throw of a depression or for tightening up your abs. But finding the funny in a situation may also be the key to truly accepting who you are.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Men are like cake

Men are like cake. And I love cake.

But you can love cake and not taste every cake you see. In fact, some cake looks better than it tastes. You could spot a gorgeous cake, take a slice and sneak off into a corner to partake and on the first bite, discover that it's CARROT cake. On the other hand, some cake may appear slightly uneven or may be missing a little icing on top or perhaps it's even been hacked into by your greedy third cousin from Nowhere, Va. Upon tasting it however, you realize it might be the best cake you've ever eaten.

Some cake is simply nice to look at. But just because you are attracted to it... That doesn't mean you have to taste it. It's just nice to look at and think about and maybe even IMAGINE how it might taste. But that's enough. Tasting it would almost spoil the fantasy.

Then there's the cake that you would love to try but you can't have any. It's the cake that a department on the 8th floor of your building is having to celebrate an anniversary or a birthday and you work on the 7th floor so... it would be a bit inappropriate to swipe a piece. Afterall, it isn't YOUR cake. It belongs to someone else.

Some people pass on having a piece of cake because they know it isn't good for them or the calories are just going to attach themselves directly on already plump locations of their bodies. I can't just pass on cake because it might be bad for me. I have to try it and I might regret it later. I may even beat myself up about it. But I can't say no... to cake.

The greatest thing about cake is that it comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and flavors. There is a cake for everyone.

You could spend a fortune on a cake or buy it in a box and make it at home yourself. I guess that is where the comparisons to men stop though.

For the most part, though, men are like cake. And I love cake.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dining (or Dating ) Outside the Box

A reader recently encouraged me to think outside the box when it comes to dating. Doing so, the anonymous poster suggested, might help me find Mr. Right. (Those of you who know me well are, in this moment, cringing and perhaps saying out loud, "Oh no... here we go.")

Often, I write about longing for love or my desire to settle down with Mr. RIGHT-FOR-ME and the quandaries that fill my head which are related to these subjects. But rest assured, my friends, while I may not have stumbled upon my forever love and settled into happily ever after, it is not for lack of searching outside my comfort zone.

Dating is a lot like dining. When you come across a restaurant that you like, you visit frequently and, if you are like me, you try to order something different from the menu every time you go. Once you have had a fair sampling of the menu, you normally settle into an ordering routine. You spend the rest of your visits dining on your favorites. The dishes that please your palate and that do not wreak havoc on your digestional tract become your staple in that dining experience.

Much like dining out, in the dating world, you find a place that you like. Perhaps that place is MEN... as in my case. You sample the menu available, as I have. Tall, short... Older, younger... Black, white, etc... Rich, poor, unemployed, professional, athlete, musician, numbers guy... And then you turn 30. And by 30, if you are still single, you have experienced a rich sampling of the MAN MENU. That sampling has developed into your list of likes or wants or wishes for the man you'd like to spend the rest of your life with. Your favorites.

In any person, man, woman or child, I have learned to see potential. Potential for what? That varies from person to person. But my experience has taught me that I love people. And, quite frankly, I love men. I love plumbers and ballplayers and bartenders and CEOs. I love 'em short and tall and fat and thin. I love them driving a BMW and waiting for the bus. (That one I may need therapy for...)

The point is that your 30s are not for sampling the menu. Your 30s are for being open to every possibility, which I am. Your 30s are not for chasing down every Tom, Dick & Harry. Again, this time in your life has been designated for being open to WHAT COULD BE while keeping in mind your sampling experience and being honest with yourself about your findings.

If there are any single men reading who are waiting for the right girl to come to them, let me make a suggestion to you. There is one assumption you are allowed to make when it comes to women. ASSUME that by 30, we have done a sampling and we are sure of what our favorites are. Women of this age are confident in what we can handle and what we can't and I, for one, am open to almost anything. So, if you think you are Mr. Right-for-her, you need to do something about it because one of the things she has almost certainly discovered in her taste testing journey is this... SHE WANTS TO BE PURSUED. That's the ultimate favorite.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

To love or not to love...

To love or not to love… that is REALLY the question. There are those who have said that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. There are others who say that you don’t miss what you never had.

Growing up in a loving and secure environment fostered within me a desire to someday have my own family. Family has been a source of comfort at best and constancy at worst for me. Family has been like guaranteed love. It’s not without disappointment or pain. But with family, my experience has been that even in the rough times, there is a way back to loving times if you hang in there.

My experience with other relationships has not been the same. Friendship love has often been conditional. And love, or my attempts at love, with a significant other (in my case, the opposite sex) have certainly been conditional, disappointing and painful. Somewhere among the bad, there were good moments, glimmers of hope, joyful times. Those moments encouraged me to stay hopeful that one day it would all come together and I would find a life partner.

But, do you ever stop hoping? Is there a time in life when you move beyond the hope of finding your true love? I’m just wondering. I have never reached that point before but I have entered a territory that is starting to feel like that time.

A few months ago, I turned 35. Spending the remainder of my life alone is not something I would have chosen myself. However, could it be that I have been chosen for this life? Perhaps it is the love of family that is supposed to carry me. The love of my Godchildren and my nephew… The love of my parents who I talk to daily… The love of my sister, my cousins, my aunts and uncles… That’s a lot of love for which I should be and I am eternally grateful.

Some days, I want more. And I find myself struggling to understand if I am just being greedy and selfish or if I really am deficient. Have I reached my love quota? I don’t feel empty… But I don’t feel like I’ve reached capacity either. At the same time, the fear of losing again nearly convinces me to consider just being happy with what I have.

I have reached a crossroads. There are a lot of questions here. But there is one that is top of mind: to love or not to love?

Walking in the Sun

Every day, I have a bit of a walk from my car to the building in which I work. Along the route, I face a choice nearly every morning: a walk under the covered walkway or a trip through the parking lot in the sun. Most days, I opt for a little sunshine. As I step off the curb and onto the asphalt, the sun touches my face and, even on the coldest days, warms me to the core. Literally and figuratively, it brightens my day.

Daily, we make decisions that seem bigger and more important than whether or not we will walk in the sun. But this simple exercise has been a life-changing lesson for me. In every situation, every crisis, every trying moment, I have a choice to make. In the face of every fear, in conflict and in worry, I have a choice to make. On the days when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I have a choice to make.

And most days, I choose to keep walking in the sun.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Big, red, comfy couch for sale!

It’s the perfect, pillowy couch. Long enough for my 5 foot, 10 inch frame to take a Saturday afternoon snooze but no to long to fit in a small city apartment… Soft and cushy enough to sink safely into without the threat of slipping so deeply into the cushions that you need help getting out… It really is the perfect couch. So perfect in fact that I can’t help but sit on it. I almost feel bad if I don’t. My backside naturally gravitates to it the moment I walk through the front door. My body craves it!

With that perfect couch around, I can’t get anything done. I try to resist its magnetic pull but every night I end up right back there… sitting or laying or leaning on the couch. I have even tried to stack things up on it so there’s no room for me but somehow I wiggle between the stuff and find enough space for my behind.

So the couch must go!

Big, red comfy, couch for sale… if you can get me off of it, you can have it!

Two Little Words

There are a lot of words in the English vocabulary. I don’t know exactly how many but I know there are a lot. And everyday, we use them. Women use more than men by something like 10,000 words per day. Some words and phrases are over-utilized, like "whatever" or "you know?" Often I catch myself inserting one or the other in conversation. Others are flippantly tossed around such as "I love you." Recently, while dancing in a club at 2AM, my dance partner stopped me to tell me that he loved me after having met me only ten minutes earlier. C’mon!

But there are two little words that I don’t think we say enough. THANK YOU. When someone passes the salt around the table, we should be saying THANK YOU. If you are ushered to the front of the line, someone should be thanked. When we are given gifts, even on birthdays and Christmas when gifts are expected, THANK YOU is appropriate. It is even more appropriate after a big surprise or a small but unexpected present. If someone steps out of the way so you can get off the elevator, you should say THANK YOU. If they didn’t move, you wouldn’t be able to get out at your stop. So while common sense tells them to get out of your way, they don’t really HAVE to, so… THANK YOU.

There are many less obvious situations in which I believe a THANK YOU is not only in order but also could be a conduit for goodness and love. Not too long ago a television commercial depicted awkward situations which people escaped simply by saying THANK YOU. How much better would your work day be if once in a while someone came by and just said THANK YOU for being here today. Or, if after you experienced a particularly embarrassing moment, a THANK YOU might let you know that you aren’t the only one who has been through it. THANK YOU might be the perfect way to cap off great sex or it might be appreciated after your best friend holds your hair while you toss up your last six drinks and the toasted ravioli for dinner. Ok, I’ve gone too far but I think you get the idea.

And to all of those who have forgotten or simply neglected to say THANK YOU, I have just one thing to say to you…


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Constant Parade

Entering South Beach is like walking into another world. The area boasts a culture all it's own, a conglomerate of the immigrants that have taken up residence there. And on every street, in every moment, on every day, there is a parade.

Whether you are reading on the veranda of your art deco hotel or dining at a beach-side cafe on Ocean Drive, you can enjoy the constant pageantry of the city. Lambroghinis and Hummers and Mercedes of every kind driven by fashionable dressed men and women wearing expensive sun glasses line the streets. Walking up and down every block, people dressed to the nines march by in a hurry to go nowhere... or anywhere, just to be seen.

There is a lot of "being seen" being done in South Beach. And while you may be seen, you may not get any real attention. The competition is stiff down there. Beautiful people are the norm. They are everywhere. And with the exception of the numerous pairs of perky ENORMOUS breasts that you face everyday on the street, most of that beauty seems natural. The beauty comes in various types and flavors. Tall, short, male, female, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, European, fat, skinny, pleasingly plump, gay, straight... There is something beautiful for everyone there, debunking the belief that beauty can really even be defined.

It is an incredible place. And if you are a fan of parades, you should visit. Find a seat and enjoy the show!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tip Jar

I am putting a tip jar on my desk. I have decided that to reward me for doing my job, others should drop loose change in it. My paycheck is not reward enough.

Rather than saying thank you, or giving me a pat on the back, I will just take the CASH VALUE. What do you think the cash value of the phrase “great job” might be? A quarter? A couple of dimes and a stray penny, perhaps?

Spare coins can add up. After a week or so, I may be able to buy a soda or spring for lunch in the cafeteria. This tip jar is going to be great.

I must admit this is not my own idea. I pilfered it from any number of tip jar entrepreneurs that are sprouting up around the country. There are tip jars everywhere. Coffeehouses, smoothie places, that little spot on the corner where you can pick up a slice of pizza… even Subway. If it is appropriate to have tip jars there, then why not in my office on my desk?

Tipping experts insist that tipping in the afore-mentioned situations is not only unnecessary but it is ridiculous. Many tip guides offer advice on when tipping is appropriate:

· Restaurant service… where you sit down and they bring you your dinner, refill your beverages, replace the fork you dropped and clean up after you… deserves tipping.
· A great haircut is worthy of a tip.
· Tipping the bellman who carries your luggage to your hotel room is altogether appropriate.

But in a day and age when nobody seems to be paid enough for the contribution they are making to the world or just to your day, I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.

I am putting a tip jar on my desk. (I’ll let you know how it goes.)

Monday, March 06, 2006


Some of the most beautiful artwork can be seen in nature. And often it appears at the least expected moment.

On a plane ride home to St. Louis from Florida, I glanced out the window and saw the most amazing sunset I have ever seen. As we soared high above the clouds, a deep neon red orb blazed upon the horizon. Hot pink and orange streaks stretched out from each side and a crisp line separated the frothy gray clouds from the wondrous spectacle painted across the sky.

Too quickly, the bright globe of light sank beneath the gray line and disappeared. A new stretch of warm and gentle pink smeared across the western skies, but only for a while. Then darkness came.

If not for the witness of the passenger at my right, I'd have thought it was a dream.

Pull Up Your Pants

As I make my way around the world encouraging women to embrace their true sizes, I think I may spend a moment or two schooling men on their true size as well. The true size of their pants, to be specific.

Baggy pants that hang on the hips or half way down the back side is the trend. It is a part of the hip hop culture. Despite the fact that men can't move faster than a snail's pace without dropping their drawers, they continue to purchase trousers that are many sizes too large. They have lost sight of the fact that women (or even other men for that matter) are interested in a preview of what's inside those pants. Butts and thighs... don't act like you don't know. Proper assessment of the goods within cannot be made if the packaging is appallingly over-sized.

Some might argue that sagging pants are the perfect way to get a preview... I personally like the look of a man's backside in pants that fit him. And, I am venturing a guess that most women ( and some other men) would find that more attractive that a shot of a guys boxers or briefs or boxer-briefs. No matter the argument you present, however, pants hanging off your ass is simply not hot.

Pull up your pants. Show us what you got. Just don't show us your underwear. It is called UNDERwear for a reason.

Happiness-Where the Responsibility Lies

You can only be responsible for your own happiness. That is what I have been told. So I thought about that for a while... It is true that you can't always make veryone else happy and, in failed attempts to do so, you can't risk losing happiness yourself. But I think to say that you are only responsible for YOUR OWN happiness is a cop out. It is a way to relenquish our responsibility toward others and to focus solely on self which I find to be very selfish.

Selfishness is a dangerous thing. It is territory that one ventures into that goes beyond getting what you rightfully deserve. Selfishness is when nothing that anyone else does for you is good enough. It is when nobody else can make you happy. Seemingly, selfishness is a growing problem in our world, in our communities, in our circles of friends. It is selfishness that is responsible for the decline in customer service. It is selfishness that provokes bullying among our children. It is selfishness that perpetuates nearly every societal ill that we encounter, knowlingly or not, on a daily basis. And it is from selfishness that this idea has blossomed that we are only responsible for our own happiness.

Granted, you cannot rely on others to bring you happiness and you shouldn't place that burden on anyone's shoulders but your own. So, in a sense the saying "You can only be responsible for your own happiness" is valid. Yet is is our duty as members of this humankind to CONTRIBUTE to the happiness of others. Looking out for yourself and what you want in life does not relieve you of your obligation to the rest of humankind.

Daily, I grapple with distinguishing which moments are aptly created for me to please me and when I should curtail my desires to cater to the wants of others. This battle is long and hard-fought for me because it is in my nature to be a people-pleaser. The driving motivation for much of my life is seeing others happy. I find it difficult, in fact to be happy if other people aren't. I feel the discontent of those around me in the pit of my stomach. It wears on my mind, no matter how much I try to ignore it and causes me unrelenting stress. Believe me, I try to press on and have a little happy of my own but it just doesn't seem worth it, if everyone else isn't happy too.

Let me give you a big example that may help you understand what I am saying. After hurricanes Katrina and Wilma hit land, my initial response was to sign up as a volunteer with the Red Cross. The storms took everything from the people living in the areas affected. EVERYTHING. They had the clothes on their backs. No homes. No jobs. No happiness. So I felt it was my duty to contribute in a way that might help them find some happiness again. Meanwhile, I heard about people who were also devastated by the storms because their vacations were ruined... Yes... vacations were ruined.

Now here's a small example. You and a friend are shopping at the mall. Your friend has trouble gathering up her bags. Do you stop and wait so she doesn't have to walk alone? Or do you continue walking and figure she will just catch up? C'mon, does her happiness REALLY lie in whether or not you wait for her? Probably not but small gestures that some consider common courtesies do contribute to the big picture of a person's life. The little things add up. So if you can't contribute in big ways than you just do the little things and you fulfill your reponsibilities to others.


Contributing... not creating. Not developing or managing or maintaining. JUST CONTRIBUTING. And others should not be solely responsible for YOUR HAPPINESS. They are responsible to CONTRIBUTE and nothing more.

I don't know what the cure for selfishness is. But I think the key to happiness is selflessness, respect, consideration and contribution.

Happiness is a little like money. Unless you keep making deposits into your bank account, you are eventually going to run out of money and the bank isn't going to let you take money out anymore. It is essential that you deposit as much happiness into others as you hope to withdraw from them.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Size 6

Has anyone seen Mariah Carey lately? She claims she wears a size 6. I just want to sneak up behind her on the red carpet, get up in her ear and whisper really loudly, "Girl, you know you don't wear no size 6... 16 maybe... but it ain't no 6."

Not that it matters, of course. I am happy to have Mariah Carey joining the throngs of plus-sized pretties who are in the public eye. She obviously isn't unhealthy. She's not gasping for breath while performing live. She is curvaceous and beautiful. Juicy, even. And all that juicy is not squeezing into a size 6. Not that it matters...

In fact, when does size ever matter? Really... Today I went to a store and tried on the same shirt in two sizes. They both fit me exactly the same and I am convinced that this size thing is really just a scam. Over the course of time, human beings have grown... bigger. That's a fact. And the standard size 6 of today is not the size 6 of yesteryear. So we are all living a farce. I hate to say it but my size 14 jeans are probably really about a 22. But that little 14 that the manufacturer puts inside my jeans makes me feel good. They tell us what we want to hear...

We all know Mariah is not alone. Women everywhere continue to refuse to accept their true size. They deny the real number which has been assigned to their hips and their butts and their rolls of back fat. And, up until recently I have thought that answer to the size war was to re-train women to be proud of their true size. While I have not given up on that fight, I have a new solution to help us pass the time. CUT THE TAGS OUT OF YOUR CLOTHES. Just like Mariah. Noone but you will ever have to know.

Without the tags, we can all be a size six.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Last Day on Earth

What would you do if you knew that it was your last day on earth?

If it was my last day on earth, I would take my dog to the park. We'd walk for a while. I'd smell the green grass and touch the earth one last time with my toes. I would stare up into the blue sky and allow the sun to kiss my cheeks once more.

I would eat peanut butter chocolate ice cream.

I would wear my favorite Webster U. sweatshirt that is so thin it isn't really a sweatshirt any more.

I would sing all day. I would sing to strangers on the street. I would sing to anyone who would listen.

I would smile at everyone I passed and thank all of those who need thanking.

I would find a comfortable spot to sit and with my phonebook in hand, I would call everyone in it. Each of them is listed there for one reason or another but he or she may not even know it. I would let each one know that I didn't have time to talk but... "I just wanted to let you know what you mean to me and what you have meant to my life."

And as the day drew to a close and dusk came, I would gather up everyone that I love in one room. I would look deeply into each one's eyes. I would memorize every face. I would touch them and hug them and feel them close to me one more time or maybe for the first time. I would tell them how intensely I love each of them and how my every waking minute was made better just for knowing them. I would ask for forgiveness, knowing that I am not the easiest person to love... or even to like.

Fortunately or unfortunately, most of us don't know what day will be our last. But if you did know... what would you do? Contemplating death, sometimes clarifies what is important to us in life.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Three Cheers for Wentworth Miller

I try not to waste space on this blog. I want to offer you compelling thoughts and opinions that will stir you to contemplate life in a way that you may not have done before or that will speak to you in such a familiar voice that you may wonder if you wrote this stuff yourself or even if I am reading your mind.

The following is neither stirring nor compelling. It is simply an endorsement. I firmly believe that if a woman finds a good thing, she should share it with other women. Wentworth Miller is a good thing ladies. He's damn good. If you have seen the new television phenomenon, PRISON BREAK, you are familiar with this outstanding specimen of a man.
Or perhaps you saw him in THE HUMAN STAIN.

He is 33 years old and is of Black, Jamaican, English, German, French, Dutch, Syrian and Lebanese descents.A demonstration of the simplistic beauty derived from the melting pot which our world is becoming...

Wentworth Miller.


Sometimes I feel like I am suffocating. My chest tightens, my breath shortens, my head feels light and just before I panic, I recover.

Upon presentation of these symptoms, a doctor might suggest high blood pressure or low blood pressure or even panic attacks. The pastor might ask me to consider the life path I have chosen and whether or not this is the result of guilt. The psychic or the shaman may interpret this as a spiritual attack related to my ancestors and say that I am suffering the sins of my fathers before me. But they are all wrong.

Taking inventory of your life usually occurs around a big birthday--25, 30, 35, 50. And sometimes that inventory can cause brief feelings of suffocation. Sometimes the suffocation is due to a fear of what lies ahead and sometimes it is the result of what happened in the past.

Three weeks before my 35th birthday, I am taking inventory. And it's time for change. Maybe it will just be a move to a bigger, nice apartment. Or maybe I will decide that cleaning outhouses for 50 grand a year is the job for me. Maybe I will buy a dog or perhaps I will start thinking before I speak. I know it all sounds drastic. What is wrong with my life as it is?

There is nothing really wrong with it except that I don't make enough money. But some days, I struggle to find enough that is really right. Am I having the impact on the world that I always dreamed I'd have? Am I utilizing my God-given talents and abilities to the potential that God expected when he blessed me with them? Am I making any difference at all? And if I am making a difference to someone, then why am I not focusing on that as my life's purpose?

Recently quite a few people have come forward to tell me that in their expert opinions, I am really not fulfilling my purpose in life. I am not working the job I SHOULD be working. And some, have even made suggestions of what I might do instead. While I appreciate the concern and the genuineness with which the suggestions were offered, I submit this: isn't that a discovery I should make on my own?

Please, don't just stand there telling me what I should be doing, help me get to the nearest sofa so I can take a load off. Loosen my collar, wipe my brow or just be supportively quiet. My being is so weighed down by all of this inventory taking and the many other life issues I deal with daily that I am suffocating.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

He Loves a Curvy Gal

There are two truths that a man is afraid to tell his friends. One is that he's gay. And the other is that he loves fat women.

The definition of fat varies, of course. But, no matter how it is defined, in most male circles fat isn't cool, especially when it's your girlfriend. And it takes a brave man to admit that, unlike the other guys who are drawn to thin or even skinny women, he loves a curvy gal.

It is unfortunate that we grow up conditioned to dismiss fat people as uninteresting, unmotivated, unattractive and unlikeable. Fat shouldn't factor into the like-ability of anyone. The only thing fat affects is how much you weigh. And falling for someone who is overweight does not make you less health concious or less fit. It doesn't make you uninteresting or unattractive or unlikeable.

There is a scene in the movie SUMMER CATCH in which one of guys jumps on the table in a crowded bar and boldly proclaims, "I love fat women and fat women love me." The proclamation need not always be so dramatic but it sure would be nice to see more of that in the real world. As more women begin to learn how to love their curves, hopefully men will learn to be true to themselves and not just the standards set for them by their peers or their families.

Come on out of the closet, boys! No matter which one you're in.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

No Resolutions, No Regrets

As the rest of the world defines all they will do better in 2006, I’ve decided to just stay the course. No resolutions. Some might see my course as lack-luster, non-productive or perhaps a bit depressing but it’s familiar and comfortable. For all of the resolutions designed to take better care of oneself, I would think the best plan of action would be to do nothing at all. Why cause yourself so much stress and displeasure? Save yourself the mental anguish and just stay the course.

In my earlier years (the optimistic years) my resolutions came to me without much deliberation. If I thought it, I believed I could do it. If I said I would lose weight, there was no doubt that I would eat healthier and exercise more and eventually find my way into single digit clothing for the first time EVER. If I said I would be a kinder, gentler driver, then surely I could suppress the ever-present road rager within and do so. If I decided to get organized, then clutter would magically be eliminated from my life.

If you know me, then you know that I have never made it into that size 8, I still rage at the inconsiderate, cell-phone-talking driver next to me and I continue to move from home to home or just room to room with that one box filled with papers that I am never going to file. While my optimism soared in the early years, my actual RESOLVE left much to be desired. And that led to a lot of time spent regretting that I didn’t do what I said I would do.

After years of resolving and regretting, I turned my focus to developing my character and enhancing my inner qualities. Because the evidence of having fulfilled such resolutions was not physical, I thought it would be more achievable and maybe less OBVIOUS if I was unsuccessful. But resolutions of this nature are YEARS in the making. You don’t just become a better person over night. That is something you must work at daily.
So there is no quick fix to the resolution dilemma except perhaps to stay the course. And if you insist on resolving to change your life or change the world or just to change your hairstyle, do it on a regular day when there isn’t so much pressure. In fact, do it every day. The world could be a better place for it and you’ll be a lot less stressed out.