Monday, December 08, 2008

Hello Again

Social networks have recently come under fire for not being social enough and not being very inclusive of all their members. But I whole-heartedly disagree.

My first foray into the social network scene came in a corporate environment where one of my biggest projects was a social network build from the ground up. Throwing myself into myspace and facebook and linkedin was a necessary part of the learning process. And eventually, I began to enjoy my experience.

Over the last few months, I have reconnected with a number of people from my distant past. Thanks to social networking, I am in the midst of pre-planning for my 20 year high school reunion with about 15 other girls that I went to school with and I have been afforded an opportunity to rediscover classmates from elementary school. Nearly two or three times a week, I email back and forth with old friends and old familiar faces who have become new friends.

My fascination with people and who they are or who they have become has been over-indulged. I find myself often a little teary-eyed because I am so proud to have known some of these people once I see the amazing people they've become.

In the years that passed between us there have been births and deaths, marriages and divorces, careers and adventures. Some are still in our hometown while others are two or three states away or more. Some are famous and others are infamous. And I am sure there's so much more that we will never talk about with one another. But there is a simple common ground. A tie that binds or at least brings coming back together somewhat easy and so incredibly enjoyable for me.

I know people who say they would never go back to high school or grade school and I know others who have no desire to ever see any of the people from their childhood again. And I probably have reasons deep down somewhere that might warrant that reaction. There were hurt feelings and embarrassing moments that I could stir up but...

We've all grown up. And we've lived our lives. And I think now, all that matters is that we have the chance to say hello again. To visit a while and maybe become friends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Gift of Waking Up

Times are hard: a grotesque understatement for the millions of Americans with piling bills and seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel. Headlines regarding the employment crisis scream across news pages on a daily basis.

"This Years Job Loss Total: 1.2 million" - CNN
"Jobless Rate at 14 Year High" -NY Times
"Recipients of Unemployment Benefits Rising Fast" - USA Today

The new is frightening and overwhelming. The constant communication from the media that American life is in dire straits stirs sadness and frustration. And four weeks into my own unemployment I understand the feeling that it may never get better. But as concerning as the outlook for finding new work may be, the reactions of some of the unemployed worry me even more.

Yesterday, a frustrated unemployed man held his ex-girlfriend hostage before finally letting her make a call to talk to her kids. Then, he killed her before being gunned down himself. A man in California got laid off too and he returned to his former place of employment and killed his co-workers as well as himself.

When did killing become the answer to joblessness? This week the number of unemployed people in the United States is up to nearly 11 million. The last thing all 11 million of us need to start doing is killing folks for no good reason. They say that misery loves company but aren't we all in enough misery?

Like I said, I get it. I am one of the most emotional people I know. I can cry for days. Anything can set me off from a good dog food commercial to watching some high school kid make a game winning save at his soccer game. I don't even have to know the people involved. I feel very strongly. Every emotion I experience naturally comes with tears. I feel very deeply. Something simple to others, hits me at the core and stays with me. I get the sadness, the depression, fear and the frustration.

But I also know that even when life is the worst it can get, it isn't over. And some days the only gift you get is waking up. But you start with that. The gift of waking up... And you keep waking up until the rest gets better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Man, I Miss Mondays

I used to dread them. I'd sit on the couch on Sunday night, which is my big TV night and usually an ice cream night, and wish that Monday would never come. But this last year has taught me to be thankful for Mondays.

A year and a half ago, I left a job in corporate America and returned to my first love, the ad agency world. My first and most obvious choice for a place to call my second home turned out to be a total nightmare. And after a short four month stay, I was let go. It was truly a blessing in disguise because due to circumstances associated with that job, I was headed down a fairly destructive personal path. But the timing was awful. It was the week before Christmas, I was given 2 weeks pay and my health insurance was completely cut off.

I spent the next four months freelancing and traveling all over the Midwest interviewing for new jobs. Cold and snow and delayed flights and long drives filled most of my days and nights until I stumbled upon my dream job.

Seemingly, out of nowhere, I found a place (or a place found me) where despite my greatest attempts to make it JUST work and to not get involved with my coworkers, I felt home. There was a good balance of chaos and fun, an abundance of good work and the freedom to be me. I had been looking for them for 15 years. I guess it's true what they say about good things finding you when you aren't really looking for them.

Eight months in, the US economy took a bad turn. And the effect on small business was devastating. Corporate panic and fear gripped the entire country. People stopped spending money in their every day lives but big companies also cut budgets and eliminated advertising dollars quickly. Eventually, I felt the impact personally when I was laid off.

Finding a job in this economy is like online dating. I'm clear about what I want, I know what is a good fit, I put my resume out there... but there are no good matches out there. The calls I've been getting are from financial institutions. Trust me, people, you don't want me handling your money. Michele will work at a financial institution on the same day that Michele dates a 67 year old guy who is 5' tall.

I pray the lay off really is temporary. It's not easy living on unemployment in your parents' house. In fact, it sucks. I get to stay up all night watching MTV and I can go to the gym everyday at 2pm when nobody else is there. But waking up on Mondays with nowhere to go is depressing and discouraging. I have worked too long and too hard to be in this situation. I want to find a place where I can stay for the next 20 years. I want to find a place to spend my Mondays. And I need to find it soon.

(If you know anyone looking for a project manager who believes she is as good as they come, send them my way.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Life with Purpose

"...nothing in my life is going to be without purpose." -Will Smith

While I do not plan to dwell on politics in this space, I feel a need to dedicate just a little more room to this week's presidential election. And without focusing on political party or bringing up the issues... And while deliberately omitting my beliefs... I need to explain the impact the outcome of the election has had on me.

The world joked that Americans were banking on an immediate impact by the election's outcome. Cynics said that the hopeful idealists were praying that all the nation's problems would be resolved by the following morning. And many were disturbed by the platform on which the president-elect campaigned. There was so much talk about change.

CHANGE: to become different; to pass from one phase to another; to undergo transformation, transition or substitution

It will take months and years to repair our country's economy, to mend relationships with the rest of the world, to bring about a change in direction. But, my friends, one of the biggest and greatest changes has already occurred right before our eyes.

Over the last 21 months, Americans changed from individualists to advocates of unity. We joined to created a movement for a better future. There was a change in our mindset and a realization that together... TOGETHER... we can live better lives. United we stand. Divided we fall.

And then, in one moment on Tuesday night, there was another change in the minds of people every where. Obstacles and challenges seemed to fall down as belief in oneself rose up. For me personally, I have always believed that I could do anything I put my mind to but the election results reminded me. And the inspiration from all parties involved also reminded me that in everything I do, there should be purpose. No more nonsense. No more drama. Purpose. Reason. And the ability to affect change and the lives of others...

I heard Will smith say today, "if you are not making the lives of others better, you are wasting your time." That falls directly in line with my personal motto which has always been if the people around me are happy and well-cared for, I will be too.

There's so much to think about now. Planning to do. And purpose to be fulfilled.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today, I Voted...

Today, I voted.

Today, on a gorgeous, sunny and unusually warm day in St. Louis, MO, I waited in line for two hours and I voted. And it was an honor and a privilege.

Also today, just a few states away, in Georgia, an 106-year-old African American woman named Ann Cooper cast her ballot for president. It's been said many times that she's seen a lot in her lifetime and that's an understatement. She understands the value of her vote and her responsibility to act on her right to cast it. Ann Cooper is a reminder that there was a time when all citizens did not have a voice as well as a reminder of how lucky we are today.

I have not seen nearly what Ann Cooper has seen. I have not personally experienced discrimination based on my gender or my ethnicity. But I am keenly aware of how fortunate I am to live in a place where all citizens can vote.

Just sixty years ago, the final group of American Indians were granted the right to vote. In other parts of the world, women are still not trusted with voting responsibilities. I realize that had I been born in another time or into another family, I might not have this privilege.

So I am thankful for those who came before me and endured hardship so that I may have this freedom. I am honored to speak out for my choice for president. And I am awe-struck for the first time in my life. Today's experience was unlike any other. I'd have walked miles and waited days to contribute to this historic election.

Today, I voted. It felt good and right. And I pray that this feeling of hope will carry us 'til morning and much, much further.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Band Practice

For roughly three hours every day, teenagers gather in the neighbor's garage to play rock music. I'm pretty sure they think they sound like Jimmy Hendrix or Nirvana or Led Zepplin on any given day but the fact of the matter is that they really can't play. Anything. Not one song. Most of the time, it sounds like noise.

While I am admittedly not a huge fan of teenagers, I am a music lover. And I support the dreams of local musicians that either hope to make it big on an international stage one day or that simply want to play good music for their friends. Also, giving young kids a safe place to hang out with their friends is honorable. It's great that the parents can keep a watchful eye from a short distance and that the kids are at someone's home in the afternoons and Friday and Saturday nights, instead of being out on the streets getting into trouble.

But these kids are driving me insane. If they are going to blast the bass and electric guitar and bang on the drums on a daily basis, then I want them to learn an actual song. I am hoping that with a few more months of band practice and, hopefully some lessons, I will be hearing more than just the first few bars of Stairway to Heaven or the screeching of the electric guitar and the repeated beating of the bass drum. If not, however... and I am forced to continue to suffer under the current garage band regime, I may have to take action.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

As I Mature

My friend Christy S. sent this to me in an email a while back but it seemed appropriate today.

As I Mature
-author unknown

I've learned that you cannot make someone love you.
All you can do is stalk them until they panic and give in...

I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are still assholes.

I've learned that it takes years to build up trust and only suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.

I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others-- they are more screwed up than you think.

I've learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you're finished.

I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we're celebrities.

I've learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades, and there better be a lot of money to take its place!

I've learned that 99% or the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it.

I've learned that you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and the less important ones never seem to go away.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Old, fat, single lesbian...

I am 37 years old.

I am single.

I do not conform to society's belief that all women should be skinny.

So I am obviously a lesbian.

Normally, when an inaccurate assumption is made about me, I just correct the error and move on but the other night I was told that some people from my recent past believe that I'm gay. What an injustice to lesbians everywhere! And what a shock to me!

Being called a lesbian is not an insult. I suppose there are still some folks out there that think it's a bad thing to be gay but I'm not one of them. So I am not insulted in the least bit. But I am disappointed that people whom I believed had a genuine interest in me as a friend never took the time to get to know me. And I am more gravely disappointed that my forward-thinking friends believe that a woman who is 37, fat and single must be gay.

I am 37. And proud of it.

I am single. By choice, not by chance.

I am a curvy gal. Who probably should drop 30 lbs. but can't find the time.

So I am obviously a 37-year-old, single lady with a little more to love.

But I am not a lesbian. Sorry girls!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obstacle Course of Female Friendship

While there are obstacles in every relationship, the course one must travel to reach true female friendship can be long and treacherous. There are many women who do not have the endurance, stamina or desire to push through the course. They have given up on the idea of true female friendship altogether or they are close with just one or two other women, cutting themselves off from the possibility that we could live in a world of women who respect, love and consider one another.

There are three major encumbrances to female friendship: selfishness, manipulation & deceitfulness.

There are a lot of selfish people in this world. But I believe selfishness in a woman is much more demonstrative, bold, brazen and often, more careless. And many selfish woman are unaware of how impactful their decisions to please self are on others around them. This selfishness is obstacle number one in female relationships.

Obstacle number two is the inherent manipulation that women possess. We all know how to get what we want. And most of us use our talents of manipulation with a positive flavor. But many orchestrate situations in a way that are hurtful and cause irreparable damage.

Deceitfulness is the third deterrent in the quest for female friendship. Lying is bad. This includes white lies, lying by omission, spinning the truth... Any way that you keep something from another or tell a story differently from the facts is deceitfulness.

Last night I was with a group of women who don't necessarily agree with my belief that we, as women, owe it to each other to try to repair our history together. Their past experiences have proven their belief that women don't make good friends. But I hold firmly to the idea that making an effort with one woman at a time can make a difference. Sometimes, you are gonna get played. That's the bottom line. But even if you don't get what you expect in return, then at least you have done your part to change the reputation of women. At least you have planted a seed of care or concern or truthfulness or consideration...

I realize that it is sometimes excruciating to move past the pain inflicted on you by other women. It's not easy to get past the fact that they'd rather sleep with your ex than nurture their relationship with you. It's hard to swallow the can't-tell-the-truth-to-save-my-life pill. Seeing beyond the fits of neediness and hatefulness is tough.

But your pure and genuine motives outweigh the ungratefulness of others. They may make you feel like the joke's on you but in the long run, the joke is on them. As is the loneliness and the sadness of never knowing or feeling or experiencing the joys and the unparalleled rewards of female friendship.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

We Thought We'd Change Him

We all thought we'd be the one to change him.

It is a common theme among women. He's almost perfect. The parts of him that don't fit the mold could be changed, right? But a new haircut or some new clothes is one thing. The way he lives his life, his likes & dislikes and his character flaws are something else. The truth is you can learn to love his quirks and his flaws but you cannot change them.

A man with a long history of dishonesty and unfaithfulness is likely to continue that behavior. And even after a long sabbatical from this harmful and selfish way of life, men who have lived it may return to it. And so I submit the following:

You are the new girl in a long line of women who have been hurt by him. As of now, you have not felt the hurt. The rest of us, no matter how many, couldn't be right about him. You know him better than the rest of us. Afterall, there are only three people in his life that he trusts implicitely and you are one of them.

Why should you listen to any of the women who came before you? We are bitter, some still angry and unforgiving. And his truth is that we are the ones who lied and cheated and treated him terribly.

Why would you listen to any of the women who came before you? We are just jealous because deep down under our facade of ire, we want him back. He's that good-looking and charming and talented that any one of us would drop everything and take him back. If ONLY he'd show up on the doorstep.

How can you listen to any of the women who came before you? It would be a betrayal of him. And so many others have betrayed him and left him behind. You can't be like all the others, disappointing him like they did.

Even if all the women who came before you stood in front of you and you could look into each of our eyes... You wouldn't care about the women who came before you. Because you think you are different. You think you are special because he tells you that you are. And he tells you how this is not like anything he's experienced before. You have set down your life and picked up his. And if you cared and listened and looked into the eyes of all those women who came before you, you would confirm one thing for yourself. At this point, without him, you have nothing.

It's just about that point when he finds the next one in line.

If you cared and listened and looked into our eyes, you might realize something else, as well. You are me. I am you. We are all the same woman in different bodies. And he sees us that way as well. No matter our diversity. We are all the same. With the same results. We all thought we'd be the one to change him.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kirk's Words

I rarely post the words of others but today's conversation with my 6-year-old nephew was priceless...

On the way to the toy store, where Kirk was going to spend his allowance on some new Star Wars toys, he asked, "How come when you want something, sometimes you have to wait so long?

"Like Disney World," he said. "When I went there I had to wait so long."

I interjected, "I understand, buddy. I feel the same way about getting married. I'd like to get married and have babies and I have been waiting a very long time."

"I know, Aunt Michele," Kirk replied. "Sometimes you have to wait a long time to get married. It's not like I'm gonna meet a girl tomorrow and marry her. I'm only six! Who gets married when they're six?"

I chuckled softly so as not to discourage him.

And then, he finished, "I bet you do feel like you've been waiting a long time to get married!"

Out of the mouths of babes...

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Fashion Week" in New York

They say that New York is the fashion capital of our country but in my week long stay, I saw more fashion disasters than I did trends. I now think that perhaps New York is just an excuse for people to wear whatever they want and call it fashion.

My fashion revelations from the week:

1. Cowboy boots with shorts are better left to Lea Thompson in the big screen hit, Some Kind of Wonderful. Or, to anyone who is currently living in the year 1987.

2. Just because it's all one color... that doesn't mean it goes together.

3. Not everyone should wear leggings. If you choose to wear them against your better judgment, please wear a shirt or dress that comes to just below your hips and spare the rest of the world the up close and personal view of your more personal regions.

4. Underwear alone is only good for the naked cowboy.

5. There should be less t-shirts in the world that say "Princess" and "Fuhgedaboutit" and more shirts that say, "No, I don't want a bus ticket, a Jesus pamphlet or a pass for tonight's comedy show."

6. Gay is NOT a fashion statement.

7. Unless you are a rockette in training or enduring rigorous training to build up your calves, stilettos and sweats equal a great, big "NO."

8. A scarf is not a universal accessory. Neither is a sequenced beret.

In no way am I claiming to be a fashion example for others. I'm just a little disappointed by New York. My expectations were so great and many of the people here failed the trendy test miserably.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

40

September 13, 2008, is my parents' 40th anniversary.

About three years before they got married, my mom says they "knew of each other." Two years later, on Valentine's Day, my dad proposed. In June they bought a house for $15,000 and 3 months later they got married. My mom was 30. My dad was 29. They were too old to be single, in that day and age.

They have been through a lot.

They were pretty well off financially when they first got married. They often helped others less fortunate. They traveled often and went out to clubs and restaurants regularly. My earliest memories of my parents are the nights they'd go on dates and leave me home with a babysitter. My mom is taller than my dad but she always wore heels and always had a nice dress and jewelry on.

My dad was a butcher in the family market. My mom quit her job the week before the wedding and has been a stay-at-home wife and mother ever since.

I guess the financial burden of adopting two kids, losing the grocery store and putting kids through Catholic schools finally caught up with them and my teen years were sort of rough. I think it was around year 15 that I thought they'd call it quits. It scared me. I think it scared my mom more. But we were flat broke, my dad was working nights and we were still going to Catholic schools and playing ball and growing out of our shoes faster than you can blink an eye.

But they stuck it out and life turned around slowly. And by the time my dad retired five years ago, they were like kids again. They go on day trips with the seniors group from their bank. They go to matinee shows in the middle of the week. They go fishing. They go to baseball games and clean the house together and go for drives around the city.

I think they like each other.

Happy Anniversary, mom & dad!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Reminders, Rewards, Resolution

I spent my last official weekend of summer with my girls. My girls are my two Goddaughters who are 17 & 16. For the last 15 years, I have helped raise them. And at times, like this weekend, they have helped raise me.

Every time I am with them, I am reminded of how far we've all come. But this weekend, we talked about our beginnings more than normal and about their Uncle Joe, my first love and the man who brought the girls into my life. I hadn't thought that far back into my past in a long time. It was fun to reminisce.

The weekend was personally rewarding. I look at them and I'm in awe at how far we've all come, the obstacles we've hurdled and the future that awaits all three of us. When my girls became MY girls, they were babies. Now they are young women. Ballplayers, just like I was... Intelligent. Strong. Self-assured. It makes me feel good because I know that if I didn't have a hand in all of it, I had at least a finger or two!

It was the first weekend in quite a while that I wasn't out partying at least one night. And that was ok with me. My girls reminded me how much I loved mothering them and just spending time with them. And I think I might be ready to retire the party girl. Not forever. Just most of the time. And I think I might be ready to try again to have a couple of kids of my own.

Then my girls can help me raise my kids. Or at least be an example of the possibilities.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Lessons in Age

For the last week, I have been addicted to the 2008 Olympics. I can hardly tear myself away from the television. In fact for two Saturdays in a row, I haven't torn myself away. I've sat in the house for hours on end... watching. I'm not embarrassed to admit it either. The lessons of the Olympics are many and are profound. But my favorite so far is the age lesson.

"Don't put an age limit on your dreams." Dara Torres

Torres is 41. In her fifth Olympic appearance, she placed 2nd in her only individual event, winning a silver medal behind a 16-year-old German swimmer. Her teammate Jason Lezak is 32. He is the oldest guy on the team and TWICE swam the last leg of a relay, helping young Michael Phelps win his record-breaking eight gold medals.

But Torres and Lezak aren't the oldest Americans in this year's summer Olympics. Sailor John Dane has made his first U.S. Olympic Team at the age of 58. Libby Callahan of shooting will be the oldest U.S. female Olympian all-time, at the age of 56. And topping out all of the Olympics is Hiroshi Hiketsu, an equestrian rider from Japan, who is 67.

Last night, I watched a 38-year-old woman win the Olympic marathon and tonight a 35-year-old gymnast won the bronze medal in the women's vault. So the lessons continue. The reminders are daily.

You don't have to give up on your dreams simply because you are past the age that society prescribes as ideal. With commitment and dedication, you can do anything. No matter how old you are...

The Truth of the Matter

Some people say that there are two sides to a story: your side and everything else. Others say there are three sides: your side, my side and the truth. But I believe that in the end, there is only one real truth to every story.

When we share an experience or a belief with others, we tell it from the perspective of the heart and the depths of our emotions. Our feelings are real. Our beliefs are strong. Our personal truth is powerful. But sometimes it's incomplete.

I don't think we always intentionally leave parts out. It is nearly impossible to recount, second by second, the events of our lives. But we do omit details and those details help compete the whole of the truth.

In fact, I am consciously leaving out bits and pieces in this blog. There are stories behind this story that helped me come to this conclusion. I've recently heard through the grapevine that others are trying to make me out to be someone that I'm not. But I don't think it would be fair to air it our for all to read when I have no intention of airing it out with the people involved.

The truth of the matter is that you believe what you believe. And so do I. But there is only one truth in the end. Just one. It consists of your story and my story and all the details we've left out when we've recounted it all to others.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

40 Years of Sports

This morning, over breakfast, I had the pleasure of listening to a conversation between my parents. They were discussing the Cardinals. My mom is concerned about the longevity of the bullpen and questions some of the recent coaching decisions. My dad, a true pessimist, is convinced that ownership is throwing this season away.

My parents have been married for forty years. A feat greater than anything sports-related in this time of 24 hour Dominican divorces... But, much of their lives has involved sports. They were both athletes growing up. Mom taught me how to play basketball and use to play catch with me. Dad played football and baseball. When they first got married, they had season tickets for hockey and football. Now, they share my season tickets for baseball.

(Yes, it is from them that I've inherited my passion for sports.)

My parents were talking sports this morning. I love that. And I want that. I want to talk sports over eggs and juice with my man. It has worked for my mom for forty years. Why can't it work for me?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Run Free

"I always loved running... it was something you could do by yourself,
and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs." ~Jesse Owens

I see runners at the park or on the street and I envy them deeply. As I watch them, I think if they needed to get home quickly they could. Or if it was pouring down rain and their cars were a block away, they could race to cover. I think, if there was an emergency, they could be the first ones on the scene or the first to get help. If someone was chasing them, they could get away. they just seem so free. And I envy that. All of it.

I remember back in college when my basketball coach would yell at me to get down the court in a game or to run suicides in practice and I would do it reluctantly. I hated running. I was fast when I ran but I just didn't like doing it. Carrying this big ol' body is tough enough. Trying to carry it any distance in a hurry... well, the thought alone used to make me want to just sit down.

Ten years ago, this August, an ambulance arrived at my home. I was taken from the house on a stretcher, unable to walk or even stand. Shortly after, I laid in a hospital bed with every muscle in the lower half of my body contracted. I was in excruciating pain. Doctors plied me with drugs, trying to relax the muscles and provide some relief. Nothing worked. Four hours later, when the pain finally subsided, emergency back surgery was scheduled.

15 minutes after my surgery, my nurse woke me up and helped me to my feet. Thankfully, I could walk again. But I couldn't feel anything on my left side. The muscle on the inside of my calf had atrophied completely and I couldn't use my left foot. And I could no longer tell when I had to go to the bathroom. Doctors gave my body 18 months to recover. It never did.

Today, I walk with a limp. Some days, it's more obvious than others. I have regained the use of my foot but I still have no feeling in my toes or heel. I joke that you could set that foot on fire and I wouldn't know it. My lower left leg is skinny, unlike the rest of me... And if you are going to try to get my attention by slapping me on the butt, you'll have to aim for my right side. I can tell when someone touches me on the left but there's no sensitivity at all. And, I can't run.

Ten years ago, I didn't run because I didn't feel like it and now... I wish I could. I guess it is true what they say... You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

GET OFF THE FENCE!

I've heard it said that if you sit on the fence long enough, you'll get splinters. Or you'll fall off. Either outcome is tragic when you consider the fact that by making a choice, you can save yourself the trouble. Making choices is not always easy and there may be some short term pain involved. But it has been my experience that prolonging the decision can also prolong the pain.

If you find yourself in a situation that repeats itself and ends badly on a regular basis, it might be time for you to get off the fence and make a choice. Sitting on the fence can be toxic for you and the people around you. It can stir controversy and often forces you to play two sides of a controversy just for the sake of being neutral which in my opinion either makes you weak or makes you a liar.

Everyone can't be Switzerland. Sometimes you MUST choose.

The other day at work, I approached a co-worker and said, "Can I ask you a question?" His response was, "Am I going to have to pick a side?"

My gut reaction was "HELL YEAH! You're gonna have to pick a fucking side." But I said no. I really just wanted an opinion against which I could weigh my own. Contrary to popular belief, I don't always think I'm right. Just because I have an opinion on just about everything and I blog about those things... That doesn't mean I always think I'm RIGHT. It's just my opinion. I am fully aware that there are other opinions out there. The point is, I didn't need my co-worker to go all Switzerland on me. I needed an opinion and maybe a reality check.

I deal with the same issues with my friends. Sometimes you just can't be friends with everyone. Because when you play both sides, you do end up lying because you don't want to hurt people. Or you tell the truth and you end up stirring the big ugly pot and you hurt people anyway. It's a double edged sword. It's a fence FULL of splinters. You can't just ride it out. It evokes drama and senseless arguing that could be avoided if you'd just make a damn decision.

The saddest part of all this fence riding is that by remaining neutral, you alienate others. Then, who's going to pull out those splinters or lend you hand when you fall on your ass?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Less Than Fortunate?

The history of the fortune cookie is long disputed. Some say that during the 14 century fortune cookies were used to deliver secret messages regarding an uprising to overthrow the Mongols. Others trace the cookie's origin to 19th century Japan. Most of my fortune cookies come from a tiny Chinese restaurant on South Kingshighway in St. Louis.

The messages inside have varied throughout the years but most tales confirm that most fortune cookie messages spread good will and tell of good things to come or they are filled with words of wisdom. I found a database of fortune cookie messages and they included things like:

Every decision you make tomorrow will be a good decision.
You will travel to many places.
Broke is only temporary. Poor is a state of mind.
Dream lofty dreams. As you dream, so shall you become.

Fortune cookie messages also offer Chinese lessons for those who are eager to continue their education while trying to hang onto their fried rice with their chopsticks. And, if you have used up all of your lucky numbers, you can find numbers for your next lottery ticket.

Tonight, I got a fortune cookie with my dinner. Like most people, I saved my cookie for dessert. As I cracked the cookie open and looked inside,I realized it was empty. Fortuneless. Nothing.

What does a fortuneless fortune cookie mean? Is there a message in the fact that there's NO MESSAGE? Perhaps it means that I am already so fortunate I don't need more good fortune. Or maybe my luck has taken a turn for the worse!?! Or maybe it means the future is up to me...

Hmm... I'll take that. The hidden message in my cookie probably means there's an uprising coming, just like in 14th century China. Only instead of overthrowing the Mongols, I'm overthrowing the past. And the future is up to me.

Monday, July 07, 2008

know me

I've long said that my biggest frustration in life is that people don't really know me. They borrow impressions from others or make assumptions rather than taking the time to know me.

I suppose I've always assumed that others take as much of an interest in really knowing people like I do. My fascination with others started at a very young age. My parents have always told me that I was drawn to kids who were different from me. And that holds true to this day.

There's something innate that drives me to discover people and not simply get to know them. While school never was my "thing," I love to learn, especially about others. Where do they come from? Who do they come from and who are their people? What excites them about life and what bores them? What do they want to be when they grow up? Are they making dreams come true? Who were they before I met them? And what are they not telling me that will explain their quirks and foibles and every day stuff that just makes them THEM?

That scares some people. They question my motives. But I promise it's merely curiosity. I like meeting knew people but I love finding out who they are. Sometimes I am disappointed that the presentation is not nearly representative of the real person. But most times my fascination proves valid and I am warmed and surprised by the depth of the people I meet.

I am convinced that the story behind each and every one of you is a story worth telling. There is something about you that is interesting and dynamic and impactful. The world should know who you are. And if they can't, then at least I want to...

I don't expect everyone I meet to google me or read my blog or do the research to discover me as I might them. But sometimes I think it might be nice. I am the kind of person about whom others make assumptions. But I am who I am and you get what you see and it really is that simple. There are no hidden agendas, no manipulative motives, no mincing of words.

I have a new friend who seems to really get me. I'm sure he hasn't googled me or read either of my blogs. I know he's never seen me sing anywhere or watched me play volleyball (at which, I might add, I am phenomenal). But he sees me. Recently he smiled at me and told me that what he likes about me is that I am real. At a loss for words, I chuckled with relief. Yes, I am... I am so real that it's scary sometimes.

Perhaps getting to know me is a lot less work than most people think.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Warm Welcome or Cold-hearted Boos?

This past weekend, the Chicago Cubs paid the St. Louis Cardinals a mid-season visit. Their arrival stirred up the city and local sports writers, not only because any time this long-time rivalry comes together it's eventful but also because former Cardinal Jim Edmonds is now a Chicago Cub.

The biggest question of last week was "to boo or not to boo?" Some, like local writer Bernie Miklasz took the position that welcoming Jim Edmonds with open arms would not be the wisest choice. Should we boo? Perhaps not. But ovations and admiration were uncalled for. Jim Edmonds is now a Cub. And St. Louis fans hate the Cubs.

Others, like me, appreciate Jim Edmonds and recognize that he did not leave St. Louis by choice but by trade. In his 8 years in St. Louis, Jim Edmonds not only contributed to St. Louis Cardinals history but also to the St. Louis community. He was one of us for a very long time and long before he pulled on that Cubs uniform.

The entire time that Edmonds played in St. Louis, I had season tickets in the right field bleachers. Every time he took the field, he tipped his cap toward the left field bleachers and then to the right. After every amazing catch, the bleacher fans offered ovations of appreciation and, again, Edmonds acknowledged the fans by tipping his cap.

On Friday night, when Edmonds stepped on the Busch Stadium outfield for the first time, bleacher fans rose to their feet and applauded. And when he stepped up to the plate for his first at bat, the crowd erupted in cheers.

The Cardinals lost that game to the Cubs, 2-1. Miklasz contends that our acceptance and welcoming of the new Cubbie gave Chicago home field advantage, helping them take game one of the series. I'd like to point to our meager 6 hits and 10 men left on base as a possible problem when trying to win a tight game.

Many a night, I have applauded the great play of a visiting player. I was there to applaud Tony Gwynn on his quest for 3000 hits. I cheered for Ken Griffey Jr. as he knocked homerun #500 into our right field bleachers at Busch. most recently, I applauded for So Taguchi when he returned donning Phillies garb.

If there's good baseball, no matter who is bringing it, I appreciate it. And if a former Cardinal player shows back up in a new uniform, playing for a new team, even if it is the Cubs, I'm going to cheer the first time he steps up to the plate. I am going to let him know that I recognize and appreciate his time spent in the Cardinal uniform.

And when he strikes out or pops out to left, I will cheer then as well.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Full Service

When I was a little girl, my mom drove a gold, four-door Oldsmobile that we fondly called Frank. Every time Frank needed a fill up, my mom would pull into the full service pump at the Amoco on Chippewa, a few blocks from our house, and some young kid would bounce out of the station, fill up her tank, wash her windows and check her oil.

In my preteen years, the Amoco was the station where all the cute boys in the neighborhood worked. My dad knew the owner of the Amoco who repaired our cars, changed our oil and rotated our tires himself. It was a seemingly old fashioned, small town setting in the middle of the big city.

Today, I went to fill up my Jeep Liberty all by myself. No help from cute boys in crisp white shirts with their names on the pockets... Just me. Standing at the pump, picking a flavor, and smelling like petrol when I was done. Just before I got in the car to leave, a little old lady approached me.

"Ma'am," she said, "I've never pumped gas before and I can't find a full service station anywhere. Will you help me?"

That simple request nearly brought me to tears. Of course I would help! Who wouldn't?

She went inside to pay and I stood by her car thinking about the situation. How frightening it must be to live in world that changes and grows technologically on a daily basis. How sad it must be to watch simple comforts and familiarity slip away.

I pumped her gas. She stuffed a dollar in my hand and thanked me over and over.

"No problem at all," I said as she climbed into her big gold sedan.

As she drove away, I thought of my mom. And now I can't stop thinking that they had it right. The full service stations and sit down diners... The person to person contact... Relationships with the owners of the small businesses in your neighborhood... Old fashioned worked and people were kinder to each other back then.

Technology is great. Speed & convenience work too. But I'd like to know my neighbors and maybe slow down a little. Maybe stop in at a full service station even... If I can find one.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

HOMERUN!

On July 2nd, 2008, the St. Louis Cardinals took on the New York Mets at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals, a much underestimated, young club was making a push toward the weekend when their division rival Cubs would come to town to duke it out for first place in the National League's central division.

On that same night, Rick Ankiel started in center field and in the fifth inning, he belted a homerun that screamed into the right field bleachers, bounced off the jaw of a loyal season ticket holder and rolled under my seat. I bent over and picked it up. It was Ankiel's 17th homerun. Just another day in his career. A nice day and a nice surprise but just another day and just another homerun. And it just rolled under my spot on the bleachers and I just bent over and picked it up.

Immediately, my face was on the jumbo scoreboard in center field and on televisions across the country. Not once. Not twice. But, apparently, three times. Me... holding the ball, looking into the camera.

I am THE WORST person to catch a ball on a nationally televised baseball game. There are three reasons why I am the worst. One, I am not a jump up and down and get excited kind of fan who is dying for tv time. I don't scream and holler and point my index finger in the air while tugging on my jersey and yelling to the television audience that my Cardinals are number one. I love my boys and I am loyal to them but... I just don't do all that crazy fan stuff.

Two, there's a part of me that doesn't really get it. What's the big deal? It's a ball. I adore that Rick Ankiel. Years ago, during the spring following Ankiel's initial signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, I met Rick at a gas station in Florida. A teammate of his, who was a friend of mine, introduced us. I believe he was introduced as the "four million dollar boy." I have followed his career. I have cheered him on the way up and on the way back down. I prayed for him when times got rough because I realize that the ballplayers are people with real lives, not just entertainers. And I was proud and thrilled when Ankiel made his way back. I am a fan. But that homerun ball was just a ball.

Three, I don't know what to do with it now. I got a ball two years ago from Randy Flores who threw it up from the bullpen and it is in my underwear drawer. I'm afraid Ankiel's ball with be joining it there. Is there something else I'm supposed to do with it? Am I supposed to hunt Ankiel down and get it autographed or put it in a case on a shelf? Maybe I should give it to the guy who got hit in the face...

Please don't be confused. Homeruns excited me. Cardinal wins are the best. And I am proud of the team and honored to sit in the stands 50 games out of the year. I am just the wrong person to catch a homerun ball. Or to lazily pick it up from under my seat.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

a day in my life

A day in my life as an anthem singer... This is a snapshot of my day on June 28, 2008. It was the day I sang the national anthem for the Kansas City Royals vs. the St. Louis Cardinals in Kansas City.

8am Roll out of bed & check cell phone for new messages.

9am Breakfast with my friend and assistant for the event later in the day, just cereal, gotta keep it simple.

10:13am Shower, dress, straighten hair.

11:15am Trip to the grocery store to pick up fixin's to make home made pancakes on Sunday morning.

11:51am Drive through Brookside and around The Plaza in KC.

12:37pm Lunch with three friends in The Plaza. Turkey & Avocado Club & a Fat Tire... mmm. Great conversation about real estate, my recent trip to Memphis, hookin' up and dogs.

2pm Paige drops me off at the Brez-Salveter home to rest.

2:03pm Lounge on the couch, watch True Life on MTV.

2:20pm Retire to bedroom to check email, play on Facebook, lay around a little more.

3pm Straighten hair again, warm up voice in the bathroom. GREAT acoustics in the bathroom.

3:20pm Make up.

3:50pm Iron clothes. Wish out loud that I had someone to iron clothes for me. Wish out loud for a Diet Pepsi.

4pm Run downstairs for Diet Pepsi, then return to ironing.

4:07pm Dress. Can't wear read, per the Royals instructions so I am wearing my standard anthem attire. Black. Throw wallet, tickets, & make up in purse.

4:12pm Shoes & jewelry. Wearing a BIG red flower shaped ring with a diamond in the center to secretly show my loyalty to the Cardinals. And slight panic because it sounds like nobody else is ready to leave.

4:27pm Out the front door! Panic again because now Andy needs to clean out the car before we can leave. Andy reassures me that he will get me "to the church on time."

4:50pm Andy drops me & Cindy off at the front entrance of Kauffman Stadium.

4:55pm Cindy stops with me to get water. Cindy takes my purse and camera for me.

5pm Cindy warms up the camera, taking pictures of Chris Duncan during batting practice. She just loves some Chris Duncan. Kasey Schweitzer of the Royals introduces me to a member of the KCrew who will serve as my "handler" for the evening.

5:10pm Cindy heads to the dugout to get in position for pictures and my handler takes me to the press room.

5:15pm Meet Willie Wilson. I think I have a crush on the Hall of Famer.

5:25pm Warm up in the "blue room." Feel strong. Voice feels good. Ready to go!

5:30pm All pregame participants gather in the press room for download on the night's festivities, the schedule and the rules. Everyone is given their cues. Kasey is, by far, the most organized and together event director I have EVER worked with and that includes NASCAR, MLB, & NHL.

5:32pm Step onto Kauffman field. Cindy takes a picture of me standing on the on deck circle. Royals players swarm the dugout. (Some of them were lookin' real good.) Cards players stagger in slowly. (I think there were maybe six Cardinal uniforms out for the anthem.)

5:36pm Mic'd up, earphones in.

5:38pm Kasey ushers me to homeplate. Camera man positions himself about 4 feet in front of me. Announcer introduces me. (I don't even remember what he said but I remember hearing my name and then seeing my face on the HUGE flat screen in center field. What a distraction!)

5:39pm And... anthem. I can hear myself in the earpiece and the echo in the stadium. Just keep going... Just keep singing... Don't let the echo or your giant face on the screen mess you up. OOO fireworks! And the home of the brave!

5:40pm Applause. I hear a few people yell my name. As I walk off the field, a couple of random Royals congratulate me on a job well done. Some fans lean over the dugout and extend applause to me as one of them yells "great job!"

6:10pm In my seat, Bud Light in hand, fun with friends for the rest of the night. Throughout the night various fans approach me and tell me the anthem was great or beautiful.

9:30pm A couple behind me spots me on the Royals highlight reel playing on the screen in center field and realizes I was the anthem singer, then engages me in a brief conversation about the hows, whys and what fors of anthem singing.

10:15pm Finally get to the car, more beers, cavorting in the parking lot with the unbelievable number of Cardinals fans in KC for the weekend.

11pm Arrive back at the Brez-Salveter residence, ding dongs for everyone, and a few minutes of "Better Off Dead."

11:20pm Off to bed, a little "internets" time and then to sleep.

It was a good day. A good day indeed.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In His Wait

My entire life has been spent waiting on the man.

I am not referring to "the man" who keeps you down or Stan the Man. The man I am waiting on is usually just whichever man I am associated with in that aspect of my life in that point in time.

Some days, I am waiting for an answer from a client or a co-worker who is usually a man. And the continuation of my work is dependent on the information I am trying to collect from him. Nearly every relationship I have been in has involved me waiting by the phone or waiting in the car or waiting at the bar. Most of the time I wait for the man to decide where he'd like to go out or what he'd like to do.

Most of my nights are spent waiting for the phone calls from my stalker to begin. And guess what? My stalker is a man! Today I was driving in traffic and I was anxious to get to the highway to start my journey to Kansas City. The car in front of me was all over the road and every stop was prolonged. If I switched lanes, the car in front of me would do the same. I waited for an opportunity to pass. I waited and waited and FINALLY a window opened. And that's when I discovered the car behind which I waited so long to begin my journey westward was driven by a man.

Since I was a little girl, I have been waiting for a man to sweep me off my feet. I realize now that, being the big girl that I am, most guys won't be able to physically handle that task. But there is still a part of me "secretly" waiting for my prince to arrive. In fact, I have put much of my life on hold because I want to experience certain things with the man of my dreams. But I've been waiting a long time.

Most of my life has been spent waiting on the man. The ones I don't want won't get out of my way and the one I've dreamt of seems to be running late.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Beer Bong

Historically, a beer bong has been "built" using a funnel and about 3 feet of tubing. The beer bong is created for the purpose of consuming large amounts of beer in a short amount of time. Beer has long been the preferred beverage for slow intoxication. But the invention of the beer bong allows people to get drunk as fast with beer as they would with hard liquor.

The beer bong is most popular among the 18-24 year old crowd but there are those in older age ranges, such as the members of my Tuesday night softball team, who take part in bonging beer at least once every season. This week, one of my teammates introduced our team to the OCTABONG. It is a blue funnel with eight compartments and the capacity to hold eight beers. There are eight tubes for eight drinkers. Given the honorary name SQUIDBONG, it fast became a member of our team and is up for consideration for continued used every Tuesday night for the rest of the season.

While I served as POURER for much of the night, I must admit that I took part in the bonging festivities once. it was my first beer bong ever. I waited 37 years for that experience. And now... I know why. That said, the SQUIDBONG is a sight to see!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dogs Bite & It Hurts

Amidst playful interaction with a big, strong, beautiful creature, my hand got caught between a play toy and a fang. In a split second joy turned to pain and laughter turned to tears. Instantly, I was bruised and bleeding. 

I took drugs. I applied ice. I dried my tears. 

After a night's rest, I awoke still hurting and swollen. The bruising was worse but I hear it gets worse before it gets better. The wound is raw so I covered it with a bandage to protect it from outside elements. Eventually though, I will have to unwrap it, stop hiding it and let my wound get some air.

I might be a little jumpy around dogs for a while. A little mistrusting perhaps... And there will probably be a scar.

Dogs bite sometimes. Even when they don't mean to hurt you... Even when it just happens... Even when it starts out as fun and one thing leads to another... Even when they are the sweetest most wonderful dog you've ever met... It hurts.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Counting Sheep

For the last 8 weeks, I haven't slept more than 4 or 5 hours in a night. I have tried everything from downing NyQuil (which usually knocks me out completely) to warm milk & a hot bath but nothing works. The only thing I haven't tried is counting sheep.

The sleeplessness is a result of stress. And the increased stress is a result of sleeplessness. And I've gotten caught up in a cycle that I can't seem to escape. Fortunately, I am not alone. There are insomniacs everywhere. 

Sleep deprivation has become one of the greatest health risks in America. The effects are, quite frankly, frightening. Studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep increase there risk for many types of cancer, including colon cancer and breast cancer. The increased inflammation in the body of a person who is perpetually tired can cause strokes and heart attacks. If you are a lucky sleepy person, you only have to deal with mental impairments such as slow reaction time, inability to concentrate, decreased memory and problems processing information. And, whether you are aware of it or not, if you are not getting enough sleep, your emotional response to everything is heightened.

Eight weeks of no sleep. I suppose the longer this goes on, the more at risk I am for death. Not that I am ready for that but, a nice long sleep sounds good. In the meantime, hit me up if your awake at 3AM. I 'll be awake. Just me and those sheep.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Time

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Sometimes I don't understand the timing of the events in my life. And I wonder how different the outcome of those events would have been in another time. Last August, I closed the doors on a rather lengthy chapter and entered into, what was supposed to be, a liberated phase of my life.

Financially free for the first time, finally emotionally stable after a two year sabbatical from relationships and optimistically looking into the future, I leaped into this new season. Optimistic is not a word typically used to describe me. But for the first time, I was walking on air. Nothing could bring me down. My confidence was at an all-time high and I was so excited about life. When I landed on my feet, I found myself in a new job that I loved, surrounded by people who laughed with me and believing that maybe my time had come.

A couple of months passed and I woke up one morning, not only grounded in nearly every area of my life but also in love. It was amazing and almost unbelievable to me that the pieces of my life's puzzle seemed to be falling into place after 36 years of impatiently but hopefully waiting. I had met someone who looked and felt like me in spirit. A mirror image almost... A good soul, an old soul... Strong in spirit, bold of heart...

Soon enough, he recognized that I seemed to be keeping pace with life a few steps ahead of him. He mentioned it. But I thought, if I kept moving and demonstrating how great life was from my view, that he would rush to catch up. But it wasn't time for him.

Obviously there is more to the story... but that's for us. (No offense, friends.)

Last night, I saw him for the first time in months. My heart is broken but my perspective has changed in the last month or so. Our timing really sucked. That's the bottom line. I hate that I met him at the time that I did. I hate that I got caught up in the middle of his weakness and recklessness. And I don't understand why fate orchestrated our meeting during that time. 
Because in another time, he and I would have or could have been really good together.

But we didn't meet in another time. And so, I am thankful anyway. Because I am afraid that if I hadn't met him in the midst of his mess, I may have never met him at all. And my life would be less because of it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

If you could know, would you?

If you could know that you were going to die, would you? If you had the opportunity to live your last few days or weeks or hours aware of what was to come, would you? If you could spend your time to its fullest potential, preparing for your death, would you? Just curious...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

We Have a Heart for You

"We have a heart for you." ~Grey's Anatomy

As of today at 8 p.m. CST, there are almost 100,000 people in the United States waiting for an organ transplant. On any given day, according to the Mayo Clinic 4000 people are awaiting new hearts.

Studies, including interviews with heart recipients, have shown that the heart has long-term memory. There is no other organ of the body that is so attached to human emotion and feeling and those studies demonstrated the heart's ability to remember food cravings and even some lifestyle preferences. Some have even suggested that the heart is the hub of logic and reasoning, two responsibilities formerly assigned to the brain.

There are days when I think I could stand a heart transplant. Maybe a bigger heart that has a bigger capacity to love and be loved. Or a smaller heart that has to be pickier due to limited space. Or maybe the heart of a vegetarian tri-athlete who is really good with money and loves being single.

On the flip side, what would I have to offer someone who needed my heart? A love for men in uniforms, applesauce on bread and baggy sweatshirts and a dislike for all things FEET?

I have given my heart away a couple of times although I am not sure what each recipient got out of it nor what he retained once I was gone. The first time, I only offered a piece of it, keeping in mind that donating it all without the guarantee of receiving a heart in return would leave me lifeless. The second time, I gave a pretty good chunk, very quickly. I didn't end up lifeless, obviously, but I learned that donating your heart to another is a lot like losing weight. If you do it too fast, the consequences can be life-threatening, painful and difficult to sustain. You have to take your time. Go slowly. And maybe go through a battery of tests to make sure that you're compatible before you start the transplantation process.

The greatest six words that someone on the heart waiting list can hear is "we have a heart for you." I know it doesn't nearly compare but I am hoping that the next time I make my heart available, the recipient is just as excited.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

STALKERblog

I realize AS I SING IT has had a lot of death on it lately and I hope to refocus and get some inspiration for a little HAPPY soon. In the meantime, check out my new blog STALKERblog. There's a link over there in the right-hand column.

Thanks for reading! I'll be back soon!

michele

Friday, May 02, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PHIL!


We are celebrating YOU on Sunday, Phil. With good friends, a few drinks and a Cards vs. Cubs ballgame... I'm pretty sure you would approve. We miss you & love you friend!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kinzie


Last night, I lost another friend. This one was of the pet persuasion. We picked up Kinzie from the Humane Society just over 16 years ago when she fit in my palms. She was a tiny brown ball of fur that scampered under the couch any time a man in a hat entered the room. 

Kinzie wasn't the most obedient dog but that was her owners' fault. We didn't really train her. By nature, she was very protective and didn't like it when anyone hugged me.  Her fierce growl scared a lot of people. She did tricks. She shook with both paws and barked on command and danced in circles for her Purina treats.

Over the last few weeks, Kinzie's hip dysplasia and her arthritis got the best of her, making it difficult for her to walk. She'd walk in circles at night and cry because laying down was too painful. The night before last, she wouldn't take her pain medicine. So, I picked her up and let her sleep on my bed one last time. When I got home from work last night, she was gone. I just wish I'd have had the chance to say one more time, "Good girl, Kinz! Good girl!

My year of loss continues...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gotta Love Lacrosse... or at least the boys who play it

There's nothing like a crop of cute boys to pull you off the porch and get you back in the saddle again. Or at least get you thinking about it...

This past weekend, with the help of some friends and the 30-something guys whose names I didn't know, I spent three days straight distracted from my life's issues and having a good time. That hadn't happened in four months. And it was good.

My three day hiatus from reality started with the friends, as well as two pitchers of fruity frozen margaritas, a guy named Joe and a cab ride home at 6:15 a.m.
But the rest of my weekend involved lacrosse in some form or another. Until recently, I was relatively unfamiliar with the game of lacrosse. I had heard it was getting more popular in the Midwest and I worked with a guy for a few years who played.

For the rest of you who know little or nothing about it, lacrosse is a full contact team sport that involves slinging a little rubber ball into a net. And the players wear all kinds of pads and helmets and gloves and they really beat the hell out of each other out there. These guys aren't sissies, my friends. And if my experience is any indication of the hotness factor... these guys are burning up the fields with their good looks. They are big and brawny and just plain cute. You gotta love the game or at least the boys who play it.

I hear Chicago has a team... Road trip anyone?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moving Forward

"The toughest part about being new and trying to change is figuring out which things are in your control and which things are not." Samantha on SAMANTHA WHO?

So... we shake off the dust of the past, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and take in our surroundings. We assess the mountains in the west and the river in the east. We analyze the rugged terrain in the north and the valley to the south. And we pick a direction and we start again. We start over. And everything is new. And we are new.

We soon discover that some of our rituals and ways from the past will work in our future and some will not. We learn that we have to change to cope with the weather and the terrain on this NEW leg of our life's journey. But sometimes the changing is difficult for more than the mere fact that change is difficult. Sometimes, the changing is hard because we aren't quite sure what we need to do differently this time.

Figuring out how we got to the end of the last leg and why we have to start over isn't a simple task. The soul searching seems endless, as does the hunt for reasons and understanding and just making sense of it all. But I think we often find that the road to reasons might be longer than the next leg in the journey. And so, before we can close the door on the past, we have to move forward.

So... we shake of the dust of the past, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, take in our surroundings and with a fist full of nothing and a heart nearly overflowing, we move. One foot in front of the other... One step at a time... And we eventually find our way.

"Some things just aren't meant to be. But the things that are meant to be... they find a way." Samantha on SAMANTHA WHO?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

HEY DRIVER!

It is often said that that which we find irritating about others can help us learn something about ourselves.

Repeatedly, I have tried to find some relation between my irritation for bad drivers and myself but I can't find one. For the life of me, I can't figure out what bad drivers are supposed to be teaching me about me. Perhaps they are teaching me patience... I realize I am slow to learn this virtue but do we really need to pile bad drivers on top of delayed fame, fortune and falling in love? Isn't waiting for those three things ENOUGH to teach a girl a little patience? Isn't the fact that I ALWAYS get in the wrong line behind the lady with a return and no receipt or the guy with three price-tagless items at every grocery store and department store enough of a LEARN HOW TO WAIT lesson? Must I be faced with bad drivers on a daily basis as well?

I learned how to drive a Chevy Malibu station wagon right here in my hometown of St. Louis. There is a great park a couple of blocks away from my parents' home with really wide streets that was perfect for driving lessions. And back when I learned to drive everything was closed on Sundays so there were plenty of parking lots to practice in on the weekends. But long before I sat behind a the wheel of the camel colored grocery getter, I paid attention. I watched how my dad let the steering wheel come back on its own after he made a turn or how my mom would pull her foot off the gas to slow down rather than slamming on the brakes. I memorized the way they turned the steering wheel on a right turn and how it differed from the way they turned it for a left turn. I watched and learned so when I got behind the wheel myself, I had a base to jump from and I wasn't starting scared. And driving became common sense which is a rare thing in St. Louis. Believe me!

In St. Louis people forget how to drive when it rains or when the sun shines too brightly. When it sleets or snows, we just close everything so we don't have to drive. And then! We want to talk on the phone while we drive. Being in this city alone puts us as a disadvantage. We shouldn't complicate matters with rain or sun or cell phones.

St. Louis drivers:PAY ATTENTION, PUT DOWN THE PHONE and STOP participating in my patience lessons. Please... And I'll try to take some of that driving common sense and apply it to other areas which might make your lives easier too.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick

The weight of your dreams gets heavier and heavier as years pass and they go unfulfilled. People are always saying "it's never too late" to make your dreams come true. But the truth of the matter is that there is a time limit for some of the things we want in life.

Can you find love at any age? Of course. I have a friend whose grandmother found love in her 90s. Can you go back to school or change careers? Yes. My cousin decided in her 30s to go to college for the first time and launch her nursing career. Can you learn to drive or buy your first house? Indeed. I have a friend who did both near 30 years of age.

All of those things are possible at any age. But there are many other things in life that benefit from youth. I am watching the baseball game and thinking about all of these young guys who are playing ball and fulfilling a lifelong dream knowing that a career in pro sports is short-lived. Thirty-seven in baseball, or any other sport, is OLD. Having babies may not require youth but it is another feat that is easier in younger years.

Ever since I was a little girl, there were only two things I wanted in my life. One was to be a famous singer. I got the singer part down but not so much the "famous." The other dream was to grow up and get married and have a house full of kids. While my life has been so much bigger and fuller than those two dreams, they were the measure of success and happiness for me.

There are sometimes points in life when you realize that a dream you've had may be impossible. It is a disheartening realization. And if that dream was one of those measures of success, it can feel as if your whole life is falling apart. Nevermind all the other big and full, fill-in-the-gaps stuff that surrounds that dream within your life. All that other stuff is just stuff that helps pass the time until your dreams come true. And if they don't come true... all you have left is stuff and passing time.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

National Anthem

Many of my friends have asked about my demo cd and want to know when I am going to share. Unfortunately, production is on hold due to some unexpected circumstances. Many of my readers probably don't even know that I sing but I have been performing since I was about 9 and for the last 20 years, I have been performing the National Anthem at events across the country. That's what I do. I am the anthem singer. The idea of the cd was to remarket myself and get more anthem jobs. I have said it before and I firmly believe that singing the National Anthem is an honor and a privilege and I love doing it.

*DEEP BREATH*

Now that you have the background... As fate would have it, a friend of mine was at the last game I did for the St. Louis Blues and he taped my performance. It's not the best quality but I want to share it anyway. So, until the demo is done, here's a sample!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

deeper

On the days when I make the effort to pick myself up and dust myself off, it seems as if I just sink deeper and deeper into a hole of self-pity and self-inflicted suffering. Depression is something I have dealt with through others. It is not something I have experienced personally. Until now, I suppose.

I have always thought the word depression was over-used. It's an excuse. It's a way out of getting your shit together and it legitimizes self-absorption or self-centeredness. (Is that a word?) And I have felt this even after living through the effects of bi-polar disorder on someone very close to me. I'm not saying depression isn't real. I am saying it is very real but most people who claim to suffer from it are just... lazy?

That's harsh, I know. It's actually mean.

But today... as I sit wallowing in a pool of snot and salty tears... in between spurts of vacuuming and laundry, of course... I feel a grip on me that I can't shake. It's so tight, I feel my heart in my throat and a pit the size of a grapefruit in my stomach. This is not just sadness anymore. It's bigger than regret. Could it be... gasp... depression?

Time is healing NOTHING. It's pushing me deeper and deeper.

Someone throw me a line... no better yet... throw me some Prozac or something. I don't mind staying in this hole for a while to figure things out. But I sure would like to get my internal organs back in order and turn off the snot spout for a day or two.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How to Treat One Another

I've been trying to corral my thoughts about how we treat one another and to form a relatively eloquent if not seemingly intelligent post. But I just fail over and over... My basic thought is this: I treat others the way I want to be treated. It sounds like the Golden Rule. But what I mean is... if you don't know what to do for me or what to say to me or how to treat me, take a note from the way that I do things for you or the way I talk to you. And after thinking about that long and hard... I decided the thoughts of others might be more exciting and more impactful. So here are some ideas around how we should or could treat others:

Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” Og Mandino

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” Wayne Dyer

If you treat people right they will treat you right -- ninety percent of the time.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.” Sonya Friedman

If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse; however if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming, I help you become that” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up." Jesse Jackson

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Dalai Lama

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. " Leo Buscaglia


I'm Sorry... Please Stop Apologizing

Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally reknowned author and speaker in the area of self-development (per his website) says that we are treated the way that we TEACH others to treat us.

Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling to uncover why it seems others are always apologizing to me. One would think, at first, that apologies are a good thing. An apology is, after all, an expression of remorse or an act of contrition. It is the way in which most of us restart our relationships. There is a disagreement or an argument or a hurt of some kind that enters into our union with another and while an apology does not resolve the issue, it often allows us to move past it and to start again.

I am quick to forgive. I try to hold grudges sometimes but they never last. I can put up a front for a long time but internally, I forgive nearly instantly. (Probably not a good thing to reveal... online... in front of all five of my readers.) Those who are easy to forgive tend to be taken for granted.

When you are receiving apology upon apology... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... what does it say about you? Most people would wonder what it says about the apologizer who has to constantly say I'm sorry. But I wonder what it says about ME. Am I allowing people to treat me badly? Am I teaching those around me that it's ok to hurt me because I will forgive and forget?

An occasional "I'm sorry" as in "I'm sorry, I interrupted" or "I'm sorry I took the last Diet Pepsi" is harmless and acceptable and even a good thing. But when forgiveness is sought for deeper hurts or life changing events, hearing "I'm sorry" often is... well, it's sad.

I have a friend who I often think is wiser than Wayne Dyer. She says that people only apologize to help themselves and not for the benefit of others. Saying I'm sorry is merely justification for bad behavior or a way to relieve one's conscience. If she's right, then maybe I am not just a pushover. Maybe I am just a really bad judge of character.

Either way, I don't want to hear another apology for a long time. So the next time you cut me off in traffic, feel good about it. Don't apologize. You got where you wanted to be, right? And if you're in front of me in line at Target and they have to do a price check, don't feel bad and tuck your tail between your legs. Hold your head up high. You have a purchase to make and it's something you really want. It's not your fault it doesn't have a tag. Or if you bump into me and cause me to spill my beer at the baseball game... save the apology and just hand over the ten bucks I'll need to replace it. But DON'T tell me you're sorry. Even if you are. I've got at least three months worth of "I'm Sorry" stored up and I don't need any more.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Going it alone

Recently, during a three-hour conversation, I realized that no matter how hard I try to force life to happen the way I would like it to happen, it wasn't going to happen that way.

The space that surrounds me is odd, uncomfortable and just plain painful. I want out! And I want out now! There is a rush of emotions with which I have no relative experience. I feel unimportant and almost unnecessary to the people around me. I feel a little hopeless and a little scared. I feel like nobody cares about what I am going through or that they don't understand. And I feel like people who SHOULD have a desire to understand it and who should be here to help or who should just be here to do nothing... don't and aren't... I have an overwhelming feeling of "going it alone."

They say that if you can't stand to be alone than you don't like yourself very much. And they are probably a little bit right about that. Who better to spend quiet time with than yourself? Who understands you and relates to you and empathizes with you better than you? Who sees your vision, holds on to your dreams and longs for their fulfillment as strongly and hopefully as you?

So I should find joy in this place, I suppose.

But not long ago, I discovered someone that brought a sense of forever into my life for the first time. Before he arrived, cigarette in hand and peering over his sunglasses, every situation in my life felt temporary. Somewhere in the back of my mind or the depths of my heart, I knew that every relationship I had been in and every job I had and every home in which I lived was just for a little while. It's sad, I know. But it was. And I knew it.

Then, I met him. And suddenly I saw forever. And I felt a kinship and a partner ship that would endure trials and pain and that would enjoy joys and the gifts of this life. And so it makes no sense for me to be going it alone right now. It makes no sense at all.

Everyone I know, including strangers who read this blog, says that I should move on. Go it alone and get what I want. Even he has said that. He says I know what I want and I shouldn't wait for others to be ready before I move forward. Because I could be waiting for a long time.

I guess I'll be going it alone. For now. Until the rest of you catch up..

Henry David Thoreau - “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.”

Opening Day 2008

Yesterday, was opening day for Major League Baseball. For me and many of my friends, it is the beginning of not only baseball season, but also of at least 6 months of togetherness.

OUR SECTION IN THE BLEACHERS opened this season minus our friend Phil and for the first time ever, many of us missed the parade that kicked off the opening ceremonies. The St. Louis Cardinals, OUR TEAM, opened the season without a fellow player and without a big man from the front office and with low expectations from the baseball experts around the country. OUR BAR, Paddy O's, opened with new owners who have no understanding of the importance of regular patrons and with increased beer prices that may force us down the road a piece to a new hangout. OUR CITY forgot to order the beautiful sun-shiny weather that we usually have on opening day and the game ended up getting rained out.

So, the first official game will start all over tonight. We will have an Opening Day Do-Over. But the dramatic difference in the start of the 2008 season is symbolic for me. Just because you have done something the same way for years and it has worked... Well, it doesn't mean you can't try something new and make that work too. 2008 is a fresh start for our group, our team, our bar and our town.

For me 2008 is a fresh start in every aspect of my life and I receive daily reminders of that, so an opening day filled with newness and unfamiliarity was no surprise to me. A little uncomfortable, as most days are lately... but no surprise really. I'm thankful for a do-over of opening day. Twice as much fun for us this year. May that be symbolic as well...

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Like You

Dale Carnegie once said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you."

Many people have commented on my ability to make friends. Some have held it against me. But throughout my life, I believe there have been spaces and gaps created in my world that were meant to be filled by new people, new friends. In the moments when those openings occur, it is up to me to discern who I will welcome into my life.

Some people come for just a season. Some forever. But each person confirms my love for people and renews my desire to meet and know as many of them as I am allowed.

Last night, I was reading through some old notes. There was a lengthy conversation between me and someone who I believe to be a forever friend and, in that conversation, he said that he had spent weeks trying to get me to like him. Reading it then made me angry. Reading it now makes me sad. You see, when it comes to friendship, I am easy. You need not try so hard. I realize that it is difficult for some people to accept my smile and my open arms as sincere. Past experiences, history and previous relationships color our perception of others.

But I am sincere. I am genuine. I promise you.

You don't have to get me interested in you. I like you. Most of the time, I like you before I even meet you. People fascinate me. I just want to know your name and your taste in music and food and movies. I want to know what makes you happy and what brings tears to your eyes. I want to know you. And selfishly, I need you in my world, if only for a day or a month or maybe for a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Music of Your Soul

"Music isn't just learning notes and playing them, You learn notes to play to the music of your soul." ~Katie Greenwood

When I was 10 years old, I walked up to the front of the church, before my entire school, and asked if I could sing. While I felt the music within me from my earliest memory, that day I was given the opportunity to release it into the atmosphere and share it with the rest of the universe. And my musical education started that day. I began to learn how to string together the notes of my life and sing the songs of my soul.

Although my life did not take a uniquely musical route, there has been a soundtrack playing in my head for 37 years. The music is with me always, impacting my every day life.

I am constantly amazed by the musical talent of others and by their ability to pull from the universe the ideas and thoughts and dreams of the rest of us to unite us through song. They remind us that our feelings are not merely our feelings but that we share them with so many others. And that while we may feel lonely or broken or sad, it is a universal loneliness and brokenness. We are never alone in any moment of our lives. Some will say we are not alone because we have God and I believe that. But I also believe that we are never alone because we have music.

Music is a common thread in the fabric of our world. Language, culture, interests may divide us... We may be separated by land or sea... Our politics or religion may cause strife among us... But everyone loves music in the depths of their soul.

In times of joy and great happiness... In times of pain and sorrow... Everyday and every night... Take some time to listen to your life. Hear your soundtrack. Listen to the music of your soul.