Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thanksgiving in February

Some things I'm thankful for, off the top of my head and in no certain order:

~My mom

~My wonderful friends

~New days

~Earth, wind, and fire -- both the elements and The Elements ("Fantasy," in particular)

~Bodhi -- oh dear, she's going to be upset that she wasn't listed first!

~Dear, sweet Bodhi gets a second listing because I love and appreciate her that much. Even though she often smells, sheds like a motherf*cker, and eats my house.

~My job. Yes, it's beyond frustrating most days, but that's more the people and the red tape than the actual work itself. If I just dig in and focus on the work, I can almost remember why I wanted to do it in the first place. Plus, one of my best friends works there as well so that's pretty damn sweet.

~Some great friends at work. They make even the most difficult days more enjoyable.

~My brain. Which is why I need to start taking better care of it. I'll be working on being a kinder, gentler kickball partier this season. Watching too much Celebrity Rehab has me concerned that my brain is starting to resemble Dennis Rodman's!

~My heart. Both literally and figuratively. As for figuratively, as much as I get hurt over and over again, I'm glad -- to some extent -- that I'm a big mushball. It allows me to love my friends, family, and strangers openly and without fear or concern for self. Unfortunately, that's one of the things everyone keeps telling me I need to work on. Have to develop a hard candy shell for this sweet chocolate interior! :)

~My overall health. So far, so good. Save for some circulation issues and memory loss, I'm chugging along pretty well. Let's hope that keeps up!

~My house. There, I said it. Yes, it needs a ton of work and no, I don't have the skills or money to do much with it now but dammit, it's mine! I have a house. And I was tremendously lucky to get it when I did. It shelters me and Bodhi and it's my safe haven when things just get a little too hard for me out there. So I guess I really should start taking better care of it. Hmm...add that to the list. Take better care of myself; take better care of my house. :)

~Hope. I know without it, life is pretty unbearable. I've been there; I tried to leave my world when it was hopeless and I'm still here. Sometimes I think I know why, other times I have absolutely no clue. But I do have hope. For me, my family, my friends, and the world as a whole. It's part of the reason I hurt so much over so many things. I wish we could all just let the BS go and take care of and love each other. It's all there really is when you get down to it.

~This here blog. Sometimes it's an obligation, sometimes a frustration, but more often than not it's something I enjoy -- and hopefully some of you do too!

~Words. Laughter. TREES. The ocean. Most animals. The hundreds of things or people on any given day that make me smile. That remind me it's all connected.

Anything that feeds me spiritually, emotionally, and/or physically. I am so blessed and appreciate it all so much. And since I'm still -- even with all of this -- struggling, let's dust this off one more time:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010: Year of AJ


I really feel like I should write something based on the feedback I've received on Facebook this week, but I'm somewhat torn since so many of you know what I've been up to all week because I've posted it on Facebook! The darn social networking site may be the ultimate demise of my blog!

But then there's Bert. And Mrs. Schmidt. And Gloria. None of them is my Facebook friend and therefore, they don't really know what I've been up to or how I'm doing or the amusing and/or stupid things I've done and thought all week.

So, if you Facebookers will be patient, let me at least get this out of the way for Bert, because I know he'll find it amusing:

What a crazy, wonderful week it has been. A couple fun opportunities landed in my lap and I just had a pretty good time. Did the news thing above out-of-the-blue and then got involved at the last minute on a bar tour volunteer video and overall just spent some quality time with quality people. I'm always amazed and appreciative when the universe knows I'm ready to move on and helps me to that end.

I struggled and procrastinated all week with my first standup comedy assignment and while I came up with some ideas, as usual I wasn't sure they'd work in the end. I wound up just winging it for the most part and damned if the class didn't like it! The teacher even called one bit close to genius and said it would be if I just fine-tuned it a little bit and I've gotta say, that felt pretty damn good!

Things aren't perfect and I'm still trying to extricate myself from The Drama. But I know it will get easier with each day, so I'm just plowing along. One of my best friends has declared 2010 the "Year of AJ" and I think I'm finally willing to give it a whirl. I have to find some way to take care of myself and love myself the way I've always cared and loved others.

Baby steps, my friends. :)

Well, lest this rambly blog resemble nothing more than a diary entry (yes, that still stings a little - lol) or a psychotherapy post, let's see if I can't spin a wee tale...

My mother asked if I was working last Friday and it became evident that she was asking because she was having something delivered to me at work. "Great," I thought. "I'm 40-years-old and my MOTHER is sending me flowers for Valentine's Day!" Still, it was a sweet gesture and once I looked past my patheticalness (look it up) I appreciated the fact that she would do something like that for me.

Alas, I was only working Friday morning but assured her that Anne would get the delivery. Well, Anne was off that afternoon, but I figured her hubby Don would be able to get the flowers. I was home in the afternoon and uncharacteristically answered my cell even though I didn't recognize the incoming number.

"Are you at work today?" a stranger asked.

"Uh....who is this??" I replied.

It was the florist. Looooong story somewhat shorter, he was at the wrong entrance for our building; I gave him correct directions; called Don - discovered he was gone too; and made arrangements with another coworker to get my flowers.

We were closed on Monday, so I didn't see them until 4 days after they were delivered. Still, they had water and should have been fine. Over the weekend, I discovered that my mother had actually sent them out of sympathy for the anniversary of my father's death, which was on that Friday. She sent me a huge tub of popcorn for Valentine's Day. :)

I got in to work on Tuesday and saw the flowers. They were half dead! Hahahahaha! I wasn't sure if it was an accident or by design! My Dad had actually suffered a stroke a couple years before he died and the flowers were lilting to one side... I asked my mother if she had specifically requested leaning, half-dead flowers to commemorate my father's death!

And being my mother and as twisted as I, that dear woman laughed her head off when I asked.

Great week. Great friends. Great Mom.

No, things aren't all as I'd like, but damn they're pretty wonderful as they are. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All you need is love


Hope everyone is having a lovely Valentine's Day!

Based on my unofficial observations from the last few days, the greater majority of you just groaned at that and/or rolled your eyes. Very strange. I know it's a made-up Hallmark holiday, but it seems I ran into far more cynics this year. I'm not saying that it's a huge holiday for me, but I'm surprised that so many people are somehow opposed to being romantic or celebrating love or just remembering to appreciate the friends, family, and/or lovers in their lives. It seems to me most of the couples were treating it as "just another day" and most of the single folks were just waiting for it to pass by so they could stop being reminded that they're single.

Ah, ain't life grand?

I should have been more bummed about it this year I suppose, but I'm really not. I had a great weekend and am thankful for all the love and support and appreciation the universe has been throwing my way the last couple days. I am truly a very lucky person and if I stop stressing about one aspect of my life long enough, I see how lucky I am very clearly.

So that's my Valentine's Day Resolution: focus on the positive. I'm going to focus on all the wonderful things that I do have and let go of the things I don't.

In other news, I started an 8-week standup comedy writing class today with 11 other students. It was an interesting experience and I have no idea how this is going to pan out. My homework this week is to come up with 2 minutes about myself, composed of 10 jokes. This should be interesting. Wish me luck!

That's it for me tonight. I'm sleepy and am going to go curl up with my best and most faithful girl, Miss Bodhi. I hope you're all having a good weekend and if you're not, I hope you have people you can reach out to for help and support. I found myself talking to 3 people yesterday and offering them the very same advice that I have had a hard time following myself. Funny how the people you didn't even know you needed can get dropped into your life at just the right moment. I love being tapped into the universe that way and I'm really looking forward to finding out what it has in store for me next.

Here's to better, happier days for all!

Happy Valentine's Day, whether you like it or not! :)


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Serenity Now

So much to say, so much to say, so much to say, so much to say...

What do you guys do when things are utterly and absolutely out of your control? I've come so far in accepting things I can't change and pointing out the same for others in an attempt to bring them peace and perspective. And yet, when I'm really tested -- when it's something I really care about and have a vested interest in -- I find that all of my evolution and understanding and mature acceptance of the unacceptable is just utter horse shit.

I'm helpless and don't know where to go from here. The only thing I can think to do is to keep breathing and try to ride it out. But that seems about as lame -- and pain-inducing -- a response as I could possibly think of. Apparently, I'm not really built for diversion. I should be flocking to my friends and busying myself with activities and -- Lord knows -- home improvement and any number of hobbies and yet here I sit. Just steeping in the absurdity and helplessness of it all.

The choice is mine. I, in theory, can change direction and course any time I choose. And yet...

Every time I tell myself to "Let go and let God" I find myself right here. I feel with every cell in my being and throughout my very core that this is where I'm supposed to be. If I were to try to walk away it would take a tremendous amount of effort and I believe cause me even more pain. Letting go leaves me here. The lesser pain, it seems.

But when do I get my answer? When do I find out that I was right or I was wrong? I almost don't care anymore (ok, that's a sack of shit, but it sounded good for a second); I'd just like to know. Dear God, I'd just like to know.

And if I find out I'm right but it doesn't affect the outcome? What then? Will it have all been a waste? I have a hard time believing that's how the universe works and yet, from where I'm sitting, it seems like a distinct possibility. I'm playing tennis by myself. At the plate with no pitcher, no fielders. Throwing a ball to no one.

Alone again,


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is a Jolly Holiday Too Much to Ask For??

Well this is just getting ridiculous! A close friend has ended our friendship once again and all signs are pointing to it sticking this time. I have mixed feelings about this since it is by far the unhealthiest friendship I've ever had -- but there are extenuating circumstances and I suffer from the ability to always see its potential, not its reality.

Anyway, it just occurred to me that Voldemort broke up with me on February 2nd five years ago and I was so pissed at the time! Yes, I was upset by the breakup itself, but I was more upset that she had done it on February 2nd -- my maternal grandmother's birthday! I foresaw remembering my grandmother's birthday for the rest of my life (Groundhog Day is a nice little hint just in case) and now I would also remember it as the day the Dark Lord dumped me. Dang it! No chance of my fuzzy memory forgetting that one.

So I couldn't help but chuckle when I just realized that my friend was "dumping me" on the same damn day. Is nothing sacred? Can we stay away from holidays people??

Alas, this is a bit of a trend in my life.

My birthday is at the end of May and often falls on Memorial Day Weekend. So imagine my surprise when my Dad had 3 days of a holiday weekend from which to choose his moving day when he was leaving my mom and me -- and yet he chose my 15th birthday! I can laugh about it now, mainly because it strikes me as absurd, but for many years it hurt quite a bit. Being a guy, I'm sure he didn't think anything of it and wouldn't have done it if he had known it would hurt me, but there it is. So, the birthday suffered for a few years.

Next up was Christmas. The last time I saw my maternal grandfather was in the hospital on Christmas day when I was seventeen. He died 4 days later and I still think about it every year.

And then came Dad again! He died on February 12th and I remember saying to my best friend, Lauren, "Dammit, there goes another holiday!" thinking of Valentine's Day. Lauren responded, "I didn't realize you were so attached to Lincoln's Birthday..."

I feel like there are more, but that seems like enough for me anyhow. I think people should plan their fights and deaths more appropriately. There are only so many holidays in a year -- can't you avoid them??

Monday, February 1, 2010

Daddy's Shovel

Greetings from snowy South Hampton Roads, Virginia! Yes, the unthinkable actually occurred – we had a snow storm on Saturday. I use the term “storm” loosely as we in Norfolk only received about 5 inches of snow – although, thanks to Norfolk’s snow removal plan of, “Wait for it to melt,” I guess storm is the appropriate term after all.

Unfortunately, we also received some rain and have had freezing temps, so we have a couple inches of ice underneath the snow. My attempt to shovel my sidewalk today was mostly for naught. Thanks to my laziness regarding the sweeping and removal of fallen pine needles from the sidewalk leading to my house, that stretch is actually clear! The pine needles made an excellent barrier between the sidewalk and ice and clean up was a breeze! The public walk beyond my fence is a disaster however and I’ll be embracing Norfolk’s snow removal philosophy until ordered by someone to chop the ice away.

All of this brings me to Daddy’s shovel, for that’s what I used earlier today. I don’t often think of its significance, but did so just a few minutes ago. I may never get my father’s beloved music as I requested the day of his funeral, but at least I have his shovel. I’m sure he’d find it a little ridiculous if he knew. I’m not even sure how it became a “thing” for me, but it’s one of a handful of items that I intend to have with me until the day I die.

I’m not sure when Dad picked this thing up. I think I must have been around 10 or so – at least that’s my earliest memory of it. The thing was HUGE the first time I saw it and I could barely lift it. I believe it was taller than me or my height at the time of its arrival. It stands about 5 feet tall and the handle itself makes up 90% of the length. I’m pretty sure I remember crying the first time I had to use it. It has a simple wooden handle and a square blue shovel. The bottom edge of the shovel is curled up now from 3 decades of use and a decent amount of the blue coloring has worn off, but the thing is still functional.

I’m not sure why Daddy didn’t take the shovel with him when he left. I guess since my mother and I were staying in the house, he thought he should leave it behind. Then again, he left in May so maybe he hadn’t even given it a thought. Not much call for snow shovels in May – even in New Jersey. I’m fairly certain I probably cursed him and that shovel the first winter without him when I became the ‘man of the house.’ I do remember resenting that shovel for several winters.

I don’t know if I kidnapped it for sentimental reasons or pure function when I moved to Richmond a week after the blizzard of ’96. I seem to remember thinking shovels might be hard to come by in the South and since the roads were still treacherous I had gotten in the habit of keeping the shovel in my car in case I got stuck. Regardless of my reasons, bringing it to Richmond was a good call on my part since there were approximately 5 shovels in Richmond in January of 1996.

I haven’t had to use it down here very often at all. In fact, I’ve been in this house for almost 5 years and this is the first snowfall of any significance we’ve had since I’ve been here. The last storm was in December 2004 and I was still living with the Dark Lord – and used Daddy’s shovel to clear our sidewalks and driveway at the time. There was a storm in the early Aughts when I was living in Norfolk and I remember another doozy of one while in Richmond in 2000, but outside of that, the shovel’s been pretty idle. And yet, I can’t imagine my life without it now. I know it’s silly, but it’s a part of my past. It reminds me of a time so long ago that I sometimes think I dreamt it. It reminds me of my father – the love, anger, frustration, and humor. I can hear him when I use it. I’m so thankful for that. And so, I’ll keep carting this thing along for years to come. Even if I wind up somewhere without snow, I’ll still have Daddy’s shovel – and I know that would make him weirdly proud and make him laugh – two things I miss deeply.