Thursday, October 20, 2011

A gift of love

Someone in my life that I love dearly, who I have been extremely close to for 25+ years was good enough to let me ramble on the phone the other day about all my worries and frustrations. An offer of help was made and refused, because I am not the sort to ask for help -- especially from people who have already given me so much.

In today's mail I received a humorous card from her. She knows me so well that when she sees "the card" in the store, I am likely to receive a random humorous surprise in the mail, because it made her think of me. I consider myself very lucky to have this wonderful, caring and generous friend. I just wish I felt like I was worthy.

So, to my friend I say first and foremost -- I love you more than words can convey. Second, though no less important, I thank you for today. You made me both laugh at the perfection with which you once again hit the nail on the head and cry because you are far too good to me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All Booked Up

Well, ever since Borders went under and I did some stocking up, I have pretty much been face to page. (except when I've had to be Mom/Wife or working on my dresser refinishing project)  I wandered the aisles and lifted a great many books to read their synopses. A fair stack made it into my collection and I have been immensely enjoying myself. I chose a few books I would not have normally as well as those I tend towards.

I was lucky (?) enough to find a complete selection of Elizabeth Gilbert's other works prior to Eat Pray Love, as well as her newest that takes up where she left off. Of them, I have read Pilgrims and Stern Men. Pilgrims is an oddity. A collection of short stories that to my mind were generally choppy and maybe even unfinished. Often I felt as though something was missing and so I was somewhat disappointed with it. Stern Men was different, but I liked it. Especially the ending. There were a few places where I felt the story dragged a touch, but the style was different and I was intrigued by that. The book is about 2 tiny islands off Maine, though it largely centers around the folks on the poorer one. The bulk of the male islanders are lobster-men, often drunkards and very set in their ways. The story primarily centers on the daughter of one of these men and how she grows into a very capable and smart woman who finds the power to change the lives and futures of the two islands at odds for so many years. Ultimately I enjoyed the read and got a real kick out of the ending.

I like Garrison Keillor. He is a quirky author with an unusual storytelling style. I have read just three of his books, but I definitely want to read more of the Lake Wobegon series. The most recent one I read is Pilgrims, in which a group of Lake Wobegonians travel to Rome to honor one of their own. Mr. Keillor includes himself in the story as a traveling companion to the group, but never seems to quite mesh with the bunch. The lead character, Margie goes through the full roller-coaster of emotions. Throughout the whole story, it seemed as though the other shoe would drop and ruin her any moment.

Annie Sanders is an author new to me. Well, two actually. What you say? TWO? How can this be? This is because Annie Sanders is the combined force of 2 British women/authors named Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders, who wrote this fab book titled Goodbye, Jimmy Choo. I snapped this one up, being the Anglophile that I am, and am glad I did. I laughed, I cried and I cheered the women in this story on. Unlikely friends and suddenly business partners, Izzie and Maddy have a whirlwind year of highs and lows. Each finds a strength within themselves they never knew they had. I enjoyed their escapades and related well to their emotions in many ways. I really didn't want the book to end, but alas it did. I have discovered there are other Annie Sanders books to be read and I am definitely keen to do so... Watch out, I will be on the prowl again soon. Annie Sanders also has a new-ish blog as well, so I will have to check it out.

Kathryn Borel wrote her funky little memoir Corked and found a lot of criticism in the reviews of it. I read the dust jacket and I knew going in that it was more about the experience, highs and lows of a wine trip through France with her Father than it would be about the wineries they visited. Somehow, many of the reviewers were disgruntled that the book was not more about the wineries, which really causes me to wonder whether they actually read the description PRIOR to reading the book. I cannot understand how they could be disappointed, unless they just didn't bother to take note of the fact that this is a memoir and not a travel guide. Many other reviewers cry out for KB to get therapy and fast. In some ways I can say I understand their plea. That said, I have to wonder just how much she exaggerated things in order to make the book. As far as the book goes... well it wasn't great but it wasn't horrible either. It was written more as if the story were being told to friends at a get-together. There was plenty of cussing and plenty of frustration and venting of same. I think the point of the story was more to show that people just don't communicate with each other. All too often family members harbor secrets about their pasts that ultimately affect who they become. Without the knowledge of what happened to our loved ones, we cannot truly understand who they are. Important information withheld leads only to questions about why they do the things they do, think the things they think or feel the way they feel. Often it causes great rifts and disconnects, because there is no way to understand what someone does not tell us. Certainly there was a moral to this story and that was all about sharing who you are, even the not so pretty things.

The book stack is where I have been of late. I will surely have more to blog about soon enough. Right now though, I am content to read myself silly. Grab a book, a glass of wine and make time to read and relax. Trust me it's worth it!

FIFTY...5-0...Half a Century

Tomorrow my love will be 50! It seems like yesterday that we were going on our first date, so it is hard to picture how we got here so quickly. However it happened, I know that the best part is that we got here together. This post goes directly to you M...

When we first met I thought you were asking me out on a pity date. Everyone knew I was a single mom and that I was burned badly by it. It had been so long since I had gone out that I accepted in hopes that I was wrong. That was one of the best decisions I EVER made in my entire life. You are a wonderful man with greater capacity for love and kindness than you let on. You took on my child and me and we became a family. There was no greater moment than the one when I realized "my daughter" was truly our daughter. Our wedding was a day I will cherish in my heart forever as the day we became us. We have a beautiful family, in spite of their efforts to be heathens. You are my rock and my soul mate. I love with all my heart and soul the amazing man that is you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Friends From Old Enemies

About 8 years ago or so, I ran into someone I had known since Elementary School. KBO had married the older brother of the girl I named KC for. That was kind of weird, but cool at the same time. We struck up a, cautious at first, friendship and were getting along pretty well. In ES we had been what I would call friendly, but not really friends. She was 2 years ahead of me and you know how that goes in ES, right?

Flash forward to High School. We re-met there and were friendly again. KBO was BFF's with JLP. I had no idea who JLP was then, until I started dating MM. He was also BFF's with JLP. He introduced us and tried to start a friendship between the two of us. That just did not happen. Not long after that, MM started "playing us off each other" as often happens in HS. In hindsight, it was a power play, but back then we were cluless to recognize the manipulation for what it was. It short order JLP and I hated each other and by default KBO had to hate me too.

At some point MM and I broke up and he started dating KT. I had known KT for some years as her BFF and one of my BFF's were pals and we knew each other in peripheral terms. We lived near each other and out of sheer lack of others to do stuff with, we occasionally attempted to hang out. We were tolerant of each other for the most part, but I would not say we were friendly so much. Suddenly lots of ugly things about me that only MM could have known -- and distorted -- were going around school. I presumed that they were told by MM to KT and that they were then shared with KT's friends, because that is what girls do. However, there is plenty reason to suspect that MM was the one who was doing the talking. So, the already tenuous relationship I had with KT was severed for good by all this.

Generally we all moved on to other things... except for that little thing called hate between us girls. KT and I just steered clear of each other. I steered clear of JLP, because she had announced that she was gonna beat me up if we crossed paths... I was so NOT interested in that! LOL! Later I was dating JZ, whom we all know as the father of my first born. To say we had a rocky relationship would be an understatement. JZ was from another school. That particular school had a significant concentration of what we would call rednecks. Far more than my school did, though the rednecks school was in a hoity-toity neighborhood. JLP was friendly with LOTS of these rednecks! So, dating JZ was all the more difficult, because as soon as the redneck population got wind of my volatile relationship with JLP, I was an outcast. JZ was penalized for it also. Why he stuck with it for 4 years with all that hate going around is beyond me!

We used to go bowling a lot, because it was cheap. Everyone knew I would see "red" at the mention of JLP's name, so if I was having an off night, my friends would chant her name and I would see her face on the 1 pin, front and center. I nearly always got a strike if I got a good vision of her there! Though there were few encounters with JLP, the ones that did occur were full of ugly invectives... Again, we all moved on to new things, friendships and relationships, but that hate lingered on.

Getting back to reconnecting with KBO, there was some uneasiness on my part about the friendship, because I learned that she was still BFF's with JLP. I really did not want to get into a thing and have KBO in the middle. KBO had one of those "sex toy" parties and I was invited. I had never been to one, but I was looking to get out of the house and so I went. JLP was there. I knew she would be but seeing her in person was altogether different and I was nervous enough that I stood the whole time, in the back of the group, as far away from her as possible! At the end, I was hoping to make a clean getaway, but KBO wanted me to stay. I bit the bullet and did... so did JLP.

As it turns out, we got to talking about the past and the reasons for our dislike of each other. In the end we learned that MM had told each of us that we were the problem in why he did or said things. He played us against each other using me as an excuse to not be able to hang out with JLP anymore and using JLP as an excuse for going out and doing stuff without me around. In the end we realized that the whole problem was centered around MM and his many manipulations. It really sucks to think that we allowed a guy to have so much power over our lives and here we both thought we were pretty strong people back then. We know we are now, but damn that stings.

JLP and I are friends now. When I do get to go home for visits, which are fewer and further between now, I always make a point to see her. We try to have lunch, dinner or drinks to catch up and I consider her a treasured friend now.

A few weeks back, I got a FB message from KT. We share many mutual friends on FB and have commented on things at the same time. I gave up my maiden name when I got married, so I did not even think she had any idea who I was. Eventually she put 2 and 2 together and got in touch. She was looking to find an old friend that she heard I was still in touch with. We chatted a bit back and forth, feeling out the situation. Turns out our mutual problem was definitely related to MM and once again it was discovered that we were manipulated. I never thought MM was smart enough for these kinds of manipulations, but apparently I/we underestimated him ~ A LOT!

Now, KT and I are FB friends. Who knows where this is headed, if anywhere -- but I am game to let it play out. She is quite the funny person and I have to wonder, as I did after connecting with JLP, how things might have been different if MM had not had so much power in our HS lives. The thing I have realized is that it is my fault, and JLP and KT's as well, that we allowed MM to have this control and worse yet that we failed to see it for what it was. After all, even if we weren't as knowledgeable back then about human nature, we certainly had some idea of this behavior or there would have been significantly less drama in HS all around.

If you had a jackhole like MM in your life that you think may have been a significant player in causing this kind of problem with people, I say reach out and friend up. I never thought in a million years I would be friends in any way with the two people in the world I considered my mortal enemies. Life is short and friendships are valuable, if only you allow the past not to interfere in your future.

I have to say that HS should be left there. Too many people are far into their adult years and still behaving the same way as in HS. I had to grow up too fast for that kind of BS to factor in my life so much. I imagine if I gave it a chance to fester I could easily revert to that kind of mind-set. Thankfully, I prefer to leave HS in the past and I believe I have discovered 2 people that are proof that I have made the right decision!