Thursday, June 30, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
by Dennis O'Driscoll
He has everything.
A beautiful young wife.
A comfortable home.
A secure job.
A velvet three-piece suite.
A metallic-silver car.
A mahogany cocktail cabinet.
A rugby trophy.
A remote-controlled music centre.
A set of gold clubs under the hallstand.
A fair-haired daughter learning to walk.
What he is afraid of most
and what keeps him tossing some nights
on the electric underblanket,
listening to the antique clock
clicking with disapproval from the landing,
are the stories that begin:
He had everything.
A beautiful young wife.
A comfortable home.
A secure job.
Then one day.
Sometimes I wish I was middle class. Sometimes I don't. Mostly I just wish I could sit on the front side of the curtain on airplanes. So. Unfair.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?
Part of agreeing to write for Trust30 includes receiving "prompts" from other "Authors" across America. I'm starting to figure out that most of these prompts are written for, I don't know, secretaries who are secretly super talented and are wasting away their ability to translate some African dialect into English so that some remote tribe can communicate with the rest of the world that their water is polluted and can someone please bus in some filters or something? without which this tribe would surely perish and thank God that secretary realized her true abilities and stepped up to bat to recognize her gifts and share them with the world.
Something like that.
Obviously I'm not a fan of the prompts. They make me feel like I'm at in High School or at a self-help seminar. Office Space explains it best...
[Peter, Michael, and Samir are chatting as they hang around the printer]
Peter: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic.
Samir: So what did you say?
Peter: I never had an answer. I guess that's why I'm working at Initech.
Michael: No, you're working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars.
Samir: You know what I would do if I had a million dollars? I would invest half of it in low risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to my friend Asadulah who works in securities...
Michael: Samir, you're missing the point. The point of the exercise is that you're supposed to figure out what you would want to do if... [printer starts beeping] "PC Load Letter"? What the f*ck does that mean?
I took this writing challenge as a discipline to write daily and write about stuff and stories that are buzzing around in my head that I'm not taking time to write out properly on paper. So I haven’t been following the prompts. But quite frankly, if I had one week left to live, as today’s prompt suggests, I wouldn't sit down at my computer and write those stories out then either.
I actually hate this question. I get what it's meant to achieve. But what I would do if I had one week left to live is consume. Consume, consume, consume. And give, I'd do lots of giving too.
First off, I'd eat out for every single meal, because if I've got one week to live, then I've got money to eat with and I'm not eating one more Amy's organic gluten free pot pie if I've got one week left. The alternative is eating at friend's houses which is okay too. I'd eat at Chris and Michelle's and have Johnson cook some of my favorite meals of his... one of his soups, or his salads, or fish tacos. Point being, I'd eat good food. And I wouldn't worry about calories. I'd have dessert at every meal. And I wouldn't worry about what will clog up my arteries and what's damaging my liver. I'd consume and I'd enjoy it. Mimosas for breakfast, Bloody Marys for lunch, Grapefruit Martinis for dinner and beer on the porch later that night.
Secondly, I'd spend time only with people I love who give me energy. Unfortunately the list is so long of people I'd want to see in that last week, it wouldn't all get done. And that would suck. So I guess in that last week I'd have to double my Pristiq prescription so I wouldn't get sad that I couldn't fit in everyone I love, I couldn't see them one more time or hug them or jump up and down that I'm so happy they're my friend.
If I had a boyfriend, he'd stay at my house every night and we'd go to bed holding hands and we'd wake up holding hands and he'd sleep on the couch for the night I have the girls over for one last slumber party which would happen several nights since there's several groups of girls over the years that I'd want "one last girls' night" with.
I guess, to go back, I'd spend the first morning getting everything ready, for when I was gone, I mean. I've already got all my passwords to all my accounts written in one place and I've already got a will (I'm a little OCD and tend to obsess over death more than most people anyway). But I'd write out my funeral, how I'd want it to be. How there would be NO HYMNS to be sung at it and how the pastor to officiate must please, for the love of God, not use any male pronouns to refer to the Holy One. Of course, this prompt didn't suggest that I would die after than one week and live would go on without me, but if it's everybody's last week too then that would just cause a serious clusterfuck, so let's just assume it's only my last week and move on. I'd show my parents or my sister or maybe Lynnette or Kate Spencer where all my writings are. Where the journals and sermons and hidden blogs are all located just in case someone wanted to finish all those documents titled: My Book and Book # 2 and The New Book that I have scattered around on my computer, honest attempts at making a difference and doing what maybe I'm called to do, but half-heartedly stored away because they weren't good enough, weren't smart enough, and nobody likes me that much anyway.
And I'd bequeath my stuff. The important stuff. Who gets what work of art and which charity I would prefer to get my clothes, shoes, couches, car, electronics, etc. And I guess this would have to extend over into the last day too because after I've eaten out for every meal for a week and bought plane tickets to Missouri and back, I'd have to assess how much money was left and either write checks to the charities I most value or jot down how much each one gets so my parents can figure that out when I'm gone.
But other than that morning of organization, and other than eating delicious food for every meal, I'd just want to be with the people I love. I'd probably ask Hollywood if I could get a sneak peak of the final Harry Potter movie so I can know how it ends. And I might watch Moulin Rouge one last time, or if that feels too sad for my last week, maybe Little Miss Sunshine or Into the Woods (but only if my sister was there). I'd go dancing at Gruene Hall or the Spoke, but I'd rent the place out so that the bouncer that I put at the door says who gets in and who doesn't so all those schmarmy dancers aren't allowed in and to regulate how crowded the dance floor gets. I mean, Cinda and I need room to dance, people!
I guess there is one thing I'd do that only I can do. I'd get my friend Stephen or maybe if there's no limits on this last week, some legit recording studio in Nashville or New York to record me singing songs from musicals I've done in the past. "Honey Bun" from South Pacific, "Last Midnight" from Into the Woods, "I Don't Know How To Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "I'll Tell You What I Think of Him" from King and I - though, maybe not, cause I hated that show, "Pharoah Story" from Joseph, "Soon It's Gonna Rain" from The Fantasticks and I'd get Justin to sing the Matt part, and then maybe a song from the shows I did where I didn't have the lead or shows I did as a kid, or in High School like "Happily Ever After" from Once Upon a Mattress, "Shoeless Joe" from Damn Yankees (both characters I played in High School), "If Ever I Would Leave You" from Camelot (Amy and I were in the chorus of this when my dad directed it - God, that was a fun summer), "The Color Purple" from The Color Purple because I sang that several times at FBC and my mother heard it and loved it, and so did the church, especially Jeanie Spencer. And just because I love the songs, I'd probably do "Defying Gravity" from Wicked, "I Am What I Am" from La Cage Aux Folles, "Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl, "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret, and of course, the song I've been singing on stages and in showers since I was a little girl, "On My Own" from Les Miserables. And I don't know if my family would want to have this CD. I'd make it with my dad in mind, since he directed the first musicals I was in as an adult, but he may not be into that, I don't know. I know Amy would listen to it though, and she'd burn Brent a copy, so at least two people would have a little something I left behind.
But other than that, I'd eat and drink, and watch the final Harry Potter, be with the people I love and allot my remaining few dollars to charity.
And that, Trust30, is what I'd do if I had only one week left.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
He was late. I wasn’t surprised. He is often late. He’s unorganized, loves to sleep, and lives out of town. It’s forgivable, but annoying.
I calmly applied make-up to my starting-to-show-my-age face. I would turn 33 at approximately 4:10pm that day and wanted to look my best despite that to celebrate the day of my birth, my friends and I were mostly exercising, beginning with kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. But you never know when will be the perfect opportunity for a photo, and since my boyfriend who was also to be joining us was late, I applied make-up to my already hardening face.
It’s not like he didn’t know what time to be there. After all, I had sent out three detailed emails with the schedule in the days prior to my birthday. Weeks before, he and I had agreed that he would take the day off, we discussed the festivities to be planned, and I sent out reminder emails to the parties involved with explicit instructions on what time to be where and with what in tow.
This is what happens when a woman who’s OCD dates a man who’s ADD; inevitably one of them ends up overcompensating either with organization or minute attention to inordinate detail. Because I’m the one who’s OCD, I had them both covered.
Not only that, but I’d gone over my birthday wish-list with him so there would be no repeat of Halloween or Christmas (neither of which near-catastrophies I care to rehash now). The list was, of course, posted on my blog for the whole world to go over, but since he rarely reads my blog I knew that was a base I needed to cover. Additionally, we’d gone to visit several stores that had clothing or other items I fancied, and had perused the merchandise together. We’d even gone to my favorite piercing salon that sells (real!) diamond nose rings which avid readers of my blog will remember I have been coveting now for years.
But the morning of my birthday, he was late. So late, that I left without him for the lake.
“Don’t cry,” I told myself. "Don’t let him ruin this day. You get to choose your own attitude; you choose how to respond to this." Michelle called to ask where I was. “I’m close,” I responded, “but the boyfriend’s not with me.”
He called when I had almost reached the kayak rental booth. “I’m at your house.”
“I’m at the lake.”
“Should I grab your bike?” (We were going to bike, after kayaking, to Opal Divine’s on 6th Street).
Chris and Michelle were waving as I began down the path toward the lake and the long row of kayaks. “Happy birthday!” they cried, cheerier than normal.
“You can ride with Michelle and I’ll kayak by myself,” Chris said, relieving any anxiety about me now kayaking alone. “I’m sorry about poopy-head.”
“Poopy-head’s on his way.”
Chris and Michelle are real troopers. They’ve seen me go through more men and been more accommodating and supportive and hospitable and a million other adjectives that describe what the best friends of a serial dater must find themselves embodying lest they perish in the process. They’ve been cordial to the ones they’ve hated and grieved the ones we loved and lost. They would make the most of this for my sake. And we would all be in the water together.
“Don’t worry, I won’t start the clock til you enter the lake,” the guy with the newspaper working the kayak stand told us. He’d managed to pick up on the fact that it was not only my birthday but that we were killing time trying on different life jackets and posing for pictures with paddles while waiting for my boyfriend.
The boyfriend arrived shortly thereafter. He was anxious and visibly frustrated. And his clothes weren’t exact kayak appropriate, but part of the tardiness had been that he wasn’t able to finish his laundry. I tried not to be short with him, but found my usual biting criticisms chomping at the bit when trapped in a small kayak in the middle of a huge lake with a boyfriend who was an hour and a half late and kept paddling a different direction than I wanted to go.
But we had a great time despite the minor grievances. We even got to see the last few minutes of some repelling dancers rehearsing off the side of the old Light and Power building. Yes, there are people in Austin who do synchronized repelling and spinning and leaping while 200 feet above the ground, or better yet, above water.
After returning the kayaks when our hour was up, we hiked back up to the cars and got out the bikes to pump the tires and be one our way. However, the tube was punctured on my bike. So Chris and Michelle headed on (since we were behind in the schedule and were meeting people at the restaurant) while boyfriend and I decided what to do. We chose to throw the bikes back into his jeep and just drive to Opal’s.
Lunch was super. Gabe, Bethany and Tessla were there waiting, and once our waitress spotted us, I ordered my favorite drink (a Texas Red), my favorite appetizer (the Divine Quesadillas) and my favorite meal (a Tuna Sandwich on wheat with no onions and of course French Fries). Yum! Of course, I checked in those of us without privacy settings on Facebook, and uploaded a picture of the delicious beverage. Plenty more pics (hipstamatic and regular) were taken of Tessla gobbling down her mac ‘n cheese. And the quote of the day was delivered by Gabe: “Ann, have you ever considered rapping?”
Awesome. Not even going to give you the context.
Once full, we decided it was time to head to our next activity: stuffing our stuffed bodies into swimsuits to lay out by Chris and Michelle’s apartment pool. We said good-bye to the Chances who had to return to work and we took off, Chris and Michelle on bike and boyfriend and I in our cars.
“Let’s head to a bike shop to get a tube for your bike first though,” he suggested and I complied. We found a local bike store and once inside began perusing the items. We quickly found the tube we needed and then had to hold each other back from buying everything else we might ever need for a bike. That store was very dangerous.
“I don’t have a bike lock.”
“You need a new seat.”
“I love these pink handles.”
“Let’s ask about bike pumps.”
In the end, we left the store with a tube and a bike pump, despite my objections. “Why do I need a bike pump when the only time I ride my bike is when I’m with either you or Chris, and you both have pumps I can use?” But he bought it anyway because sometimes he’s just as bull-headed as I am.
When we got out to our cars, he handed me the tube and bike pump and said, “Happy birthday,” sheepishly shrugging his shoulders and managing a smile.
Oh my god, he didn’t get me a real present.
“Thanks,” I said, and hurriedly closed the door on my car and blinked a few times before pulling out of the parking lot and heading on to Chris and Michelle’s.
My heart sank. He didn’t get me a present.
He bought me a tube and a bike pump which I didn’t even want. He bought me a present he wanted. Wanted me to have, but still - something I didn’t want or need. I’ve been talking about the importance of this birthday for a month and had the whole day planned, pro-actively, to make sure I spent it doing things I enjoy with people I enjoy, and he showed up an hour and a half late and couldn’t plan ahead enough to buy me a real present, something meaningful that suggested he cares?
I was dying. While I know presents are not the point of birthdays or holidays, they are nevertheless important to me. I’m a gift-giver. I love picking out things that are special that I think people will like and when I have money, I buy those things, write a little card, and give the gift. I love it. And I love receiving gifts the same way. It’s my love language. I blame my father who spoiled us as little girls with presents hidden in the pockets of trench coats, sitting in the carseats when we opened the door, discovered at the end of treasure hunts with clues we had to decipher to find. But right now, I was blaming the boyfriend. My no good, never on time, couldn’t plan ahead if his life depended on it, lazy ass boyfriend who I know just slept all day on Monday and even came into Austin on Tuesday for a voice lesson (and could have just swung by Parts & Labor my favorite store to grab a tee-shirt or necklace), didn’t get me a present.
I got a bike tube and pump that he bought in front of me and handed to me at the car.
I have to end this, I thought. I can’t keep getting disappointed at every holiday. Hell, we broke up once over Christmas, why not break up for good on my birthday?! Seems sadly perfect! It's just that I can’t keep doing this. I know I’m high maintenance, but I’m not that horrible of a person. All I want is for him to take off work one day and show up on time with a present in his hand. Surely some boy somewhere likes me enough to bring me a present on my birthday!
My mind began reeling through the dates I’ve had over the last few years. None of them very notable and none of them lasted very long. Then my mind moved to sadder more far away places, and played over the men who made it into the small corners of my heart and left a little bit of themselves inside. I grew more frustrated and even frightened. “All I want is a diamond nose ring!” I cried out loud in my car choking back the tears. Is that too much to ask?
I felt like Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. All she wanted was a stamp in her passport that said “Italy.” All I wanted was, well, a nose ring. And love. I guess we both wanted the love presupposed behind the stamp and the stud.
We arrived at Chris and Michelle’s and I got out of my car resigned to the fact that I would have to break up with the boyfriend… tomorrow. No sense ruining today with that. I mean, I’d bought us tickets to the theater for later that night! I was just going to have to put on my game face and get through the rest of the day.
“I got you one more thing at the bike store,” the boyfriend said, getting out of his car. “While you were in the bathroom.” He handed me a small box. “It’s a patch kit.”
“Thanks,” I replied, un-enthused, and opened the trunk of my car to get out the cooler for the pool.
“Open the kit.”
“So you can see what’s in it.”
I was so pissed. I pulled open the box. Why did he have to show me how the patch kit works right now? I don’t care about this! Could he be more clueless?
I pulled a little plastic bag out of the kit.
“What’s that?” he prompted me.
I looked again, and against my will, a smile began to creep onto my face. “Is it a nose ring?” I asked, incredulous. He began jumping up and down, pleased not only that he’d pleased me, but surprised me too.
“But I’m so mad at you!” I said, smiling through my shame. “I thought…” I trailed off.
I thought. I thought. I thought. All I ever do is think. I analyze and over-analyze and assume that people will never change and that I’ll never find love. Not that love comes in a 1/8 caret stud that gets shoved up one’s nose, but it’s the symbolism of the matter. I assume and judge and exhaust myself while hope battles despair inside my brain and resignation wins in my heart. Or because I can’t stand to be made a fool, I end up alone again.
But not right now. Right now I am not alone. I may feel a fool, but I'm not alone. Right now I may be a repentant and embarrassed girl who will cry if she wants to on her birthday, but at least I’m with a man who, as it turns out, loves me anyway. A man who loves me despite my lists and organization and obsession with holidays. A man who loves me enough to hide a real diamond nose ring in a bicycle patch kit while I’m in the next car over practicing my break-up speech.
No wonder they say fools fall in love...