Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dear Rick Springfield...

Dear Rick,
     I'm a terrible girlfriend.  I have put my own needs ahead of yours for the last time. You see, you have been there for me on oh-so-many occasions. You've never let me down. You've been on time for our dates throughout the years, and the words you've said to me have meant so, so much. You've given me hugs when I needed them, and shared your soul.  But I suck.  At the first sign of inconvenience, I bailed on you.  Stood you up.  Left you hanging.

I blame it on old age.  Years ago, pre-kid, the eight-hour drive to Myrtle Beach on a Friday night for a Saturday night show didn't even cause me to blink twice.  And that one paid off, in spades.  You wrapped your arm around me like an old friend while I tried not to pass out.  And it was a great night.
But I'm sure you understand.  You'd understand that the last couple of weeks have been very trying for me.  You'd understand the need to recharge and just exist for a little while.  You'd probably even understand that it was a really tough choice for me, one that I'm second-guessing even now, knowing there's no way I could jump in the car right now and drive really fast and still make it to the show tonight.  I don't know if you'd understand the tears I stupidly shed (or that I'm shedding now) when I made that final decision, but then again, that wasn't really about you.  It wasn't even about the waste of the money I spent on Gold Circle seats months ago, when it seemed like Myrtle Beach was the closest you'd come to me. That was about being stuck, straddling a decision like an ever-widening gap, then having to make a quick, final attempt to get both legs on solid ground.  And maybe, just maybe, about knowing you'd been closer and I missed those opportunities, too.

But, see...I don't think I can explain it.  My priorities are just different right now.  It's not that I'm forsaking you for another.  That would never happen.  It's just that I need to focus on myself a little, not in a narcissistic kind of way, but in a hold-myself-together kind of way.  Too many changes in too short a time requiring too much of my physical and emotional energy have just left nothing else.  And I couldn't do it.

So, have a great show tonight.  You'll be on my mind.  I'll be wishing I were center stage for "Human Touch."  I'll be jealous of other women getting Rick-sweated upon.  I'll be wondering if we'd have had a chance to talk before the show, and if Andrew would have gotten to talk to you again and tell you how much he loves "If Wishes Were Fishes" because you drop a couple of F-bombs.  But I'll also be braless in my jammies by about ten o'clock, and my feet will be recovering from wearing dressy shoes to school all week.  I'll be snuggled up with the blankets pulled up to my chin and a glass of the red wine we love so much on my nightstand...and if I want, I can YouTube you from the comfort of my air-conditioned room without worrying about drunks pissing me off, or traffic, or anything else.

And I know you'd understand.
Love, Me

Friday, July 29, 2016

And the Nomination Goes to...

This little nugget started out as a Facebook post, but when I went past three paragraphs, I decided that this was a better venue for my ramblings, and also less likely to get my blood pressure elevated as I was forced to deal with comments from the masses.  We all know I can't ignore things very well, so I'm much better off this way.  The root of it is that I'm not trying to get into a political argument with anyone today, but I AM marking the moment in time for my son, in the hopes that he doesn't have to rely solely on his fading memories in later years, as I do.

You see, he watched the DNC with me all week (the RNC last week, too, because we believe in being well-informed and listening to all sides, and checking facts, even when we don't agree with the opinion), and he stayed up with me last night as well.

He humored me while I told him that someday he will be able to tell his kids that he remembers seeing our first black President speak on the soccer field at JMU after freezing to death for hours and then being disappointed when we didn't get into the official speech in the Convo.
Barack Obama at JMU October 28, 2008

He also humored me while I told him to look around and remember what was happening while Hillary made her acceptance speech as the first female presidential nominee--his father asleep and snoring in the chair, the "porch kitties" chasing moths attracted to the light shining through the window behind the couch, and his sentimental old mom, who was moved to tears and applause, first by Mr. Khizr Khan, then by Hillary's speech.  Don't jump to conclusions, this isn't about Hillary, per se, but because it's been too long in the making.  The fact that I even have to celebrate the nomination of a woman as groundbreaking in 2016 should be cause for dismay.

Save your political comments of disgust or whatever...this isn't about whom I've voted for, or for whom I intend to vote.  This is about moments in history, and I want to make sure he can say, "I remember when..."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

On Facing Fears, and Former Students...

Unalome tattoos.  If it matters, mine is most like the far left image.  
We just returned from a week-long family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It's important to note that this is the first time we have attempted this as a family since the summer of 2009.  The significance of this is that that last summer trip really was a last summer trip for one of us.  That's not the focus of this post, but it does contribute.

I have this...problem.  Significant dates in my life, usually traumas of some sort, get tagged in my brain and remembered.  I have trouble remembering when the good things happen, but things that rip my guts out pop up in their little anniversary outfits and kick me in the teeth on a pretty consistent basis.  Sometimes the teeth-kicking is based on a calendar date, but other times, it's just the "oh, the last time I was here" thoughts that get me.  So, this was one of those things.  The last time we did this, Edna was still with us.  The last time we did this, things were very different.  The last time we did this, I was a different person than I am now.  But again, not the focus of the post, just the backstory.

Anyway, it was the same week seven years ago that we did this last.  To oversimplify, it's also a time of transition for me professionally and personally, and I also had some other "anniversaries" in my head rolling around, when I happened to come across an image of a tattoo that really called my name.  I've wanted a tattoo for a couple of years.  In fact, it was supposed to be my birthday present in 2014, but I just never got around to it.  No, that's not entirely true--I had plenty of time to get one, but I didn't know HOW.  The same fear, if you will, stops me from going to get a pedicure without backup from my girls.  I don't know how things are done, so I just don't do them.  Easy solution, but also the wussy way out.  So this tattoo yelled my name, and my ever-courageous (and sometimes slightly scary) baby sister made the appointment.

I could have chosen an ankle or a thigh or a shoulder for my first ink...but I rarely do things the easy way, and I chose my sternum instead.  Worrying about the pain a little, I had ONE cocktail before we left, and chose undergarments and a shirt that I thought would provide easy and modest access to the area. I had the distraction of a ceiling fan accident (another story) to distract me just before departure, and I was feeling pretty good, pretty decisive about the whole thing.  A rarity for me, so it had to be acted upon.  Not even learning that I'd have to disrobe before the procedure really slowed me down much--it increased the anxiety level, of course, but after all--these people are professionals!

Turns out, one is required to show ID before a tattoo, even if you're clearly over the age of consent, and when the artist read out my small town name as if he recognized it, warning signs went off in my head.  Nobody knows where this town is unless you've lived here, and if that's true, you've usually tried to forget.  But he knew it, and then elaborated by saying he grew up around here and...Went.  To.  My.  School.  You know, the one where I teach?  Oh, and, "You were my 7th grade English teacher!" And here are those band-aids to satisfy your modesty.  Band-aids.  The little teeny ones.  Which makes them the only little teeny things on my body, if you catch my drift.  I avoid the grocery store at home in order to avoid students and former students, and you're telling me I'm five hours away from home and about to set the girls free...and, eeeek!

If I've ever felt like dashing out of a place of business, that was it.  But I sucked it up.  I was on a mission, the tattoo was calling my name, and I knew if I didn't do it then, I'd never get that one OR any other one.  It had to happen.  So I sucked it up.  I held on to my shirt until the very last possible minute, covered up to the best of my half-naked ability, and counted holes in the ceiling tiles as I anticipated the pain that I hoped would distract me from my psychological discomfort.  And it.  Was a piece.  Of cake.  The pain was minimal, the artist was ultra-professional, even when I threatened to time travel and put him in silent lunch, and I love the tattoo itself.  (Shout-out to AJ at Wicked Parrot Tattoos in Kill Devil Hills, should you be looking for a vacation tattoo.)

Symbolically, it represents the path to enlightenment.  The curves and spirals are the difficulties of life, the challenges, the times we don't know where our paths are headed.  The top, the straight part, is where we figure our proverbial shit out, become "enlightened," if you will.  The dots at the top allegedly represent death, the end of the journey.  As I write that, I realize that it's like punctuation, and you know I LOVE that connection to the grammar queen in me.  I have dots at the bottom, too, which to me, mean that everything comes full circle.  Emotionally, it is even more significant.  It marks a time when I faced not one fear, but SEVERAL, and came out on the other end better for it.  It also marks this time of transition, a connection that I will always make when I look at it.  And it replaces some memories, or signifies them, in a way that I could never have done on my own.  Those are all my "squiggles," and my getting through them and coming out better and stronger on the other end is my straight line, my goal in life...and it's closer all the time.

Friday, May 20, 2016

On Trust Issues and Disbelief

Blind faith is not my strong suit.  The other day, a young lady who was helping me direct our most recent play came up to me and said, "Hold out your hand," and she held her hand above mine as if she were holding something inside.  I panicked a little.  In the span of a second or two, all sorts of things blasted through my brain---things like, "Maybe she's putting a spider in my hand!"  or 'What if it's something gross?"  I had nothing to fear or worry about from this young lady, so I don't know why I expected it to be a fiery hot thumbtack or some sort of weird creature that might bore a hole in my palm.  But I did.  I expected the worst.

Knowing that that's an issue of mine, I went against my better judgment and held out my hand, cringing the whole time.  Every bone in my body screamed at me to pull my hand back in the nick of time, but I didn't, because I KNOW that my instincts and emotional reflexes aren't always the best. Once I held out my hand, she laced her fingers in mine and held my hand and swung back and forth and made some silly comment and laughed.  I should have relaxed at that point, but I didn't.  I laughed it off and flung her hand off of mine and made some smartass comment about being convinced she was putting boogers in my hand.  

I don't trust easily, even when harmless or stupid things are happening.  A trust fall, you know those team-building things that people do on retreats, just before they sing "Kumbaya" and make s'mores? Well, a trust fall for me would be an emotional disaster, even if I didn't end up in a pile on the floor. There is no way that I would ever blindly fall backwards and expect someone else to catch me. Instead, I would expect the opposite, that they would drop me, let me down.

It's become a viral thing lately for people to stand on busy streets or in marketplaces blindfolded with "Hug Me" signs hung around their neck.  I saw a few of those myself the last time I ventured onto the Charlottesville Mall.  I was fascinated and enthralled.  I could have sat and watched approaching huggers and their reactions all day, but it was really the "huggee" that intrigued me more.  I was too squeamish to walk over and give hugs.  I don't readily touch people, not even people I know well---there was no way I was going to hug a random stranger on the street.  (Besides, in typical non-trusting manner, what if it's a trick?  A  candid camera experiment?  The horror!)  So there is no fathomable way I'd ever stand blindfolded anywhere, much less with an invitation for bodily contact hanging around my neck.
I don't think I'm naturally suspicious--I don't automatically assume that people have malicious intent. In fact, I think I do quite the opposite. I give the benefit of the doubt and look for the good in people  perhaps more than I should (and sometimes it bites me in the ass).  So how does that fit?  It comes down to a lack of evidence.  I need evidence to support my trust, to support my patience, to support my energy and effort. And if it's not there…if I'm working on blind trust…well, then my brain does its own thing, my psyche jumps in just for shits and giggles, and all proverbial hell breaks loose.

I don't often quote 80s hair bands as being words that speak from my heart.  But Poison's "Give Me Something to Believe In" has been running through my brain the last few days.  They're singing about faith in a bigger sense, not the day-to-day trust in other people.  But for me, they're the same thing.  I need something to believe in, and I need the evidence.  And if that evidence isn't there, well, I'll keep looking until it is.