Always Back Up Your Work
One of the most important things you can do as a blogger is back up your work. Technology fails and the last thing you want is to lose all of your hard work. It is also one of the reasons that you want to be self hosted because if you don’t you risk losing everything for a different reason.
The platform you use could go out of business or change their terms of service and you could lose everything that way too. Me? I am neurotic about backing things up. I have secondary blogs that contain all of my posts, hard drives and plugins that I use.
In fact this post is part backup. The words just below contain part of the story that I am working on for Nanowrimo. You could read it here or you can go here and read all of the current copy. The excerpt I have included here is pretty long, but I feel good about it.
FYI- This is a work of fiction that I am preparing for Nanowrimo.
My name is Jack. I am a single father who works as a journalist for the local paper. I have a a bi-weekly column that is read by more than 1 million people and I am the author of three books, with a contract to write more.
On the weekends I coach my sonâ€™s soccer team and drive my daughter to dance class. I have two girlfriends who really are just that, girls who are friends. Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between a girl friend and a wife. They both tell you what to do and neither put out.
I suppose that the real distinction is that the girl friend doesnâ€™t receive a piece of my paycheck each month so that they can live in my house with Rudy, the flying Dutchman.
I know, that sounds overly bitter. My therapist told me that I should be happy about this. She said that it would be good for the ex to have a man in her life, that it would make her happier and as a result she would be easier to deal with.
I tried to look at it that way, I really did, but there is 6â€™2 of stupid preventing me from doing so. The same 6â€™2 of stupid that is shtupping my wife, sleeping in my bed and enjoying the house that was the fruits of my labor.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, weâ€™re better apart. It was a long time coming and something that I should have done years ago. I didnâ€™t mind her taking the house because it was easier than uprooting the kids. But I wonâ€™t lie about being irritated about the cold Germanic figure that lives there now too.
We might not have had the greatest marriage, but we had a great house.
And now instead of having a bad marriage and a great house I have a bad apartment and a lot of freedom. So I suppose that there is something to be said for that. The girl friends keep telling me that if I moved out of the bad apartment Iâ€™d find it easier to date.
I keep telling them that I donâ€™t want to date, but they ignore me. So then I tell them that misery loves company which is why they want me to get involved with another woman. I think that it is hysterical and every time I say this I crack up.
For some odd reason they donâ€™t. And for that same odd reason they arenâ€™t interested in hearing about what I think women are good for. That is ok, I donâ€™t really want to tell them.
A while back my daughter found some old love letters that a lost love once sent to me. She had a field day with that. Ever since then she has been pushing me to try and look her up. She tells me that she can tell from the letters that she really loved me and that no woman who wrote those things ever stops loving the man she wrote them about.
I smiled and thanked her. She smiled back and told me that I was too young to give up. I think that the girl friends and her must be talking about me when I am not around, because I am getting tag teamed.
Anyway, I am on deadline for my next column. Since the ladies of my life are so intent on pushing relationships upon me I decided to show them by writing about the end of relationships. Something really bitter and biting, that ought to shut their mouths.
So here you have my first draft of my next column. I think that it has real potential.
Always On My Mind– Willie Nelson
Thanks to technology there are a million new ways to break someoneâ€™s heart. A million new methods of letting someone that you once loved or perhaps still do that you just canâ€™t do it anymore.
In the age of instant gratification and social media it wonâ€™t be long before we hear/read the tales of dismissal. Husbands who let their wives know they are leaving them by unfriending them on Facebook or girlfriends who let their ex know their new status by tweeting it.
It is kind of funny in anÂ I am not smilingÂ kind of way to think how these time saving tools of communication can take the intimate and personal and turn it into something mechanical, cold and sterile.
What do you call people who do this? Awful, callous and cruel come to mind. Descriptive words that fail to capture the essence of how truly horrible being dumped in this fashion can be.
But letâ€™s face it, being dumped isnâ€™t a pleasant experience. It is not necessarily easier to stand or sit in front of someone and listen to them tell you that they have lost that loving feeling. I suppose that it doesnâ€™t make a difference, even if they havenâ€™t lost it, but are ending things because circumstances make it impossible to continue.
In the end you still ask those questions. You still wonder what you did or what you could have done. Surely there is a word or gesture that would have spared you the angel of death speech. Had you only known then they would have passed over and youâ€™d be ensconced in your cocoon of love and happiness.
The End Of a Marriage
Iâ€™ll say this much for divorce, it makes for great blog fodder. There is something wrong about that, isnâ€™t there. Shouldnâ€™t there be some rule that says that being this connected is wrong. Isnâ€™t there some rule or law of silence about this. I am not really supposed to be able to communicate such intimate thoughts.
The pain of a broken heart isnâ€™t really something that you should be privy too, or maybe you should be. Maybe that is the point of all this. I act as the exhibitionist and you act as the voyeur. I pull aside the shades so that you can look inside the window and see just what is that I am doing.
And that is how you get the great image of â€œ6â€™2 of stupid that is shtupping my wife, sleeping in my bed and enjoying the house that was the fruits of my labor.â€
Really, I should be more grown up about this than I am. I should be happy that he has taken the burden off of my hands, but that is not totally true either. The end of the relationship is a mixture of relief and sadness. It is a mixture of success and failure.
I try not to tell the girl friends about this feeling because every time I do they interpret it as a sign that I need a new woman. They read the last column and told me that they thought that it was brilliant and that I was dead on about how awful breaking up by email is. Apparently this sort of thing is far more prevalent than I realized.
Just my luck really. I was trying to portray myself as being bitter, cold and unfeeling and they took it as being sensitive. Or maybe they didnâ€™t. Maybe this is all part of the stupid plan that they and the daughter are trying to put into place. You know, the whole lost love deal.
Earlier this week the girl friends slipped it into conversation, how some people never forget walking down Coventry or chasing each other through grapevines. The whole gist of it was their female version of some romantic tale in which I contact that great lost love of mine and we suddenly find our way back to each other.
I must admit that I find a certain attraction to it. I have wondered what she is up to and where she is at. From time to time I have remembered things and wondered if she has too. But that could easily be me. After all I am the one who is in this position. I am sure that she is happy with her life. I am just a good memory relegated to the unimportant and irrelevant pile.
At least that is what I suspect, but I admit that part of me wonders if that is true. I also admit to relearning the finer points of being heartbroken. I hadnâ€™t ever planned on becoming reacquainted with it. I rather imagine that it is similar to a prisoner revisiting his cell.
You know all the corners intimately, but you never really want to step back inside, even if the door is open. Except in my case the door swung shut behind me.
The good news is that all of the crap that I left here is still here. Same books and toys on the shelves just waiting to be played with again. The bad news is that all of the crap that I left here the last time is still here. The questions and hard feelings and the sense of loneliness. The empty ache is back, an old friend that I didnâ€™t want to see again.
But the good news is that I know from experience that this isnâ€™t a life sentence. Iâ€™ll bust out of this joint like I did the last time. Only this time around things will be different.
Of course I said that same thing last time, but this time it is true. This time it is going to be different because this time a million people will read about this in my column. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but weâ€™ll find out.
Stay tuned to this bat channel and assuming that the paper doesnâ€™t fire me or go under from a lack of advertising dollars and youâ€™ll find out what happens, or not.
A 21st Century Break Up
â€œWell now, everything dies, baby, thats a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City.â€
Went to lunch with the girl friends and the daughter. It wasnâ€™t my choice. I was far more interested in hiding out in my apartment. It might not be much to look at, but it is mine. Simple furniture, my books, music and a decent television. Reminds me a bit of how I described my first place after college to my parents.
But there is a difference this time around. The refrigerator is full and there is more than $25 dollars sitting in my bank account. Not to mention that the furniture isnâ€™t a bunch of hand me downs from friends and relatives.
The best part is that it is mine and mine alone. I am happy being by myself. I donâ€™t worry about who left dishes in the sink or if there are socks on the floor because if there are, I know who is responsible for it.
I had intended to make myself a sandwich, grab a beer and watch football. Later on I was going to take a nap and maybe start reading that book about the history of Scotland. It was a good plan, but the girls had other ideas.
When the telephone rang I didnâ€™t bother to check the caller ID because I already knew who it was going to be. She called every weekend to check on me and every weekend I gave her the same response. Told her that I was fine, but if it would make her feel better I would let her iron my clothes and perform other services as needed.
It was the sort of obnoxious remark that I used as a shield and on most people it would work, but not her. After 30 some years of friendship she ignored it. Didnâ€™t faze her, in fact I am not even sure it even registered.
But I was wrong about the caller. This time around it was my daughter. As soon as I heard her say â€œHi daddyâ€ I knew I was screwed. I am a lot of things, but I am not stupid. It didnâ€™t take a genius to recognize that tone of voice. It was the same one she had used her entire life with me, that one that girls use to melt dads heart.
I placed my hand over the telephone and cursed. â€œDamn!â€ But there was no point in arguing with her. She is my girl and she is just as determined as I am. Better to just roll along and see if there was an easier way to get out from under their scheme.
Earlier that week she had shared her thoughts with me. She had told me that she was very concerned about me, that she didnâ€™t think I gave myself enough credit or that I did a good job of taking care of myself. I had thanked her for her concern and reiterated that I was quite capable of taking care of me. Been doing it all my life, now wasnâ€™t much different.
She smiled and wrapped her hand around my bicep and asked me to make a muscle. Damn, damn, damn. I keep forgetting this kid has made a life time project of studying dad. But I didnâ€™t crack. I made a muscle and asked her if she wanted a piggy back ride. She laughed and told me that she was too big for one. I told her that she never would be too big and changed the subject.
Not that it mattered. She just went with it and here we were a few days later, the three of them and me. As we sat at the table I made a crack about feeling just like Hugh Hefner. It was met with a stony glare and sighs all around. Because I am both stubborn and prone to stupidity I told them that they were wasting their time and that we should find a different project. Maybe we could go out and save the environment.
Instead I was treated to a story about how things work in the 21st century. They told me that the Internet had killed the idea of a clean breakup and that now it was really easy to find people and or check up on them. I smiled at the three and reminded them that I probably knew more about computers and the net than they did.
That earned me more stares and sighs. And then I learned that all of them hadÂ googledÂ the name of an old boyfriend once or twice. They assured me that it was just curiosity that made them do it. I looked at my daughter and said that curiosity was how I became a father. She glared at me and asked her companions why they put up with me. She had to because of genetics, but they had a choice.
Before anyone could answer I went into a five minute lecture/rant about minding your own business. They were silent. And just when I thought that I had convinced them they let me know that they had already done their own checking up.
She was free. She was single and so was I.
That took the wind right out of my sails. I was mildly surprised by the impact. She was single. I stuttered something in response and muttered something about having been kicked in the mouth one time too many.
And then I was silent.
For a moment I was lost in thought. I remembered the fire and the passion. I remembered how she made me feel like there was no one more important or more special. And then I remembered the pain of losing her.
It was like having an arm or a leg cut off. It took a while for those scars to heal, longer than I wanted to admit. And the truth was that I wasnâ€™t even certain if they ever had. I did my best to hide the shock and thanked them all for their concern.
A short time later we got up and left. Out in the parking lot we hugged and kissed each other goodbye and I drove home lost in thought.
Later that night the telephone rang and again I didnâ€™t bother checking the Caller ID. It had to be my daughter and again I was proven wrong. For the next five minutes I listened to her tell me why I should think really hard about things.
â€œShe loved you as much as you loved her,â€ she said. I told her that I wasnâ€™t so sure and that it had seemed far too easy for her to walk away. She snorted into the phone and assured me that I wasnâ€™t the only one with a broken heart. She was just more practical about things than you were or so she claimed.
I thanked her again for her concern and told her that I would think about. A short time later I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering what would happen if I tried to contact her. Would she take the call or respond to the email. I was afraid that she would and afraid that she wouldnâ€™t.
Just before I drifted off to sleep I remembered what it felt like to kiss her and how I couldnâ€™t figure out where I ended and she began. And that was when I realized that I hadnâ€™t ever stopped loving her. It was a bittersweet revelation.
Not the sort of epiphany that I had gone searching for, but that is the joy of life. You never know what is going to happen. So now there are butterflies in my stomach and my heart is pounding. I havenâ€™t made the decision yet what to do, but I am going to have to do it soon.
I suppose the question is will a 21st century break up lead to a 21st century romance. I donâ€™t know the answer but I rather expect that I will soon.
In the interim I think that I am going to unplug my phone and turn off my cellphone. I have had about as much excitement as I can handle for now.
â€œI Donâ€™t Want To Kiss My Husband Ever Againâ€
I have a graphic memory. I dream and think in technicolor or maybe I should say high definition. My dreams are full featured spectacles. It is great when I dream about happy things, but not so good if they are sad or disturbing.
As a young boy I used to wonder if there was a way to control my dreams. I figured that it was nothing more than concentrating hard enough. So I spent more than a few nights lying in bed focused upon whatever it was that I was chasing. Some nights it was images of me chasing down fly balls in Dodger Stadium and or hitting the game winning home run. Other times it was me as a different sort of hero.
I suppose that it is fair to say that in many ways not much has changed. The boy grew into a man who still dreams of playing pro ball or of being a hero. All he needs is a chance. Although to be fair the man recognizes that some dreams will have to remain locked inside the vault.
It was the morning after and I was still in bed. It had taken hours to fall asleep. The news that she was single had a bigger impact upon me than I would have guessed it would. I didnâ€™t want to think about it. Didnâ€™t want to play memory lane. I didnâ€™t want to have one of those dreams and wake up to discover that reality was different than I might want it to be.
The meal with my daughter and the girls was grueling. They didnâ€™t understand that some scars donâ€™t heal. They didnâ€™t understand that I much preferred the safety of my own life. Being single wasnâ€™t so bad. I didnâ€™t worry about forgetting special dates. Never had to try and decipher whether a look or a comment meant that I was in trouble again for some other transgression.
In concept it made a lot of sense to me to say goodbye to women. I knew what I needed to know. I had served a life sentence known as marriage. I helped propagate the species. When I was instructed to go forth and multiply I did it.I listened to them.
That is big stuff, my listening. Ask those who know me and youâ€™ll be told that I have an amazing ability to suddenly go deaf. More than one person called it irritating, but me, I called it survival.
All would be perfect, or close to it, were it not for my daughter and the girls. Did I mention that they donâ€™t like it when I call them girls. Sometimes I like to aggravate them by talking about how you canâ€™t trust a broad, not a single one of them.
The thing is, they know me too well. They refused to let me bait them into a different topic. They have an agenda and I am at the top of the list. And people wonder why I say I feel like I have a target on my back.
Midway through our meal Sheri asked me if I remembered what her marriage was like. I smiled and told her that she should have married me. That earned me another one of those withering looks and a sharp rebuke from my daughter.
Great, and to think that I thought that I owned the look and the lecture she gave me. But because I am rarely at a loss for words I told her that I have been inoculated against that sort of thing. She of course didnâ€™t care. Damn, if she isnâ€™t like me. Moments like this make me wonder if I should be proud or frightened of her.
But I digress.
Sheri jumped back into her story and asked me if I knew how she realized that her marriage was over. I was tempted to provide another smart ass remark, but something told me that it was smarter to stay quiet.
â€œWhen I realized that I never wanted to kiss my husband again, I knew that it was over.â€
â€œWell, we share that in common. I never want to kiss your husband again either. For that matter I donâ€™t want to sleep with him, he snores far too loudly,â€ I said.
I know, the smart ass remark didnâ€™t help, but how could I let that one go. Again she ignored me and continued on.â€
â€œWhen you find the kind of love and relationship that you had you donâ€™t let go.â€
That wiped the smile off of my face. I looked at her and thanked her for her opinion. Before anyone could go on I explained that it had been made very clear to me that she was done. It didnâ€™t matter what I wanted, or what I thought. She was done.
My daughter came around the table and hugged me. She told me that she had no idea that my feelings for her were so deep and that I owed it to myself to not just ignore the opportunity.
I was surprised by my anger. I did my best not to bark at her, but I am not sure that I was successful. â€œThis is not reality. This is not some stupid movie where I get to ride up to her ranch, grab her and ride off into the sunsetâ€
â€œShe gave up on us and she gave up on me.â€
For a moment there was silence. It took me a moment to realize that both my jaws and fists were clenched. I took a deep breath and thanked them for their thinking about me.
Sheri smiled and told me that she was sorry. In a soft voice she said that I needed to remember that some loves never really die and that we had been victims of bad timing. â€œCall her. There is a reason why you are being given a second chance.â€
I smiled back at her. â€œIâ€™ll think about it.â€ And then I said a silent prayer of thanks that none of them knew how hard my heart was pounding.
Once Upon A Time
One of the best parts of my job is that I can do it from almost anywhere. All I need is my cellphone, a laptop and an internet connection and I am good to go. It is one of the perks that come with the position, not to mention the joy of dealing with the most cantankerous editor ever.
He and I have a real love hate relationship going on, and that is putting it mildly. It wouldnâ€™t be fair to say that we love to hate each other. But it would be fair to say that I love to aggravate him. I probably shouldnâ€™t. It is a bit unfair to always press his buttons, but I have issues with authority. So does he.
For some reason he finds it necessary to try and tell me what to do and how to do it. This usually inspires me to do the opposite. Somewhere out there my mother is shaking her head about this. She told me many times that it is better to get along with people, that I donâ€™t always have to be such a pain-in-the-ass. I love you mom, but you know that it is not going to happen, so why keep trying.
â€œBig Edâ€, the editor, that is what I call him, likes to have regular meetings with me. He says that they are not serious, just an easy way to communicate. The thing is that I prefer to communicate by email or telephone and he likes face to face.
â€œBig Edâ€ doesnâ€™t like being called â€œBig Ed.â€ His real name is Harold but if you call him Harry he gets upset. It probably has something to do with having virtually none on his head. You also canâ€™t refer to him as â€œHarold, the Hairy, the Regent of Rogaineâ€ because he doesnâ€™t like that either.
Truth is that I canâ€™t say that I really like it. It is not particularly funny, but it gets a reaction from him and that I do like. Did I mention that he is very particular about where things go on his desk. I like to move his stapler around. Again, it is not funny and it is quite juvenile. But it tends to help him come to the proper conclusion that Jack and office visits are not a good mix.
With that sort of introduction you might wonder why the â€œbalding behemothâ€ doesnâ€™t release me from his tender mercies. The answer is that I am that good and so is he. Together we have found a recipe that works and both of us have been around long enough to recognize that you donâ€™t mess with something like this.
It also doesnâ€™t hurt that Harold went through his own divorce and was sensitive to my situation. He made a point of approaching me more than once to offer a friendly ear. I was grateful and appreciative of it. I made a point to thank him and then told him that if brought up a â€œfriendly earâ€ to me again I would sue for sexual harrassment.
He quickly apologized and changed the subject at which time I threatened to sue him for not making a pass at me. You should have seen how red his face got with that remark. Poor Harold didnâ€™t know what to do. I almost felt bad for him because I knew the feeling.
Getting divorced was sad and exciting. Even though I knew that it was the right thing to do it was hard to accept that something that had seemed so right was over. I need to qualify that. I think that at one time it felt that way. I mean, I wouldnâ€™t have gotten married if it didnâ€™t seem right.
That was something that I just wasnâ€™t sure of. I couldnâ€™t decide if I really had felt that way or if I had convinced myself that at one time I had. None of it really mattered. I had checked out of the marriage long before the divorce, I just hadnâ€™t realized it.
For a long time I had thought that the problems were all related to external influences. When the kids are young they suck the life out of you. It doesnâ€™t mean that you donâ€™t love them or have a single regret because they are amazing. They make you better people.
But they also make you crazy people. They take and take and take. And then they takes some more. During the week there is the daily grind of getting them to school, helping them with their homework and all of the extracurricular activities.
Weekends werenâ€™t any less busy. There are birthday parties, soccer games, ballet and when they get older reports for school.
And did I mention the challenges posed by preteen and teenage romance. I almost killed half the boys in my daughterâ€™s middle school. As far as I know she didnâ€™t date any of them, but she and her friends swooned and cried about them more times than I can count.
In fact I intend to kick the crap out of some kid named Jason for the simple reason of just because. Just because translates into you dated my daughter for two years in high school. Two years of pretending to be Eddie Haskell. Two years of trying to bullshit me into believing that you werenâ€™t trying to get into her pants every day.
Stupid prick forgets that I used to be him. I know every line and trick for making a girl think that you think she is special. You are not unique. And yes I know that other boys did it too. And yes I know about karma and all that kind of crap. But you just rubbed me the wrong way and now I want you to give me an excuse.
The thing is that even though they have long since broken up if anything happened I would still be the bad guy. She doesnâ€™t love him anymore, or so she says, but I know my girl. Actually maybe it is because I know my girl that I donâ€™t need to do anything to him.
Scratch that, my fragile male ego canâ€™t accept it. I am ordering one ass kicking off of the menu of life. One righteous ass kicking so that I can wipe that stupid smirk off of his lips. One dayâ€¦.
I had planned on working at the beach today, right next to lifeguard station number six. The car was loaded with my gear and I was just about to leave when Harold called to ask what time I was going to come in. I tried to pretend that the connection was bad but he was ready and asked me if I had checked my email.
He had forwarded an email that I had sent him two weeks prior. In the email I had told him that I would be delighted to meet with him to discuss my latest assignment. I hate when I screw up like that. I silently cursed my own stupidity and made a note to remind myself never to commit to anything in writing.
I told him that I would see him soon and hung up the phone. I made a quick trip out to the car to grab my gear and switch it with the business stuff. One of these days I have to win the lottery or invent something because this working stuff is getting old.
A short time later I was in the car and headed towards the office. Talk radio and the sounds of traffic filled the silence and I found myself lost in thought.
Hanging Out With Hairy
Inside the car I remembered that I hate commuting. The fact that it would have taken me just as long to get to the beach as it did to travel to the office was immaterial. Normally I would have spent the ride plotting ways to prick â€œBig Ed.â€ The precious minutes of beach time that I was wasting would have been devoted to thinking about how many different ways I could call Harold, â€œHairy.â€
Did I mention that at times I can be juvenile, selfish and spiteful. Not my finer traits, but hey, at least I am aware of them.
This time was different. Instead of plotting my silly revenge, enjoying music or listening to the ridiculous rantings of the anonymous talk show callers I was lost in a place that I wasnâ€™t so sure I wanted to revisit. I was back in the past. It was a bit like walking into my garage. There were all sorts of treasures inside and a bunch of junk that I probably should get rid of, but never had.
I have always liked thinking of my memory as being a big garage or warehouse full of stuff. It works for me. There is something appealing about it. Whenever I need to remember something I simply walk into the garage and find the box it is located in. The problem is that like my real garage those boxes are not only dusty but they sometimes include items that I didnâ€™t expect to find.
Back when I was married the garage was my refuge. It was my cave, my domain and all who entered it understood that it was dangerous to screw with things without my approval. Not surprisingly the ex thought that different rules applied to her. Although to be fair I learned long ago that once a woman starts sleeping with you she assumes certain liberties, like trying to convince you that Laura Ashley sheets are cool for the master bedroom.
My internal monologue was disrupted by the squealing by a loud thump, thump, thump coming from the car next to me.Â If you want to piss me off it is always wise to play your stereo at levels loud enough to make the windows shake. I have said more than once that if I am ever involved in a road rage incident it is going to beÂ because of that.
The noise got my attention and I made a point of looking around to see where it was coming from. There was a large SUV in front of me that seemed to be theÂ culprit.Â Sometimes it is hard to tell. The noise is so loud that it could just asÂ easily be coming from the side or behind.
The license plate frame on the SUV said something about being a proud student of Grapevine Community College. The G.C.C. administration should be proud of this sort of representation. It really says something. Then again, I am a part time writing instructor there so maybe I should be more charitable with how I think of the students.
The writing gig isnâ€™t bad. For the past ten years or so I teach one or two creative writing courses each semester. In the beginning I wasnâ€™t so sure about it. They didnâ€™t have an existing curriculum so I had to develop one on my own. That was supposedly going to lead to my earning more but I am not really sure that ever happened.
That first year I taught by Braille. It was a lot of touch, feel and react. I wouldnâ€™t advise doing it that way. The department chair made a point of instructing me not to do it that way. He gave me a lot of good advice that I ignored. Sometimes my issue with authority causes trouble for me.
But we got through it. Over time I developed a teaching style and I found that I was pretty good at it. Most of my students were truly interested in learning so it made it easier to engage them. And of course it didnâ€™t hurt that quite a few were relatively attractive women.
On a side note let me mention that you donâ€™t want to tell woman that she is relatively good looking. It is the kind of remark that creates a minefield that no man wants to walk through. It is not that different from being asked if a particular item of clothing makes her look fat.
Say that she is relatively good looking and she will set you up for a verbal beating. You can almost guarantee that it will be an interrogation of what and who she is relatively good looking compared to. If you suffer from the same fits of stupidity that afflict me it will lead you to saying that she is far more attractive than a hippo or warthog.
Youâ€™ll say it with a big smile that you think sheâ€™ll find endearing and then after she has eviscerated youâ€™ll wonder why you didnâ€™t just save time by hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.
In case you are wondering I sometimes use that as part of my lecture. The students enjoy laughing at my expense. It is not unusual for the women to laugh the hardest or tell me that I should know better. I smile and shrug my shoulders. The guys usually like this too. After class a few of them will come and share their own war stories with me.
I like to try and use these kinds of stories because they work well as ice breakers. Get the class to laugh. Get them interested and engaged and it becomes far more interesting to everyone.
Not everyone appreciates these tales. Every class is filled with at least one person who doesnâ€™t appreciateÂ a self deprecating sense of humor. Did I mention that they are usually female. Is this coincidence? I think not. That leads to another useful safety tip for the men.Â Donâ€™t try to use that last line or any derivation of it in class. Youâ€™ll do great with the women who likes to hang out with the boys.
But invariably youâ€™ll upset one or more who will decide that you are sexist and in need of being reported to whatever authority they think will screw you the hardest.
Ok, I admit it, I am a bit bitter and irked with the fairer sex. But I have a good reason, really, I do. I can tell you her name, her sizes. Yes, I said sizes, shoe, pants, panties, bra, blouse, whatever. I donâ€™t give a damn whether you think that is cool, weird or what.
I can tell you how tall she is, her weight, what color her eyes are and a million other details. It has been years and I havenâ€™t forgotten what she smells like or how it feels to kiss her. Years later and sometimes when I close my eyes I still see her looking back at me.
Years later and I canâ€™t forget. The last time I saw her we kissed each other goodbye and headed off to our cars.
But I am not going to go there. It took a long time to put it aside. It took a long time to accept that the life I thought we were going to share wasnâ€™t going to happen. Took a long time to convince myself that I couldnâ€™t just wait around, that maybe love wasnâ€™t enough.
And until the girls decided to have lunch with me that was ok. I was ok. Until that little bit about her being single I was ok.
Iâ€™ll say one thing for being distracted, it made the time in the car go by like it was nothing. Of course the downside to that was that I hadnâ€™t spent any time thinking about an idea for my next assignment. And now I had all of five minutes to try to come up with one.
I Will Never Fall In Love Again
I pulled into a parking space, turned off the motor and cursed out loud. The weather outside the car was perfect. Blue skies and just enough heat to make you feel warm were all the reason I needed not to be here. It is a good thing that my skull isnâ€™t transparent because if it was myÂ dear friendÂ Harold would be able to see storm clouds heading his way. With any luck heâ€™d be struck by lightning.
Ok, that is probably unfair. I was semi responsible for this meeting. The company had a funny policy about paying people only for the work they did and not for work that they might do. I had a long conversation with one of the bookkeepers about that one. We got stuck riding an elevator together and since I havenâ€™t a clue what pasty faced number boys are interested I talked about paychecks.
We both learned something that day. He found out that a two minute ride on an elevator can feel like a week in cleveland and I found out that I can babble at length about anything. I know, you already knew that.
By the time I had walked into the office I had figured out that the topic of my next submission was going to be why marriage was the devilâ€™s greatest invention. In my experience it was the closest thing to hell that one could find. Before you go off half cocked you need to understand that the classic definition of hell is wrong. It is not a place of fire and brimstone.
The Definition of Hell
Hell is seeing the love of your life unhappily living with someone else, but pretending to be happy. Hell is being granted a taste of the most incredible relationship and experience of your life and then having it taken away.
ItÂ is like being seated at a table with the greatest feast you have ever seen. The food looks and smells incredible. You look around the table and see that the other guests are having a culinary experience that borders n the orgasmic. Just as you are about to join theÂ festivities you realize that your arms are tied behind you and your jaw is wired shut.
Hell is the real world and that is much worse than anything Dante can come up with.
Well, if there was ever any question about my being a bit bitter there isnâ€™t now. Life is sometimes funny in a way that makes you laugh and sometimes in a way that makes you want to cry.
The first time I had my heart broken was hard. The second time was rough and the third time was ridiculously painful. It was bad enough that I swore that I wouldnâ€™t fall in love again. And for a long time that is how it went. Various women came into my life. Some of them tried to break through the walls that I had erected but none really succeeded.
And then one day she did. One day the wall was up and the next day it was a pile of rubble. It scared me. I was frightened and excited by it all. But she took me by the hand and promised to just love me. I think that was part of what caught me, the â€œI just love youâ€ bit. It was so simple and yet so powerful.
She did and so did I. We just loved each other. It is a cliche, but it felt like a dream. Somewhere along the way we got lost. If I didnâ€™t have my meeting with Harold I might even take the time to tell you how and why. At least I think that I would. Canâ€™t say for certain because I donâ€™t know if I understand it.
So in the time we have before I go off to the meeting let me fill in some details. We fell apart, sort of. Not sure that we ever stopped loving each other, just found ourselves in unfamiliar territory and went separate directions.
She got married and I got married.
I thought that I was in love. I really did. It seemed like it. I guess that it must have felt like it or I wouldnâ€™t have done that whole ring thing.
But here I am today, ringless, wifeless and until the other day very happy. Things were great until they told me about her. I was perfectly fine and now I am not.
Now I find myself on fire for a woman I havenâ€™t seen or spoken to for what seems like forever. Now I find my heart pounding for a woman who probably thinks of me as just another ex. I am sure that she thinks of me fondly, but what are the chances that she feels like I do.
And this sort of talk is part of why I am pissed off with my daughter and the friends. I didnâ€™t want to look at this corner of my closet. I didnâ€™t want to explore the lost ruins to see if any treasure remains.There is a reason why you let sleeping dogs lie.
Sigh. Well, Iâ€™ll put this frustration to good use and go needle the hell out of Harold. If he doesnâ€™t go off on one of this interminably long speeches I still might get to the beach.
Silence Is Golden
I walked into the office, looked at Harold and told him to shut up and listen. Dumber men than I are well aware that it is risky to tell your boss to shut up and listen. But having developed an exceptional urge to swallow my size 12 boot ignored common sense and followed up my opening words with, â€œI said shut up!â€
This went over slightly better than the time I asked him in a restaurant whether it was possible to get his name removed from the National Sex Offenders Registry. That stunt led to my paychecks getting lost and my not receiving assignments for an extended period of time.
It probably could have been much uglier had they had a better staff of writers, but they donâ€™t. While I am not dumb enough to believe I am irreplaceable I do know that none of the others are in my league. Donâ€™t mean to be obnoxious about that, but it is true. My content is cleaner and written faster than theirs and that provides me with a substantial advantage over them.
But it didnâ€™t prevent me from being forced to listen to his lecture about respect, his advice on what divorced men should do and something else that I canâ€™t remember. Truth is that I canâ€™t remember most of what he said. Damn girls and their news managed to rattle my cage in a way that just doesnâ€™t happen.
â€œI remember holdinâ€™ on to you
All them long and lonely nights I put you through
Somewhere in there Iâ€™m sure I made you cry
But I canâ€™t remember if we said goodbyeâ€
Goodbye- Emmylou Harris
The girls mean well. They think that they know me better than I know myself and that pushing me here is something that will me to beÂ the happy guy they know I can be. I appreciate that. I really do but I also appreciate not being visited by the ghost of lost love and specter of She Might Still Love You Why Donâ€™t You Call.
Isnâ€™t there some sort of law or rule somewhere that dictates that men my age go sow their oats. Or maybe it is a study. Yeah, I think that I read that it is really important for us to get reacquainted with women by not dating. I think that I read that scientists advise getting involved in strictly physical relationships for an extended period of time.
In between the angst and excitement it occurred to me that this thing that was messing with my head could be the subject of my next column. Lost love rekindled is a story that never grows old. I mapped out a basic outline on a piece of paper and chuckled to myself.
Not only was it great fodder for a story, it would make one hell of a reality television show. That could be a great legacy for the kids. â€œChildren, I want you to know that I paid for your education by creating a reality television show that makes the viewers dumberer.” Wouldnâ€™t that be something to be proud of.
Yep, that reality television gig could be all sorts of fun now couldn’t it. It wouldn’t take much effort to come up with an idea for a script. All you need to do is think back upon college and pull something out of the memory banks but it wouldn’t be as much fun or as interesting as trying to come up with something that your friends and family would be proud to point at.
Did we ever mention that sometimes old Jack is a big old snob. Not that it matters, but he is and maybe that is why he sometimes talks about himself in the third person. It also happens to be something that drives Harold crazy and anything that drives Harold crazy is something that I have to do with reckless abandon.
Jack the big old snob likes to believe that he lives life with reckless abandon. He likes to think that he is a low maintenance fellow who doesn’t require much to be happy but I suspect that some people might disagree. Of course Jack the big old snob doesn’t spend much time worrying about whether people agree or disagree with him. Maybe he should. The world might appreciate a kinder, gentler and more sensitive Jack. But then again he would miss telling people to go fuck themselves.
And this my friends leads me to a different issue entirely that I like to call the problem with women. They pay way too much attention to me.
Slow down now Tex and take a deep breath. That is not my ego talking. I am not trying to say that women want to tear my clothes off and enjoy a thousands nights of unbridled passion. No, what I am referring to is their predilection for picking up on little details and pieces of personality. Â I might have told the girls that I have no interest in her but the more I think about it the more I realize that they didn’t buy it.
The thing is that it doesn’t really matter whether they bought it or not because I know those three. They are convinced that there might be some sort of hope for her and I and they aren’t going to stop pushing until I make contact. But they are fooling themselves if they think that I am going to listen to Ma Bell and reach out and touch someone. If they ask why I can give them a list of a dozen reasons why it doesn’t make any sense.
We can start with this one. Why should I be the one to call her? I don’t get it. The three of them would be the first to tell you that a woman can do anything a man can do yet somehow I am the one whose stuck sticking my neck out here. What is that about? It reminds me of a discussion I had with that crazy woman a thousand years ago where she told me that should would never be the first to say “I love you.”
I remember scrunching up my face and rolling my eyes at that. Why do men have to take all the risk. Want to make a bet that those three will tell me that I am being ridiculous about this. Just wait until the shoe is on the other foot… Call me juvenile, but the next guy my daughter introduces me to just might get a verbal ass kicking because of this. No doubt that daughter will give me hell about that and blame it upon this very thing.
Damn if that doesn’t make me incredibly proud and frustrated. She is almost too smart for her own good. That girl has had too many years to observe me as well as the benefit of being a direct recipient of my DNA. The end result is someone who has more insight into my thought process and feelings than I sometimes like.
Talking In Circles
Whenever someone tells me that I am talking in circles I know that it is time for me to hunker down in my cave and think. This sort of thing only happens when I am confused about something or unwilling to share my real thoughts with someone.
ItÂ occurredÂ to me that the sort of confusion I was feeling was tied into feelings that I thought I had left behind in junior high or high school. Or at least I thought that I had done so but the pacing around the room and struggle to focus made it clear that I hadn’t.
Someone needs to remind me to thank the girls for helping me take this trip down memory lane. Maybe next time they can help me find my high school metabolism and energy.
What I really should do is go for a run or head off to the gym. I am restless and it would do me good to use this energy for something other than mental masturbation- but that is not going to happen now.
No, now I am going to dig through old letters I and stories that I wrote about us. Now I am going to open some doors that have been closed and find out whether the ghosts of the pasts still rattle their chains or if they have found a way to rest.
And Then The WorldÂ Shifted
I could never have imagined that one day I would wake up and not have you by my side. It still seems improbable, inconceivable and simply unbelievable.Â This canâ€™t be real because the Greek tragedies arenâ€™t true stories. They are myths and tales that are man made- not reality.
Yet, here we are living life alone and apart. Separate homes and separate lives. You were the guardian of all my secrets and the woman that I allowed to walk unfettered and unencumbered through my heart. I had every opportunity to treat you like a piece of meat but I didnâ€™t.
It wasnâ€™t because you prevented me from doing so. You gave yourself so willingly to me that I knew I could ask you to do anything and you would. It was part of the magic of our bond. Sometimes I think that you were offended that I didnâ€™t take advantage of the situation. Sometimes I think that you were offended that I didnâ€™t take every moment to ravish your body.
That didnâ€™t happen because I have never seen a woman who is more beautiful than you are. I have never been closer or more intimate with anyone than I was with you. You know this because I told you so but I would like to tell you again. Â Not by phone, text, email or IM but in person.
The things we did and the experiences we had were real. They were magical and mysterious. They had a depth and purpose that cannot be properly expressed through words alone.
You are the song of my heart. Even now so long after we parted I still hear your melody being played in places too deep to ignore. I can still feel your touch and taste your lips. Your scent is not forgotten nor have I forgotten the grace with which you move.
Remember how I used to stare at you and how I enjoyed just listening to you breathe. Sometimes you would shy away from my look and tell me that I was too intense but you always said it with a smile.
There are so many stories that I could tell and so many memories that I could share with you. I still canâ€™t believe that I have started listening to some of those Barry Manilow songs you used to talk about. Remember how I teased you about hisÂ elevator musicÂ and said that thirty somethings werenâ€™t old enough to listen to him. You rolled your eyes at me and accused me of having no taste.
Now I find myself quoting his songs and wondering if maybe they foretell a future that is yet unwritten. When he sings about finding the right love at the wrong time I nod my head in frustration and ask why us. When he talks about walks down long rocky beaches and starting a story whose end will have to wait I smile.
Yes, I admit it. I smile because it gives me hope that maybe weâ€™ll find our way back to each other. But sometimes I donâ€™t let that hope inside my head or my heart. Sometimes I stuff it back down into the cage it came from and think of reasons to be angry with you. That anger helps to hide the sadness and makes me forget how much I miss you.
I am just a boy asking a girl for the chance to hold her hand again because I canâ€™t imagine not having you in my life. Iâ€™m just a man who remembers a time when he kissed a woman and then the whole world shifted.
These words are bittersweet. I remember writing them- both those above and those below. I see a guy who was walking a tightrope and trying not to fall. Sometimes he was tough and sometimes he was weak.
Sometimes ThingsÂ Happen
Sometimes things happen that make you shake your head in wonder and disbelief. There is nothing especially profound or insightful about that. Fact is that most people would look at such a sentence and move on to the next thing without a second thought. Why? Because it sounds obvious and seems to be the kind of throwaway line that people use to fill empty space in a Bluebook.
I am not one of those people. No, not me. I am a muckraker, shit stirrer and gadfly who knows that the significance lies in what feelings you had when you shook your head. It could be disgust. You might roll your eyes at something, crinkle your nose and wonder how someone so stupid hadnâ€™t mentioned to kill themselves. But then again you might shake your head in disbelief and wonder because you are in shock over what you just saw or experienced.
And that my friends makes all the difference. That sense of wonder and amazement is part of the intangible that makes a relationship move from just friends toÂ in love.Â It is the secret sauce that powers the motor and if you could bottle and sell it you would be quite wealthy.
I suppose that wealth fits into this sort of different way of looking at things too. Wealth doesnâ€™t have to be about finances and real estate. It could just as easily be about your personal feelings regarding what you have. There have been times in my life where I had ample funds to cover whatever I wanted but I never needed material things to make myself feel good. Peace of mind didnâ€™t come from a place called Bloomingdales, Macys or 14 Carat.
There have been moments in time where I barely had enough to make ends meet and moments where I had more than I could spend. All part of lifeâ€™s roller coaster and I am good with that.
Ok, that is not entirely true I get tired of lifeâ€™s roller coaster and ask for the mundane and routine to become a regular and consistent place but that doesnâ€™t happen. Or if it does it doesnâ€™t happen to me and that is why I am ok with it.
Peace of mind comes from learning how to play the hand we are dealt and from acceptance that there are some things that canâ€™t be changed.
Of course that has never been easy for me. I donâ€™t look at my situation as being staticâ€¦ever. I figure that if life is going to be fluid than I might as well use it to my advantage. The thing is that I look at that fluidity and try to apply it everywhere.
I am the guy that looks at the hurricane and figures hell, I can waltz right through this sucker- all I need to do is find the eye of the storm and all will be well.
Suppose that explains a lot now doesnâ€™t it. Some would say that is the definition of a schmuck and others call it part of being a hero.Â Beats the hell out of me what it is. All I know is that I hate labels.
But history is a different thing altogether. History is something that I love and appreciate. History is something that I enjoy studying. I like looking at my past. I like trying to learn from it.
Maybe that is the reason why I find myself digging through these old tomes. Maybe I am in search of answers but I am not really sure if I will find them there.
Alone In The Stacks
It was 1980 something or maybe it was the early 90s- I canâ€™t really remember and I donâ€™t care. What I do remember is walking through the libraryâ€¦with Ann Stacey. We were in the Stacks looking for some tome that we needed for a group project we were walking on together. The space between the shelves was quite narrow preventing two people to walk side by side. In an effort to be a gentleman I let go first and I followed right behind her.
She was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and had long black hair that was caught up in one of those scrunchy things the girls wore back then. Iâ€™ll readily admit that I chose to walk behind her so that I could stare at her without fear of being caught. But it was also done for self preservation, she made my heart pound and I was afraid that I might trip over my big feet and knock myself unconscious.
While I was confident in my abilities to woo a woman I couldnâ€™t think of a clever way to knock myself out and get the girl. It seemed like a great move for some John Hughes movie, except in that one I would be some nerd who would end up with the girl I thought was just a friend. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but this was real life and I was enamored with her that the thought of ending up with someone else just seemed wrong.
The woman walked with purpose and moved quickly down the rows of books and magazines. Periodically she would speak and I would wonder if she had a part time job as a an auctioneer- she spoke so very quickly. Â Who knew that she would also stop moving as quickly as she started. I suppose that if I hadnâ€™t been enjoying the sweet scent of her perfume or admiring the swish of her hips I might have been aware that I was about to crash into her.
If nothing else I wouldnâ€™t have smashed her face first into some dusty book causing some other books to fall off of the top shelf and plummet towards earth. Ok, they would have hit earth but instead they smacked her on the top of her head. Looking back on it I realize that this had turned into a John Hughes movie, except instead of me being the one who hit the dirt it was her.
For a moment we stood in silence and disbelief. I didnâ€™t know what to say or what to do. Her face was inscrutable and I suddenly found myself fighting back gales of laughter. I really liked her and I didnâ€™t want to wreck a future by laughing at the wrong time. The worst part of it was the feeling that I shouldnâ€™t laugh. The idea that I shouldnâ€™t made the urge so much stronger. So very strong that I was certain that if I didnâ€™t do something I would laugh so hard I would fall down.
So in an effort not to laugh I just reacted. I tucked an arm around her waist and pulled her towards me. When she was close enough I wiped some dust off of her forehead and kissed her on the mouth. She didnâ€™t kiss me back nor did she push me away. For just a moment we stood there with my lips pressed against hers. When I didnâ€™t feel her return the kiss I began to panic and I got really nervous and began to mutter some kind of apology.
I remember thinking that this kind of crap never happens to Humphrey Bogart. Donâ€™t bother me with silly details about him being dead or that all I saw him in were movies. I know that they were following a script- I already told you to stop bothering my with technicalities and details.
In retrospect I bet that less than a minute had passed but to me it felt like it had been hours. I took my mouth off of hers and looked at her face. She looked back into my eyes and asked me why I had stopped. Fortunately she wasnâ€™t scared off by the Cheshire Cat grin that graced my lips or worried that kissing me would lead to being brained by a 50 year old dictionary.
Alone in the stacks we gained a different sort of education than the one that he had set out to find, and far more enjoyable.
And then I stumbled onto one of the letters that my daughter had discovered. She came to me with tears in her eyes and told me about it. At first I thought that she was upset because it wasn’t about her mother and then I learned otherwise.
I had a dream. I dreamt of a place that I had never been to but always wanted to live in. You were there and your arms welcomed me to a place that until then had always lived inside me. You unlocked the passion and the fire that burns inside me.
You helped me to remember that love is meant to sting, that to be apart is to feel an ache that no drug can touch and to be together is to know the meaning of union.
You are my drug of choice, an addiction that I cannot give up. My air and my blood, the wind that fills my sails and were I to lose you I would be forced to revisit that dark place that I used to live in. I would be hollow inside, an empty shell and who knows what might choose to occupy that place.
I knew the day that we kissed that life was going to be different. Few people understand because so few have had the experience and even then few walk that path. When you walk through fire you risk being burned but you also open yourself up to untold rewards.
When just holding hands brings incredible pleasure, when whispers and caresses offer the height of joy and passion there is something special.
When I kissed you I felt your legs go weak and I held you tightly but I was not concerned because my arms were made for holding you tight and feeling your heart beat against mine gives me all the strength that I require.
I had a dream that became reality.
She cried because she thought that it was romantic and because she wanted someone to write her a letter like that. I tried to brush it off as being some cheesy note that I had once written but she didn’t let it go.
“Dad, you would never say something like that to just anyone. Who was she? What was her name? What happened to you guys and have you tried to find her?”
I told her to take a breath and she laughed. Told me that she couldn’t help it, had a million questions about who could make me feel that way. Naturally I faked having to use the bathroom and ran for cover.
Twenty minutes later I emerged to an empty room and found a note saying that she and a friend were having dinner. Had I spent any time thinking about it I would have realized that her disappearance didn’t mean that she had forgotten about this. Fact is that I would bet dollars to donuts that she had called Sheri that night and asked her to fill in the blanks.
I don’t know what Sheri told her but she probably left out the part where I was heartbroken or how a few of the women that came later wondered if I did anything besides have sex.
On second thought I couldn’t say that Sheri had edited the details of that time as closely as I would have liked. Women have funny boundaries and something told me that those two probably shared more than I thought.
A million questions were racing through my own mind but I didn’t have time to deal with those. I was on deadline and had to focus. The problem was that I had opened Pandora’s Box and a million different memories were fighting for my attention.
I took a deep breath and decided that I would read the next two entries and then resume working.
She is out there, my other half. Can’t say what she is doing or who she is doing it with but I know that she is out there.
Her physical absence is palpable and impossible not to notice. Sometimes I turn and expect to see her standing there with that look I know so well. Sometimes I turn and wonder why those dark eyes aren’t looking back at me.
I pick up the telephone and expect it to ring like it always did before. I dial the numbers and laugh because I know that she is going to say that she was about to call me. I hear the smile in her voice, except I don’t do it. I don’t dial.
Instead I hold the phone and close my eyes. I hold the phone, close my eyes and feel the hole and the emptiness. I Â hold the phone, close my eyes and wonder if that chasm is one sided and then I feel this twinge.I feel this twinge and a silent bell rings inside my head and I know that she is thinking about me and us. I hear the bell and I know that somewhere she feels what I feel and that this is how and what it is for now.
Necessary. Lonely. Hard. Long. Rough. Required.
I close my eyes and try to center myself. I close my eyes and try to turn off the noise and focus on what is. And then just when I feel like I am truly alone I feel something touching me in a place that fingers can’t reach and arms can’t hold.
I close my eyes and I try to run from it. It is more intimate this touch and the feeling scares me a little. It is the place that only one has been and then I realize that the visitor is the same one who was there before.
Slowly I relax and realize that two souls have shed their bonds and found each other again. They always find each other. And for a brief moment I am completely relaxed and lost in a place that I cannot describe. Reality will intrude and I’ll convince myself that I have seen/felt what I wanted to.
But later in the silence of the night I’ll accept that two souls have done what the bodies and minds can’t. And for a moment I’ll let myself wonder if can’t refers to now or forever.
She is out there and so am I.
It wasn’t easy reading those words. It brought it all back to me and I remembered what it was like to feel like I had found and then lost my other half. What it told me was that I needed to set aside time to think about it all. Maybe I was just lonely. I hadn’t been single all that long but at the same time it had been long enough that the friends with benefits weren’t as exciting as they used to be.
On the other hand there was something to be said for sex with no strings attached. Had it been this easy to get laid in high school and college I might not have ever gotten married. Well, that was something to think about. In the interim I intended to follow through on my promise. I had one more letter to read and then it was time to focus on work.
Dreams I Have Never Had
Sometimes I dream about things that never were and places that I have never been. These dreams I have are bold and bright filled with beauty, mystery and sometimes fear. Sometimes I see the echoes of a future I hope to have and fragments of a past that was. There are dreams that I can’t quite describe but I can’t tell you why that is.
Maybe it is because trying to remember a dream is bit like trying to hold water in the palm of your hand. If you squeeze too hard it quickly pours out all the nooks and crannies and all you are left holding are a few lonely drops. But even if you hold absolutely still you still find that in a short time most of it will still have found a way to escape. Drips and drabs slide down the sides and between your fingers.
Dreams are like that water. Concentrate too hard and the memories simply evaporate. Sometimes I think that I can fool my dreams. If I pretend not to look at them they won’t run away and so I use my peripheral vision to try and take it in. Out of the corner of my mind’s eye I take note of what I see and try to make sense of it.
But it never quite works out the way that I want it to. Just as I feel like I almost have it within my grasp the memories fade and or become blurred with fragments of awareness of what is really going on around me. Dreams of holding hands and walking through our secret garden are vivid to me. So much so that sometimes I wake up and wonder how it is that I can still smell you and feel your hand in mine.
Sometimes I find myself lying in bed awake and aware that it was a dream but for a moment I refuse to open my eyes. In that refusal to acknowledge awareness of what was and what is I find a way to hold on to the dream for a moment more.
Blame it on a selfish attempt to continue to walk with you through our secret world and the belief that maybe the answers we search for lie in the subconscious. That feeling of the answers lying just beneath the surface is there frequently and I find myself giving in more frequently to the urge to explore it.
For a while I refused to do so and wrote it all off as being something that wasn’t based upon logic or reason. It didn’t seem like the smart thing to do so I refused it, but as time passed doing the smart thing grew more complicated. And so I think that I have reached a place where I understand that one piece of the puzzle is finding the way to answer the call of my heart.
Only time will tell whether the call of my heart is in synch with the truth of the dreams I have never had.
Readers. Readers are the best and worst part of being published. Â Most of the columnists at the paper look at our readers with a certain amount of disdain. I suspect that it is because we usually only hear from the people who are retired, unhinged or retired and unhinged.
Some of you might think that I shouldn’t say that because it is like biting the hand that feeds me, but you don’t get the letters. You don’t get 16 typed pages, single spaced of course about why the CIA had to kill Elvis. I’ll spare you the pain of having to read the entire thing and tell you that it is because his music made girls crazy and Kennedy couldn’t take it.
Nor do you get the letters where Mrs. Maxipad explains that she thinks you hate women and that you use your column to pretend to be nice. That always makes me want to devote a column to her and her cat entitled “The Only Pussy That is Getting Fucked in This House Has a Tail.”
For some reason that powers that be simply won’t let me do that. Â Big Ed tells me that given some time my misogynistic tendencies will wear off. I told him that given a lot of meaningless sex would make it happen faster and he just stared at me.
I don’t get it. It wasn’t like I was talking about his sister. Oh wait, I did say something about his sister. She is hot. I mean she is really hot. In fact she is so attractive I suggested that they might not be related by blood.
My guess is that he didn’t mean to call me a misogynist but couldn’t come up with anything else. Did I mention that he sort of stammers and stutters when he is angry. As PSA let me suggest that you not say something like “C’mon spit it out” to him during one of those moments as he just doesn’t deal very well with it.
Novels are a different animal altogether. I want to say that I am different than most columnists and that my books are fiction except I don’t know if that is true. However since I like to live in my own world I might declare it to be true and let the chips fall where they may.
Speaking of which I never did understand that expression. Maybe I take it too literally, but every time I hear it I picture potato chips covered in sour cream falling upon the floor. It is pretty messy and I am happy that I don’t have to clean it up.
Did I mention that the people who read my novels write me letters too? Well, they do and they like to ask questions. Some of them want to know if I can help them become published authors like myself. In the old days I used to try to answer every one of those letters. It seemed like the proper thing to do but that is not how it works any more.
Part of the reason I stopped was because the tail end of my marriage and the entire divorce took a lot out of me. I only have so much bandwidth and I just didn’t have enough to explain to Madam Spanner that I didn’t have time to read her manuscript “Felix.”
But the good news for Spanner and company is that thanks to the wonders of modern technology I have a blog that they can visit. It is filled with little anecdotes about this and that, fragments of fiction that I might one day include in my stories and assorted knick-knacks of information.
Most of the content there was written by me but there are a few sections that my agent/publicist and attorney had me include. Don’t read that stuff, it is really boring.
If you really want something interesting do yourself a favor and read some of the random entries in there. I don’t make any promises that anything you see will be included in future work but you never know. Besides, the blog is open for comments and in theory I might see them.
I never see what you write in my book and truth be told I am happier that way. My books are a bit like my babies and I am rather protective of them. Writing in my book is like giving my baby a tattoo and that makes me mad. Don’t make me mad, you wouldn’t like it when I get angry.
I Hear Music
â€œSome need gold and some need diamond rings
Or a drug to take away the pain that living brings
A promise of a better world to come
When whatever here is done
I donâ€™t need that sky of blue
All I knowâ€™s since I found you, Iâ€™m happy when Iâ€™m in your arms
Happy, darling, come the dark
Happy when I taste your kiss
Iâ€™m happy in a love like thisâ€
Happy- Bruce Springsteen
My seventies girl is tall. She has long graceful legs, jet black hair and delightfully dark eyes. Sometimes when she smiles I think that I hear bells ringing. We are lying in bed listening to music. Her head is on my chest and her hair is splayed across my face. I keep moving it because it makes my nose itch. Every time I do she moves with me so that it tickles my nose again. I donâ€™t have to see her face to feel her smile. She likes to tease me. AsÂ I start to relax and my breathing becomes more rhythmic she takes a finger and traces it along my body.
It is a special kind of tickle that makes me jump. I roar with feigned exasperation and quickly roll on top of her. I pin her arms above her head and start tickling her. Two can play this game.
She squeals with laughter and squirms beneath me. â€œOk, ok, ok. You win,â€™ she cries. We return to our prior position of me on my back and her head on my chest and talk about the future.
â€œThereâ€™s a house upon a distant hill
Where you can hear the laughter of children ring
Guardian angels, they watch from above
Watching over the love that they bring
But at night I feel the darkness near, I awake and I find you near
Iâ€™m happy with you in my arms
Iâ€™m happy with you in my heart
Happy when I taste your kiss
Iâ€™m happy in love like thisâ€
I stare at the ceiling and listen as she describes the house she wants to live in. She loves flowers and tells me that she has Laura Ashley sheets that would be perfect for our bedroom. There will be two stories and multiple bedrooms. The master will be upstairs and while the kids are young so will they. I close my eyes and listen as she talks about how many kids she wants and some of her favorite names. Suddenly there is a pause in the conversation and I know that she expects me to respond to her thoughts.
For a moment I am lost. I have paid a lot of attention to what she is saying but the truth is that while her hand has been rubbing my stomach and chest I have gotten other ideas. The scent of her perfume is strong but not in a bad way and biology is having an impact upon me. Now I am more than lost in her scent. I am trying to remember what she was saying but all I can think of is pheromones. She asks me what I think but at the moment I canâ€™t tell her what my name is. She turns her head to face me and we kiss.
â€œHoney, you like that,â€ she asks. I tell her that I love when she kisses me. She makes a face and asks me a question again. I roll onto my side and kiss her. She looks at me, eyelids slightly narrowing. Somewhere in the back of my head I hear a bell clanging and a soft voice whispering â€œanswer.â€
I want to answer, I really do but something is messing with my head. I feel fuzzy headed and I try to buy time by saying â€œI love you.â€ She knows me well enough to know that it is not a line and she says â€œI love you too.â€ There is music. I hear music. I tell her that every time we kiss I hear music. She rolls her eyes at me and says that lines arenâ€™t necessary any more. I say, â€˜no, I really hear music.â€ She doesnâ€™t realize how sexy she is or that I find her intoxicating. I tell her that I canâ€™t believe we found each other. Unsought and unexpected but ever so grateful. We grew up in different worlds and different places but somehow here we are.
It is dark now. All we can see are outlines of our bodies and images of the world that we want to create. Weâ€™re uncertain and unsure about many things. Life has a way of getting in the way.
â€œIn a world of doubt and fear
I wake at night and reach to find you near
Lost in a dream, you caught me as I fell
I want more than just a dream to tellâ€
She is not sure that we can overcome the challenges and I am not sure that we can truly live apart. Words are exchanged, some soft and some harsh. Fear, doubt and insecurity intermix with hope.
â€œWeâ€™re born in this world, darling, with few days and trouble never far behind
Man and woman circle each other in a cage
A cage thatâ€™s been handed down the line
Lost and running â€™neath a million dead stars
Tonight letâ€™s shed our skins and slip these bars
Happy in each otherâ€™s arms
Happy baby, come the dark
Happy in each otherâ€™s kiss
Iâ€™m happy in a love like thisâ€
Later on Iâ€™ll be alone and thinkÂ about this time, this moment and how these moments are woven together to create a patchwork quilt called life.
Johnny looked out the window and watched nothing in particular. In the background he could hear the flight crew run through their safety checklist. He looked away from the window and towards the front of the plane and made a point to identify where the emergency exits were. It wasn’t like he expected there to be a reason for him to exit in anything but the normal way, but you never know what can happen.
The captain instructed the crew to prepare for takeoff and he resumed his watch out the window. The past few days were a blur and he was trying to take it all in. A few days before he had been sitting in his office marveling over an empty travel schedule. The early part of the year had consisted of airports, hotels and meetings and he was ready to spend some real time at home.
It was going to be nice to become reacquainted with his bed and his stuff. For a short time the business world would survive without him, besides if they needed him they had his cell phone and email address. And there wasn’t any doubt that they would use all of them to contact him.
When he was on the road he was responsible for entertaining clients. A healthy expense account helped to make that happen. Out on the road he ate at the finest restaurants and lived a lifestyle that he couldn’t afford on his own. It was nice, but it grew old quickly. One hotel looked pretty much like another. It didn’t matter how they decorated the room, there was a sterile uniformity to it.
Needless to say Johnny wasn’t thrilled when the call to head out again came in. He had barely unpacked from the last trip, but this time was different. As it happened June was going to be there at the same time. It was a happy coincidence, what is that word they use, serendipitous.
So he booked a flight and threw his gear into a bag and headed off to the airport. Upon landing he turned on his BlackBerry and listened to the angry buzzing noise it made. The way it kept beeping you would have thought that it had been turned off for a week and not five hours.
One hour later he had picked up his rental car and checked into his hotel room. He had thirty minutes to shower, change and head out to his meeting. In the midst of it all he realized that he had forgotten his razor. With a silent curse he called downstairs and asked them to send a blade and some shaving cream up.
While he waited the phone began buzzing again. June was checking in with him. She was a planner and wanted to figure out when they’d have time to see each other. Johnny could hear the smile in her voice and it made him smile back. He told her that he had an afternoon flight but that he was sure that they could find some time to catch up.
And here he was a relatively short time later, waiting for the tower to greenlight the captain. Soon enough the hum of the engines turned to a roar and the plane went flying down the runway. The blur outside the window was fitting because that is how the last 18 hours felt to him.
As the plane climbed into the sky he closed his eyes and thought about it all. There had been a last kiss goodbye and a lingering hug. Saying goodbye to June had been far more difficult than she had realized. There was a silence that begged to be filled, but he had been unwilling to fill it.
It wasn’t for a lack of desire or an inability to do so. He knew what he wanted to say, but sometimes these things come with a price and Johnny was afraid of what that might be. It wasn’t a fear of what would happen to him but of what it would do to June.
She was smart. She was tough and she was brave. She was a million things that he couldn’t describe but treasured nonetheless. He feared the price because he wasn’t sure what it would do to June and the thought of her hurting made him ache.
So he rolled the dice and hoped that they would find a way to get back to that place. He was a gambler and a dreamer. He would fight for her. He would endure the pain and hope that his decision hadn’t been a mistake.
Alone on the plane he smelled his hand and smiled. He could still smell her. His June, his girl, her scent, his hand. It made sense. Anytime they had been through a rough spot he had told her to take his hand and they had promised to work through it all together.
In spite of the hum of the engines he could feel that quiet place they shared and he took refuge in it. The decision had been made. Now he had to live with it. The hardest part was knowing that he had virtually no control over what would happen next.
The next part was up to June. She needed time to work on some things. Time to take care of some stuff and get centered again. For now that was just how it had to be. June would do her thing and Johnny would do his.
At least that was what he had said to himself and he had tried. Made more than a few promises to himself to walk that tightrope but he had fallen more than once.
Hawkeye: No, you submit, do you hear? You be strong, you surviveâ€¦ You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.
Last Of The Mohicans
If you had seen his face you wouldnâ€™t have known that the ghosts of his past had woken from their slumber and begun to rattle their chains.
They were supposed to be nothing more than words on a page, just a simple movie quote that Johnny had once shared with her many years before. They werenâ€™t supposed to tear the scab off of a wound that had never healed. They werenâ€™t supposed to stop him in his tracks and make him remember things best let forgotten, but they did.
They did because they were more than just words. It was a promise to someone who had long since left his life and a symbol of what he was willing to do for her.Â It shouldnâ€™t have hurt to read them, but it did. It did for a thousand different reasons not the least of which was the memory of how something beautiful had been broken. It did because he had meant it.
These were not words that he took lightly. He remembered the day that he had written the letter that contained those words and the thousand that came after them. She had read it twice and called him in tears demanding to know what it meant. He remembered it all and how she begged him not to give up because they still loved each other and he hadnâ€™t.
That letter wasnâ€™t supposed to be taken that way. He wasnâ€™t trying to push her away. All he had wanted to do was be her hero but circumstances had come between them and he felt like she needed to take care of the things that only she could. It broke his heart to write it but it was also supposed to be comforting to her. It was supposed to be reassuring- something that she could hold onto when things got tough.
Neither one of them could have predicted just how tough it would become. They never believed that they could be ripped apart and forced to live separate lives. Yet that was what had happened and the world had not come to a screeching halt. The sun hadnâ€™t exploded nor had the earth begun to spin backwards.
Sometimes he wondered if the universe really did send messages and or signs to people. He had been searching his files for business purposes and it had just popped up as part of the search results. Since so much time had passed he hadnâ€™t thought twice about opening it. It was supposed to be fun. His intention was to glance at it and resume working but good intentions often go astray.
So he found himself remembering what was and wondering about what could have been. In the silent of the night he had sent her his blessing and asked the heavens to carry her in the arms of the angel.Â It wasnâ€™t easy to walk away but he had cloaked himself in hope and faith that the future would be better.
And now years later he discovered to his chagrin that some flames are never completely extinguished. The real question was whether to try and quench the flames or follow the path that his heart was constructing for him.
Gladwell writes in one of his books that expertise comes after 10,000 hours of practice. I want to prove him wrong and demonstrate that I became an expert after only 6,000 hours. I am sometimes adversarial Â like that.
You know how your parents give you that speech about how famous people are no different than we are. It is the one where they say that everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time. Well, I don’t do it one leg at a time. I do two legs at a time. Sorry, I am funny that way.
Johnny snorted out loud and rolled his eyes. It was the middle of the day and he was ensconced in the back of his favorite dive bar. Just himself, a booth and a beer to keep him company. Across the room the object of his derision desperately tried to convince the waitress to pass along her telephone number.
Dressed in painterâ€™s clothing in dire need of a shave and a haircut the guy continued to plead his case. A short time earlier he had followed Johnny into the menâ€™s room and babbled something about being the ultimate ladies man.
Johnny appreciated bravado but had heard far too many stories from men about their exploits and experiences with women. It wasnâ€™t particularly interesting to him. Nor was he interested in hearing suggestions about the best place to get a lap dance either. Johnny didnâ€™t like strip clubs.
It wasnâ€™t because he didnâ€™t like women or had some moral objection to it.Â The way he saw it as long as the women who worked there were doing so because they had a choice there was no problem with it. His real issue was that he didnâ€™t see a need to pay to be teased by a woman who didnâ€™t care about him. What was the point.
So he couldnâ€™t help but laugh a bit watching the little dutch boy flail around wildly trying to get her attention. If nothing else it helped distract him from his own problems with women.
It had been months since he and June had a real conversation about anything of substance and longer since he had seen her. Some of that was by choice and some by circumstance.
At first it had been exceptionally difficult to stay away. Each day had been long, but he forced himself to keep walking. Every step away from her was one step closer to not missing her or so he told himself. For a while it worked and he wondered what that meant, if anything.
How could two people who had been so close and so very in love just fade away. It made him question it all and he began to wonder if maybe he had fooled himself. Maybe it hadnâ€™t been what he had thought it was.
But life has a way of keeping people off balance and forcing them to reevaluate things. One morning he woke up and read a story about a terror attack that had been thwarted. The target was walking distance from Juneâ€™s home.
It stopped him in his tracks. Walking distance from June. Had it been successful she might have been a victim. It was chilling. For a moment he stared in the wall and thought about it. It was one thing not to be with June, but another not to because she was gone.
And that was when Johnny realized that the feelings had never really disappeared. He had just buried them because it was easier that way. The flames hadnâ€™t been quenched, they were just turned down.
The news and realization made him angry, frustrated and scared. Scared because he realized that he couldnâ€™t imagine life without June. He didnâ€™t really know what that meant, but it was enough to fuel the anger and frustration that followed.
Anger with the man who had tried to do this. Johnny remembered telling June that he would always be her hero. Whenever she needed him he would be there, her knight, her champion. He remembered blushing deeply as he said it. It has sounded so silly and so melodramatic. She smiled at him and kissed him.
That was part of what made him fall so deeply in love with her, she accepted him for who he was.
Back in the present Johnny realized that his jaw and fists ached from being clenched. He hadnâ€™t had any contact with June in quite some time, but he knew that he had to reach out to her now. It didnâ€™t matter whether she wanted the contact or not, call him selfish, he knew that he couldnâ€™t rest until he did.
So he sent her a short note and she sent him one in kind. They went back and forth making a bit of small talk until he couldnâ€™t restrain himself any longer and told her how relieved he was. He wanted to remind her of that day when he had promised to be her hero. He wanted to say it so that she would feel safe and remember that what was could be again and that was it.
But he couldnâ€™t quite bring himself to that place. He wasnâ€™t ready to be that vulnerable with her again. And besides his gut told him that she knew. And really knowing that she knew was enough. For now he had plenty of other responsibilities and things to take care of. For now heâ€™d keep doing what it was that he had to do.
Still, there was more than one night where he stood under a moonlit sky and whispered into the wind the things that he wished for. Sometimes while he stood there staring upwards at the sky he thought that he could hear her whisper back.
It might not have been anything more than his imagination, but it made him smile. Maybe those nights long ago where they talked about how one kiss could change everything were out there waiting. He didnâ€™t know for certain. He just knew that sometimes heroes fail and sometimes they succeed, only time would tell.