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Archive for August, 2011

Last week my best friend and I took her daughter to a Maroon 5/Train/Gavin Degraw concert. It was the first concert for the teenager and it was my friend’s birthday – and I was truly blessed to have been included in this momentous occasion! Besides discovering that I am truly, madly, and totally in love with Adam Levine (hopefully he’s reading this and will jet immediately to find me!), I also dug deep and found a core of strength I didn’t know I had. During Train’s set, they played the oh-so-popular anthem that single women everywhere want to commit suicide to – “Marry Me.” And, in the middle of that sweet song that talks about undying love, neverending passion, and a desire to commit lives together, the lead singer took a moment to allow an audience member to propose – right there in the middle of the concert! I have never witnessed anything so romantic before….

And I lost it. I admit it. Cried like a baby. I have always been a sucker for sappy moments but this time the tears also rolled down my face as I mourned and grieved over the loss of love in my life. Those tears just flowed and I felt my heart break just a little bit more with every word. Thank god it was dark out there on the lawn because I would have been mortified if anyone knew how quickly and completely that song just cracked me in half.

But then, just when I thought that the universe was really trying to kick me in the teeth, Train played this song – and I discovered that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. Yes, my heart is broken. Yes, my life is broken. Yes, I don’t know if I can continue on. But, no, I am not going to let unkind words, negative words, nasty words break me anymore. I won’t let the words keep me from feeling good – I will embrace the happy times and I am going to let the past go, let those angry feelings and sad memories BURN!

I am once again reminded of my tattoo – “….That which is to give light must endure the burning…”

I’d give anything but I won’t give up on you
I’d say anything, but not goodbye
I will run with your changes and I’m always on your side
And there’s not a word I’ve ever heard that would make me change my mind

Words they’ll try to shake you
Don’t let them break you
Or stop your world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Like stones in your pocket people try to wear you down
Someone always wants to take the love you’ve found
So let’s runs with these changes and I want you by my side
And there’s not a word I’ve ever heard that would make me change my mind

Words they’ll try to shake you
Don’t let them break you
Or stop your world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Let them burn
Let them burn
Underneath every word somebody’s heart been broken
With or without words we try to forget

Words they’ll try to shake us
Don’t let them break us
Or stop our world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Words they’ll try to shake you
Don’t let them break you
Or stop your world, stop your world from turning
When words keep you from feeling good
Use them as I would and let them burn

Let them burn
Let them burn

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So, in addition to the freak earthquake that struck our area earlier in the week, the big news in our area of the world is the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irene. Having grown up outside of Buffalo, I am perfectly prepared for snow up to my ass and ice storms that coat the world with a 3″ layer of ice. I can even handle freak thunderstorms and high winds. But hurricanes were not, until I moved to Maryland, a part of my disaster repertoire.

My first hurricane was Hurricane Isabel in 2003. I was scared witless, as the news and media made it seem like the day of armageddon was coming. I didn’t want to stay in my apartment by myself, waiting for death, so I arranged to take my cat down to the then-boyfriend’s house and then spend the day with him at his volunteer firehouse answering rescue calls. While this seemed, at the time, to be no big deal it did cause some harassment from the guys in my firehouse for having abandoned our department and for having been a big old chicken and yada yada yada. Oh well, I was scared, dudes, get over it!

Anyway, the storm itself didn’t really harm our area badly – but the tidal surge did! I spent the whole day after the storm riding around in a john boat picking up elderly folks and people stranded by the waters which had overtaken the river and creek banks and come right into their homes. Several of the people we rescued that day also made a point of rescuing their pets (and just so you know, cats don’t like boat rides). But I had to tip my hat to those folks for making sure that their four-legged friends were safe.

At the end of that day, I had never been so wet, so exhausted, and so fulfilled in my entire life. That experience made me so proud to be a volunteer, so thrilled to be able to help people who really needed help! That, I think, was the first time that I realized I could make a difference, even a small one, in someone else’s life – that I was, even for a brief moment, important to someone. And to have shared that experience with my fire department brothers – it was an experience beyond explanation.

So now we are faced with another hurricane. This lovely weather lady, named Irene, is heading our way with what weather.com is calling an ‘extreme’ threat. It seems fitting to me, somehow, that I am forced to weather another storm in my life. The last year and a half has been so utterly turbulent – a hurricane will almost seem anti-climactic! This time, though, I no longer have fear – instead I have faith, family, friends, and furry four-leggeds for company. I will stay with the dog and the cats as long as I can and then, when things get bad, I will head to the firehouse – MY firehouse – and do what I can to help. I don’t need a boyfriend to protect me, I don’t need a husband to shelter me. I am on my own two feet this time and, as I have discovered in the past year, I can stand alone and weather any storm!

So, to all of my friends in coastal areas, please be safe and have faith.

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From the very moment we, as little girls, dream of our wedding, we hope that we will find a giving, kind man that will treat us like queens, love puppies, and give kisses regularly. We can’t help it, we dream of the wonderful men that will wait for us at the altar, who will walk hand-in-hand with us through the paths of life. We all long for the once-in-a-lifetime love – and we all sort through a huge stack of possibilities trying to find Mr. Right.

As any female over the age of 25 can tell you, there was a whole string of maybes and like-a-lots. These are the men who walk into our lives and teach us the good and bad about ourselves, our world, and our expectations. They are the men that show us what qualities we desire in a mate. Some of these men are good, some are awful – and they are ALL educational! These men are the trial-and-error elements of finding love in this mixed-up world. They are the gods we drool over from afar, the bad boys who will treat us horribly, the overly-kind mammas boys, the geeks, the cheating bastards, the sex fiends, the players, and the big talkers. We have to suffer through these mistakes in order to find out who we are as women and what we want in life.

I have truly loved two men in my life. They didn’t turn out to be the “right” ones for me but, in fairness, they were wonderful men. They each had qualities that made me love them uncontrollably and unconditionally. These two men were noble and kind, brave and strong, and as loving and giving as their natures allowed them to be. They weren’t good fits for me – who knows, maybe no one is – but I cannot deny that they are good, decent people. I would like to think that I wouldn’t have loved them if they were total losers! In hindsight, I know that they each had qualities that are endearing and charming and captivating. I loved them, flaws and all, because they are good men. I hope that the women now in their lives realize how special these two men are!

So how do we, as women, swim through the wide, crowded pool of humanity to find someone who is a good fit? It was hard enough when I had my youth and idealism, energy and naivete. Now I am older, wiser, more jaded, and yet still not cautious enough to guard my heart. How on earth do I avoid any more painful chapters in my fairy tale? How do I find someone that I can love as much as the previous two but who will treat me better? How do I find the one man who will realize how much more there is to me than just love handles and a stubborn nature?

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If I Could Tell You

If I Could Tell You
by
W. H. Auden (1907 – 73)
Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.
If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.
There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

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She wore a pink tutu and her cowboy boots, and her big brother’s superman cape

Shootin’ down dragons from her little red wagon

 To keep the backyard safe

Stubborn as a grass stain,

runnin’ ’round in french braids,

 tough for such a little girl

Livin in a big boys’ world–

Oh–she’s a pink warrior

She’s a fighter like her mama always taught to be

Got an army of angels marchin around with her

She won’t give in

Yeah she’s gonna win

She’s a pink warrior

~from the song “Pink Warrior” by Candy Coburn, written as a tribute to those battling cancer~

As a general rule, I have avoided the color pink for my entire adult life. Not only did it symbolize, in my twisted mind, ultimate girliness, it somehow translated in my head to a sign of feminine weakness. Don’t ask me WHY a color could symbolize vapid, brainless, spineless women – it just did. Shades of cotton candy, pepto-bismol, strawberry cream, hot pink and everything in between was avoided at all costs.

Lately, though, I have found myself incorporating more of the strong, bold pinks into my wardrobe, my accessories, and my color palette. Not the fluffy, frilly girly pink but the rich, deep berry tones. I no longer hide from my most-random paranoia of pink – now I celebrate its depth and a return to a more feminine me.

I am so excited that I have rediscovered that, yes indeedy, I am a woman! I can be strong and yet vulnerable, tough and yet able to cry at chick flicks. I thought that my spirit had been killed by the events of the last 8 years of my life. But I am rediscovering that, underneath the dead pain, is a girl with a brain, a woman with a fire, and a human being with passion. Bring on the pink!

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Like almost every little girl in the world, I grew up on fairy tales and romantic stories. One of my favorites was Cinderella, when the handsome Prince can see through the outward less-than-ideal appearances and falls in love with the common woman. It helped that she was basically a chambermaid, who had to slave away every day at a job – what a thrill for my liberated sense of independent womanhood.

Even now, I would love to think that such a romantic story could happen. I’ve celebrated Kate Middleton’s fairy tale romance with the handsome Prince William, thrilled to see that a commoner truly can marry a king-to-be. I even saw a news blurb yesterday about how Kate buys her own groceries – what an amazing woman!

But, I am here to tell you, I think that for the rest of us, the ‘your dream can come true’ fairy tale is a fat load of crock! Those romances, full of true love, undying fidelity, and endless passion – those stories can kiss my hind end! I have dated men of a variety of types – fat, thin, tall, short, kind, mean, fireman, cops, truck drivers, students, goody-two-shoes, bad boys, white, black, older, younger, educated, stupid – you name it, I’ve dated it. And NONE of them have shown even the slightest hint of being a Prince Charming. Not to say, mind you, that they weren’t all great people who taught me a lot about myself. Buuuuut….I wouldn’t exactly describe them as chivalrous. Some of them were self-centered, some just mean, others confused and disheartened, others bitter and angry. Some were players, some were following their own selfish agendas. But NONE of them were the stuff of the fairy tale romance!

So, I guess now, at the tender age of 30-something (don’t ask, I’m still not telling), I am setting aside the childish fantasies of a handsome, chivalrous prince that would sweep me off my feet and love me forever. Perhaps my standards were too high and I was expecting real men to act like fantasy dates – let’s turn the page to looking for a decent man who is honest. It’s time to say that those stories can kiss off, I’m going to look for a real good man. Someone who is like me – full of flaws, fears, and foibles. Someone who needs me to take care of them and will, at the same time, take care of me too. I’m done kissing frogs hoping that one of them will morph into a wonderful man. No more will I hunt for Prince Charming – he doesn’t exist!

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There was a time when men were kind,
And their voices were soft,
And their words inviting.
There was a time when love was blind,
And the world was a song,
And the song was exciting.
There was a time then it all went wrong…

I dreamed a dream in time gone by,
When hope was high and life, worth living.
I dreamed that love would never die,
I dreamed that God would be forgiving.
Then I was young and unafraid,
And dreams were made and used and wasted.
There was no ransom to be paid,
No song unsung, no wine, untasted.

But the tigers come at night,
With their voices soft as thunder,
As they tear your hope apart,
And they turn your dream to shame.

He slept a summer by my side,
He filled my days with endless wonder…
He took my childhood in his stride,
But he was gone when autumn came!

And still I dream he’ll come to me,
That we will live the years together,
But there are dreams that cannot be,
And there are storms we cannot weather!

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living,
So different now from what it seemed…
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…

How many of us have found ourselves in the midst of a life we couldn’t have imagined? To look around and wonder how you ended up here? Am I alone in this sense of bewilderment? Am I the only one who feels as though my dreams have yet to come true? That I have yet to be the person I want to be?

The roads I have travelled have led me to some very interesting places and I have discovered some very important things about myself. And I have picked up some wonderful and unique travelling companions along the way. I just have to wonder how I ended up where I am today.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that I am happy with the way my life has turned out. I can’t pretend that where I am now in my journey looks anything like I thought it would. I had dreams of doing something important, of being someone important. Even if it was just in my own little sphere, I dreamed that my presence on this planet would mean something. I dreamed those dreams when I was young and idealistic and naive – now I wonder if I’ve lost those opportunities. I’m older, much more jaded, and entirely too cynical. I want to believe that I can have another chance but am I just fooling myself?

I have got to stop blogging on rainy days, the maudlin thoughts are killing me…

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