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Category Archives: Spiritual

Om…

Slowly, my head drops as my body settles into relaxation.

Inhale…exhale…

My mind’s usual tenant, a jumble of clutter and clatter, is replaced by a space filled with nothing as I begin my morning meditation.

Inhale…exhale…

Having freed what is me from the shell that confined it, I ponder what it is I’m looking for in the man with whom I want to share the rest of my life.

Inhale…exhale…

Honesty.

A kind and gentle heart.

Intelligence with a generous dash of sense of humor.

Finances that don’t require access to my bank account.

And I’m startled momentarily as I become aware of the quality at the top of my list of “must haves.”

Sanity.

Yes, men who retain this quality are nearing extinction, but I have faith the rumors of their rare but continued existence are, in fact, true.

And that’s a good thing because if one more crazy-ass motherfucker crosses my path I swear, I’ll…

Oh, shit!

Inhale…exhale…

Inhale…exhale…

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Ahhh…The Best Love Story

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Grab your hankies, dear readers. I’m still bawling as I share with you a video created by my friend, Keith Kropf of Simi Valley, in celebration of 27 years of marriage to his wife, Maureen.

Ladies, take a look and imagine the way it could be.

Guys, take a look and see how it should be.

Thanks, Keith!

My Tax Man Cometh…

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“Hey, you! I’m on my way — just running a little bit late.”

I laughed. I knew the routine. That was Tom — my mentor, best friend and the love of my life. He was on his way to pick me up for dinner, but only after he’d driven around the block a few times with his windows open and the fan blasting so I wouldn’t notice the cloud of smoke that enveloped his head. Yes, I was well aware he still smoked, but — he swore — he was down to one cigarette a day. His nasty little habit had been a major fallen log across our road to romance. I’m highly sensitive to cigarette smoke. Just a few minutes in a smoke-filled room could land me in bed — coughing, congested and almost completely incapacitated — for days. But I loved him. So I let him think he was fooling me — and my hair blew in the breeze of my open window like that of a deliriously happy Afghan Hound on her favorite doggy car ride.

Eight months ago, the pretending stopped. Tom was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer which had metastasized throughout his body. Three months later we said our final good-byes.

So here I am in the middle of my first tax season without the man who called me every evening to chastise me for working so late — on the way home from his own office. Tom was also an accountant, a CPA. I’d always put him on speaker phone so we could swap stories and exchange advice as I packed my briefcase and locked up the office. Oddly, we spent more hours together during a time when one would expect we had so few available than we did during the remainder of the year. I miss him so much. But, like me, Tom was an unapologetic workaholic. He’d have been beyond disappointed had I let my grief interfere with my profit.

So, each morning I now plaster on my very best fake smile and trudge off to work.

My first client on this day leaned back in her chair and smiled as I forged my way through the pile of paper she’d just dropped onto my desk. Within moments my nose, filled with the faint stench of burning tobacco, began its telltale tingling and fluid began accumuling in my lungs. I assumed the noxious vapors were coming from her documents.

Between coughs, I queried: “Do you smoke?” I was perplexed because my client, in addition to being a medical professional, was a rabid health nut. I could hardly imagine her smoking, but the evidence was as clear as the snot that escaped my nostrils.

“No, but that guy standing over your left shoulder is smoking like a chimney.”

“Ohhhkaaayyy,” I thought, as the faint echo of the theme from the Twilight Zone played in the space between my ears. I was aware that she was reputedly visited by those who’d passed to the other side, so I wasn’t really too concerned, but this did make the little hairs at my nape curl themselves a bit tighter. I considered asking her to describe him, but I thought better of it. I returned to her paperwork and tried to give nothing away. My eyebrows knitted themselves into knots as I attempted to focus again on the issue I was trying to untangle.

“He says that if you need help with something, he’s here. He’s always here. Just close your eyes and ask him. He’ll tell you what to do.”

Okay, that was it; I was convinced. The odor of cigarette smoke alone — at times and in places where there should have been none — I would have dismissed as I always had recently. But she didn’t know him; how could she have possibly have come up with his words? I’d often wondered if he visited. There were many moments in which I’d felt a shift in the energy surrounding me — and hoped it might be he — but I’d always dismissed this as another figment of my overactive imagination. He’d never appeared physically, so I’d poo-pooed it as wishful thinking and moved on. So why appear here? And why now? And why the burning cloud that he knows’ll fucking kill me?

“He says to tell you the smoke is so you’ll always know it’s he; you didn’t ‘get it’ before.”

“And he says to tell you he loves you.”

Try It; You’ll Like It

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WEEEEEEEEEE! You’ll be just like that little pig on the commercial!”

As effective – and persistent — a saleswoman as my mother is, I’m an even more recalcitrant buyer. For weeks she’s pulled out all the stops in her attempt to convince me to go zip-lining in Jamaica with her. Lord knows the thought of flying across the island on a string high in the sky next to my 75 year-old mother is a virus I’ve tried very hard to block from my inbox.  Her constant nudging continually frustrates my mental delete key’s efforts.

“Come on – pull that stick out from up your butt and give it a shot! Weeeee! Weeeee! Weeeeeeeeee! What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

“Gee, Mom, I don’t know.  I could maybe – die!”  Just eight years ago, I conquered my fear of flying so my daughters could take me to Paris to celebrate my birthday.  Of course, I accomplished this only after my therapist pointed out that — whether I was seated at my desk or 40,000 feet above it – I would only die if it was my turn to go. My younger daughter insured my unconscious cooperation with a Mimosa, two Bloody Marys and who-the-hell-knows-how-many vodka tonics before and during the flight. One minute I was boarding a jet at LAX; the next, I was being poured onto the tarmac at De Gaulle. And now my mother wanted me to fly – unsedated — without an airliner, a trained pilot and several hundred screaming passengers plunging to their deaths with me? Uh … no, thank you.

“You know what your problem is?  You’re so busy focusing on what could go wrong that there’s no room for what could go right. Yes, you could die. But what do you care?  You’ll be dead as soon as you hit the ground – you won’t even know you hit it. But people do this every single day and nothing happens — except that they have a good time.  Why not just focus on how much fun you could have? Weeeee! Weeeee! Weeeeeeeeee!”

Suddenly, the smile disappeared and her eyes narrowed.  Oh God, it was on its way – another Mother Moment. I steeled myself and prepared as the skies darkened, a lightning bolt raced across the sky and James Earl Jones’ voice thundered from deep within my mother’s chest.

“You know, that’s why your ass is still single. A man asks you to dinner and instead of just going out, having a good time and seeing what – if anything – comes of it, you pick him apart. You put him under a microscope like a little bug, analyze everything that could possibly go wrong, then you squish him. Not all men are like that good-for-nothing jackass you divorced.  There are some good ones out there.  Give them a chance. “

Ouch! That stung a little, but it was mercifully short. She paused; an only slightly exasperated sigh escaped. Is she really? Could she actually be – finished?

No such luck. Darth Vader launched round two.

“Look at Jack. ‘No, I don’t want to get too serious. His wife left him for a reason and men don’t change. I don’t want him to do the same thing to me.’ Shit!  You don’t know what happened between that man and that woman.  And you don’t know that whatever it was will happen with you. Instead of worrying and wringing your hands over it, just give him a chance.  If you’re not happy, fine – end it. You tried.  But until you open Door #3, you don’t know what’s behind it. You could be very happy with that man. ‘Next thing you know he could have your nose open, toes curling and eyes rolling back in your head. Weeeeeeeeee!

You know, Mr Jones Mom had a good point. It’s not likely you’ll enjoy dancing in the rain if you fear you’ll get soaked, catch pneumonia and die.  It’s not likely you’ll enjoy the view from the top of the mountain if you’re convinced you’ll stumble over the edge and be crushed on the rocks below. It’s not likely you’ll enjoy the beauty of the forest if you fear ax murderers — eager to butcher you —  behind every tree.  Yes, she was right, but I’d be damned if I’d ever admit it to her.

“Girl, you need to loosen up. Maybe while we’re on the island — dancing, drinking and doing whatever else we decide to do — you should grab you some of those dreadlocks with a nice butt under ’em and get you some. You know, get your groove back – so you can remember what you’ve been missing.”

“Don’t forget to pack some nice underwear.”

Uncreating

Awhile back — you remember, that week when I was awash in Gallic testosterone (or at least trying to be, see Scenic Tour) — I introduced you to Jennifer Nigam (Jenny Kissed Me), one of the very talented members of  The Write Stuff.  I hope you loved her poem Commitment as much as I did.

This week, I’d like you to meet another of the wonderful artists who make the third Thursday of each month so inspiring — and entertaining.  Layne Taylor is a fabulous writer who is in the process of publishing an incredible children’s book — between the labor pains of her long-awaited blog. It appears “refusal to give birth” is contagious :-).

At one of our recent get-togethers, Layne shared an essay — Uncreating — that gave me a lot to think about as I rolled onto the floor laughing. Enjoy!

***

UNCREATING

I still have a small crate, labeled with the name of now defunct record store and filled with a hundred or so of my favorite 45’s. Note for you non-Boomers out there: 45’s are the ancient equivalent to mp3 files, made of vinyl, one song on each side, about the size of a personal pan pizza, with a large hole in the center which required an adapter in order to play on the turntable. Turntables will be covered another day.

As I flipped absent-mindedly through my box of circular treasures, I came across one in particular that made me smile. Sometime during my college days, I had inspired a young man to write a song about me. He actually had it recorded and pressed onto a disc which he presented to me. I was touched by the gesture, but not so much by the composer. The record that made me smile was the one he presented to me a few months later entitled, “Why Did I Ever Write You a Song”.

As I reminisced about the events, I suddenly remembered that this was not a unique occurrence in my life. At another time, while I was still in college, one of my cast mates in a theater production honored me with a poem extolling my virtues. Shortly before the show closed, he presented me with another well-crafted verse, essentially conveying the message that he was mistaken and I was just like all the others.  Hmmmmm.  In hindsight, I imagine that I should take pride in being able to inspire such diverse creativity, but it’s a hollow pride. It’s kind of like the dubious credit I took for inspiring one suitor to return to his estranged wife and another to realize that he actually liked men. But I guess inspiration is inspiration regardless of the end result.

I felt a little twinge of sadness as I thought about those who had come to regret something they had created, especially something created from a place of inspiration. Anything created brings a value to life and adds to the fabric of the universe. Passing judgement on that creation fails to honor the creative spirit that brought it to life.  And I know we’ve all done it; deemed a poem not fit to share or a meal not fit to serve. But it’s the creative spirit we must celebrate and not the thing created. Like the toothpaste that cannot return to the tube and the bell that cannot be unrung, once creation happens, it cannot be uncreated. I looked up “uncreate” to see its definition, or if it even had one; to deprive of existence, to annihilate.  Although I comprehend the words, I still believe that to uncreate is not a possibility. Energy spent cannot be returned. An idea brought into form exists forever.  Regret if you must the fallen cake, the poor rhyme, or the unrequited love song, but never abandon the spark and the power that inspired them. Create, create, and create again – for it is in the creation that we find ourselves.

***

Thanks so much, Layne, for allowing me to share your work — and for being one of my tax season 911 rescuers!  If you’d like to hear more from Layne and several other very talented writers, come join us at The Write Stuff. Whether your masterpiece is merely a twinkle in your eye or — like my novel and Layne’s blog — held captive somewhere in the birth canal, we’d love to have you.  Write Stuff offers a nurturing and supportive cocoon in which writers of all genres can let their creativity blossom and grow. For meeting details contact our fearless leader Mary DiVincenzo (marydv@sbcglobal.net) or me (pdwms0605@gmail.com).

Now back to my 1040s …

On Gratitude — Long Past Due

I once ‘failed miserably’ as I tried to complete an exercise in which I had to list ten – just ten – things for which I was thankful. It only took a few seconds, but then I couldn’t stop!  Like the Energizer Bunny, I just kept going – and going and going.  Days later, I was still adding to the list. I even discovered a few oh-my-Gods that were marvels in disguise. In fact, I was so focused on the things about which I was happy, I forgot what misery had driven me to take the course in the first place.

I strongly suspect that was the speaker’s objective.

Another of the things I discovered was that in all my gratefulness, a few things got short-changed. Yes, I love that which resulted from them, but the original catalysts deserve their props as well. Following are my top five.

Thank heaven for blind dates. Had it not been for that fateful one back in 1987 or thereabouts, I’d still be one of LA’s invisible millions. Instead, I live in Simi Valley, the sometimes-safest-always-the-most-beautiful city in America, surrounded by some of the most incredible people in the world. And despite the bitterness of that fateful first dinner — and the jackass who needed my credit card to pay for it —  the wonderful aftertaste lingers on my tongue and continues each day to amaze and delight me.

Oh, I am so very grateful to the banking industry! Now, now … I know you’re not very happy with the rat bastards right now. But I thank them for my exile from their ranks; I’m especially grateful for the generosity with which they compensated my departure. Now when I tell my boss to kiss-me-where-the-sun-don’t-shine, my only lament is that I’m not double-jointed enough to actually do so.

As much as I adore bacon, I am very thankful for my brief visit to Vegetarianville (that was during my super-‘fro-tie-dyed-livin’-off-the-land phase). Without it, I wouldn’t have experienced the shortest pregnancy in history.  By the time I figured out that it was my second daughter – and not the absence of red meat from my diet – that was the source of my nausea, I was in labor.

Major gratitude is due my hot pink suede bell-bottoms! As I wriggled across the dance floor at my first frat party, two ginormous  red and white pompoms and their matching Sly hat very smoothly cut in and cut a rug. Later that semester I married the engineer under that disguise – the love of my life. I’m chuckling now as I realize my very chic don’t-open-the-front-door-unless-perfectly-coordinated-and-properly-accessorized older daughter is learning that she is the product of that fashion catastrophe.

Finally, I am eternally thankful to Walgreen’s.  Had they been open when my mom decided she didn’t have a headache after all on that snowy night half a century ago, I might not be here thanking anybody for anything. Thanks, Mom, for saying yes. Thanks, Dad, for being unprepared.  And thanks so much, Walgreen’s, for being closed.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my friends.

Dr Wrong, I Presume

“There is nothing ‘wrong’ with you. Many people have issues with their sexuality, others come to me simply to explore and learn.”

My therapist’s words were reassuring, but I was still uncertain I should be there; perhaps I should just continue being patient. After all, when the right man comes along won’t I just automatically feel the fire that others lust for, write about, sing praises to — the flame that seems to make them burn from the inside out (and that sometimes requires the use of antibiotics)?

“First, you need to relax and not let your inhibitions paralyze you. I can help you do that. Here, let me slip off your shoes. Now put your feet up on the sofa, close your eyes and take a deep breath.”

As the calm, soothing firmness of his voice enveloped me, I felt the wall I’d built up over so many years cracking, then crumbling,  eventually dissolving into nonexistence. He knelt next to me and ever so gently kissed my mouth – just a touch – before his tongue traced the bridge of my nose and lightly tickled first one, then the other of my eyelids. His soft, supple lips nuzzled my ears – nipping playfully at each of their lobes — and explored a tingling path down my neck and into the cleavage below. His fingers gently unbuttoned my blouse, their softness deftly dancing over, then slipping beneath the lace that no longer even pretended to guard my heaving breasts. As he firmly cupped each of them and lightly …

Beep!! Beep!! Beep!!

CRASH!!!

Damn! F@%&ing alarm clock! I reached over and slapped my dream’s intruder off the nightstand with all the force I could muster before my morning caffeine. I felt no sympathy as it collided with the wall – just desserts for having ruined mine.

As I rubbed my eyes and consciousness slowly and reluctantly re-entered the abruptly vacated space between my ears, I revisited my nocturnal fantasy. Lula (my subconscious – you met her in See, I Told You So) had chosen as my wanton, wayward, well-on-his-way-to-a-malpractice-suit therapist, Law & Order’s Dr George Huang.  Yes, Dr Huang is sensitive (I love men who are in touch with their better, feminine halves), he’s smart (I absolutely love highly intelligent men) and he’s as handsome as all get-out (oh, honey, I adore good-looking men).

He’s also openly gay. Clearly, Dr Huang was all wrong for me.

Lula!  What were you thinking? Why not Elliott Stabler?  He’s got feelings, he’s bright and he just sizzles!

Yes, dear, but he also has a hot temper. Stabler is a violent, unstable jack-ass!

Well, let’s try this again. How about that cute little assistant DA, Ron Carver? I’m sure he has feelings somewhere beneath that dorsal fin, he’s definitely brilliant and I love dark chocolate – especially when it covers such a nice pair of …

Yes, dear, and weren’t you warned to stay away from lawyers? He’s a slimy, rapacious jack-ass!

NBC’s nocturnal-nookie-fodder pool was rapidly going the way of Afros, dashikis and platform shoes.

Okay, so let’s change the channel!  You could have chosen my favorite heart-and-all-points-south-to-the-tips-of-my-toes throb Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Yeah … ohhh … yeah. Again – good heart, big brain, hot everything! 

Yes, dear, but Gibbs has been divorced three times!  He’s a fickle, indecisive jack-ass!

Seriously? Lula, I know you love me and want the best for me, but Huang? In case you haven’t noticed lately, my danglies are up north, not down south. He wouldn’t even know what to do with mine!

I didn’t hear you complaining last night.

Your something short of sympathetic attitude truly underwhelms me. You’re my subconscious, my guide.  You’re supposed to have my back.

Your back is not your part that concerns me.

[light bulb struggling to glow overhead] Oh … okay; I get it.  Not one of my choices was, by your yardstick, suitable. This is about my “bad boy” thing, isn’t it? Was this perhaps your far more entertaining for you than for me attempt to call attention to my moth-to-a-candle-flame attraction to unavailable men?

If the slipper fits, princess …

Okay; you could have a point. Maybe I do need to work on this.

I’ll discuss it with my therapist tonight …