Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Screaming Whispers

My neighborhood is undergoing major construction. They’re renovating old condos and putting up new ones. The constant hums of backhoes and bulldozers pummeling down upon new territory has been a normal everyday occurrence. The loud beeping sounds from machines going into reverse has been forever embedded into my brain. It’s just a background noise now. Around around 4pm, it seems to simmer down because when I get home, it’s pretty peaceful. I hear kids playing on the street, the sounds of feet pounding the pavement by a passing runner or two and a few dogs barking here and there. That to me, is peaceful.

When I got home last night, it was a different story. I had lugged all of my things up the stairs and into my apartment. I went into my office where it overlooks another set of apartment buildings with their decks facing me. I sat down to finish up some things on the computer before making dinner for Madelene. A few moments later, I hear a woman screaming bloody murder. She was yelling on top of her lungs about something regarding a car. Everything else was muffled out, but still audible. It sounded as though she was running around the apartment screaming at her husband. It was then I heard objects crashing. When I opened my blinds, I saw large objects falling from the third floor of the building behind me.  The woman started throwing every single piece of furniture out of her apartment and onto the street below. It was getting dark out so I couldn’t make out exactly what was being thrown, but I knew it was large and wooden. I heard loud crashes of something that sounded similar to large planks - possibly a dining room table with chairs. It got worse.   Then I heard her go into the kitchen area breaking all sorts of glasses, whether they were plates, dining wear or fine china - this lady was doing it Greek style. Eventually the cops came and ended this domestic dispute.

Madelene had walked in the door from work greeting me with her cheery hellos, when I motioned my hand for her to come into the office and hear what’s going on. We were both shocked, because even though the cops were still there, things were still being tossed out of that apartment and onto the street. It was such a scene that nearly everyone in my building either had their windows opened or were nonchalantly walking outside to their cars getting nothing - just an excuse to hear the show from across the street. It’s funny to see how nosey most people really are. “Oh I mind my own business” - bullshit. Everyone was out there either walking their dogs, getting stuff from their cars or throwing away recyclables, as Madelene decided to do.

When Madelene came back inside, I was chuckling because every time we have an argument, I ‘scream whisper’. I know that sounds totally asinine, but when I yell, I whisper it. It’s like screaming with your teeth still together. (I guess that makes it more effective somehow.) I just don’t want other people knowing my business - especially with the busybodies in these parts. If Madelene yells at me, I just grit my teeth and say, “Lower your voice”, while whispering my angry “yell”. I guess when people are that angry, it really doesn’t matter who sees or hears it. Anger sort of takes away the conservativeness in many people and sets a stage for a ringside seat for every neighbor on your block to see.

So right now I’m sort of welcoming the lovely hums of the backhoes and bulldozers, as well as the loud beeping sounds from the machines that are always going into reverse. I wonder if they ever move forward. Hopefully the neighbors across the way did.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Love Keeps No Record...

What makes a couple stay together for so long? What’s their secret? I’ve heard that asked a million times, and still, people always say, “You gotta keep the spark alive”, or “Always laugh together”.   I think all of that is part of the makeup, but what about true, unconditional acceptance? I had dated a girl a while back, where I said, “This is me.”  She said she wouldn’t have me any other way, until months down the line when she just couldn’t handle “me” anymore. I came with a warning label and always put my cards out on the table. When I met Madelene, I did the same. I also expected the same response, but she seemed stronger than the rest. Months went by, years went by, and she still loved, “me”.

It’s not all about finding the “perfect person” - it’s about accepting and loving the person for who they are, even finding yourself not wanting to live without their idiosyncrasies. What would I ever do if I wasn’t with Madelene and I didn’t get to hear her sneeze a hundred times in a row every single morning? ...I’d be lost. What would she do if I didn’t bitch and moan about eating whole wheat pasta and flipping my lid every single month when PMS strikes? (Probably live a much more peaceful life.) But, she accepts “me” and all of the flaws that come with my luggage. We don’t have the perfect marriage, but because of the imperfections that we do accept---this actually makes it perfect.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

People hold too much resentment in their hearts for way too long. They’re quick to get angry and very slow to forgive. This is why I don’t like hearing the word, “pride”. To me, it reminds me of a bitter person who bites their tongue whenever the thought of forgiveness pops into their heads. To me, it’s holding up a face that hides the true heart. Whenever someone hides their true heart, they kill themselves slowly. They may feel they’re getting this person back by not forgiving them, but in reality, when time has passed, the only person they’re hurting and ‘getting back’ at, are themselves.

So next time you choose to remain angry at your loved ones or a friend, just remember that unforgiveness will hurt you more than it hurts them. Accepting unforgiveness is like ingesting poison. It literally will kill you both emotionally as well as physically. Forgiveness doesn’t always have to mean being best friends with the offender again, but it should release the negative energy, both for you and the person who had offended you. In a loving relationship, forgiveness is a huge thing. If you’re not able to see past the wrongs of your significant other, and realize you can only handle so much, then let them go, but also, let the bitterness go along with it. Carrying around bitterness is like carrying a bottle of boric acid with a hole in it. It’ll eventually eat at you. But, if you can get past the wrongs that have been done, then truly let go, forgive, and of course, try try try to forget.

Love keeps no record of when it’s been wronged.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our Upcoming Anniversary: Reflections & Funny Moments

It’s all flooding back into my mind as thoughts trickle back to this time last year. We were preparing for our big day, October 11th. I was so excited to marry my best friend, and at the same time, scared to death of the ceremony itself: “Will I pass out? Will I trip and fall walking in the sand up to the priest? Will my hair come out okay?” All of these anxiety provoking thoughts literally drove me insane. For the few months right before our wedding, I drank myself into oblivion. I didn’t want the ‘what if’ thoughts haunting me until my feet turned into complete icicles. I wanted my jitters to disappear and excitement of ‘oh it’s just a vacation’ type of feeling to take its place.

At the home front, Madelene would not let me watch Bridezilla. She forbid it. I really didn’t know why since I wasn’t complaining about anything...yet. I watched it on my own and had seen what these people had to endure. Some of it was funny, and some of it was more anxiety provoking than I had initially realized. I was finally seeing why Madelene was forbidding me to watch this show - she was afraid I’d turn into one of these monstrous women. I’m afraid to say I’m already monstrous as it is...

When we arrived in Provincetown, MA, two days before our wedding date, we settled in at the bed & breakfast, and I remember just sitting at the counter of our eat in kitchen looking out of the window at the koi pond. I poured a glass of wine to settle my nerves from the six hour trip and then started unpacking our bags, making sure all of our garments were neatly placed into the closet. Madelene had walked into the suite with the last of our luggage. We just stood there staring at one another, smiling. This was it. After 14 years of dating, it was finally going to be official. We just hugged one another tightly, tears filling our eyes with a ton of emotions of what we’ve been through all these years. From the good times, to the times we’ve separated, to where we had some of our loved ones pass away in our lives, to the tears we both shared together, as well as all the laughter that has helped heal us in the process. We were best friends, lovers - we were family.   Now, we would be united as a family unit, continuing our journey together as one.

Our guests started arriving into town, preparing themselves for their very first time witnessing a lesbian wedding. It meant so much to us that everyone was so willing to go out of their way, take some time off from work and travel that far to be with us on our special day. The evening before our wedding, a few of our friends came by to see us in our suite to make a toast. We stayed up until midnight, talking and laughing. I was surprised that I actually slept that evening. I usually get insomnia when I’m nervous, but somehow, my nerves stood still, not letting me feel the inner explosion of anxiety brewing.

When I had woken up the next morning, I ordered room service so we could have breakfast. It was always doctored up to look like some glamorous statue on a pile of eggs, but to me, just give me a normal diner-like grub. Madelene insisted I get ready first, since she knew it would take me at least two hours to primp myself. We didn’t want to go the whole nine yards and get some hair stylist that would make us look like Madusa, but of course, “Deb” needed her mani & pedi.  As I’m showering, I begin shaving my leg and accidently chipped off a huge chunk of my French manicure. I wouldn’t have usually barked at this, but #1, it was my wedding day and #2, it was my RING FINGER! I walked out of the bathroom crying, with a towel on my head, wearing the hotel’s community robe and holding up my first with my ring finger sticking up as if I were flipping the bird.

“I-I-I-I ch-ch-ch-chipped my rinngggg fingggerrrrr!”

You could see Madelene’s face completely drop, as she was on the phone yelling at the florist for effing up our flower arrangements we had ordered months ago. We were both supposed to hold beautiful white rose bouquets, however they failed to complete the order, giving one of us a white rose bouquet, and the other order, a simple red boutonniere.  Since I was wearing a red dress and Madelene was wearing an off white silky number, it would have complimented us due to the color scheme.  "That's perfect! Keep it like that!" I yelped from inside of the bathroom, thinking how great it would match. Somehow this took my mind off my ring finger and onto us matching more. After she hung up the phone, I then went back into panic mode and said, “Call the nail salon for an emergency appointment!”
As some of you may know, Provincetown is a walking town. They are very critical about anyone using motorized vehicles that spew out emissions. Most people ride bikes or just walk. Cars and motorized scooters are completely shunned at. The salon was five blocks away from our B&B. I put on all of my under gear (which was a project in itself) and headed down with poor Madelene five blocks just to get this goddam nail fixed. I remember it was getting warm out and I was beginning to perspire. My hair was already done and now here I am shuffling up and down hills just to make it to this dinky salon. Although they had to cut a lot off of my nails, they did a well enough job where I wasn’t ashamed to give my hand to Madelene, without it looking like some jagged edged botched up manicure. As we’re heading back up these San Francisco-like hills, my feet started to hurt because my flip flops were digging into my two toes. I literally had to walk back up the hill barefoot.When we got back to the suite, I jumped into my dress and tried to clean up the best I can without smudging the touchup on my nails. Madelene hopped into the shower and got ready in less than one hour.  She came out looking stunningly gorgeous. In my mind I was thinking: why do you want to marry me? It was the first thought when I first met her: why would you want to date me? I’ve always looked at her with such amazement. I’ve always felt extremely lucky and proud to call her my girlfriend; proud to now call her my wife.

Madelene’s mom and her adorable boyfriend, Robert came by to help her get ready. I made them drinks, except for myself. I couldn’t drink for some reason. I was too wound up. I know that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but I was actually too nervous to drink. We had the photographer coming and that alone gave me such anxiety, that I think I was in a silent type of shock. It was becoming more “real”. It was really happening. And then, when our photographer came in to take snapshots of us getting ready, and Madelene’s mom primping her beautiful daughter up, both Madelene and I had tears in our eyes. It may have not been what Madelene’s mom had initially wanted for her daughter, but nonetheless, she was there the whole time supporting us, accepting us and being there as she always was. I’m so grateful for her being there. Madelene was thrilled. They all looked genuinely happy, and that in itself made the entire process much more of an easier flow. I can’t thank them enough.When the photographer showed up, he immediately started taking snapshots of us getting ready. Then he had us sit in the living room of our suite to take a few more photos. As we were trying to make it out of the courtyard of the B&B, it was stop and go process, because the photographer had to stop every two inches to take a photo over here, and over there, and a bit to the left and a bit to the right. What about the fountain - girls - stand there - pose like this - hold the flowers this way - move your arm. After a while, since I had not been drinking, it started to get on my last nerve. Enough.As I held the bouquet while Madelene wore her boutonniere, we started walking down the crowded street, known as the famous, “Commercial Street”. We heard people scream from their decks, “Congratulations girls!” People passing by complimented us and congratulated us. We saw couples holding hands, watching us walk down the street preparing to tie the knot with a look of hope in their eyes. As we approached one area, we heard a crowd of people clapping and cheering us on. Our photographer was walking backwards, right in front of us taking tons of photos. I truly felt like we were walking on the red carpet. I felt outside myself, somehow blocking all of these emotions out. As we walked into the restaurant to meet everyone so we can guide them in the back onto the beach for the ceremony, we were welcomed by friendly and familiar faces with tears in their eyes. That in itself was the most meaningful moment in my entire life.
We all walked together onto the beach. The sun was shining bright, it was 75 degrees and the ocean looked just amazing. We stood out there, waiting for our minister to arrive. When he walked down the rocky steps to join us, that’s when my heart started to pound rapidly, making the palms of my hands sweat with anticipation and fear that I never knew I had inside of me. Madelene’s eyes looked different. Her deep dark brown eyes turned into greenish-brown. I remember her eyelashes fluttering and her lips quivering just a bit. Everyone got into their places. My best friend Lisa stood beside me and grabbed my bouquet. Madelene’s mom was standing right near her. It got suddenly very quiet. It was like the world stopped for a few moments. I glanced over up by the fences and realized the entire town was looking down upon us with hope and happiness in their eyes. I didn’t realize how big this would be. It was supposed to be a small intimate ceremony of twelve of us on the beach, but instead, it was all of us, and the rest of Provincetown overlooking our vows made in public. While the minister performed the ceremony, Madelene’s eyes welled up with tears, as did mine. The Rev. David L. Clarke not only said the most beautifully scripted ceremony for us, but he recognized how important it was for us to be blessed by the Trinity and made our day so complete with his professionalism, as well as his faith and spirituality. It was such an honor to have him marry us.
So today, with only a bit over a week until we head over to Provincetown, MA once again for our one year anniversary, it’s nice to rewind, reflect and see how far we have come. This entire year of being officially married to Madelene has been the best year of my life. We’ve met so many people, we’ve had so many good times in our new home and our bond has gotten so much stronger. I’ve heard that the first year of marriage is always rocky and insane, but for us it was the most amazing year of our lives. Maybe that’ll give hope to newly engaged couples, I don’t know. But, as the memories flood my mind with all of the times spent with Madelene, my wife, I’m excited for the years ahead of us. I’m so happy that we picked one another as life partners. I couldn’t live my life without her.

Thanks to everyone who was there for us this time last year, cheering us on, being apart of our special day. Also, thank you for my family and friends back at home who couldn’t make it, who were there in spirit, wishing us happiness on our big day. We felt your vibes!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Jab

Sometimes I feel like everybody in my life wants to give me a jab because either they’re in a bad mood or they resent me for something.  Maybe it’s all in my head, I don’t know. As of lately, I’ve noticed certain people who are in my life poking at me for the smallest of things, making a big fiasco out of nothing. I find that if I don’t respond the way they want me to (combative and explosive), then they seem to get angrier. I simply accept what they say, without it seeming arrogant or nonchalant, nor undermining their feelings, and then I get blasted with a well thought out rebuttal as though they were saying, “Watch--this’ll get under her skin...”

Even when I try to go out of my way for these people to do nice things for them, or to make them feel better when they’re seemingly in a disgruntle mood, I get comments like, “Aww, was that a Hallmark moment for you?” Maybe I don’t understand people as well as I thought I did. Maybe I’m doing something wrong here but all I know is, people hurt others for the strangest reasons. Some I’ve found are so insecure with themselves, that they’ll jump through hoops in order for you to feel the same way. If they’re having a shitty day, rest assure that they’ll find a way to make yours shitty too.

I truly believe that if you’ve ever been burned, hurt, or verbally abused in your life - this does not mean that everyone else is out there to get you, or will do the same thing as others did to you in the past. I know many people have trust issues. Even I have trust issues, but in life, you have to take chances with people and give them the benefit of the doubt. The way I see people treating one another, (and I’m not excluding myself here either, ‘cause God knows I’ve said some awful things in my time)-- it's just so sad. We communicate with proverbial shields and double-edged swords. We try to protect ourselves so much and lash out when needed, or sometimes, when it’s not needed at all. Our temperaments have spiraled down into an explosion of raw emotions and our patience has dwindled down to a pile of ashes.

So next time you feel like giving someone "the jab” just because you’re not feeling up to par that day, just remember- life has a funny way of boomeranging the jab right back atchya’. Karma’s funny that way, and in no means do I imply revenge, it’s just how the universe works.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Lesbian Antifeminist?

Back in November of 2004, I was finally fed up with wearing contact lenses and having to wear these Coke bottle-like glasses when my eyes needed a rest from being suffocated. Although the glasses I wore were high end names and very trendy, my eyes appeared like little black dots due to the extreme near-sidedness. It looked like I had no eyes: just a mouth, nose and glasses. I was legally blind, so at times, I needed to wear reading glasses on top of my contact lenses. I was a complete mess. Every morning, I’d reach to feel for my glasses on the nightstand, knocking down whatever else was in the way. I literally could not see past one inch of my face. It was time for a change.

I went in for a consultation with a well-known doctor for lasik eye surgery in Westchester, NY. I figured, if he did Tiger Woods eyes, then he must be good. Tiger Woods was legally blind like myself, but with a much bigger career with smaller holes to fill.  As I got each eye tested, poked and prodded by the eye doctor’s assistants, I had to wait in a small room to finally see if I was a candidate for lasik eye surgery. After two hours, a woman comes in and tells me that one of my eyes had a cornea that was way too thin to operate on, and if I did want to go ahead and continue, that I would have to sign a waiver form where if I did lose all of my cornea, that they would not be held responsible for making me blind or having to get a cornea transplant. I signed every waiver form possible because to me, I was blind already. It was then I had asked to speak to the doctor who was going to perform the surgery.

“I’ll be operating on you,” the woman said, with a slight firmness in her voice.

Did she mean “help” operate, or did she mean she was the surgeon? I had just signed my eyes over to a woman with a knife. I’m all for women's rights, but when it comes to my eyes - the two things that enable me to see the world - I admit, I was hesitant because it was a female doctor. Although I felt bad about how I felt and assuming that the doctor would be a male, I also stood my ground and really wished I had a male doctor. She had done many celebrities’ eyes and for her, I was just a pion that had a bit of money to spend for my peepers. She then asked if I was ready to go in, handed me a valium (yay), and walked me down the hall into the operating room. When the door opened, there were four other women around the table to help with the procedure. Oh how this killed me. There was not one man there to watch over the surgery. Okay. Okay. The show must go on. Hindsight 20/20 (literally) they performed miracles, and I have never seen so clearly before in my life.  I was proven wrong.

This also reminds me of a time when Madelene and I were looking for a minister to marry us. She kept picking out female ordained ministers. Of course, these ladies were also lesbians too. I didn’t want that. I wanted what everyone else got - a male priest who believed in the trinity and who presented himself in a more official way. It sounds very narrow-minded, but it didn’t seem official in my mind if it wasn’t “traditionally done”. I mean, granted, gay and lesbian weddings aren’t quite “traditional” in the sense that we would think it would be, but I wanted it to feel real, because my love was real.

Last year, three months before our wedding, we had many ministers in Provincetown, MA offering to marry us. Most of them were ordained wishy-washy extreme feminist-type liberals. I cringed. “No way am I having one of those hardcore militants marrying us!” We sifted through tons of lists of ministers and finally found a male Christian minister who believed in gay marriages. I was thrilled.

Call me an antifeminist if you’d like, but I still believe in traditional aspects of certain lines of work and religious orders. For instance, I refuse to go to church having a female minister, yet I will listen to female ministers on the radio or on TV, like Joyce Meyer, and take it more as an encouraging seminar, rather than a service or mass. I’m also hesitant about female presidents. When Hillary Clinton was running for president, I would have voted for her, however only because I knew that her husband, who I love, would have helped her a great deal. I’m not sure if I even like what I’m saying, but this is just my pure honest and raw feelings about how I feel about women in high positions. I know that some of you will have opposing views, which I expect and respect, but all my life I have felt this way. ...I wish I didn’t.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Silent Insanity of Life Coaches

Call me judgmental, but when I hear the words “life coach”, I cringe. Most life coaches are conjuring up more ‘fans’ to attend their $500.00 seminar and buying heaps of their CDs on “life’s instructions”. I think helping people is great, but when does it ever get to the point of swindling people out of money just to give them a few words of encouragement? I’ve received a few unwanted emails on Facebook from people who aren’t even on my friends’ list. “Come log onto my live internet talk show”, and then they provide ways where you can sign up and buy your million dollar ticket into getting a few words of bullshit. I’m being harsh, but there is a reason for my madness.

Let me explain...

A few years back, I was picking up my friend who had lost her heat in a five family apartment building. It was a beautiful Victorian house that was rebuilt and designed for rentals. It was 20 below 0 outside and she had no other means of heat. I offered her to stay at our place since we had heat as well as a fireplace just in case ours went out too. Her landlord’s oil burner kept crapping out, leaving the entire building freezing. It was then we heard a knock on the door. It was her neighbor. She lived downstairs with her son. She wanted to see if we were having the same problem as far as no heat. She sat down on the couch and started rambling off about her messy divorce. She badmouthed her ex-husband to the point of no return. She was slightly shaking while talking to us about other personal matters (which we did not need to know) that she was upset with. Her eyes were crazy. They were jolting from side to side, and her leg was shaking so incredibly fast that I wondered if she was on some sort of drugs or medications, but then came to realize she had some sort of emotional problem. I asked her what it was she did for a living, since she was crying about how she had no money. She responded: “I’m a life coach.” My friend and I just shot a look at one another like, “Is she serious?”

About a week later, we were carrying a little entertainment center that I was giving to my friend up the stairs of the building she had lived in. This “life coach” comes running up to my friend while we’re lifting it up each stair one by one and says frantically, “Are you okay??? Is everything alright? I heard screams coming out of your apartment! What happened? I had a feeling-- a very very bad feeling! My intuition is always right. Are you in trouble?” My friend just gave her a look of fear and told her she hadn't been home the entire weekend. The lady backed up slowly, nodding and staring at us like a complete lunatic that had just seen a few martians land and stumble onto the front lawn from outer space. I tried to compose myself and make like it was no big deal. We continued the best we can with muffled laughter to haul this thing back up the stairs as we were initially doing.

As we huffed and puffed while sitting on the entertainment center upstairs, with the door locked and bolted, I looked at my friend and said, “You gotta be kidding me. She’s a life coach? Are she for real?” We had a good laugh, but with all seriousness, isn’t that sort of scary? I’ve met a few more “life coaches” that had similar personality qualities. They were slightly “off” or they lashed out at the smallest of things. Some of them laughed like lunatics - overdoing it to show “enthusiasm” or wanted to make people feel their excitement of insanity. I cannot explain the quality of these people I have met who are in this line of work, but is it safe to take advice from someone who appears they have just gotten out of a mental institution? On top of that, their business is solely run off begging people for money. You can argue with me till you're blue in the face, but this is what I have witnessed with my own eyes and personal experiences. What’s wrong with a good old fashioned therapist to talk to these days? The big deal now are “life coaches”. No offense to anyone who are life coaches, but seriously, take a look at some of the people you work along with. Evaluate their actions a bit and most of all, their motives. I have many other similar stories like the one I have described in this post, but I think you get my drift.

I realize we all have our little quirks and problems in life. That’s just being human. But seriously --would you go for “life coaching” from somebody who appears unstable? It's like getting your hair done by someone who is bald or getting a manicure by someone who has ripped up cuticles and jagged edged nails.   I apologize if I sound rude, but it’s a question I have always raised silently. I guess now, it’s not so silent.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Did You Really Have to Say That?

While grabbing a coffee at a local cafe nearby, I overheard a woman say something I knew that she would soon regret. She had reconnected with an old female coworker while waiting for her latte. By the conversation, you could tell that they’ve worked together for a long time, but when the job ended, so did their friendship. They never kept in touch after the company went out of business. It seemed like a friendly little chatter, until the woman asked her old friend, “So, when are you expecting?” You could tell the woman was shocked by this question, leaving me to believe that she wasn’t pregnant at all. Her response was, “The day you get a face lift.” She then dropped a wrapper in the garbage and quickly shuffled out of the cafe obviously insulted. The woman still left in the cafe looked over at anyone who may have overheard this appalling exchange, shot a glance at me and then slightly lifted her arms as to say, “Did I say something wrong?”

Whether it was a matter of being right or wrong by asking that question, it was more of a question about the levels of social skills. In my opinion, it’s a total faux pas to ask someone if they’re expecting without knowing for sure if they are indeed, pregnant. But that’s just my opinion. There are many topics not to bring up while interacting with certain people, especially those you don’t know well, and those you haven’t seen in a very long time. People get offended very easily and others simply blow things off as if it were no big deal. You have to use discernment and your own personal judgment. Do you know this person well enough to ask these questions? I even feel that asking, “Have you lost weight” may be seen as offensive, because that implies that you thought they were once overweight - even if they were - it’s still better just to remain quiet or just say, “Wow, you look great!”

Here’s another thing I have witnessed... I have a good friend who recently lost a lot of weight. She was the nicest, funniest person you’d ever want to meet. She’d go out of her way just to make you laugh. She was warm, caring and willing to help if you needed her at any given time. She was just a pleasure to be around. She accepted everyone, but with her limits of course, like anyone else. When she lost all the weight, she became a total different person. She became arrogant and offensive. She’d say the very things she used to get offended over. She now mocks people who are overweight and pokes fun at people less fortunate than herself. This one girl, who I simply adored, has become a total different person all because of her weight loss. I’ve seen this before with many other people who have lost a significant amount of weight. My question is: was the arrogance in them this whole time, but they just couldn’t let it out due to fear of being attacked and being called, “fat”? Or is it simply resentment for those who have tortured them in the past for being overweight? I could never figure that one out. I know confidence goes a long way, but when does it exceed the limits and trickle over into the category of arrogance?

Maybe some people don’t realize what they’re doing or saying.  Maybe it was how they were brought up - but I hate that excuse. I can’t stand it when people just throw out, “Well it’s likely he or she was brought up differently”---and I know that statement holds true somewhat, but to use it every time someone does something shitty to someone just baffles me. There is always a psychological reason for behavior, but when I see it unfolding, I just have to raise my eyebrows and think: “Did you really have to say that?”

Defining Ourselves

They say the past makes us who we are today, but my question is: does it always define us? Do you feel like you’re the only one suffering emotionally in life? Does it feel as though no one else would possibly understand the dilemmas you face? Would people even consider what you’re going through, a “dilemma” and chuck it up to something insignificant ---undermining your feelings and possibly crushing every ounce of self-esteem you have left? Granted, we all have secrets and skeletons hidden away in that closet no one knows about, but there are so many people walking around with smiles on their faces, when deep down inside, they’re dying. With hesitance to share their feelings with anyone close to them, like a trusted friend or relative, they stuff it behind their hearts, making sure there are no remnants of evidence left to be found. Their life is perfect and they don’t need anybody butting into their lives; they don’t need any help.

Who wants to open up to other people, possibly leaving themselves vulnerable to judgment and criticism? This is why most people are so tightlipped. My friends sometimes ask me why I’m so open about my life on my blog. I have revealed practically everything on this blog. (Key word being, “practically”.) Of course, some things are better left unsaid, however, each bit of information on this blog is raw, truthful and sometimes a bit too much for someone to take in if they know me well. With that, I have experienced those who read my blog, or have read my book come to me revealing their deepest, darkest feelings and tribulations in life that they would never tell anyone else. “Wow, there’s someone else who struggles with this too!” It may not be the same subject matter, but nonetheless, they are matters of the heart that pull and tug at us as if we were a bunch of marionettes.
We hide that “this life” we have is not the one we have always dreamed of. We hide that when we were younger, we were verbally or physically abused. We hide the fact that we’re ready to forgive, yet we display our pride as if it were gold.  We hide that we secretly love to dance, yet we remain as wallflowers wishing we were brave enough.  We hide that we’re attracted to the same sex. We hide that we’re struggling with low self-esteem. We hide that we’re in a loveless marriage or relationship.  We hide our depression, putting on a smile instead, trying to make others smile and laugh. We hide our tears, trying to help others cope with their sadness. We hide our belief in God, because well, that would be weak if we believed in something that was unseen - we’d be thought of as “insane”.  We hide that we miss the one person who has hurt us the most in our lives.  We hide that we secretly want kids, or that we secretly wish we hadn't had children.  We wish we said, "I love you", before they passed on. We hide our political views, in fear that we would be attacked for having different opinions and views than the majority. We hide our past, because...the past makes us who we are today, however, it has yet to define us.

What would make you happier in life?  What's "your" secret?  

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Embracing the Entirety

Thanks to everyone who reads me who’ve asked if I was okay due to my sad post the other day. Yes, I’m fine. It’s just a spell I go under once an anxiety attack strikes. It’s almost like a hangover after a wild night of partying, except, it hurts in a different way. The fact is, more people than admitted go through it and just chuck it up to fatigue or that they are just feeling under the weather. Instead of fighting it, I embrace it, acknowledge it, go through the process and usually that will enable me to fall out of it quicker. Even if I do charge full speed ahead and go against the grain, I still live inside my head. I’m silent and somewhat withdrawn, and yet of course, physically there.

The other night while having a little fromage and wine with a good friend, she asked me, “Do you feel okay? It looks like you’ve been crying a lot.” To my surprise, I thought I had covered it up with my foundation and eye make up. She saw right through my homemade mask and looked at my eyes, not just the entirety of them. Some people would be embarrassed by being ‘found out’ - but for me, it was refreshing in a roundabout way to know someone else can actually see and feel what I’m experiencing. Having gone through similar situations herself, I’m so grateful I found such an amazing person to share my thoughts and feelings with. We’re each other’s sounding boards. There are some people in my life that just don’t ‘get it’, and that’s okay. People are different and many people that are close to me rather not see me in that state. Other people, like my friend who are close to me, embrace it for what it is and know that it’s still “me”...it’s still me hiding underneath it all. Even though I know therapists are great to have - even for the most sanest of people - it’s even better when you can rely on a good friend to share your feelings with. So (thank you), to my friend. And thank you for those reading me who have shared your experiences with me and those who have also emailed me with their concerns.

I truly believe that if we don’t embrace the sad times in our lives, then we truly cannot embrace the happiness that follows after it. Just like a rainbow after the storm, there is always something to look forward to once everything has been washed out (cried out), and cleaned out of our systems. It’s only then, the sunshine will be able to seep through the fog and cast away all the clouds.

Have a wonderful last weekend of summer!

This post is dedicated to Myriam.  

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Aftermath Within

For what seems like forever could only measure up to mere hours. My anxiety attack that I had experienced the day before and yesterday morning has finally morphed into the silence that’s also known as, depression. Everything around me feels quiet, still and unpredictable. My surroundings don’t feel secure any longer, as they once used to. The weather somehow mimics every feeling I have inside, as though it has predicted this storm I’m having within. Like the thick clouds above, there’s this heaviness that I have in my heart, filled with tears. The rain is sporadic; so are my crying episodes. It’ll pass and it’ll be sunny once again. Weather is so predictable sometimes.

No words, hidden meanings behind snarky comments or people’s judgments can hurt me now. I’m numb, as though it were a shield protecting me. Nothing can hurt me at this very moment. Both anxiety and depression are awful things to experience, but I’d pick depression over anxiety any given day. I don’t want to feel the rush of fear flowing through every vein in my body. I don’t want my chest to hurt from not breathing properly, making me think it’s probably a heart attack. I’d rather the silence, the thoughts that delve deep into the pit of my heart and the tears that come along with it as well. Even though it’s a dark place, my body feels at rest somewhat...in this dark place called depression. Maybe that’s God’s way of curing the anxiety. Depression is the pill to cure all of those anxious feelings. The side effects include: tears, fatigue, thoughts of the past and numbness to the rest of the world.

If you don’t hear from me today, it’s because my heart is resting from the constant pounding of the fear that stems from the the battles of the outside world, and of course, from within.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"It Just Came On All of the Sudden"

Usually, when somebody has a panic attack, they know where it comes from. Most of the time, they know what initially triggered it.  For someone with anxiety disorder, the response you will usually hear would be, “It just came on out of nowhere.” When you delve deeper, there is usually a trigger inside, hiding for dear life. I have been diagnosed with “anxiety disorder” since I was 16 years old. I have also been diagnosed for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Some mornings, usually mid-morning after having coffee and overanalyzing my life into shreds and pieces, I’ll experience an anxiety attack. My wife will ask, “Well what triggered it? Are you upset? Are you thinking about something?”

“No...It just came on all of the sudden.”

Days later when I look back on the entire situation, possibly after an emergency room visit for chest pains, I’ll remember what had happened the day before. Did I just block it out, or did I simply shove everything into the “anxiety disorder category”? You have people who experience anxiety on an everyday basis. It’s usually defined as, “generalized anxiety”. Who doesn’t have it? The question is: how well does each person cope with it? I’d like to reclassify “anxiety disorder” to “anxiety coping disorder”. It makes sense.   Sure, there are chemical imbalances that trigger most of our dysfunctional brain operations and whatnot, however without the necessary tools, treatment and/or medications (if need be, which I am personally against), then you’re bound to end up having, “anxiety coping disability”.

Here’s what I’m experiencing... I’ve been taking a lot more notice of my surroundings, people around me as well as situations that occur. When I develop an anxiety attack, it is entirely up to me to either give up and “panic”, or desperately seek self-helping alternatives. Whenever a doctor would tell me to practice my breathing exercises, I’d simply say, “I breathe every day of my life, give me a damn break.” I’ve never really believed in them. It was just some b/s a doctor would say. But, when I really need help managing my anxiety at that very moment: it is all about the breathing --nothing else. Of course, visualization techniques and perhaps peaceful sounds or tranquil music help as well. In fact, last night I was having a huge panic attack. On top of that, a friend of mine started messaging me late last night trying to start an argument with me for some reason. This triggered it even more. I went on Twitter and found a website that was amazing. It has every type of sound or music that will help you either lessen your anxiety and/or make you fall asleep. It’s good for insomnia too. Click here and see for yourself. This worked wonders for me.

Many of times, when people get panic attacks, it also trickles into a depressive episode that can last from a day up to a few weeks, depending on the severity of their condition. It is absolutely mentally, emotionally as well as physically exhausting. People who do not experience panic attacks simply do not understand it. In fact, many people undermine the condition, which is why many insurance companies do not pay for good psychiatric care or counseling which is needed. You’ll find most of the time, the copay is through the roof. A good psychiatrist will charge you from $75 - $250, sometimes using a sliding scale that never seems to slide to the left. Depending on your income, as well as their judgments, you can either get a good deal or just be screwed, plain and simple. A “psychiatrist” usually scribbles a script and scrambles you out the door after 15 minutes of “evaluating” you. If they do a full 45 minutes of talk therapy, it’s usually worth shit because they aren’t trained in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is one of the many techniques psychologists and social workers do, however they cannot prescribe medication. Usually, people have to see a psychiatrist in conjunction with a person who is trained in anxiety disorder, who knows CBT and can provide you ways to cope with your anxiety. And what does that add up to? Another dent in your wallet... There are so many people walking around with such emotional grief, anxiety and depression, and simply cannot afford to get the needed help.

If you really think about it though: we can do it ourselves.  There are so many tools online that can help provide relief...for free!  There are techniques you can practice every single day to diminish those anxious feelings and push aside those doctors who milk you to the bone for having stress in your life.

In my experience, I am going to give you my tips, from what I have learned over the years with doctors, as well as what I am currently practicing in my life today.

-When you feel a panic attack coming on, acknowledge it. Don’t fight too hard to rid of it, because your breathing will fluctuate to short breaths, leaving you with less oxygen to your brain, causing dizzy spells and the ‘pins and needles’ feeling you get in your arms and hands. Breathe in deep within your diaphragm while holding your stomach. Make sure that the air makes your stomach rise a bit so you know you’re doing it right. Hold it for at least 5 seconds, then back out through your mouth slowly, visualizing the anxiety, stress, anger, frustration and sadness leaving your body. Do this about 5 times and you’ll notice significant results.

-Listen to new age music with the sounds of nature. Close your eyes and visualize sitting in the most beautiful scenery you can imagine.  

-If you believe in God, pray and meditate. Light a candle and even if you don’t have any words to speak or say for a prayer to God---listen. Sometimes the best thing to do while praying to God is listen. We talk too much anyway.

-Exercise. The trick is being “healthy” and exercising to feel good overall. Even just a 20 minute walk every day will help you a great deal. Gradually, you’ll find yourself spending more time walking and wanting to do other activities. What you want to keep in mind is: exercise isn’t only for weight loss, it’s for overall health and keeping the body moving. It also helps lower your blood pressure, which can feel like anxiety when it’s up high.

-Oh hell, I’m gonna say it: drink a glass of wine! Everything should be in moderation of course, but not only is it good for your heart, but it makes you feel calmer and despite the controversial opposite opinion regarding this suggestion----this works for me. If you overdo it, then you’ll experience anxiety from alcohol withdrawal---so moderation is the key.

-Another conflicting opinion I have polar opposite to the majority of healthcare professionals is: sometimes isolation is a good thing. When we’re exposed to many people at a time, we need to slide back a bit, because their energy may be absorbing into our own. I experience great anxiety when I am surrounded by many people at a time. Even after having a party or a get together, I’ll experience this. It’s not that the people I’m around are negative - it’s just too much energy for me to absorb at once. Make sure that your isolation period isn’t a long one, because that can trigger right into depression. So again, moderation!  

-Diet. Oh I love my bad foods as well, but when I eat a lot of bananas, berries and different bright colored vegetables, it really boosts up my energy. My wife and I have been incorporating raw vegetables and fruits into our diet, along with other things we like to enjoy. I used to hate fruit, but I have found so many benefits from it that I grew to love them now.  

-Find the root of your anxiety. Look at your surroundings. Feel the energy from what each person in your life gives off. Find solutions and talk with a good friend about your past traumatic experiences. Everything we’ve been through is all part of God’s plan. If you realize this, you’ll see how the pain of your past lessens. We’re stronger because of our past struggles.

Please keep in mind that these are all personal suggestions from a nonprofessional who *experiences* anxiety. Each person may find something that works best for them. Of course, seeing a doctor is the best option, so you can at least, have options. I’ve been living with this for so long, that I needed some self-help techniques that wouldn’t drain my wallet.  Most doctor have never really helped me, or I would have been ‘cured’.

I just don’t want the reason for my anxiety to be left at--

“It just came on all of the sudden...”

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Love You Too...

All my life, I've been the type of person where if someone said they had a surprise for me, I’d be pressuring them to tell me what it was. “What? What? What is it?”  I couldn’t just let it be, but in my mind, I kept saying, “Well if it’s a surprise, why are they telling me in the first place?” I sometimes would get caught looking into the closet where my mom had kept all of her Christmas gifts. Each sister had their own shelf. Mine, luckily was eye level since I’m the youngest. I’m not sure why my mom did it that way, since she knew damn well I’d be snooping. My presents should have sat on the very top shelf.  I’m short and scared of heights, so she had double protection right there.

I thought I grew out of it somewhat, but I didn’t. This morning Madelene came inside my office to tell me she had a surprise for me while rubbing her hands together. She looked excited about it. I don’t have a birthday coming up so this really tugged at my impatient strings. She twirled herself around and then walked out to get ready for work.

“You can’t leave it like that!” I said, possibly thinking she would have been strong enough and held it together, but as soon as I saw those cute little eyes twinkle, I knew she was going to tell me right away, or at least until I begged her another ten or twenty times. She kept insisting that it wasn’t a lavish gift and that it was something that she just wanted to do for herself, not necessarily a gift for me - but something that I would be surprised that she did. So now, I’m even more curious as to what it was.

She is printing out all of my blog posts that all have to do with her or were written for her. There are countless blog entries that were written for her so she’s going to be one busy beaver. But as I look back, I remember where I was when I wrote a particular post for her and what I was feeling at that very moment. Usually, my posts aren’t very “mushy” or over the top romantic, but this morning she touched me by how touched she was by my writing.

To my Madelene,

You are my “LOML”.  You’ve always said since the day we met that you made up those initials to state how you felt for me. “The Love Of My Life”. You wrote them along with your signature in all of your letters and cards to me while we were dating and I never put two and two together. I never figured out what it meant until you told me - until after you said you fell in love with me. I remember us having an argument on our third month of dating. I had broken up with you and stormed off out of a crowded bar because I got jealous over some guy wanting to kiss you just because it was his birthday. (Smart guy!)  I was immature and should have been thrilled that every single man and woman in there had their eyes on you, but instead, I headed out of there leaving you in a swarm of admirers. The following morning, you came over hoping to patch things up with me. I was living with my parents at the time, so my options of not answering the door was a bit limited. I did, however, have a very good lock on my bedroom door. My dad let you in because he absolutely adored you.

“Sure, she’s probably in dare’ widda’ hangover!  Go 'head and wake her up!”

I woke up to the sounds of a faint little knock. I was floating on my retro full motion waterbed, wondering who the hell would knock so lightly. My mom always tried pushing the door to its limits, even with it tightly secured, screaming, “DEBBBBB? DEBBBBBBBB? WAKE UP!”  I just remained still and tried not to make the water in the bed swish from side to side. You could have heard any movement I made. I lied there still, thinking it must have been someone else...but who?  Then I heard your sweet voice. “Deb? It’s Mad, open up please?”   My heart started pounding and my thoughts then raced over to why I was initially angry at you, but I kept thinking, wow, she’s here so early in the morning trying to make up with me. I also thought, wow she actually got past my parents!

I didn’t answer the door. My pride was too big in order to do what I really wanted to do: open the door and hug and kiss you and say it’s ok. My pride didn’t want me to see that you were the most beautiful woman, and that naturally, other people are going to think the same thing. My pride slapped me in the face and pushed me back down on the bed and said, “Don’t move, let her stew.”

When I heard you leaving, my heart sank. When I heard you leaving, tears came pouring out of my eyes because I let pride get in the way of how I really felt. I’m sorry. I was insecure and jealous. I should have opened the door for you, but instead, I waited until you left and snuck out into the living room to get a glass of water because I had a huge lump in my throat. I had fallen in love with you. I didn’t want you to know that I was in love with you because I never thought you’d ever fall in love with me.  After a few shots of Jagermeister, the truth spilled out.  I said the three words that were tugging at my heart: I love you. To me, you were too classy of a woman to fall in love with someone like me, but I still took a chance. You were an absolute queen in my eyes ----you were perfect, and still are.

It was then I looked over at the counter and saw a note written by you.

“I still love you and care for you, Debbie. If you feel I hurt you I do apologize. But if you take the time to look over the past few months and see that my words, actions and feelings add up to only one thing - the truth, you’ll see I do not have any reason to play with your head.

I love you. Last night you told me you loved me. Why are you constantly debating my feelings for you??
I love you.
Love you.
Love you,

There will never be anyone else for me, but you.”

Ever since I found this note, it has not left me. It's been folded up and has been kept with me everywhere I've gone. I have never once left home without this note. Whether we were together or separated, this note has always remained with me. I don’t know if you knew that. I don’t even know if you have a clue that this note still exists.

For fourteen years, you've been my best friend, you've been my lover, you've been everything I could ever want in one woman. You've been forgiving, understanding and has shown me what the true meaning of unconditional love means. You've shown me how happy I could be and let me know it's okay to be myself. You've never once judged me or ridiculed the way I lived or wanted to live my life. Life without you would be empty. You give me laughter, happiness, hope and love. I've never met anyone like you before. Everyday it feels new with you. Every single hour spent with you goes by so fast because we have so much fun together. Each morning while we have breakfast together, you run late because we talk until we lose track of time. We never run out of things to talk about. We never run out of things to do. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for accepting me and most of all, thank you for "you"...  Maybe you can print this post out, as well as the other archive love posts to you. 

And Madelene?  ...I love you too.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Detour: Never Forget

For eight years, we’ve been reminded to never forget the lives of those who were lost in the 9/11 attack as well as those who were affected by it. We were all affected by it, regardless if we had relatives or friends who had lost their lives.  It hit home. We either knew someone who perished or knew someone who was affected greatly by this tragedy.

“Never forget.”

We hear it every year on this day. How can we forget? Do we have to be reminded of this day eight years ago? It is still embedded into our hearts and minds.  When we lose someone in our lives that we once cared for, loved and cherished, regardless of how that person has passed on, he or she will never be forgotten - ever. I assure you that there is no need to remind a brokenhearted widow about her husband who had died eight years ago or even twenty years ago. You don’t have to remind a son or daughter who had lost a parent, nor a parent who has lost a child.

“Never forget.”

What is so wrong about taking our minds for a little detour, especially after eight years? What’s so wrong about possibly taking a step toward healing? This is what our passed loved ones would have wanted. Our constant grieving has skyrocketed the psychiatry business. Our constant grieving has set a time and place into our hearts of the anniversary of 9/11. It’s a memorial and a special tribute. That I understand. There are people who visit their loved ones’ grave sites to toss a few flowers and spend some time praying, while remembering the times when they were once alive.

“Never forget.”

Never forget the time they were once here. Never forget that your loved one is in a better place. Never forget the soul that had once resided in a human shell and is now restored, rescued and free from all human tribulations of this world and into a whole other world, we’d like to believe is called, “Heaven”. Never forget our special they were, how magnificent they were while they were still here, on earth. Never forget the times spent and shared. But, if there is a way to forget how they departed, maybe in a way, that in itself will heal all of us a bit more faster.

God bless all who were affected on this day, eight years ago. May you heal completely, but keep in your heart the life that God has rescued from this earth. May you forget just a little; enough so you can look up without tears and feel your heart mending, knowing that deep down inside, you’ll get to be reunited with your loved ones soon enough. 

Life’s too short.
Live it.
Remember, but don’t dwell.

Please read another view from someone who wasn't in New York during the 9/11 attacks and how it affected her.  This is my good friend who just started blogging. Please visit, Redraven's Dark Korner.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Day Before

Life is beautiful when it wants to be, when you let it be, and when it’s viewed that way. Life is also tragic, heartbreaking and dramatic. It has its ups and downs and frequently changes each day with a new issue or gift to present. I sometimes sit and wonder, if things are so peaceful and calm right now, what’s waiting in the wings to disrupt it all? Something really bad is probably going to happen, or something really exciting is going to take place. Which one will I side with while waiting though? Most people remember the exact time, day and what they were doing when 9/11 hit. But, what you don’t hear about is what people say about the day before 9/11. I remember it all too well, because we were venturing on a new computer software at work that we were grudgingly going to have to adapt to.

During that time, I was working a Tuesday through Saturday shift. I had Monday, Sept. 10th off. I remember thinking how beautiful it was outside and taking in the fresh crisp air of the coming fall. I was sitting out on my hammock relaxing before Tuesday came rolling around quicker than expected. It was one of the last warmest days left, so I took full advantage of it. What could go wrong? I had a great job, I had stability at home and my health was at its best. I remember thinking how fortunate I was to have such a loving close-knit family and friends that were family as well. What else could I want? This day could not be ruined. Maybe it’ll stay that way forever...

From a post written on 9/11/05

“It’s Still In Us”

It was 8am, on September 11th, Tuesday morning. It was Madelene’s day off. I was getting ready for work, scrambling around to see what I was going to wear. Madelene and I ate breakfast together, and then I headed off to the office. I remember walking outside thinking how beautiful it was. The sky was so blue that day, and the air was crisp. I drove down the road and got stuck behind a school bus. All the kids were back to school, and all the busses were stopping at each single house next to one another.  “Can’t they just all meet somewhere in the middle and make it one stop?” I said to myself, frustrated with this stop-and-go ride. I was jacked up on caffeine and anticipating the arrival of 5pm.

I swiped my card through the security doors at my job, and walked up the three flights of stairs—because their elevator was an old rickety-crickety box, that shook uncontrollably as you rode in it. One of my managers got stuck inside of it, while smoke started filling up the confined space. No way. You will never catch me in that thing. I’d rather walk. Besides, I needed to lose a few pounds anyway.

I got to my desk, huffing and puffing, turned on my overhead light and booted my computer up. Packing my purse and other belongings away, I kept thinking what a bad idea it was to beg my managers for a window seat. It was way too beautiful outside to be sitting in this cubical full of sunshine. I’m going to wish this workday away for sure. Maybe I can play sick, start coughing or something. Hmm. They were on to me though; I always weaseled my way out of things. I worked for a telecommunications company selling phone products, long distance calling plans, as well as internet and DSL lines.

8:30 a.m.

I had gone into my inbox and faxed over some information a customer requested. As I was walking through the office full of cubical jail cells, it’s so fascinating how everyone is so fricken cheerful with their fake “Good mornings”.
“Good morning Debbie!”
“Good morning.” I replied, grudgingly.
“Good morning Deb.”
“Hey.” I started losing my ‘good mornings’ to a basic, unprofessional, “hey”.

I ran back to my desk, sat down, and put my phone headsets on. As a customer service rep, I was ready to take these angry customers head on. My caffeine buzz was wearing off, and my grouchiness was moving in its place. A senior rep was sitting next to me to show me the new interface system we were working with. They changed the whole format of their computer mainframe. I needed help. I couldn’t answer calls just yet, until this lady taught me this God awful interface system we now had. As she was teaching me, my mind got overwhelmed with each command and tons of options to choose from on the screen.

“I’m never going to figure this out, and by the time I do, the customer will already have my head on a platter for being so damn slow!”

Heads are popping out of the cubicles one by one. People seemed to be socializing. My manager would soon rip them a new one. Some people were walking out of their cubicles without headsets on. My senior rep teacher and I were still at my desk going over the system as I took notes. Our heads turned each time one of the customer service reps whizzed by frantically to another rep that was still on the phone.

“Oh my God! Really?” I heard the rep behind me say to another girl giving her some sort of news. I chucked it up to gossip. This office was literally a henhouse. If someone was biting their cuticles, the person on the next floor would know about it. God forbid someone received roses, the whole office started clucking like wild hens in heat. Awful. Are offices that kept in from the world that they have to thrive off of other people’s lives? I have to admit, sometimes it was tempting to partake in these gossiping hen fests.

9:05 a.m. 

“A plane hit the World Trade Center!” The rep behind me blurted out to us.
“What?” Molly, the senior rep shouted in disbelief.
“It must have been by accident, but my husband just called and saw it on the news.” She said.
Shaking our heads, we started working again. Our office was always delayed with news. We never received phone calls through our extensions. We were never allowed to use the call center phones. There was a public phone that anyone could use for emergencies. All of our calls were usually monitored by a supervisor and/or tape recorded, so even if we weren’t being tapped into, we still had that fear of ‘someone was listening’ in the back of our minds.

9:10 a.m. 

“Another plane hit the second World Trade Center building!” I heard a rep say this from behind the cubicle wall. I couldn’t see her, but I heard her clear as day.
“Oh this is an attack! This wasn’t an accident!” Another rep said, four cubes down.
“They’re still missing three other planes!” Someone else screamed out from another cubicle.

I dropped my headsets and ran to the phone, but there were too many people waiting for it. I needed to get in touch with Madelene. I wanted to be home with her. I was scared. My office had strict rules - you couldn’t just run off anywhere you’d like, unless you signed off your phone under a project number, a bathroom code, or to ‘see a manager code’. I just dropped everything. My mind was focused on getting to Madelene. I didn’t want her home alone in fear. I wanted to be with her. My mind instantly delved into thoughts of, “What if this is a chemical warfare, or something worse, a suitcase nuclear bomb?”

I finally got my hands on the phone. No time for over analyzing how germ infested this phone receiver was. I didn’t care, because I was going to die from a nuclear holocaust anyway. I started dialing home.

“All lines are busy, please try your call again later.” A recorded operator said in such a non-caring way.
My fifth time, I got through.
“Mad? Mad? Did you see the news?”
“Yeah! Some drunk pilot hit the trade center!” She said to me.
“What? Mad, there was a second air plane that struck the second building too.”
“I know.”
It baffled me that she didn’t think this was a war. She actually thought these airplanes were filled with intoxicated pilots. I think she was in shock. She had the, “this can’t possibly happen to the United States” type of mind frame.

She then heard President Bush’s speech, and then realized after he said we were being attacked, that we were in fact, at war...

It amazed me that my company didn’t let us go into a conference room to hear Bush’s announcement, or to watch the news being unfolded. Many other companies offered this to their employees. Some companies even let their employees go home. Many of the customer service reps had family members inside that building. We had other call centers from other states that helped take our flow of customers, so we could have at least rotated employees to go into the conference room. Our company only cared about ‘call volume’ at our site. They wanted to be number one. Even a tragedy couldn’t stop them. I seriously thought about dropping everything and running home. All of us, regardless if we didn’t have a relative or friend in the trade center, were in distress. We couldn’t focus on our work.

“The lines are down; no one can make calls in or out. You can only make local calls.” One of the mangers yelled out from some cubicle afar.

Instantly, the office was silent. Not only were our phones silent, but the fear had suddenly sunk into our minds, leaving us speechless. Our long distance cable lines were located under the World Trade Center. They were also owned by AT&T, so that trickled over to many other customers. It had such a ripple affect, that it left us scared to know that our communications were down. We were unable to get in touch with loved ones. We were left with only silence.

Later that evening, when I got home, I hugged Madelene—thanking God I was with her now. We watched the news coverage in fear. Not one station was concerned with a television sitcom or their regularly scheduled programs. We were more silent than usual. Even the sky was silent. No airplanes, hardly any cars; everyone was rushing home. No planes were permitted to fly into, out of, or within the United States until September 13. With this knowledge, we knew that we wouldn’t hear a plane while we slept—or tried to sleep.

Tossing and turning that evening, while trying to get some sleep, I heard a loud plane fly over my house. It was so loud that I jumped out of bed in fear and ran outside onto my deck.”They said that there aren’t supposed to be any planes flying!” I yelled out to Madelene.
“Deb, it’s probably the military crafts. That’s why they are so loud.”
I realized she was right, but never before did I have such fear while trying to go to sleep. That night, I didn’t sleep. I was awake, in fear.

I think all of us have a detailed story of that grim day. Some stories are more horrific than others, some stories like ours, can only be sympathetic and heartfelt to the people who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Nonetheless, I think it’s a day where nearly everybody shed a tear, and was filled with grief and anxiety.

It’s still ‘in us’…

Psalm 91
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare of the Lord;
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I am trusting him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from the fatal plague.
He will shield you with his wings.
He will shelter you with his feathers.
His faithful promises are your armor
and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the
nor fear the dangers of the day,
nor dread the plague that stalks in
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around
these evils will not touch you.
But you will see it with your eyes;
you will see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your dwelling.
For he orders his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you with their hands
to keep you from striking your foot on a
You will trample down lions and
poisonous snakes;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents
under your feet!
The Lord says, "I will rescue those who
love me.
I will protect those who trust in my
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue them and honor them.
I will satisfy them with a long life
and give them my salvation.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Polyamorous Pride?

There are so many miserable people out there criticizing other people’s lives for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t like the way they live: “They’re gay and that’s a sin”, “She works as a waitress and doesn’t apply herself, she can do so much more with her life”, or “Oh dear Lord, they have an open relationship - they can’t possibly be happy!”  What works for someone may not work for somebody else. And, that’s okay. Somebody recently asked me why I don’t work for IBM anymore or hold the conventional 9-5 job. For me, it’s not my bag anymore. It caused me great anxiety, and my quality of life was suffering. No amount of money could ever make me want to go back. I’m totally content and yet thrilled with freelance work, even though it may not pay on a steadily basis. When people are not happy with their own lives, they live vicariously through yours, picking and sorting out what should be “right” or “wrong” in their eyes, even suggesting what you “should” or "should not" do.

A couple of friends of mine who are bloggers went out the other night and discussed the word “should”. We discussed how umm, it “shouldn’t” be used. It’s very difficult not to interject the word “should” when talking about things such as, health, love, relationships and just life in general. The word “should” creeps out automatically. I bet you anything that you can’t leave the word out. We’re so used to saying, “You should eat more fruit”, “You shouldn’t eat too much red meat”, “You shouldn’t drink alcohol”. Of course, all of these are “good intentional” suggestions, but what if someone already has their daily intake of fruit and the other person needs more iron than the next with low cholesterol - should they stop eating red meat? Alcohol, well, as the old saying goes, everything in moderation, right?

Last night, my wife and I watched a show called, “The Secret Lives of Women” which dealt with people who lived polyamorous lives. All of the couples as well as single people dating a few other mates, whether it be male or female, were all very happy and content living that way. Their raw honesty was so overwhelmingly refreshing: no excuses, no explanation other than, ‘this is me’. One person who disagreed with their lifestyles simply said, “To each their own” ---I hate that expression when someone is trying to condemn another person in the most ‘respectful’ way. It’s cliche and overused in order to say, “Well, I sure as hell wouldn’t do that!” And that’s fine. It’s not “you”. Most of these people were your average everyday folks who lived normal lives, had good jobs or lived in the fast lane working in prostitution ranches that were clinical, where they routinely performed disease control screening tests before “business transactions”.

Here are the bios of the people that were on the show: 

Click here for more info.

“Not all women marry the man of their dreams and live happily ever after. For these four women, one man just isn’t enough!

Christa has been married to Ken for eight years. The first few were monogamous, but one eye-opening evening with her husband and a female stranger led to a revelation: she likes women and doesn’t mind sharing her husband with them. Now they have an open relationship. Christa is currently dating two women, and both she and Ken freely indulge in one-night stands. Eventually they plan on having kids and settling down, but until then, nobody is off limits.

Keysha is in a committed relationship with long-term boyfriend Mike. Together, they raise two kids. Mike understands when Keysha doesn’t feel like being romantic, even if she’s had the energy to do so all day. You see, while there is only one Mike in Keysha’s life, there are many “Johns.” Keysha is a prostitute at the famous Kit Kat Ranch in Nevada and to make a living, she can be with over a dozen men a day. What’s different about this open relationship though, is that it’s strictly a professional one… the world’s oldest, to be exact.

Birgitte is a painter living in New York City. A main source of artistic inspiration for her is her lovers. Luckily for admirers of her work, she has no shortage of muses. Birgitte is polyamorous, which literally means “many lovers”. She is also the leader of Polyamorous NYC, the East Coast’s largest poly organization. From cuddle to pool parties, Birgitte has a wealth of love to share in the city that never sleeps.

For former banking professional Dee Dee, the dream of being her own boss and fulfilling her sexual fantasies on a weekly basis has come true. Dee Dee’s lifestyle as a Swinger has led to the opening of “Black Rose Swing Club,” a full service bar for those who enjoy no-strings-attached sex. If you ever want to grab a drink from a lingerie clad bartender, take in some pole dancing, or enter a wet T-shirt contest while seeking a partner for the night, this happily married wife of twenty years is the person to call.”

I respect these people more than the ones that secretly go off and cheat on their spouses, possibly bringing home an unknown disease to their significant other. I’m not sure if this is a new fad or just something that the term “swingers” has evolved into. Regardless, I respect people who honest and make no excuses for anyone. Like I said, there are too many miserable people out there - I’m glad there are some out there making their life worthwhile. Never let anyone judge you, and if they do, you’ll already know what type of life they lead.

Any thoughts? 

Friday, September 04, 2009

My Very Own "Mini Me"

The video below is of my niece Sophia dancing around. She is 7 years old and when I was her age, I looked exactly like her. I love this little girl to pieces! Take a look at a photo of us. Sophia is on the left and an old picture of me is on the right. Is that weird, or what?
Kidding around, I had placed my hand on my sister's belly while she was pregnant with Sophia and said, "This little one is going to be my mini me!" We are so much alike it's not even funny. (Not sure if that's good for her though!)

Here's a video of my little peanut!

Growth Spurts

Yesterday, someone shared a quote with me that resonated with me so much. She said, "Just remember, trying to hurt me by bringing up my...