The Phantom Menace

The guy I met my Junior year when I transferred to Broughton HS from Cardinal Gibbons was my first boyfriend there. He had no idea how to be a boyfriend at all. I should have remembered this fact when he got back in touch with me a few years ago, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

We met in Mr. McBroom’s Show Choir. I had transferred schools because of the immaculate reputation of the revered “Carolina Spirit National Champion Show Choir”. It was a big move from private to public school and I had no idea what I was in for. All I knew was that because Katherine Kennedy’s parents were basically funding the whole operation, she got the last spot and I remained in the spillover “Capital Touch” show choir. “Capital Touch” was a much larger choir filled with people who had more talent than money. I think this was around the time when I started figuring out how the world works.

Dennis was an attractive guy with a moderate build and eyes way too big for his head. He had the swagger of a used-car salesman, which was pretty impressive… or perhaps scary for someone who was only a senior in high school. I thought he was important because he had a “real job” driving a school bus. Little did I know that he came from a less-than-modest home where he lived with his Dad and sometimes sister. His Dad looked like Johnny Fever on the TV show WKRP Cincinnati. At least I remember hearing him speak of his Dad and Sister, but never a Mom.

We were partnered up on “Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu.” Neither one of us could dance well, but we muddled through. Honestly, I think he just enjoyed throwing me around. Then one day, he asked me out on a date.

He took me to the movie, About Last Night. The entire film features a naked Rob Lowe and Demi Moore performing various and sundry sex acts… and that’s pretty much all I remember… except the fact that we were both so embarrassed that we must have butt-scrunched nearly all the way to the floor we were so low in our seats. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Afterwards we went to a park and talked about how awkward the experience had been. We were both virgins, so the entire experience was like watching our first porno together with a room full of weird strangers. To this day, we still laugh about it. I mean, I’m sure we would IF we were on speaking terms.

A few years ago, out of the clear blue and completely unprovoked, he sent me a Facebook message asking me what I was doing that Friday. We made plans for dinner that magically morphed into a 4-month (or so) relationship. He lived in Charleston. The distance wasn’t logical but the familiarity was. Weirdly, despite my best efforts, I let him into my life again.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention the terrible boyfriend part…

Dennis, despite his best efforts, inherited the cheating gene. On one occasion he took me to Broughton Homecoming, then, when I wanted to drop by and see my private school friends at a slumber party, he dropped me by… BUT THEN RETURNED TO THE SLUMBER PARTY WITHOUT ME. (Yes, you read that right. Yes, it was an all-girl slumber party. Of course it was.) Imagine how shocked I was to hear that the boyfriend I had just shown off to my friends had come right back to FLIRT WITH THEM! Yes, that speaks well of my life choices. Go ahead and award me the prize for idiot of the year.

A few weeks later, at another football game, my friend Bonnie brought her friend Kimber to meet everyone. Dennis had this great group of friends who called themselves “The Fellas.” To this day, I still follow most of them on Facebook. They’re all pretty awesome guys. I went to college with Lee, who kept me out of my fair share of trouble. Seriously, I should have dated any one of these treasures. Why I chose Dennis, I will never understand. But back to the football game, Dennis disappeared with Kimber for pretty much the duration, then came back and broke up with me. I was certain that he lost his virginity to her while he was gone (which he denies), but I’ll never truly know because he’s quite adept at lying.

Flash forward to present day. After 4 months of paying more attention to me than I expected, surprising me with unexpected visits and acting almost like a real human being, Dennis did The Fadeaway because he didn’t have the balls to tell me he was actually seeing a handful of other girls as well. July of last year, he married one of them. Now they’re expecting a baby. The irony here is that I don’t think he ever really wanted kids. He’s probably afraid they’ll end up like him.

Advertisements

Tiny Little Feminist

I think before I could walk, my parents set me in front of the TV, where I grew up watching a steady diet of the “Dick Van Dyke Show”, “Sonny & Cher”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “That Girl” and “The Carol Burnett Show”. My childhood was spent thinking that I would grow up to be a conglomeration of Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas, Dinah Shore and Doris Day. These women were entertainment pioneers of that time, but I had no idea. I just knew that was what I was going to be someday.

My Mom is just about as far from a feminist as you can get. She had no idea what a glass ceiling was. She just wanted to be happy. She married the handsome fireman who all her girlfriends talked about, and to this day has no idea how beautiful she is or how attractive she looked in a bathing suit. She went to ECU and worked for the Department of Agriculture and US Geological Survey because she liked the work and her co-workers. She still tells stories about them… And she still holds a grudge because at lunch one day that damned pigeon pooped on the shoulder of her favorite yellow suit, making it unwearable ever again.

Sidebar: In Downtown Raleigh, it was customary for people who worked in the area to walk around Fayetteville Street and the Capital building during their lunch breaks. There was a man who sold peanuts on the Capital grounds. You could eat them yourself, but it was more common to feed the pigeons with them. With the elevated pigeon population, there was a greater chance of encountering pigeon poop at one time or another while strolling through, although it hardly ever happened.

Yesterday Mary Tyler Moore passed away. I didn’t know how much this would affect me until they played the theme to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on the morning show I listen to out of Atlanta. I couldn’t stop crying. She was such an iconic piece of my history. I can probably credit her with my split-second decision to change my major from Business Admin to Journalism, although I had no idea at the time. The ideas you’re spoon fed at childhood are some pretty strong medicine. You really never know when they’ll pop back up to say hello.

I’ve never really considered myself a Feminist by definition either. However, I DO consider myself a strong woman who doesn’t take any crap. I’ve come a long way. In my youth I knew I had a lot to learn so I spent much of it as a wallflower, observing and gathering enough information to form opinions. The downside of all of this was that I also got walked on… A LOT. It also taught me that there’s only so much I can take before I will absolutely take action… thus… my coping strategy has become my low tolerance for bullshit. If that makes me a feminist, I’m okay with that.

The negative connotations of feminism as depicted by today’s media really aren’t okay. It’s great for women to be paid the same as their male counterparts. Why should we be stuck in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant? Honestly, most of the women I know are so much smarter than any of the animals unleashed on the dating websites. I weep for all my single, smart, empowered sisters.

I’m proud to have been raised by the likes of Mary Tyler Moore and her bevy of strong sitcom sisters. To this day it might be why I prefer thought-provoking conversation to animal lust. There’s so little of it out there.

And sure, there’s plenty of good entertainment still being made, but I think someone needs to go bubble-wrap Doris Day and Carol Burnett.

Weekends Were Made For…

Although this weekend’s rainy weather wasn’t too great for morale, it was fantastic for Mr. Muddy Paws to turn my backyard into a gigantic mud puddle. This act turned me into a bit of a DIY-Diva come Sunday, but not before I’d had my share of Netflix-binging, audiobook-listening, and catching up with friends.

Friday I worked a little late and ran a few errands, then dropped by my friend Jessica’s roller-skating birthday party. I didn’t know how long they would be there and I was tired from the week (and still dizzy from the vertigo) so I didn’t bother renting skates. There I met a makeup artist friend that I’d known through social media for the majority of both of our careers. I’d even referred her for a few gigs because I liked her so much. Meeting her in person was exactly as I’d hoped. She’s exactly as sweet as she seemed online all these years. I think we both had the same reaction.

On the way home I continued my Audible audio book listening party with Anna Kendrick as my co-pilot. I’ll tell you the truth. I sort of don’t want to finish the book because I’m enjoying her company so much.

In one of the first chapters she talks about her experiences filming the movie Camp and her character Fritzi. I decided since I hadn’t seen the movie, this was going to be my Friday night activity. I found it on Netflix, made myself a huge mug of hot cocoa and snuggled up with my pup. I’m so glad I did. Since I was on that part of the book, it enhanced my reading experience just that much more.

When Saturday rolled around I suddenly felt like I hadn’t slept in a year. I honestly don’t know what came over me. My day consisted of a series of naps between WTF moments while I tried to wrap my brain around the Netflix series Black Mirror. Saturday ended with a sleepover at Kat’s after Hurricane Bianca and black peel-off masks.

Sunday morning I had brunch with the inner circle: Lee Ann, JD, Suzi, and Kat. It was exactly what I needed. I was up early enough to start my day, had intelligent conversation, and we even planned another get-together. After brunch I was off and running to find a new doorbell since I had dismantled the one Greg had installed SOOOOO long ago.

Sidebar: Greg was a bartender who worked at TGI Friday’s with a high school friend when I first graduated and moved back to Raleigh. If memory serves, I only went out with him so that I could catch the eye of one of his co-workers. (Yes, I know, I was awful.) One night he came to pick me up to take me to a Christmas function and brought me a gift for my dog and a doorbell, which he installed while I finished getting ready. Evidently, the one that came with the house wasn’t sufficient for him. I’m not sure I even took notice.

Years ago the light had burned out in that doorbell. Was there even a light? I’m not even sure anymore. Anyway… because there was a prominently-displayed doorbell, I was using it as an IQ test for my dates. If you knew enough to ring first, you might be worth dating. If you knocked, you might be an idiot.

Because my experiment never quite went as planned, I decided to get a wireless doorbell for the side door so that I could differentiate between the two doors. I put the receiver in my room so I could hear it when I was getting ready. Then I found the prettiest LED-lighted doorbell I could find at Lowe’s and installed it at the front door. You can see it from the street now. I did well.

But of course, in my DIY frenzy, this was not enough. I went back and bought 12 HEAVY concrete pavers to cover the new area of mud that Quincy had decided to repeatedly stir up. The guys at Lowe’s seeing me as a fragile flower insisted on pushing my cart and loading my car. They seriously wouldn’t let me lift a finger. I think they were laughing that I didn’t have a trailer or better system planned out to get what seemed like a metric ton of concrete pavers back to my house. Little do they know. I put all those bad boys out myself, and I have the muscle spasms to prove it!

Notes From the Universe

Eight years ago I went through something that changed me. I fell in love with someone completely wrong for me and kept having to convince myself that I was doing the right thing for myself. All evidence to the contrary, the Universe was screaming WRONG WRONG WRONG! But I’m stubborn and I persevered, ignoring all the signs. It ended badly. of course, but it was also the first time that someone had ever looked me in the eye and told me that I was “not allowed to exist in his world anymore.”

I’ve had good, communicative, healthy breakups and I’ve had a few awful ones, but this… This life event made me question everything. I’d never had anyone I trusted and loved so much just throw me away as if nothing ever happened. I was deeply devastated and most of all, I stopped believing in love. In fact the jury is still out on that one. Before this point in my life I gave freely of myself and I loved with everything I was. Now I became guarded, bitter and resentful. My world was turned upside-down and most of my choices were motivated by fear. I would never be the same.

One day when I was browsing the web, I stumbled upon some motivational sites, a few had emails that you could subscribe to… so I did. I knew I needed a great deal of positive motivation and I wanted desperately to put the traumatic event behind me so I could move forward with my life. You never realize how difficult it is to get out of a mindset and truly let go of something until you’ve experienced something like this. I needed all the help I could get. My first gurus were Ariel & Shya Kane. I ordered their audio book “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life” When I was finished, I went on to find Marc and Angel Chernoff. I immediately signed up for everything I could on their website and years later, went on to purchase their book on Kindle and attend their workshop when they came to NC.

I’ve been receiving almost daily emails from Marc and Angel and Ariel & Shya ever since. A lot of the basic principles are common sense, but we tend to forget them when we need them the most. Marc and Angel are big advocates of meditation, but meditating is always a big fail to me since my mind is always whirring with thoughts like 20 hyperactive hamsters in a wheel. It’s been a journey and it still is. But it’s only recently that I started REALLY thinking about the bigger picture and what sort of energy I’m sending out into the Universe.

Because struggling through another viewing of “The Secret” seemed pointless, I looked elsewhere. And there it was. Amid all the other health, wellness, DIY and other assorted junk mail reading in my Inbox was a link to a website called Notes from the Universe. Of course I clicked it.

“I’m a born lever-puller”
– Ringo, Yellow Submarine

So basically the idea is that you get daily emails of encouragement sent to your Inbox. You can even customize these notes to encourage you toward a few long-term goals. I’m always willing to let more positive motivation into my life, so I did it, and I’m glad I did. Even if your mailbox is full of clutter, these little notes are brief and stand out. I try to make them the first thing I read every day.

And the Audible service? I feel like I get a new benefit from it every day. Today I’m listening to Anna Kendrick’s book of biographical essays Scrappy Little Nobody. She narrates each story as if she’s talking to you, so for a few days I have Anna Kendrick as my co-pilot. I’m pretty sure the other drivers are wondering what I’m chuckling about.

I’m gonna let ’em wonder.

Define Perfect

You may not know it if you’ve been to my house lately, but I’m a perfectionist. I will correct your grammar, tuck in your visible clothing tags and offer to groom your crazy eyebrows. I’m fine with change, but I like knowing that if something has my mark on it, I’ve done my best. This is one reason my storage closets are where old beauty products and tools go to die. If something works better than what I’m currently using, I have to have it. This usually comes at the cost of the cluttered graveyard of all products that have gone before.

Yesterday I had my interim review. For the past few years I’ve been immersing myself in MS access and VBA while being given all of the broken databases to fix. I was never trained. I just jumped in and learned. Now people are asking me their Access questions. It’s a goal of mine to learn as many programming languages as I can, so I indicated that and my Manager agreed. My next project is in C#.

I’ll be honest. I was a Technical Writer for so long that I got caught in a loop. I had no idea how to grow from there. My boss at the time took notice when I was finding so many bugs in the applications I documented that he suggested I try writing code. Who would have thought I’d enjoy it?

It really changes your outlook on the world when you’re given an opportunity for growth like that… knowing that every day you come to work, you’ll be challenged and learn something new. I used to struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I was unchallenged and growing complacent. Most of my energy was spent on my side hustle(s). I managed and fronted a band for almost 4 years and I’ve been a freelance makeup artist since 1999.

I put myself through Esthetician School when I felt it was time to take a hiatus from playing music live. I was exhausted. All of the marketing, website, newsletter, booking, calendar, music distribution (MP3 and sheet music), rehearsal space… pretty much everything was being handled solely by me. I spent late nights drafting newsletters, downloading MP3s and searching for sheet music. I got up early send out invites, draft Facebook posts and update our website. By the end my health was suffering. Having school as an excuse to put the band on hiatus was exactly what I needed.

Even in Esthetician School, I worked full-time and was a full-time student. But it also re-ignited that perfectionist fire in me. I graduated with straight A’s at the top of my class. I even got to wear an honor cord on my robe. To me, this brought out a lot of things that had been lying dormant. I was excited to graduate. I was excited to pass the exam and hold a license. I became excited about everything.

My enthusiasm must have been detected by my Manager, as his comments on my review were so good I told him that when I read them I wanted to hug his neck, but I’d spare him. He laughed and told me that I’d been doing very well and that he was looking for ways to get me promoted. This, of course, only contributes to my growing enthusiasm. As I sit here waiting for the IT guy to load my new software, I can’t help but think how far I’ve come.

But having perfectionist tendencies doesn’t always serve one well. It’s nice to have the lofty daydream of what you’d like your life to be like, but at some point it needs to intersect with reality. As little girls we all dream of finding the perfect person, having a perfect wedding with all of our friends as attendants, living in the perfect house… By comparison reality seems like a cruel joke. It’s up to us whether we dwell, laugh it off, or bridge the gap between what we want and what we choose to accept.

Never settle.

Just Keep Swimming

I understand now the importance of a good nap. It’s only Thursday and I’ve crammed so many appointments into this week that I’m about to fall over. I’m still having the dizzy spells too, which makes each day seem like a slow crawl through quicksand at times.

At the end of last year I subscribed to the Audible service so that I could get more reading done. Although I feel like tend to absorb more of a book when I am able to see the words in front of me, this is such a great service for getting in some much-needed reading while doing everything else. My first book was recommended to me by a friend who told me I was the “poster child for karma & all the good feelings”. She said that after reading it she felt like she was wearing an invisible cape when she left the house. I wanted to feel like that, so it was the first book I downloaded. It’s called The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

With everything going on, I hadn’t even thought of digging into this book until a few days ago on a long commute. This morning I set my plan in motion. I’m loving this new plan. The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is E + P = O (Experience + Perception = Outcome) It also occurred to me that I hadn’t been driving my own bus for a while. I wasn’t doing what I wanted. I’d lost sight of my goals. I lacked direction and my enthusiasm was nonexistent. For months I had resigned myself to doing what my boyfriend wanted. It was difficult to make him happy because he seemed to need constant attention and reassurance. I was drained. By the time I ended it, I was empty.

The timing of this book couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a jump-start to get me back on track. The more I keep my eyes open, the more little things happen to reinforce the message. A co-worker took a trip with his wife over the holidays. He recounted with glee all the things they did. “We wanted to do everything we wanted while we still can.” I get it. Each year that passes, each doctor visit, each new medical dilemma… I am reminded of my own mortality. There are so many things I want from this life. I just need to manifest them.

As for the rest… I’ll just keep swimming.

White Lies & Red Flags

Last night I had dinner with an old friend. We hadn’t seen each other since the early 90’s, so I was surprised at everything he recalled. We talked for over 2 hours. I told him what was going on with me. He told me what was going on with him. He owns a company now and will soon be travelling to China for work. I feel as if I should have been doing more with my life these past few years.

It always brings up a red flag or several when a guy I’ve known for a long time who married someone else pops up out of the clear blue and suddenly needs to see me. Luckily, this guy is a real sweetheart and simply missed his friend. He apologized for how he’d handled things in the past (which I wasn’t even aware needed an apology) and said something that really resonated with me. He told me that I was special. Do I already know this? Sure, to an extent, but it’s so easy to forget. And it speaks volumes when someone you haven’t seen in 20+ years remembers you with such fondness. It’s nice to know when you have that effect on someone.

But speaking of red flags… I’m reminded of a time when a guy I’d been in Youth Council with in high school sought me out to tell me he was getting divorced. I was in Esthetician School and he booked a facial service just so he could get a moment alone with me. (At the time, I was working full-time AND going to school full-time, so I had zero free time. Even my friends booked services so that they could have some time with me. To this day, they may not know how much that was appreciated.)

Months later, after I’d graduated and had a few months to exhale, I started seeing someone who lived in another state. This went really well until it didn’t. The last week of that relationship, I’d caught a terrible cold and the person who had sought me out previously, popped up and told me he was going to cook me dinner. It was very sweet and afterwords, despite the cold, boyfriend and all, he leaned in to kiss me. I told him I really needed to get things settled with the previous relationship before anything were to happen. So I did.

After the relationship ended and I let the guy know that I was free & clear a few days passed, then I received a phone call. He basically told me that he was in love with his Dental Hygienist, who had a boyfriend, so he was basically just spending time with me until she was free. I’m not sure why he thought I’d be okay with that. I wasn’t. I never saw him again.

It’s no wonder I see so many red flags so often.