It’s freezing in NYC, but New Yorkers Aren’t Cold

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It was 17 degrees last weekend in New York City, but the New Yorkers I met were warm, even the one huddled on the street asking 5th Avenue shoppers for some help.

New Yorkers get a bad rap for being pushy, brash, cold and aggressive, but Karen and I discovered warmth that could melt the icy puddles forming on the cold city streets.

The woman at the front desk of the Intercontinental New York Barclay hotel greets us as if we are royalty and, after discovering that we are celebrating my friend’s birthday, she upgrades us to a larger room.  The concierge cheerfully makes us brunch reservations at a tony spot around the corner, and the waiter doesn’t bark or roll his eyes when I meekly ask that eggs be prepared to my liking rather than the chef’s.

At Valebella’s, the waiter orchestrates us through dinner, snapping photos until we find one that doesn’t make us look too old or too heavy.  His patience and humor are endless as we debate the lighting and backdrop, discussing the vain woes of getting older. When we finish the courses he suggests, he gathers a few of his buddies, presenting an Italian delicacy with a candle, and they surround us singing an Italian version of “Happy Birthday. ” The warmth of the cheerful singing quartet could melt the creamy custard inside the layers of flakey pastry.  One of the beautiful hostesses (or maybe manager?) is so effusive in her thanks for our patronage, you’d think we are somebody. 

Brunch the next day at The Smith is as the concierge describes- local, high-energy and really good. The place is mobbed, and we are lucky to get a table.  We are luckier to get the waiter who is chill in the chaos and warm in his heart.  There isn’t a hint of disdain for the out-of-towners invading the local spot. He gives us pointers and offers suggestions for entertainment.  He turns us on to a same day Broadway ticket broker, and hands us a list of fun, local places to check out. He sends us off with a bag of chocolate chip cookies the size of frisbees, weighed so heavily with chocolate chunks, they feel more like a discus.

The guy at the same day ticket broker – Today Tix -is helpful, extremely so. Even though they don’t have the tickets we want, he stops and helps us. We end up with amazing seats dead center orchestra, five or six rows back and the Times Square ticket broker who sells them to us is as thrilled as we are.

Karen has an abscess tooth and can’t  make the evening performance of “A Bronx Tale” at the Longacre Theater.  The pain of her toothache is far worse than the pain of tossing away a two-hundred-dollar ticket.  But all is not lost. Instead of telling me “too bad,” the theater sends me away with a rain check for a future performance.

Am I in heaven or New York City?

The next day I venture out while Karen tries to sleep through the throbbing of her tooth.  As I walk onto 5th Avenue,  I spot a young man on the street.  He’s shouting something like “please help, this is embarrassing, anything you can do…”  I’m cold in my full-length mink coat and Dr Zhivago mink hat.   I see he’s got on a  light jacket and his hands are red and chapped, exposed to the frigid air.  I hesitate and decide to come back. My conscience nags at me…

He’s still there when I return from shopping at Saks.  I can’t ignore him, I just can’t.  And I can’t walk by him with blinders of apathy like others are doing. He’s a human and he’s hurting.

“Hi.”  He looks up a bit surprised that someone is actually speaking to him. He smiles.

“What’s your story?” I ask because I know he has one and I want to hear it. I want to validate him and let him know someone cares.

“My dad died. He’s my only family, I lost my job, and my landlord threw me out and tossed out all my things.”    There but for the grace of God go I, I’m thinking.

I look at his hands that are so red and raw they hurt me.  “Do you have any gloves?”  I ask, although it’s a stupid question because if he had any, he’d be wearing them in the Arctic temperature.

“I’m okay,” he replies and he’s smiling.

“I’m going to get you some gloves,” I tell him and I walk into the store he’s sitting by.  I’ve got tears forming in my eyes because I can’t even fathom being as cold, hungry and alone.

“Do you have any gloves?” I ask a H&M salesman.  He leads me to them.

“There’s a homeless guy outside and he’s cold,” I explain. “I want to get him something warm.”  The salesman leads me over to a rack of insulated sweatshirts and helps me find a good one and tells me it’s on sale.

“Thanks for helping him out,” he says.  “We’ve got to take care of each other,” I reply and I mean it.

When I pay for the clothes, the young man ringing me up says, “I’m going to give you a 15 percent discount.” He knows I am buying the things for a homeless man.  I’m touched and I feel more tears in my eyes.

When I return with the things, I tell the young man to put the gloves on and he rips off the tags and puts them on his hurting hands as if  his life depends upon it. It just might.  Then he takes the bag of warm clothes.  He’s thankful, grateful and he’s making my heart sing and break at the same time.

I’m bending down to speak with him because he’s still sitting on the street.  “Do you believe in God?”  I ask.  “Very much so, ” he tells me.  Cold, homeless and alone and he’s not cursing God, he’s clinging to Him.

I peer into his sorrowful eyes, directly into his heartache, and I tell him I love him.  We both tear up.  A black man comes out of nowhere and places a plastic bag next to the boy.  “Hey man, I brought you some soup.”  He disappears as quickly as he appeared, as if he’s an angel sent from heaven.

I hand the boy some money and tell him things are going to get better.  I pray it does when I walk away.

Karen and I are  sitting in a restaurant again, and what we pay for the meal could feed 10 homeless. Our waiter at Fig and Olive is a prince. When he learns we’re visiting NYC to celebrate Karen’s birthday, he brings us complimentary glasses of rose champagne and then some decadent dessert with a candle.

We can’t eat all the food, Karen is still wobbly with tooth pain, so we ask a busboy with broken English to wrap it up so we can give it to the homeless man.  I can’t understand him well, but Karen tells me he said,  if he had the money, he’d give us ten dollars for the homeless man and I can tell he’s sincere and a bit sad that he can’t help.  In his case, it truly is the thought that counts.

When we go back the young man is no longer on the street corner.  But there are more cold and hungry people huddled up against buildings.  I stop and place the food next to one. His head is resting on his hands and he can’t see me or the people walking past him. I touch him slightly and he looks up.  “I brought you some food.” He looks up at me and smiles. “God bless you.”

I am grateful because I know that the homeless man’s blessing matters, and I know how much God has blessed me. And I know that all of us who have so much are called to help those who have so little.

I love New York.

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Maybe Christmas Means More

 

images.jpegThank God I wasn’t visited on Christmas Eve by a soul shackled for all eternity by the sins of his past. There weren’t any ominous warnings by past, present and future ghosts.  A Grinch didn’t steal everything under the tree to remind me that presents, decorations and stockings are not what Christmas is all about. The immortal words of Charles Dickens and Dr. Seuss pack an important message. It’s never too late for Scrooge and Grinch epiphanies, and everyone deserves a second chance in life.

It’s rather shameful how much emphasis I used to place on the gifts I got, and worse, how often they went unappreciated.  Remarkable I wasn’t always thankful that I’ve actually never needed anything.  I’ve wanted things, but there’s a big difference.  I’ve always had a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clean water to drink. I never needed a sweater, a hat, a warm coat or a pair of gloves, but there are thousands of people who do.  These are not gifts of fashion for them, they are gifts of warmth.

I don’t recall my personal epiphany, but the Christmases I have had since have been more meaningful.  Whenever and for whatever miraculous reason, I finally understand the true meaning of Christmas.

I don’t want Christmas presents anymore. If  anyone so inclined to give me a present, I ask them to give a gift to charity instead. These gifts have been the most precious of my life.

There were women in addiction recovery that had no money to buy their children Christmas presents.  My daughter took them shopping for toys, and they wrote me letters of thanks I found impossible to read through the waterfall of my tears. There was a sizable donation to help women in third world countries to help them start businesses so they can feed their families.  A gift to the Belize Humane Society went to help the starving dogs that tugged at my daughter’s heart. My nieces donated to a Cambodian school built on a dump and they have given to other important environmental and humanitarian causes. Habitat for Humanity has received donations to rebuild homes. Checks have been written to foundations that help struggling people. Cancer research has been fueled with funds and homeless have been helped.

These gifts of love, compassion, and charity have filled my heart.

This year I received a bonus, so I used some of it to help people in a low-income trailer park. They have little and they are in desperate need.  I was feeling rather magnanimous, until I was humbled by an incredible story.

A friend’s housekeeper is a mother of five from Guatemala.  A few weeks ago, she asked my friend if she could run an errand and go to the bank. My friend took the opportunity to surprise her with a Christmas bonus.  When her housekeeper returned, she thanked my friend for her generous gift. The housekeeper’s eyes were misty when she explained that she had already pledged to send money to her church back home but when she received the unexpected Christmas bonus, she was able to do more. She sent all of the money to the needy people of her Guatemalan congregation.

Mom and I went to church this morning and, no surprise, the sermon was about giving.  The priest said the lesson of Christmas is about giving to others and he reminded us that love can only be kept by giving it away.

Merry Christmas.  I hope you never truly need anything for Christmas, but that you’ll always want to give to those who do.

 

 

 

 

The Lights Went Out in Georgia

It was dark at the busiest airport in the world for a really long time.  Thousands of passengers leaving from, coming to, or connecting through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were stranded, stressed and, those stuck in planes for more than seven hours, were almost suicidal. It wasn’t pretty.

There’s been no good explanation for what shut down the airport, but conspiracy and terrorist theories were rampant. A fire they think.  Georgia Power was stumped and airlines were unprepared for the major crisis.

My daughter was flying out of Augusta connecting through Atlanta on Airport Armageddon Sunday.  I booked her flight, so both our phones were blowing up with flight delays and eventually notice of a cancellation.  A Delta agent in Augusta advises her to drive to Atlanta, straight into the eye of a hurricane.  We hadn’t gotten word of the outage yet.   Delta thought is was a good idea for her to drive to Atlanta? Really?  Did no one from Delta communicate to their employees that Atlanta was the problem?  Was the whole airline in the dark?

I’m a big damn deal on Delta.  It’s the only status I have, so I take matters into my own hands, dialing the extra special telephone number for frequent travelers like me.  I’ll have the problem resolved in no time, I assure my crying daughter.  I tend to be overly optimistic. I don’t reach an agent.  I get a recording informing me of a power outage and that my call was very important.  Someone would get back to me when it was my turn, in about eight or nine hours.

Now I turn on the TV and it’s special alerting all over the place about the power outage that is plaguing passengers from Kalamazoo to Timbuktu.  People aren’t happy and no one knows what the heck is going on.  People are using cell phones as flashlights until they start having their own power crisis, and they can’t get or make calls telling their loved ones and employers that they’ll be home sometime between now and Christmas.

My daughter is freaking.   She just started a new job and she can’t miss work. Remember those days, when you’re afraid that your boss isn’t human and being stranded beyond your control is grounds for suspicion if not termination?  I’m clueless how to help, because Delta has gone radio silent with updates and it’s not my turn for a call back for another 8 or more hours.

She drives.  Yep, all the way back to Virginia, some 650 miles,  leaving at 7:30 pm on a dark, rainy night.  She’s in my new car. As she backs out of the driveway, I’m just praying she makes it home safely and that when I wake up in the morning, it will all have been a bad dream.  That didn’t happen. Instead I wake up to a text message that my daughter’s flight was departing Augusta from Gate B.  She’s in North Carolina now.

I wait a couple of days to let Delta know that, while I know the power outage wasn’t their fault, their lack of information was.  And then there was the misinformation of having Meagan drive to Atlanta.  Did I mention the gridlock and that it was not possible to get to the airport even if they wanted to sit in the dark with the other thousands of confused and frustrated passengers?

So Mr. Delta Customer Service gets a bit defensive about the whole thing.  He tells me that they couldn’t provide me with any information or updates because, and I quote, “We were in the dark.”  I swear he said just that.  I laugh a little …”no pun intended,” I say, and now the guy is warming up offering some sort of remuneration.  It’s not enough to cover the expenses, can’t come close to paying for the aggravation, and then there is the matter of my car sitting in Meagan’s garage in Virginia.  I am in Atlanta.

There’s a silver lining.  The outage doesn’t appear to be a terrorist attack on the grid. Meagan wasn’t on the Amtrak that derailed. No one died when the lights went out in Georgia, and people eventually got home safely and in time for Christmas.

It’s easy to get our knickers in a knot, but getting upset never changes the circumstances.  What’s the moral of this story?  Being in a dark mood is far worse than being in a dark airport?  I’ll let you know how this Susie Sunshine feels about the mess on my 650 mile drive home on New Year’s Day!

Ho Ho Ho!

 

I’ve Been a Bad Blogger

If you are one of my 68 followers. I let you down and I’m sorry.  I haven’t been showing up with words of hope, humor or humanity. Shame on me. Life got in the way and then there was the business of putting a roof over my head, (it’s leaking), and I had to get back to work that actually paid.  Honestly, I was also  running a little low on hope and humor.  If I had started a blog called Match.Bomb I’d have far more material to blog about.

Now I find myself submitting a book proposal for a book I wrote called, I’m Just Looking.   I’m told  the “platform” I don’t have is all a publisher wants to see, especially if you’re unknown author like me.  I’ve got no game. Yet.  I don’t have a website, fans or any followers except you. I hope you know I appreciate every word you read, and I promise to be a better blogger.

“I’m Just Looking” is a riches to rags memoir of redemption about a woman who loses everything that once mattered to her and finds new perspective and the real treasures in life.   After job loss and selling my home, I went to Paris to write, learn a language and take care of my sister’s dog. I went from a successful corporate career to being a dog walker and Paris pooper scooper.

The title of the book was born from necessity because, without the means to do anything but look, “I’m Just Looking” became the essential first words I learned to speak in French. Eventually, the title began to take on greater meaning.

Each chapter evolved into vignettes of  life lessons until “I’m Just Looking” became an analogy of the everyman search for happiness, purpose and meaning. The epiphany of my life occurred in Paris when I realized, after a lifetime of insatiable wanting, everything I ever needed, I already had. So do you.  Every one of us has what it takes to live a happy, fulfilling life. Even when the chips are down.  I might have been picking up dog doo, but I was doing so in Paris.

The book is written for anyone looking for meaning, inspiration, hope and a bit of humor.  It’s written for people who have lost their way or abandoned their dreams like I had. It’s a book written for people who may only know Paris and the other glamorous and glorious places in France through my words. It’s a book written from my heart to theirs.

This book, as I am certain is the case of many authors, has been a labor of love, sacrifice and struggle. I lived in a Costa Rican jungle to find the inspiration to start a blog.  People applauded my courage and questioned my sanity.  I survived bugs, thugs, 98 degree heat, 100 percent humidity.  The point is, do whatever it takes to follow your dreams, even if it means sweating in the jungle for a month, staring at the beady little eyes of geckos all around you.

We all have stories to share and lessons to learn. Ironically, my most painful ordeals have become my greatest blessings. I don’t recommend losing everything to find out what’s important.  I did that already to save you the trouble.  And I am going to share the humor and heartache.

I’m going to keep writing because it’s what I love to do, and I hope it inspires you to follow whatever passions you may have.

My book proposal is due on Christmas Eve.  I don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe in miracles. Fingers crossed, prayers lifted, and hope and humor always.

 

 

 

 

 

Sex on the Beach


Up until yesterday. I thought sex on the beach was a boozy concoction one downed in a single gulp to catch a buzz.

Forever more, those words will take on an entirely different meaning.

I woke early yesterday determined to straighten out the mixup with the Nickelodeon hotel.  I ventured to the lobby darting around the pelting rain. 

Few people were up at 5:30 am on a rainy Sunday, and I wish I were one of them. Instead I was waiting for the hotel Starbucks to open and the concierge to appear.

Jacked up on a venti espresso roast, I practically jumped on the concierge when he arrived for the early morning shift.

I told him my Sponge Bob saga and he obliged me, dialing up Delta, so I could explain the tragic mistake of my Mexican Nickelodeon misadventure. I was hopeful for an agent who could free us from cartoon character hell and transfer us to a resort with adult beverages and men to match.

While I waited on hold for hours ( literally) a  life- sized Sponge Bob and his buddy, the enormous pink starfish, Patrick greeted me.  I snapped pictures. a bit star struck  by being greeted by famous television stars, or more appropriately, a famous television  starfish.  


Back in the room, Lisa slept soundly and why wouldn’t she? The sound of the steadily pouring rain most certainly was a melodic, lazy rhythm lulling her to rest. 

I worried about the boisterously loud claps of thunder, as thick, dark clouds collided in the humid air. But Lisa had slept right through the crying babies and the thunder paled in comparison.

Hours went by,  phone calls were made and blaming fingers were pointed in every direction. Nothing was resolved and I lost both hours and patience.

When Lisa appeared in the lobby, she noted the large Starbucks cup. I told her I drank two venti cups of coffee darker the black sky outside. She looked concerned.  I’d been up for hours recounting the mistaken hotel to a myriad of unconcerned ” hospitality” and “customer service” agents. I was a bit strung out.

I’m done! I declared. The saga was insane. 

About the time I waved a white flag of surrender, Patrick and Sponge Bob made another round through the lobby.  Spying hot Lisa, they wrapped her up in a cartoon sandwich, while I captured the moment in my iPhone.


Dollars to donuts there were a couple of horny little guys hiding under those costumes.

The idea of spending the weekend in a kid fantasy land, started growing on me. But given the choice, I’d have opted for Super Hero Hotel instead. Bring on some Superman and serve up some Thor.  Those were characters we could sleep with for sure.

But Lisa and I resigned  ourselves to make the most of the hotel happenstance. Attitude is everything.

After breakfast, we decided to take a walk. The rain had subsided from a raging storm to a gentle mist.

We passed by a private home on the beach that we were certain was owned by a bad hombre Mexican drug lord. Made for good conjecture and conversation as we walked the beach in the rain.

In the distance a woman was lounging in a cabana. 

“Lisa, does that woman have any clothes on?” I literally rubbed my eyes to see if they deceived me.

“No sister,”  Lisa replies slowly, ” she’s definitely naked.”

And like the cartoon characters we did not connect at first,  it began to come into focus.

A man with his privates swinging with the wind and a woman with exposed breasts baking in the sun passed us by.

I tried hard not to stare.

We glanced at the beach cabanas and to our horror and humor, a naked woman was riding her lover with abandon, bouncing up and down on him like she was riding bareback on a wild stallion. 

I fear I will never be able to  erase from my mind the sight of  sex on the beach or of the size of the man’s gigantic  balls bouncing in rhythm to the woman straddling him.

Lisa and I burst out laughing, drawing the attention of the naked volley ball players. People sneered at us for giggling and shot nasty glares when I held my phone up to capture the freak show.


We were quickly reprimanded for any photos, as if there is protocol or etiquette among people baring their breasts and balls and having sex on the beach. Really?

Fornication 50 feet from Sponge Bob was a bit incomprehensible. Lisa remarked she felt as if she were in a freak show twilight zone. I agreed.

I think I’ve seen it all.

Today, I turn another year older and I’ve seen plenty of shocking things.  Bit the nudist hotel next to the Nickelodeon resort was a strange juxtaposition of child and adult fantasy. People perv up fast.

It’s hard to say if it would have been worse mistakenly ending up at a nudist hotel rather than a cartoon one. They were both scary in their own ways.

But I have a suggestion about the wall Trump wants to build in Mexico. Perhaps he can build it between the two hotel properties. Because I’d hate for any tiny tykes to run into those pairs of  gigantic gonads.   It’s a trauma from which they may never recover. 

Of this I know first hand.

Embrace Your Inner Cartoon Character


I believe we should all go for the gusto in life. Create a bucket list and go for it. Life is short.  It’s generally not the things we do that we regret the most, it’s the things we don’t do.

Swimming with whale sharks has been on my bucket list for a few years.  As a birthday present to myself, I planned a trip to Mexico. From June through September, the  biggest fish in the sea congregate, feeding off the plankton-rich waters.  I plan to plunge into the deep water and swim alongside these giant sea creatures.

Check that one complete. What’s next? Blue-footed birds in the Galapagos are intriguing.

My girlfriend, Lisa, decided to come along with me to the normally sun-baked sandy shores of Playa del Carmen.  Lisa is an adventurous, extremely attractive single woman.  A long weekend in Mexico? Hell yes!

The flight from Atlanta to Cancun was the rowdiest and drunkest first-class experience ever. I sat stoic and sober while everyone else was exhausting the poor flight attendant as she filled never-ending glasses with free booze. 

The over-served man next to me bathed me in his gin and tonic, and I spent the flight feeling like a baby in a wet diaper, which was a harbinger of things to come.

When we landed, I fled the fuselage of drunkenness, only to discover I left my phone on the plane.  After lengthy  siestas by several airport officials, my phone was finally returned. The only sense of urgency in the ordeal was mine.

A friendly driver drove us to the resort in pelting rain-not hard rain-Biblical hurricane rain. 

There was nothing for us to do on a rainy beach day but eat and drink,  so we did, greedily.   Lisa ignored the media reports about tainted alcohol, sipping “especial” cocktails made just  for pretty women.

On the way to the restaurant, we walked by a Sponge Bob ice cream parlor. Then we noticed the larger-than-life Nija Turtles at war in a courtyard. Patrick the starfish was reposing at the pool situated outside our room.

Sadly none of the cornucopia of cartoon characters registered.

In hindsight, the clues where everywhere. The menus were chock full of chicken fingers and the cacophony of crying babies was ear splitting.   

In our defense, we did notice the lack of other singles and even couples. The place just has tons of families not practicing birth control. 

Hot guys? Hardly.

Being that there was little to do before we headed to the spa at 6:30, we napped, or at least tried to, but the sounds of tired tots protesting being pent up in their rooms surrounded us in a symphony of baby sorrow.

I went to the front desk to inform the hotel about the terrible mistake of two single women being placed in the “kid section” of the property.

Hard to tell which one of us was more dumbfounded. The lovely man informed me that we were at a “Nickelodeon property.”

After breath-sucking, side-splitting, laughter, I said to Lisa…

“The saddest part is we had to be told.”

Sometimes we overlook signs that are everywhere.

The silver lining?

Lisa is very fond of the chocolate sprinkles at the Sponge Bob ice cream bar.  Me? even though I’ll be a year older tomorrow, I’m still just a kid at heart! 

Guess I am in exactly the right place.

Writing the Story of Our Lives

The other day I received word that I wasn’t a good fit for a position as Corporate Storyteller.  It struck me as odd, as that’s what I have done for 30 years.  Actually, if you ask my siblings, I’ve been telling stories since I could open my big mouth.  In fact, I’ve got my own infamous “fish story.”  It’s my tall tale, greatly exaggerated (which in this case is a euphemism for a big fat lie), fish story.  It’s a whale of a tale.

I caught 17  fish, I record on a cassette tape for my father, who was way on military duty  in Korea.   We used to send him tapes ( yes, cassette tapes, because Skype and cell phones were not even contemplated back then), of his talented little darlings to entertain him.   My whale of a tale isn’t over.  I  go on to disappoint my father more.  One of the fish is a 17 pounder ( I seem to be fixated on 17 although I am about nine at the time of my personal Pinocchio tale),  I continue, through an exaggerated and newly-acquired Cape Cod accent. Poor Dad, I wonder if he laughed at my proclivity to tell a story or cried at the thought of raising a fibber.  Just the same, my family can validate that I am very qualified to be a storyteller.

When I experience rejection now, I am  okay with it.  It’s not because I am accustomed to it  as much as I accept that it’s not part of my path.  Everything happens for a reason.  Closed doors always end up leading to the ones you are supposed to knock on or open.  Always. It’s a gentle nudge to put us on the right path.

I am taking a huge leap of faith following my heart’s desire to become an author and somehow make a decent living doing what I love.  Serenity finally came to me when I  no longer insisted upon my own will.  I now pray for God’s.   Because if there is one thing I am sure of, He always wants what’s best for us.  I’ve learned to be extremely careful about what I pray for, because my prayers have been answered with many things that I didn’t need  or shouldn’t have.  This latest rejection is merely a course correction; I am good with it.

Every so often I think I need to stop the foolhardy notion that I can create a living as an author.  Then I think about going back to Corporate America for security, but remember how insecure it really was. I’ve worked with companies that have gone into bankruptcy, entered into bad mergers and marriages, or took nosed dives on the stock market with bad acquisitions and horrendous management.  Each time in the game of  management musical chairs, I took a package rather than the boot.  I may have told a tale or two,  but I am no dummy. Rejection is a clear sign that Corporate America is no longer my rodeo.

Veering off the course of convenience or straying from comfortable to follow the scary calling of your heart can be terrifying. Do it anyway.  Destiny waits patiently for us just outside our comfort zone.

Did you know that I am an internationally best-selling author?   Not yet, but yet is always the operative word.   I believe it and I see it and I know thoughts are things, so I  am careful to choose the good ones.   Anyway, that’s the story I tell myself so that the story of my life will have a happily- ever-after ending.

It’s better to die with dreams, I think, than to live without them.

We  all are the authors of our own  lives.  We are the creators of  our life’s story.   So,  what’s your story going to be?    Think big, believe in the best and create your very own whale of a wonderful tale!

 

The Other Woman is My Friend

 

If anyone told me a year ago that the “Other Woman” would become my most featured Facebook friend, I’d have laughed really, really hard.  But fact is stranger than fiction and even if I tried, I could not make up a story with so many twists, turns,  drama and deception.

But here we are, the two of us more startled than anyone by the crazy circumstances that has bonded us as friends.  There seems always to be a silver lining, even in the worst of circumstances!

He described her as a ball busting, take-no-prisoners type of ruthless business woman who simply would not take no for an answer.  The truth is she’s sweet, smart, beautiful, funny, successful, kind, generous and feisty as hell.  I can see why he fell for her and why he wouldn’t make her go away.  He didn’t want her  to and that explains a great deal.

I knew something was amiss in the quiet knowing that we so often dismiss. We seek a different, softer truth.   My intuition and friends tried to tell me something was not right.   I chose to ignore them and believe in a fairytale that quickly turned into a nightmare. Prince Charming is more like the Prince of Darkness.

The Other Woman and I have a lot in common.  We had the same boyfriend and we were both the love of his life!  Call me  crazy (which he did),  or maybe overly technical, but aren’t you supposed to have only one love of your life?   Maybe the duplicitous among us, those that lead deceitful double lives, get one love for each of their two faces. But I suspect there are more.  There always are. Cheaters cheat, and liars lie.

He dated her before me, the rebound mistake he was unable to shake.  But there she was, constantly waiting in the wings, hoping that he would come to his senses.  This passive, wimpy, love-struck behavior hardly matched the shrewd business woman he depicted.

I may not know much about how other women operate, but as soon as I understand a man is involved and “in love,” he’s untouchable.   Maybe that’s not so with other women, but I believe in helping a sister out and I believe in karma.   I take your man? Someone’s going to return the favor.  Men who are married, involved, in love or have ever dated a friend, are off-limits.

There should be  honor and integrity among women even when competing in the  shallow pool of available and desirable men.

As it turns out, she knew nothing about me and when she finally did, my press was as bad as hers. I was crazy criminal with drinking and drug problems. If it weren’t such an incredibly deranged way to describe the anthesis of a human being, it would be comical.  After the initial shock and indignation, I actually did find the humor.   How can a man standing 6 feet 2 inches, stoop so low?    I mostly laugh at the insanity of it all, and I reassured the Other Woman that she will too.

The difference between tragedy and comedy  is merely a question of  time.  I’ve had a bit more time than she to find perspective.  But we’ve both shed tears of heartache and betrayal as well as tears of laughter.

We got punked.  Pure and simple.  We both took the bait, hook, line and sinker.  But in our defense he’s good. He’s really, really good at being bad.

He is charming, handsome, intelligent, funny, romantic and wealthy.   We did the research, but Google only reveals what’s on the surface, not what lacking or lurking inside. He had an impressive resume and online profile.  But dishonesty, duplicity and darkness are in his DNA and that was not revealed in any online search.  Eventually people show you their true nature and character. When they do, believe them the first time.

When I finally listened to my inner warning, the revelations I could not ignore, I reached out to the Other Woman.  Manipulators are artful and cunning and this guy is a master.  He explained me away as a crazy sore loser and she was disloyal to believe anything I say.

It took almost a year for her to reach back out to me.  No surprise that she told me that the cycle of deception and duplicity was repeated.  There was another, Other Woman. 

The stories she recounted and the notes we compared were mind-blowing,  Friday Dateline kind of stuff and definitely worthy of a book or screenplay.   We’re still mulling that option over.

Unfortunately, “The Other Woman” – a movie about a handsome, successful, charming man devoted to his wife and two girlfriends has already been made.  It was entertaining, but barely believable, up until now.  As it turns out  it doesn’t just happen, it happens all the time.

The Other Woman and I are finding it funny now and are having some genuine belly laughs – at his expense. Unlike the victims in the movie, we’re not planning any revenge. We’re fully expecting karma to take care of that.  We’ll just take care of ourselves and the best revenge is always to do well.

The moral of this story?  Beware of bad guys and trust your gut and your friends when they try to tell you something like the truth.   And even when your trust is betrayed and your heart is broken, there’s  always another woman who knows exactly how you feel.   And maybe that other woman might even be the “Other Woman.”

The way I look at it?  I lost a really, really bad man and gained a really great friend.  Maybe in this crazy tale, there is a happily ever after… after all.

The Other Woman and I found humor and maybe some hope that the lessons we have learned are simply the pathway to finding better men and a much better sense of ourselves.    

Remembering the Valiant

Memorial-Day-Thank-You.png“Happy Memorial Day” is a phrase that conflicts me.  This American holiday is a day of remembering  our nation’s men and women who died in service to our country.  I can’t be happy about any loss of life or the thought that war always seems to be the answer, and loss of innocent life is the result.

My father fought in two wars in service to this great nation.  The fact that he survived the Battle of the Bulge and a fierce hand-to-hand combat in Korea, astounds me. The terrifying ordeal of fighting in a foreign land strewn with the carnage of his comrades and friends, is a horror I cannot fathom.  This is the fate of the fortunate soldier;  millions of others  have perished in these agonizing battles. They are who we honor and remember today.

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.

My father now rests among the endless rows of alabaster tombstones of our nation’s heroes, in the hallowed ground of Arlington National cemetery.  But the remains of many of those who have perished in battle have never made it home.

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Across the ocean, on the  now peaceful shores of Normandy, once strewn with the bodies of young Americans, there is a somber and hallowed graveyard.  The French have graciously granted this place in perpetuity for the remains of soldiers who fought in a foreign land for a people they never met.

The horrors of wars and the loss of American heroes – our fathers, sons and daughters, husbands, brothers and sisters – is our nation’s heartache.  It should be a constant reminder that there is an ultimate price paid for freedom. “Freedom is never free.”

Memorial Day will be happy when war is no longer the solution to the disagreements between countries and people.  Until such a glorious day of awakening among citizens and world leaders,  I remember our nation’s fallen with gratitude for their selfless service and ultimate sacrifice.

I join a grateful nation today praying for  heavenly repose for our dead brave and for peace in the hearts of those who mourn them.  And I will continue to pray for peace and to hold onto my hope for humanity.

 

 

 

 

Laughing Through Life- Happy Birthday, Kay!

 

A1F0D3CD-ED43-469D-8D7A-E12BB7709D95.JPGAunt Kay is 92 today and she’s an inspiration.  She’s a testament to inner strength and the adage that attitude is everything.  Kay’s still drinking from a half full glass and, sometimes, that glass has wine in it.  She’s not always had the easiest times, but she lives in a state of gratitude and that’s been a recipe for her happiness and probably even her longevity. She’s still remarkably beautiful and, although diminutive in size, she’s got a heart the size of the ocean.

Kay is Mom’s sister-in-law and close friend. They both dislike words like “cute,” “spunky” and “spry” because those words have implied meanings of old age.  “Who calls a young person, spry?”   “Oh don’t you hate it when they call you, ‘cute’, Ginny?”  They have a point.  Regardless, it’s no baloney that like fine wine, in many ways, Kay gets better with age.

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Surrounded by Strength

She’s physically not what she used to be and she knows it.  But instead of bemoaning, she’s laughing at her physical ailments and deteriorating functioning and cracking me up. too.  We’re hanging out together the other night and she refrains from smoking like a train because she knows it bothers me.  “I know I shouldn’t,” she tells me once, as she takes a long drag,  “But I am 92 and it’s not shortening my life.”  Even I can’t argue with that.

Kay’s eyesight is nearly gone and she reads through a magnifying glass. She tells me I look like I am 38, and I am preening like a peacock until I remember that she’s blind as a bat.  Paradoxically, she can always seem to spot a hot guy. When my friend William spent a Thanksgiving with us a few years ago, Kay  walks in the house with her daughter, takes one look at William, and whispers to me as she sashays past me, “Nice job. Next year bring three more.” Kay uses the word “delicious” for a handsome man.  I like it.

Kay and I spent an evening together this week that I will never forget.  My sides were splitting from the aging dialogue.   I was laughing at Kay, which was her intention.  My aunt is telling me about the many indignities of aging.  “Your mother is complaining about wrinkles,” she tells me. You can tell she thinks  Mom is an aging amateur if this is her complaint.   “Every night I take out my teeth and boob and I can’t see a damn thing.” Your boob? I ask.  And right then and there, Kay reaches into her blouse and whips out a prosthetic breast.

“I lost the damn thing once,”  she tells me.  ” I couldn’t  find it anywhere.”  She tells her daughter about the missing boob. Meg, like the rest of us, is wondering how anyone can lose a boob.   “Meg says to me, who would take a boob?  Kay explains. ”  I’ll tell you who,” she shoots back at me, ” Bubba!”   Bubba is their dog.  They found Kay’s missing boob in Bubba’s crate.

“Thank God, I still have it up here,” Kay says, pointing to her head.  She’s got that right; Kay’s as sharp as a tact. She doesn’t miss a thing. She’s probably mentally sharper than I and has better recall.   I’m telling her a story the other night and I start veering off the path rather seriously.  In fact, I am so far off, I am lost and have no idea where I started. Kay’s regarding me seriously yet softly.  She’s trying to help me retrace the breadcrumbs back to my starting point.  It can’t be done. There is zero recall. I am unsure who is more concerned at this point, Kay or me.  She’s got an expression on her face that I read  to mean- “For God’s sake, I am the one who should be forgetful!”   But I can also tell Kay’s rooting for me as I meander back through my thoughts, trying to remember my original point. I draw a blank and dismiss it.  (except it’s bugging me).

I share with Kay that the mind is a computer and the subconscious mind will always keep trying to retrieve any missing data. That explains random recall, when suddenly the missing information seems to magically appear and we blurt out things like “Burt Bacharach!  Daffodils, not tulips,  Daisy Buchanan!”  These are important bits of information only because they validate that we’re not, in fact, losing our minds. Being unable to recall unimportant facts only becomes important when they appear to be signs of memory failure.

“I’ll think of it tomorrow,”  I reassure Kay.   You can tell Kay’s  a bit bothered for me.   I really believe she’d rather be the one  addled minded rather than me.  Kay escorts me to the back sliding glass door, moving slowly with the walker she depends on more these days. I tell her I love her, because I do, but she’s can’t possibly understand how much. She always replies the same, “I love you more.”

I’m not even to the car when the answer appears and I begin to laugh out loud and run back to the door.  Kay’s still fiddling with the locks and when she sees me, she shouts through the glass, “You remembered!”   We’re cracking up, and I and I tell her that when I come to make her breakfast in the morning, I’ll tell her the story about the number 932. Kay’s visibly happy for my memory victory and I am laughing all the way home.

The next morning I call Kay to tell her I’ll be over to make her coconut pancakes.  Kay answers the phone, “932.” We both laugh.  “See, I am not so old.”

Laughter is the best medicine for any of life’s ailments and Kay and Mom are the best examples of that fact.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Kay.  You delight me, inspire me, amaze me and crack me up.