Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says "Oh shit, she's awake."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never forget...for Patricia...

I hate September 11th but I am writing this for my 14 year old daughter who is blessed to not have been old enough to remember that day.  But it is important to explain, to pass along the stories, the emotions, the tears and the loss.  It is important that we never forget.

No matter how many years go by, it is still always the most vivid, gutwrenching and sickening feeling that surrounds me when 9/11 rolls around.  Thirteen years seems like it should be a long time.  To me, it’s yesterday, as it is to so very many.

Everyone has their “where were you” moment on that morning.  For me, it was an incredibly beautiful sunny day, just me and my two year old daughter out in the back yard of our Alexandria home.  I was clipping herbs to take to a new neighbor whom I was meeting for coffee at her house around 10am.  I’ll never forget how beautiful the sky was that day.  Perfect really.

Out of nowhere, I heard the loud rumbling of thunder, really really loud.  “Weird” I thought to myself.  Seriously not a cloud in the sky.  It never even occurred to me that it wasn’t thunder. 

I gathered the child, gathered my herb basket, and headed to Jackie’s house.  She had the TV going and was glued to it.  By this time, the third plane had hit the Pentagon, 9:37am, and the first tower had just fallen, 9:59am.  Then the plane crash in Shanksville, 10:03am.  There was so much all at one time, and I couldn’t even comprehend what was happening. It didn’t seem real, more like a movie. The two of us just sat there, tears running down our faces.  Jackie’s husband was on Capitol Hill and couldn’t get out of the city. Rumors of another plane headed for D.C. were being tossed around.  My cell phone rang. It was Gary.  He was supposed to have been at a meeting in the wing of the Pentagon where the plane hit, but it was moved at the last minute.  He was driving on 395 not a mile from the Pentagon when the plane slammed into the building.  Suddenly the thunder made sense.  It wasn’t thunder at all.  My heart was in my throat.  Then cell service shut down. Jackie couldn’t reach her husband.  We sat there together, in silence as we continued to see the news reports roll in.  The second tower collapsed, 10:28am. I felt physically sick.  All of those people, their children, wives, husbands, parents, sisters, brothers.  Cameras rolling.  That awful “tweeting noise” breaking the silence of the streets of NY.  It was the radios of the firemen and police officers.  I can still hear that tweeting noise when I close my eyes and think of that day.

Jackie’s husband did come home, as did Gary.  It was actually Gary’s birthday but there was no celebration.  We just watched the news reports roll in, the footage of the injured, the horrible gray dust that covered everything and anything.  The gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon…the field in Shanksville where it seemed the plane itself had turned to dust when it hit the ground with such unbelievable force.  I didn’t sleep for days, I just watched the news, all the news, any news I could find on the tv.  It was the early days of the 24 hour news cycle, and I believe that after that day, none of us ever watched the news in the same way again.

The following weekend I had plans to see an old high school friend in Caldwell, NJ, just across the river from the downtown Manhattan skyline.  That Sunday morning before I left, she and I drove to a park that overlooked the river and the devastation.  We stood there and cried as we watched the billowing smoke, still rising from the ruins, on the other side of the water. The Towers, where I had been many times to meet up with a banker I dated a long long time ago when everything seemed easy and fun. Happy memories, good times.  All gone.

Everything changed. Everything.  We all, collectively as a nation, wrapped our arms around each other, and tried to make sense of it all.  There was no sense to be made. None. It still doesn’t make sense.  The loss of life, the terror that we all felt for such a long time afterwards…no one felt safe, only incredibly vulnerable.  Honestly, I still feel vulnerable.

But out of the madness emerged something good…so many acts of selflessness, courage,compassion and humanity. People helping people, helping families find their loved ones, helping recover the smallest of personal items of those that had perished.  Everything had meaning and importance, because there was so little left to even show that those who perished had even been there on that morning.  Everything was dust, everything.

Twice I have had the privilege and honor to visit what has come be known as Ground Zero since 9/11.  I have driven past the Pentagon on many many occasions, and in fact saw the Phoenix rise from the ashes and rubble, like it had never happened, save for a beautiful memorial park where there is an empty seat under an individual tree for each person who lost their life.  I have not had the opportunity to visit Shanksville, but I would like to one day.  I should, everyone should.  So brave were the souls on that plane who gave their own lives to keep pure evil from flying that plane into the White House or Capitol.  Were it not for so many acts of courage on that day, so many more lives would have been lost.

And those who, without hesitation, signed up for the military after 9/11, how special they all are.  They loved their country so much that they did not even hesitate to die for it is bravery beyond compare.  They go and fight so we can live our lives under the flag of a free nation.  Even on our worst days, America is good.  I know there are many who no longer believe that, but look around.  There really is still so much good in the world.  I am thankful every day to call the United States my home.

God bless the souls lost on 9/11, and subsequently those fighting to make sure that history does not repeat itself. God bless the firefighters and police who worked tirelessly to bring home those who were lost, so that every family could at least find some measure of closure.  They still suffer from the effects of the conditions they worked under…cancer, respiratory problems, other diseases that cause them suffering every single day.  God bless them all.

And God bless the United States of America.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Yes I have a potty mouth. No, I don't give a f*ck if you care.

Lots of people dying lately…

And here I am, looking 50 right in the kisser.  If my math is correct (and we have a 50/50 shot at that since I can't add my way out of a paper bag) that means I have 30 years til I hit the age that is definitely on the precipice of "the big dirt nap".  I thought I would be upset about it, but as it turns out the only thing I am really worried about is how long will it be before I have to switch from botox to fillers.  Vanity, as you know, is one of the seven deadly sins, and apparently I wear that bitch like I own it (because I do.)  There are worse things than being vain. A LOT worse things.

This morning, as my daughter and I were watching the Today Show and their coverage of Joan Rivers’ passing, she turned to me as said “I hope you look hot when you’re 81.”  I fell on the floor laughing.  I didn’t even know she cared.  I promised her I would do my best not to look hideous.  She was good with that, and promised she would make sure I was buried in black because we all know it's an instant ten pounds off your ass.  Actually, Joan would have appreciated that statement from my daughter. Love her or hate her, Joan was a broad who was unabashedly unapologetic and made no excuses for who she was.  Didn’t like her humor?  Get in line, a lot of people didn’t.  Thought she was the poster child for plastic surgery?  She was happy to admit that too.  She lived her life on her terms, every day, and in the end I think a lot of people respected that about her, even if they didn't like her. I know I did.  Love her or hate her, at least she inspired an opinion. I try to live my life under very similar circumstances.  I have a crapload of people who adore me, and probably just as many, if not more, who think I’m a pain in the ass, or a bitch, or [fill in the blank with your own colorful descriptive term.]  I’d rather inspire a strong opinion than no opinion.  That would be boring, and I never want to be thought of as a boring wallflower.  I’m a loudmouth, a smartass, a shameless broad who curses too much and is prone to inserting my foot in my mouth.  I love to laugh – sometimes too loudly, and I have a caustic sense of humor which is often misunderstood. And honestly, my favorite thing to laugh at is myself, so it’s not like I don’t allow myself to be fair game.  If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we are missing the very best jokes.  Love me or hate me, at least I gave you something to think about.  And admit it, you did think about it.

Part of the reason I live my life on my terms without apologies is that I want my daughter to realize that she is JUST FINE the way she is.  If people don’t like you? Fuck ‘em.  In ten years you won’t remember them. For a long time I really did give a rat’s ass what people thought of me.  What a waste of frigging time that was.  I want my daughter to realize that in the end it just doesn’t matter.  Life is a grand illusion, a very very long epic movie. We spend far too much time worrying about people and things that will have no bearing on how we lived, or how we died.  If life is about the journey, then make damn sure the journey is interesting.  She’s starting to get it.  Sometimes she makes a comment that makes me smile, because I realize she is a lot stronger and a lot less fragile, than I was at her age.

So to you, Joan, I tip my hat. I hope they plant your ass in that Valentino gown, and I sure the hell hope your daughter makes sure your makeup is flawless.  Thank you for living your life with grace, and a delishly cruel sense of humor that many times left me in tears laughing.  Because let’s be honest, we all love to laugh…really really laugh.

And if you don’t like this blog?  Well, screw you, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Monday, June 2, 2014

When Good Girls Go Too Short...

I am a self-professed short skirt/dress junkie.  I always have been to be honest. I have good legs and I don’t mind putting them on display as anyone who knows me would tell you.  Mind you, I don’t go for the “micro mini” anymore – I left that behind along with my twenties, where it belongs. But still, I have no problem wearing things that are “above the knee” even though I am quickly approaching the big Five OHHHHH.  The countdown has begun and we are down to 8 months.  And after Saturday evening I have been compelled to rethink my wardrobe strategy entirely.

That was when Bill and I happily hauled ourselves to one of our favorite watering holes for something slightly stronger than water. Ok, a lot stronger than water.  We have just come off a ridiculously stressful year and a half, and we were in the mood to celebrate.  I opted for pants and a funky shirt – age appropriate – brightly colored to match my happy mood.  We laughed, ran into some friends, and indulged our need for alcohol.  And that, folks, was when I saw her.  As I turned around from the bar to take a look around the room I noticed a woman standing with her back to me.  She was in a pair of impossibly high heels, a snug fitting shirt, and a skin tight skirt that was short enough to make you wonder if it was immune to the laws of gravity. It was no less than five inches above the knee so we are talking SHORT.  I hoped she was wearing underwear for obvious reasons.  She had a great figure, and for a moment I thought “damn, wish I looked like that in a tight miniskirt and heels.”  Then…then she turned around, and my jaw hit the floor.  Was she 50? Ummmm…no.  Was she 55?  Nope, keep going…was she 60?  If she was 60 she really needed to consider some Juvaderm and maybe a micro peel.  No, she was definitely more than a couple of years beyond 60.  That was when I realized you can DEFINITELY be too old to wear ANYTHING really really short.  Yes, from the back she was a knockout.  From the front, it was like looking at your grandmother wearing something that she was sure would make her look hot.  First of all, I don’t EVER want to think of my grandmother, or anyone else’s grandmother, as being hot.  When I am in my sixties, I can only hope that there are a variety of more desirable terms used to describe me.  Hot? Nope. Pass. I’m shooting for “lovely”, “elegant” or “classic beauty”.  That does not mean I don’t want to look drop dead gorgeous, but I don’t want to do it in something that is clearly meant for someone at least 20 years younger than me. 

In that moment, as I looked at her, I felt a pang of sympathy.  She wasn’t giving off that vibe of an incredibly confident older woman who didn’t give a crap what other people thought.  And that would have been just fine in my book.  She seemed to be that woman who was struggling with growing old gracefully and was grasping onto her younger years with both hands as time dragged her down the road, kicking and screaming.  She looked uncomfortable, maybe even just a touch paranoid that people were looking at her.  I bet she wished she was home in her yoga pants having a glass of wine trying to catch up on episodes of Mad Men on Netflix.  I know that would be been my thought. There is nothing worse than standing in the middle of a crowded room when clearly you are not feeling your finest.  And with that, I picked my jaw up off the floor and stopped staring.  I know, bad form on my part but the whole thing was kind of like watching a train wreck. 

So yesterday I went through my closet and packed up the last of my miniskirts and dresses.  It was like packing up my youth in a way, not that I feel old. I just don’t feel like “that girl” anymore.  I wouldn’t call my wardrobe boring.  In fact, I usually gravitate towards the “eclectic”, but I am definitely not interested in wearing anything that looks like I am trying to recapture my youth. Those days are thankfully behind me, which is good because quite frankly they were exhausting.  An inch or two above the knee?  I can deal with that.  Anything more than that?  No freaking way.

And for those who are wondering, no I am not “letting myself go.”  I’m still ridiculously vein.  I never miss my botox appointment, and I spend way too much on skincare.  But I do feel as though I have crossed over to the other side.  And honestly, it feels fabulous, so I’m to go with it.  But if I do lapse and wear something meant for the younger set, I can only hope my friends will hit me upside the head and drag me home to change into something more appropriate.  Because THAT is what friends are for.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Confessions of a 49 year old control freak...

So I submit to you, in all humility – yes, I am a control freak.  I’m not as bad as I once was, but there is still a lot of work to do in this particular category of my life.  Along with patience, it is probably my life lesson.  This past weekend was yet another example of how I can let my controlling tendencies get the best of me, and sometimes hurt other people in the process.  I’m not proud of that.  But I am a work in progress.  I figure as long as I am at least learning from my mistakes, there is something positive born out of a bad situation.

I’m not quite sure when I decided that my ability to keep track of everything and everyone around me was “the right way.”  And truly, a lot of my “knowing how this is going to turn out” comes from my own stupid mistakes.  I’ve been there, I’ve tested that hypotheses, and the outcome stinks.  Two failed marriages, countless bad relationships, and a generally bad track record when it comes to love and life decisions pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I got lucky though.  I finally stopped trying to control that part of my life.  I met Bill and he was the best thing to ever happen to me.  But still, I watch the people around me, people I love, and I can’t help but feel the need to tell them how to avoid the stupid mistakes in life, especially the ones in which I have lots of experience.  The problem is that unless you make those mistakes on your own, you never get the benefit of learning firsthand how to not fuck up.  I can’t protect everyone, as much as I would like to, it’s flat out impossible.  That little voice in my head keeps saying “they need to walk their own path.”  My heart keeps saying “you know, you could just drag them kicking and screaming down the right path and you would save them the trouble.”  I know I know…control issues.  But really?  Is it so bad to want to save your loved ones from heartbreak?  Well in theory, no, but in the end it just causes a lot of stress that no one really wanted in the first place, and then those very same people start to view you as the world’s biggest pain in the ass.  Guilty as charged, and I have the big ass to prove it.  Again, luck is in my corner though.  Usually those very same people recognize that I am a recovering control freak and they forgive quickly.  I always appreciate someone who can see me for my faults as well as my fabulousness.  Truly, it is all meant with the best of intentions, just sometimes I have really bad delivery.

I do reserve the right to exercise a fair amount of control in my daughter’s life, although I am inclined to sugar coat it so it’s not so annoying for her.  She gets it, and for right now, she deals with it like a champ.  That, of course, is always subject to change when dealing with a teenager, so I will hold out hope that things continue to be awesome around my house.  I also know there are no guarantees.  I’m never going to get Mother of the Year, but hopefully I won’t screw her up permanently.  I am positive I still have those discount coupons for therapy that I was given at the hospital the day she was born.  “Here, these are for your daughter.  She’s going to need these someday.”  Damn that hospital staff for seeing right through me.  I guess control freaks are easy to spot.  I should upgrade my “mom camouflage.”

So, I just felt it necessary to throw myself on my sword and shout out “mea culpa” to my always patient possé of family and friends.  If I push too hard, if I become too insistent, please know it’s only because I care so deeply.  Then feel free to tell me to shut the fuck up.  I promise I will stop trying to screw with your gps in life so you can walk your path without obstacles and wrong turns, at least any caused by me.  The rest of them…well, you’re on your own.