Hot Links: Being a Grown-Up

For some reason, this week, I have been having a bad case of the Olds. I am not someone who lies about my age, I am proudly 42, but, blearrrrgh, I am feeling every second of those 42 years. Nothing fits right, my runs are kinda slow and herky-jerky, it seems like my grays show up faster, might I have arthritis in my left middle finger (and yes, I am flipping it off), I feel like I look tiiiiiiiiired and I am worried-beyond-worried about all the super bad news lately. (Well not really about North Korea, but they are all over the news cycle!)

But because I am 42 (only!), I am fine, I got this, life will go on, and I know how to not slip into a Pit of Despair Over Things I Cannot Control. I am actually happy and content and inspired. And I totally made this pound cake last weekend for my outlaw step-daughter and BF.

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That said, onward with some random Hot Links from all over that spectrum of 42-year perspective.

Hat tip again to Kim France for linking to these over-4o fashion bloggers.

Looking forward to my summer soundtrack.

They have heard of Roe v. Wade right? Get off women, jerks.

Best obituary of Margaret Thatcher hands-down. A sampling:

Is that what made her so formidable, her ability to ignore the suffering of others? Given the nature of her legacy “survival of the fittest” – a phrase that Darwin himself only used twice in On the Origin of Species, compared to hundreds of references to altruism, love and cooperation, it isn’t surprising that there are parties tonight in Liverpool, Glasgow and Brixton – from where are they to have learned compassion and forgiveness?

And finally, the sheer goodness power of the Internet. I met Leslie Fandrich in person (!) at Camp Mighty last fall, she of the twinkling-eye, earnest comments and wicked sense of humor. She has the kind of talent with both her camera and her paintbrush that makes it seem like, “omigod, I can totes draw that,” until you go, “no wait, I cannot, I can barely take a proper selfie or draw a stick man,”  because wow, she has some serious SKILLS of the magic kind, but that is why you are drawn into her work so deeply – because you can access it with your own emotions and experiences. The way her photos are both observational and composed creates an instant relationship, with Leslie and her subjects. This is probably why, when I flagged her down to sit with me for the last dinner at Camp, I found myself spilling my guts in a way I only do with very old and trusted friends, or perhaps, my therapist. (Still feel spazzy about that LF!! You get my shoulder next time, drinks on me!) Leslie is just that person. A brilliant, warm, talented, funny, awesome person.

Leslie has also been sharing one of the most intimate human experiences (and one that I have not yet had), the passing of her mother. Her photos, words and art work documenting the intimate nature of dying has been as life-affirming for me as a sunrise hike, belly laughter, great sex, a perfect plate of pasta. Using the word effortless to describe her experience and her work does a disservice to her courage and determination to be present and share it with all of us. Nothing about this is passive… yet there is an ease, and a quiet power, and mostly… great love in her expressions throughout this time. My deepest sympathies are with Leslie and her family as they move into the necessary period of mourning, but also, deepest and most humble gratitude for showing me what love and courage looks like.

Much love to you Leslie, can’t wait to see you in the fall. Let’s try something magical.

Fight or Flight

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I can’t remember the first time I heard a story about super-human strength, but it was definitely when I was a kid. I feel certain I saw it on TV, on “That’s Incredible” or “Real People.” (Note, we now have the Internet and a thing called You Tube, all but putting these types of shows out of production.) A person rescuing another from a harrowing situation and the lifting of a car or the ripping of a door off its hinges Hulk-style was the general gist of every story. Once, a row of lockers fell on a friend while we were horsing around after gym class, and I lifted the lockers off of her… so I know these feats are true. Soon after, I learned about the endocrine system, and that a rapid burst of adrenaline is the magic juice that enables our muscles to effortlessly lift steel lockers off a friend. Even knowing the science, I was still fascinated with these tales of survival. It did not just happen in movies or to Wonder Woman.

And then, I got older.

Age brought with it life experience, which seemed to have more stories about people getting hurt, maimed or dying than of adrenaline-fueled survival. And these were sometimes people I knew. Worse still, people were getting sad, or hopeless, or addicted to all manner of distractions. And because it can always get worse, I saw that people isolated themselves. I was one of those.

Last fall when I went to Camp Mighty, I started to connect that very idea. That in the face of a long series of fairly large failures, disappointments and setbacks over the past nine years, I was choosing isolation as a coping strategy for far longer than I intended, and that now, if I wanted to get done all the things on my Life List let alone just live my life the way I wanted to, with perhaps some joy and even some love, I would have to find some of that super-human strength to do it.

I got back from Camp raring to go: work was great, the Giants won the World Series, and then, over Christmas break, while in my hometown, I found myself in a room with a man I’d been enjoying getting to know, when his ex-girlfriend walked in unannounced. Everyone was fully clothed; I was still in my coat and hat in fact, but yeah. There I was.

Being lied to. Again.

During Christmas. Again.

I walked out. I calmly, maybe almost too calmly, just got my bag, put my sunglasses on and walked the fuck out.

When this happens to you, and I hope it does not, there is no huge scene, or, regrettably, all the phenomenal and witty comments and comebacks of so many great movie scenes. No writer is feeding you lines like, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” and you’re definitely not shoving all his belongings into his BMW, dousing it with gasoline and lighting it on fire.

Nope. Not for me anyway. I just walked out.

(Later that day, I lost my mind with rage and hurt. Unfortch, I don’t like to eat or drink when I get upset, so I could barely even get the sorely needed booze down my throat at the parties I had to attend later that night. Again, no screenwriter in their right mind would have a just-dumped character not go on a bender. Not very cinematic.)

A pause now in this part of the action to jump ahead to this past Wednesday morning.

There I was, in my bathroom, freshly showered, naked, worried about missing the ferry while hastily putting body lotion on, when I came face… to another face in my bathroom window. After two full beats registering that there was a FACE LOOKING INTO MY BATHROOM WINDOW, I screamed an enraged terror scream that would have made the hair on the back of Jamie Lee Curtis’s neck stand up. The face disappeared, I grabbed my robe and ran out the front door to look for the bastard who I then computed to know, was the boyfriend of my upstairs neighbor. How did I know this? My other neighbor had reported to me that she caught him looking into her windows in much the same way a couple months ago and I remembered it in that split second and so went after him to try and catch him running away.

I. Was. PISSED. I screamed his name and yelled for him to get back here, which did not happen. I went back inside, put my Ugg boots on, grabbed my key and locked the door (in case he came back and hid in my apartment?) and marched upstairs to confront the girlfriend, my neighbor. I was yelling. I was shaking. I was breathing hard, near asthma attack levels, being out of shape from no running. It was 7:15 in the morning.

The confrontation with the neighbor/girlfriend did NOT go well, in that she was in full denial that this was really happening, and basically started to sass me, and gaslight me, telling me I was over-reacting, imagining it, and oh, by the way, he’s moving in here over the weekend.

Oh no you didn’t.

This whole situation WAS full movie scene, from that pervie punk skulking around to peek into my window, to my blood-curdling scream and running outside after him, to the bitchy, reality-show cast member finger-wagging of the 21 year-old girl accusing me of having an “erratic” personality. Are you FKM as they say?

He then CAME BACK to admit he did it and apologize to me, to which I said directly to his face, “You violated my privacy and my personal space. There is nothing normal about what you did. You have a problem. You are not welcome here. I never want to see you again.” Holy shit did that feel good.

The only thing missing was me calling the cops right then and there, which, thankyouverymuch, I did later in the day. He packed his shit and is not moving in. She’s leaving within weeks. If he shows up here, I will call the police again.

Calling on my inner-Taratino, one more flashback, but this time, to a few weeks ago, at an intersection while stopping for a red light.

I was rear-ended by man driving a Range Rover. Totally low speed, a couple scratches to my bumper, but definitely, his fault. We pulled over to check on each other’s well-being and to exchange information. I was shaky from the adrenaline spike and trying to calm my breathing and gather my thoughts. He immediately started telling me the whole accident was my fault and that as such, I should “be reasonable” about the repair issue. “Which means what?” I asked. Did he think I would take less than the full amount for the repair for damage HE caused? Apparently he did. He started to tell me that my car was not in pristine condition anyway, so why should I even care? “Look at this, this dent on your front bumper,” he said, “are you telling me that you drive around with this, but that you expect me to pay for this tiny scratch that my car only caused because you did not go through the yellow light?” Oh my f-ing God. That is how this arrogant, Range Rover driving a-hole was speaking to me. Was I suddenly caught in a hidden-camera stereotype experiment?? I could feel myself crumbling a bit, feeling like maybe he was right, I did have to stop fast, but wait, the light was turning and I was not going to run it… UGH, I was drifting a bit down that hole of not thinking my feelings let alone the truth mattered.

After I reached out to a friend who calmly reminded me to call my insurance, especially since this guy was such a jerk, I did just that. I was thrilled to find out that he was as consistent an asshole with them as he was with me, and that I was not just some special weakling  in a sensible compact car he chose to harangue. He was an equal opportunity ass. (Oh and his insurance accepted liability and car will be getting repaired shortly. Front bumper I have to save up for!)

Back to the scene in December.

I would not change it. Because if I had not calmly walked the hell out of that house with my dignity intact, then had the emotional breakdown even as messy and hurtful as it was and then recovered from that, I would not have gone after this creepy spying schmuck and his abusive girlfriend for violating my home and privacy and sense of security AND been right about it.

I’d likely not have stood up to the jerk who hit my car either.

Superhuman strength, or what we call the fight or flight response is autonomic. We cannot control it. Not even Oscar winning screenwriters can control it, so that is why everyone is always lifting cars and saying awesome shit. But, we have powers beyond a witty line. When we pay attention to how we react, and understand that the only thing we can control is how we react and deeper still how we THINK about how we react, that’s when we do become heroes.

PS,

Dear Universe,

I am pretty sure I get it now. So that thing how you split the ass out of my pants on Friday, I mean, really was that necessary? I totally laughed, because split pants, like unintended loud farts, are totally funny. But Universe… really? You’ve read my Life List right? Please get back to work on that. I promise, I am in good humor. I just would like a nice boyfriend (#59) and a bit more financial freedom too (#14) would be great! Thanks! ;-)

Camp Mighty: Do It

I like to joke about my laziness. I joke about my laziness because I have been ashamed that I cannot seem to get more achieved in the past several years, so I equate that with laziness which if you had not heard is an actual SIN and somehow if it’s sinful to be lazy, well then I have bigger problems than not writing a blog post everyday and getting a book deal. Or similar.

The truth is, whatever I put my mind to doing, I pretty much get it done, or even cooler, get moving along to a place that reveals a whole new set of adventures and opportunities. I am pretty powerful when put my mind to it.

We all are.

Getting myself to Camp Mighty this year was one of those achievements. I knew that if I could be at a retreat with women who inspire me, I would stop being fake-lazy and start doing some mighty creative work. I knew that if I could take a road trip, I could clear a part of my jammed up head. I knew that if I asked for help, it would probably show up. I knew it would scare the shit out of me, but that nothing I have ever done and was eventually thrilled by didn’t at first scare the shit out of me. I knew that if I just made a list, and then shared it and then listened to others’ lists and laughed a lot and cried a little and got a little drunk and wore sequins (thank you Echeve!) and danced and had a roommate and took notes and pictures and hot tubs and did it all for three days at once, well then, laziness is for actual sloths and Life Lists are for the Mighty.

Yes, another non-specific overview of Camp Mighty. I will tell the tales of the talks and the sponsors and the perfect and the weird moments as they come up for me. Doing it that way honors how long I know I need to bask in something, and then create it, and then share it. For now, some photos. Money shot at the end.

Click the pic below for wacky Space Party moves.

Camp Mighty Recap: Five Things

In the great tradition of telling the story backwards, here are my Five Things. I plan on explaining what that means and why these are the things, but it’s way fun to give the sneak peek. One tidbit: this necklace was a gift to me and all the attendees from Camp Mighty to symbolize the Five Things from our Life Lists we intend to check off in the coming year. My other most meaningful jewelry was happy to meet it.

Camp Mighty Recap: The Disclaimer

WOW. It’s true, I am still in full-on wowzer mode from Camp Mighty and as I know do, I am also verrrry slow to process. Much like a Thanksgiving turkey, I need to respect the time it takes to roast in all the goodness and that means keeping the oven door shut!

I met incredibly talented women (and a few mens!) at all stages and ranges of their creative power and potential. I listened to some very smart and successful people and companies tell their stories. I swanned around (and some did quite literally) the gorgeous Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. I wore sequins. And a bikini. I laughed my ass off. And shocking no one who knows me/knows me, I cried. Also, I might have gotten a little emo-blurty and possibly gave bad impressions. Oops.

In my current moment of reflection, I am hearing that old bastard Shame, singing his lament to the losers, and it’s loud and incessant and it’s drowning out the superawesome goodness. I will get there, and demand that he turn the volume down. That’s not the issue. It’s just that this is my process, and like Jenny Lawson told us on Saturday morning when describing her need to take a month off mid-book tour due to some very relatable shall I call them, FEELINGS, when that happens you just have to let yourself be where you need to be, trusting that this too shall pass. This is especially important when you feel like a crazy, loudtalker loser and everyone else is fantastic. Even though you know it’s not true.

Since I tend to rely heavily on humor to mask the fear of rejection keep serious things like my extreme vulnerability light and funny, I give you the cinematic version of how I see my relationship to the superawesome women of Camp Mighty.

Dear Mike from Swingers, don’t ever change. You’re so money and you don’t even know it.

Warm Fuzzies For Water

I love mail.

Something I have been trying to do for myself is to be a more disciplined goal setter and maker. I am incredibly lazy and distractible and I have reached epic heights of sloth. The latter is due to a combination of busy-ness and exhaustion, and a dash of isolating thrown in too.  I started 2012 off with some good intentions for goals to attain in health, emotion and spirit, finance, intellect, creativity, love and adventure.

And then one of my dogs died. On January 9th.

And then my grandmother died. On February 11th.

And then it was March.  I don’t like March.  (Except for St. Patrick’s Day, but copious amounts of Guinness has not failed to temporarily solve what ails me, pretty much ever.)

And then, I did not write about any of these things even though I wanted to, but I succumbed to the malaise.

Now it is November, and I realize that I have pressed on this year, doing things and not doing anything and having fun and hiding out and working hard and having some successes and some stresses, but mostly I have  never been able to shake that feeling of disarray and disorder from just after getting home from my grandmother’s funeral.  And double mostly, I am tired of living my life this way when I do have so much I want to do, see, be and enjoy.

Enter Camp Mighty. On November 15, I will be joining the fine Go Mighty team for a weekend retreat in Palm Springs devoted to acknowledging and making real plans to achieve goals.  These Campers are also do-gooders, which is partly why I am so attracted to this kind of support network. Despite my stubborn habit of being a bit of an isolationist and an expert practitioner of the Irish Goodbye, I believe deeply that we are all in this thing together and that we must and we can help each other out along the way.  Part of the participation requirement for camp is to raise a minimum of $200 each for a wonderful cause supported by Go Mighty called Charity:Water. I think I have a genius idea to raise my (at least!) $200.

I am asking for individual donations to be made in the amount of $20 directly to the campaign and in exchange, not only will you be funding a water project for the Rulindo District of Rwanda, you will be receiving a personal, handwritten Warm Fuzzy from me to you.  I know the best way for me to feel whole again is to help someone else feel whole, and that is something I can do in a tangible way by writing it down for you and mailing it to you so it is not just another #loveyameanit moment.

A word on Sandy and donations you may be making to the Red Cross this week: I am quite aware this is possibly a bad time to ask for a donation to a cause you are just now hearing about, and is in Rwanda not New Jersey, and is are-you-kidding-me yet another ask for your money. Let me meet that objection by telling you that I understand just how hard it is to part with another 20 bucks.  I understand that $20 is half tank of gas and $20 is lunch money and $20 is a few groceries in a pinch and $20 is a merciful bottle of wine but mostly, I know and respect it’s your hard-earned $20. That is why I want to give you something back in return for it, something I usually give for free, but today, let’s do this $20 transaction of goodness to put a little more power and intention behind doing these things to make everyone be healthier and happier and feel less alone.  (Feel like you really want to help but can only part with $10? Send it in and I will still Warm Fuzzy you. Someday soon I will find the courage to tell the story of my financial undoing and rebuilding. Receiving the donation and writing you a Warm Fuzzy with empower me.)

Will you please help me?

Send me your home address via email and in the section for a note on the donation page of Charity:Water, put down you are trading water for a Warm Fuzzy and I will get the credit toward my $200. And of all goes well, we’ll raise a little more and spread a little more warmth.

Thank you my friends.  Thank you.