Ok. So this bad boy is gonna' be another short one.
Long week.... sorry kids.
Every night I go to the gym. Every. Single. F*cking Sweaty Night.
When El Capitan has the kids I go to the gym early to get more of a work out in (plus, then I can use the hot tub when I'm done!) - so I meet him outside and then drop the kids off at Kids Club and head back to working out. The kids came running to the doors and El Capitan walked up carrying their swim bag.
I was immediately informed of allllll things McDonalds and Dollar Store and penny-arcade and swimming in the deep end and and and and....... then they ran off into the Kids Club area to play with all their little friends. El Capitan hung back to fill me in on what they talked about, what they ate... did they behave: the usual.
At the end, kind of.... out of an old habit? I'm not sure...... but El Capitan slung one arm around my back from the side and I responded and we had a bit of a half-hug. In the moment, I didn't think much about it.... it just: was. We said good-bye, I picked up the swim back and headed inside.
I checked the kids into the Kids Club and walked back into the gym where one of the girls who "knows" who I am was standing there waiting to question me.... Why was I hugging El Capitan!?!?!?!?
For a second I was caught off-guard - then I started laughing and said, "Well, once upon a time I used to have sex with him.... why shouldn't I hug him?"
"oooooooh..... Are you guys going to get back together, then?" she eagerly asked.
"F*kc no." I replied.... through my guffaws of laughter.
I get it. He hurt me. BELIEVE. ME. I got that one. Loudandf*ckingclear. I got it.
Can a girl not get over sh*t.......?
This man is the FATHER of my children.
I spent TEN YEARS with him.
Sometimes we laughed.
Sometimes we cried.
Sometimes we fought (I usually won).
Sometimes it was good(ish).
and then it was bad..... very, very, very bad.
And then.... I got the f*ck over it.
See. It can be done. I promise.
To be frank, I've maintained friendships with almost all of my ex's. Why the hell wouldn't I? I let you into my most inner thoughts - I share my deepest fears and greatest dreams.... they watched me fail and succeed and grow and stumble and become: me. They were all apart of my journey - my *life*. To me, if I were to cut them out of my life... I feel like I'm cutting away a part of me.
Or may be I'm just a hoarder.... a collector of old memories?
Mostly.... I just think it's just of like.... healthy? Why can't I just be friends - once I'm over the pain or the anger or whatever brought about the end of things.... - can I not just be friends with someone who I once loved and *made* love to?
Of course I can.
Do I want to get back together with El Capitan..... no. Flat out. No.
I feel like...... we were on this wee little happy island.
The children were playing and life..... was wonderful.
The sun was shinning and it was great.
Then a whore of a tsunami called Yoga Girl crashed onto our beach and took out the sun.
Wreaked havoc on my life.
Broke my heart.
Took away the sun.....
Took away the love........
So I took the kids and took shelter.
I hunkered down.
I held them.
I held myself.
and we all cried and cried and cried and cried.
and I talked and talked and blogged and talked.
and I read and read and read some more......
Then I cried some more.
A Lot more.
I focused on me.
I focused on the kids.
I focused on small things.
and the sun came back all on it's own.
and soon, happiness followed, without even being asked.
In the distance, I can still see the clouds of Yoga Girl.
but they aren't near me anymore
they don't wreak havoc.
it doesn't hurt me to know they are there......
and the hole that was left behind by those clouds is now full.
Full of two kids who love.
Full of two brothers who love me.
Full of parents who support us all.
Full of friends who stood next to me, behind me... and sometimes: propped me up.
That hole filled right back up with a sh*t ton of unconditional love.
.... because I LET IT.
.... because I'm not f*cking bitter and broken..... I'm trusting and loving.
we know that.... because that is what my life is full of.
If I want to give my ex-husband a hug.... it's because I'm human.
And now we're two humans co-parenting two PERFECT humans.
and we're going to do that NOT in hate.
Not in anger.
Not in fighting.
NOT IN CLOUDS.
But in a hug.
Because I f*cking said so.... lololololol
Because I can.
Because it means nothing more than hugging an old friend with home
So my laptop is totally dead. damn.
This kind of escalates the need for work now..... at this point, my options are either 'real job' or strap a mattress to my back and earn laptop money the old fashioned way... hahaha
Clearly: I'll be applying for a real job. :)
I'll be honest... I'm a wee bit tired tonight. The down hard drive and laptop aren't helping - lol.
Today was El Capitan's day with the kids - and they had a very lovely time. Which is good.... it's not perfect, but the it makes me happy for the kids to come back with happy stories of time with their Dad. The alternative is not an option ... really.
So.... I saw Gym Guy today (hi there....) - and it turns out he reads The Blog from time to time.... I bet that makes me seriously awesome dating material - eh? hahahah
Most of the last two days has been spent answering emails and talking ..... why is it so hard for people to understand that it's possible that I have *actually* moved on......?
How long as I supposed to wear black and hang my head in shame over someone who did this to me.....? am I *really* supposed to have 'feelings' for him still?
Because, I don't.
I really, really, really - the power of a million - do not have feelings for him.
I don't have bad feelings for him - or good feelings.... at times, I certainly have annoyed feelings - but they pretty much end there.
I don't think about him.... I don't call him - I don't email him or text him or really even talk about him anymore...
It's just that simple.
Life is just too short to keep being sad or angry or upset about... well - about anything.
I understand that we've all been here and that you have all been down the darkest of hole's with me..... and that's a huge blessing. Really - it is. However, I firmly believe that going there - staying there and allowing myself the *time* I needed to feel and process and move on from all that pain and anger and resentment - means that I get to crawl out of the hole and *be* whole again.
Whole - and happy and excited about life.
My kids - *any* kid - NEEDS their parent to do that.
No, I'm not rushing anything.....
I haven't been dating anyone and everyone - I've spent the time I needed to spend on me and the kids and on healing.... I believe that time has paid off.
I'm not sure anyone ever fully "heals" from this situation - that's true.
But I can sure as sh*t try. lol
At this point though.... laughing every day - is happening without trying.
Finding joy everyday - is happening without crying.
Being excited about my future - is happening without crying.
I think those are all solid signs that I've healed and moved on and I'm ready for life to move on......
On top of that - I can treat El Capitan with the same kindness and consideration that I treat *any* human on the planet - and it doesn't take special thought or consideration.
It really doesn't.
So that's me...... happy.
Get used to it. :)
Three weeks ago my main back-up external hard drive crashed.
Tonight: my laptop crashed.
All forms of modern technology are clearly out to get me: so screw it and screw them. lol
OK.... I'm exhausted and totally *frustrated* about my laptop, so tonight's post will be brief.
1) I am not, in *any* way hoping to hold on to *anything* involving El Capitan. I do not harbor ill-will towards the man, but by that same token, nor do I maintain, stuff-down or other have in any capacity - any kind of romantic feelings for El Capitan.
I am not bitter. I am not angry about the past.
I'm not even angry about Yoga Girl (though I maintain a disdain for her continued sh*te behavior).
2) While I concede 10 years is a long time to be with someone - that doesn't mean there was a division here, and I carried one over. I did not.
3) If you, or anyone else, for that matter - where visibly pissed or crying or whatever.... I would stop and see if you needed help. *THAT* is the kind of person I am. Many people in my shoes could care less what bothers or angers the person who caused them emotional harm.... I get that. I can accept that. *However* - with the exception of the few evil people (Hitler, terrorists, may be Chris Brown... I kid.. I kid...) - any human in any kind of ..... 'distress' is worthy of your attention and willingness to help them.
El Capitan is worthy of my time and my concern for his greater well-being simply because he is HUMAN and the father to my children. That. Is. All. :)
4) Perhaps he was lying to get my attention.... to - as *several* of you so eloquently put it: perhaps he was climbing his cross to assert his victimhood. Perhaps. May be he was just having a sh*tty day and needed someone to talk too.
Am I so without fault - so much better than he... that I can't lend him an ear and some advice?
No. I'm not.
The point of the post is that *WE* all have words.... and words can be sharp like a needle that sews people together.... or sharp like a knife that cuts them apart. My words have been both - at many times in my life.... overall - I try to make sure that the words I use with El Capitan have the ultimate intent of sewing - not cutting... though, I admit, sometimes the honest truth cuts worse than any knife. ;)
I suppose..... and I understand that he's not 'deserving' of being cut any slack.... he did a horrific and bad thing... but just how long does a person pay the price for an emotional crime? It's not illegal and there's no handbook or rulebook for how it works..... but - the longer you hold onto grudges - the longer THEY hold on to YOU.
That's my only point.
Or may be he was lying and his friends said nothing.... well, if that's the case, then may be I just wanted him busted. hahaha
All in all - while my computers seem to be content with having one foot in the grave lately.... *I* am not. I've moved the f*ck on... and done it in style. I wrote The Book and poured every ounce of pain I had onto those pages.... and then I closed that book and left them there.
That's how healing works.
I don't have to forgive anyone.... nor do I think I will, but I do have to be *tolerant* of Yoga Girl - and show her the respect she deserves as the woman in his life who could *potentially* be step-Mommy to my children. I might not want to.... but that's just tough titties for me.
TRUE Tolerance is doing the right thing even when you don't want to... don't have to.... etc.
I have to be *tolerant* of El Capitan - and to me, that means remaining a stable person in his life. I can't be flying off the handle or screaming... "Oh wah... poor baby - did someone say something mean to you? Who f*cking cares.... I don't... you're a dirt bag.....! etc etc etc".....
Because - while I might be "entitled" to say such things after everything we've been through - I can *assure* you that THAT is not how the children are going to have a nice day with their Dad.
Not at all.
THEY are the first priority.
THEY matter more than anger or snarky vengeance.
THEY will demand tolerance because no matter what - they will love their Dad. They may grow up to like him... they may grow up to dislike him - THAT is up to *him* and them.... but as they will always love their Father - they will demand tolerance from me whether they know it or not.
And they will get it.
Hate and anger and bitterness are dark places to be..... and nothing grows in darkness. That's not to say that you don't need to wallow in those places - stay there until you have filled the darkness with every emotion, every ounce of pain and disappointment and regret that you have... I believe that you HAVE to do that - and I most certainly did it.
And most of you were had a ringside seat at the edge of the pool - watching it fill and overflow day after day after day.
Thank you so much for that.
Once I had drained myself of all of it..... I felt a wee bit dead for a while.
Now, I could have chosen to fill myself back up with yet more darkness: revenge, more hate... etc.
But I didn't.
And I won't.
I've spent the last few months working on ME - and me and the kids.
I've spent that time reading and going to the movies and making new friends - and just by doing that.... I am no longer empty or numb. I am loving and fun-loving and ready to tackle life and love with new eyes, a deeper understanding of myself.... and trust.
I *never* thought I would trust any human again.... and yet: I find myself willing to trust.
Willing to try, not out of desperation.... or some insane desire to fill a 'hole' in my life... but out of the excitement of finding someone new and learning about them and developing some kind of relationship with them.... my *EXCITEMENT* for life outweighs the fear now.
That is HUGE.
My excitement for life... outweighs the fear.
Fear of love.
Fear of loss.
Fear of betrayal.
Fear of hurt.
Fear of losing it all.... again.
My excitement for my future faaaaaaar outweighs those things because those things are DARK - and they can be found back in that pool.... and not within me.
That doesn't mean I won't be sensible and cautious and careful, of course I will be.
But it means I'm not going to go into something with someone and drag that bullsh*t with me - because again - that belongs to someone else (El Capitan) and not to a potential future someone.
Any potential future someone should only have to be *who* they are - and not be paying for the sings of a previous someone. That's not fair. That will only led to failure.
I have *not* allowed my decisions and actions to be dictated by those dark emotions.
Moving forward.... I *still* will not.
As such.... if anyone in my life needs to talk it out - hug it out - yell it out: I'm here.
Yes, even if it's El Capitan.
Why? Because I make my choices now out of a stable place of seeing the bigger picture that we are all just human stumbling along and f*cking up in our own unique ways.... but effing things up all the same.
My actions come from a place of whole happiness..... which is an amazing thing.
I'm not perfect.
In many ways I'm still a broken, work in progress, but aren't we all?
Knowing I'm a bit broken means I pay attention to the things I need to - myself, the children, the people in our lives.... and I careful to act in kindness first - regardless of who is standing in front of me.
Yes.... even Yoga Girl.
11 months on...... I can hold a conversation, the most basic of human contact - and walk away having no more attachment to that conversation that the words that have already evaporated as soon as we spoke them. It cost me nothing. It harmed me in no way at all.
It continues to surprise me that anyone thinks they have to ... speak for me. Is it not abundantly clear to the world wide web that I can speak for myself and that I'm also not afraid to do it?
Saturday, El Capitan came over... and he was ready to fight. I had sent him a text - albeit accurate, could be seen as slightly snarky.... and he was livid pissed. Which.. kind of didn't make sense.
So, he vented and I listened - I didn't back down on my position on what I sent him, but I quickly identified that he wasn't mad at me - he was just mad in general.
So I listened and listened some more, and I just kept asking what had happened that made him so angry. At first he didn't want to tell me - he was avoiding it and kept on at me. But it didn't work.
We were married for over TEN YEARS... if I didn't learn a thing or two about how he operates,, then I would have been a super sh*tty wife - and I was not. I know when he pissed at *me* and when he pissed at someone else and just 'taking it out on me'. Now... don't get all worried - but I think we *all* know that we tend to turn to the people who know us best and vent.... regardless of what's happened - you can't just take an eraser to 10 years of friendship and relationship.
Oh... and if you have two kids together: you shouldn't.
So, I kept on him and eventually he told me that someone said something kind of nasty to him about the situation and his choices and what not..... and I guess it was really nasty stuff.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinions and.... at the same time - I have no doubt some of El Capitan's friends, or people in his life, might be unimpressed with his choices and the collective outcome. However... what good comes of that *now*?
Why not speak up *while* you knew he was cheating on me?
That might have been a stellar idea - and perhaps might have stopped this whole mess.
Why not speak up just *after* the affair?
That might have saved all of us some pain.
But someone waits until *now* when we are good terms and the kids are seeing him twice a week... they wait until NOW to say something hurtful that makes El Capitan angry?
Let me be *super clear* - if/when I'm unhappy with El Capitan - I'll be the FIRSTf*ckingPERSON to tell him. Make no bones about it. I have no problem sharing my feelings - the good, the bad and the ugly..... with El Capitan. To his credit - he always listens and nods - even if he's just humoring me - but he listens to what I have to say.
*IF* I had anything to say to El Capitan: I would be saying it.
Since I'm not.... I would politely suggest that no one else should have anything to say - in regards to ME, our marriage, it's consequential breakdown... etc. - because that's no one's place but mine.
Sure, I fully understand, people *have* and are entitled to their opinion. Fair enough. But, we're rounding the corner now to almost a full year - ONE YEAR! Crazy. And look how far I've come.......
If you read The Blog, then you've seen tons of of emails and comments from people who were either a 'Yoga Girl' or an 'El Capitan' and how they *almost* always regret what they did and how they did it.... that they feel tremendous guilt and sorrow for what they've done. Is it not at all possible that this might apply to my El Capitan and Yoga Girl?
I think it's possible.
Now don't go freaking out......
But how long can you 'punish' someone.....?
How long can you hold this against someone?
How long is long enough - to where you just say - ok... it happened, we wallowed, we cried, we healed: we moved on.
When we don't let things go - we think we're 'proving' something, or protecting ourselves from being hurt again - when it's usually the opposite that will happen. If we hold onto these things, hold onto grudges to hold against people -what we're really doing is holding ourselves away from people and hiding behind our pain.
Let me explain.
Crossing the bridge and waiting on the other side for life to move on... that is going to involve other potential partners. I can't be dragging this sh*t into that relationship like a dead cat. It'll fester and die and kill everything around it, including any potential relationship. That seems like a notoriously bad idea.
So, *I'm* not dragging these things with me... and no one else in our collective lives should be either.
What possible good can come from that?
While El Capitan was venting he was apologizing because, as he put it, he doesn't get to "sh*t" on my life and then complain about whatever it making him mad. True.... but also not true.
El Capitan's ex-wife could give a rats-ass .... seriously. lololol
My Kids Mother, however, has a vested interest in El Capitan finding personal success - because my children deserve two, happy whole parents so that *they* can be happy and whole children.
Thankfully, El Capitan's ex-wife hasn't made decisions in regards to this divorce or the sign, or The Blog, or The Book.... and she's still not. She's just a silent partner at this point.
I'm .... happy.
I'm in a good place, and may be... just *may be* I'm in that good place now because I'm no longer with El Capitan.
Sometimes we think we know what love is, or we think we know what we need - until we lose it all and what we need and love and want and .... need: gets redefined in a new and more purposeful way.
Again... if you're dragging in the festering cat.... you're too busy avoiding the small to see the redefining.
I'm baggage and festering cat free... and my advice to anyone around us, is to be that as well.
I may not be super impressed with his choices, but *I* don't have to be: that is a burden for Yoga Girl now.
I may not ever want to be "with" him again (and I very much do not): but that doesn't mean I wish failure for him.
I do not.
I will not delight in other people saying sh*tty things to him.
That's the wrong thing to do.
i'm not sure this is coming across as clear as I want it too.... but. Hmm..... sigh.
Here's the deal: there has to come a time in everyone's life where you provide yourself the ability to heal by letting go of the things have hurt you. If you pick up a rock, only to discover it's lava and has burned your hand - you don't continue to hold the rock in anger at the rock because it burned you.
You put that sh*t down, bandage your hand and walk away.
You don't take the rock with you.
If you don't put your rocks down... the only one getting burned, is you.
I put down all the rocks months ago... and while a few keep flying up and smacking me square between the eyes on several occasions... I keep putting them back down and moving forward.
A year later... everyone else should be, too.
Finally. And this is..... going to sound crazy... ... but it's the truth:
No matter who you are - we are all different versions of ourselves depending on who we are talking too.
When I was in high school, I worked at a McDonalds in Iowa. We had an older man who worked there- he walked everywhere. Everyday at the end of shift, we'd see him walk to the left, buy a 6 pack and then walk back across the front of the store and head home carrying his 6 pack.
He was funny and nice - and always had a smile for all of us. He was kind of like everyone's 'Dad' on the crew and we all liked him very much.
One day he came in to work to show us pictures (from *very* far away) of his sons high school graduation. He had gone - sat way far in the back and left after the ceremony without talking to his son. I asked him why and he said that he had been a sh*tty Dad and knew that he wasn't wanted there.
Around the same time I had hooked up with a guy who worked at the local mall... we'd made out a few times, nothing serious - but we hung out after our shirts ended at 9pm. Not long into summer, we were meeting up and he came to pick me up at work, and climbing into his car, he nodded at the front doors and said, "Did you know my Dad works there?"
"Huh? What... i work with your Dad? What's his name?"
He told me his Dad's name and it was the old man with the 6 packs. I *very* quickly told him about how much I adored his Dad.... and he was quiet.
He said nothing, we just sat there with the car running until he said, "yeah that's nice ... but he didn't even come to my graduation."
At first, in my 18 years of wise experience....I didn't know what I should say, this was a family matter and perhaps I shouldn't share what I knew... but - you know - it's *me* so I fessed right the f*ck up and told him all about how his Dad had come the Monday after graduation with photos and stories and how he was bragging about his son and how proud he was.
I went on for waaaaaay too long. It became clear that the man *I* knew his Dad to be - what *not* the man he knew him to be... we are *all* different people to all the people in our lives... yet, I was waaaaaay too animated in my re-telling and even when the car felt awkward, I just kept telling him all about his Dad.
When I was done talking, we sat silent, the car still running, and by now - the boys were leaning out the drive-thru window and staring at us because we hadn't pulled out of the parking space.
When he finally spoke, he wouldn't look at me, just told me that he had to go and leaned over and opened my door.
I immediately felt *horrible* - apologized for sticking my nose in where it didn't belong, hoped out, shut the door and he drove away without another word.
It was a week or so before I saw the Dad (because I was working the night shift for summer hours and he worked opening hours) - but the next time I saw him he came flying up to me with a giant hug. He said that he son had called and they had been meeting up and having lunch and that things were going well.
It turns out that it had been several years since they had talked. Both harboring pain and fear and resentment - and the Dad was too ashamed to face them, thinking he wasn't wanted.
All my friend wanted, in spite of the past: was his Dad.
My telling him that his Dad had taken several city buses to sit alone at the graduation ceremony and leave without telling anyone to avoid any kind of scene.... well: that simple act of the Dad's healed a lot of wounds for the son - and he only needed to know about it. Which is where my big mouth came in.
I didn't any special - I just spoke up and told him the truth.
Simple. Clean. Easy.
I don't know what ever happened - not long after that I quit McD's and the boy never called again.... may be they worked things out? May be they never fully worked things out. Either way - a small amount of healing took place and THAT is the kind of change we should bring about in other people's lives.
So HERE is my long, over-explained collective point: if you *aren't* going to be a positive instrument for change in our collective lives.... than just shut the f*ck up. lololololol
The affects of the wrong choices that have been made will hang over us .... like a permanent cloud. I get that. But, eventually the sun has to come out - and people grow and move on. In our growing and moving on phase... let's not rain on things, shall we?
I've been careful not to involve too many outside organizations in my 'formal' on-line personality. To my knowledge everyone in my life has been supportive of this whole deal... but when it comes to business, it's best to err on the side of privacy.
Sometimes people get confused when I say that The Boy 'goes to school' and yet we homeschool. We *do* homeschool - we purchase a full year's curriculum from a store online and then in addition to that The Boy attends classes at a 'school' which is really more like a college for kids ages 5 - 18.
There are all kinds of classes everything from Art to Chemistry to classes on all things Hogwarts. The Boy takes a Lego builders class, a Maths class and a social 'Second Grade' class. This class is set up to be a shorter 'school day' - with snacks and recess and kids his age to give him the social aspect, as well as some learning, like he would get if he were at public school. Only... it's a bit of a different, more liberal and open environment because all the kids are fellow homeschoolers.
The Boy LOVES the school. He loves his friends and his teachers - and they all seem to adore him, which has been *great* with everything he's been through.
I started teaching Graphic Design there last year and, though in the past it's a class that starts off strong and fades out by the end of the year, *MY* class was full and had extra students bringing in their laptops to take my class. Saweeeeet.
This year I teach Graphic Design and Photography - and BOTH are full. In fact, my photography class has kids coming in from the halls and sitting on the floor (there aren't any chairs left) - and kids doing the 'homework' even thought they aren't in my class and it's not a requirement.
That's truly the basic premise being homeschool philosophy that you don't need to force a child to learn, but they will *choose* to learn when they see something they want to know more about. Thus far I have found that to be true for The Boy and for all my students.
My students are kind and driven and focused.... and goofy and talkative and funny..... they are often especially when times were so hard last Spring - the biggest light in my week.
Last year, our final term had just started when I found out about El Capitan, and I would have to plaster on a smile and say nothing to my students about what was happening in my life - not let my sorrow and sadness bleed into our classroom .... which was really, really hard.
At the end of each term many students will bring cards or candy or 'thank you' gifts for the teachers. I usually get cookies and a few cards..... but there was one student, in the book he's called Everett - and at the end our of class he said, "I have a gift for you", and he took me by the hand walked me down the hall.
He pulled up a chair, sat me down, and then he sat at the school upright piano and played Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'. I *almost* couldn't control my tears.
Everett is *amazingly* talented and plays with a Portland orchestra. He's very.... emotionally in-tune with people and his surroundings - he always has a big hug for me and always seems to know my mood even if I haven't spoken. He's like this with his peers as well.... I often wonder if The Boy will grow up to be much like him.
This year he came in a few weeks ago and played me "Tiny Dancer" on you tube, which I told him was one of my favorite songs ever. So he returned the following week, dragged me and a few girl from class down the hall - and played us Tiny Dancer. Flawlessly.
He is amazing.
Then there's my own little 'Alice' - she and I share a mutual love of allll things Twilight and her Mom let me take her to the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn Part ii - and out for a fun day in St. Helens to see all the film locations. She's this amazingly funny girl with a wit and a mind and tongue *almost* as funny and quick at mine... which is awesome.
Last week, one of my girls - Sacha - is this brilliant artist and I asked her to draw something on the whiteboard - so in three minutes she dashed up this little number above. AH fucking MAZING. And then she added the bubble and wrote the message.
As a Mom, it's a wonderful thing to teach your child something new. You can see their eyes light up and their minds turning over more questions.... I love being a Mom. It's simply the very bestest job I've ever had.... until I started teaching.
These students (and their parents) are..... mind-blowingly amazing. They are articulate and smart and funny and sassy.... and *caring*. Raised and educated in places where they are emotionally safe has encouraged them to be these strong and open young adults who speak their minds and share their talent with unabashed confidence.
The traditional social lines that are usually drawn between 'students' and 'teachers' are smudged just slightly but in the most wonderful of ways. I know that they like their class - and see as how more and more of them pile into my photography class from the hallways: they seem to like me.
However, what they don't understand is how much I learn and benefit from them. They don't know how much they inspire me - not only as a teacher, but as a Mom and as a person. There are so many days when I have entered that room feeling somewhat overwhelmed by things going on in our lives - and yet after two hours with these kids.... I leave feeling hopeful and re-energized.
I'm not saying that kids like these don't exist in other schools... I'm sure they do. But, in this school they are everywhere.... and it's humbling.
I have students in my photography class who are *way* ahead of where I was several years into my career - they are blowing me away with their attention to detail and willingness to learn. Their images are nothing short of stunning...
I know that every child shines... by my kids - these kids - they SPARKLE.
Being around them makes me a better person and a better Mom and reminds me all the time why we chose to homeschool The Boy. It's a reminder that may be he'll be a little behind in Maths or whatever - but he'll be *Ahead* in soooooo many other facets of his eduation and personal development that it'll be worth a bit of catch-up when it's needed.
Because this amazingwonderfulawesome group of kids is between the ages of 12 and 14.
These are middle school kids..... playing Tiny Dancer for me on days when I'm feeling sad and bringing me more joy than I could have ever known at times in my life when it seemed like only sadness was around.
And then I'm grateful.... grateful that in the face of everything that has happened, I haven't changed, I haven't allowed anger and bitter resentment to change me or change my course. I've continued to make the choices and decisions I would have otherwise made.... and go fucking thing because several of these kids and their parents READ this blog. lololol
Clearly though... they are aware of my fondness for fbombs.
Thank f*ck for that. hahahahaha
One of the parents recently pulled me aside and told me that their child saw me on the news in the summer, they found the site and the sign and they both read The Blog. At first, she said, they were a bit concerned about the mature nature of what was happening in my life and wondered if they should keep the child from reading The Blog, so as not to expose them to nastiness or adult things and such. In the end, they let them keep reading.
She had pulled me aside to say that while she understands I make my own choices for my own, personal reasons, and that I have written several times about having to answer to my own children in twenty years time - she said to me,
"What you fail to understand if that you are answering to my child right now. They trust you, they look to you, in the classroom setting - as someone to listen to and learn from."
and... I'll be honest... my stomach sunk just a little because I wasn't sure what was coming next..... lololol
"And while we thought at first we should limit their exposure to your personal life, in the end, I'm glad we didn't. What our child has seen is someone faced with deception and betrayal, but who stayed the course of doing what they thought was right. They saw you using humor in your real life and your 'online life' and now my child see's someone who faced troubled waters but rowed on through with honesty and truth and patience."
Um...... ok I think?
She finished by saying this....."Now I'm not sure where they have learned the most, by being your student, or your 'friend' and watching you live this tragedy. Either way, those are life lessons I don't know how to have taught them and I'm grateful that you set the example you have because the lessons that were learned are important for your children and mine."
And then I bawled like a damn baby.
Big fat tears... big ole' ugly cry. lololol
I'm such a freakin' train-wreck sometimes... how can I be teaching *anyone* anything? ... seriously?!?!?!
But, at the same time, I've ever more grateful that I haven't detoured from me, because while it never occurred to me that young people so close to me would be watching.
Phew... glad I didn't f*ck that up.
Today my Facebook status read this:
"Soooo..... In December, I don't cash checks people pay me with because its christmas and I somehow feel bad..... And then in January, I assume people are recovering from Christmas.... So. It's February, if you wrote me a check in the fall: I'm heading to the bank in the coming days. IF that doesn't work for you, just let me know..not a problem. :)."
Which results in clients screaming - "go cash my damn check! lol" and then several photogs clients emailing me and (nicely) telling me how much I 'suck' at business and how I need to charge more and cash checks immediately..... to which I laugh. A lot.
Perhaps I should explain:
"When I was in high school I took a journalism class at John F. Kennedy High from Mr. Lindsay, he also ran the school newspaper.
The school had this fantastic Cannon camera - with proper lenses and *auto focus* which was *big sh*t* back then because I was still using my parents Pentax K1000, complete with rainbow striped leather camera strap. Oh yeah... I was rockin'.
If you were on the school newspaper, then you got to use said camera (which LOADED It'S OWN FILM!) - and I very quickly found myself stealing that camera for days on end - dragging it to every class, in the hall and to every single school event. After that... I found myself being the Photo Editor of the school newspaper. It didn't pay in pennies... and it didn't even pay in social glory: but I spent countless hours in the darkroom, blasting my Nirvana and my Alice in Chains... which felt like 'payment enough'.
When I moved to London - with all my expansive Senior year photography education and started covering bands in London (which *really* was flying by the seat of my pants.... I had *no* freakin' clue what I was doing) -
That's a career where you *pay* to do the work and hope someone buys your stuff - editorial, the label, the band, etc..... but you go for the love of doing it. I always *loved* music. I always felt inspired by it - and capturing bands was an extension of two loves: music and photography. I didn't care that I didn't get paid much (sometimes never) because traveling on tour buses and hanging out backstage and *never* have to sit in the regular seats with the mere mortals... yeah: that was kind of payment enough. lololol
Oh - and a neat factoid: bands always get a rider. A rider is a selection of foods that the tour manager hands over to the venue that the bands has requested - usually various foods, chips, condiments, milk, beer, soda, etc. It's a bit like how you might stock your fridge at home. Most bands don't take the rest of the rider with them at the end of the night - so.... they let *you* take it! I have so many bottles of ketchup and mayonnaise and cereal... there were days or weeks where I could get by on rider food alone. So... it seemed like a good deal to me.
After I came home and 'quit' photography, I really thought I was done with it. Then I went to see Franny & Dougie at their show at the Schnitz and saw Noel again... and after *that* night I decided to go back to it.
Not long after that I met a man..... and I still don't remember *how* I met him...... oh, somehow I got a job shooting a golf tourney for Kells Irish Pub (probably 'cuz I'm Irish and sh*t) - and I met a man there - Steve. Steve was *great* and was almost immediately my biggest fan.... even though the picture's weren't done - I had taken a different spin to usually boring images and instead I had shot every group like I would shoot a band. I had them standing and looking 'bad ass' - or pretending to ride their clubs like horses, or doing goofy stuff. The photos were a huge hit.
Shortly after Steve called and wanted to book a family session... and while I had done rock stars and album cover and video stills... I had *yet* to do a 'traditional' family session... but I said yes anyway. He had this old, old Mustang that was cherry red with white leather interior and was a convertible - it was all fully restored and *gorgeous*. He wanted a 'formal' picture of the family, then with his kids, then he wanted the car - AND - most importantly - he wanted casual photos of them interacting with each other: laughing, smiling, relaxed.
Sounds simple - but this is circa 2000 - so these kinds of photojournalist family images weren't really the "done" thing... this is still the days of families showing up dressed in all denim outfits and standing in a field together. No. Seriously.
But, I had worked with bands - which is a lot of just them hanging around... so I took that same approach to this job and did it.
I spent *hours* with them - it took waaaaay too long for the three teenage kids who "just wanted to be done" - and in the end, even good-hearted Steve was a bit tired. But I carried on until I was certain I got every frame he wanted, until I had captured the love between him and his sons, portraits of everyone together, in groups, on their own.... It was like 15 rolls of film (a wedding is usually 25 - 30 rolls of film) and then I developed them and put them in a lovely album and drove them over two weeks later.
Steve paid me $150 - which is almost what it cost me to buy the film and have it developed and printed... but I didn't care: I thought Steve and his 'Blondie', as he affectionately called her, were amazing people and Steve was already handing my business cards.... oh - BTW - I didn't *have* business cards when I met Steve, so he made them for me. He bought me a leather folio for my pictures and walked me through a resume: he wanted me to be a working photographer and he helped me every way he could. Soon, I was working with lots of families in the area just on his recommendation alone.
Less than 9 months later... Blondie called. She gave me the date and the time and the location and two days later I arrived to an entirely full parking lot - I had to park at the high school across the street and walk over. The room was packed, standing room only. A large portrait of a smiling Steve sitting on those white leather seats, arms stretched over the polished cherry red metal - taken with me standing on a ladder and shooting down - was set up on an easel at the front of the room.
People spoke, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. And then a slideshow started - the room was silent except for the sound of tears and noses being blown a bit too loudly - and then there was me.... I barely new Steve, though I adored him - I wasn't a life long friend or a business partner.... but there was I was and as the slideshow started a rude, overly-loud gasp emanated from the bowels of my being as *MY* photos filled the white screen that come down from the ceiling of the Church.
Image after image of Steve laughing with his boys.... looking lovingly at his daughter: holding his wife... his Blondie. They all rolled past and were it not for my very loud and sudden gasp... all you could hear was the music they were set too. It was - without a doubt - the most beautiful thing I had ever seen - and it was *my* work.
During the session, only Steven, Bondie and I knew that Steve had a rare form of very aggressive brain cancer and that he was leaving one month after our shoot for treatments in New York and Denver. Steve had died - though outlived the handful of months he was initially given.
At the end of the funeral in that crowd of people, the oldest son sought me out immediately. He wrapped his arms around me, his college freshman body shuttered with tears and he gulped air as he pulled back and said: "I thought you were the biggest bitch that day... but now I know why. That's me and my Dad - laughing and talking. That's me and my dad... and I don't have my Dad anymore, but I can see him, I can feel him still laughing when I look at those pictures. I didn't understand why my Dad chose you - but now I do. Thank You."
Aside from the fact that I could *barely* make it to my car after that - I realized that *that* moment was a hugely defining moment for me, both as a person and as a professional. These were just 'family sessions' - these are people's memories. These are moments capture in time that we don't get back... and sometimes we lose them altogether. That is a very empowering gift to have and you can either use it for the great good... or for our own good.
I chose the greater good - or at least I like to think I did.
Let me be *clear* - there is nothing wrong with getting paid. Nothing at all. There is *nothing* wrong with studios charging $1,200 to do your infant photos. There is *nothing* wrong with that *at all*. PERIOD.
For me, however, I know that for every Mom who *can* afford a $1,200 session, there are 100 Moms how cannot. For *those* Moms: Sears should not be their only choice.
Steve had set me up - before he died - with his company to do their holiday party every year, and he even negotiated the fee and terms... because he knew I wouldn't charge enough. hahaha - but shortly after, I was doing head shots and family sessions for people at the company. Without any advertising and relying only on word of mouth, I was booking up fast and somewhat consistently.
I kept my prices * reasonable* - I never charged more than I could afford to pay myself - which based on the fact that I have incredibly low self-esteem and I shopped at the goodwill for years... well, needless to say, I've always been a bit of a bargain.
Fast forward a few years, many, many years in fact - and I was at a photographers social night. These events *usually* involve me getting skooled by people for 'undercutting the market' - mind you... no one else ever thinks they are charging too much for the crappy they produce... but whatever... lololol
One of the bigger, PPO photographers - who win tons of awards and are 'sought' after, informed me that they charge *at least* $5,000 for a family session.... to which I laugh in his face because I think that's B.A.N.A.N.A.S - my *first car* cost 1/5th of that.... so *that* seems crazy to me. He informed me - in a boastful way - that the family were *thrilled* to pay it and *loved* their photos - and also because the Dad had liver cancer and was dying - so these were their last family photos.
He noted that that was a great way to 'up-sell' them on the biggest package - because it would be their last family session ever. He told me that people who were dying spare no expense to 'save' those memories.
I pointed out that if that were *my* client, and I found out one of them was dying, I would have done the job for free..... he laughed in my face and told me I would never "make it in this business".
Ok Mr. Stupid Portland Photographer Who Won Some Stupid Award.... I was published in RollingF*ckingStone... so dude, newsflash: I Already Made 'It'.
I haven't *ever* changed my reprint prices - in 12 years. I don't do a 'sitting fee'. I don't charge a 're-touching fee'. I keep it simple, one session, around 400 finished images on a DVD for you to use however you want is $250.00. Usually an outdoor location, different looks... blah blah blah. Some of my clients pay more, some of them pay less.... and to be frank: some don't pay at all. I'm fine with whatever works best for them. Oh... and most *certainly* if you, your child... whatever - if someone has one foot in the grave - I probably won't take your money.
It is a *tremendous* power to capture and expose the love between two people or a family - and.... I for one, do not think the right thing *for me* is to abuse it.
I don't cure cancer. I don't run into burning buildings and save small animals and people from being charred like a BBQ. I don't pull over drunk drivers, get puked on, and arrest said driver thereby saving countless innocent lives ... all with puke shoes on my feet for 8 more hours. I'm not in an under-funded classroom of 35 kids working to save and educated each one of them.... hoping to make a connection with the one I think miht get bullied too much.... - and doing it for under $50K a year while I have students loans in nearly triple digits.
*THOSE* people need a raise.
I.... do not.
I don't have any special powers to offer the world. I not special in any remarkable kind of way - other than I can take pretty pictures..... oh - and I can give those pictures away if I want to. I'm not a saint, I'm a mouthy b*tch with a camera who will bark at you like a drill sergeant and not apologize once for it.
I wish I could do more for the world - cure cancer, cure AIDS, end famine.... the stuff we've all been praying for for years.... but I can't do any of those things. I can only do what I can do - and being me- I can only do it the way I feel is *right*.... which by any standard definition means I suck at running a business in the proper sense. lololol
Today Facebook post brought on a conversation with a photographer who I adore and absolutely respect who was calling me 'cray cray.....' and lolololing at me..... he said I should charge more and get paid ASAP and it would be better for me and the kids, which is true, I can't argue with that.
However, then I said this: There are worse things in the world than being poor. :)
True dat'. he replied.
I might be fiscally poor.... but, I'm not poor. My life is full of *amazing* people who do amazing things for me and with me..... two weeks into my divorce a monthly client came over and brought me an 'ugly cry' kit - complete with magazine, tissue's, chaptstick, chocolates and *very* expensive eye cream - oh, and three $25 gift cards to a Chucky Cheese type place to take the kids. Fast forward a year and one of them lost their job - and even though on hard times, their child's 18 mo pictures and a new pregnancy and what not happened... so I showed up and shot those jobs for free. They tried to pay me, but i knew they needed their money for bills... but I also knew this Moms heart and that she would go without food before missing a milestone in her child's life. So I would leave their money on the counter and walk out...... it's the *right* thing to do, not the fiscally smart thing... but the *right* thing.
Fast forward to Christmas, these clients (and several others) showed up in the days before Christmas with *very nice* presents for my children.... isn't that *better* than getting paid?
For me: it is.
I don't believe that I'm going to lie on my death bed and say.... "Wow, I wish I had charged so and so more for their family photos every year... think of the nicer home I would've had....."
I already look at my life now and know the *only* reason I am still standing is the result of the clients and friends who rose up around me in my darkest hours and propped me up when I needed - and kicked my butt when I needed that, too. I'm pretty sure on my death - *that* is what I'll be thinking about... that I didn't waste time on money. That I put people first and money second. You can always make more money (a second job, sell something... whatever) - but you can't always get another friend.
Many years after the conversation with Mr. Portland - they lost their studio. They had inflated their prices sooo much, that when the economy tanked, so did their business and their clientele. They lost everything - so in the end.... charging more got them nowhere.
I, however, still have nearly *all* the same clients I had back them - and more..... I weathered the economy tanking and my income *never* faltered: it remained the same or grew, even in the hardest of times when I was doing the most work I had done for free... I *still* made more money.
I don't think I'm special.... or that 'my way' works for everyone, I'm not enlightened.... I don't do Yoga (clearly).... however, if we acted more in kindness - if we *stopped* in every aspect of our lives and just did the kind f*cking thing once in a while..... wouldn't life be better?
If we made a *real* commitment to 'paying it forward' - not just because it's a cool idea that made a fun movie and a groovy bumper-sticker.... but *everyday*, even if we haven't a penny to spare - if we looked to do those little things - hold the door open, help a Mom struggling with a stroller on the curb, let someone in a hurry take our place in line at Starbucks.... *do* something nice for someone - even if we don't know them.... like, wouldn't that be really amazing?
Well.... I'm kind of a loud-mouth/potty-mouth beeeotch.... and I do it all the time, and I can promise you: it's easy and it's amazing. Plain and simple.
(But... if you cut me off in traffic, I'll probably honk and give you my best one-finger salute... .just sayin'....)
EDIT: So I got an email this morning from someone who said that I "clearly see [myself] as better than everyone else and as some kind of savior".
Hmm.... only if the definition of savior has been changed to read: slightly heavy, potty-mouthed female.
Which I highly doubt.
THE POINT of the story is that I never got into photography to make a million dollars.... I operated out of a desire to take good pictures and the example set for ME BY STEVE - was one that put people first. The man was *dying*.... DYING - and he knew it. He had only precious months to spend with family and friends and he went out of his way: for me. He did that *simple* and kind thing of taking an interest in me - making me business cards and introducing me to his rather wealthy friends.
Why? Because he saw a nice person who needed a hand.... and just extended his. DONE.
That is the basis for how I have run my own business - and while it won't ever make me even sustainable - it has made *my world* and my children's world a wonderful place to be.
If anything... it's the most basic kind of Forrest Gump logic at work. Be kind, put people first, put money second and never miss a chance to do the right thing. Simple. Easy. FREE - by the way, to do. It's the master plan of someone who see's themselves as better than anyone, or smarter than anyone or anything else for that matter..... so I fail to see how living in simplicity and kindness exhaults me to savior status.
Sigh. Is there an infinity simple on this keyboard.....?
I got a lovely wee email yesterday from a *fanf*ckingtastic* person who informed me that I'm failing my children by not working harder to 'protect the children's innocence'.
In the first place, I cannot begin to tell you how much *I* love getting parenting advice from strangers. No really - I love it. In fact, *every* mother does...... I simply walk around the Wal-Mart, kids akimbo in the cart - *not* belted in - filling it up with every sugar cereal, bags up on bags of candy while The Boy smokes a fattie and The Girl cracks open a PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon for those *not* living in Oregon or in a trailer court) - because round these parts we're raisin' those kids right.
Of course, I do this while texting and pushing the cart in my house slippers with my dress tucked into the back of my nude-colored tights: tits out.
I do this with a keen desire... nay - a *yearning* for people to come up to me to dispense to me their finest parenting tips. No. Really. That's how I spend my Sunday afternoons.
In the second place, and from a more honest standpoint.... there is *only* so much I can protect my children from as there is only so much I can control. So, let's be clear:
I cannot control things I do not do.
I cannot control who does, or does not call my children.
I cannot control the fact that my children know their Dad has a girlfriend. (because *I* didn't tell them!)
I cannot control the fact that their Father *has* a girlfriend. (note: currently, I could care less. lolol)
NONE of these things are under my control and yet.... are my problem.
There are, indeed, worse problems to have in this world.
Since I cannot control these things, I will not *lie* about these things. In the first place, to have a good solid lie that stands the test of time one has to have history with the subject and an understanding of why you're lying... and I have neither of those.
In the second place, *I* do not think lying to anyone is going to do anything other than screw up my children further. Let's *assume* I could 'protect' them from 'the truth' - that I could somehow convince them that living in two homes is a *great* f*cking idea: this is fun... sleeping in a full-size bed, all your toys stuffed into storage while you're aging out of them and by the time we get a place of our own they'll be fit for the goodwill.... YES! THAT is an awesomef*ckingtime. lololol
Let's assume I could make that happen... oh- and by the way, I'll let ya'll know when that works because I'll be paying my rent in Unicorn horns and sliding down the sunnier side of a rainbow - and we can *all* benefit from some Unicorns and rainbows... right?
But that's just the thing....we sell our kids *lies* to 'protect' their innocence.... flying horses, Beasts that change at the hands of a Beauty, witches and wizards and little boys that do magic are real, racism doesn't exist, cookies won't make you fat AND are a great way to heal all skinned knee's, and you will live in a home with two parents who love each other, never fight and never 'accidentally' have sex with 22 year olds.....
We feed our children good lies - Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny.... no one feels 'robbed' when they realize that those things aren't real.... we always suspected it - so it's no real shocker when we find out the truth.
Some truth, however, is harder to find out - and much more damaging when we find it out much later in life. What happens to my children if I work really hard (otherwise known as lie a lot and cover up the hurtful and convenient truth of what's really happening in their world) - but their world is "safe" and good and whole..... and then: it's not. Only, they don't find out it's not for years or decades... and during *that* time they've built up their self-esteem, their lives, their morals and values and part of WHO THEY ARE.... only to find out: it was lies.
What about their adult innocence? Is it not incredibly damaging to build a strong foundation for your children directly on an emotional fault line whereby you just sit and wait for the earthquake to come along and take them down?
Sorry: not gonna happen.
I do *not* expose them to anything. But what I won't do is lie. Life is going to *suck* - and you can either see it coming and roll with the punches... or run like a little b*tch and let life take you later. I learned a long time ago that taking my hits *now* is waaaaaay freakin' easier than letting them stack up for later.
So no, I do *not* go out of my way to protect my children's innocence nor do I think I should. What I *need* to do, what I have done: is teach them how to deal with *life*.
Yes... people are going to do really sh*tty things..... and you can't always walk away from that person or the situation. Sometimes it's someone worth fighting for. Sometimes it's not.
The *important* life lesson to learn is that not everything that happens around you or *to* you is a reflection of you. Thus far *that* is a message The Boy has gotten loud and clear. He does struggle to process the choices his Dad makes... but - he knows those are HIS DAD's CHOICES. He knows there is nothing he could do - should do - to make it different. He has separation from those choices.
I believe that knowing and understanding that will help my children build a solid foundation of compassion and self-confidence where they know people *can* and will hurt them, but that they can deal with that hurt, build a bridge over it and move the f*ck on.... (as Tupac once infamously said).
I actually think that too many adults are still (desperately) holding onto the fantasy that everyone has two loving parents who live under the same roof.... and these people can't fathom that that doesn't happen for everyone. Well... it doesn't. I think these people confuse their idealism for innocence.
Plus.... idealism and innocence aren't the strongest foundations for a solid adult.
I'm not bitter... i'm not angry.... but that doesn't mean I'm not going to pretend things aren't different, because what we live *day to day* isn't Unicorns and rainbows and two loving parents in one house.... but you know what - we don't sh*t in a hole The Boy had to dig with a broken shovel while we bathe our clothes and our bodies in HIV infested water and fly's aren't using our eyeballs and foreheads as their own personal skating rinks..... so yeah: life could be *much* worse. And YES, my children are made aware of the hardships people of all colors - in other countries face.
Wah... we share a room.
Wah.... you're parents are divorced.
Wah.... you have to live in a warm house that has air-conditioning The Bubbie makes dinner every night, does our laundry and plays with you alllll day.
Let's face facts people..... life is just *not* that rough.
Sexual abuse: robs you of your innocence.
Physical abuse: robs you of your innocence.
Gang violence: robs you of your innocence.
Being Lied to: robs you of your innocence.
Growing up in truth, even if it's a hard truth, if you are taught to deal with it, laugh with it and *grow* WITH it.... you may not be innocent, but you will be strong, self-confident, compassionate, able to laugh and see the world through *fair* eyes where not everything will be perfect, not everything will work out the way you wanted, but you will be able to accept that and still dream about making things better.
So no.... thoughtful email writer: my children aren't as innocent as they once were, but I dare to think that on some level, they might just be better people for it.
Thanks for your two cents though..... please feel free to seek me out at Wal-Mart on Sunday.
I'll be the one in the sock-monkey slippers buying a shotgun and letting The Boy load it while he rides in the *main* shopping cart: not in the seat.
So my friend J - is a hoot. Right after El Capitan left, she sent me a text and it read:
"I have cement boots and a get-away car.... just let know."
Obviously - she wasn't being serious. Obviously *no one* is going to be putting anyone in 'cement boots' - but ... there's something wonderful about a friend who would do anything for you: even if it's just a funny text to make you smile.
Last week J had to take her husband somewhere and I watched the kids for a few hours... upon her return, I was summarily lectured about how I need to "get back out there" and "start dating". That is easier said than done when *all* of your friends are (mostly) happily married and they're all a bit short on 'single friends' - so J's master plan is that I should set up an account on a dating site.
At first I refused. Well... refused a lot. I mean - honestly.... how the *hell* would I "internet" date *anyone*? If I put up a picture, then the know who I am.... they'll probably assume that I'm some crazy ex-wife who 'screwed' over her ex... blah blah blah.
I'm guessing that dating cite's aren't short on scorned and bitter divorced men who aren't keen on women they predetermine are 'bitches'. In some circles... I'm seen as a bitch.
So.... then even if I *don't* put up a picture on the site - I kind of have to admit who I am eventually anyway.... and that's a little bit awkward..... or at least I think it is.
On top of that - I'm shocked at *how* many of these men - in their very late 30s and early - mid 40s list that they STILL want to have children of their own.....!?!?!?! I'm not trying to judge *anyone* - but if you're a man, and you've been mostly single - NOT had any kids - and you're around 40 - having children would be a MASSIVE change... and frankly, one I would question...
I mean - I'm a pretty good Mom... but I'm pretty damn tired and I'm only 37 and my kids aren't newborns... so if I *just* started dating someone and then you get married, get pregnant - that's AT LEAST 18 more month away and *then* you have a newborn......?
That's alot of pressure on a marriage- and two older, very tired parents to a baby.
I know that works for some people... but I'm guessing it's really hard to make it work for most people.
Oh - and it's not just *one* guy... but MOST of the men. Which.... I mean - I think we all know that men (generally speaking) can be rather ... selfish and needy. Especially if they are sick, or pulled a muscle playing basketball. They require alot of our collective attention and care.... I can't imagine how a new marriage after years of living alone - and adding a child to the mix... does anyone else think that's a bit nuts?
And.... of course *all* of these men are looking for "real women" who have a sense of humor, want to go backpacking, hiking, biking, and allll with someone who is 'athletic - slender- curvy- toned'. But are *they* athletic and muscular? Not usually.... not usually.
I like the outdoors - I love day trips.... LOVE them. Living in the Northwest, there are no shortage of places to go that are just stunning. I like the coast, I like mild hiking (but if you need those fancy 'walking stick' things to keep your footing on the path... then: no), I mean, if I have to sweat my ass off just to sit and appreciate the scenery... well, I'm guessing I could enjoy the same scenery lower down with half the sweat and just as nice of a time.
Plus, I'm written it before, but Evan Dando is right, "I'm not the Outdoor Type..." - my definition of 'camping' comes with a hotel room key, a working bathroom, a shower stall and *most* preferably a hot tub. There is *nothing* better than a hot tub at night, in the rain - it's just soooooo relaxing.
Also, there's no chance a bear or a mountain lion is going to eat me in my sleep, at least not at the local Hilton.
I don't want to be alone forever.... but I also don't want to work this damn hard - like after spending 6 days of the week homeschooling, working, going to the gym, raising the children... I want to climb a f*cking mountain and sit at the top and wax philosophical about how "amazing" this is.......? Umm.... thanks dude, I'll pass. Because - BTW - how comfy is climbing a mountain with a shaved and itchy box? I'm guess that's a real sweaty dream.....
Whatever happened to a nice day trip to the coast with a walk on the beach, a little local shopping and lunch at a locally owned pub? *That* sounds nice. It's also sounds like something that won't ruin my make-up, turn my black-Irish face alllll kinds of red and splotchy and make my hair all curly and frizzy. You know - small things a girl worries about if she's on a date.
Here's my DREAM date: lots of talking and getting to know the person - which can be done during the hour plus drive to St. Helens where I'm treated to lunch at the restaurant located next door to the filming location for "The Bloated Toad" in Twilight, which is followed by shopping at the local antique stores and a walk on the waterfront.
See: perfectly nice day, interesting, puts money back into a local economy (that's struggling a bit, to be honest) with lovely views, water front and a nice opportunity to get to know someone.
At least that would be my ideal first date..... but I saw none of that on ole' cyber dating.
Needless to say - I didn't go through with the whole thing.... i'm too chicken.. Plus, it seemed like my choices being men who chose screen names like beerbrwr, knowwhat2do4me,flirtygr8man4lovin, pckge4you.... well... let's just say that in spite of their profile which claims to be looking for 'the right one' to settle down with... it seems to me like they might just be looking for the one to settled down with for the night.
I might not be the thinest lady, or the prettiest lady.... I might not be the funniest, or the fittest, and I may not be very interested in sleeping in my own sweat and pissing in a bucket for a week of 'fun'..... but I'm me ... and I kind of like me. Imperfect but kind. Scared, but blessed. Funny.... and relaxed... and mostly I'm a Mom - which means I have to make sure that *I* don't sell myself short because if I do that, then I'm selling *them* short... and needless to say - i'm guessing Yoga Girl falls well short. Well. Short.
So for now.... it's Team Edward and kids and movies on my own, evenings out for reading and relaxing... and I just have to hope that my old skool ways will bring about the right old skool person who will like
We've already well established that I'm a bit of a 'good girl' when it comes to my teenage and early 20s..... I didn't go to parties and get drunk. I never passed out in someone's bathroom/bedroom/hall-closet while pissing myself..... I never threw up in an arrant strangers kitchen while someone help my hair back.
I was always the one holding back someone's hair.
I was the one driving people home, struggling with their keys and dragging their half-alive body up the stairs and tucking them into their beds.
I was *responsible*.
I watched *very* episode of The Real World San Francisco, with Puck's nose picking, and using his fingers to scoop out the peanut butter.... the fights... oh THE. FIGHTS.
and then there was Pedro.
Like most of my generation, I watched as Pedro married the love of his life.... fought for equality and educated a house of seven strangers (and millions of viewers) on a positive life while HIV positive.
I took safe sex and getting tested and using condoms *very* seriously..... but mostly, I just didn't put out to every Tom, Dick and Harry... and I even turned down a few hairy dicks, but that's a story for another time.
It seemed like everywhere I went in the 90s - Safe Sex was the key to a long and happy life, and I for one, wanted that happy life that awaited me.... the white picket fence, the 2.3 kids and the dashing husband. There isn't room in that Rockwell portrait for The Clap.
Entering into this new world of .... 'dating'.... I'm shocked to see how *little* is said about safe sex. It really seems like HIV testing posters are something that only hang in the men's stall at a gay club.
Where are the PSA's? Where are the posters and the billboards and the flyers......?
Have our tears been dry for Pedro for *that* long that we have forgotten the lessons he taught us?
Seems that way.
Well... that's fine for this new world... but I'm old skool - and I plan to stay that way. Get tested, be safe and yes.... not pull over in Seattle to a strange (though incredibly handsome) man's home for a 'good time'. I mean really people.... is *that* responsible!?!?! Is THAT how I care for my children... by contracting who-knows-what from who-knows-who......?
So I started noticing some differences.... from then to now, and I thought it was time to start doing some research about this new world - which *should* be the same... but it's really not.
In the first place: men do not want to date.
First they want to start texting with you..... they want to chat, during the day - during the night... off and on - now, they don't *call* mind you - they are sans the balls of the 13 and 14 year old boys who used to call my parents land-line after school but before 8:00pm.
Nope. No calling. Just texting - and *then* if they want - they ask for a coffee date. And... may be another coffee date......? and *THEN* may be dinner.....
Good grief that seems like a whole f*ckton of work just to *see* if we have chemistry......?
Dude - either you want to rip my clothes of an shag me senseless... or you don't. Period. It just shouldn't be that hard to figure out.
Oh... and texting - that usually ends up with some guy telling me about how long or thick his member is.... to which I say: thanks but no thanks.
I don't hate men.
I don't hate male members..... but I sure as sh*t don't want to hear about it. What the hell, dude?
I'm old skool.... you like me? Ask me out. Done. Simple. Period.
So.... one of these men - sensing that I'm 'out of practice'.... thought he should be kind enough to school me on the new ways of dating..... among updating me on the new importance of 'texting'.... he informs me that I better 'shave my sh*t' because men are expecting women to be 'clean' down there.
Huh......? In the first place, we don't *EVER* need to discuss my girl parts: in person, over text... over email. No... really.
When I point out how disgusting that is - that he's telling me that... he shrugs it off and say's, "Yeah well, almost any guy that takes you out is shaved, too... so they'll be expecting it."
So then I do some online research.... and he's *right*!?!?!?! There are several ways to accomplish 'clean'.... but OMG - did you know that there was such a thing as a "Man-Zillian"......? For those of us needing to google such a term.... a 'man-zillian' is when MEN have their male member area and sac - LASER HAIR REMOVED OR WAXED.
And then I had this vision of all these old people in 30 years time living in retirement homes: hairless.
So that's been my week. Just trying to catch up on what many other newly single women have already discovered.... that I need to invest in a life-time supply of Lady Schick razors and an un-limited texting plan...... OR - ... I can just keep driving by the and stay...... old skool.
Please pass me the zipper Guess jeans with matching acid-washed jacket, my Bel-Biv-Devoe mix-tapes and the Aqua Net (so my mall-bangs will stay in place, of course) - I think I prefer the 90s ways of doing things
most important - you want to get the bunk *farthest* away from the toilet.... for one it almost always smells and for two: you can hear *everywhere* that happens in there.
Each bunk has curtains that run the length of the front of it - and, so there you are with your pillows, blankets and clothes - all in your (very small) bunk. There are usually two lounges - one up top and one down below. Each will have a fridge and a TV and some manner of video games, and one usually has a largish table for eating while the other has couches.
You load-in at midnight and settle-in and the tour starts. Usually your "day" starts at load-in at the venue, the bands loads in, there's a sound check and the venue usually serves dinner. If you're *lucky* they have a shower (usually sans a door or curtain of any kind) - and hopefully a laundry mat nearby.
Oh- and ps... if you're *the only* girl on a tour: you'll be doing all the laundry.
At least that's how it was for me.
You sound check, then you eat dinner, get back on the bus or hang out backstage, do meet and greets, see local friends from the area, do the show, more fans, more food, usually lots of drinks, then you load-out, hit the bus and hang out, then you drive away and fall asleep... usually around 3 or 4 am.
It was fun, it was exciting - but, it's not conducive to any kind of real life - at least it wasn't at the time. My cell phone was *huge* - and still had the kind of antennae you pulled up by hand. lololol We didn't have texting or wifi or anything.... so it was hard for me to maintain relationships with men - especially when you're the *only* girl on a bus of 'rock stars' and crew.....
So, after I got sick and moved home, I knew I didn't want to live in LA or New York, I didn't want to chase down the next band, making all the right connections, blah blah blah.
So I enrolled in community college with the intent of getting my Associates in English (which I did) and then get my BA in English from Portland State University (which I was accepted, but did not attend).
Which was fun.... but I got bored. lololol
So I went to the local radio station and was hired by Jenny-Jenn to cover all bands and radio promotions for the station which was perfect, it gave me access to artists, but I didn't have to make calls and beg for passes or whatnot. One of my first jobs was at a Pink concert - it was a meet and greet and some artist work.
Pink is gorgeous... but so, so tiny. She wore these torn pants and a OPEN WEAVE black 'mesh' top - only the mesh was at least an inch in circumference and over her nipples were these teeny-tiny circle band-aids. The kind of band-aids your grandpa always has on their little nicks and scrapes... only I'm guessing your grandpa doesn't put them over his nipples under a mesh shirt.
But there we were all lined up, teenage kids, radio people and Pink with her band-aid nipples.... and Miss Nicolle.
Nicolle was new to the morning's radio program and this was her first event, and it was the first night I met her. it's been nearly 13 years and I'm *still* the only official photographer for all of Nicolle's head shots and business work. As a local personality on TV and radio, Nicolle gets lots of offers from other photographers and such.... but she's only ever worked with me.
That's kind of a big deal: at least to me it is.
This weekend, as she revamps her entire site, we spent Saturday re-shooting several different scene's in an around Portland area business' and city scenes. We ended up a shot at her house in her Portland Girl t-shirt (she's wearing daisy dukes people.... don't worry. lololol).
Aside from the fact that I'm *still* awesome - natural light, no flash, no rigs, no crew... just me and my camera... rad. I'm still really really really really humbled by the fact that I've managed to create and maintain friendships and working relationships with people... especially Nicolle. I suppose in all this sign business.... the business I've done for decades has gotten lost in translation a bit - I've become this 'bitter' and 'scorned' woman who writes a blog and wrote a book..... but - it kind of leaves out the one thing I've been talented at all along: photography.
On top of spending an *awesome* day with Nicolle - taking photos and reminding myself - after months of not really working - how much I like taking pictures.... I got to spend the afternoon with the people who bought my house.
We already had plans to have lunch - and they went and got locked out of the house. When we met up for lunch they were in a bit of panic and asked me if (in the future) they could give me a key to the house in case they got locked out again.
We had a wonderful lunch, I have enjoyed seeing all the cool things they have done with the home - and... in general, they are just such great fantastic people. As my life unfolds, I am reminded of my Grandmother's words: Everything happens for a reason. As I continue to evolve and change through this process, these two have come to be important figures in my and the children's lives, and I can't help but pause and wonder if events haven't taken place *just* as they should, weaving together our lives in a manner that I am forever grateful for.
It's crazy to think about... and perhaps a bit Hallmark and sounds like bullsh*t... but it's true: I never would have met them were it not for the fact that they came to look at the house. Of all the offers and all the people who could have bought the house, I felt it was their's, that they somehow belonged there and.... in the end, it's me who has benefited the most from knowing them.
It's not about silver linings.... it really isn't.- stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.
My bigger picture is pretty rad... hard, no doubt, but... rad all the same.
Oh.... and they're getting me a key to the house... so I can help them next time they get locked out.
How ironic is that .... *they* came along, buying my home: the key to my freedom from financial obligations with El Capitan..... and now they want to give me a key back: so I can be there to help them when they need it.
Yeah.... that's kind of a really awesome bigger picture to be apart of.
Mother, "scorned wife", photographer, designer, potential blog writer and recent guest on The View.... life's been pretty crazy as of late - crazybeautiful that is!
You can see some of Elle's photography at: