Shall We Dance?

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I’m pretty sure when I was born there was a rock beat in the delivery room. A typical tutu-craving little kid, I started ballet at 4 years old, and made toe shoe status by 10. Today I might be pirouette-challenged but the need to move to a beat is still instinctive, a fact that eternally (and gleefully) embarrasses my once-upon-a-time teenage kids.

Though I may now groove a little differently, one dance rule will always be carved in stone. When you trip the light fantastic – don’t step on anyone’s toes. From the nervous 13 year-old partners of my youth to men keeping up with my spontaneous footwork, I’ve always tried not to plant my size 7 ½’s on theirs. It’s just well, awkward.

Speaking of awkward, there’s no place more critical for well-placed steps than today’s political landscape. Walking into that minefield, it’s a good idea to tread carefully. The more I read Facebook posts or talk with friends and family, I realize stepping carefully is more than just a decent social tip. No matter how correct your dance moves are, smashing someone’s toe in the process is never the best idea.

Shot through with quicksand and sudden storms, today’s politics have spawned very contentious differences in thought, belief, need and fear. You have to be really quick on your feet to avoid falling into a sink hole. Skillful choreography can help circumvent any spiraling tornado of words though it might not change the deeper divide. The growing chasm will take real thought to maneuver. I’m not talking about having rational,honest answers, standing up for rights, and even fighting for them. You go! I’m talking about remembering what we valued, cherished before we stepped onto this new dance floor, which can be a really slippery place. Continue reading

The Day Cable Died

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Stuff happens every day. Some really big things can knock us off our feet in an instant. A mere cable meltdown should be a blip on the radar, right? While it might certainly be true most days, being snowbound in a blizzard without tv, phone and internet qualifies as solitary confinement.

Having no other sound in the house but yours is awkward enough most days but come on, no cable in a blizzard? Really? That pushes the envelope . . . off the table.

I was actually kind of looking forward to a nice, February snow day. I penciled in phone calls and emails I badly needed to return, as well as tv shows that begged a bit of binge watching. My lazy day schedule was taking shape nicely, thank you. That is of course until I realized, well before even one flake fell, that my internet disappeared. Probably just a brownout, I thought. No worries, I said to myself. I’ll just check to see if my neighbor’s cable was down as well but no sooner had I opened my door when I spied a cable truck already parked in our shared driveway. Huh? That was quick. Before I could process the speedy response, I saw said repairman already leaving my neighbor’s door. Hmm, I thought, fast fix! But no, things are NEVER that easy. Oh, he did repair my neighbor’s faulty phone alright, but he detonated my entire system in the process! Brilliant.

As I made my first call to the cable company, I was agitated, especially when they advised me that, yes, there was an outage in my neighborhood. Newsflash: Of course, there’s an outage – MINE! They assured me that they were repairing it on their end which was mystifying since the outage happened on MY end. “Ma’am” they said “we’ll be there first thing in the morning to get you up and running.” I reminded them, of course,  that 10″ of snow was expected ‘in the morning’. “We’ll be there”, they promised. Their 6am call the next morning advising me that we were having a snow storm (duh) and couldn’t make it, was no surprise. (By now, you are catching the ‘drift’ of this story, right?) They asked IF I would like to reschedule for the following day. (Seriously, they really asked that question) I mentally counted to ten and told them “Sure, it would be lovely if their trusty ‘cable guy’ in his bright colored truck could finally make an appearance”! (or something to that effect.) Continue reading

Truly. Madly. Deeply.

 

valentines-day-heart-facebook-timeline-coverMr. Hearts and Flowers – boy, was that guy smooth. I was reminded of just how cool he was as I opened my Valentine storage box last week. Stuffed with silly stuffed animals and sparkly ‘I Love You’s”, the box was chock full of never-again memories. Last year was the first Valentine’s Day without my funny, sweet husband. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that even the idea of popping the lid to that box was more than I could handle.

This year I thought maybe the house could use some Valentine décor. Why you ask? I have no idea. I don’t feel one bit romantic, and I’m not wired for a Valentine’s Day pity party so being a touch masochistic is the only reason I can think of. Why else would I decorate for a holiday that’s clearly missing the one person who gave it true meaning for me? The grandkids – of course! Hey, who loves freaky but super cute stuffed monkeys, bobbleheads and a candy-heart carrying Minnie Mouse more? Continue reading

Walking the Talk

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Words. Lots and lots of words — and I write tons of them, especially in these last few months. It seemed like the only way I knew to unravel the grief web that had me tied in knots. Did any of my words change anything? Not really. But words are currency. Sometimes they are the only things that carry us on journeys we don’t understand and never planned on. They are what we use to connect to others on those same journeys.

Reading through my first posts, when the pain of loss was so raw, I noticed that some words were dark, the only ones I could muster in grief’s early days. As weeks went on, light began to creep in, allowing space for my trademark humor, a companion I’ve been thankful for all of my life. Even when that humor is ‘noir’, levity will always be a handy commodity. No matter what words I use, one thread underlies them all – keeping it real.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the old ‘fake it until you make it’ can’t still be a good plan. In fact, the whistling in the dark flavor of storytelling can jumpstart you for the often steep uphill climb. Forging ahead on a wing and prayer, words can carry you along this uncharted ‘after’. That’s the only way I could chart my course without getting stuck in a sinkhole. Continue reading

Across the GREAT Divide

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History is a funny thing. Depending on the glasses it’s viewed with, the past is either chock full of not so great things or colored with a romantically soft blur. Me? I think it’s a little of both. History is life, with all its ups and downs, no matter how we’d like to retouch it. Graphic designers like me are cool with that kind of artistic license but history needs no retouched brand marketing. It is what it is.

The words ‘great again’ in relation to America have now become part of our daily lexicon. They are heard nearly every day and are pretty much guaranteed to echo through the next few years. Pretty good words; bold yet nostalgic rallying cry. The only problem is that each time I hear the phrase I find myself scratching my head. I can’t seem to nail down the period in history when our American lives were perfect enough, great enough for an encore.

If a handy time machine could transport us to the past, where exactly would we land? What era would our GPS point to? Would we be whisked back to the time we helped our entitled selves to the land of the true Native Americans, elbowing them out of the way? Or when we bought, sold, traded slaves to build that new country? Maybe it was those scary days when we were kids and the Cold War sent us scurrying to hide beneath our desks. Those nostalgic days also included ‘colored’ drinking fountains, gays who were forced to remain in the closet – and women in the kitchen.

I’m in advertising. I know snappy taglines sell things but I’m just having a problem wrapping my head around a ‘great again’ marketing slogan. I can’t seem to pinpoint the glorious golden age when all, regardless of color or gender were peaceful and happy.  Is our country truly great? You bet. But in a country of more than 318 million people of every diversity, having ups and downs, even in a single day, is part of the deal. It doesn’t make us less great; it makes great more fluid.

I’m old enough (not ancient, mind you) to have lived through several wars, from Vietnam and the Gulf War to Iran and Iraq. Living in a different time and different skin, I never experienced the Jim Crow laws that brutalized a whole portion of our fellow Americans. They were the citizens sent to the back of the bus, and denied use of the same restrooms and drinking fountains as their white neighbors. As a woman, I was lucky enough not to have lived in a time when I couldn’t vote because of my ‘weaker’ sex. I was a young mom by the time Roe vs Wade signaled the end of back-alley abortions and same sex relations were taken off the list of criminal offenses. Our land of opportunity didn’t always gift those opportunities to everyone. For many — it still doesn’t. Continue reading

Second Year – Now What?

 

rear-view-mirror“If you don’t know where you’re going – any road will get you there” Lewis Carroll

It just got real. The first year is over — now what? As if the first months and weeks after your loved one dies weren’t enough of a tsunami, the waves of the next one can flatten you. The reality of loss stands even starker after the fog clears of the first year. And the stabbing knowledge that they are never, ever coming back is even more acute; more glaring in everything you do.

Welcome to the real — After.

You are at ground zero. Like it or not, life created a new you and only you can decide what you’re going to do about it. Not gonna lie – sometimes all this change and reinvention completely sucks. Boy, do I know. But there’s only one way to go and that’s forward. Sometimes, people won’t understand your choices; sometimes even you won’t. Hey, that’s life – and you have a right to your own stamp on it. Often family or old friends may not understand the new you. Maybe they are as afraid of your relationships running on different tracks, apart from the status quo and that’s understandable. Change, as we know well – is scary.  But life has done a teensy makeover on you, (read ‘mammoth’) propping you up in a brand new world. You alone will figure out how to navigate it. Continue reading

#reality check

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Once upon a time, I was a flirty, social butterfly. Yeah, I can hardly picture it either. But back in the day, Saturday nights rarely found me at home. In that seemingly ancient time, I was post-nesting mama of three — and pre-married again. Happy wanderlust and a dancing queen persona was the fallout of sudden singlehood and ended when a really neat guy succeeded in, once again, getting me to the altar. When your nearly perfect match shows up with love as a big as an ocean liner, you say yes – and never look back.

But in a way, I was back – into the world of couple dinners, grandparental team babysitting nights, movies for four and parties for many and I was more than happy. I never really was the blithe divorcee anyway. (‘blithe’…seriously?) I had returned to where I began, peacefully curled up with hubby at home. And I was content.

That’s not to say I didn’t yearn for a night alone sometimes. Oh, there were dinners with a girlfriend or an adult ed class but I admit I did look forward to the occasional business trip that left me solo for a night or two. Having our own business, I could probably count on one hand when that actually happened. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my guy madly and when he was AWOL for a night, I missed him next to me. Still, those few nights I was a loner I ate what he hated, coveted the remote and happily watched chick flicks. Now every night is single night and whatever enthusiasm it used to hold, left the building when he did. They always say, ‘be careful what you pray for….’ Duh. Continue reading