Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Me, Too

"I used to live in Seattle."

"Me, too!" I said excitedly. "Where in Seattle did you live!?"

There was an uncomfortable silence.

"I lived in Tacoma," she finally managed to say in such a quiet, embarrassed voice, I could barely hear her.

A small understanding smile spread over my face as I quietly replied, "Me, too."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Cats Talk

I am convinced cats talk.

They must.

My special calico cat-pal has not been around for a day, because in her place, her little friend, a cute gray-stripped kitty has been lurking about. Yesterday morning, i caught a glimpse of one eye and one ear hiding behind my back fence. It was in the same spot where the calico cat would sit and watch me through my window. At first, I thought it was the calico cat.

I opened up my backdoor and this playful gray young cat leaped down off the fence and ran toward me, butting his head against my hand, my door, my railing. I watered my plants and she jumped two feet into the air, and then attacked my hose. A very cheerful, imaginative, playful cat. Not fearful at all.

A couple of years ago, I pulled into a parking lot. There was a cat laying on the sidewalk in front of me as I parked. The cat looked through the windshield and directly into my eyes. It was such a beautiful moment for me.

It was in that moment, I recognized that cats have a soul. I always believed it, but in that moment, I KNEW.

The cat knew the difference between me and the car. It connected with me in that wonderful moment by looking directly into my eyes. It didn't look at my car's bumper. It didn't look at my chin. The cat looked directly into my eyes. The cat knew I was the only living being in front of him. Not the car, but me inside the car.

That's when I knew. It really made me giddy with excitement.

I will never forget it.

I hope the cats hang around whenever they want to. I am grateful for my new friends.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Dinner with Bernie

I had dinner with a really old friend tonight.

Not **old**. But a good friend from a long, long time ago.

I called her out of the blue. Seventeen years out of the blue. Because I was thinking of her. And I missed her for some reason.

I had her telephone number still memorized because it is similar to my childhood telephone number. We have a kindred spirit. I decided not to worry that it had been so long ago, and I picked up the phone and dialed before I could think about it. She answered and we chatted for an hour or so and we said "let's get together for dinner some time".

It's one thing to SAY "let's get together" and it's another thing to actually do it. Afterall, it has been 17 years.

WHO has energy to visit someone after 17 years? Heck. If we haven't kept in touch all these years, why start now?

Well. WHY not?

Tonight we did.

It was as if only a week had passed. It was so wonderful. She hadn't aged at all. She talked of her children who have grown into fine adults. Her darling husband called and checked on her as she drove me to my car. We needed so much time to catch up. Three hours had passed but it wasn't enough. I was sad when our get-together was finally over.

I already miss her.

Do me a favor. Friends really are important in one's life.
Never lose touch. If you really have a good friend. Keep in touch. Call them. Arrange for a dinner.

Never pass up a good ole friend, ever.
They are as good as gold.

Monday, June 20, 2005

I Have a New Friend

The night before last, I quickly caught a glimpse of a calico cat standing on the back fence. "Awww.. a kitty on my fence," I thought. I LOVE having kitties in my yard. I never thought any more of it again.

Yesterday, while hanging my humming bird feeder back up on its hook, I caught a quick glimpse of the same calico cat in my backyard near where I saw her the previous night. This time she had jumped down and was on the ground. She just kept staring at me.

"Hiiiii" I said. I kneeled down closer to the ground, and this adorable cat ran up to me. I petted her for probably a half hour or more. She purred the entire time.

Today, I saw her again. Same area in my yard, just staring at my house. I said, "Hiiiiii kitty". She hopped over my grass blades and I petted her again. Then I left to go on errands. I returned nearly three hours later and she was still in my backyard.

I petted her again. She doesn't have any tags. She seems nourished, but her eyes appear sad.

I don't know who her owners are. I don't know her story. I am careful; cautious. I do not want to give more attention than her own family gives her. I do not want to steal her away. But do not want to shoo her away if she is need of a home and love.

I just now went to my kitchen. I opened up my backdoor and looked out. She is not there. I am hoping she is fast asleep on her owner's lap and all is well with the world and with her.

But, if not, and there is no happy home to come home to, then I hope to see her in my backyard tomorrow.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Hocus, Pocus, Please Let Me Focus

The conversation usually always starts off well. I am alert. Excited. I love a good discussion. Especially when the interaction flows back and forth like a good tennis match.

(Or, in my case, I prefer a really good egg toss.)

But sometimes, the ball stays too long in that person's court. Their sentences run into paragraphs and those paragraphs flow into chapters and then into a short book and then it's a novel.

I really do try and keep my focus. I ask a question and if the talker lifts his finger up as if hushing me, and wanting me to save my questions for the end, then it's all over for me.

My eyes start to cross. I shake my head and blink hard. I nod my head a time or two. I know they're losing me, and I succumb.

It begins with my ears first.

The voice takes on a more hallow sound with an echo to it. It's very soothing to me; similar to the ocean waves lapping on the beach.

Then I feel it in my eyes. They start to lose focus and I begin to see this person through a soft-focused lens. Eventually their face turns into one of those Magic Eye images from the 90s, where an entire 3D illusion appears before me.

Seems like then, the only thing that wakes me up out of that blurred coma is one of two things:

They laugh really hard.
Or they say my name.

It's a startling wake-up. Like an unexpected loud siren alarm clock blaring in the middle of the night.

I panic! "What?! Say that again?" as I laugh nervously with them. Unless I have confused their crying with laughter, and nothing ever good comes out of that moment.


An old teenage friend calls me out of the blue about once a year. For the past four years, he asks me where I was when the plane hit the World Trade Center Towers on September 11th. Before I have a chance to say, he is telling me his story of hearing it on the radio while driving to work. After two hours of not talking, only listening, my ear feeling flat from the telephone, I stop him to say I need to hang up. He is only at the part of his story when the second tower is being hit.

He forgets I watched it unfold, too, staring at the TV set in the darkness of my bedroom.

Every year now, in three or four different phone conversations, I have heard the same story. It is memorized now. I can recognize when he will pause. When he will change the fluctuations in his voice. And, always around the second hour, just when the plane hits the second tower, I need to let him go, and say "let's finish this conversation another time." Only sadly, it never begins where we have left off. He begins again at the beginning. I've never been able to get past the second building with him.

I know I'm just one of hundreds of people he tells this story to. I try and be polite. I ask him questions but he doesn't hear it. When I make a comment, he ignores it as he recites his story he tells over and over again.

I know this has been traumatizing for him. I should listen through to the end. But I know that story only too well. It isn't just his story. It is all of our story.

He called again tonight. The answering machine picked up before I could find my phone in time, and as I heard his voice, I decided to let him leave a message.

I could tell he just wanted to talk. Not converse.

I sat and listened to it in the dark of my room. He began by saying how the goverment should have given more money to the surviving families from September 11th. My answering machine hung up on him after a couple of minutes.

I went to hit delete. But I couldn't.

The message light is still blinking.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Avoiding Cracks

I opened up the blinds in my living room and noticed a girl about 9-years-old walking up the street in my direction. She had a curious stride. She'd walk ten feet or so and then take a smaller step, walk another ten feet and then lunge into a step.

I instantly knew what she was doing.

Avoiding cracks.

I spent an entire childhood stepping over cracks for the love of my mother.

As the girl approached the front of my window, I smiled at her. She didn't see me. She was too busy stepping over the cracks, taking care of her mother's back.

I wish her and her mother a long, long healthy, painfree life.

Monday, June 13, 2005

I Felt So Sorry For Lost Easter Eggs

Every Easter I cried at least once when I was a little girl.

I couldn't seem to shake the sadness I felt for the easter eggs that were hidden, but were never found. I imagined them all dressed in such beautiful colored patterns feeling so pretty and just giddy with excitement of being sought after. I imagined them feeling so very special. But when they were hidden too well, and night fell and the coldness crept in, I would cry over those eggs lost forever.

I used to put all my stuffed animals and dolls in bed with me and line them all up and down my body so they could all be touching me, so none of them would feel less important.

I felt sorry for the rocks I skipped into the lake that could never feel the warmth of the sun again.

Even now, on an autumn day, I can look at a tree and see one single orange leaf left hanging on for dear life and then... in one small gust of wind, it loses its grip and falls to the ground. And, It tears my heart out everytime.

Why do I feel more sad when I see a red helium balloon get loose from a 4-year old's grip ... and I watch it float up into the air until I can no longer see it, than, when I see a homeless man on a street corner with a sign written "THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS".

I don't know.

Is it because I feel the man has some sort of choice and the balloon and the easter egg and the dolls don't?

Maybe that's it.

But, maybe it's because I saw *me* in that easter egg and in the dolls and the little leaf hanging on for dear life.

Maybe it was easier for me to focus and care for those objects instead of my own feelings.

Yesterday, I saw a woman driving with her long dress hanging out from her closed door. It was bright and just flapping wildly in the wind. I smiled. I didn't feel embarrassed for the woman. I felt sorry for the dress.

I guess there will always be some things I never outgrow.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The Great Escape

I LOVE driving on dark, windy roads late at night all by myself. I love the downshifting and then shifting back up into a curve. I love the grip on my steering wheel as I turn into a curve.

I especially love it when a small flicker of headlights catch my eye in my rear view mirror.

And the game is on.

I press harder onto the accelerator. My eyes scanning for annnnyythiiing that could enter the road ahead of me to cause me to slam on my brakes. I am hyper alert.

I glance back into the mirror. The far-away headlights shine up on trees and hillsides around the curves just far enough away, that they never quite realize that I am in a car just ahead of them.

I drive a bit faster.

I pretend they are searching for me. And I try to lose them. I love it when I drive down the long straight-away and make it into the curve before the headlights catch me. My heart beating fast, I study the road ahead of me. I worry if I can make it into the next curve before they spot me. Their headlights getting larger and more brighter as I press on the gas even harder, making the turn just in time. It is exhilarating.

I'm a safe driver. I would never risk my life driving too fast. But it's a game I've always played since I could drive.

Many times I don't win.

Inevitably, there is a long straight-away and the driver behind me makes the turn and sees my red rearlights ahead of him.

The game is over.

Often times I will slow down and let the car pass. As ironic as it sounds, I don't enjoy driving on dark, curvy mountain roads with bright headlights blinding me, pushing me to drive faster.

Once the car passes by ... I give the driver enough distance so I can no longer see his headlights.

I'm alone once again.

I drive in silence for a while. Watching my rear view mirrow. My heart starts to beat quickly. There is a flicker of headlights shining on some side trees and a hillside.

I grab firmly onto the steering wheel. I press down on the gas.. and the game is back on.

Just me and the road ahead of me and my rear-view mirror.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Joy Riding

It was 1987.

My friend, Joe, and I were going out to eat and to a movie, but his car overheated and his friend said, "No problem! Use my car!" His 1982 Datsun B510 was parked on the 3rd floor ... closest to the elevator. He said the hubcab was missing in the front driver's side and the key would be tucked inside the sunvisor.

"No problem!" we'd find it easily. Especially a car like that in the upscale neighborhood of Walnut Creek.

He said he'd be working until after midnight. To just park it in or near the same spot. Leave the keys up in the sunvisor and he'd find it.

I will never forget that hot afternoon. It was easy to find his Datsun B510. The hubcap was missing, certainly, but just not on the front drivers side. We opened the door and checked for the keys up in the sunvisor. Instead, they were under the mat.

Unbeknownst to Joe, his friend was apparently a chain smoker and kept it well hid from him. The cigarettes were overflowing from the ashtray down into the floor of his car.

The first thing we did was fill the empty tank with gas and then headed to the nearest car wash to clean it.

Afterwards, it didn't leave us much time to eat, so we found a quick in and out burger place and then stood in a long line to see Good Morning Vietnam.

It was a brand new show.

The lines were long but we were excited to get in. At the end of the movie, we returned the car back. It was clean and the tank was filled with gas. We left a quick note on his dash: "THANKS FOR THE CAR! IT WAS A REAL JOY!"

Three days later, we realized it was more of a ... Joy Ride.
Joe and his friend were talking and somewhere in the conversation, his friend asked why we never ended up borrowing his car.

"We did! Didn't you notice how clean we left it and left you with a full tank of gas?"

As it turned out, we had gotten into the WRONG car. We actually were Joy-Riding. We could have been arrested for Grand Theft. I often wonder what would have happened if we were captured.

This innocent evening out.

I also wonder about the car owner who returned to his car only to find it filled with gas and clean with a nice note from the thieves thanking him for the joy ride. Oh to hear his side of the story!

Tonight, I am grateful we never got caught.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

Under House Arrest

Lately, I've been feeling as though I'm living under House Arrest.

I never get out anymore.

My electronic tracking device weighing me down is my own hyper conscience of working as hard as I can so people will be glad they hired me. I'm always working and never know when to shut it off.

I don't want to let anyone down.

Lately, I've been feeling I've been letting my *own* self down.

The dishes are staying in the sink longer. Some days, the bed remains unmade the entire day. And, the unread newspapers pile up on the coffee table in my living room for several days at a time. I even skipped a shower the other day. No time to clean or to garden or to read the newspaper or even exercise. Just gotta work, work, work.

On many days, I keep my blinds closed in my living room, just incase someone shows up at my door unexpectedly, can't peek in and see my messy house.

And I would be *** exposed ***.

A few weeks ago, a homeless woman showed up on my front porch and sat there for several hours.

My neighbors and friends ask me, "why did she choose YOUR house?"

I didn't know. I could only wonder. Perhaps my front porch with its yellow chairs was inviting her to sit and rest. Perhaps she knew she was coming to a happy and safe home.

But, my irrational fear was that she was a sign. Like, those people who, on their death beds, see their dead relatives just standing and waiting for them. Ready to welcome them home to the other side.

Was she that to me? Welcoming me to the land of the homeless? Just waiting? Just incase I decided to wash dishes or go out to lunch and neglect work for an hour or two... would that become my fate?

Tonight I'm releasing the electronic monitor tied to my ankle. Now it is called "irrational fears". It is so many things that keeps me glued to my computer and not to the rest of my life.

I cleaned the kitchen and living room and dining area tonight, so when I open the blinds in the morning, and someone peeks in, they will say, "what a fine, clean house".

My sheets are in the dryer and once I place them on my bed, I will sleep so wonderfully, because there is nothing like going to bed between clean sheets.

Tonight is the beginning of a renewed freedom. I have resolved to put more order in my day. To go to bed earlier so I can wake up earlier. To not necessarily work hard, but to work smart. And to learn the difference between the two.

And, I resolve to have more quality in my life. To meet new people and spend more time with those I love. Take mini breaks. Walk around the block. Open the blinds and let the sun shine in.

I really do love my life. I just simply need to remember to enjoy it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Uprooting and Replanting of Friendships

My dear friends are breaking up.

More than twenty years together.

Their names roll off my lips as easily as saying "Laurel and Hardy". Now, I need to curl my tongue in a different way to add the new name that has been added--and attached--to one of them.

I feel sad. It feels wrong like wearing slippers on the wrong feet.

My mom points to these lovely trees in her yard. The limbs are turning yellow. "See that?" She points out. "That tree is dying. I need to take it down".

I see dead parts of it and it makes me sad. Her home was built in 1850. Our family has lived there since 1970. Those trees have loved and embraced that house she now lives in for many, many years. It saddens me to see it be taken down. I feel it has protected the house. And whenever I see the home, I see the tree. I cannot imagine one without the other.

This relationship of my friends is reminding me of this tree.

If you ask either one, they would say they were very happy together. No red flares. No warning signs. Life with each other was a dream. Just "someone else" gave extra attention to one of them, and then.. "that person" reciprocated.

For awhile, I felt numb. Surely, this is a phase ... I would convince myself. We would still hang out together on warm summer evenings. Still hold on to our inside jokes. We would keep our annual vacation trips to tropical islands or fun, exciting roadtrips.

We'd still laugh and say, "remember when...?" and we would. And we'd laugh as we felt the warmth of our friendship and make plans for our future and growing old together.

I realize people go through this everyday. The uprooting is so common among so many people. I'm not sure why the upheaval feels so fresh and so volatile to me.

But then again, a tree doesn't grow its roots all at once. The roots slowly creep deeper and wider with each passing day. Eventually, their hold onto the earth is so strong, it can withstand the strongest of winds or the soaking of the wettest storms. When, this doesn't happen anymore.. it feels so unsettling. A limb falling here. And there. The leaves turning yellow. It doesn't feel as strong or secure as it once was.

Today I am wearing two signs on my heart. For now, they say: "NO TRESPASSING" and "KEEP OUT". I know, in time, those signs will go down.

I love my friends no-matter-what. My heart will expand and grow with them and the partners they seek after, and, because it's a beating heart and a beating heart must continually pump out life, a new sign will hang in its place.

It will read "ENTER AT OWN RISK".

Only this time, I will turn the sign around toward me.

And the risk will be mine.