I’m Done!

That’s what the message read. It was, of course, followed by 20 more messages. So, really, not done, just want you to react. Which I did.

Then I went home, and I don’t mean where I live, but the home of my heart. A dear friend’s dad wasn’t doing well and he needed some help. Something I was all too willing to do.

Whether it was going to my safe place or being surrounded by people who have known me for all of my adult life, I found my equilibrium. Or , perhaps, I found my inner bitch. The me who has never NEEDED anyone. The me who has chosen to WANT a few, select people in her life. Either way, I came to the place I now call home with an entirely new attitude.

It’s a whole lot more fuck you than why not me. A lot more good luck with that than choose me. Because, at my core, that’s who I am. I am selfish and often insensitive but when I choose to let you into my life, I would give you the shirt off my back both literally and metaphorically.

It doesn’t mean I don’t come with my own host of problems, because I do (did you miss the part about selfish and insensitive). But I am also passionate and caring and loving and giving. But I don’t let my guard down to just anyone. If you are one of the few, who make it past all of my walls, I promise a friendship, love, relationship worth all of the faults.

I will be your biggest champion, passionate lover, trusted advisor, biggest caller of you on your shit, you will ever know. However, break my trust, make me doubt myself or feel somehow unworthy, and I will banish you to the dark side of the moon. I’m told it’s cold there but hey, life’s tough and I am tougher.

So, Mr. I’m Done, hope you packed a blanket because the bitch is back.

Twisting the knife

Some people love to do it. Perhaps it’s a visceral pleasure, a sadistic thrill, I don’t know. I’ve always been the person who needs to understand the why. If I can explain it then I can get over it. I can put it in its little box and move on.

But what happens when the other person won’t or can’t explain. When the person you have come to depend on has a change of heart. But rather than fully explaining it, talking about it just stops.

Stops, that is, until they decide to tell you they miss their friend. Words which should be comforting serve more to eviscerate you. Just as you are starting to get your groove back, find your footing, recover from the emotional upheaval those four little words pop up in the chat box you have become accustomed to ignoring. “I miss my friend.”

And in an instant all of those feelings return. And you are right back where you started except this time the wound is deeper, wider and you can’t breath all over again.

A part of you wants to be angry, to scream at the person, “How dare you?” And the other part of you, the part which was reinvigorated by the relationship wants nothing more than to fall into that person’s arms and forgive it all. To be their friend again, to rejoice in the happiness you once had.

But you know, deep down inside, that small, rational voice tells you NO. Danger lies that way. So you wrestle with the decision and this twists the knife even more. All in all, I think I would have preferred to have been actually stabbed. Something tells me the pain would be easier to endure. And vastly easier to heal. At least that way you would have a cool scar to show for your anguish. When it happens mentally, you have nothing to show for it but pain.

Maybe the airlines are right

I am a professional traveler, just recently passed the 2 million mile mark. I’m that person who ignores the flight attendants when they give their pre-flight spiel. I’ve heard it thousands of time, could probably recite it if called upon.

But today, while sitting in my car having a conversation I knew was coming, the words of all of the flight attendants over the years echoed in my head: If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

The words resonated so clearly because, even as the person on the other end of the phone was ripping my heart out, I was looking for a way to make it easier for them to deal with the loss. I asked, “What do you need from me?”

It was an eye opening moment. I have never been that person. I’ve always been the person who walks away. You don’t want to be here, in this moment with me, fine. You go do you; I’m going to take care of me. It’s served me well for 40 odd years. Oh I’ve had my heart broken, we all have, but I’ve never stood there as it was breaking and said, “Please may I have another.”

Some will say perhaps I have never truly loved (not the case) or perhaps I am just selfish (I have my moments). But I think it’s something deeper. In the past few months, since my dad passed away, I have spent so much time taking care of others I forgot to take care of me. Quite simply, I forgot to put on my mask.

I’m feeling it more of late. These odd moments of melancholy or irrational anger that appear and then dissipate just as quickly. There is a strong desire to be around people and then once I am surrounded, I can’t get away quickly enough.

There are only two people I am currently talking to regularly. I’ve told these two people everything, have shared those moments of irreparable grief. There is an intimacy in this type of sharing which is palpable. It creates a connection which is hard to sever; an almost dependency.

And today, one of those two people told me they couldn’t do this anymore. They can’t be there for me, but not to worry, it’s just for a while. They need to press pause. But, hey, give it a few months and maybe we can resume, pick up where we left off.

And I agreed. As I sat in my car, gasping for air, looking for the mask that never deployed, I asked that stupid, fucking question. “What do you need from me?”

Well I’ve changed my mind. I won’t be there in a couple of months, or next week or even tomorrow. Instead, I will be over here, sucking oxygen from that mask I forgot to put on, getting on with my life.

And, in a few months, I won’t need you and, more importantly, I won’t want you. A little piece of me might always care but I suspect getting over oxygen deprivation will fix that. Of course, I have no idea how I will do it. But I’m going to start with some air and then I’m going to stop taking care of everyone else and take care of me.

Running Away

It’s something we threaten when we are children. Usually in a childish fit of pique because we’ve been denied something. Perhaps we even packed a bag, made it to the end of the block. But for most of us, it was never a serious threat.

At some point, as we age, the desire to run away is supposed to dissipate. Except, of late, the desire to run away is all I think about. Each time I get into my car or step into an airport, I am overwhelmed by the need to disappear.

I don’t know where I would go, who I would become. I suppose that is part of the allure, the ability to recreate myself. For once, not be the responsible one, the one to whom all of the decisions fall. To simply be.

Of course, I’ll never do it. I’ll get on the scheduled flight, turn left into my nice, safe neighborhood, and pull into my garage. I’ll kiss my family hello, smile as if I’ve not had these thoughts, push them away and tell myself I’m being silly.

But in the deep, dark of the night, when I’m once again staring at the ceiling, not sleeping, the desire to return. And each time, it gets just a bit harder to push it away.

Tough Decisions

We think we make them all the time. But really, most of the decisions we make daily are simple even though we like to make them seem complicated.

However, one day, we are forced to make a tough decision. For me that day is today, well most likely tomorrow. It’s the day we will make a decision on the next course of action for my father.

Do we go against his wishes and allow the tracheotomy or accept the inevitable, remove the tube, and let him go in peace? I’ve made my decision, have even made peace with my decision.

It seems so easy to type as I fly across three states in a desperate rush to get to the hospital. To look into those eyes which are so much like mine and ask him if he is sure he no longer wishes to fight. My head knows the answer.

Cold-hearted, clinical bitch that I am knows it is the best answer. Remove the tube breathing for him, let the doctors give him medicine to make him comfortable then let nature take its course. My head knows it’s right because he is not a man who wants to go out with the indignity of a slow death.

Now I just need someone to tell my heart. My heart that is breaking into a million tiny pieces because he’s my daddy. The man who taught me I could be anything I want to be. He taught me to shoot a gun, ride a horse and a motorcycle. Cheered at ever sporting event I ever participated in. Loved me even when I wasn’t always lovable. He’s half of my DNA and all of my heart.

I’m not ready to tell him goodbye but I love him enough to let him go with dignity and grace. In my seat, on this tiny plane, surrounded by strangers, I have allowed myself to cry for the first time since this started. I have 45 minutes to get it all out. Because when I step off this plane, the responsibility for his life will land, once more, squarely on my shoulders.

There is a wife, a sister, and a grandmother waiting but I know none of them will ultimately make this decision. They will want to make the decision but they won’t want the responsibility. That will fall to me.

I will talk to the doctors, ask my pointed questions, listen to what they have to say, and finally look into those eyes. I know what I will see there. I know the fear will match my own. But I also know the decision will be in his eyes, a painful, poignant longing for release. In those eyes, I will find the peace my heart needs.

Fangirling and best friends

Last week I traveled on business, in and of itself, not an unusual thing. But last week was international travel and I was able to piggy back a work trip with a personal trip. Three days in Germany (for work) then four days in London (play time). It was a well-earned and long overdue trip.

The trip started with dinner with a former colleague. We had a magnificent meal at a local pub. Several glasses of wine, rich food, some tea and a chocolate pot which was to die for. There is something comforting about a quiet dinner with a good friend, sharing gossip, laughing about the inanities of life and just generally enjoying each other’s company. It was the perfect start to a fabulous weekend.

Thursday dawned bright and early and I was off to explore. I promise I only planned to spend about an hour in the National Gallery, really, just an hour. Then somehow I found myself staring at impressionist paintings and four hours were gone. Does this happen to other people? I am awed by the DaVinci cartoon. It takes my breath away every single time. Not to mention Cezanne and Rubens and oh that’s how I got lost for four hours. Anyhoo, I had to scoot along and didn’t get to spend as much time at the National Theatre as I would have liked but still got to do the backstage tour which was spectacular and I highly recommend. A few special souvenirs later and I was off.

Then it was back to the hotel, a quick freshen and back onto the tube to meet someone who has become a dear friend online. Liz is spectacular in every single way. She is who I want to be when I grow up. We were meeting early in hopes of catching the star of the play before. We met at the tube station in Richmond, walked to pick up our tickets then camped out in a pub with adult beverages to wait for our prey. We were successful in our plans and were able to spend a few minutes with said actress before the performance. Then off we went for a lovely dinner before the show. (The play was Each His Own Wilderness by Doris Lessing. While the play was meh, Clare Holman was breathtaking.)

It’s always interesting meeting someone you know online in person. Sometimes it is a let down after the rush of conversation via electronic means. This was not the case with Liz. She was even more spectacular in person and I look forward to many more adventures together. Next time I plan on spending vastly more time with her. On the plus side, she loves the theatre as much as I do. She would probably see 4 plays in 3 days with me.

When I returned to my hotel, one of my dearest friends was waiting for me. She moved to the UK in November. And while we have regular skype chats being in person is always better. After an excessively long hug, where I almost peed on myself, we sat down to start what became a weekend long chat about nothing and everything. It’s comforting to have those people you can tell anything and they don’t judge, simply listen. There is no agenda to the conversation nor is there really a point. It is very stream of consciousness. Plus we don’t even have to speak to get the point across. We did have a lovely conversation about oral sex on the tube. Fairly certain we brightened one man’s day with that one.

Amy had to work on Friday and I had the city to wander. I might have done some stalking but I won’t say of whom only that I was successful beyond my wildest dreams and there are no active restraining orders so it’s all good. I also went to the Churchill War Rooms which I loved. Covent Garden to try, unsuccessfully, to get a program for a play starting next week (a girl can dream). I found a delightful cheese shop where I purchased this amazing hunk of cheese which became my afternoon snack. Then I tried a red velvet milkshake (which I don’t recommend). According to my Fitbit I walked 20K steps on Friday. And I took the tube between destinations.

Friday night found me fangirling once again. Gypsy at The Savoy with the incomparable Imelda Staunton. It is a MUST SEE. She is brilliant and hands down my FAVE Mama Rose EVER. To add to that I got to meet both The General and Jim Carter (her husband) after the show. I spent about 5 minutes chatting with them. With him it was about why I wanted his autograph, my lack of accent considering where I am from, and general chit chat. He called me love and I managed not to pass out. With her I chatted about why I preferred her to Patti Lupone. The answer is because while La Lupone is magnificent she is a hammer. Imelda played the role with much more nuance and as a result lifted the entire production to a new level. They were both lovely and gracious and down to earth.

I spent the rest of the evening floating about on cloud nine. I touched Jim Carson and was touched by The General (and I do mean physically). In fangirl world, it was heaven. It is a testament to our friendship that Amy didn’t whip out the butterfly net and have me committed. I suspect it was because I knew how to get to the good Chinese place with the crispy duck.

Saturday found us doing some retail therapy and serious eating. Portobello Road, Harrod’s (officially my happy place), Selfridge’s, Fortnum & Mason and at least 10 other places. We had lunch at Harrod’s, tea at the Mandarin and dinner at Dinings. The first two I highly recommend the third, not so much. All in we walked 22K steps (not nearly enough to walk off tea (and the 4 glasses of champagne). On the plus side I discovered Assam Second Flush tea and I am in LOVE.

Sunday found me on a plane headed home. I managed not to cry as Amy & I parted at the airport – I was a big girl and did it in the airport after I cleared security. I will admit to a bit more retail therapy in the airport (T3 is amazing). But not as much as Amy who bought an amazing Burberry bag which she has promised to leave to me if she dies first.

As happy as I was to see my boys when I got home a small part of me wanted to stay in England. It is the only place I would ever expat. One day (probably after I smother the hubs in his sleep) I might move there. Amy & I can be roomies. It will be all very the L Word without the sex, not that we have anything against it we just think we would giggle through it and that is not sexy at all.

If you happen to find yourself in London this summer make a point of seeing Gypsy. It was amazing. If you go to Portobello Road go bloody early to avoid the crazy crowds. Make sure you have tea somewhere spectacular. If you choose the Mandarin ask for Eduardo. He’s cute as a bug and so very charming. The best crispy duck is in Chinatown just around the corner from the W Hotel – no I don’t know the name and yes I have been there 4 times. Make a point of going to the National Theatre. It is well worth it and the productions are very reasonable. Plus over the next 8 months some really big names will be on stage (oh what I wouldn’t give to see Dame Judi on the stage).

Good friends, good fun, and memories to last a lifetime. And – absolutely no selfies (but that’s a story for another day).

Starting a war

A few weeks back I made a random post on Tumblr. It was a tongue in cheek post about Downton Abbey and one of it’s beloved (and apparently untouchable) couples. The post was simple:

He killed Green. He bought two tickets, used one, kept the other to establish an alibi. The tavern owner knew him from prison and owed him a favor.

Bates knew when he confessed that Molesley would feel honor bound to “prove” his alibi after the money….

46 words and a war was started. I was attacked, friends on Tumblr who supported it were attacked. How dare we suggest that John Bates (a fictional character) might be a cold blooded killer (of other fictional people)? Didn’t we see how sweet the Banna (fictional) relationship was? Were we stupid, crazed and my personal favorite JEALOUS?

No – we are none of those things. We just didn’t drink the John Bates kool-aid (pretty sure it was the same stuff served at Jonestown in case you were interested). Throughout all 5 seasons of DA I have not once bought the Banna relationship. Do I like the two actors who play the roles? Yes. Do I think it is representative of a healthy relationship full of devotion and adoration and all sorts of schmoopy goodness? NO!

I do, think there is a dark undercurrent flowing through the relationship. I do KNOW Julian Fellowes has admitted there is a darkness to the Bates character. And I DO think he relinquished control of his script to legions of fangirls. I think he intended for Bates to be a dark character then when he saw the popularity of the relationship he wussed out. And I think, ultimately, that is why the story is so uneven. He started it and intended for it to go one way and caved to fan pressure and let it go another way. Now he doesn’t know where to go with the two characters because it’s not where they were supposed to go from the beginning.

Last season he at least threw JoFro a bone and gave her the rape story line. She was magnificent in the story and rightfully deserved all of the accolades she received. However, even though her part of the story line was mostly well thought out, his wasn’t. There was still a hint of darkness. All of the surrounding characters were scared of Bates finding out, scared of his reactions. I saw and clearly so did many others because it’s been talked about A LOT in the blogoshpere.

Those are my opinions. No one else has to agree with me. As a matter of fact, the rules of a free society mean you can disagree with me all you want. What you don’t get to do is berate me for my opinion! I was not trying to change your opinion I was merely stating my opinion. If you wish to continue to worship at the altar of Banna feel free, I won’t be attending those services.

What happened was I did get attacked! I had one person use personal information about me she got from a separate source to try to PROVE how wrong I was. Others sent anonymous hate messages (yeah that takes a lot of balls). But each message, reblog, added comment, separate thread, etc was all designed to show me how WRONG I was. They weren’t volleys to start a healthy discourse, they were missiles meant to annihilate my way of thinking, to show me the error of my ways and make me repent and beg forgiveness for my unworthy thoughts.

What each of these people failed to realize is I am NOT WRONG, I simply don’t believe what they do. But more importantly, these are fictional characters. I expressed an opinion about FICTIONAL CHARACTERS. It’s not like I said the holocaust didn’t happen, the earth is flat, Julie Andrews isn’t the most amazing person to ever walk the planet. Had I stated any of those three things then “correcting” me with evidence would have been not only the proper thing to do but I would have supported it.

But I didn’t state false facts about real events. I provided my opinion about non-existent people who live in a made up world. The advantage of literature, art all of it is each person gets to have their interpretation of the story. It doesn’t make your interpretation any less valid. It doesn’t invalidate you as a person because I don’t believe as you do. It just makes you different and that is what makes life so very interesting.

I would love to say I learned a valuable lesson. Something akin to not poking sacred cows. And I did, although probably not the lesson they hoped I would learn. I learned that people can express hate at an idea (something I’ve always known just never felt it first hand). They don’t know me (well one thinks she does – she is sadly mistaken) yet they felt comfortable calling me ignorant, uneducated, rude (although I will admit to this one for a couple of the more belligerent comments) and various other things. All because of an idea (about a fictional person in a make believe land) they disagreed with. I could metaphorically compare it to every war ever fought in the history of man but it all comes back to intolerance. And this wasn’t even intolerance of something real.

All of this was annoying (I certainly thinned my friend list) but in the end a crap load of fun. I got a great piece of fiction that I am thoroughly enjoying writing (I am passionate about writing). So I will continue to poke the sacred cows because I have never been a person who follows the herd. I’ve always lived outside the box. I don’t look for the trope romance (or the trope anything) in my stories or in my life. I like things which challenge me. But in my television viewing, I like well-written, well-developed story lines and I simply don’t think Banna is or ever has been one.

So here is to poking cows, starting wars and screaming FIRE in a crowded room of crazed fangirls!

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