July 30, 2007
a few things i took from blogher 2007
--It’s a little known fact that Chicago is actually located in the state of Mississippi, neighboring a massive swamp erroneously reported to be one of the Great Lakes. Tourists should be advised not to bother straightening their hair. Or applying makeup. Or showering.

-- Just when you think you’ve quite possibly exhausted the supply of amazing people in this universe, you meet another 50. You meet so many that it’s impossible to link to them here, because you know that in your current fatigued state, you’ll forget at least one, and you shall henceforth be referred to on her site as “the Drunk Ass on the Chicago Children’s Museum Balcony Who Said We’d Be BFFs But Then Totally E-dissed Me, but Not Before Impaling Herself on a Broken Wine Glass.” Those photos will clearly prevent me from pursuing the public office I have so long coveted.

-- The Blogosphere is a different place than it was even a year ago. The increased diversity is evident, and the rising acceptance of writers who don’t fall into the higher-profile blogging categories was even more noticeable. At no time did any participant ask me if I had children, and unlike last year, leave the conversation when I stated that I did not. Groups of women at cocktail party tables consisted of sex bloggers, parent bloggers, food writers, techies, and yes, personal bloggers. As Martha would say, it’s a good thing.

-- I’m not very good at attending conferences. When given the option of going to a session in which I’m actually interested and that might be good for my professional development, or lying in my fantastic hotel bed (after prompt removal of the decorative, hairy black cube atop my pillows - what was that thing? if you didn't have one, don't tell me, because i don't want to know what His Hairyness was . . .), I will clearly choose the latter. It’s hard to leave the bed when the air conditioning is holding steady at 61.

-- No man is an island, and no woman can subsist on wine, Marlboro Lights, and baked Doritos. Or 7 dollar Pringles pulled from their mini-bar slumber at 2 am. I’m calling Lindsay to see if we can bunk at Promises.

-- The Attractiveness setting on my camera is apparently broken and cannot be revived via new AAs. After seeing photos, will be considering rushed application for participation on this season's The Swan.

-- Approximately 1.4 billion dollars worth of Bliss products pilfered from hotel bathrooms and housekeeping carts. I have enough of a stash to be 80 and at the nursing home, rubbing Body Butter on Mr. Johnson’s bed sores in exchange for smokes.

I really should go back to bed.


July 27, 2007
let the real games begin
Our talk at Blogher is over. Done. Finito. I'm relieved, but this community is so fantastic that after our allotted 75 minutes I didn't want the session to end.

I'd like to say that I sounded intelligent, and that I didn't drink my weight in wine last night, but I'd be lying on both counts.

I'd also like to report that I didn't use the words "punch my mother in the face" during my talk time, but this would also be inaccurate.

Copy of said verbal slosh available on Blue Note Records sometime in 2009. Sure to be a B side.


July 26, 2007
W is for wine

We have arrived.


July 24, 2007
weekend visitor
I had a lady friend in town this weekend. I hadn’t seen her in almost two years and it was likely six months ago that we last spoke over the phone. We neglect one another in that way, too little contact, too few reminders of how important we are to one another. Before she arrived on Friday, I realized I couldn’t remember her boyfriend’s name. The boyfriend she’s had for the last four years. But it never matters.

Jenny and I met the second day of our freshman year of college. 1991. I’m pretty sure Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me was playing on the radio when she walked into our dorm, and I’m even surer that she stifled an immediate urge to change the station to old school rap. I had spent the months leading up to that first day talking to Jen’s high-school-aged brother on the phone as she was otherwise occupied by a swanky Franky trip to Italy. In her absence, I worked out bedding and colors and shared electronics with a 16-year-old boy. She tells me now that her brother thought I was the coolest. That we’d click instantly. That we’d hate our other roommate. A bright one, that Anthony.

I still remember the day she walked into our room. She was beautiful and thin and had the longest hair I’d ever seen not attached to Crystal Gale. She was a new Jersey girl like myself, a fact that bonded us instantly. She looked like the people I knew from home. She had a sharp tongue. She was a writer, an English major. She felt things intensely as I did; Jen was much more book smart than I, although I brought the common sense to our relationship and never let her forget it. Our first years of knowing each other were a blur of soup made via hotpots, college hookups that now make us cringe (and quite possibly did back then), and late-night trips across the railroad tracks to buy smokes (for me) and pounds of penny candy (for her, primarily, and for me to steal from her stash). This is no cliché. We have been through it all.

Jen knew me during the multiple-year great depression of the 90s, a time I successfully dissociate from on a regular basis. That period is a complete block in my memory, a span of years about which I could not possibly exaggerate. I found myself at age 18 in a hole so large and so black that I’m not sure that even now I’ve found my way out of it entirely. I vaguely remember not caring and even knowing if I wore the same clothes to class every day, one of them of all things an East Stroudsburg University sweatshirt, the arms of which eventually unraveled without my intervention. After the initial few years in the depths, although remaining there, I began to cope relatively well. While still very much clinically depressed, I became an automaton of 4.0s and sorority functions and drinking binges. I can’t say that I was numb. I wish I had been. I was very aware at all times that the self I was inside who was nowhere near the person she had been. For those of you who have never felt it, I can only describe those years as what I imagine it would be to swim to the surface of a pool, only to find it entirely covered in glass. I am proud to say that I’ve worked my ass off to move as far from that time as possible. As sad as I feel for the girl that I was, I hate even thinking about her. Jen was there. She loved me then.

Jenny has known me through my few true loves. She was closest to the first of these men, having spent hours on the phone with him, mediating silly late-teen spats that likely had to do with phone bills or him not visiting each and every weekend from a long-distance college. She was the close friend I first talked to about sex and the roommate who took one for the team by sleeping on the suite couch when he visited. She listened to countless dramatic long-term plans and covered up for me in a series of cruel lies I created that would ultimately lead to the relationship’s demise. Jen was one of the first I called 11 years later to tell her that he had died, that before he and I could ever reconnect even only to compare life stories, he had a heart attack at age 31. Very few people knew what my relationship to that man had meant to me, and why many years later, after he had married another and we lived on separate coasts, I sat incapacitated by tears on the couch I still own.

Jen has also known me through a ridiculous, almost unlimited amount of fun. When we were 17 and 18 – I of course the younger, more vibrant of the two of us – we used our obnoxious third roommate’s 3-foot fan to create a fireworks display by feeding it pop tarts and fig newtons and class notes while it faced the offending roommate’s bed, all the while running at its highest speed. At 19, during finals week, we donned pantyhose as headgear and, wielding supersoakers, drenched each and every woman in the study lounge without ever getting written up by the college powers that were. At 20, I lied my way sans ID into a bar to be there for her 21st birthday; I later held her hair back as she vomited on the bar’s front lawn. Through her nose. At 23, now living together in a group house in northern Virginia, we confronted an uncomfortable roommate who had taken our beloved faux living room foliage and placed it in the community center trash across the street, leaving us a note to tell us the perfectly intact tree had disintegrated in the rain. Too bad we were so damn crafty and our informant neighbors liked us better. At 29, I did my best to bring laughter back into her life after a broken engagement and the Florida bar brought her to live in my boyfriend’s apartment in Tallahassee; some not-half-awful Merlot and a fly in my salad dressing did the trick, if only for mere moments.

This woman knew me when I crashed a fraternity formal with another woman as my date. When I used to take rides from truckers and West Virginians filling their tanks at the Citgo so I could get to a party across town. When I cheated on a boyfriend. She’s known me through pegged jeans and losing my religion and gaining and losing 30 pounds, admittedly more than once. Through new friendships that never threatened who we are. We are sisters, relatives although not by birth, for whom time and the spaces between us just don’t matter. We’ve survived bad living situations and awful life decisions and even worse haircuts, not to mention a 1997 bathroom miscommunication that brought her the coveted title of Only Woman Other Than My Mother Ever to See Me Naked.* I’m quite sure to date it is her proudest moment of knowing me.

I never cared for that phase of nearly-black lipstick she went through, just as I don’t need to guess at her disapproval of my high-waisted, Lee-jeans years (which are almost on the verge of closure, thank you very much). She is terribly pigheaded and I am even more pushy. But I love this woman with all of my heart. I loved gabbing with her this weekend while she was next to me in the king bed. I loved filling her in on recent follies over a good Pinot I had handpicked and glasses that I’m pretty sure the grown ups use. I loved greeting her in the street with wine and a smoke. I loved not worrying about who I was or how I looked or what we might say to one another. I loved every minute of it.

I miss her already.

*Although if things go well with my roommate at BlogHer, that may change, my friends.

July 21, 2007
drumstick, please
Today was the end of the road. The last time for a while that I'll have to walk into the hospital and have the doctors know who I am on sight. I won't knock on wood, but I will say that I'm going to enjoy every solitary moment that is the day of Bug's last visit to the surgeon for this particular episode. I will celebrate that this morning he had each and every suture removed from that seven-inch incision and that his surgeon said all looked good. She was pleased that he's walking well. Hopping well.

What she doesn't know is that he's doing ridiculously well. I'm not going to tell her. It's like a tiny present that Bug and I are keeping to ourselves. Two short weeks ago, that cat looked at me from his spot under the kitchen counter, unable to lift his head from the cold floor tile. I've never felt an ache like I did when he looked at me with those glassy eyes. Love and guilt are a tugging combination. Love and joy are simply beautiful, and that's all I feel when the little man makes his way about the house like a fourth-grader on cotton candy overload, jumping on windowsills and onto the bed and over the back of my sleeping weekend visitor. He's resumed guarding the door while I shower. Two nights ago he kicked Cricket in the head several times, and I allowed the tussle to go on longer than I should, simply because I took such pleasure in seeing him back to normal. As normal as life can be without one of your legs.

I attempted to snap some photos of the critter and those meek efforts are shared below. As you can see, he remains able to outrun my camera in most cases.

The white coats well me that now we wait to see if the cancer resurfaces on some other part of his little body. It almost makes me laugh. I will wait for the man I'm to spend my life with, for Spring to come to my beautiful city, for a time when pizza is zero points on Weight Watchers. We will not be waiting for this.

July 19, 2007
the random wednesday
I hate people. I'm not sure if I've shared this with you, but I'm a card-carrying introvert who has taken the Myers-Briggs to prove it to the doubters, those who also falsely believe that nothing will surpass Seinfeld in the Wit Hall of Fame. When on business trips, I work the floor during the day, share wine and laughs until I'm the last to leave the restaurant, and then sprint to the elevator to hole up in my room courtesy of multiple locks and two phones taken off their hook. I'll show to your barbeque, your happy hour, your bat mitzvah. And then I'll take three days off to regroup. Diagnosis? I'm a woman who simply hates people but just luuuuuuuuves her a good party.

I've been recharging alone a lot this month. I'm not going to blame it on the cat with cancer, the adorable domestic shorthair whose recent leg-lopping-off surgery threw my life into a tizzy. But because I worry about my dear offspring and their tendencies to chew on sutures as if the threads had been flavored with squid, I've been spending a good bit of time at home alone (well, that and the fact that the Boy decided not to show last weekend, but we're past that now and won't mention it but 12 or 15 times more).

Today I set out to change things by throwing myself back into my element. Greeting people in the hallways, talking excessively stall to stall, and generally not avoiding humankind as my instinct might dictate. And so it was. The glory of this random Wednesday revealed itself in a variety of ways, most of which I would very much like to document soley for my future review, but will share with you in a most vague and annoyingly bulleted way. Today I am not whining and inconsolable, but thankful for the gorgeous little things that leave me laughing and add to the woman I'm attempting to become, several of which involve me opening the door and putting myself out there, opening my eyes to what I've already got on my very full plate.

∙ A face-to-face conversation with a work friend, in which I did my best not only to dish but to listen, which was followed by a

∙ Note from an upcoming weekend visitor, with whom I could not be happier about reconnecting, which preceded a

∙ Phone conversation with a long-distance friend, in which we laughed about our shared neuroses and irrational fears for the coming week.

∙ Today brought genuine companionship, which I opted to bask in, in whatever form it chose to present itself. Glory be. This involved

∙ A game of bocce, played in the extreme DC heat, although lost and while wearing the absolute worst team colors of the entire league, flattering to no one and most particularly a newly-platinum blonde. The latter of which might have something to do with me

∙ Being hit on by a man who has yet to earn the title, who I wanted so much to warn that I was old enough to be his very young mother, but didn't. So on the way home I very much enjoyed

∙ Delilah's Love Songs, because one can never have too many relationships on the verge of failure to giggle about or Journey songs to which you can sing in your car.

∙ Let it be known that I reached out to several people I thought might need to know I was there. To let them know that they're important to me. They are.*

And the gravy, oh the gravy, people. I'm loving:

∙ Bug's ability to jump on the bed and to guard me while I'm in the shower, all the while limping due to some serious overexertion after he came off of pain meds (LOOK MA, NO LEG!); the joy of Cricket not having an asthma attack in two days, giving her mom some respite from her role as the feline Florence Nightingale.

∙ My mother laughing.

∙ Photographs from Jorge.

∙ Your sweet emails, which I've put away for much too long and for which the reply expiration date has passed.

∙ Realizing I own more wine glasses than underwear.

∙ Feeling, and not only seeing, the big picture.

∙ And this.

* If I did not stalk you, this does not absolve you from remaining important to me; I simply did not get to you yet. Carry on.

July 17, 2007
big winner
I am so tired right now I could cry. Instead of bawling, which is my usual release for all things stressful, including the purchase of my first car which as you might imagine was very embarrassing for me given the presence of all of those clapping Nissan salesmen, I have become a hefty combination of dry drunkenness and what an ex used to term “inconsolable.” Stacy and I have had a competition going as to which of us can go batshit more quickly this month, and after my serious failure in the Bang Off of 2005, all systems are go for me to leave her in the dust on this one.

My latest ex used to tell me that I at times reached a point at which absolutely nada would make my world right while nothing anyone else did was technically acceptable, either. This is one of the things he may very well have been spot on about, along with the fact that I am much better blonde than even remotely redheaded. In the past few days I have felt like a walking contradiction, a Type A sloth calling people on their neuroses while very deftly maintaining my own, bringing Bug up to my chest and then finding myself irritated by his heat, genuinely wanting space from another and then questioning it when it’s given. I’m like a cranky baby. I wail with the tone reserved for the binky, and when I get the binky, I hurl the damn thing across the room, barely missing the three-legged cat. If you were here you’d check my diaper, because you’d be sure that discomfort must be the root of this evil, this whiny malaise that is a product of little sleep and too much wine and not attending to the things that I know keep me anchored. But you’d find the diaper dry as a bone, and as you’d scratch your head thinking of your next move, I’d clock you in the face for having bothered me. I’m irritating myself just writing this.

Humor is my way to pull through these episodes, the ridiculous ones that occur something like once every season (hey, the ex isn’t here to tell you otherwise). It’s not only the way in which I handle most situations, including Christmas Eve service every five years and my annual pap smear, but it’s a survival mechanism that protects me from the realization, and the distinct possibility, that I am just a paper-width away from two dark shades of crazy.

On the way home from work tonight, a ride during which I was apparently just gutted given the fact that I couldn’t stay in my lane and hear Stacy and listen to Peter Cetera AND smoke a cigarette at the same time, all the while maneuvering around those GD Metrobuses with their asshat, likely-unlicensed drivers (straightens skirt), she and I actually got into a tirade about CourtTV being pillaged by Turner Networks, a move that will involve the introduction of lowest common denominator programming into our pseudo-intellectual weeknight crime obsession. We actually raged.

“I can’t believe they’re changing the network over to a stupid extreme tv channel. Ugh.”

“I know. We’ll be losing all of the meat of it, Stace. The smart stuff like City Confidential.”

“And Noreen!”


“And Bill Curtis!”

“And Bill Curtis.” I took another drag of my cigarette and tossed an expletive at a slow old woman crossing in front of my car.


“You said it.”

We took a moment to seethe in our collective silence. I took another drag.

“And by the way, if I have to see one more episode of Most Shocking, my head will motherf#%!ing explode.”

“Not to mention if I have to see another c^$&sucking episode of Cops in some lame ass city like f#@$ing Cincinnati.” I exhaled. “I’ll probably smother you in your G*ddamn sleep at BlogHer.”

Destination: Batshit. I win.


July 16, 2007
on doing the right thing
As best I can, I’m slowly moving on from the events of last week. Given the current situation with the tripod, I feel almost like a main player in a Little House on the Prairie episode: time’s a wastin’, Half Pint. Can’t spare frettin’ over Nellie’s antics when the barn’s a burnin’. Or something like that. Moving on seems to be where it’s at.

I am giving Kim carte blanche here to leave the conversation and go to Hooters so she can control the urge to smack me upside the head. You gone Kim? Ok. Let us continue.

The weekend was fantastic, but was meant to be spent with him, so reminders were at every turn. Canceled wine bar reservations require one of the parties to call a hostess to take a rain check; changed baseball plans left me in the cheap seats trying to find our unused spots just down the third baseline. I was pleased with how well I made it through what all thought would be a much rougher ride, or as one friend imagined, me showing to happy hour wearing sweatpants, an event less likely than me giving birth. When I reached the weekend, I had accepted his sincere apologies, and as Jorge has so eloquently pointed out avec Canadian accent and some heavy real live maple syrup (God, Toronto, get over it), I understood that this man handed my heart back to me. He didn’t stomp on it and smear it into the ground while speaking words of sacrilege about the Bon Jovi. Or worse, about Billy Joel. Or lastly my mother. But as of yesterday it still wasn’t okay. Because you know what nudged me in the night? That he never made it right. That, unlike myself and the others that I know that feel like they’re selling their souls to be better people, he didn’t keep his side of the street clean. It’s that he seemed to think that text messages and sporadic one-line emails would suffice. That dozens of hours of our connection translated into fewer than 200k of returned electronic space of little substance. It didn’t do us justice. Quite frankly, it didn’t suffice.

And I told him so. Because given that at times we seemed to share the same brain, I knew he knew it too. That even when not riding the church train, we owe people something more in this life. You can try to run from it, you can say that not calling her the day after a drunken lickfest is the way that people do it. But it isn’t the way you or I or we should be doing it. And this isn’t preaching. Plain and simple, it reeks of an era when we didn’t walk upright and beating your hairy chest wasn’t something done as a post-coital joke. You owe something more to the people who you choose to let into your life. Give them anything less than your best and you’re cheating yourself – screw the him or her you’ve known for a month – of the opportunity to be something more than the guy next to you at the bar who drinks Bud bottles* and avoids his wife’s repeated cell calls.

I was well prepared for him to disregard my email, but I needed to be true to myself and share these unresolved feelings I’m describing, along with some candid sadness and just plain good old fashioned missing him. Only then would I be able to put this connection on the “fond memories” shelf, next to the very few other boxes that weren’t somehow tainted by poor behavior or unresolved everything. I hit send and tried to go about my evening, still wondering where he was and if he’d read it.

And you know what? He did the very right thing. He stepped up. He opened up and let me see him again. He confirmed without meaning to do so that he was indeed the person that I thought he was, the person that I’d very much like to know again further down the line. So of course in that very instant I wanted to call him, to hear that familiar voice that makes my stomach swirl, to tell him I loved reading his words and my anger had faded and that I still really did think the world of him. Still adore him. Still have hope. Still and will miss him.

But apparently being a grown up isn’t just about doing only what you want in a particular moment (unless it’s the Cab Sauvignon I had this weekend, which my Trader Joe’s and yours will soon be out of if my paycheck is deposited promptly). Because following my heart in that moment would have involved hopping on a plane headed northwest and knocking on his door and jumping on his back and telling him that we’ve got something too good to let go. Smothering him with kisses and feeling my face on his shoulder and pretending as if none of this had happened.

But it did. And if things were to keep going as they were, I think we both know that we’d be in this very spot again in a few months. And with every failure, because the two of us would undoubtedly label these setbacks such, the chances of us pulling through would plummet. Because he and I are who we are right now. And because no matter how deeply you love, how skillfully you skate around problems and laugh a full 23.5 of your 24 hours together, the issues down in the bowels of a relationship fight their way to the surface and come out with a yell, just like that awful, awful reptile baby in V. Not really what I’m looking for. There's work for both of us to do first.

I do miss him already. Still. I’m hoping now for space in our togetherness, simply because the "we" that he and I are is too precious to me. I would love for us to keep in touch, peppered witty emails and calls just to reach out here and there, looking further ahead to a time when he and I might reconnect after weeks or months or years spent in our own lives, evolving and working and heading off avoidance instead of accepting the familiar, the comfortable, the not so good for us.

Because should we both get there, I have no doubt that the results would be simply amazing.

* Kim, you weren’t really supposed to read that far.


because it's better than Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill, Thunderbird, urine, and Coors Light.

because a bad picture of yourself is so worth seeing her laugh like that.

because it's what you eat at a baseball game, whether they're made from meerkats or not.

because you got great highlights, and because no one will know that as you knelt down for the perfect field shot your knees were shaking, given that your body is well on its way to complete and utter atrophy.

and because at the end of the day, no matter cat cancer or bloating or broken CV boot, at least you don't live in Baltimore.

July 12, 2007
on bailing
You should know that I’ve hidden things from this site, from you, many a time. I’ve been afraid to show you who what lies behind the (at times strained) wit. Of hurting my mother and father. Of being fired. Of shattering your image of me as a somewhat stable woman who eats Easy Mac and who might someday pickle her cats in Tupperware containers. No more. I’m incredibly vulnerable right now. You might as well see it; the record will stand for me and my grandcats if not to help your workday pass with that much more ease.

It started out as an innocent introduction, turned down by me given its reliance on phone conversation. I don’t do the phone. Ask the dozens including those in my bloodline who try to reach me daily and who get an answering machine or a promise of a call back. I’m a telephonephobe who spends hundreds of her hard-earned dollars per year on a technology she avoids. I don’t like being that accessible. Having you hear my voice, quivering at times, or at the other end, its resolve and strength. Fuck nonverbal communication. I’m out there when you hear me, telling you about my father’s progressing illness, the beautiful disasters that are the ties I’ve broken entirely of my own accord, of my fear of amounting to nothing of consequence. I wear the written word as much more of a shield, minutes of strategic adjectives and the choice of an “I” rather than a “you.” My voice has no automatic checks.

Things have been ridiculously difficult for me in the past year. Before 31, I never understood just how it was that folks had difficult years, even difficult decades. Did they not just pick up the pieces and move on, knowing that something delightful awaited them at the next turn? Apparently they do. I did. I worked for money and worked for growth and joined softball and bocce and ate and Pinot-ed my way across DC with not a regret. I kept my side of the street clean in each and every human relationship. Nothing took. And not in the way that you think. I enjoyed it all. I just never felt anything deeply. The stir in your stomach and the entertainment of spending time with someone orbiting with you in shared space. I am complete. Looking to share this new self in all her beauty, yet finding no one to fit the bill.

And then I found him. Kim will shake her head upon reading this post at its overwhelming level of estrogen and vow to buy me an awful draft beer or five at the O’s game on Saturday, the game at which he should have been touching my knee and laughing at my excessive use of puns. The He that isn’t by my side. Who chose to stay on the cul de sac, to play it safe rather than keep a Friday night reservation for wine and a dessert discussed long before dinner.

I knew quickly that I had not felt this way about a person in years. I have not been the person I am right now and felt this way about another . . . ever. I had absolutely no instinct to run, no push to change this man who actually admitted in spoken voice to a penchant for French cuffs. For the first time in my young life, I accepted a man for who he was; for the first moment in his young life, he was taken as he came. There was quiet talk of front porch Adirondack chairs and plans for Napa and pet names and middle-of-the-night marathon cell calls. I welcomed our knowing looks at future corporate functions and stolen kisses on the front lawn that would surely embarrass the neighbors. This was a relationship on the very verge of blossoming into something both of us knew could - and goddammit, would - be spectacular. The magnitude of which neither of us had before experienced. Anticipation and joy and a truly uncanny fit that afforded us access into one another’s heads. I won’t exaggerate and I won’t minimize it. I still believe in the absolute force that we could be, and I know in my heart that he does too.

But when things got too close, when we were coming to fruition and plans were no longer theory but a tangible touch of skin and minds, he ran. He shut down with some warning, red flags I didn’t want to see. His explanation was a cocktail of My gut says I can’t do this and I’m not ready to be happy yet and an acknowledgement that I was the best thing yet to cross his path. I can’t help but thinking that maybe we met at the wrong time, Kris. Disappointment doesn’t capture this feeling, nor does devastation. And it would be easier to process this rejection if my sinking stomach didn’t tell me that every word of his was true. If I were he, without all the tears and months of conversations with my genius, degreed professional, the potential of a successful “us” would scare the bejeezus out of me. Even a year ago I would have ruined this potential. I’ve never run, but I’ve made many a man miserable by making myself emotionally unavailable while figuring out whether or not I wanted to pass my time with him. I understand the urge. Shut the curtains and call it off at the altar before he has the chance to hurt me. Pull away before I ruin the core of yet another human being. Bail because the alternative requires too much risk and an energy reserve that isn’t yet full. Truth be told, he wasn’t there. He wasn’t ready. He chose not to risk it for the me that is here, the me who still stands here with open arms.

I’d told the farm about him. The pigs, the cows, the rooster who crows much too much all too early in the morning. Everyone knew about the beautiful potential I had coming down the pike, because my cup runneth over with excitement and infectious passion at the office doorway and the happy hour. And ultimately I had to hang my head and tell the truth. That he jumped ship. That he opted out. That he clung to the familiarity of fear rather than to me. I was humiliated. By my hope. My lack of caution, my new outfits, by the favorite wines and the embarrasing songs I had chosen to share.

I blamed the tears shed behind a closed door on the touch-and-go recovery of my three-legged cat and cried harder as I’d worried that my lies had jinxed the miniscule progress Bug had made in the days prior. I stubbornly and naively waited for this man's change of heart and just couldn’t admit that I’d fallen, that I’d invested so much and had things collapse on me, mid-smile. That I’d given my heart, only to have someone accept it and embrace it and ultimately decide that it wasn’t the right time for him to keep it, that he wasn’t able to support the healthy, flourishing relationship for which I was ready. For which I am ready.

I know with little reassurance that this decision had absolutely nothing to do with me. His world is a whirlwind of doubts and going through the “shoulds” of motion and the pain of loving both with reservation and on a foundation of unresolved months and years. Unlike every other relationship into which I've entered, this time it wasn't about me, and I knew so before his repeated attempts at comfort began. I knew better than to suspect his whispered words, his returned phone calls, his shared plans and confessions. I don’t give my heart up to just any man who crosses my path with the promises of a future. Know that I chose willingly and with a yes, please to offer him with both hands this fragile heart, even though he gave it back. Know too that my lack of hesitation can do nothing to balance this bottomless hurt and the fact that my emotional walls are already higher than they were only weeks ago.

I’d do it all over again.


July 11, 2007
I wish I could regale you with tales of Bug's splendid recovery, of veterinarians in awe of my little physical prodigy as he, only hours out of surgery, takes up not only jumping from the bed to the dresser but hangliding and parasailing over the Chesapeake. How I wish.

Instead, complications abound, from a reaction to his pain medication to some bruising that leaves me checking his chest for the rise and fall that we all love to see in those for whom we care. And naturally, because raining does indeed equal pouring, complications abound in my life as well, leaving me feeling numb. And not in the good Pinot way.

A few of my wisest have told me that this collective issuefest must be a test, a way to see how the new and improved me handles things. But wasn't the process of getting here the biggest test? Isn't now the time to reap the rewards?

For today, ample reward would be to see the little man emerge from his hiding place under the bed. Then again, I just might join him under there.

July 5, 2007
if cats aren't your thing, there's always dooce
Dearest Bug,

I can’t believe I have to drop you off tomorrow morning, for the second time 15 days, to have the people in white coats gas you and cut into your precious skin. Your last black threads were only removed two days ago. I know, kid. I know as you are looking at me as I write this. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Yes, it’s even more unjust than the fact that I have only once let you outside into the world since 2002, when our experiment with a cat harness on Capitol Hill went terribly, horribly awry.

I’m sorry that you have this awful cancer. I’m sorry that when I felt the lump months ago I chalked it up to scar tissue or a recent run in with Cricket’s back legs. I promise you that it didn’t grow – it was only the size of the head of the pin – for months and months. Know that when I saw you walk across the hardwoods two weeks ago, when I saw your right side unbelievably swollen and knew given my constant hugging of you that it had not been there the day before, know that I rushed you to the emergency vet within minutes. Know that I will never, ever, ever get over the feeling that I may have failed you, that you might not be losing this leg or in this danger at all if I had been more vigilant. I did what I thought was best. I truly promise you that.

Know too my sweet kid that I love few things more in this life than being your mom. We’re always straight with each other, so why would we stop now: I know you know it wasn’t always this way. When I opened my apartment door in Tallahassee in 1999 to your screaming, tiny face, the dog-loving me late for work and you simply hungry and homeless, I wanted nothing more than to toss your hairy self into someone else’s arms. I berated my roommate for having fed you canned Chicken of the Sea the day prior; what did I need with one of those straggly cats yelling at my door, anyway?

But things change, and your gentle kind grew on me. In time you became the involuntary charge of a fellow grad student who kept you as an outside cat in my very apartment complex. I often wonder if you envied the fact that her two other cats lived inside while you roamed the Tallahassee streets; I trust you’ll tell me this someday over catnip in your 7th life. When the situation demanded, the lovely Kim took you in next, providing you with even more Florida acreage to roam and call your own. She often talks of how you spent the colder Panhandle nights snuggled atop her stash of firewood, and how more than once she opened the front door to see nothing but bird feathers strewn about the area you called home. And there you were, licking your chops. I never tire of her telling those same stories of you in the pseudo-wild.

I recall that while at Kim’s house, in my last months of graduate school and during a routine afternoon Tally rainstorm, I asked permission to let your begging, drenched self inside. She agreed. You very quietly and politely walked into her living room and eventually positioned yourself on the soft couch next to me. I think I knew I loved you even then, sweet boy. When your next gig was planned as an outdoor cat in North Carolina, I would have nothing of it. If the planets aligned, you would be mine and would roam my first 300-square-foot DC apartment like a warm, city man of the house should. And you filled those shoes beautifully, my dear. After weeks in 2003 spent hiding under the couch cover, you emerged as my companion. A companion that used the litter box from day one. Who slept on my bed as my protector. Who found out he loved yogurt when he first knocked a blueberry Yoplait out of my hands in the initial months of our partnership. Know that behind Cricket’s back I have left the last spoonful for you in each and every container since then. If anything is, this was meant to be, Bug.

So despite our iffy beginnings, know that I can’t imagine my heart being bigger for you, little man. When I stepped into that last examination room on Tuesday, the very one in which I found out only four years earlier that my first kitty had a fatal and equally rare illness to your own, I was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure that our time on this earth together would be as long as possible. And here we are.

I promise to love you even more with your three little legs, Buggles. I promise to kiss this new scar when you’ll let me and help you onto the couch if you should need it. I promise to let you fight dirty if your street cred demands it. I promise to check compulsively for those tiny bumps that we know may come back at any time. I pledge to allow you to steal my full glass of ice water with an extended paw before I take even a first sip. I hereby swear more treats and more eye rubs. I vow to try to be less frustrated when you beg daily for food via nail inserted into my nostril or tear duct. At 5 am.

I vow to be better to you than ever. I hope I have the time to be.

With all my love to you and your sister,

July 4, 2007
happy 4th, beautiful readers
in other unpatriotic news, bug's amputation is scheduled for this friday. i hope you'll do your best to stick around these parts despite a number 1) the likelihood that this will become the obessive ramblings of a cat mother (wait, and the difference will be?) and b number 2) my being this close to asking the oncologist if it would be possible to make me a "lucky bug foot" souvenir keychain.

crickets all around, party people.

July 3, 2007
I channeled so much excitement into this one moment that I had to sit myself down on the couch for a good self talk before making the call. I had crafted the plan on the way home, rehearsing my words and envisioning the surprise and stuttering that would result in my absence. During those minutes of frenzied thinking, I discovered just what damage the teeth of a nervous - nay, eager - Nellie can inflict on defenseless thumbnails in their proper place at the absolute wrong time.

Someone important to me would break into smile before knowing exactly what had happened, and would scan the room wondering if just maybe I was there, settling instead for placing a long distance phone call of thanks, one vowing unavoidable and unexpected return of the favor. A smile would plant itself on my face for the remainder of the night. Beaming, I would know that my efforts would, when I least expected it, be exceeded.

But intent isn't everything, I realize in that spot on the couch where minutes before I sat with such anticipation. When the required players refuse their parts, the scene disintegrates quickly. It's 70 to zero in the blink of an emotional eye.

And so the surprise is shelved for another evening down the road, one on which I'm open to giving more than I receive, likely when I too least expect it.

July 1, 2007
parades and such
I fear this won’t be all that cohesive tonight, but I’m guessing you don’t really come here for the cohesion. I spent a night this week in Northern Virginia with two friends, drinking and smoking more than a former first soprano ever should. After the staple conversation about work and yet slightly more about work, the topic turned to relationships as it seems to do for both those betrothed and those going home alone. Our exes. Our present engagements. For one of us, a seemingly perfect mate snapped away too soon.

I feel hugged and loved and validated each and every time I’m with these two crazy cats. One, a woman with whom I relate on an emotional level, a southern girl who has talked me through more than one bout with self-flagellation with wise words and several glasses of Pinot. Another, a man who I love dearly, a poet with such passion who I beg will find a niche for his voice. We know each other. We have known each other. They have seen me at my proverbial worst: frizzy hair, mismatched outfits, hangovers, regrettable relationships, the shaky voice that at times sneaks out when I’m speaking in meetings. They know well my cynicism, from people who approach you on the street to children being born into this world who may actually be well behaved. And although I know the intent was not so, but only to cover me with a blanket of loving caution, why, oh why is there always someone to rain on your parade?

My first memory of this phenomenon, much to the pleasure of the Freudians out there, traces back to my mother. I was 17 years old. I had been nominated for homecoming queen of my tiny New Jersey high school, a reward clearly not bestowed upon me for my looks but instead my ridiculous and likely irritating level of energy. The day of the awards I found myself nervous but excited about the possibility of being acknowledged by my peers, something I think most of us would have enjoyed in an age of headgear, growing breasts and awkward kissing. But that day I had done something wrong. I had transgressed in some minor way that I don’t actually recall at this moment, but one which clearly had my mother in a tizzy, ready to make me pay. We yelled. She handed down the punishment. And I had to engage in some ridiculous compulsive series of chores before I was allowed to attend the pep rally for which I had waited so long. I cried so heavily on that 1990 evening that you can still see the swelling in my eyes in those pictures. The ones in which four of my guy friends are carrying me up to accept the crown. Could she not have kept it to herself? Was this not my moment?

And so it went the other night in my first discussions about The Boy. With my every passing word of excitement, the friends used their words in a most interesting way.

He said what?

The two of you have planned to do what?

And you’re thinking that what?

I was the 17-year-old girl once again. Are you really going to make this more about you than about me? Can we not just sit over drinks and listen to one another’s latest tomfoolery and newest dreams? I am 33, right? A woman of my own devious devices, a totality of years of lessons learned via therapy and failed and semi-successful relationships as well as those that simply crashed and burned? A compilation of chapters written over a young, full life?

I focused on my beer and yet one more round so I wouldn’t obsess over their vocal reservations. No, I have not known him as long as I’ve known my mother; sadly, his womb was not available in 1973. But sweet baby Jebus we can spend more time together than most human beings can with themselves and laugh even more than those monkeys that always look like they’ve had too many screwdrivers. We are two human beings not looking to be completed, but those already complete looking to share that very state with one another. There are times when you feel like you’ve known someone, friend or lover, for your entire life, and wonder what exactly your many years looked like before his arrival. Remember that connection of which I once wrote?

I know that you love me but, sweet friends, this moment isn’t about you.

Know that what is mine is mine, from each and every joy to each and every misstep. If you haven’t realized this by now, regardless if it’s about men or career failure or the time you became fashion road kill on 17th Street, support and happiness are always more meaningful when not preceded by a “but.”