Category Archives: 52

Focus 52: Shadows

I love make up.

I am a girly girl who lives and dies for the sparkle, the shimmer, the gloss, the gleam, the bling, the shiny and all things that are wonderfully and magically feminine.

Lately, I haven’t been feeling so girly.

Since my hysterectomy, it has been hard for me to jump back on the “Sparkle Wagon” as I call it and make myself fabulous.  It’s been a real struggle. A chore for me.  Even showering is a process.  Bending over to shave my legs is a true production as I can feel the incisions in my abdomen tugging hard to the point where they feel like they are going to snap.  Showering usually exhausts me to the point where I don’t feel like going out any longer.

The other day, in the mail, one of my dear friends, a fellow blogger who shares my love of all things make up, sent me a pallet of eye shadows, cheek tints and a nude lip gloss.  Just something to brighten my day and make me feel “gorg” (as she put it) after all the shit I have been through as of late.  Well, I played with those eye shadows in a gazillion different color combinations on my arm til it looked like one big long bruise.

You know, when a bruise is healing?  All those crazy colors; purples, yellows, greens, blues, blacks.

And when I realized that, I scrubbed my arm clean.  It brought me back to a time in my life where I had to rely on cover up, thick, copious amounts of cover up, to cover up bruises that were given to me by someone who claimed they loved me.  As I was washing off my arm, still staring at these glorious eye shadows, I wondered why…why would I be thinking about something so terrible out of nowhere when just five minutes earlier, I was in girly girl heaven?

Then, I realized.  20 years.  This November will be 20 years since someone tried to end my existence on this planet.  20 years since someone beat me into a coma with a baseball bat in front of my 4 year old daughter.  20 years since doctors told my parents that I may not come back from this and if I do, I will probably have severe brain damage for the rest of my life.  The “anniversary”, if you will, of one of the worst moments of my entire life.  I suppose it had been brewing just under the surface in me for awhile.  The night before receiving this wonderful present from my friend, I had had a very restless sleep.  At one point, my husband had to wake me, because not only had my sleep been fitful, but apparently at one point, I ended up flailing about, punching him violently and screaming for whomever I was dreaming about to “leave me alone, leave me alone…stop!”  My husband shook me awake.  “It’s me, baby…it’s me,” he said as he slowly brought me out of my tortured slumber and back into reality.  I stared at him for a minute, still confused and somewhat dazed.

“It’s me,” he said again, softly.

“Okay,” I nodded, understanding that he was reassuring me that I was safe.  “Okay.”

I curled back up on his chest and went back to sleep.

It’s peculiar to me that even 20 years later, the silliest of things can trigger me.  A certain scent.  The sound of a man’s voice when it is particularly gruff and laden heavily with a thick, italian accent.  There are specific sounds that make me jittery, like the sounds of footsteps on a wooden floor, especially if that wood floor creaks.  There are certain actors I can’t watch on TV or in the movies who remind me of my abuser and even if the movie is supposedly “sooooooooooo good,” I will still avoid it like the plague.

The day after I got my friends gift, I went back into my bathroom, and played in front of my mirror again, combining golds with peacock blues and and lush, rich purple shadows.  And it became fun again.  The joy was restored because those other shadows, the kind that hover over you and wake you from restful slumber…the kind that haunt your thoughts and dreams, the kinds that are long, tall and ominous?  They eventually go away.  And they are replaced by 16 pots of beautiful eye shadows sent with love from a gret friend.  A silly soap opera palette called “The Balm and the Beautiful”…with names like “The Other Woman”, “The Drama Queen” and my personal favorite, “The Perfect Man.”

However, I think I will steer clear of the one called “The Coma Patient” for a little while.

Hits a little too close to home.  😉

Focus 52: "Line It Up"

 The prompt for this week was “line it up” and this being Memorial Day, I thought what better than to show a bunch of soldiers lined up, doing what they do best…protecting our freedom.  I knew that I wanted to find a touching photo online, perhaps a somber looking sunset with a flag at half mast while the silhouette’s of soldiers lined the bottom of the photo.  But, as I was perusing Google Images for ideas, I saw this photo.  I tried to find out who the original photographer was, but to no avail.  This, for me, was a beautiful way to endorse the prompt, salute Memorial Day and remind everyone that at the very basest level of any soldier is their heart.  Their ferocious, lion strong heart.  They are brave, true enough, but they are also tender, putting their job above their personal needs, the needs of their family and friends and above all, their own lives. 

In my life, I personally have not been effected by the loss of a soldiers life, but a friend of mine lost her beloved husband last year, a mere two weeks after turning 30 years old.  He was a baby.  A child himself, practically, with four little ones of his own.  Beautiful little ones, the oldest who may some day have faint, distant memories of his daddy…and the youngest, barely old enough to ever remember what her father looked like.

This is Sgt. Keith Adam Coe.  He was the beloved husband of my friend Trina, a girl I have known since she was barely out of high school herself.  I had not heard from Trina in years, though my best friend was still in touch with her here and there over the years.  Last year, my bestie told me that Trina lost her husband, Keith in Iraq.  He was killed in action.  I tracked Trina down on Facebook.  We talked.  We shared photos of Keith and her children and, we cried. Keith was killed by a roadside explosion in Northern Iraq on April 27th, 2010.  He was a dedicated and loving husband and father by all accounts.  My heart broke having to hear my friend of over a decade relay the pain and anxiety she was now feeling with this loss.  Scarcely thirty years old herself, she now finds herself widowed…the ultimate sacrifice of war.

I think about Keith and his friends, the fact that Keith did indeed die a hero while rescuing a friend.  It makes me both mournful and prideful.  He died doing what he loved and a job he was proud of.  He gave his all to protect his country, our liberties and our freedoms.  I find myself realizing, as I get older, that Memorial Day is more than beers and backyard barbecues.  It is about the men and women of the military giving the ultimate all to provide for their families and protect this country.  No matter what your politics are, no matter what side of the war fence you sit on, it is so important that you support these men and women who are merely doing their job.  You may not like the fact that we are at war. I sure as hell don’t, but I am not naive enough to believe that every soldier fighting in that war believes that they should be there fighting it either.  However, they have a job to do, no different than any of us.  They do their job even if they don’t necessarily agree with the politics behind it.  They do what needs to be done, sometimes at the expense of their own personal values.  There is honor in that.

On this day, for this F52 project prompt of “Line It Up”, I choose to line up a group of soldiers in the shape of a heart and hope that Keith Adam Coe knows how much he was loved and is missed by his family every single day. I truly hope to never have to hear that any of my friends have lost their spouse to this war ever again.  It hurts me, unbearably to the core, to know that Trina’s little ones will be growing up without their father.  But, if I know Trina as I do, she will make sure that their daddy is incorporated into their lives.  She will do fun things with them to honor him.  She will keep photos available to her babies and, as they get older, she will share the more intimate details about their father with them.  And, they will grow up to admire their father for his ultimate sacrifice, for his giving, loving heart and for being so very brave. 

God bless you and rest you well, Keith Adam Coe.  And to all the spouses, significant others and children of the men and women who serve so diligently…God bless all of you as well.  May your loved ones stay safe always.  May they always be protected, loved and most of all, supported by their fellow Americans.

Happy Memorial Day to all who have served.  And please, if you come across a soldier in your travels today, offer him a handshake and a thank you for a job well done.  It is the very least we can do for those who make incredible sacrifices so that we may enjoy our freedom.

Focus 52: "Close Up"

This is a close up of my mouth in a very unfamiliar position.

Closed.

And, because of my closed up mouth…millions of women, like you, like me, are going to die.

Closed up mouths lead to the take over of closed up minds.  Closed up minds equal the doors of Planned Parenthood closing up as well.  

With the recent passing of a Senate bill in Congress that is now going to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood, you will now start to see changes.  Changes that I personally have not seen since the 1970’s.  You will start reading about women, dying, because they could not get basic gynecological care due to lack of funds.

So what does a close up of a closed mouth have to do with this?

Complacency.  Because women did not speak up.   Because women did not protest this with outrage, with vehemence, with determination.  We, the fairer sex, have once again allowed suited men (and women) in Congress to enter our uterus and determine what our rights are.  Even though providing abortions is a small part of what Planned Parenthood does—and is isolated from federal funds within the organization’s structure, by law—the amendment passed 240-185.

Is this the beginning of the end of Roe v. Wade?  Are women in our lifetime about to be relegated back to the days of back alley abortions?  Will we once again read about women who fall prey to quacks with dirty folding tables and rusty scalpels performing our abortions, leaving us bleeding, mutilated and dying?

What Congress does not seem to realize is that abortions are only one EIGHTH of what Planned Parenthood actually does for women.  This organization also does pre-screenings for diseases such as cervical, breast and ovarian cancer for women who cannot otherwise afford to have these services done.  They provide testing for HIV, AIDS and various other sexually transmitted diseases.  They offer education and birth control for low income sectors of our society.    Let’s not forget that Planned Parenthood makes sure that the rate of unwanted pregnancies and teen pregnancies stays extremely low.  Without their services, it is estimated that there will be 1.9 million unwanted and preventable pregnancies each year.

1.9 MILLION.  You read that correctly.

In a society where we can scarcely afford to take care of the population that exists right now, can we actually afford to supplement an additional 1.9 million more babies coming into this world?  This has little to do with abortion, but much to do with lack of birth control for those who cannot afford the doctors visits to obtain birth control, let alone the monthly cost of purchasing it.

It is not hyperbole to say that women will die as a result of this bill. It’s the horrible truth. Women who are uninsured will avoid seeking annual exams, pre-cancerous lesions on the cervix will be missed and will develop into cancer, breast masses will not be detected early – some women will die.

In addition to this, more will have unplanned pregnancies. Abortion rates, ironically, will increase. Only these medical interventions will be peformed by those not likely to have proper credentials, equipment and who are seeking to prey on the weakest members of our society – the poor. 

Sound outrageous?  It is.  And if this makes you angry, you should be.  You need to be on the phone calling your senator, you need to be planning how you’ll support the person who runs against the incompetent moron in your district who voted for this reprehensible bill. This must be stopped. We cannot blindly allow women to step back into the dark ages of back alley abortions and black market adoptions. 

Are you part of the reason this bill passed?  Rip the tape from your lips, open your mouth and start yelling.  Yell for your daughters.  Yell for your granddaughters.  Yell the way women yelled back in the mid-seventies when they decided that they were no longer going to allow government to take away our basic fundamental rights of reproduction control.  Those women yelled to protect our future.  We should be yelling for the next generation of women and girls who may fall victim to this heinous crime. 

I’m yelling.  I’ve been yelling.



You should be too. 

Focus 52: "Love, Baby"

“Stay there. Just like that. I have my camera under the pillow.”

“What?”

“Sh.  Don’t move.  Don’t smile. Just stay…like that.”

*click*

Yes, People. I went “there”.  I always wanted a photo of us literally seconds after the the “big finish”.  I love the glazed over look on his face.  I love how soft his eyes are.  I love that I can’t help from biting my bottom lip like a schoolgirl with a big secret.  What you can’t feel in this photo is the warmth between our two bodies.  What you cannot see in this photo is how our legs are intertwined under our big down comforter.  How his right foot is playing with the bottom of my left foot, tickling me.  How the tips of his fingers are swirling soft, concentric circles just above the top of my ass, in that small indentation we women have in our lower backs.  What you cannot hear are the banging of two over taxed hearts and the huff and puff of the aftermath of the aerobic exercise we just completed.  Neither of us are particularly active people…except in this arena.  It is here that we can run the mile, vault the horse, stick the landing and end with a perfect dismount that even the harshest of Russian judges would have to give a “10” to.

This picture is not about two people who just had sex, bumped uglies, did the nasty, made the four armed machine, etc.  This photo is this weeks title:  Love, Baby.  After 11 long years together, this man still captivates me.  Every line, every dent, every nook and cranny.  His scent intoxicates me.  His eyes draw me in like magnets.  His breath on my face is like warm apple pie.  His hands feel like butterflies, flickering all up and down this expansive mountain of flesh that makes up my ample body.

And me?  What you are seeing there is a rare moment…only vaguely seen by previous lovers, but never quite the way my husband sees it.  It is vulnerability.  It is the taming of the shrew.  It is the moment that I become not just his wife or lover, but rather, his mistress.  His virgin.  His whore.  His Goddess.  His first time.  My first time. And what will be, for both of us, our last time…until the next time.

Each experience of making love to my husband is more intense than the last.  Orgasms be damned, for it is SO no longer about that.  It is about what I bring to the game, on bended knee if you will, for him.  He is not a selfish lover, by any means…but never in my entire sexually active life have I yearned to be more of the pleasurer than the pleasured.  Together we are a force to be reckoned with.  While we are working with the broken down bodies of what a man in his late thirties and a woman in her mid forties can offer, when it is time for game on, we are two eighteen year olds bringing 38 years worth of combined experience to the table. We are passionate, feverish, combining sweetness with the tart and tangy and softness with the heavy handed and hardened.  He is the yin to my yang and every move is done in perfect sympatico.

This picture.  It captures “love, baby” because feasibly, you will never meet another couple more in love than he and I.  Other couples aspire higher when they are around us.  I joke to my husband and say “we’re contagious, babe!”  They become better couples in our presence because they yearn to have what we do.  We’ve both heard it before.  “Oh, I wish our marriage was like yours.  You guys always look like you are having so much fun together.”  And, truth be told? We ARE having that much fun together.  We laugh during sex.  We laugh during nervous times.  We laugh in the midst of crisis…one of us usually cracking an inappropriate joke to lighten the mood.

It would sound as if I were bragging if it weren’t just merely the truth.  

It wasn’t always this way.  We had our share of problems in the very beginning.  His baggage came in form of a carry on piece of luggage with rickety wheels and a broken handle.  Mine came in a Louis Vuitton  8 piece steamer trunk set.  Once we learned how to put our clothes away and put the luggage in storage, our life together truly began and we haven’t looked back since.

“Lemme see the picture,” he says.

I show him.

“Aw, Baby…”, he whispers to me.  “You look like a little kid about to burst into laughter.  Was I that bad?”

“No.  You weren’t ‘bad’, goofball.  You were amazing.  You’re always amazing.”

“WE’RE always amazing,” he corrects me and kisses my forehead.

I put the camera to the side.

“Did you really have the camera under the pillow just for that,” he asks.

“Yep.  I always wanted to see what we looked like two seconds later, when we fall backwards in exhaustion.”

“We look pretty damn good,” he says.

Still biting my lip, I nod in agreement.

It’s late and he’s going to be catching a 4am plane to California for work.  It’s nearly 2am at the time the photo is taken.  I roll onto my side, pulling him with me.  My back is pressed into his chest.  I can feel the soft tendrils of his furry chest tickling my sensitive skin on my back.  His arm is raised above my head…our fingers interlaced.  His other hand rests in the dip of my waist, his fingertips grazing my lower abdomen.  I can feel him breathing into my hair, heavier and heavier.  He murmurs something almost inaudible, but I caught the tale end of “I love you”.  I answer him by pressing my hips a bit harder into his.  His breathing slows and hard, heavy breaths give way to light, exhausted snores.  There is music playing in our bedroom, soft piano music playing low.  The piano sounds soft and low as the oboe that is playing over it sounds vaguely like a woman crying.

Until I realize, I am the woman crying.

You see, my heart will be taking to the sky in less than two hours.  The better half of my soul will be 3000 miles away from me.  There will be no one to have a midnight snack with.  No one to giggle with me at America’s Funniest Home Videos.  No one to eat dinner with.  No one to talk to in the middle of the cold dark night.  No one sharing the warmth of my bed.  I will be alone for a week as I am every month for one week a month and as always, it will break my heart yet again.

I miss him already so my heart knows to instinctively cry.  I sob inwardly so not to wake him of his precious hour of sleep before having to board a plane.  The alarm rings forty-five minutes later.  He slips out from under the blankets.  I feign sleep.  He kisses the top of my head and goes in for his shower.  I hear the water running and it hurts so much.  I reach out and grab my camera, still sitting on the edge of the bed, just under my pillow.  I flip through to the picture I took.  Look at that moment.  I can’t help but smile.  That sweet, sexy innocent moment now forever preserved in time.  I bite my lower lip to suppress what could either amount to a giggle or a choked up sob. 

He is packed and leaving.

“I love you baby,” he says.  “It will be a short week.  And, when I get home…we have our special Valentines Day weekend at the beach.  Just you, me, dinner at The Pearl and a balcony view of the ocean.”

“Can’t wait,” I whisper.

He kisses my lips softly.

“All the love in the world, Angel,” he says.

“Nothing but love, Baby,” I reply.  And with that, he’s gone.

Monday comes.  I wait for the Focus 52 prompt, excited to see what the challenge will be for the week.

“Our prompt this week…,” she writes, “why, it is Love, Baby!!”

Love, Baby?  I laugh.  I laugh so deep and hard that it almost hurts my belly.

I grab the picture and run to my blog.  Sometimes, fact is stranger than fiction and the story just writes itself.  Who would have thought that a picture would accompany it as well.  I “frame” the pic with a Polaroid type effect to make it look like an instant moment in time.  Something captured and clandestine.  Something sneaky and sexy…like the Polaroids you have hidden away in the bottom of a drawer somewhere. 

So there you have it.  The story of the photo.  The story of our loves…and nothing but Love, Baby.

Nothing but love.

Focus 52: "Frame"

Frame.

I had a bunch of ideas for this word of the week but nothing really came to fruition.  With midterms going on, I was sort of pressed for time.  The way I wanted to use “frame” wasn’t in the cards…but then, my husband, my biggest source of inspiration said “Why not a door frame?”

And I thought, why not, indeed?

So, welcome to the front door of my home.  If you had any clue or have been reading my blog for some time, you would know why this particular door frame means so much to me and my family.  A year ago, we were being thrown out of our original home due to foreclosure.  Nothing we did, mind you, just victims of circumstance.

You can read the story surrounding it here at “This Old House”, a post I made a year ago. 

This picture, taken one night when we first moved into our new home, means a lot to me.  It was the symbol of a new beginning.  This front door has seen the entry of my grandchildren.  It has been the gateway to many parties, a lot of laughs and of course, a few tears.  But, this new home has also been the source of safety…a place where I now know I will never be asked to leave ever again.  I will never have to come home to see chains on the front door.  I will never have a process server come up to me and say “Sorry, Ma’am, but this house is being seized by the bank.”  I will never have to call my husband in California ever again and say, “baby, they lost the house on us.  We’re homeless as of next week.  What are we going to do?”

It will never, ever, happen again.

So, while this might not be the home where my first granddaughter came home to, or learned to walk in.  While this may not be the house that my husband and I dreamed of buying once upon a time, it is better than what we had, because it is safe.  It’s in a fantastic neighborhood, surrounded by a cop, an ex-marine and a private detective.  It has a much bigger backyard where my grandbabies can run around in.  It is a stones throw from my sons school bus stop.  It is beautiful, spacious with vaulted ceilings and a large, bright and welcoming kitchen.  There is a step down living room with cherry wood floors with an amazing warmth to it.  The bedrooms are large and expansive.  There are windows everywhere, not like our past home which was dark and dreary.  But most of all, it is inviting.  It envelopes all who pass through it like a secure hug.  Surely, it is not the house itself that make a home, but rather, the love contained within.  But this home that we have made fits us like a glove.

Coming home one night, I noticed how it glowed, like a beacon in the dark…welcoming us in and assuring us that we will never go back to where we were a year ago ever again.  It is where new memories are being made, where happiness and love abound and where all who enter through that front door frame are friends.  People I trust.  People I love.  People who embrace me and whom I embrace in return.

It is our home.  And, should you ever be in the neighborhood, it is your home as well.

Drop in.  Any time.  The door is wide open.