Category Archives: compassion

Focus 52: "Green"

Yes.  I could write a St. Patrick’s Day post for this weeks Focus 52 prompt of “Green”.  That would be relatively easy.  Frankly, I don’t know much about the Irish. I know a lot of their names have an “O” followed by an apostrophe and then some other word.  I know that Irish eyes are sometimes smiling.  I know what “Irish twins” are.  I know what it means to have “the luck of the Irish” and, on the opposite hand,  I know what the “curse of the Irish” is due to some unfortunate dating choices in the 80’s.  I know that Bailey’s Irish Creme is some really good shit to dump into your coffee…or not.  And I know that St. Patty’s day is a day to wear green, run out into the street with a bottle in one hand while simultaneously puking on your friends shoes.  I get all of that. I admit, I don’t know much about St. Patty or why he is so legendary.  Is he a Leprechaun?  Are people always after his Lucky Charms? 

I would like to make a day like that for the Jews.  Like…St. Moses Day.  We can all wear blue and white, the colors of Israel, run around holding up a bottle of Manischevitz and flinging Matzoh at passing cars.  We can go around burning bushes and when the police show up, we can join each other in a merry chant of “Let My People Go.”

I’m not big into cultural and religious celebrations if you haven’t noticed.

So what does “green” mean to me?  It is not envy.  It is not easy being green. In fact, green is the color of my fear.  Green is the color of the worst period of my life.  For me, this is green:

Green is the color of my former addiction.  Those little green bottles that use to house those little white pills that used to ruin my life.  This picture that I took reminded me of how I felt when taking drugs.  Everything was blurry, black and white and then, when the magical green bottle would enter my hand, suddenly, color once more!  And the world would make sense again…at least it did, in my fucked up, addicted mind.

So why would I be thinking of little green pill bottles during a week of green celebration?  Because holidays that glorify drinking and addiction go hand in hand.  I admit, I am scared for my friends this weekend.  They are going out to party pretty hard.  Tonight, the world becomes Irish and everyone joins in the celebration.  People will drink, party, take pills, smoke weed, whatever so they can remember this as “The Best St. Patrick’s Day EVER!!!”

And I will hold my breath until Monday, praying that none of my friends die this weekend.

If you are celebrating this weekend, please…do so in moderation.  Be careful of what you ingest and how much you ingest.  Alcohol poisoning can kill you.  A combination of pills and alcohol can kill you.  If you have to “go green” this weekend, smoke some weed and stay home and giggle at the movie “Leprechaun: 3D” but please, above all…stay safe.

Because I love you.  Because I care.

And because I want to see your smiling Irish eyes for a long time to come.

Focus 52: "Aged"

The sultry redheaded, Raquel Welch lookalike you see in that yellow car next to the little girl…is my mother.  Well, it is my mother circa 1975.  The chubby kid with the stringy hair flying all over the place?  That’s me.

This photograph was taken at Disney World in 1975 by some guy who was dating my mother at the time.  I know he who was, I just don’t care to talk about him.  Any way, the reason for this photo is to remind myself that, once upon a time, my mother was a very vibrant and alive person.  She used to have fun.  She used to allow herself to let her hair down and enjoy herself. 

It was very difficult being her daughter once upon a time.  She was a traffic stopping beauty.  Literally.  Men would get out of their cars in Midtown Manhattan just to watch her walk by.  And of course there would be chubby me, braces, glasses, stringy hair and the occasional zit huffing and puffing alongside her, trying to keep up with her long-legged stride.  I remember distinctly the catcalls.  Men would hoot and holler at her as she would walk by.  She would just toss a playful glance over her shoulder, wave in a coy fashion and then, look down at me. 

“Men are very silly creatures, CP,” she would say.  “You will find out just how ridiculous they can be, once your boobs fill in.”

Then, she would laugh which in turn, would make me laugh.  I was always in awe of her though.  She was incredibly beautiful, very smart, a savvy businesswoman and never lacking for a boyfriend who would wine her and dine her.   She always made them pay for a babysitter.  (“If he wants to take you out, CP…you make sure he takes care of your kids, too.  If he wants to see you that badly, he will have no issue with that.”)  She would make them pick up a pizza or some Burger King for me and my brother. (“If I am going to go out with you tonight, I don’t have time to cook for my kids.  Bring them over some take out.”)  And, very rarely did she let these guys into our apartment after they would drop her off from a date. (“Don’t give away the milk, CP.  Always let them buy the cow.”) 

I never really got what that last one meant, because she said it all ass backwards all the time.

Anyway, watching her grow up as a single woman in the 70’s helped me to grow up somewhat cool, confident and self assured.  My mother was far from the best mom on the planet.  She had her issues, for sure.  But, what she did do was give me little life lessons all the way through, reminding me that while I may not look a certain way now, at 9 years old, I would have the rest of my life to grow into the woman I want to be.  Don’t rush it.  Don’t push it.  Stay a kid as long as you can…because you get to be a woman for the rest of your life.

She made me a very confident woman.  While my friends were struggling with their self-esteem, mine was large enough to require me to sleep in a double bed just to accommodate my ego.  While my girlfriends were always worried about being too fat, too thin, too short, too tall…those things never entered my universe.  I was always very confident, very self assured and well, perhaps a little full of myself.  I think my personality came from trying to emulate that woman that I would walk alongside in Midtown Manhattan.  She always looked like she was on stage, performing for the masses.  She walked like a supermodel–chin lifted, eyes up, that red mane of her blowing in the breeze.  She would toss her hair around now and then, raise her face up to the sun and smile.  She was brimming with self assurance and I was dying to play that role. 

I played it so well…that I became it. And now, it is who I am.  Self assured, confident, loving myself, my body and my life despite its flaws. 

So, why this picture for the Focus 52: “Aged” prompt? 

Because, I am now the age my mother was then.  I have aged.  She has aged.  The memory has aged.  This photograph has aged. 

This past weekend, we were all on a cruise ship together.  She scarcely wanted to do anything or go anywhere.  She was so tired all the time.  Worn out.  Her confident strut turned into a little more than a limp and a shuffle when she walked.  During the trip, she took notice of my 5 inch high heels and shook her head.  She said to me, “You are so funny, the way you strut instead of walk.  You look like a supermodel when you walk…like you are running the show.”

And I couldn’t help but laugh to myself…and wonder, if she only knew that my training in life came from running with short little legs alongside my beautiful red haired mother on the hard concrete streets of Midtown Manhattan, all those years ago. 

Focus 52: "Play"

Playgrounds.

The birth of innocence starts here.  The death of innocence generally starts here too.  Standing outside the chain link fence of a nearby school, I am transported back to the days that I spent in my own schoolyard.

“Fat girl, fat girl,” they used to chant at me.

I would slide underneath a sliding pond, looking for solace, hoping to become invisible.

“Brace face, brace face,” they would scream at me.

I would try to touch the sky in a swing.  Maybe if I could get just high enough, I could fly away.  Maybe if it would lift me high enough, I could learn to rise above this…but their hate spew would still fill my ears and simultaneously, empty my heart. 

“If you would just get to know me,” my heart would cry out to my head.  “If you only knew how funny I am.  How silly I am.  I have the best jokes.  I really could make you laugh…if you would only let me.”  I make my little brother laugh, I would think to myself.  I do a really cool impression of Donny and Marie singing,
“I’m a Little Bit Country/I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll”.  If you would let me show it to you…you’d forget how fat I am.  You wouldn’t care about my braces.

You might even like me…just a little.  And we could be friends…in secret.  No one would have to know.

I can keep a secret.  I’d make a good friend.  I promise.

There is nothing lonelier than the sight of a little girl alone on a see saw in the downward position, the other end high up in the air.  “The whole class would have to get on the other side to lift you up,” one especially mean-spirited girl would spit at me, venom in her voice and malice in her eyes.

I would close my eyes.  Squeeze them shut tight.  So tight, I would see colors.  I would make up rhymes in my head, jotting them down in my notebook.  Later on, when I get home, I can write a song.  I can write a poem.  I could write a book, someday.  My teachers always said “what a good writer you are”.  And I was.  Alone…in my little world, I could write the words that could bring grown men to tears and cause the coldest heart to defrost.  I had talent.  I had a gift.

But they don’t know that about me.  They can’t see past a fat girl with braces. 

So, I would get up from the see saw.  Walk over to the bench and sit down, eating my lunch quietly alone. I had my notebook.  I had my new pencils.  I had a shiny, brand new Charlie’s Angels lunchbox.  I would happily give you half my sandwich.  Or, you can have both of my snacks.  I would give you the world if only you would be my friend.

“What are you writing,” the teacher would ask.

“Just a poem,” I would mumble.

“You are such a good writer,” she would say with kind eyes that easily translated to “I feel so bad for you”.

“Thanks,” I would reply with a shrug of my shoulders. 

And I would continue to sit on the bench, scribbling notes and words that scarcely make any sense.  I would show them all someday, when I am a famous writer.  I have no time for their silliness.  I am a smart girl.  I am a good person.  I have more important things to do than play hide and seek or freeze tag.  I have plans.  I have hopes.  I have dreams.  I have secrets. 

But, if you knew me at all, if you ever took the time to…you’d know the truth.

All I ever really wanted to do…was play.

Further proof that no good deed goes unpunished…

So, I am reading a friends Facebook page. From what I am gathering, my friend is not just depressed and sad, but she is posting things that make her sound like she is in full on crisis mode. These weren’t suggestions or innuendos, but full on statements like wishing death on herself. This concerns me greatly, as I know this friend has been under a lot of stress for quite some time. I worry for this friend. I want this friend to know they are loved, cared about and thought of in such high regard that the world would be a little dimmer if they were not here.

Also, there is the thought of my beloved Derek racing through my head. His suicide back in 2007 has scarred me so deeply and perhaps has made me hyper-vigilant when it comes to someone tossing around the notion of suicidal thoughts. I lost Derek and still blame myself in a lot of ways. The “should haves”, “would haves” and “could haves” still haunt me. So I will be totally damned if I am going to let another friend leave this earth without a fight.

I wrote a letter on Facebook to about 12 of this persons closest friends, asking them to rally around this particular friend. Post something on their wall, a memory of them. A photo of you and this person together. Something sweet and loving. Or, if your time allows, send this person an email just to let them know you are thinking of them. I didn’t divulge any personal information about this person. I did not disclose what was going on in their life. I just simply asked for a few friends to reach out to this person.

So, imagine my surprise when I see THIS response show up in reply:

Hey, here’s another thought. What about letting people deal with their lives and butting the fuck out. We have private lives for a reason and I for one prefer not to have people discussing mine behind my back. it would embarrass me and send me away if I thought the people I actually turn to for a little cheer on my terms thought I was a pathetic suicidal mess. Even if that’s not your intention. It would be the way I would see it. That’s all I’m going to say and I’m not going to be baited into a discussion either so I’m untagging myself from this and would prefer not to be invited back.

*blinks*

Um, Wow?

Nowhere in my original letter did I state this person was a “pathetic suicidal mess”. Not even remotely indicated. Just stated what I saw on their Facebook page. It was right out there, in the open, on this persons sidebar. I found their reaction (or rather, overreaction) peculiar, because this particular group of friends…well, we are sort of known for doing things like this for one and other. This past year, we had two friends lose their jobs, one had a cancer scare, another lost a beloved pet and another still went through a nasty divorce. In each of these cases, someone rallied the troops and said “Hey, let’s leave a little love and support on their Wall.” Ironically, we did the same thing for the person who took my head off for their birthday! They were feeling sort of sad…so one of our friends said, “Let’s do something special for their birthday this year.” About 17 of us got involved in a collaborative project to come up with the perfect birthday gift for this person. And, I recall this friend saying “You guys really touched me. I have the greatest friends. Thank you for doing this for me.”

So apparently, when it benefits YOU…the notion of rallying around a friend is alright?

Last night, I went to go post to this persons wall. I found a funny picture that I thought they would like and was going to post it to their page as somewhat of a peace offering, instead of discussing the situation to death. I was just willing to let it go even though they came at me in a terribly harsh manner. I get to their page only to find out I had been removed as their friend. To say I was hurt is a huge understatement. It is not often that someone can hurt me to the point where I cry, but I did. Not that I was hugely close with this person. I wasn’t. We were friends through mutual friends. But, this was someone I respected and liked a great deal. Plus, this person now had me up all night long wondering, questioning myself…

did I do something wrong?

I tossed and turned over this all night. I must have read the letter I wrote again and again. What did I say? What did I do that was so bad? I thought it was a positive gesture.

I received some letters of support from the other people I had on the list. One person even stuck up for me and told this person to “lighten up”, which was nice…because that was my thought too. But really? For the first time, I was sort of speechless. I wrote to this person on the thread the only thing I could possibly think of to say…

“And strangely the only thought that comes into my head is…no good deed goes unpunished. Thanks for that, (Friend). You rock. /end sarcasm.”

How very true those words are. Sad during this time of year, when suicide rates spike up to their highest levels, is it considered a bad thing to reach out to a friend in need. Do I think the original person would have killed themselves? I hope not. But how can anyone really ever know for sure?

I have to be honest. I still maintain a lot of guilt over Derek’s death. I will be damned if I let someone walk down that road alone again without letting them know how much they are loved, needed and wanted in this world.

Only next time…I guess I’ll just keep it to myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2 HOURS LATER EDIT: So, I am scrolling through pics at Imgur.com when I come across this pic. You know what? Fuck that friend who deleted me. I did the right thing. Validation comes in the craziest of ways. ~CP

(Click to open a new window, then, click again to enlarge.)

Why women suck…

I have a lot of acquaintances. I have a lot of good acquaintances. I have some friends. Of those friends, most of them are male. There is a reason for that. The reason?

Most women suck.

I learned at a very early age that women tend to be spiteful, catty and malicious. Even when they are well intentioned, they can’t help speaking from a place of jealousy most of the time. I hesitate to use the word “envy”, because I tend to put a positive spin on that word. There are definitely things I envy about some of my friends. I envy my kid sisters gorgeous, thick brown hair and her insane ability to cook. I envy another friends gorgeous wardrobe. Still, another friend manages to make her life look so effortless and breezy easy. I don’t covet these things, but I sure as shit wish I knew how they do what they do and manage to do it with ease.

What I don’t do is begrudge my female friends their beauty, their strength or the wonderful things that happen in their lives.

It seems to me that when really great things happen in our female friends lives, we don’t entirely focus on their happiness, but rather, use it as a gauge to figure out exactly where we are on the scale of female perfection. I have been steadily working on that with myself. I try to realize that when enormously wonderful things happen to my girlfriends, it doesn’t mean I am less than. It only means I have yet another goal to strive towards.

Recently, a friend clued me in that someone I considered a friend, who I have known via the blog realm for nearly 5 years has been talking shit behind my back. Now, I am no stranger to criticism and back-stabbing. I’ve been hearing women talk shit about me since the day I was old enough to understand it. I’m okay with it. My mother always told me, feel bad for the girls who talk about you. It means they have nothing in their own lives worth talking about. One thing I can say about Esther, she sure knew how to make an impact on my tender pre-pubescent psyche.

Back to my point.

This “friend” tore me up in a letter? Email? Blog post? I’m not sure the medium. I didn’t ask. I frankly don’t care enough to ask. What I do know is I was chastised for the following:

1) I brag about my husband too much. I will reply to this with an “absofuckinglutely”. I do. My husband is awesome. He’s better than your husband. He’s better than you. He’s even better than me. I believe that the Christians have not yet realized that my husband IS the second coming of the Messiah that they have long been waiting for. Until they realize that, I will keep him as the best kept secret Judaism has ever seen since the burning bush. He loves me unconditionally, flaws and all. He loves my children as though they were bred from his loins. He has three jobs all to support my dream of heading back to school to do the work I long to do. He is a good friend to everyone who meets him. He is KIND. Like, “walk an old lady across the street while he pushes her stalled vehicle across three lanes of traffic” sort of kind. He is a devoted grandfather who cannot get enough of his grandkids. So, do I brag about him? Yes, because he is worthy of this praise and should have it heaped upon him every single day. And, yes, you should have to know that he is the reason I am happy. If you were really my friend, you would love that about him and be thrilled for me. Just because your husband hasn’t touched you since the new millennium began, don’t hate on me for it. Buy yourself a vibrator, dust out the old vag canal and handle your business.

2) I brag about my “things”. No. I don’t brag about my things. I tell people about my things because I want them to have similar things. Similarly, I expect to hear about YOUR things, because if you are happy with something…I would hope you would want me to have that same feeling. Do I get excited about an upcoming vacation? Certainly. Am I not allowed to voice that? Do I talk about my shoe obsession? Yes. And to someone who is not a shoe whore, I can see where that would be annoying. However, I don’t begrudge you your new breadmaker? Salad shooter? Curtains? Shop Vac? Whatever the fuck it is that brings you pleasure, I applaud it. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. But, I do understand that whatever it is, it is making your life just a bucket of awesome, therefore, it is doing the same for me too.

3) I brag about my grandchildren. Wow. This one cracked my ass up. Is there a grandmother on the face of this earth who doesn’t do that? I’m sorry you didn’t produce children of your own who in turn will provide you with the joy of grandkids, but that is hardly my fault. My grandkids are amazing little creatures who change and grow every day. Every day they bring something new and fascinating into my life. I love this brand new aspect of my life. Do I tell you not to brag about your dogs? Cats? You say these are your “furry children”. Well then, act like it. Enjoy them. Have fun with them. Let them make you laugh…and in turn, share the funny with me! I’d love to hear it. No, really. I would. I’m not you.

There were other things, like for example, my coffee maker. Yes. My coffee maker. Sure, that goes under the category of “things”, but this one had to be separate because in this letter/email/blog post about me, it was a separate issue for this person as well. Apparently, the fact that my husband bought us an industrial sized Keurig was of grave concern to this person. So much so, that she went on to discuss why HER coffee maker was far more awesome.

I also brag about: My charity work. My writing gigs. (Really? I usually keep those kind of private). My grades. (Totally fuck you on this one. I work for those A’s, bitch. I work hard.) I can go on and on. It’s truly fucking laughable at this point.

Has it seriously come to this?

So, this is why women suck. We all have jealousies and insecurities. But, the measure of a good woman is the one who can put that on the back burner to allow for genuine happiness for a friends good fortune. And honestly, am I a braggart? I would suggest a thorough read of my blog would answer that for you. I have been through a LOAD of shit in my lifetime. Was I bragging about the losses I have suffered? The man who beat me relentlessly for 2 years? My past drug addiction? My struggle with bipolar disorder? No. Unless of course you are under the belief that I am one of those people who feels they have to “one up” everyone else’s sob stories. I don’t believe that’s me either. I’m just a real person. I talk. A lot. I talk about the good things in my life openly just the same way I talk about the not so good things. If it seems like there has been more of the former as of late, well, there has been. And honestly, I feel I have earned the good things that have come my way over the past few years.

I am a good person at heart. I love my family to the ends of the earth and would lay down and die for any of them. I am fervently devoted to my friends. (Is that bragging or is that simply a statement of fact? I think the lines are starting to blur for me). I think I am smart, funny, confident, interesting and damn beautiful to look at. Oh, and I have a great rack. Again, not bragging…it just is what it is. The other day, I happened upon this quote:

There’s no such thing as bragging. You’re either lying or telling the truth.

I know I’m telling the truth. And sometimes, sister, the truth hurts…especially when it reflects your own personal truth right back at you and you don’t like what you see. For that reason alone, I forgive you. I hope you are strong enough to forgive yourself and allow yourself to know happiness in your life. You deserve that. Every woman does. Even you.

No. Especially you.